Friday, 3 April 2009

God’s place in a humanist society (4) [Locul lui Dumnezeu într-o societate umanistă]

One of the defining features of the irreligious human being (the typical British man or woman of today) is the constant – albeit hidden behind the apparently comfortable life offered by the Welfare State (more about this concept here, here, here or here) – fear for one’s life.

Even worse than in Romania under Ceauşescu, people all over the UK are being put on guard about potential enemies, health hazards, criminals on the prowl, and all sort of risks to their well-being.

If you suspect it, report it! – Big Brother warns you every few hundred meters in British cities. You may have no idea of what this ‘it’ (the danger, the threat, the foe you have to face) actually is, nevertheless, this is of little importance. You may not know what ‘it’ means, but you surely fear for your life.

After centuries of living away from Christ’s One and Only Church, after and accelerated secularisation of society, life of most Brits is emptied of any spiritual dimension. And reaching any firm belief about the meaning of life is of no interest to anyone.

This senseless speeding towards prosperity, achievement, and enjoyment leaves no time for metaphysical introspection... That would be such a waste when there is so much around to do, to see, to earn, to feel, to fight for, to consume... wouldn’t it? It doesn’t matter what life is, but it has to be lived to the full, and nothing is too much of an effort for protecting it as it is.

Therefore, little by little, what was once a despicable deed in Communist Romania – reporting to the authorities what you were suspecting about your neighbours, colleagues, subordinates, students, friends, and even family members – is turning into a civic (I wanted to say patriotic, but that’s tipically American, not British! :-) duty in the UK.

You don’t have to know anything for sure; it’s just enough... to suspect. Nor do you have to assume any responsibility for your allegations – which are supposingly well-intended, but could very often prove malicious, as there’s not much left of the once famous British civility.

You don’t even have to give your name (2nd picture above – a traffic sign pole from Brighton), as your anonymity is guaranteed, in the greater interest of the common welfare, I presume :-)

And on what should people base their assumptions? Big Brother clearly shows this on a billboard (1st picture above – a billboard near a departure gate in Victoria Coach Station, London)... If you see or hear anything suspicious tell our staff or the police immediately. Trust your senses!

Oh, yeah, what could be more trustworthy for the irreligious and hedonist Brits than their senses? Additionally, what could be more convenient for Big Brother’s plans of setting-up a surveillance society that to reduce human beings to animals which couldn’t put their trust in anything else than their own senses, and by no means in the only Saviour of mankind – Jesus Christ?

[For all the episodes of this series, and all the posts on this blog go to/Pentru toate episoadele din această serie şi toate postările de pe acest blog mergi la: Contents/Cuprins]


Gregor said...

A very good post Bogdan. You highlight a very important point when you say:

'Therefore, little by little, what was once a despicable deed in Communist Romania – reporting to the authorities what you were suspecting about your neighbours, colleagues, subordinates, students, friends, and even family members – is turning into a civic (I wanted to say patriotic, but that’s tipically American, not British! :-) duty in the UK.'

In the lovely seaside town where my grandparents live, someone was fined £50 because a neighbour reported that they fed a seagull (were people fined for feeding seagulls in communist Romania?).

My grandfather who took part in the Normandy landings was also reported by a neighbour for... installing new windows in his house. He was permitted to do so, but some nosey parker thought that the authorities would like to know anyway.

Whilst it is tempting to see the current trend to totalitarianism in Britain as a sign of the former Communists in New Labour bringing communism to Britain, sadly we cannot blame the government because they only reflect values which the British people seem to share.

It is interesting because I have myself been thinking along similar lines. I have an interest in Russia, and enjoyed several books that were published by Samizdat methods during the USSR reign.

What struck me in retrospect was that the Communist dictatorship paradoxically gave them a mood of optimism, and subsequently humanism. It gave them the view that it was a few bad men who were misdirecting and enslaving the people who were by nature good.

Seeing what happens in democratic Britain (where you can be imprisoned for ten years for taking photos that COULD BE of use to terrorists) I think they are wrong.

It is only with Our Lord that we can form a just society. Otherwise countries will just 'elect' dictators anyway.

The USSR was not a nightmarish dystopia because of its economic ideology, but because they attempted to live without God. When people are deprived of the Gospel they still want certainty and support governments that offer them this. But this is a false god, which promises safety, and guarantees misery.

However, I do disagree about the 'welfare state'. there is nothing notable about the British welfare system. The French and Germans have higher unemployment benefits than Britain and also have public transport. But they do not have the British totalitarianism. perhaps you mean 'the nanny state' which is slightly different (all the warnings about food, warnings about danger etc).

Hope you are well

MunteanUK said...

Well, dear Gregor, I can only say 'sad but true' about what you wrote here...

"we cannot blame the government because they only reflect values which the British people seem to share"

...and I could only add this relevant quotation from Karl Marx:

“You know that the institutions, mores, and traditions of various countries must be taken into consideration, and we do not deny that there are countries - such as America, England, and if I were more familiar with your institutions, I would perhaps also add Holland - where the workers can attain their goal by peaceful means. This being the case, we must also recognize the fact that in most countries on the Continent the lever of our revolution must be force; it is force to which we must some day appeal in order to erect the rule of labor.”

[taken from La Liberté Speech delivered on September 8, 1872, in Amsterdam:]

Little by little, this type of subtile but dreadful totalitarian regime seems to accepted and 'subsconsciously desired' by more and more Brits.

It's interesting how Marx observed that Britain could reach Communism by rather 'peaceful means' - there's no way I could 'admire' this man, yet I must admit that he seemes to have made a correct observation in this case :-(

Unlike Marx, Americans didn't seem to me equally willing to give up their freedom as the Brits. But that's another story. Very much different from the UK, there is still left a strong 'rural America', and peasants/village people/farmers - although sharing heretical beliefs - almost always and almost everywhere in the world are very much diffrent from the 'proletariat'.


Now other aspects, mentioned rather briefly:

1. I thank you again for offering me relevant examples for my blog posts. Of course that not even in the paranoid Communist Romania feeding seagulls was not a crime!


2. About what you are saying here... "the Communist dictatorship paradoxically gave them a mood of optimism" - I can confirm it is true. Many people believed so, when I was a child, and still quite a few believe this also in present-day Romania!


3. ...and here "the view that it was a few bad men who were misdirecting and enslaving the people" - To the above mentioned Romanians, Communism was 'very good' in itself, and all its failures can be blamed on a few 'bad communists', while they were other 'good communists'. Had the 'good' ones replaced the 'bad' ones, everything would have been great, these people believe evan today!


4. I agree with you that Communism didn't crumble mainly because of the economic ideology...

[although, for such a simplistic explanation (learned in the UK), you can check a previous post:] was meant to fail because people were refusing the very idea of God, let alone to accept Him as the Holy Trinity we have been blessed to be aware of!


5. Thank you for drawing my attention to the fact that not any 'Welfare State' (France, Sweden, Greece) is necessarily a 'Nany State' (the UK). When I left the impression that I'm confusing the two notions, maybe I was (again :-) under the influence of my rather liberal economic views, as I'm rather skeptical that a Welfare State is a good idea.

Obviously, all human societies need some absolutely necessary public goods (infrastructure), public education, public health care, and some other public services.

However, I am not convinced that everything that the Westminster Goverment + the 'Bigger Big Brother' :-) in Brussels say should be 'public' should really be provided by the state!

Again, this is another 'long story', a difference of opinion, and no by means something that should 'separate' people! I am rather 'liberal' in my economic views, while you seem to be more inclined to adhere to 'etatist' ideas (or use a term of your own to describe them!).

Even Saints had many diagreements on many issues, but what is of utmost importance is having 'One Lord, one Baptism, one faith'. It's a true gift from God to see how two people (you and I), from different places (the Scottish Highlands and Bucharest), who obviously see many things 'differently', can share the same faith in Christ's only true Church!

We should always be thankful to God for this, and never forget that, although the Orthodox perspective on the world is the only correct one, any of us (as individuals) can be wrong about different aspects.


As always, I'm looking forward for any further comments from you!

But before having you as a 'guest star' :-) on my blog again, I feel I should offer a little explanation to all my readers who can only read my post written in English.

Although the current series is about 'sad' aspects about Britain, my blog has also plenty of 'good examples' from the UK, as those who speak Romanian can see here:

I just thought that 'good things' should be more relevant to a non-British audience, while the Brits themselves (or other English speaking acquaintances I have all over the world) should be aware of my 'critical remarks' concerning the British society.

Gregor said...

Dear Bogdan

I agree that political issues should not divide Orthodox friends. In fact I prefer discussing politics with people I disagree with. And indeed I disagree when you write:

'I am rather 'liberal' in my economic views, while you seem to be more inclined to adhere to 'etatist' ideas (or use a term of your own to describe them!).'

I think the term 'liberal' is a misnomer. Maybe I showed you this map before:[347]=x-347-559597

Free-market Britain and America are far behind Social Democrat Greece and Germany. I think economic liberals assume that big businesses just grow out of the ground, whilst in truth they are given public subsidy.

Wallmart in America received one billion dollars in subsidies one year. The British state gives four times as much in subsidies to the railway companies as it spent on the railways when they were in private ownership.

Still, maybe you do not have time for such debates. Perhaps we just agree to disagree ;)

I think a part of my strong feelings in this regard is my contempt for the Tory 'opposition' in Britain. Boris Johnson said that he was for freedom and 'anti government' because he supports big businesses and opposes taxation on jeeps. However, when he took over from 'Red Ken' what was his first act? To install even more CCTV cameras. Freedom to pollute* and to block roads is the only freedom the Tories (and many Brits) seem to yearn for now.

So overall, I think that the Hayekian idea is pretty threadbare now. When people like Johnson imply that they are Promethean freedom lovers because they want to drive big jeeps in densely populated areas (whilst supporting state monitoring its citizens) I feel sickened.

*I mean that the fumes are poisonous for pedestrians. Maybe it is my contrary nature, but whilst I used to be strongly of the opinion that carbon emissions were a danger, I am increasingly questioning of this (now that public opinion is largely in favour of the theory).

This has been the driest Spring in several years. Yet when it is wet, we hear that it is due to carbon emissions. The recent meteorological phenomena is apparently ignored.

Gregor said...

Just a reference for my comments on Boris Johnson:

The Liberal Democrat MP spoke well. I'd say they are our best hope.

MunteanUK said...

Dear Gregor,

Let me just answer to at least some of your ideas:

1. The map you sent me is worth a full blog post one day. It's somehow frightening to see the 'land of the brave, land of the free' (USA) as black as Communist China :-(. As for the Perfidious Albion (UK), I'm not really surprised. I was expecting a similar level of surveillance in Britain.


2. Your argument of 'big businesses' actually being subsidized from taxpayer money is correct. It's hard to stay 'liberal', as long as you're faced with examples like those given by you, of which I was aware.

Unfortunately, I think that governments end up giving money to the rich, and not to the needy everywhere in 'democratic' and 'market economy states. You can do it like in France, Germany or Italy - having big state companies ('national champions')...

...or the 'American way' - offering huge state contracts for infrastructure, weaponry or anything like a big war-machine like the Pentagon consumes.

I'm afraid I can't have a firm belief whether the apparent 'laissez-faire' (in America) works better than the 'etatism' in France.

Worforce productivity in France is better than in the USA (this I learned in the UK :-), the health system is better, however, I like how Americans are free to 'take lives in their own hands'. Is matreial comfort all that matters? Are the Frenchh (who take many things for granted) better people than Americans (who have to toil for many things easily accesible to European citizens)? I really can't say...

I liked the strength of American rural communities, very much different from how Europeans exepect too much from the State, from the Government, from a Bigger Big Brother in Brussels.

There are still quite a few Americans who don't believe this 'global warming hysteria', many who fight against abortion, many who refuse to accept gay marriage, many who really work hard... In the meantime, so many Europeans let Brussels think on their behalf, and accept abortion and homosexuality very easily, and are very lazy.

Anyway, this is an issue worth a broader discussion. I guess there is as much separation from government and economy in capitalist states like there's separation from state and religion in Saudi Arabia :-)


3. Should I understand that you say we can't expect anything good from the Tories coming to power again?!


4. Should I assume that you are gradually moving towards a more critical view of this 'global warming hysteria' (of which many Brits are suffering from)?

I personally believe that toxic fumes are more dangerous than carbon emissions. I am in favour of resticting the irresponsible consumption of resources, of protecting the environment, but things have been taken too far. This global warming is an ideology, as dreadful as Darwinism, Marxism...

No wonder that "The recent meteorological phenomena is apparently ignored", as you say. They only pick what scientific data suits this ideology.


It's been nice agreeing/disagreeing with you again :-). May you have a Holy Week filling up your heart with spiritual gifts from the Lord!

Theodora said...

We should consider this awful manipulation in a country which lies in the "avant-garde" of the continent a warning for other little countries.
It's so real and sad, you saw what happen with vaccination campaign in Romania due to mass-media' stress upon potential danger.

MunteanUK said...

@ Theodora

I'm afraid today's mankind is 'immune' to warnings. We are all taught to bite the bullet, and learning from other nations' mistakes rarely happens.

Sadly, only by the time when the vaccine began taking lives like the supposingly deadly virus, people realized it's all a big hoax.

And still, by no means 'all' people in Romania. There are plenty of people 'frightened' by this virus, which is milder than the one causing seasonal flu.

The French, the Germans, the Poles & even the generally gullible Brits [the more hedonist & irreligious people are, the easier they can be tricked into believing nonsense!] opposed the vaccine, even before it caused health problems to so many.

Anonymous said...

verryy interesting: they must report everything..... when Big Brother sees.....everything...
sad but true!
finally they will be afraid of everything and everyone and not trust anyone.
"divide et impera"! q.e.d!