Atlas Shrugged: The Mocking

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

What Good Is Power If You Don't Use It?

There is nothing more fun than taking your little power-mobile out for a spin by inflicting repressive control over others. After all, what use is power if you don't, well, use it? Sure, you can tell yourself that you are a powerful stud the likes of which the world has never known, you can feel the power caressing your ego, telling it oh baby, baby, you're the bestest, smartest, most wonderful person of power in the whole wide world and everyone else had better do what you say--for their own good, of course.

Now, this works best if you actually have a lot of power, mainly because you have a lot of money. If you don't have any money to speak of and nobody listens to you or does what you say, you have to find another way to feel powerful. You have to find someone so weak that your teeny tiny amount of wealth and power is enough to control them or you have to borrow someone else's power--preferably both. And you still don't have enough power to get them to do what you say. You still don't have beautiful women (or men) hanging on your every word.  Your kids don't show you the proper amount of respect for your position as The Head Of The Family as sanctified by God, and even your church doesn't flatter your ego enough, no matter how many times they tell you God loves you just the way you are. God doesn't put money in your pocket and beautiful women in your non-existent sports car, now does he? And your boss tells you what to do and you know that you are only one bad mistake or bit of bad luck away from losing that job and being utterly powerless yourself.

But the great thing about America is that it has so many poor people, especially poor women and children, and who could be easier to push around than women and children? Nobody cares if they suffer--indeed, they prefer it--so when all else fails, you can always massage your ego and flex your power muscles by telling women what they can and cannot do with their own bodies. Everybody else does it and, as we all know, that means it's okay. Look at all the churches--most of them have an iron grip over the lives of the women they own. If controlling women was given the thumbs-up from God, who are we to argue with His time-tested method of control?

Let's let Matthew Hanley, co-author of Affirming Love, Avoiding AIDS: What Africa Can Teach the West, explain why the Catholic Church insists on interfering with Africa's attempts to control the spread of AIDS. He is interviewed by Kathryn Jean Lopez, who genuinely seems to believe that it is inappropriate for a woman to have any power over her life whatsoever, and  that every time a female enjoys sex she makes Baby Jesus cry.

Condoms may protect some people from some infections some of the time, but that is far from saying they are effective or constructive as public-health policy. HIV transmission rates have remained constant here for the past decade; even Dr. Anthony Fauci of the NIH (National Institutes of Health) took to the pages of The Washington Post recently to characterize, in unusually strong terms, our AIDS- prevention efforts as a failure — although he still dared not emphasize behavioral changes.

Your question got me thinking of, perhaps, another way to put it: One might fairly interpret the “Pope’s best interests” as something akin to the common good — since he is charged with safeguarding matters of faith and morals which are conducive to it — rather than the particular interests of Joseph Ratzinger, the individual man.

It's not that people feel powerful or gain power by controlling others, it's just that the churches must control others because they need to be controlled. If you didn't have the church the priests wouldn't be able to control your behavior and the common good would suffer. You are good and you don't want to suffer, especially because of something that someone else did! And by the way, the church needs more money for the bishop's fund and the capital improvements fund and the retired priests' home and the Vatican since without the church there would be nobody to keep the people from sinning and going to hell and you don't want to go to Hell, do you? And don't forget to donate to all the non-profits fighting abortion, which are doing God's work by paying huge salaries to their spiritual leaders. Remember, money equals power, power equals control, and control equals more money. It's the Circle of Profit!

[...T]there are certain truths we can all come to recognize, as they are accessible to reason. As we point out in the book, the great pre-Christian philosophers such as Plato and Aristotle recognized that sexual promiscuity damages the wholeness and well-being of a person. So did many other writers of antiquity and from the Jewish tradition.


Many traditional African cultures themselves prized virginity and held marriage, faithfulness, family life and the like in high regard. Catholic leaders in Africa have noted that its core teachings on sexuality are neither impossible not incompatible with its own traditions. So believers and nonbelievers alike can recognize that chastity, far from being an arbitrary external constraint, helps a person lead a well-integrated life and is essential for human fulfillment. Without it, discord and turmoil proliferate.

Without control you would have no control! There would be discord because people would disagree with you and you wouldn't be able to force them to do what you want. There would be turmoil as you think about your powerlessness in the face of all that activity you can't control. People live and die, have sex and babies, eat and sleep and bury their dead and they don't think about you at all. You mean nothing to them! YOU, the most important person in the history of the earth, the pinnacle of perfection and the epitome of excellence. And nobody cares! They just do whatever they want and ignore you!

Well, you will have something to say about that. You'll just take away their condoms, their birth control, their abortion clinics, their Aid to Dependent Children. See how they like that! We'll see who's powerful after you reduce them to lives of frustration and poverty. They'll be sorry they didn't listen to you tell them how to live their own lives.

We'll see who has the power around here.


Ken Houghton said...

"Many traditional African cultures themselves prized virginity and held marriage, faithfulness, family life and the like in high regard."

Yes, of course. That's why the most common way that AIDS is spend in many countries in Africa is child r/a/p/e/ sex with HIV-infected males, most of whom wouldn't use condoms with their p/r/e/y/ partners even if they had them.

So I guess I completely agree with Hanley when he says that "Catholic leaders in Africa have noted that its core teachings on sexuality are neither impossible not incompatible with its own traditions."

At least if we read "core teachings" as "What We Did in Boston, NY, and Ireland, among other places, except that Africans also use girls" instead of following scripture.

Susan of Texas said...

If you put " for women" after all his claims it makes perfect sense.

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

Possibly related.

cynic said...

Funny thing is, these guys share a common platform with the Ayn Rand acolytes.

Maybe it is not really that funny. Rand, of course, made it all about sex as a weapon over women - including rape as a gesture of 'surrender' - by the rapist.

But Rand also argued forcefully that Power is completely useless - at least her heroes never really went after power - religious or political.

While arguing that we should submit to our business elite, she did argue forcefully against the tyranny of the Church. In one memorable passage from the Fountainhead, (later repeated in Atlas Shrugged) she lays bare the power argument:

'You gain power by making so many things illegal that people have to break the law. Who needs a nation of law-abiding citizens? If you don't have enough crimes or sins, then you create new ones. Make people feel guilty and you have got them by the balls'

Which is exactly what Kathryn Jean-Lopez is feeling right now: guilt about all the wrong things. No guilt about letting people starve or unable to get medical help in the richest nation in the world. But guilt about having sex.

Kordo said...

That is one scary lucid analysis of the Conservative psyche. Well shot, Texas Sue >;-) The possibility that we might wind up governed by these lunatics! Theme Park America! The only ride will be an unregulated 9-gee rollercoaster; when you get to the end, a minimum-wage-making teenager dressed like a Wall Street Banker punches you in the neck. Plus, Jeebus. Lots & lots of Jeebus...