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History of Moral Dualism  

the entry point

I am a white man recently involved in contentious online discussions of race. (See discussion.) I am disturbed by the anti-white hatred floating around in our society. If I express opinions that show any sympathy for my people - white people - I am suspected of being a racist. That label, in turn, elicits the image of Ku Klux Klan members with hoods and burning crosses, racial lynchings, and skinheads beating defenseless blacks with tire irons. How did we become so hateful and divided?

I believe that all people, regardless of race or other personal characteristics, have points of view formed by their own experience. If there are differences between us, the best way to resolve them would be to sit down and discuss those differences. Try to understand the other person’s point of view. We must accord each other some degree of personal respect. We must listen to another’s opinion that differs from our own even if we ultimately disagree. Each human being has dignity.

Instead the currently prevailing approach is to demonize those with whom one disagrees. Do not listen to your opponent. Do not respond because that would “dignify” his point of view. Regard this person as an evil or insane character. Instead of meeting argument with counter-argument, attach a derogatory label to him. Attack the man personally instead of what you see as his mistaken views.

Initially, silence is the best response; after that, name calling. But never acknowledge that the other person is a human being who deserves respect. Never meet with him personally to discuss his opinions. Always regard him as beneath contempt. He is a worm.

what the civil-rights movement has become

My theory is that the racial divide today is not so much a matter of whites opposing blacks, or vice versa, as it is a difference of attitude within the white community. The problem, in my opinion, lies not so much with political conservatives - although they have many faults - as in the liberal/progressive/left or the social and cultural wing of the Democratic party. It is a legacy of the Civil Rights movement, now carried forward to the point of putrefaction.

There is no doubt that the black race has suffered under disadvantages and injustices in the United States. Blacks were victims of race-based slavery. After slavery was abolished, they occupied an inferior position in the segregated south. Many whites continue to be scornful of blacks, exhibiting racial hate.

The first two situations were addressed by military, political, and legal action. I doubt that many Americans would want to go back to a race-based caste system. Most would agree that hateful attitudes related to race or other innate conditions are something that people should struggle to overcome. That would be, however, a personal struggle, won by an honest self-examination and surrendering to feelings of kindness and good will, rather than the hard-edged political struggle that characterizes today’s race relations.

What I am saying is that while the Civil Rights movement embraced legitimate political issues, it left a legacy that has now become unhelpful. It has become a tool for political and corporate elites to keep people divided and weak. Different times bring different situations and require a different approach.

In the 1950s and 1960s, most white northerners were convinced that southern whites were abusing blacks and had to be stopped. And so we had a morally righteous or self-righteous group of people, many of them white, traveling to the southern states to engage in voter-registration drives to sign up black voters or otherwise lend moral support to the desegregation movement.

We had the Eisenhower administration sending federal troops to integrate public schools in Little Rock, Presidents Kennedy and Johnson meeting with Dr. Martin Luther King in the Oval office, glorious speeches and rallies with arm-locked participants singing songs, the shock of three political assassinations, and finally federal legislation to help dismantle segregated institutions in the south. The victory was so overwhelming and glorious that it created a model that has defined social relations in subsequent years.

What’s wrong with that? It’s that in order for the blacks to win this way, whites had to lose. The white south once again had to be humiliated as it was after the U.S. Civil War. This time, it was subdued by armies of lawyers, television crews showing how black protesters were targeted by water cannon or attacked by German Shepherd dogs, newspaper editorial writers, sermon preachers in several faiths, or, in other words, the intelligent and educated forces of righteousness overcoming the uncouth people of the rural south. It was Bobby Kennedy going up against Bull Connor and his ilk. This kind of story demonized a certain type of person - uneducated southern whites - while it glorified people who opposed them.

I remember the moral argument that was put to northern whites in those days. We were asked to confront our own racial prejudice. Prejudice meant that we tended to judge individuals by our preconceived notion of a group. If, for instance, we had seen particular black people living in run-down homes or engaging in acts of petty violence, we thought all blacks were this way. We were asked instead to be fair-minded and judge people according to their individual deeds.

By and large, the white population responded positively to that argument. The result, however, was that in confessing and addressing their own racial prejudice, whites became vulnerable to an even worse prejudice directed against themselves. Whites became inherently or institutionally “racist”. The stigma of group guilt has now become attached to them.

Since religious institutions played a part in this change of attitudes, I think it useful to recall certain words of Jesus. He said: “When an unclean spirit comes out of a man it wanders over the deserts seeking a resting place, and finds none. Then it says, ‘I will go back to the home I left.’ So it returns and finds the house unoccupied, swept clean and tidy. Off it goes and collects seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they all come in and settle down; and in the end the man’s plight is worse than before. ” (Matthew 12: 43-45) White racism is indeed “an unclean spirit”, but what has followed after its attempted eradication may be “worse than before”.

Today it is a matter of civic faith in all parts of the United States that the Civil Rights movement was justified, that it achieved an irreversible triumph, and anyone who disagrees is a bigot. The news media almost universally support that theme. And behind them are organizations such as the Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Center which identify and monitor “hate groups” - meaning that these people are evil and their opinions do not merit respectful attention.

Through media repetition, we come to equate extremist white people’s groups such as the Ku Klux Klan, neo-Nazis, or skinheads with acts of violence even though others, including black thugs and certain government agencies, have committed many more violent acts. Like Puritans hunting for women thought to be witches, our liberal/left purists are hunting for white racists to demonize. Theirs is a dark and hateful attitude that weighs down our society.

The culturally liberal media selects what it wants to report and endlessly repeats this. Hollywood, too, gets into the act of selectively and repetitiously demonizing certain groups of people. The result of this reinforced labeling is that a “brand” is created in the public mind for certain groups of people. No amount of reasonable argument can overcome that image: Whites with certain dissident views about race are “racist”, and white racists essentially want to lynch black people.

Once the Civil Rights “brand” is established, other groups can use it to their advantage. In the 1970s, certain women had the idea that, in many ways, they resembled southern blacks. Instead of being oppressed by white segregationists, they were oppressed by “patriarchal” society. Staying at home to raise children was like being relegated to an inferior social position. These feminist women wanted power. They wanted men collectively - sometimes known as “male chauvinist pigs” - to take the fall as white southerners had done a decade earlier. The forces of demographic righteousness would again triumph over social backwardness.

After that, in the 1980s, we had gays and lesbians applying the Civil Rights model to their cause. Their political opponents were “homophobes”. In this case, I have to admit that there was prejudice against homosexuals and some legal protection was merited. But since the Civil Rights model of politics has worked so well for other groups, we now have another militant group vilifying the opposition and demanding that others conform to their idea of appropriate speech in regards to “gay marriage”.

Another group following the Civil Rights model of politics is undocumented workers who once lived in another country and want a path to full citizenship despite having entered the United States without permission. Quite honestly, I cannot blame the immigrants for coming over the border freely if the U.S. government allowed this for so many years. However, those Americans whose communities were burdened with the social cost of immigrant families so that some employers would have access to cheap labor also have rights. Even as the government neglects their interest, they are being cast as “bigots”. The moralistic formula still applies: Either you are good or you are not. The content of your political thinking puts you in one category or the other.

There are arguments on both sides in regard to the grievances of various groups. Why cannot the several parties to a quarrel sit down together and hammer out a solution? In theory, that should be possible. In practice, however, the demonizing tendency of today’s politics will not permit it. The Democrats want to incorporate each group with Civil Rights-type grievances in their winning coalition of voters. The Republicans want to take advantage of a backlash among the remaining voters. The “mainstream” media and talk radio have their separate constituencies and like to stir the pot. There’s no profit in peace keeping.

We have, then, a polarized politics, pitting one birth-determined group against another. When a prominent person uses the wrong words to describe a certain group, there are immediate calls for his firing. Murders and rapes may be rampant but the media are more concerned with exposing politically incorrect speech. To engage in discriminatory acts toward certain groups is evidently worse than violence. How did our society become such a snake-pit of hateful attitudes? How did we come to give up our right to free speech and free thought?

I want to try to get to the bottom of this. We need to look more deeply into our culture to find the seeds of the present situation. The Civil Rights model of race relations is the starting point from which the more general divisiveness proceeded. Is there something in that model which explains today’s situation?

Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. DuBois

The Civil Rights movement is explained by the aftermath of slavery and Reconstruction following the U.S. Civil War when white southerners regained a measure of political control and forced blacks into a situation of “separate but equal” which was, in fact, inferior. Slavery was officially dead but social inequality and disparagement of blacks continued, especially in the southern states.

Let’s start with the differing approaches taken by two black leaders in the early days: Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. Dubois. Washington, a former slave, favored practical steps that blacks might take to improve their condition after emancipation. He founded a college,Tuskegee Institute, in Alabama to teach skills that would help blacks cope with life in a largely white society. He bore no ill will toward the white race but was, instead, counting on their support to help black people prosper and rise in society. He gained national prominence after his “Atlanta Address of 1895” and publication of his autobiography, “Up from Slavery” in 1901. That landed him an invitation to have dinner with President Theodore Roosevelt in the White House.

DuBois, a black man who grew up in western Massachusetts, saw rich white people behaving badly at a resort hotel in Minnesota where he worked one summer as a member of a touring glee club, waiter, and busboy before enrolling at Harvard in the following year and becoming the first black there to gain a Ph.D. DuBois made his reputation in challenging Booker T. Washington’s approach to black advancement, favoring political opposition to white discrimination rather than accommodation to white society. He was a founder of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and its first Publications Director. This organization filed lawsuits on behalf of black people, lobbied to pass legislation, and engaged in educational efforts.

We had, then, two different approaches to improving the condition of black people in the United States. One was a focused attempt to build black schools, businesses, and other institutions that would serve the black community. The other was a dualistic vision of blacks opposing the evil white society and forcing it to change so that blacks could gain equality. The second approach, favored by DuBois, led to the Civil Rights movement. Dr. Martin Luther King was the person to lead it to victory. Essentially, this was Moses confronting Pharaoh, making life uncomfortable for the Egyptians, overcoming Pharaoh’s hateful resistance, and leading the Israelites to the Promised Land.

Booker T. Washington’s efforts were making some headway in the early years of the 20th Century but politically he was no match for the East Coast sophisticates like W.E.B. DuBois who accused him of selling out to white society. Today Washington is regarded as an “Uncle Tom”, a well-intentioned dupe of white society rather than a leader of stature and respect. DuBois was the courageous, far-sighted intellectual.

I think this preference for DuBois had more to do with forces outside the black community than with black interests as such. It had more to do with the glamor of confrontational or oppositional approaches to social improvement compared with the approach of plodding hard work that Booker T. Washington favored.

In those times, the labor movement and international socialism were riding high. Labor advanced through successful struggle against management. International socialism was based on opposition to capitalistic society. Black people might similarly advance through opposition to white people or to white society. The idea of a virtuous minority opposing and defeating an oppressive majority was engrained in the culture. David vs. Goliath was the pattern.

Jewish culture as a source of moral dualism

My theory is that the Civil Rights approach to the advancement of blacks shows the critical imprint of Judeo-Christian culture, especially the Jewish component. Tom Hayden said in an interview with C-SPAN that the Civil Rights movement was essentially a “Christian religious movement with heavy Jewish input from the north.” Rev. Martin Luther King and his colleagues were southern Christian clergy with friendly ties to ecumenically minded clergy in the north. Barriers were then breaking down between Christian denominations. A Roman Catholic President was about to be elected.

Jews were meanwhile entering elite colleges in greater numbers. They held top positions in the media, labor unions, and business. Jews tended to sympathize with blacks because Hitler’s white-supremacist views created a natural affinity. They, too, had been victims of social discrimination. The Moses vs. Pharaoh, David vs. Goliath image was engrained in Jewish culture. Moral dualism, in other words, was built into that way of thinking. Over the centuries, Jews had become specialists in agitating for minority rights in someone else’s majority culture.

The Civil Rights movement was not built over night. Race relations in the preceding decades were shaped by the systematic work of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and, to a lesser extent, by the American Communist Party. According to Wikipedia, the NAACP’s “leadership was largely white and heavily Jewish American ... Jews made substantial financial contributions to many civil rights organizations, including the NAACP, the Urban League, the Congress of Racial Equality, and the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee. About 50 percent of the civil rights attorneys in the South during the 1960s were Jews, as were over 50 percent of the Whites who went to Mississippi in 1964 to challenge Jim Crow Laws.”

Jews were naturally drawn to the black struggle for equality because they were also facing social discrimination with respect to education, housing, and employment in the WASP-dominated society. Hitler’s racist ideology, targeting Jews in particular, also regarded blacks as an inferior race. Jews were a useful ally in the Civil Rights struggle not only because they supplied attorneys but also held important positions in the media, in education, labor unions, and government. The attitude both among Jews and Christians in this movement was that God was on their side. They were righteous ones opposing evil.

I see the same dualism in political conflicts today and suspect it comes from the same source: America is urged to fight, to date, two wars against “radical Islamic extremism” or “islamofascism.” We need to help Israel defend itself against its sworn enemies, Hezbollah and Hamas, as well as oppose Iran, their sponsor, which denies the Holocaust and wants to wipe Israel off the map. And, of course, anti-Semites in the United States and elsewhere are actively hating Jews and suspecting them of involvement in “conspiracy theories”. The Southern Poverty Law Center and Anti-Defamation League need to keep tabs on these “hate groups” and nip them in the bud lest their influence spread.

My impression is that racial conflict is subsiding in America. The first black or racially mixed person, Barack Obama, was elected President in 2008. It is true that his election and subsequent policies have brought an angry reaction. Some Tea Party types may hate Obama because he is black, but it may also be that some Democrats and Obama supporters are using exaggerated allegations of racism to discredit the Tea Party. Barack Obama himself rose to political prominence as a racial unifier. His “big-spending” programs have naturally stirred controversy in these difficult economic times. On the whole, I do not see race relations in America becoming worse.

I see, in fact, that black people with whom I am acquainted are quite willing to treat me without regard to race. The Civil Rights contentiousness never arises. It is, instead, white people who want to keep this consciousness alive (excepting, of course, blacks like Al Sharpton whose identity and position depend on being a black leader.) They are the ones who attach the “racist” label. Most blacks, I think, want to move on to matters more directly affecting their lives. A black teenage girl told her mother that the race issue was a “generational thing.”

Whites, on the other hand, seem stuck in a mode of either being defensive that they are not racist or of attacking other whites over bigoted attitudes toward blacks, gays and lesbians, undocumented workers, or other unprivileged people. I think blacks are just the face put on a certain identity that thinks itself disadvantaged. Blacks, in other words, are a metaphor for a person’s feeling abused by the larger society, or insufficiently appreciated, like those courageous blacks in the south who fought with Dr. King. Whites are a metaphor for privilege. And it is the white community mainly that holds that ideological torch.

At the same time, contentious issues affecting Jews rage unabated. Maybe this is where we should look for the source of the Civil Rights-style dualism. When the veteran White House correspondent Helen Thomas flippantly remarked that Israeli Jews might return to their country of origin, the resulting furor forced her resignation. There is now speculation that the state of Israel may attack Iran’s nuclear installations or have the U.S. military do it for them. The Israeli naval blockade of Gaza caused an international uproar when several Turkish humanitarian aid workers were killed. I see no letting up in this area. While Jews percentage-wise are a small part of the population, their concerns are made to affect everyone.

Contemporary Jewish issues seem to focus on supporting the state of Israel. The American people have been dragged into alliances and wars that have cost trillions of dollars and numerous lives. The threat of a nuclear exchange hangs over the Middle East. If a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian dispute could be found, much of that could be avoided. America’s reputation in the world would improve.

The generic Jewish issue is “anti-Semitism”. My initial reaction is to wonder why any people other than Jews should care about this. Why should I care who does or does not hate Jews? Maybe I, whose ancestors came from the British Isles, should be more concerned about who hates Irish, Scottish, or English people.

The answer to that question is the Holocaust. Anti-Semitic Nazis organized the mass execution of Jews in concentration camps. Any humane person would be horrified. And so most people are. However, many other horrible things have also happened in this world.

Anti-Semitism has been established as a uniquely evil force through the many news reports, books, school courses, Hollywood films, and television dramas that associate anti-Semites with the Holocaust. Such persuasion takes place through the modern process of “branding”, which is based upon repetitious exposure to an image. Someone who is insufficiently worked up by the Holocaust and its anti-Semitic perpetrators could be compared with the German who did nothing and thereby allowed the Nazis to kill Jews; or perhaps such a person is a Nazi sympathizer himself. Having no personal connection to the Holocaust, we must nevertheless feel guilty about it.

It is important to distinguish between the Jewish people and Jewish culture, if such exists. Jews are a people more than believers in a religion. With some exceptions, they are born into that community. I subscribe to Aristotle’s view that moral judgments are made only of activities that a person can control. One cannot pick the community into which one is born. A particular Jew cannot, therefore, be held morally responsible for “Jewish culture”. Whatever that culture is, some Jews accept it while others do not. The label of anti-Semitism suggests that the person hates Jews simply because of who they are. That makes little sense. No, it is the culture that has provoked a reaction. It’s what people do that counts from a moral standpoint.

People who are born into the Jewish community have no responsibility for ideas advanced by others in their name. But, of course, if Jews personally embrace or accept those ideas, they assume a personal responsibility. The situation is analogous to that with white southerners a half century ago. White people in the south were not “racist” for being white but for embracing ideas of white racial superiority. Likewise, Jews today are free to embrace or distance themselves from supremacist ideas advanced in their name.

It’s time to be specific about those ideas. Most Jews come to that community through the religion of Judaism. Although some Jews practice Judaism while others do not, the ideas embodied in this religion are engrained in the Jews’ “cultural DNA”, so to speak. Non-Jews who are Christian have also absorbed most of those ideas through their Christian religion. Secular Jews know them through a cultural tradition related to religion, religious stories, and other writings and experiences.

Judaism (and Christianity) established a system of ideas in certain writings that has predisposed certain groups of people to have certain values or act in certain ways even if those attitudes and that behavior are not coordinated by a central command. There need be no “conspiracy” as such to achieve its effect. Long-standing attitudes planted in religious scripture are enough.

Zoroastrianism and the Jews

The religion of Judaism was formulated primarily at the time of the Exile and the Jews’ subsequent return to Judaea in the sixth century B.C. This is when the Torah was compiled. While many ideas and experiences relate to an earlier period, the sacred writings date from this period. The religious concepts were put in a definitive form as representing God’s word.

Traumatic at the time, the exile to Babylon, which was later conquered by Persia, proved to be a rewarding experience for the Jewish community. Jews such as Daniel assumed high positions in the imperial administration. Additionally, Jewish intellectuals came in contact with Babylonian mythology and with the philosophy of Zoroaster.

Zoroastrianism was Persia’s state religion. The Persian king, Cyrus II, was tolerant of the religions embraced by local peoples in the empire. In 538 B.C., he issued an edict allowing the Jews to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the temple. In this environment, Jewish priests looked with favor on Persian culture. They were inclined to accept Zoroastrian contributions to their religious system. Certain ideas passed on to us through Judaism show Zoroastrian influence.

the Zoroastrian religion and moral dualism

The scheme of moral dualism is, I think, derived primarily from the doctrines of the Persian philosopher, Zoroaster, a religious philosopher who appeared in Bactria (present-day Afghanistan) between 650 and 600 B.C. After wandering for several years in search of a royal patron, he persuaded the Persian king Vishtaspa (who may have been the father of Darius I) to accept his religious system. The new religion spread fast.

The religion of Zoroaster, Zoroastrianism, included a cosmology featuring the forces of good and evil and a scenario of events describing how the contest between them would be decided. It is here that we are first introduced to Satan - or the captain of the evil forces, Ahriman - whose good counterpart, Ahura-Mazda, is Zoroastrianism’s chief God, a being who had created the world and was the only real god. Each side had an army of angels and archangels assisting in its respective effort. The battle also involved lesser entities such as ourselves. We human beings were free to join the battle on either side. Either we could choose to do good or we could do evil. In other words, the cosmic struggle also raged within our own hearts.

Zoroastrianism was a religion that encouraged progress toward civilization. Zoroaster himself was living in a time when human society was switching to agriculture from a nomadic way of life. What aided that conversion was considered good; it was bad to remain with the old ways. Honesty, trustworthiness, humility, cleanliness, hard work, respect for property, and humane treatment of domestic animals were virtues to be encouraged. Evil was associated with the values of nomadic peoples who made a living from robbing farmers and herdsmen.

The struggle between good and evil permeated all aspects of life. A distinction was even made between good animals such as oxen and dogs and bad ones such as frogs, snakes, ants, and scorpions. It was expected that each worshiper would aid the forces of goodness with an eye to stamping out evil.

The writings of Zoroaster presented a scenario of the last days. Angels figured prominently in that event. Former gods aligned with Ahura-Mazdah became angels siding with the forces of good. The gods worshiped by nomadic bandits became demons. There were hierarchies of angels on both sides. Zoroastrianism held that the struggle between good and evil would culminate in a climactic event in which the evil forces would be destroyed and judgment would be pronounced on them.

The Zoroastrian cosmology also included a Messiah. Albert Schweitzer writes: “The picture that came to be formed of the events of the final age was that at the end of time a redeemer figure will snatch control of the world from Ahriman (the evil prince), just when he seems to be winning the final struggle.”

Schweitzer believed that Zoroastrianism’s most important contribution to Jewish religious thought was “the indispensable idea of resurrection as a prelude to participation in the Kingdom of God.” The Zoroastrian religion held that, after death, the souls of righteous persons would be allowed to cross the Cinvat Bridge to a heavenly domain where they would “enjoy the food and drink of immortality.” The souls of evil persons would not be allowed across that bridge but would instead experience endless torment. Alternatively, all souls might rise together at the end of the world.

The two views could be reconciled by proposing that souls of the departed experienced a temporary state of bliss (or torment) until the end of the world when these souls were reunited with their bodies in a general resurrection of the dead and were then judged as candidates for admission to the Kingdom of God. In the Zoroastrian religion, “the final damnation at the Judgment is often replaced by a sentence of refining punishment which will one day have an end. The notion of (Christian) Purgatory probably has its roots in Zoroastrianism.”

Both the Zoroastrian and late Jewish religions looked forward to a Kingdom of God which would appear at the end of time. Their outlooks were otherwise different. The Jews thought of God as a nationalistic deity who would intervene in human history on their behalf. Jewish religious prophecies therefore responded to political events. Zoroastrianism, on the other hand, was the product of a single thinker who was interested in creating a new civilization leading to God’s kingdom. Unlike Judaism, it shows a concern for cultural progress. In the cosmic struggle between good and evil, humanity is enlisted as God’s ally.

Zoroastrian worship made use of fire. Animal sacrifices were abolished. As in the Book of Malachi, the imagery of fire suggested moral refinement. Religious Jews picked up from Zoroastrianism the idea that on the Day of Judgment the wicked would be destroyed in a burning pit. They also absorbed its cosmology of demons, of angels and archangels arranged in hierarchies, and of Satan as the personification of evil. Daniel’s view that God was surrounded by a host of heavenly beings comes from Zoroaster. So does the idea of the archangel Michael who guards the nations.

Above all, however, Zoroastrianism bequeathed to late Jewish religion the idea of a dualistic struggle taking place in heaven and on earth. It is not just God who enters into the picture, but God battling Satan for mastery of the world. A particular legacy of Zoroastrian thought was its negativity directed against the human body. Bodily desires and temptations were considered products of the devil needing to be suppressed by the mind. The Gnostic idea of torturing the body for the sake of eternal life was a product of Zoroaster’s fierce dualism. The Manichaean religion, at one time a major rival to Christianity, also reflected this point of view.

What interests me here is not so much the religious cosmology but the moral division of humanity, and indeed of all creation, into good and evil camps. No pity is shown for the evil forces. Inspired by the idea of an inevitable victory, one cares not for those poor souls who are on the wrong side of the struggle; one instead takes pains to be on the right side. The winning side of Zoroaster’s cosmic struggle is associated with the triumph of civilization over barbarism. The ill-fated barbarians lose. This is another influence leading to the dehumanization of society. There is a loss of human sympathy as an elite ideology imposes itself on society.

The Zoroastrian cosmology inspired not only Jewish prophecy but the essential scheme of Christianity. Jesus announced the coming of the Kingdom of God. He is considered by Christians to be the Messiah who plays a role in the coming of the Kingdom. When the Kingdom comes through a divine mechanism, good will triumph eternally as God Himself takes charge of affairs on earth. The Muslim religion, influenced by Judaism and Christianity, has a similar cosmology.

So, oddly enough, does the “religion” of Marxism. Here, the forces of history rather than God control the scenario of events leading to the final days. Class struggle replaces the contest between good and evil. Revolution, rather than Apocalypse, is the event producing a transition from one order to another. Lenin, not Jesus, is the “Messiah” who announces the coming social order. Eternal perfection will come when the proletariat seizes control of society and governs according to scientific principles, specifically Karl Marx’s own economics.

nonreligious applications

Moral dualism continues to drive institutions and events in our society. Labor unions operate on the principle of antagonism toward employers. Court proceedings feature an adversarial relationship between plaintiff and defendant. The partisan system of electing persons to public office pits one point of view and set of interests against another. And, of course, the Civil Rights model of political struggle vilifies certain groups of people so that others can advance.

There is no problem with dualism, if kept under control. Too often it has not been kept under control. Historically, the Jewish people proved incapable of governing a stable nation. The Hasmonean kingdom of the 2nd and 1st centuries B.C. broke down as bitterly quarreling factions fractured society and the Roman general, Pompey, was invited to mediate between the factions. While Roman armies encircled Jerusalem in 70 A.D., the people inside its walls were viciously fighting and killing each other. And today, we seem to have endless strife between Israelis and Palestinians living in Israel, and between Israel and its Arab neighbors. Ideological fanaticism leads to that end.

Rome was able to build and maintain political empires by taking another approach. It was generous with conquered peoples, allowing them a certain autonomy so long as they did not disturb the empire. Julius Caesar was known for his personal magnanimity. Christianity, an institution that has endured for many centuries, was able to transcend its Jewish limitations by forgiveness of sins and acceptance of all as members of a community in Christ. Sometimes it does help to overlook immediate offenses and forget bad things that have happened in the past. Easy forgiveness solves many problems.

And so, I think that, despite being considered an “Uncle Tom” by DuBois and the NAACP sophisticates, Booker T. Washington did know a few things to benefit the black community; and it might have been better if that community had continued in a direction of self-help and working with whites of good will instead of falling for promises