Maybe it’s just me, but I’m completely failing to understand a common thread I’ve noticed over the years, of atheism and over the top liberalism. I think I should reiterate too, given the language I just used, that I’m not really liberal or conservative, nor do I have any loyalty to the political parties at play in our politics. They’re mostly full of shitty, conniving, useless human beings. Pieces of shit on both sides. The ones that aren’t are most definitely an exception to the general rule.
I get that Republicans are, broadly speaking, notorious for the role religion plays in their political views, but that doesn’t mean the underlying ideas are all faulty just because the majority of part members are religious. That’s one of the bigger reasons (beyond the corruption and all around uselessness to the public) why I am not affiliated with or loyal to their political party. They have too many zealots trying to inject their religion into our government and our legislature.
But that doesn’t invalidate every idea associated with their party either though.
Guilt by association doesn’t apply. Certainly not when it’s used in such broad strokes.
Atheists and agnostics – which are really the people who have inspired this post – seem to do that though. If I go to an atheist’s Facebook page and there’s a political post, for some reason the overwhelming majority of them seem to be fans of Bernie Sanders…. But I’m failing to see how or when critical thinking and a disbelief in god became so closely linked to socialism, group think, and redistribution of wealth. Far more likely, I would have thought, would be an emphasis on individualism, self-reliance, critical thought as it applies to economics, individual liberties…
You know, the sort of thing critical thinkers generally gravitate towards.
These are muddy waters for me to be treading too, because I’m uncomfortably close to calling the people I just described a bunch of idiots (I won’t mince words and pretend I’m not), but that’s really not what I’m getting at or trying to imply. All I’m saying is… if you’re one of those people, if you value critical thinking, if you feel that in applying it to religion you’re left without a god to worship or believe in, how do you not as a natural extension of that find yourself without the fairy tale bullshit socialism (and communism) is built on?
There’s a reason true communism has never been achieved. People do not function in a way to make that kind of governmental set up viable. We’re not wired for being content with our lot in life (which is always, inevitably, decided by someone else in a socialist framework, rather than ourselves). What’s more… so many of these people seem to value their personally liberty.
They seem to get it both in the abstract and on a visceral level (e.g. how would I feel if I didn’t have this freedom, or that freedom?) that I can’t even start to wrap my mind around the failure to see how the ideas of someone like Sanders, if implemented, would threaten those freedoms (freedom to choose for ourselves what we want, to fail, maybe even to never get it, but to get it on our own terms if we do) to an ever-increasing degree if they were allowed to be imposed on us.
I guess what I’m getting at is a question I can’t seem to find the answer for…
How does someone who says they value critical thinking, or personal liberty, end up supporting the ideas of a man like Sanders? It’s not just about the guy either (as a person, from what I understand, he’s a stand up guy, fairly honest as far as politicians go). It’s about his ideas.
How the fuck do those hold up to critical thinking? How do they in any way mesh with the fundamental ideas of freedom our country was founded on? How can anyone who values either of those things end up splattering the internet with #FeelTheBurn or sporting a Bernie Sanders sign?
Maybe that seems like more than one question but they’re all just variations of the same one:
How do people reconcile these contradicting beliefs and values? The people who claim to hold to both… seem to me like they’re behaving in much the same way as religious zealots. The only difference is, instead of gods, scriptures, and religious dogma, they’re buying into economic systems, political figures, and ideologies that don’t hold up to logic any better than the religions they look down their noses at. And I’m not saying that in defense of religion either.
I’m saying that as an indictment of the arbitrary but often automatic alignment atheists seem to have with, well, what seem to me to be pretty asinine ideas. In some ways I wish I could frame that in a gentler way but… I don’t even really know why. I don’t necessarily want you to agree with me, I just want you to fucking think about it. Especially if you’re one of the people I’m talking about.
As for myself… I am, have, will continue to think about it. That means that yeah, sure, I’m open to socialist ideas, to entertaining them, but I’ve also been that way for years and reached my own conclusions. Are they final? Not exactly, but they’re mostly pretty solid, and there’s a lot of reasoning behind them. Can you at least say the same? If not… then for fuck’s sake, think on it.
If you’re an atheist, don’t let that bias you against people who aren’t, or against the ideas often associated with those people. If, after you’ve mulled it over, you don’t see things the way I do that’s cool with me. Just fucking think about it though, make sure the opinions you have a right to are at least based on critical thinking, on research, and on some semblance of reasoning.
Just because you’re an atheist or a skeptic doesn’t mean you’re automatically applying critical thinking. Just because you’ve applied it in one area of your life doesn’t mean you’re not neglecting the application of it in other areas, and it doesn’t mean you should assume other people have managed to apply it in other areas of their lives either (e.g. Sanders).
Exercise your capacity to reason things out. That’s all this post is really about, ultimately.
(Alt. Title: Critical Thinking Applies to Politics Too)