Conner Habib, on Progressives Disconnect From Spirituality |401|

#1
Conner Habib, on Progressives Disconnect From Spirituality
by Alex Tsakiris | Feb 5 | Spirituality
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Conner Habib is a sex workers’ rights advocate with a rigorously intellectual take on spirituality.
photo by: Skeptiko
Charlie Chaplin, The Great Emperor: “I’m sorry, but I don’t want to be an emperor. I don’t want to rule or conquer anyone. I should like to help everyone if possible. We all want to help one another. Human beings are like that. We want to live by each other’s happiness, not by each other’s misery. We don’t want to hate and despise one another. In this world there’s room for everyone and the good earth is rich and can provide for everyone, the way of life can be free and beautiful, but we have lost the way. Greed has poisoned men’s souls”.
Alex Tsakiris: So, if you are materialistically focused and you’re disconnected from the spiritual compassionate part, we can all see that and point at that and go, “Oh, how terrible.” But when we see the atheist Heather Berg, USC disconnect, we’re unable to do the same and say, “Well, your compassion is disconnected from the deeper spiritual reality.”
“It cries out for universal brotherhood, for the unity of us all. Even now my voice is reaching millions throughout the world. Millions of despairing men, women and little children, victims of the system that makes men torture and imprison innocent people.”
Conner Habib: Ask ourselves consistently “Am I evil?” It’s almost like the opposite of, if you can ask yourself if you’re crazy, then you’re not crazy. If you can ask yourself if you’re evil, then you actually do have the potential to become evil, because if you never ask, then you’re just in this way of compulsive sleepwalking forces, like everybody else, and nothing you do is really evil, but also nothing you do is really good. Like, you’re not really acting out of intention at all, so you’re not really able to extend to love and compassion for a real and an intentional purpose, for a meaningful way to people. And that is the gift of the possibility of evil to us, that’s the gift of free will to us, is that, the separation, the ability to do evil means that if we look at that, we ask ourselves that, then we can do good in the world.

I have an interview coming up in a minute with Conner Habib, and you just heard both of us talking over the very great and famous Charlie Chaplin clip from the The Great Dictator. And while I almost feel like we can’t possibly do justice to a clip like that, I did want to set the stage for a discussion that I feel like has been going on in the background here on Skeptiko for a while, and that is the link or maybe better said, the disconnect between spirituality and progressive social thinking. I mean, when you listen to Charlie Chaplin, who the heck disagrees with any of that? But at the same time, does anything Charlie Chaplin is saying there, does any of that make any sense, if there isn’t a larger spiritual reality?
So, in this interview we talk about that. It takes us a little while to get there, there’s a lot of other things that Conner and I talk about. It was a great chat, a really interesting chat, and I appreciate having the opportunity to talk to Conner, since I’ve known him for quite some time and he’s never been on Skeptiko.
 
#2
This is an interesting interview, and I'll listen to it in sections.

I was interested in what Conner had to say about sex with spiritual beings (good and bad). It has seemed to me for a long time that the sexual act is so down to earth - just nerves being activated by friction - almost like scratching an itch - that its real significance has to be almost totally non-material. I mean, people may risk their very lives so that one particular person can scratch their itch, and vast quantities of poetry and music is concerned with the manoeuvring that precedes this seemingly mechanical act!

My hunch would be that other aspects of life have the same part spiritual quality, but that sex is the most extreme example of this.

David
 
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Ask ourselves consistently “Am I evil?” It’s almost like the opposite of, if you can ask yourself if you’re crazy, then you’re not crazy. If you can ask yourself if you’re evil, then you actually do have the potential to become evil, because if you never ask, then you’re just in this way of compulsive sleepwalking forces, like everybody else, and nothing you do is really evil.”


I disagree. The very act of not questioning your moral fortitude is a form of evil. It’s like getting arrested for something you didn’t know was illegal. Too bad, it’s your responsibility to know. But of course I agree with what he’s getting at obviously. Let’s actually DO question or moral grounding.

But it does raise an interesting question. How much of our morals are inherent vs social programming? We know that, statistically, people with bad parents are absolutely more likely to be bad parents to their own children. Is it fair to them to expect them to have a strong sense of right and wrong as those of us with normal upbringings have had? I think we have to demand that everybody in society has to be good or be punished, irregardless of their upbringing or circumstances. But on the deepest moral level, are they maybe less guilty than somebody with a good upbringing might be? I guess that’s possible, which maybe is Connor was actually getting at.
 
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#4
"Is there a disconnect between progressive social causes that we all identify with and believe in: universal love and harmony and freedom and justice. Is there a disconnect between that and spirituality, in that do any of those things make sense in an atheistic biological robot paradigm?"

Alex,

Can you provide some objective reference or context for asserting universal love, and harmony, and freedom and justice are progressive social causes?

Is that just your opinion or is there some author or historical document, or movement's declaration that asserts this?

Because my observation is that freedom and justice and love and harmony are not progressive social causes. Equality of outcomes, and the "right" to be protected by the government seem to me to be what progressivism is about. Progressives have no love for conservatives, we are consistently mischaracterized(1) as racists, and nazis and demonized and dehumanized by progressive leaders(2). No love there, no harmony either. And part of the progressive idea of harmony seems to be protection from alternative points of view which is hypocritical because it means "harmony" for progressives but not for others.

Freedom and Justice are traditionally conservative values. We are criticized for loving justice by progressives as they consider it authoritarian(3) Progressives favor social justice which is a mockery of true justice. True justice is equal treatment under the law, for everyone, while social justice gives certain groups special protection under the law. Social justice which is really social Marxism tells people they cannot succeed because they are oppressed which in their way of thinking is good because success is a sign of being an oppressor.

These are my opinions from observing progressives through the news media and my personal experiences with family members (my entire extended family are progressives, I am the only conservative) but if someone wants to provide evidence I am wrong I would be interested to examine it.

As to the question at the end of the podcast, I would say progressive leaders' only belief is in more power for themselves and this is entirely consistent with scientific materialism. What the followers of progressive leaders believe, in this context, is something I will leave for progressives to explain for themselves, but I suspect that for many of them there is a disconnect between what they think they believe in and what they really believe in. It is also relevant to point out here that people do not use logic to form their beliefs, they use logic to defend their beliefs, so I would not be surprised by seeming disconnects, they don't really signify anything, they are the natural state of human mentality. All the controversies in the history of science show that the best explanation for the evidence is an opinion so any seeming disconnects are themselves just an opinion.

Notes:
2) https://www.dailywire.com/news/35674/mad-maxine-waters-brags-she-threatens-trump-joseph-curl
“There are those who said we lacked civility when I got up and talked about the President’s Cabinet, and I said if you see them anywhere, if you see them at a restaurant, if you see them in a department store, even at a gasoline station, just tell them you’re not welcome here or anywhere,” Waters said to cheers.

“And so, it frightened a lot of people, and of course the lying president said that I had threatened all of his constituents,” Waters said. “I did not threaten his constituents, his supporters. I do that all the time, but I didn’t do it that time,” she said.
https://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/11/us/politics/hillary-clinton-basket-of-deplorables.html
“You know, to just be grossly generalistic, you could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables. Right?” she [Hillary Clinton] said to applause and laughter. “The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic — you name it. And unfortunately there are people like that. And he has lifted them up.”
https://townhall.com/tipsheet/kevin...obama-calls-americans-bitter-clingers-n718551
Barack Obama:
You go into these small towns in Pennsylvania and, like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing's replaced them. And they fell through the Clinton administration, and the Bush administration, and each successive administration has said that somehow these communities are gonna regenerate and they have not.
And it's not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy toward people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.
1) http://ncu9nc.blogspot.com/2017/02/what-someone-should-say-at-political.html
* Below is a list of political issues and differing opinions about them. My aim is not to convince anyone to change their opinion but to show that reasonable people may have different opinions for legitimate reasons.

Abortion

  • A woman has a right to control her body.

  • The rights of a person start at the moment of conception and it is wrong to destroy a helpless individual.
Immigration

  • People should be allowed to come to the US to have the same economic opportunities as citizens or to find sanctuary from war or persecution in their home country.

  • Immigration should be regulated because too many immigrants may lower wages or compete for jobs. Terrorists, drugs, and criminals might enter the country when borders are not protected. Too many illegal immigrants may strain the resources of cities causing property taxes to rise which also increases the cost of rental housing.
Environmentalism

  • Regulations are needed to protect the environment.

  • Unnecessary regulations hinder economic growth. Reducing regulations will cause economic growth which will force employers to compete for workers resulting in improved working conditions and raiseng salaries that will help workers provide for their children.
Government funding of arts and media.

  • Art and media enrich our culture and government funding is needed to support works that would not be produced by private enterprise.

  • Different people have different opinions about art and media and it is not the government's proper role to force people to pay taxes for works that they do not want to pay for or that express opinions they disagree with.
Judicial Appointments

  • The US constitution was written a long time ago when our culture was different than it is today and we need judges who will interpret the constitution in a way that is appropriate for our current conditions

  • Different people have different opinions on many issues and judges should interpret the law as it was written not according to their personal opinions or preferences. Some judges might hold progressive views, others might hold conservative views and the only way to ensure fair rulings is for judges to rule on the law as it was written not according to their personal views. Appointing a judge who will interpret the law as it is written is the best way to compromise between those who want a progressive interpretation of the law and those who want a conservative interpretation of the law. If the laws that were written in past times are not appropriate for us today, then there are mechanisms to update and amend them. It is not appropriate for judges to do this unilaterally.
The Electoral College

  • It is undemocratic and unfair when the candidate for president who gets the most votes does not win the election.

  • When the states agreed to form a nation, the less populous states were concerned that their interests would be ignored by the more populous states so they all agreed to put protections for smaller states in the constitution. These protections include the electoral college and the US senate. Every state that joined the US since that time agreed to abide by the constitution and eliminating the electoral college after this agreement would be unfair to less populous states.
The Minimum Wage

  • Working people deserve a wage that will provide for the necessities of life.

  • When the minimum wage is too high, it makes it impossible for young people to find entry level jobs because they lack skills that can provide an adequate value to their employer. If young people cannot get entry level jobs, then they will never develop skills and experience needed to get higher paying jobs. Raising the minimum wage also increases the incentive for employers to use automation to replace workers making jobs for unskilled workers even scarcer.
One of the things Jonathan Haidt has been speaking about and writing about is that the differences between liberals and conservatives are not very large. They both agree that certain things are important and, in fact, these priorities are common to all human cultures world wide. Where liberals and conservatives differ is on which of the priorities are more important.

These differences are easily settled by democratic processes. However the trouble starts when politicians, journalists and other professional provocateurs, who benefit from controversy get involved. It's like when there are two friends and a third person, a troublemaker, goes between them lying to each one about what the other said. Once they are fooled by the lies, the fake dispute takes on a life of its own because because now they think the other side is "bad" and they really do start saying nasty things about each other. It continues back and forth with the help of politicians and journalists continually fanning the flames.

This is what Trump means when he says the fake news media is the enemy of the people.

https://ncu9nc.blogspot.com/2016/01/jonathan-haidts-constructive-approach.html


3) Despite criticism to the contrary by progressives, conservatives are not authoritarian. We love liberty which is the opposite of authoritarianism. It is progressives who want to use government to control social behavior, for example by criminalizing speech who are authoritarian. Conservatives in the US understand that government power is easily and often abused and we want government to have only those powers explicitly granted by the constitution. Conservatives support the constitution, not because we are authoritarian, but because the constitution limits the power or government, it is a document that protects liberty not one that enforces authoritarianism.
 
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#5
Commenting on this thread in general, as opposed to the question posed by Alex....

What I know of politics is that to speak of noble causes, freedom, liberty, and the like, are to confuse politics with how it is believed in, as opposed to how it is practiced.

It is a fiction. The real power in this world cares not for this perpetual sandbox argument in the public sphere. Measures of left and right, and their inherent rightness or wrongness, are all trivializations, IMHO, to distract oneself from the great work.

All politics is coercive, ultimately corrosive, and in all configurations, amoral.

The Taoists were on to something; to write down laws is to invite trouble. The over management of variables is a system of thinking that the world needs to be controlled, or ruin will ensue. The bureaucracy is expanding to meet the ever expanding needs of the bureaucracy.

The real question for me is why must we revisit this empty poltical well on every corner of the internet and expect to find water?
 
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Ask ourselves consistently “Am I evil?” It’s almost like the opposite of, if you can ask yourself if you’re crazy, then you’re not crazy. If you can ask yourself if you’re evil, then you actually do have the potential to become evil, because if you never ask, then you’re just in this way of compulsive sleepwalking forces, like everybody else, and nothing you do is really evil.”


I disagree. The very act of not questioning your moral fortitude is a form of evil. It’s like getting arrested for something you didn’t know was illegal. Too bad, it’s your responsibility to know. But of course I agree with what he’s getting at obviously. Let’s actually DO question or moral grounding.

But it does raise an interesting question. How much of our morals are inherent vs social programming? We know that, statistically, people with bad parents are absolutely more likely to be bad parents to their own children. Is it fair to them to expect them to have a strong sense of right and wrong as those of us with normal upbringings have had? I think we have to demand that everybody in society has to be good or be punished, irregardless of their upbringing or circumstances. But on the deepest moral level, are they maybe less guilty than somebody with a good upbringing might be? I guess that’s possible, which maybe is Connor was actually getting at.
I think we all have the capacity to do evil things, just give us power.
 
#11
Commenting on this thread in general, as opposed to the question posed by Alex....

What I know of politics is that to speak of noble causes, freedom, liberty, and the like, are to confuse politics with how it is believed in, as opposed to how it is practiced.

It is a fiction. The real power in this world cares not for this perpetual sandbox argument in the public sphere. Measures of left and right, and their inherent rightness or wrongness, are all trivializations, IMHO, to distract oneself from the great work.

All politics is coercive, ultimately corrosive, and in all configurations, amoral.

The Taoists were on to something; to write down laws is to invite trouble. The over management of variables is a system of thinking that the world needs to be controlled, or ruin will ensue. The bureaucracy is expanding to meet the ever expanding needs of the bureaucracy.

The real question for me is why must we revisit this empty poltical well on every corner of the internet and expect to find water?
nice. but, don't we have to acknowledge the practical reality politics? for example, I love James Corbett On Anarchy And Voluntarism but it's totally unrealistic. somebody's got to coord the picking up the trash bins me and my neighbors roll out to the curb every week without having the Huns ride over the hill.
 
#12
I think it's critical to at least periodically examine one's own thoughts and actions to assess the virtue - or lack thereof - of the path one has been following. However, I also think that is an extremely challenging exercise and most often people get it wrong or generally fail.

First, there are psychopaths, borderline personalities and narcissists who, by definition of their pathology, assess the rightness or wrongness of their output based on nothing more than a positive answer to the question, "Did it work to get me what I want?" - So these types are hopelessly immune to a meaningful self-assessment in terms that the rest of us would generally agree is productive.

Then there's the rest of us. We have cognitive dissonance to get past (we want to see ourselves as "good" and it's psychologically painful to admit to being otherwise). Then, even if we get past the CD, we need to know what needs to change and what to change to. What is the model? What are the rules? Why?

I propose a new way, that can't be codified in detailed rules, would be difficult to teach and, admittedly has risks. To start with, IMO, our society has some pretty good laws. Murder is illegal, Rape is illegal, Robbery is illegal, etc - so there really isn't a need to contemplate those detailed moral rules. I mean you certainly can if you want, but it seems a waste of time.

What really counts and need to be assessed is your daily interactions with others and with yourself. Personal morality is a matter of being kind to your essential self and growing it. Here, I don't think it makes sense to develop hard coded rule sets. This stuff can't be easily, perhaps not at all, applied across people because we're all different. IMO, it's more matter of how you feel, identifying where and how your energy is being drained, where you are failing to shine and why. I find that large doses of psychedelics sufficiently take one beyond one's every day self such that one can feel one's energies, examine the path that one is on and where it is adding or detracting to the power of one's soul. The mushrooms, in particular, are excellent in this capacity. They can be brutal, ruthless, yet fair and honest mirrors, teachers, even judges if you ask them to show you the right way and how you are currently comparing to it. People can experience long lasting positive changes arising from these sessions.
 
#14
nice. but, don't we have to acknowledge the practical reality politics? for example, I love James Corbett On Anarchy And Voluntarism but it's totally unrealistic. somebody's got to coord the picking up the trash bins me and my neighbors roll out to the curb every week without having the Huns ride over the hill.
You are right. But the government is just the gang of Huns that took over all the other gangs and have figured out the best way to milk their subjects is to provide rule of law because they can get more from us in extortion (taxes) than the could by theft. There is no practical alternative, you can have smart Huns or dumb Huns, but they are all Huns. (And don't forget the biggest baddest gang - the people who control the government from the shadows outside the constitution.)
 
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#15
Why does the title feel the need to take a slap at progressives? That was hardly the main focus of the discussion. Try being inclusive rather than exclusive. I know the conservative way is to band together around hating the same things, but give me a break. Liberals may be easily mislead and their compassion co-opted, but so is everybody these days - at least what liberal hearts want ultimately is fairness for all (including for conservatives) and a system that doesn't appeal and promote the worst in our natures. What monstrous villains! Buuuurrrrrrn them!

Ask yourself, is it having money that you like or is it that you have money when everyone else does not? That you are somewhat elite? What if you had the same spending/decision-making power you have now, but so does everyone else. Would that bother you? People who drive a lambo don't just want the car, they want the exclusivity of that car - it would have far less value if everyone else got one too. So truly a rich person's motive is to keep others down so they retain their exclusivity. And this is spiritual?

Ugh, I'm a long-time Skeptiko promoter often pushing these interviews and sharing links, but I've been on and off lately and I feel like I need to retract some of my endorsement. You want to add more data into the conversation and promote larger thoughts? Great, I'm in. You want to use your platform to tear things down? Eh, I'm not into that. Especially when you've shown yourself how you got Trump wrong; don't you think it's entirely possible that in the monopoly game of life we can't all be rich dad? They only let so many rich dads into the game and you're certainly speaking from a place of privilege having gotten there. Yes you worked at it, but your life circumstances allowed you to get there, your level of diction, your upbringing, your connections, your religion, your drive, your family, your inheritance, your color, your neighborhood -- so much is at play there that you can't possibly think we all had the same starting hand and you just happened to play your cards real good? Even if that was the case, there's not enough to go around when we allow inequality to run rampant the way it is. We can't all be rich dads and not all of us want that anyway. Most of us just want to get rid of unnecessary suffering, instability, and fear and our system keeps serving all of those in big heaping tablespoons. You really think God likes the American system? You think all these homeless people, all these shootings, the Flint water crisis, the environmental destruction to the relentless selfish maw of capitalism -- you think this might be a clue from the universe that something is wrong?

https://planetsave.com/2013/12/23/a...eling-wealthy-changes-our-behavior-ted-video/

http://planetsave.com/2013/10/12/ho...unctioning-and-promotes-risky-decison-making/

Neo-liberals are no more liberals than Nazi Socialist Party members are socialists. Please don't lump us together. The word liberal has been co-opted just like Trump co-opted the conservative party. Just like calling a bill a clean air act when it increases pollution. Or yes, co-opting feminism to promote Israel. You think liberals are the only ones who have been tricked through narrative? It's happening everywhere to everyone as we weaponize politics and opinion.

I've met progressive atheists that are FAR more spiritual than the most godly conservative - how can I say that? Because the conservative is selfishly motivated, "god loves ME, MY relationship with god, *I* am special... f*** everyone else, you just need to manifest harder" whereas even the atheist progressive is supporting God's creation, which is mankind. If god was subjective which do you think he'd find more godly? The guy basically worshipping himself using god as his lens or the guy who has no spiritual angle at all, but is dedicated to helping other people and making their lives better?

Our system is risky, wasteful, distributes wealth unfairly, promotes lying, deception, and exploitation, isn't comforting and supportive like a decent family is, it allows for entirely too much instability (like a roulette table we're always knocking all the chips off the table and starting over), and it has gotten us to the same inequality point where most major civilizations in the past have fallen apart at this stage. Capitalism is reckless, it is short-sighted, it subverts democracy (because corporations are hierarchical/fascist, not democratic), it promotes fear and desperation, and it is blind as hell because you never know what's coming down the pike (which also makes it easier to manipulate.)

You think all this child trafficking pedo stuff could happen in a society where women made their own money and weren't forced to sell themselves to survive or raise a child? I swear sometimes capitalism was invented so ugly rich a-holes can still get laid.

There are other ways to be. More spiritual ways to be. If you turn a blind ear to the song of progressives/socialists you're doing exactly what progressives have done when they throw the spiritual baby out with the religion bath water and don't hear what's actually useful there. God doesn't play dice with the universe and I very seriously doubt he/she would be encouraging us to play dice with our lives and economic futures. It's ridiculous. You really shouldn't be telling other people to grow up.
 
#16
I think we all have the capacity to do evil things, just give us power.

You don’t need power to show evil. I know I’ve done some things that I now consider evil that I struggle with to this day. It makes me wonder if it was meant to be a lesson. Something along the lines of “don’t judge somebody so harshly for doing wrong, you yourself are guilty.” None of these evils entailed physical harm, but they were harmful indeed.
 
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#17
First, there are psychopaths, borderline personalities and narcissists who, by definition of their pathology, assess the rightness or wrongness of their output based on nothing more than a positive answer to the question, "Did it work to get me what I want?" - So these types are hopelessly immune to a meaningful self-assessment in terms that the rest of us would generally agree is productive.
great point... and it seems to me that I'm not enough attention is paid to the signal/noise problem this creates. I mean, not everyone's opinion/disonfo matters.

Personal morality is a matter of being kind to your essential self
nice :)
 
#19
what liberal hearts want ultimately is fairness for all (including for conservatives)
ok, but I still don't like recycling... are you ok with that? is that fair? never mind, I have a friend in the politburo he can get them to come by and pick up my trash whenever I want.


I've met progressive atheists that are FAR more spiritual than the most godly conservative - how can I say that?
pls get one to come on Skeptiko.
 
#20
Ugh, I'm a long-time Skeptiko promoter often pushing these interviews and sharing links, but I've been on and off lately and I feel like I need to retract some of my endorsement. You want to add more data into the conversation and promote larger thoughts? Great, I'm in. You want to use your platform to tear things down? Eh, I'm not into that.
Remember that if you just pushed one podcast in 10, you might change people's minds. There is a lot of stuff here, and nobody is going to endorse all of it (except perhaps Alex!).
They only let so many rich dads into the game and you're certainly speaking from a place of privilege having gotten there. Yes you worked at it, but your life circumstances allowed you to get there, your level of diction, your upbringing, your connections, your religion, your drive, your family, your inheritance, your color, your neighborhood -- so much is at play there that you can't possibly think we all had the same starting hand and you just happened to play your cards real good? Even if that was the case, there's not enough to go around when we allow inequality to run rampant the way it is. We can't all be rich dads and not all of us want that anyway. Most of us just want to get rid of unnecessary suffering, instability, and fear and our system keeps serving all of those in big heaping tablespoons. You really think God likes the American system? You think all these homeless people, all these shootings, the Flint water crisis, the environmental destruction to the relentless selfish maw of capitalism -- you think this might be a clue from the universe that something is wrong?
We really, really don't understand the big picture - why we are here, and what we are 'supposed' to do. I sometimes think that this world only makes sense if it is a slice of a higher dimensional object where someone could see and experience a whole range of possible outcomes.

David
 
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