Mike Renzulli

More About: Conspiracies

Determinism and Liberty

This year not only marks the 10th anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks but also the anniversary of a somewhat forgotten scandal that helped perpetuate the rebirth of the American left: the Enron scandal. Liberal groups latched on to the Enron scandal like bees on honey using the company as a scapegoat to point out the evils of capitalism.
 
However, the events surrounding the scandal itself were not only misrepresented by the media but conspiracists on the left were able to conjure up a mythological tale worthy of a B-grade film for a grindhouse movie theater.
 
In addition to the typical right-wing conspiracy theories (such as the New World Order), you've probably heard conspiracy theories from the left before: The Military Industrial Complex, the John F. Kennedy assassination, the American Empire, multinational corporations and conglomerates, and the vast right wing conspiracy as articulated by Hilary Clinton.
 
At the time liberal spin-doctors labored night and day to make Enron out to be a typical cabal of free marketers. On the one hand leftists claimed the company was in bed with President George W. Bush to profit from its political connections with the White House. When it was revealed that the President turned down requests for help from Enron executives liberals then scolded Bush for not having done enough to protect the company's shareholders and employees.
 
There were also other Enron-related conspiracies based on outright lies too. For example, despite not pointing out a singe rule to which Enron was immune New York Times columnist Paul Krugman stated politicians with ties to the company helped exempt Enron from regulations. One Newsweek columnist reeled against Enron brass alleging they pocketed stock options to benefit from an artifically inflated stock price while running the company into the ground. He also pointed out Wall Street brokers were the victims of being seduced by Enron's inflated stock price due to false bookkeeping kept silent by the company's accounting firm Arthur Andersen. Some even claimed Enron profited from California's electricity market deregulation despite the fact that the state's deregulation (so-called) was done with hundreds of pages of new rules.
 
If you think about it, none of this makes any sense. If any of the aforementioned groups stood to profit from Enron's demise why would Wall Street investment and prestigious accounting firms want to destroy their long-established reputations? At best the facts reveal that the only conspiracy was an unsuccessful attempt by Enron managers attempting to hide their incompetence while their company went bankrupt.
 
What explains conspiracy theories are not facts but a flawed philosophical outlook if not some semblance of paranoia. In the case of the Enron and other financial scandals, they are based on the Marxist theory of exploitation. According to Marx and using the Enron scandal to illustrate this point, the bourgeoisie (i.e. Enron executives) conspired to exploit the proletariat (i.e. Enron shareholders and employees). Marx also went on to point out that ideas other than his (such as those that further capitalism) are part of the conspiracy to exploit the masses.
 
The overall underpinnings of conspiracy theories are a strand of faith influenced by Kantian skepticism and Plato's Theory of the Forms. Plato theorized that a realm of hidden, unknown entities or groups existed beyond man's ability to comprehend or understand. While determinism was not concretized until centuries later, Plato's Theory of the Forms gave the basis for it. Neoplatonists took Plato's ideas further to culminate the concept of the divine including the existence of God. German philosopher Immanuel Kant, on the other hand, stated in his writings on ethics that man's knowledge is always in doubt therefore reality or the truth can never be known.
 
Fortunately, Plato's student Aristotle put his teacher's theory to bed.  As opposed to Plato, Aristotle approaches the idea of an person's place in society from a much more individualistic point of view. Expressing reason in one's action, he surmised, does not have anything to do with a relationship with other people or a community, but relates only to the individual.
 
Unfortunately, Kant and Plato's influence are still seen to this day in various forms of cultural and political movements. The most stark examples are religion, political correctness, multiculturalism, philosophical skepticism, environmentalism, subjectivism, pragmatism, and intelligent design.  
 
If central planning occurs as a result of plans from unseen powers behind the thrones, then, consequently, people do not have free will since a person's freedom or identity is negated by deterministic plans made without their knowledge by powers they cannot see, know or comprehend. This being the case one cannot claim to be a freedom lover yet purport determinism as the explanation for events like the Enron scandal and the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
 
I suggest following Aristotle's (or better yet Ayn Rand's) lead instead. The events surrounding alleged conspiracies are better explained by reality and not determinism or even mysticism. In the case of Enron and other economic disasters they are the result of bad policies and outright incompetence either on the part of politicians or corporate executives and not out of some vast conspiracy of cloistered rule.

8 Comments in Response to

Comment by Anonymous
Entered on:

By the way, in his comment, Renzulli came up to me of all people, with this elementary question and wants to know if one exists "for their own sake or not." His false conclusion based on a wrong premise is that if you exist not for your sake, you have no free will. Inversely, if you exist only for yourself, then you have a free will.

The reason for anyone existing on this planet does not define the presence or absence of free will. These abstract entities are not interdependent of each other.

I will illustrate: One may exist not for his/her own sake but for the sake of others, and yet have a free will, using that free will to decide to exist or live for the sake of others. As if Renzulli is not aware or has not heard of a very loving and protective father or mother or parents whose dependent young children to provide for and care about are their only reason to exist and/or live for… i.e., in poverty to go on through the difficult challenges in life. A caring person would catch a bullet for another – and in life this reality cannot be doubted – proof that human beings are choosing this path for their own independent exercise of free will.

The other choice for one’s use of free will is just to exist for his/her own sake, never for the sake of others. And yet there can be no free will to speak of – it is taken away by selfishness and/or self-centeredness that most atheists are, although hardly aware of it. Thus even if you live only for your own sake because you are selfish or have no care or concerns for others, you are deprived of free will because your indifference or selfishness takes that free will away from you. That's one foolish way of saying that anyone who has any kind of DESIRE at all has no free will because that takes the free will away from you. You are dictated or enslaved by it.

Thus it is totally bullcrap for an agnostic non-believer to say that if you only exist for your own self, you have a free will. That conclusion is unreal -- neither sincerely true nor honestly genuine because it is as false as the atheist's denture or porcelain teeth.

Inversely, it is also unwise to bullyrag the intelligence of the public [I don’t know about yours but it does insult mine] by saying that if you are unselfish and exist only for the sake of others or for your country, i.e. those brave soldiers who with their freedom and liberty to choose what to do with their life, chose to serve and die for the Motherland in times of war – Renzulli would call them idiotic morons who have no free will of their own because they should have existed or lived only for own sake and nothing else. See how stupid that is?

 
Comment by Anonymous
Entered on:

Renzulli is anti-God, a better ID of himself than when he is named an atheist or an agnostic doubter. As an art of reasoning, the latter gives him and his likes, a slippery exit from their own contradiction in which almost all anti-God disciples in the philosophical realm are trapped in their belief that there is no God. The advance study of Atheism in graduate school as a form of philosophy in religion [Theodicy in Defense of Religious Faith] that I have undergone in years had established the fact that being oxymorons that non-believers are, they unconsciously contradict themselves.

By the way, "oxymoron" is not similar to the "f.." word. It is an expression of contradiction … i.e., ‘wise fool’ or ‘legal murder’ [Encarta].

Being anti-God is not "hate-God" either. It is just that God does not exist, and in Renzulli’s mind, belief in god is just "irrational" … it is just a "superstition".

Being anti-God is not "" either. It is just that God does not exist, and in Renzulli’s mind, belief in god is just "" … it is just a "".

God-believers reason out that God or the Ultimate Being is the Prime Mover of all things, the Ultimate Cause. I am referring to those "wise men" [I mean men of vast ecclesiastical wisdom much, much wiser than Renzulli] who embedded their reasoning in the books of knowledge of both ancient and modern civilizations, published their world-renowned treatises of logical rationalization why God exists [i.e. one of them is The Theory of the Prime Mover that is easy to read and understand]. For Renzulli and his kind to say that those "wise men" are "irrational", is inconsistent – an oxymoron.

Renzulli and his kind are also self-contradictory … very irrational in their accusation that belief in God is just a "superstition". It borders on hypocrisy. Non-believers like Renzulli and his kind are the most superstitious pretenders that ever walked the earth. Their greatest superstition is their own superstitious belief that God does not exist !! [Digest that …]

I have learned, and had expressed my empathy in public as a journalist, many years back while still in the academe, that it is very difficult for agnostics and atheists to be anti-God, and at the same time mount an aggression intended to wound the sentiments of those who believe in God or those who believe that the Ultimate Being exists, with a mind that is in a state of confusion or with such kind of thinking that operates without any elevated sophistication or higher than just that of a layman’s unschooled argument or elementary reasoning.

Being anti-God is not "" either. It is just that God does not exist, and in Renzulli’s mind, belief in god is just "" … it is just a "".
Comment by Anonymous
Entered on:

Renzulli is anti-God, a better ID of himself than when he is named an atheist or an agnostic doubter. As an art of reasoning, the latter gives him and his likes, a slippery exit from their own contradiction in which almost all anti-God disciples in the philosophical realm are trapped in their belief that there is no God. The advance study of Atheism in graduate school as a form of philosophy in religion [Theodicy in Defense of Religious Faith] that I have undergone in years had established the fact that being oxymorons that non-believers are, they unconsciously contradict themselves.

By the way, "oxymoron" is not similar to the "f.." word. It is an expression of contradiction … i.e., ‘wise fool’ or ‘legal murder’ [Encarta].

Being anti-God is not "hate-God" either. It is just that God does not exist, and in Renzulli’s mind, belief in god is just "irrational" … it is just a "superstition".

Being anti-God is not "" either. It is just that God does not exist, and in Renzulli’s mind, belief in god is just "" … it is just a "".

God-believers reason out that God or the Ultimate Being is the Prime Mover of all things, the Ultimate Cause. I am referring to those "wise men" [I mean men of vast ecclesiastical wisdom much, much wiser than Renzulli] who embedded their reasoning in the books of knowledge of both ancient and modern civilizations, published their world-renowned treatises of logical rationalization why God exists [i.e. one of them is The Theory of the Prime Mover that is easy to read and understand]. For Renzulli and his kind to say that those "wise men" are "irrational", is inconsistent – an oxymoron.

Renzulli and his kind are also self-contradictory … very irrational in their accusation that belief in God is just a "superstition". It borders on hypocrisy. Non-believers like Renzulli and his kind are the most superstitious pretenders that ever walked the earth. Their greatest superstition is their own superstitious belief that God does not exist !! [Digest that …]

I have learned, and had expressed my empathy in public as a journalist, many years back while still in the academe, that it is very difficult for agnostics and atheists to be anti-God, and at the same time mount an aggression intended to wound the sentiments of those who believe in God or those who believe that the Ultimate Being exists, with a mind that is in a state of confusion or with such kind of thinking that operates without any elevated sophistication higher than just that of a layman’s unschooled argument or elementary reasoning.

 

Comment by Mike Renzulli
Entered on:

Bakadude and Dennis are on the right track but, ultimately, still contradict themselves. What this really comes down to is the Law of Identity: A=A. This defines the nature of existence. In terms of Baka and Dennis both need to conclude if one exists for their own sake or not.

If not, then no one has any identity except what the Illuminati, God, Freemasons, Skull & Bones, etc. decides for them. If they do exist for their own sake then they have free will. Yet their attempts to use the mystical or unexplanable in order to define people's ability to exist or have free will is contradictory.

If someone other than them assigns them their identity or duty in life then they have no identity, therefore they do not exist except as to what someone else (including society) assigns to them.

Consequently one must ask which one is it?

Comment by Anonymous
Entered on:

I totally "agree" with the author that "conspiracy theories are strand of faith largely grounded in determinism and are not compatible with liberty or free will…" not because it is true but because it is so INCONSISTENT the dead could rise from the grave in protest.

This counter-conspiracy theory of the writer is grounded on the doctrine or belief that any act of human being is always caused by something else, therefore there is "no real free will".

This view self-strangles itself. In a free society where we live, it is free idea --precisely the exercise of one’s free will -- that’s the number one cause of any man-made event that takes place. Our exercise of free will is not the effect but the cause of the effect.

The author also holds on to this weird idea that you are NOT a Libertarian if you have no free will. Absolutely wrong! Libertarians are philosophical soldiers of freedom … of free will.

Libertarians, of which I am one of them [not that emotional Libertarian but a Libertarian of Reason], are Determinists – stubborn if you may – to adhere to their freedom to disagree with the norm that freedom or enslavement is either the effect of what we do or NOT DO, but rather the cause of everything that’s happening around us. It is therefore contradictory for the author to say that "determinism" as a doctrine, is "not compatible with liberty or free will…" As advocates of the doctrine of "determinism" [anything has a cause], we are actually the sentinel – the guardian – of liberty, of the right to be free … of the individual’s free will to be free, against any authoritarian oppression or control of the mind and domination of the realm.

Sorry to say but unlike the author, I am not an atheist or agnostic Libertarian who is inconsistent in the belief that everything has a cause but belief in God is not a cause. No need to elaborate, except just to say that I am a Christian Libertarian. That explains everything.

 
Comment by Dennis Treybil
Entered on:

 "If famous people, like William Wallace or Martin Luther King, will ultimately die by assassination or execution then I guess people should not do anything to speak out when a wrong is committed and get by in life since people's destiny and fate are not theirs to decide but the result of someone else's decision."

My favorite cinematic allusion to determinism is in "Lawrence of Arabia".  During the desert crossing, someone is left behind.  The locals tell Lawrence, "It is written - let it be."  He goes back for the guy anyway.  He rescues him successfully.  Not long after he gets back to camp with his lost sheep, a fight breaks out.  It appears this fight will cause the entire group to lose its cohesion.  Lawrence vows to kill the instigator.  Yep.  It was the guy he rescued.  Again, the locals tell Lawrence, "It was written."  Lawrence had no reply.  Neither do I.  He shot him.

I think determinism goes deeper than "powers behind the throne."  I think it goes to the bowels of creation.

In science, the attempt is made to reduce everything to "phenomenon".  Like astronomical events - point your telescope this direction at this time on this date and you will see an eclipse.

The celestial bodies apparently have no "say" in what will happen.

With human individuals, it MAY (or may not) be different.

I am not sure.

I *think* that I am free.

If I am free in no other area, I am free to view myself as such, or to view myself as not free.

Either way, I am free - the difference is whether I know it.

It may be that the deaths of William Wallace and Martin Luther King were ordained in the moment of creation.  It may be not.  I know not.

Either way, they had the choice of how to live their lives.

They were free.

Both of these guys knew it.

 

 

Comment by Mike Renzulli
Entered on:

Thanks for your response, Jean.

In order for one to have free will one has to have the power of unrestrained choice. When it comes to determinism in the form of conspiracy theories any semblance of individual choice is negated since, ultimately, it is the planners in hiding who decide for you about the things you will do, what you will consume and what kind of fate you will have.  

Not to talk down to you or insult your point but if, as you say, people like William Wallace died as a result of central planning then what's the point of them or anyone else living at all? If famous people, like William Wallace or Martin Luther King, will ultimately die by assassination or execution then I guess people should not do anything to speak out when a wrong is committed and get by in life since people's destiny and fate are not theirs to decide but the result of someone else's decision.

 

Comment by Jean Allen
Entered on:

   I disagree with your theory that belief in conspiracy theories is inconsistent with a

belief in free will.  My hero is William Wallace.  He was a victim of central planning

just as I am today.  But he chose to fight and ended up being tortured to death.  He

had no internet...no TV and no radio....but he got his information where he could and

reacted.....resisting tyranny.   If I choose to be a truther and a birther, that doesn't diminish my free will one iota.  If I believe that SPLC and the FBI had something to do with OKC, that doesn't take away my free will at all (just one example). And if

 I am paranoid, that's good.  Alan Stang said, "If you're not paranoid these days, you're crazy!"

 

 Jean Allen......Tuscaloosa

 


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