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Comment: Re:Marx is a painful read (Score 0) 44

by Arker (#47718121) Attached to: Marx sure does spew him some drivel
"Gleaning from the Gospels, the line on the Sadducees I'd heard was that they were the over-educated, liberal poofs of their day, whereas the Pharisees, while mired in legalism, were relatively less off-course."

Hmm, I dont know about that. My read of the NT definitely wasnt adulatory to the Sadducees but I always thought the Pharisees came off as even worse there. The big BC power struggle in judaism was between the Zadok priesthood and the Pharisees, but it was effectively over in Judea when the Maccabees usurped the High Priesthood. (Ironically sons of Zadok survived later in Samaria.) The Maccabees destroyed the country repeatedly but they are idolized by the rabbinates precisely because they destroyed the priesthood and the rites and laws ordained in the Torah, allowing the rabbis to usurp their place with new rites and laws. The Sadducees were so sad in part because their struggle had been lost before they were born, and they had no animating principle or focus. There were many other groups - the early Christians, the Essenes and whatever group one would posit for Philo, for instance. All of these to some degree feed into karaism as it developed, but there was no constant unified name or identity beyond just being jews that embraced the Torah while viewing the 'oral law' stuff with skepticism.

But the impetus for actually proclaiming it 'officially' and giving it a name and turning it into an identified movement was very practical and concrete, and again the context was political power struggle. The Gaonate usurped the Exilarchate over time, starting the moment of Islamic conquest if not before. It came to a head with Anan ben David. He was the rightful crown Prince, but the Gaonate had acquired the theoretical right to appoint their own boss from the caliphate already, and chose this moment to assert it practically, choosing his brother. There were many jews that were skeptical of the rabbis, not just in academic or theological sense but also of the governance of the Gaonate and Anan stirred them up with speeches, causing a bit of a disturbance. The rabbis run to the Caliph and accuse him of insurrection. And so he is locked up.

So Anan is jailed by the caliph, who is actually a friend of his and hates to do it, but technically they are right - by challenging their right to appoint the exilarch he challenged the authority of the caliphate as well. But the rabbis are busy too - one of them, Natronai, denounces Anans brother Josiah and proclaims himself the new Exilarch, so instead of two factions of jews rioting against each other and disturbing the caliph there are now three! Also he receives word that North Africa and Spain have erupted in revolt, and an army of Franks has been seen sailing for the area as well. Sounds aggravating doesnt it?

So the caliph offers a way out - just declare a different religion, separate from judaism over whom the Gaonate at this point has the legal control. And this was instantly recognised, giving not just Anans followers, but all the jews that were rejecting the Gaonate, a legal existence throughout the caliphate - which of course stretched from India to Spain at the time. A legal right to continue to exist without having to answer to and obey the Gaonate. And a legal contination, at least for some time, of the line of David in a (separate) exilarchate.

Comment: Re:Marx is a painful read (Score 0) 44

by Arker (#47703471) Attached to: Marx sure does spew him some drivel
"I thought the "no roast beef and cheese" rule was derived from the bit about "Thou shalt not seethe a kid in his mother's milk." I've always understood that as a contemporary pagan reference."

Well that is the reference they claim to derive it from, yes. But that's no derivation, that's really just making stuff up. It's a very specific and narrow command, and part of the theme of prohibiting cruelty to animals. The commandment says nothing about mixing meat and dairy, it says not to cook a kid in the milk of its mother (which, yes, was apparently a widely practiced and deliberately cruel pagan rite practiced at the time.) If it was intended to prohibit mixing meat and dairy it would say so, there is no reason it could not have said that clearly if that was what was meant.

The Rabbinate 'interpretation' is based on Midrash, figurative leaps and flights of fancy, as well as the evolving needs of the Rabbinate itself (which strengthened its own power over the people by expanding the rules until they became impossible to follow.) But for a Karaite a valid interpretation of any passage must be consistent with the plain language and grammar of the passage, as well as its context, all of which plainly contradict the Rabbinate reading.

(As an aside, and no offense intended, the same reasoning leads to rejection of scriptural status for the 'New Testament' right along with the Talmud, both works deeply rooted in Midrash and both contradict the plain words of the Tanakh at one place or another.)

Comment: Re:Marx is a painful read (Score 1) 44

by Arker (#47700525) Attached to: Marx sure does spew him some drivel
"It's not always clear whether people are carrying out rituals for their genuine mystical value, or just doing religious push-ups"

Terribly true. Some of the odd gyrations beggar rational understanding. (My favorite is the Rabbinate prohibition on mixing dairy and meat, a pure invention that I nonetheless follow generally, though not strictly, simply for reasons of taste. They also turn it into a jobs program in many cases, by forbidding gentiles from touching food on the assumption they (gentiles) are unclean. Which is a true assumption, but a meaningless one, as jews are also all unclean, but I digress. )

At the same time, others do not. For instance even if modern methods of preparation arguably reduce the threat of actually becoming sick from *eating* pork to acceptable levels the production of pork is still a danger to public health at the very least. Seafood and carnivorous animals concentrate environmental poisons, and I think it's a safe bet that environmental poisons have increased, not decreased, since the bronze age. And whatever the extent of the deeper reasons, it's clear that cruelty to animals is simply something we are advised not to engage in, particularly in the production of our food.

Comment: Re:Marx is a painful read (Score 1) 44

by Arker (#47694711) Attached to: Marx sure does spew him some drivel
Their lack of abilities in the area of symbol manipulation (i.e. language) is a clear distinction, and I dont believe in animal rights as a result, however growing up on a farm with lots of animals around I never doubted they were self aware, meaning conscious of themselves, their own existence, their own pains and joys.

Comment: Re:So, 2% procedural improvement (Score 1) 44

by Arker (#47692481) Attached to: Marx sure does spew him some drivel

Here's the really odd thing I have noticed about Marx and Marxists though. .

See their method, their 'dialectic' boils down to this.

  1. 1. In any situation, on any question, look at how exactly the actors in the field get their _stuff_.
  2. 2. Divide the actors into two and only two groups, based on how they get their stuff. The boozhies and the proles.
  3. 3. Side with the Proles, defeat the Boozhies, end of class warfare (since everyone is now a prole.) This is presented not only as good and necessary but as *inevitable* since class warfare is a necessary consequence of classes themselves, it can only end when one class or the other is extinct.
  4. 4. Profit!

My take: Step one is real good. Step 2 - roughly legitimate analysis, but fatally over-simplified. Step 3 - fundamentally mistaken.

Now, what is odd is, Marx himself was clearly a boozhie. So was Engels. And in fact, every Marxist I have ever met in the flesh was too. High-nosed blue-blooded boozhies every one of them. Working people dont have time for that nonsense, you try to talk to them about Marx they roll their eyes up into their heads. With one exception, a young fisherman. Who turned out to be from a rich family. And about to get fired cause he kept screwing up.

Comment: Re:So, 2% procedural improvement (Score 0) 44

by Arker (#47692407) Attached to: Marx sure does spew him some drivel
Sure, the class warfare is the poisonous part of it, and even there I have to give Marx /partial/ credit. It's not like he invented it. It's a reality and has been a reality for several thousand years now, that most people exist in a system of classes or worse castes where accident of birth is the paramount determinant of opportunity.

What's poisonous is the suggestion to somehow solve this by enflaming 'class consciousness' which is the very last thing that really should be done. Class consciousness to the extent it means identifying with one class of people and waging war on all other classes of people needs to be extinguished.

Anyway I part ways with his stream of thought a few generations back. The French Revolution was based on the idea that all problems can be solved (with the application of enough force.)  It was based on the French Enlightenment ideals about the perfectability of man and it spawned the Reign of Terror. The American Revolution had a lot of the French in it, but it also had countervailing currents both Anglo and Gaelic as well, and the upshot of it was just the opposite - a regime based on the idea that actually a lot of problems cant be solved, particularly by the application of force, and that often the worst thing the king can do is, well, anything.

Where the French had built a powerful modern state and tasked it with creation utopia, we instead built something really quite retro, a mix of ancient greco-roman democracy and ingvaeonic feudalism with more than a dash of gaelic confederacy. All about limiting the king. 4 year terms. Enumerated powers. A Court system AND a Legislature, both equal to him, if either does not agree he is stopped from using force. We could go on but I think the point is made. French Revolution-> Marx. American War of Independence -> Emerson. I prefer the road less travelled you might say.

Comment: Not a marx fan but (Score 0) 44

by Arker (#47691489) Attached to: Marx sure does spew him some drivel
I will step up to defend him a little, very mildly.

The one thing I think you have to give him credit for is explicitly putting forward the idea of analyzing social relations on the basis of economic relations and material culture. Not that he came up with the notion - far from it, when the Latins said qui bono they were just translating a very old notion into the language of the day - but I definitely think he deserves a little credit for expanding the notion and getting people to really focus on it.

Now obviously his little book is considered to have spawned a political movement that I wouldnt want anything to do with, but it's also been inspirational to some work in the social sciences that I see as positive. Marxist archaeology, for instance, despite the name, managed some real contributions which laid the foundation for processualism which is quite an important thread in archaeology. Stripped of political baggage, looking at the relationships of production in a society to gain some insight into it just seems common sense. Yet it was so rarely done. It was typical to look at material culture and 'interpret' it based on irrelevancies and flights of fancy, where now those same artifacts are used to reconstruct elements of what Marx would call the relationships of production - which is much more informative.

That said, obviously those that identify themselves as Marxist are relatively unlikely to be able to strip away the political baggage and extract any nuggets from underneath.

Comment: Re:We Are All Under Suspicion Now (Score 0) 232

by Arker (#47668111) Attached to: Fugitive Child Sex Abuser Caught By Face-Recognition Technology
You forget that the people pay for the government, and are supposed to own it. The government is supposed to be part of the nation, not an external bloodsucker set on top of it. And searches are supposed to require a warrant, supported under oath or by affirmation, giving probable cause that a crime has been committed.

So yes, if the FBI wants to take OUR database which is in their care, and compare it with OUR database which is in the care of the INS, then they should do so within the constitutional framework, get a warrant, and only get to keep the results that match the warrant, not everything else.

Comment: Re:So, such rules are bad for keeping people worki (Score 1, Informative) 327

by Arker (#47668053) Attached to: California May Waive Environmental Rules For Tesla
Of course they are.

And how does anyone even pretend this is legal? They can just 'waive' laws for special people and leave them in place for us proles now?

This is not the American way. One law for everyone. If the law is wrong, repeal it, don't 'waive' it for your friends while the rest suffer.

Biology is the only science in which multiplication means the same thing as division.