Random Questions - And My Answers
By Steve Gillman
The following small collection of random questions is taken
mostly from my email. Specifically they are questions asked by
subscribers to the Radical Thinking Course. A couple are from
subscribers to other courses and newsletters I offer on various
Q: I read the page on disobeying authority and the government,
and I want to know do you support anarchism?
A: No. Anarchism would just result in some group taking power
and then we are back to a "government" of sorts. I
am for doing the best we can given the limited options we have
for organizing relationships among people. But obeying any and
all laws simply out of some misplaced 'respect" for law
and authority will always result in more violence and suffering.
I like the idea of non-violent civil disobedience when necessary
(and when it is worth the personal consequences - we have no
moral obligation to wreck our lives to prove a point).
Q: After reading your page on Gay
Marriage I couldn't really tell if you were against gays.
A: No. I just don't think government should be involved in
marriage at all. Why anyone gets upset about a person's sexual
orientation is beyond me.
Q: You say on one page that "altruism is a philosophy
of death." I didn't quite get your point.
A: As I pointed out, the idea of altruism has been used throughout
history to justify killing people on a large scale. From the
side of the political powers it takes the form of "for the
good of all," and that requires that the individual sacrifice
his or her own interest for that of others - altruism. Perhaps
it was too general to say it is a philosophy of death, since
it might not always have that result, but when has a massive
crime like concentration camps or witch killings ever been done
in the name of self interest?
Now, without any intent to confuse, I should point out that
the primary danger in humans is the "self" that they
identify with, the ego-self that causes so much harm and suffering.
But this is something else entirely from an organism (human or
otherwise) seeking its true best interests.
Q: From reading through your site it seems that you are unpatriotic
and hate America. Am I right?
A: Yes to the first and no to the second. I love this country
for a variety of reasons, including the some of the ideals upon
which it was founded. I also see clearly that flag-worship and
other forms of patriotism not only lead to violence, but they
lead away from all the values they are supposedly meant to protect.
They flew American flags over the concentration camps in California
that held citizens of Japanese descent, and use "love of
our country" repeatedly when seeking to pass any laws that
violate the values that flag is supposed to represent.
Let me make it even clearer: I value freedom, not flags. If
the Russian government - or any other - could guarantee more
freedom than our own, I would welcome them taking over this land
and flying their own flag over it. The symbols don't matter -
the real freedoms do.
Q: Are you anti-religious?
A: Yes. Religions a claim to know the final and unchanging
truth. As a result they do great harm. How could it be otherwise
when a person decides to accept no new evidence that contradicts
their dogma? To have religious faith is essentially to agree
to close one's eyes and heart to any truth that might fall outside
of that belief system. Of course there are good things about
most religions, and benefits to believers, but on the whole they
do more harm than good.
Q: Do you think that spirituality has any value?
A: Absolutely, and it reaches its fullest development outside
of religion. A search for the truth and the highest values and
a way to find peace in this life is more important than chasing
money or impressing others or defending any beliefs.
Note: I'll ocassionally have more pages of
random questions, along with my answers, as the emails come in.
Watch for them in the "newest pages" section on the
homepage of the site.