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by Sam Staples
Sunday, Dec. 30, 2007 at 9:27 PM
We will examine whether terror is institutionalized in the psychology of some religions. There are many interesting and provocative ideas discussed. Arguably, this work is as controversial as it is timely. Such an intelligence estimate, if you will, would not have been written had it not related to many important and critical political issues and crises of our day (particularly as related to dominant “cultural clashes” as so framed by various think-tanks). But this work also significantly relates to political theory, history, criminal justice, jurisprudence, as well as social and political psychology etc.
Traces of the Authoritarian Personality in the Three Abrahamic Religions (subtitle of entire book)
By Sam Staples as Devil’s Advocate
Id. est . A book that addresses some of the roots of emotional brainwash and blackmail that affect some of today’s major political and military conflicts.
Written by an Anonymous American Author. November 2007.
“Everything I did in my life that was worthwhile I caught hell for.”
With that said, “If it is true that the pen is mightier than the sword, then I have come to shoot up the saloon and if necessary the town!” Salty Sam Staples
Note on pseudonymity: The “theoretical” arguments put forth stand on their own “intuitive” logic and “cohesive” merit. Therefore it does not matter who wrote this work. More importantly this author is not interested in being pursued, persecuted or murdered by those offended (presumed no small few) During the American revolution it was common for some pamphleteers to use pseudonyms. These essays are a series of pamphlets meant to be read as a group.
Table of Contents:
Chapter 1: Provocative Thoughts
Chapter 2: Abrahamic Models of Governance
Chapter 3: Religious Conditioning
Chapter 4: Religion As Politics Chapter 5: Man’s Influence on Religion
Chapter 6: The Legality of Justice Versus Blind Faith
Foreword as Background:
Arguably, this work is as controversial as it is timely. Such an intelligence estimate, if you will, would not have been written had it not related to many important and critical political issues and crises of our day (particularly as related to dominant “cultural clashes” as so framed by various think-tanks). But this work also significantly relates to political theory, history, criminal justice, jurisprudence, as well as social and political psychology etc. It has something of interest to many inquiring minds. Ideas here will not likely be easily dismissed—irrespective of one’s stance.
As author, I realize, that despite the vast potential of reading material available to you, and your crammed schedule, this work, at least in my opinion, ought rank high in importance to today’s politics. Readers herein will attempt to look unblinkingly at one of man’s foundations of morality—namely religion—to see if there are any messages that can be viewed as authoritarian in nature. Such a direct quest of examination has been much avoided in the past—yet the consequences, I think you can agree, are potentially overwhelming.
Note too that this work is meant for public domain—that is to say that it can be re-printed and published by “any” sincere publisher that decides to print it or revise it (if daring enough to do so—because one should not underestimate religious fears or political fears in humanity, or peoples’ loyalties. No permission is needed to share this work with others—in fact sharing is encouraged as this was the motive for writing.
These ideas are meant for the freethinker's marketplace of ideas—especially for those of influence. Feel free to distribute—for example via your email lists. Also feel free to print to paper, bind, and share with anyone you feel would benefit because people are much more likely to read printed copy. However, most people are not apt to read a series of chapters on a computer screen. They like printed copy.
My problem, as author, is that I do not have the money to print this work and mail. Therefore other people must recognize the importance of this work and carry the ball—getting it on the internet, to senators, congress persons, supreme court justices, lawyers, law schools, professors, writers, etc., including translations for other languages. In a way this seems like a bit of a revolution.
However, all who contemplate reading this work should read the “caveats” directly below, as not all persons are of a sound and objective mind to deal well with this level of controversy. Some personalities can “not” distance themselves from their own presumptions about religion, interpretation, politics, etc., so as to remain openly receptive. One ought least be aware that religious debate of any magnitude is potentially an explosively charged subject—but then is not war and racism equally the same?
Nevertheless, if you feel this work is of significance, then it is important that you take some responsibility to share it with others who might benefit from it (professionals, committee personnel, judges, professional associations, other authors, journalists, artists, etc.). I’m hoping to send maybe 50 to 100 or more electronic copies to people who are trying to work for positive and sober change and who have more resources and connections to help get this anonymous work into the kind of distribution I believe it deserves. Thank you for your consideration.
This book is dedicated to political theorists, progressive theologians, alternative news websites, blogs and radio talk shows that are working for social progress, and the likes of people like Howard Zinn, Noam Chomsky, Amy Goodman, etc. It is also necessary to recognize the contributions of Nicolo Machiavelli and the King’s Star Chamber, and the Bush Administration. Finally this book is dedicated to all who are unsure how they feel about their relationship to religions and how they might relate to political matters (or how “personality”, per se, plays a role in religious belief and political propensity—as this book presumes there is indeed a relationship).
Preface (as Series of Notes):
As author, I truly wish I had more time to research, edit and organize this material; but I think the major themes, as interconnected ideas, are clear enough for people to get an essential understanding. Hopefully this work will provoke more speculation of a similar sort.
If you, as reader, are limited on time I would suggest starting with chapter 2,3, and 4 as the best summaries as to why this book is important to our modern political arena and threatened existence. But all chapters are essential for an overall grasp of the message, and if you can afford the time go from the introduction through the chapters sequentially. I personally think it is a page turner—as it certainly was an interesting project to write. I apologize for any redundancy or lengthiness in essay—I’ve tried to keep it lively without sacrificing the cogency of analysis. If it seems a challenge at times I welcome the demand on people so that they have the necessary time to reflect—as opposed to simplistic and perhaps denunciatory diatribes about its value.
Maybe some courageous publisher will take this work on. But I must say that a bit of paranoia can be healthy—especially paranoia of the authoritarian mindsets, as well as the rationally criminal, that do exist in this chaotic and evil world. Therefore it is good to be careful so read the following caveats:
[Note 1: (As caveat): This book contains ideas that may be threatening to rigid thinkers and people who maintain “fear-based” sentiments about religion. We will be looking directly as such concepts as a punishing God, frightening character like the devil (Satan), terrifying prospects of hell, etc., as “fear-inspiring ideas not too different from notions we regard under the rubric of ‘terrorism’. Therefore, this treatise is meant for people who are mature enough to “tolerate” thinking about terrorism as a “psychological” element within potential religious interpretation.]
[Note 2: (As caveat question): Is it “more” than just a curious coincidence that modern psychologists and psychiatrists have not given due emphasis to various forms of psychoses that spring from religious orientations (for example, paranoid delusions that presume a Satan is behind certain ideas)? We readers need to ask: “Why have mental health professionals evaded this line of reasoning?” A review of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM for short) shows us that not only are religious types of schizophrenia (etiology) downplayed but also they are pretty much ignored altogether (as if “shunned”). Yet this reality is reflected within the “authority” of scientific literature. Hence we question the idea of whether these professionals are really doing their job, when evidence seems there is a strong “avoidance” of realizing and acknowledging religious psychoses (for which there is ample evidence throughout history). It is especially timely to contend with these issues (both consciously and unconsciously if we want to ever be free from such repression). Whereas to “ignore” (as in choosing to remain “ignorant”) these psychological lapses by mental health experts shows us why Thomas Szasz, iconoclastic psychiatrist, was correct when he asserted that sometimes psychiatrists and related helping professionals reinforce political and super egotistic biases, (including those of a theological nature). This “phobic” avoidance, on the part of these professionals (and their associations) cannot be acceptable today (for a political sense of sanity and security around the world—with such fears of weapons of mass destruction falling into the wrong hands). No longer can modern man avoid the political consequences of religious psychoses, prejudices, and emotional blackmail as played out in the political arena and the life of the mind.]
[Note 3: Psychoses, as in “insanity” (or that which is not ‘sanus’ or ‘sound’), or as a “grave” mental disorder, is a simple concept. It is a “dis-order” in which the subject does not exhibit orderly thinking, and consequently the disorder seriously interferes with daily living—that is in the sense of not being in touch with reality—and thus potentially doing something harmful to self of others.]
[Note 4: Psychiatrists and psychologists regularly refer to “delusional” psychoses and paranoid” psychoses as disorders of particular people (which seems true for numbers of people); but, magically (inexplicably) they seldom refer to “social” (or super-egotistical) psychoses like religious delusions (that affect large masses of people). So while they regularly diagnose certain individuals as psychotic, who may think themselves as religious figures, or when paranoid of religious persecution that makes it impossible to enjoy life; yet professionals have little to say about broad social and political implications of such potential insanity—as if the mob’s majority were never a tyranny. Nevertheless if religious institutions have contributed to today’s political insanity then this needs to be recognized and confronted.]
[Note 5: Mental health professionals do not readily acknowledge political persecution (in a worldly sense), such as the fear of police states and their likely concentration camps; or false and malicious prosecutions, or incarcerations and potential torture abuses; governmental and subsidiary privatized corporate spying; or being labeled an enemy by potential pressure groups, etc. The exception to this truism, at least prior to the Patriotic Act, is when certain “crazies” presumed forces “normal” (average and ordinary) individuals did not readily perceive (for example, phones being tapped) ... Yet we will be noting a “semblance” between authoritarian political states and authoritarian fears instigated in social religious conditioning—even if psychologists, sociologists, etc., neglect to confront such truths.]
(as recent political scenarios):
Scenario One: Retired U.S. Senator Malcolm Wallop, honorary chairman of Frontiers of Freedom, recently wrote a letter to: “Dear fellow conservative(s)...” attacking the ACLU for things that include ACLU’s lawsuits to ban the pledge of Allegiance, to remove the Ten Commandments from public view, etc.
Scenario Two: Abdul Rahman, recently was flown out of country Afghan, had faced a possible death sentence for alleged apostasy, because he converted from being a Muslim to becoming a Christian. According to an Associated Press story, Rahman was being “persecuted” under Islamic laws. Meanwhile the highest levels of some Western governments (including the Pope) were involved in diplomacy with Hamid Karzai to prevent such an outcome as death (news stories in U.S.).
Scenario Three: Zionism evolves in the 20th century as a nationalist movement calling for the return of the Jewish people to resume Jewish sovereignty in the “Land of Israel”. The first Zionist Congress organized by Theodore Herzl convened in 1897. The goal was to establish a Jewish homeland in Palestine. This homeland was predicated on the religious notion that Adonai (Hebrew name for the ineffable one) gave this land exclusively to “his” chosen people. (Historically this is a recent event).
Scenario Four: Recently a slew of books have been published on religion’s far-reaching influence in modern American politics: Moral Minority: Our Skeptical Founding Fathers by Brooke Allen, How the Other Half Worships by Camilo Vergara, The Truth About Conservative Christians by Andrew Greeley, The Kingdom Come: An Evangelical’s Lament: How the Religious Right Distorts the Faith and Threatens America by Randall Balmer, The Theocons by Damon Linker, God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything by Christopher Hitchens, The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins, Atheist Manifesto: The Case Against Christianity, Judaism, and Islam by Michael Onfray, The Meaning of Life by Michael Eagleton, The End of Faith by Sam Harris, etc. There are more titles but you get the picture that this is a critical time for how religion has re-emerged as a critical set of forces in American and world politics. And one other title, American Gospel: God, the Founding Fathers, and the Making of a Nation by Jon Meacham (managing editor of Newsweek), says, according to a short review by Lyric Winik of Parade magazine, both the extremes of the right and left need to step back ... for the left ... “There is no reason to be afraid”.
Scenario Five: Specific right-wing newspapers columnists have been calling for a “clash of cultures” pitting Christian nations and Israel against Islamic nations in a decades long confrontation—in essence wreaking World War III or more neo-cold war operatics, or at least destroying the financial viability of this nation.
Scenario Six: This book that now lies before you that says there is plenty of reason to be afraid or at least be concerned—it is called a terrorist psychology grounded within some prophetic interpretations of Abrahamic religions. This work is pretty much unique in its focus as compared to titles currently coming out—many of which settle to attack superstitions (not that I have read most but I’ve glossed several reviews). Whereas this work addresses a different but important angle—fear in and of religion. And as a “long” historical side note, some religious interpretations, and their corresponding propaganda, have already contributed to the death of a lot of people in a variety of conflicted contexts. At minimum you will likely find this series of essays provocative.
There are many incidents that could be included here, such as Jerry Falwell claiming Hillary Clinton will motivate more Christians to vote Republican than the devil himself. But this is just to get you interested in this work as a relevant and meaningful read.
Despite what you think of democracy or republican constitutional forms of governance, it is indeed both a “democratic” and “elitist” impulse to presume enough “faith” in the rational nature of mankind’s ability to reason so as to plumb these issues. Whereas, plenty of others are less ready to adventure where angels dare not tread. But by now you either have a clue as to whether you want to continue reading—hopefully you have been, as they say, tempted?
Chapter Six: The Legality of Justice Versus Blind Faith by Sam Staples
Part of a book called: When God became the Terrorist: Traces of the Authoritarian Personality in the Three Abrahamic Religions.
This book is dedicated to the prisoners at Guatanamo who are or were innocent and to their lawyers who are attempting to bring justice to bear.
Are political guarantees just so man words on paper to be used for political speeches? Who is ultimately responsible for enforcing principles of law in a republic? Given the reality that justice is very much a human concept, what can people presume, if anything, about such abstract words as “justice” and “fairness: before the law? What informs these legal meanings that people too often take for granted?
If an accused is to be judged in a court of law, how is he or she to be so judged, and by what criteria? What codes of procedures, if any, will be followed (or can be expected to be followed)? What legal mechanisms will, or should, be provided and enforced by judicial institutions so citizens can presume some stands of justice are met?
The King Was a Good Man:
Early Christianity that evolved into European and Northern African history, operated as conditioning model for predominately “monarchic” governments of Kingship and bishoprics.
There were a plentitude of duchies, principalities and kingdoms that would evolve, as a common vassal would not have given much thought to such notions as voting in leaders and officers. Equally you, if you lived back then, would not likely thought to vote in your God or his personality as if some kind of choice. Both authorities were assigned to you without your input as you were destined and born. Yet you owed your King, or prince, or Duke an allegiance of loyalty (fealty).
The law was, for the most part, whatever you were instructed it was. There were no regular town meetings about your rights and liberties. It was not about listening to candidates stumping their opinions to you so that you could mull over ideas and who to vote. You simply were not a focal point.
And in some ways many people today still live in this top down hierarchy in their workplaces. An employee is expected to show a great deal of loyalty and deference to corporate leaders that they work—irrespective of such leaders’ competence, fairness, or sense of ethics.
Even libertarians, in their religious devotion to rhetorical dogma, in which they worry much about excess in government, give little lip service to concern of excess of corporate power, debilitating greed and corruption.
We digress. Back to your time-machined vassalage. If you spoke out against your King, or one of his fellow ranking officers (irrespective of the righteousness of your attitudes) you could be despised and punished as a traitor, because you were not paying your required respect.
Loyalty is a very important value to many people, some who willingly sacrifice even their own lives for honor, family, state, and religion. People tend to take their patriotism in a religious sense—and expect others to do the same—at least rhetorically. Either way they will not understand dissidents not showing loyalty to the symbols and positions they think demand it.
Chivalrous knights took oaths to defend the Church and to make war against infidels without cessation or mercy (similar to some Muslims who are taught to war against infidels (see Koran (:123). Church and State were married with many of the same values. In essence knights and their men became pawns to leaders of the realm they swore allegiance. Good warriors of zealous ardor they were—but they were not necessarily astute to the guile of backroom deals that played their loyalties like poker chips.
Your king, during those European Middling Ages, for all intents and purposes, was your god. He had “Divine Right” justification for his actions. (And notice that the word ‘justification’ contains the word ‘just’ as in ‘justice’.) Kings, like their knights, were appointed and anointed by a pageantry of sacred ritual that often involved the church’s consent.
And what could you do if you did not like the king? Or what if this king, or his prince, or one of his associates did not especially like you? What recourse did you the governed have legally to dispute and rights of redress? How much power in the Princely realm, as a peasant, were you likely to wield (not too different from being homeless today)? And how would you have arrived at such power if you could manage to muster any—that is if you felt the system a smidgen unfair?
Naturally , some kings were more noble and righteous than were others—depending on their personalities, political styles, attitudes, and circumstances of the day (or if the king “got” religion). Any way, some were more disposed to kindness or fairness (equally depending on your own situation and status). So a kings could be fair-minded and practical as a monarch—using “good” judgment—even while he held most cards. Why not? Humanity has such capacity to be fair.
But more importantly, what kept a king, or his men, from tyranny when he held the cards? Traditions have a way of reinforcing the power of those currently in power. What checks were there to balance out abuse? And who was to define abuse? What institutions were there to counter injustice? And what kept the Holy Church, often allied with the king, from various forms of tyranny as well?
These are questions we American should revisit in our seemingly complaisant age of presumption. Because if you were a bit of a rascal then what would have kept you out of the king’s private dungeon? You remember those dank, dark and dangerous dungeons you read about while exploring castles and saving damsels from their celibate and protective towers?
Dungeons were just as real as were ivied towers. But, they were hid away from the daily grind of life—like underground (or at lest “rendered” outside the normal order of community life so others could not see nor hear). Would you have been “tortured” in the king’s dungeon (not far removed from Dante’s description of the eternal infernal)?
Once you landed in the brink (hopefully on you feet) you likely had few options available. Or do you think the kings henchmen were going to let you talk to a lawyer for the “privilege” of confidential and fair representation in a law court?
And when was the last time some soul was released from Hades to get past the entry sentinel as three-headed dog named Cerberus? One fierce dog can terrorize the soul enough to cause some serious upset stomach—not to mention dealing with the Hydra gyrations of three dog necks set to snarling and slavering with cynical and bare teeth. You had better have some “think” naked skin, since dogs can be trained to dislike you a bit—don’t you know—and they can show you a ferocity of spirit with both sinewy muscle and canine dental power that can easily overwhelm a naked ape’s sensorium. Perhaps some dogs have the temperament of some people—vicious and vile—at least one’s imagination could assume if “stressed” out a bit?
Thus finding your self in the Empire’s dungeon of “carce-ration” (as not have been put to death which may have been a better fate) you come to realize that you do not likely have too many, if any, “rights” (although public relations experts may be saying otherwise, in the rhetorical sense for those in the outside community to believe).
Not many people back then were organizing or sending donations to an International Red Cross, or Amnesty International, or Human Rights Watch, or ACLU. And even if the Red Cross existed back then, and had some status of clout, do you think the Emperor had to honor any kind of international agreement, protocol, or social pressure to allow visitations of inquiry? Do you think the Emperor, and his team, had to make allowances to the consensus of other states or peoples?
[Note: according to Ann Gearan of the Associated Press, Karen Hughes, bush buddy and Undersecretary of State, was quoted to have said: “ It may take decades to change anti-American feelings around the world”. Now why could this be the case? Illegal retention of prisoners and prisoner abuse was not mentioned in the article. But could it be that people around the world consider our policies on combatant prisoners, gulag systems and torture as moral issues?]
Rendered All Alone?
If the body of law (or religious literature) is thick enough are there ways to rationalize or justify whatever you or your group wants to justify? Are there not always creative minds able and willing to rationalize any kind of moral ethic—even that which is diametrically opposed to moral ethic?
While in the dungeon you could be water starved or hung out to dry in public. You might not even know the name(s) of your accuser(s), or what potential evidence existed that could be used against you (be it rumored, manufactured, or otherwise). There was likely no place for discovery. There was few guaranteed fairness rules on the books of enforced regarding the presentation of evidence of the disputation of it.
Who would have been arguing for a “fair” trial—as we Americans have come to understand the abstract concept? In fact there might not have been a trial at all. Your trial might consist of you praying while henchmen unleashed you from a rack to be noosed for your hanging. To pray originally meant to “beg”.
Or if there was a trial, was there any right to a lawyer with a sincere interest in protection you or your rights?
Nor would you have asked to “read” the law (assuming you could read with nay sophistication as few schools taught peasants). It is not like you could walk into some county law library and gander a morass of complication in fine print, set down and orchestrated to a labyrinth of specific delineations by state assemblies (assumed to be based on some sort of substantiated principles). Surmise it as faith if you will that dungeons were not well equipped with the niceties of legal libraries or reading lights for your perusal. Nor was anyone available to assist the non-tutored self on the legal jargon.
And what was “habeas corpus” to you besides a strange Latin phrase? Certainly this conception was not some “liberal” idea that sprang from either the Bible or Koran? You could be dead for years before anyone in you family knew with certainty—irrespective of your nationality, political party, or religious suasion.
In fact what laws regarding “fair” trial and evidence have ever been proposed for God’s judgment day as mentioned in the Bible? None existed in the way that we think of principles of justice today. Why? Because it is “presumed” on faith that God is just, fair, and all knowing—that is he is beyond question for noble spirit and magnanimous judgment.
Few skeptics think to question “his” anthropomorphic form of justice (“projected” human-like personality). Or what kind of trial does one come to expect to confront in the conference rooms of St Peter (a Saint no one questions in regards to any bias or delusional neuroses)? Or, if God is all knowing, wise, and powerful, why was there to be a hearing in the first place? Or why all the religious rhetoric about the masses doomed to suffer?
On one hand you have this Egyptian mulatto (metaphorically) who understands the Egyptian ways, named Moses. This Moses guy became violently upset over revelers worshipping a golden calf. He gets outraged to the point of smashing his famous stone tablets and then having 3000 or so idolaters of his own tribe killed (that some claim this histrionics’ “finest” hour).
On the other hand you have social Christian conservatives who complain about spoiling America’s prisoners and calling for harsher punishments.
On another hand you have the New Testament’s John 2:18 saying: “He that believeth not is condemned already … properly belongs to hell”, which is psychological blackmail and coercion in a sense. On the other hand you have John Locke saying in this 2nd Treatise of Government:
“He who attempts to get another man in his absolute power does hereby put himself in a state of war withy him … he who would get me into his power without my consent would use me as he pleased when he had got me there, and destroy me too when he had a fancy to it … fore nobody can desire to have me in his absolute power unless it be to compel me by force … that is to make me a slave.” (Sound like a foreign power tactic?)
Rather we citizens, even to this day, are arrested to a state of trepidation to the very idea of a final judgment due to its ramifications of hope or utter damnation. The paranoia was, and still is, enough to keep most off kilter from having equanimity to think freely and to question the lockstep of jackboot hell or conformist heaven.
Yet we, mortal egos, did not dreamily will, before our birthings: “Wow would it not be nice to be born into a world of political consequence where the odds against me, just then to die to a re-birthing into another political sphere that is equally risky and in which I just might be suffering a very long eternal time?” “Yes I want to chance that! Wow that sounds like a fair proposition by a loving and delightful Godhead to offer such a great bargain!
Meanwhile will the king allow me the right to speak for my own defense in his kangaroo court? Maybe? Will anyone have a right to speak in my defense? Will a judge to appointed who is predisposed of professionally required to even care about my opinion, carcass, or sense of impartial justice—even if I am allowed to speak? Or will I be cut off the minute I begin to speak?
Will there be opportunity of cross examination? Will I even be allowed at my own trial? Or how about a “public” trial—which is not the same thing as a sensationalized trial like that of O.J. Simpson. Are we looking at “secret” proceedings?
As likely it would be secret, similar to “privatized” corporate databases funded by public monies, but with no recourse to FIOA, secretly “profiling” information on masses of people, willy-nilly on dubious suspicion or political heresy, at the behest of those with power and wealth—which is itself a kind of “secret” gathering of judgment. That is thank to elected officials who passed the fascist Patriot Act and the and media fifth columnists who allowed it (officials who stymie on the question regarding whether water-boarding is torture so as to completely negate any focus or attention on people killed in the torture process).
We digress. Will there be a jury of “peers” in Orwell’s dystopia? Or might a public trial become a staged event to intimidate others? Dictators have had trials and elections—even if rigged.
Or you could be more or less left to rot. You could be starved of all food or water deprived. Chances of nutritious diet would not be terribly high. You could go deranged by a lack of specific amino acids, vitamins, minerals, or just caloric content.
There were no health inspectors worrying about building codes. Clean air was a relative term. Bathroom? Depends. And when would a nurse or chaplain have habit to come around? You had better have a long memory. Besides there is no suggestion doctors or interns are floating around hell healing burn scar tissue. God is not concerned—why should the hench guards? Things are presumed ghoulish—at least to artist renditions and biblical explanations rendered.
A Question of Justice:
Now with slavish prostration to the idea of “out-sourcing” prison management to private companies, will corporate types be so interested in profits that they will allow for inadequate consideration for the welfare of prisoners (given their performance and motives found lacking in Iraq)?
Or do we just accept bestial sneers like: “So what if they have to live and sleep in over-crowed conditions? So what if prisoners today are mistreated or neglected—they violated society’s laws and people in the process? Too bad if they do not have money or connections to hire good lawyers?
But what we especially note is not a weighted sense of citizenry justice—but rather an inflamed passion of hatred, revenge, and willingness to select the ideas one is willing to contemplate as rationalization.—the potential tyranny of either a outspoken minority or majority.
Justice is too often adjudicated by the tyranny of personality, politics, and inflamed prejudice and propaganda. Plato was right in his distrust of “absolute” democracy of the mob—in which he believed the average person was not especially wise in any learned sense. It is an ideological and political conceit to grant too much power to a base majority—especially when it is not well educated, nor curious to learn the particulars of a matter, but still zealously compulsive to jump to judgments nevertheless.
However, wariness of the tyranny of the self-righteous and aggressive is not to advocate for an elitist hierarchy as top down arbiter of injustice. Montesquieu was right when he advocated for a separation and balance of powers. Further it should be noted to Thomas Jefferson’s credit, he thought that it is because people are social that they have a moral sense: “… state a moral case to a ploughman and a professor and the former will judge it s well as the latter.” (And we note neither was inundated by right-wing radio hosts casting spells on insipid and stupid minds—the fact is there was some residual of intellect in the 18th century—now we cannot even presume it inside the beltway).
Whereas the CFO of Enron got six years (no small amount) for that company’s snakes bilking millions or billions; we have right-wing radio hosts scoring big points screaming for tough love harsher treatment for the likes of blue-collar people or minorities who are busted for being addicts. Meanwhile profits are up for 4-profit imprisoning corporations.
Pathetic Apathy Goes to the Pharmacy:
How is it that the human mind can so readily disassociate self from those whose fates suffer un-rightly?
[Note: This may sound like bleeding heart and liberal whining to some, but this is not arguing that criminals never deserve incarceration, or that some are not despicable persons and personalities. The point is why does the public not monitor these institutions of human hell more closely so there is some humane treatment—rather than allowing for the potential of cruel and unusual punishment?]
There is a kind of national character that reflects a mirror on a moral system that is too negligent and too vengeful. Alex de Tocqueville said in 1835: “In America … the spirit of gain is always on the stretch … the human constantly diverted from the pleasures of imagination and the labors of the intellect, is there swayed by no impulse but the pursuit of wealth”. Well what about more curiosity in respect to how society works and common responsibility for prisoner welfare?
As an existential threat one rhetorically needs to ask: “How is it that some souls are imagined to be eternally happy in heaven (in the afterlife paradise) if they readily know, on a moment by moment basis, that other souls are “eternally” suffering in a hell with no possibility of parole or redemption? How could a true spirit of conscience make pardon for this nonchalance or indifference?
It seems that the only way presumptively heaven bound people (the chosen) could come to view eternal torture and damnation as divine justice is either through brainwashing, dis-association, prejudice, fascist personality, or enough psychological isolation of not really being able to appreciate what goes on in hell, or gulag, or Guantanamo, etc?
Heaven then must be some metaphor for the well-to-do suburban lifestyle of the middle and upper classes with the right pedigrees? It must be for those people eternally distracted form serious issues that have the luxury of ignorance and wealth accumulation—even if one’s country’s “real” foreign policy is forever violating the rights and needs of foreign peoples—for the chosen minority?
The Land of the Free:
In the last 50 years or so the incarceration rates in America have increased “ten” fold. Does this sound like a potential evolution of a police state? Or is American really that criminal that it needs more prisoners locked up per capita than all other cultures? Or are some in power anticipating a need to imprison masses of people in the future so they continue to build new prisons?
When conditions in a prison are crowded then fights and hostility ore likely ensues. Riots and gang wars more likely ensue. Social scientists the world over knows these truths about crowded animal and human conditions.
Prison torture can include things as simple as excess noise and living with mentally ill but dangerous people. There are a lot of psychological conditions that can make for a hell. It does not have to be actual violence.
Too many prisoners today are not even doing time for violent or serious crime. In fact too many are in for drugs and that are not necessarily that dangerous—that are not as detrimental to self or society as alcohol. What a price tag for taxpayers!
Fox Butterfield in the New York Times wrote of a study which found more mentally ill in jail that in hospitals. Have we regressed backwards—to days before revolutionaries like Dr. Jean Charot—the man who challenged the idea that mentally ill should be locked up as “deserving” of criminal treatment because hey were thought to have sinned against God as reason for their insanity? That was back in the 17th century.
And speaking of the institutionally insane, her you are again left off earlier in the king’s dungeon—or did you expect to have been sprung so easily? Bail? What is a bondsman? You would not be here in the first place had you connections or bribe money.
Fire fir warmth? You’re a funny waif. It doesn’t take you a fortnight to realize that a blanket is a nice thing indeed. But you have plenty of time to contemplation the physics of heat conduction—especially on that full stomach.
Your only company may be your bodily fluids. The proximity of your defecation (“dung” as in dungeon) is now your estate. With no running water? This is by decree of Divine Right of Kings! Why in London they chop off your head!
“Jurisprudence is the academic term for understanding the philosophy and psychology of law, and the application of its principles to a given society. The word is composed of two roots: ‘juris’ as related to ‘justice’ and ‘prudence’ which implies wisdom and foresight.
Justice, prudence, and wisdom are not attributes of virtue that one just happens to inherit when growing up. How does one learn to deal with other human beings—those variety of personalities and dispositions—that exist in every community? How does one come to understand and hopefully accept various kinds of social arrangements that could be one’s lot—depending on history, culture, custom, circumstance, etc.?
So we now dare ask, as skeptics and cynics, as relevant to this book’s focus: “What does the Bible, as both Old and New Testaments, and the Koran, either guarantee, state or imply, about issues and criteria of justice—especially since there is so much foreboding reference to mankind being judged by the high God of the Middle East? The consequences loom large and are eternal. What principles of jurisprudence, if any, can any one expect in the Divine Court—save an appearance by the “accuser” or “adversary”?
An Eye For An Eye:
Is the “eye for an eye” clause of retaliation not in fact a second injustice perpetuated against a first injustice—especially when respect of one tribe against another—being it no more just?
Justice is indeed a human dilemma—to try to decide or act out in the real world of real political conflict. At times it is harder to judge as a human than as it would be for an all-knowing God removed from the real world. We live in a world of much gray matter and a rainbow of colors—not in a world of black and white. Real time judgment in a constantly changing world requires much learning—and a tolerance for mistakes—but even more a willingness to change one’s mind.
An eye for an eye is a form of justice to be sure—but it is a man made justice. It is not sacrosanct—just like killing 4 Palestinians for 1 Israeli killed is not a form of Divine Justice. Verbal excuses are in relation to what the market will bear—that is if one is not wrapped in the cloth of blind faith.
Humanity plays God when it feels empathy or sympathy for others. People come to believe that a just God can relate to the human condition and would do the same.
Is Justice Divinely Inspired?
Should law judges have some discretion in punishment? Are not circumstances different for each defendant? Why should politicians, who want to “appease” a perceived tyranny of outspoken voters, have the final say about somebody’s life, especially when justice is something they cannon much comprehend?
We live in a “spy” society that is evolving a massive campaign of social surveillance. Many technologies are introduced to solve one problem but police find new ways to use them for more and more violation of personal privacy.
Meanwhile people are continuously terrorized into thinking to not trust strangers, or men, or sex offenders, or terrorists, or foreigners, etc. Everyone is suspect. The Nazi template is happening all over again with the gullible middle class drinking the Kool-Aid. Only this time right-wing Zionists are equally involved in the brown shirt production. Someday even white, middle class Christians will be eligible cell mates with brown Muslim political prisoners.
Currently Californians en masse went along with the three strikes your out law (because theory always sounds better on paper). The official word is that these criminals all are “vetted” as too dangerous—but ridiculous parodies of justice are glaringly apparent. Petty larceny crimes are putting people back into prison for life. Whereas perpetrators of corporate scandal steal billions see not a single day in jail.
Better Than the Third World!
Yes prison life is definitely better here than in many other parts of the world. Harsh legal systems have people so cramped that they can not move while sleeping on the floor. It is worst than chickens and pigs in large corporate farms.
So why is not the State Department not particularly focused on penal systems around the world—not just countries we don’t like—but countries we consider business partners? Why is there not more news about the penal systems in Iraq today? What does it mean to “export” democracy?
Dinesh D’Souza says in a news paper article that religion provides something that secular society does not—a vision of transcendent purpose. He says it seems perplexing that nature would breed a group of people who see no higher purpose to life or the universe.
Well maybe it has something to do with “real” justice on earth—rather than castles in the sand? But then he D’Souza is the same person, in his The Enemy At Home: The Cultural Left and Its Responsibility for 9/11, who supposedly wrote ridiculous assertions about America’s leftists while he raged against the separation of Church and State.
But even more fundamental is the question of what is the nature of the Church and the nature of the State—why should anyone presume such character is automatically of quality?
It is citizens’ responsibility to learn what his or her country’s internal policies and actual practices in regard to prisoners (in reality) including all countries the State Department has relationship (Israel and its penal system as well). If necessary it may mean challenging inhumane conditions—not presuming an omnipresent “state” or swashbuckling security company to take care of the matter. Do we really want a Monarchy Mentality and evolving Police State in this country—because that is what we are fast track getting?
Blind Faith or Legality of Justice?
Chapter Two: Abrahamic Models Of Governance
From title: WHEN GOD BECAME THE TERRORIST: Traces of the Authoritarian Personality in the Three Abrahamic Religions. By Sam Staples as Devil’s Advocate
Authoritarianism, politically speaking, is a style of control that demands obedience and usually gets it. Individuals have little choice regarding compliance. It hardly needs mentioning that this style of command and control is different from legalized authority written as legislation and negotiated between governors, representatives and citizens.
Psychologically, authoritarian personality traits refer to those attitudes and opinions that allows for a basis of prejudice, discrimination and oppression. As defined as such it is a mindset so composed that it is obviously opposed to democratic principles of sharing power.
In modern societies authoritarians tend to align themselves with fascist and oligarchic statism. Authoritarians are generally intolerant of ambiguity, as they tend to see things within the strictures of realities being either black or white. And it appeals to personalities who view things in such simplicity as: “You are either for us or you are against us”, with no middle ground or alternative explanations considered valid.
Yet according to studies on such personalities traits, those who share authoritarian bents often are, ironically, submissive to an already established authoritarian order (and not terribly critical of the quality), although they tend to manipulate such authority toward their own ends—if and when they can.
More often than not, as theory has it, these types of people come from homes that used heavy doses of punishment, both psychological and physical, as domestic forms of justice. They are established more in poor neighborhoods that are less educated, and are less psychologically familiar with nuances of perspective and tolerance (such as tolerance for sensitivity and consideration—or what are stereotypically called feminine traits).
However there are also highly educated authoritarians—but as a rule of thumb, the more school on average, the less so. And if this sounds like academic crap—it is—because studies have shown these tendencies to be features of this type of personality.
Some people driven to be authoritative also go into professions that require a good deal of combative verbal finesse such as lawyers, bosses in general, some editors or opinionated yappers, including those “professional” deception artists that have come to flourish in the political think tanks and America’s corporate media.
There is also, to be sure, a form of authority that is built on merit and competence. Professional authority comes more in play today, as most professionals require various amounts of expertise that can help counter balance rash impulse and stubborn will. Their authority is not derived from raw ambition. It is founded on skill, insight, ability to relate to others, etc., and is proportional to the expertise they bring to bear on issues.
Still authoritarian sensibilities gravitate towards a right-wing status quo. They often “project” (attribute) some of their own impulses (those found unacceptable within themselves that may be unconscious to self) onto outsider people or groups. Not surprisingly they tend to be suspicious and accusing. Plus they are more willing to resort to aggressive measures to get ends met. Authoritarians, on average, also fear intellectuality, creativity, and tolerance.
These fears, when stressed, can take refuge (if not countered) in rigidity, control, and violence. Therefore such people who share these traits are more likely to resort to discrimination, anger, harsh punishment, and under stress, even torture and murder.
According to one dictionary, “rightists” advocate conservative and reactionary political and economic policies. They are willing to restrict the masses with oligarchical rule. They tend to favor laissez faire and “strong” executive power. And the “extreme” right supports fascist dictatorships.
But despite their aggressive exteriors, authoritarians, on average, do not have strong self-concepts of personal independence or autonomy (although they may have heavy accomplishment in various areas of endeavor—such as military or police service). In fact like couch potato sport fans, which do not themselves stay physically fit, they tend to vicariously glorify leaders who rule with the qualities they admire but may not have.
[Note: On the other hand we also note that some of the left, who think themselves liberal or tolerant, also at times, display faults such as excess of pride that steps over into hubristic arrogance when contemplating their own intellectual prowess. Equally some from the leftist camps manage to maintain, more or less, their own sacred cows of distorted bias and prejudice—which equally is a form of rigidity. Some fall into the trap that if a Hence there can be a distaste for rigorous honesty on both sides of the isle that may hide behind masks of feelings of superiority. In fact a propensity to see things as basically on the left or right is itself a black and white template.]
The Plasticity of Language:
Languages are fluid. They cannot easily be commandeered to operate in “total”-itarian and absolute manners. Some people try to make language, and its meanings, to operate as such—but ultimately such trials fail. Languages do not readily conform to rigid demands for inflexibility.
Nevertheless, given the Bible’s long historical “presumption” of infallibility as a document of words, mankind has declined to realize that in order for a “perfect” religious truth to exist it would require a perfect and infallible language. Each word would be limited (perhaps more likely oral traditions) to one, more or less, exact meaning. Therefore there would be little need to have any kind of priestly intermediary to interpret ambiguities for lay peoples.
Instead, what society inherits from the ancient past are mountains of religious verse and a potentiality of infinite interpretation—that require multiple lifetimes of study as well as and an infinitude of patience and wisdom. Such voluminous religious literature could provide any kind of personality the verbal justification for almost any kind of propensity. Centuries upon centuries of scripture and their scholarly opinions have provided various religious communities with enough semantic confusion to bury the most ambitious of readers and thinkers.
Confusion can spring from the ambiguity and ambivalence of even one word or phrase—never mind longer units of prose. Plus the sheer volume of scripture and revered writings again shows us how intricately language itself, as enterprise of human meaning, is tied to individualized word choice as both writer and reader.
People who fail to understand that human judgments were inscribed into the records of religious scripture, by way of how the human mind works, will not likely realize that propaganda was being used to manipulate readers’ beliefs and presumptions. These “historical” paradigms—even supposedly sacred papyritic scrolls and fine parchments handed down over multiple generations were human artifacts, similar to how culture attempt to create human history in deliberate and random choices of emphasis versus censorship.
Three Near Eastern Religions:
There are three religions that currently wield influence over vast numbers of people and cultures in the Near East, Middle East, as well as other societies around the world. They are, as you already know, Judaism, Islam, and Christianity. All three of these religions are related, and ultimately derive at least some of their ideology and attitude from the elderly Judaic religion, from which both Islamism and Christianity are offshoots.
So despite an inability of adherents to get along, or to see eye-to-eye, all three religions are in a sense still family. This “familiarity” is an important point, as some of the followers of any one religion tend to hold animosity toward adherents of the other two. There are attitudes of intolerance by members within all three—breeding, if you will, a kind of family dysfunctionalism.
Erstwhile Judaism, as a religion, was conceived (according to many theological scholars), at least partially, from significant ideas loaned from yet more ancient, as well as contemporaneous, religions—such as from the older religions of Babylonia, Assyria and Egypt. Hence there were similar religious motifs found taken from the greater Fertile Crescent, such as the great flood motif, that goes back to at least the 2nd millennium B.C., to the epics of Gilgamesh of the ancient Mesopotamian religion of Uruk (what is now within southern Iraq).
So despite what plenty of people want to believe, Judaism is “not” a unique or absolute religion molded strictly out of a Divine Will. No—Israel loaned ideas from travelers passing through—just like Italian cooks loaned ideas from people sailing the Mediterranean sea. Their tribes borrowed several of their ideas and rituals from surrounding societies. Equally it seems true that Judaism, over much time, changed and solidified unique ideas as well.
This heretical assertion that religions take ideas and rituals from earlier religions makes sense. Scholars have concluded, that as religions evolve and slowly change, they do so, not out of a vacuum, but from cultural influences they interact—coalescing and amalgamating ideas to eventuate a different set of religious interpretations and proclamations.
This phenomenon of borrowing ideas eventually included incorporating philosophical sentiments from Plato’s and Aristotle’s works as applied to newer interpretations and writings of the New Testament. It is natural that various ideas and customs, in general, tend to spread and intermingle or inter-tangle with foreign cultures. There is no pure religion from the Middle or Near East. Most archeologists would agree that much sharing of goods and thought is ancient indeed.
It is not just “abstract” ideals that compose religious belief systems. Human personality (psychology), and tribal politics (sociology) play a big part in how religious values and literature evolve. And part of the “politics” of religion is found in the “spin” placed on which ideas take precedence for a given culture, group or person, at any given time—and which ideas prevail as over-riding psychology.
For example, are there relationships between the psychology of religions as forms of governance (sociology) and how the psychology of politic systems play out on earth (law)? And is such an analysis worth contemplating or mining for insight?
After all tribes and societies need some way of establishing rules of conduct and value systems. Or how would a basis of establishing predictable norms and a sense of morality evolve? Without such institutions there will be much anarchy and chaos. It would be the insecure self against a world of all unpredictable others. Such a non-society of chaos is what political philosopher John Locke, in his 1690 Treatises of Civil Government, used to explain how and why a “social contract” evolved.
Religions and secular legal frameworks work toward similar ends—they reinforce social values and established rules of conduct and morality. Thus religion is as much the study of sociology as it is a study of theology. In fact the separation of the church as state is a recent development of the 17th century enlightenment espoused especially by John Locke.
It is not mere coincidence, that despite whether there is any actual life or judgment after death, adherents to “humane” religious precepts have reason to treat one another with care or concern while living in the present moments here on earth—including the helping of the downcast?
As people presume an all-knowing God judges them—they do so in respect to how they act toward their fellowmen within their lifetimes in this realm. So religions have sociological ramifications. As even Moses’ purported Decalogue of Ten Commandments were mostly for the establishment of rules for that tribal society as mortal interaction. These Commandments also included a definite hierarchy of authority as “one” supreme God that tolerates no others explained by later echelons of priestly caste.
Does That Old Time Religion Still Matter?
The question before us today is whether it can be convincingly argued that Judaism, and its two branch religions of Christianity and Islamism, the three basic “mono-theistic” religions, were predicated, at least partially, on a foundation of “authoritarian” rule?
And we ponder with similar gravity the following question: “Is it ‘justice’ (as in ‘juridical’) for humanity to ask: “Are there traces of an authoritarian personality (as prophesized and espoused) in the Old Testament that eventually allowed variations of authoritarian interpretation for both Christianity’s New Testament and Islam’s Koran?” ” And, if such an argument can be made cogent and feasible, does such authoritarianism, seem at times, to espouse vengeance, retaliation, intolerance, or war as a psychology that would engender unreasonable fear of violence or threat?
If such an argument can be convincingly made—that Abrahamic religions contain elements of right-wing authoritarian personality and tactic—then how does modern society learn to comprehend the “humanity” of religion in all its paradoxical breadth and do so with wisdom? How do current cultures integrate the healthier, more progressive values of ancient religions into the present age (forms of spiritual reverence deemed worthy), while neutralizing right-wing aspects? How does humanity deal with politics that is currently trying to justify conflicts by manipulating religious prejudice as cause of another—such as the current attempt to dehumanize those people of Iran’s religious culture?
[Note: For the record this series of chapters as critical analysis is “not” meant to “not” recognize the “many” positive contributions religions and spiritual practices have made for many millions of individuals around the world throughout the centuries. Neither is this book meant to argue that religions or believers, per se, are mostly misguided. Also, it is not the purpose here to argue that religions are, on the whole, a negative phenomena. Rather the opposite—religious and spiritual practice is important to humanity precisely because it reinforces and esteems certain social values that need to be practiced on an individual, communal and international basis.]
However we choose to examine some religious ideas through some very skeptical prisms—because we can come to realize that a lot of what a man believes to be true or sacrosanct is not necessarily so—and can even be detrimental.
Making claims “for” God or “about” God, no matter how ancient, or revered as sacred printed context, is not necessarily the same thing as actually representing a God—assuming that such a thing as speaking for God could even be done. Many people have made claims regarding the intentions and authority of various Gods (that amount to egos speaking for “projected” egos), when in fact their own mental filtering systems and imaginations of personality, or cult, or culture, have played a major role in those “purported” claims about God’s word and intent—including prophesies proscribed in the “Holy” scripture.
Skepticism toward “human” interpretation of anything metaphysical or religious should not be surprising to open-minded thinkers—since even “within” religious literature and its history, there were many accusations of heresy, false Gods, and false prophets—usually with the background goal of creating an outsider person, sect or religion in relation to a presupposed insider group. One would get lost trying to understand how many religions and cults have competed against each other over the centuries. Cynically, the skeptic realizes an irony—that competitor religions claim their own outlook and belief systems to be the most correct.
[Note: Within the limits of human knowledge mankind reels at the infinite and notes the abundance of life’s miracles (wonders). He speculates that there must be some “force” much greater and more glorious than mankind’s limited awareness. The spectacularity of the cosmos could be caused by no other than an ultimate Divine Presence. But people vary in how much they think they know about such a force. “Agnostics” as in (‘a-‘ not ‘gnosis’ knowing) do not think that mankind has a capacity to ultimately know whether God does or does not exist. Whereas, both “theists” (‘theo’ God) and “atheists” (‘a-‘ not ‘theo’ God) presume a human capacity to know such things. Theists “know” that God exists, and presume to know his “mind” through religious teachings. Whereas atheists “know” God does not exist. Hence agnostics are modest in presumption about any human capacity to know these kinds of reckonings. A fourth category of believers is called a “deist” who believes in a God of nature that becomes known through human inference and reason as opposed to revelation and dogma of a scriptural sort. Many of our important founding fathers were deists—as deism was a popular movement in the 17th century that tried to reconcile scientific rationalism with faith.]
Ultimately knowledge or awareness of God, or the Great Spirit, or whatever name used to refer to a Creator or Ultimate Cause, is “not” something “owned” by one, or a few, religious cultures—save the dogmatism of an authoritarian mindset and literature, or tradition, that says otherwise. In fact the more adamant one is sure he or she knows with absolute certainty what is religious reality—the more skepticism is in order.
Given mankind’s natural fallibility and naiveté, divine meaning is not likely to be perfectly codified by any one set of documents or religious people. As even well established religions, over conservative amounts of time, have changed perspectives and grown with new interpretations.
It is difficult to assert opinion about religion and faith as verifiably true. This is equally the case for any investigation of religious faith. However the previous statement about no culture “owning” true still seems intuitively true—irrespective of whether followers of various religions believe otherwise. It seems true no matter how great the number in opposition (or how indignant their hostility) to such independent assertions. Anger, hostility and attack are often red flags that indicate emotional blackmail. People sometimes express anger when they experience fear; but anger in no way indicates that rival points of view are of a sounder sense of truth.
One could even argue that the search for truth is the search for God—in all its paradoxes and mystical states of realization. Rhetoricians could argue all form and manner of truth defying sophistry arguing many a sundry things about the Divine.
Politics and the politics of religion (as in all social activity) is full of anger, self-righteousness, fuming excoriation, blame tactics, accusations, name-calling, lies, threats of damnation, etc. But making demands or threats via self-righteous posturing and claiming one’s own point of view right beyond doubt does not make it so. Intimidation is a tactic of those ready to use “coercion” psychology in their righteousness road to be right. Seemingly then there is a certain amount of egoism in all form of assertion—but we digress.
Communities of people who lived three or four thousand years ago had many of the same social dilemmas that we have to day. Obviously they were more primitive in many ways and levels—but the human condition has not changed. How did they come to organize their reality systems?
More generally should we ask “who” (which humans) decided what canons were to become those as officially recognized, and which beliefs were to be rejected—and why? More importantly what personality traits, such as those of church clerics, saints, and prophets, that attempted to describe God’s intent, did so in fashion descriptive of their “own” preferential outlooks and political tendencies? In another words how much of themselves (psychic traits) did they interject into what eventually became officiated (or negotiated) as “orthodoxy” about religious belief and the Divine?
[Note: Hence this analysis forthrightly presumes, and thus alleges, that "all” human interpretation of religious doctrine (as well as all recordings of alleged angelic interventions, and alleged interactions dealing directly with the Divine), is by nature a human and mortal enterprise—including all words purported to have been spoken by Moses, Mohammad, Jesus, and other Biblical prophets. Religions herein are recognized as artifacts of mankind and culture.]
Equally, and especially, there have been many heated and controversial debates about the “nature” of Jesus. Was he totally divine, totally human, or both divine and human? Did he have different essences during different parts of his life? Did he first come into existence at birth or was he always in existence? Is he equal to God the Father or subordinate? On and on went the many church debates regarding the nature and essence of Jesus. These disagreements within early Chr
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