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Unpopular Essays by Bertrand Russell
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Oct 21, 09

bookshelves: philosophy-theory-and-other-their-i
Read in October, 2009

This is kind of like common sense 101 to some, or utter bullshit and the kind of thinking that is wrong with this dirty humanist infected nation of ours 101 to others.

I wish I remember where I saw it, I think it was some Christian website, where they mock humanist ideas and have a picture of a very aged Bertrand Russell, which makes him look pretty frail and ridiculous, and it asks would you trust anything something that looks like this said. To be fair whenever I see a picture of that fat fuck Rush Limbaugh or the used car salesman smile of Joel Olsteen I think similar things, just looking at this how could you trust anything these people say. In Russell's defense though the guy is old, and people don't look their best when they reach 90; in Olsteen's I'm pretty sure the huckster smile is all part of the slick image he manufactures for his livelihood. In Rush's case, I don't know how to justify it. The man is just a deluded asshole, and his essence is probably just seeping out of his pores or something.

Russell's concern in these essays is how are we going to survive as a planet. Written in the early days of the Cold War, he was (wrongly) convinced that unless something drastic happened we would end up destroying each other by the year 2000. These essays all in one way or another deal with questions of why are we at this brink? Obviously, since we are here right now, the situation wasn't quite as dire as Russell though, or at least not as immediate, but it's not like we are out of the woods yet. If he was overly pessimistic about the world coming to an end, he is overly optimistic about a decline in religious manias, silly him thinking that we had grown-up enough to leave fairy tales behind, especially apocalyptic ones.

Quite a bit of this book is how irrationality and ignorance create problems, and stop any meaningful solutions from happening. As I said this is either common sense, or bullshit, depending on what you believe.

Russell's big solution though is a little weird. He advocates a one world government. Pointing to the flourishing of the Greeks when they threw off the shackles of their own dogmatic superficial beliefs when they became cosmopolitan, Russell thinks that this is something that can be done to save our planet from annihilation. He has good points for why this is necessary, and I nodded along with him, but a one world government is about as realistic at this point as my no-government world. I appreciate the idea he has, and maybe he is on to something.

Why a one-world government would be a good thing? This isn't from the book, but from Evangelical literature, they hate the idea of a one-world government (except for the one that JC brings after the war to end all wars), I mean irrationally fear it, as if it is something that is knocking at our door, and that is coming and will take away their guns and make them wear barcodes on their neck. Their paranoia at this, and their hatred at the possibility of a 'peaceful world' stinks to them of the Anti-Christ (yes in Evangelical literature the Anti-Christ will try to bring peace secularly, what an evil fuck he must be to try to do that). Now I like to think that if Chick believes something with that kind of hatred then it just might be a good idea. I've never given too much thought to a one-world government, but if the Evangelicals hate it, then maybe it's a good thing.

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Comments (showing 1-30 of 30) (30 new)

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Joshua Nomen-Mutatio I always thought Russell looked like the Mad Hatter in his old age and like a completely different person as a youngin'.




Young, unrecognizable:




message 2: by Joshua Nomen-Mutatio (last edited Oct 21, 2009 05:01PM) (new) - added it

Joshua Nomen-Mutatio Sam Harris looks like a nerdier, but somehow better looking, Ben Stiller and Dan Dennett gets mistaken for Santa Claus at airports by children--and the big mean cold-hearted atheist leans in conspiratorially and says, with a smile, "Shhhhhh, no one's supposed to know" and makes their day (true story!).


Greg My first encounter with Christopher Hitchens was seeing him looking really out of it, kind of lost, and worse for the wear, wearing a baja kind of thing and sandal's even though it was pretty cold outside. In his defense it was before noon.




message 4: by Joshua Nomen-Mutatio (last edited Oct 21, 2009 05:13PM) (new) - added it

Joshua Nomen-Mutatio He's a sweaty, bloated drunkard. Witty though. Though in a recent interview I heard with him he'd cut back dramatically on the sauce and gave up smoking. Harris strikes me as a health nut. Have you seen the conversation all four of them had, where they're drinking martinis and scotches? Someone (in some comment thread somewhere) playfully made fun of Harris for drinking mineral water about halfway through--called him a whimpy pseudo-Zen guy or something. It's an interesting conversation, pretty easy to find on YouTube and elsewhere. Hitchens annoys me a lot during it but Harris and Dennett are right on throughout. Dawkins is sort of in the background, being neutrally uninteresting.


Greg it might have been a picture like this, and it might have actually been from an illuminati conspiracy page like where I just found this one. I think he looked like a really frail turtle in the picture. So many of the other pictures in the google image search make him look distinguished though.






message 6: by Joshua Nomen-Mutatio (last edited Oct 21, 2009 05:13PM) (new) - added it

Joshua Nomen-Mutatio He is rather turtle-out-of-its-shell-like.


Greg He looks more trustworthy than this though:




Greg or him:




message 9: by Joshua Nomen-Mutatio (last edited Oct 21, 2009 05:22PM) (new) - added it

Joshua Nomen-Mutatio Oh, that guy (Osteen). He's one of the more "convincing" televangelists. Convincing in that he seems more likely than most of them to actually have tricked himself in to really believing the tripe he pushes. He may just be a better actor though. There was some hilarious/infuriating interview with him on Larry King recently where he just back peddles and hems and haws like crazy. Even Larry King, the biggest pushover in journalism perhaps, is incredulous and pushing him on the issues (well, sort of):

http://www.youtube.com/view_play_list...

And he waffles embarrassingly on gay marriage, etc.

And the Pope couldn't be more overtly evil looking. At least his look fits the role.


message 10: by Greg (new) - rated it 4 stars

Greg I used to have an endcap of Pope books that all had him looking really evil on the covers. Someone from NBC noticed it, and they used it for some shots in a story about the pope's visit to America.


message 11: by Greg (new) - rated it 4 stars

Greg I haven't watched the interview with all four of them yet, but I noticed it around the internet. One day I'll get around to watching it.


message 12: by Joshua Nomen-Mutatio (last edited Oct 21, 2009 05:28PM) (new) - added it

Joshua Nomen-Mutatio Famous endcap! I wish that you had been seen in the background with your arms folded with a proud/smug look on your face, like, "I made that!"


message 13: by Joshua Nomen-Mutatio (last edited Oct 21, 2009 05:31PM) (new) - added it

Joshua Nomen-Mutatio Greg wrote: "I haven't watched the interview with all four of them yet, but I noticed it around the internet. One day I'll get around to watching it."

It's a pretty free-wheelin' conversation. Hitchens rudely talks over them at various points, so this confirms that he's just that way in general and not merely to people he strongly disagrees with. And towards the end he takes his contrarianism to ridiculous heights. You'll just have to see what I mean.


message 14: by Greg (new) - rated it 4 stars

Greg I was a few feet behind the camera man when he was taking his shots.

Do you think in the debate over who should be the next Pope anyone ever once said maybe they should pick someone who doesn't look like the anti-christ?


message 15: by Greg (new) - rated it 4 stars

Greg I can imagine how Hitchens is. I really like Hitchens and have a lot of respect for him, but he can be an asshole.


message 16: by Joshua Nomen-Mutatio (last edited Oct 21, 2009 05:36PM) (new) - added it

Joshua Nomen-Mutatio Greg wrote: "I was a few feet behind the camera man when he was taking his shots.

Do you think in the debate over who should be the next Pope anyone ever once said maybe they should pick someone who doesn't ..."


Who knows what kind of weird shit goes on in that isolated cabin where they figure it out. The sky's the limit.

I love that Southpark episode about all the Catholic priest molestation charges where they're discussing how to approach the situation and the conclusion is that they just need to molest children that will keep their mouths shut. And other crazy shit happens, of course.


message 17: by Greg (new) - rated it 4 stars

Greg I guess for the catholics it all comes down to what the giant spider decides is correct.


Joshua Nomen-Mutatio Is that a Bergman reference?


message 19: by Greg (new) - rated it 4 stars

Greg I hadn't thought of it that way, I was thinking of the giant spider in the South Park episode.


message 20: by Joshua Nomen-Mutatio (last edited Oct 21, 2009 05:51PM) (new) - added it

Joshua Nomen-Mutatio To actually address your review beyond how Russell looks:

The phrase "one-world government" naturally makes most of us uneasy because we immediately think of totalitarianism, but I think that there's nothing inherently wrong with the basic concept. I mean, like with any governing institution it could be fascistic and totalitarian or it could be democratic and egalitarian. Now, I totally agree with you that it's extremely unrealistic and something that could probably only come about (in any form, evil or not) in the distant future. But if it were decentralized enough I think it could work out. It'd be like the US or the EU on a mass scale, where nations and states, and counties, and districts, etc, all have certain levels of autonomy, but yet there's some underlying legal, unification there as well. Some basic human rights and constitutional rights applied across the board but not like some kind of Executive at the top like there is in the US. I dunno, it's a rough idea that I haven't given a whole lot of thought to, but I'm just spit ballin' here...


message 21: by Joshua Nomen-Mutatio (last edited Oct 21, 2009 06:24PM) (new) - added it

Joshua Nomen-Mutatio Greg wrote: "I hadn't thought of it that way, I was thinking of the giant spider in the South Park episode."

Oh yeah! I forgot. I immediately thought of Through a Glass Darkly.


Joshua Nomen-Mutatio Somewhat on this topic: I'm shocked and appalled that I can't find a way to watch the new Michael Moore film online yet. I've been checking frequently since it came out. Shouldn't I be able to stick it to The Man and do this? With all other movies it's incredibly common and easy to do. Yet the one that rips on capitalism...nope. I mostly want to watch it to see how he fails to make a good point after making many smaller good points. I know that his proposed solution to the problem is to "replace capitalism with democracy" which almost means nothing. Though I think I get and agree with the sentiment, regardless of how stupidly Moore puts it.


message 23: by Greg (new) - rated it 4 stars

Greg I hope that isn't his solution. There is already too much confusion of terms between capitalism and democracy, I know he is trying to do it to get at the right and their equating the two, but it's still awful to confuse things like that.


message 24: by Joshua Nomen-Mutatio (last edited Oct 21, 2009 06:33PM) (new) - added it

Joshua Nomen-Mutatio Greg wrote: "I hope that isn't his solution. There is already too much confusion of terms between capitalism and democracy, I know he is trying to do it to get at the right and their equating the two, but it's..."

Well, it's how he's been phrasing it all over the TV and in interviews and whatnot. It's funny how this comes right after he's basically bragged about only being a high school graduate. Everything's in it's right place. Did I just quote Radiohead? Yes, yes I did. Lemonade and vodka are doing their handywork on me right now.


message 25: by Greg (new) - rated it 4 stars

Greg I live in a cave from all media that is going on in the outside world. That I'm informed about anything happening outside the world of goodreads is a miracle.


message 26: by Joshua Nomen-Mutatio (last edited Oct 21, 2009 06:40PM) (new) - added it

Joshua Nomen-Mutatio Ok, Osama...in your cave...TERRORIST!

Actually, you're spared. I don't watch much TV, but since I've been staying with the folks I've watched slightly more than usual. The cable news stuff is still as unbearable as I remember from before. But it's good for sneering at. I still keep up with "things" somewhat on the ol' computer, too.


message 27: by Dave (new)

Dave Russell Does lemonade and vodka already have a name, like orange juice and vodka is called a Screwdriver? If not, I propose calling it a Russian Bumblebee. (I thought about Golden Shower, but who's going to drink that?)


Joshua Nomen-Mutatio Dave wrote: "Does lemonade and vodka already have a name, like orange juice and vodka is called a Screwdriver? If not, I propose calling it a Russian Bumblebee. (I thought about Golden Shower, but who's going to drink that?)"

It probably does have a name already, but I don't know what it is. I don't know if this is the booze talking or what, but I'm smitten with Russian Bumblebee. I'm going to a party this weekend for my b-day and will spread this name as best as I can.


message 29: by karen (new)

karen birthday?


message 30: by Joshua Nomen-Mutatio (last edited Oct 21, 2009 08:41PM) (new) - added it

Joshua Nomen-Mutatio karen wrote: "birthday?"

Same day as Picasso's! (Oct. 25th.)


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