An blog by a member of the Catholic peace movement, Pax Christi, to explore the nexus between contemplation and resistance. "The Christian must discover in contemplation, and in the giving of his life, those symbolic actions which will ignite the people's faith to resist injustice with their whole lives, lives coming together as a united force of truth and thus releasing the liberating power of the God within them." - James Douglass, Contemplation and Resistance.
Saturday, January 26, 2008
The New World Order
"True heroism is remarkably sober, very undramatic. It is not the urge to surpass all others at whatever cost, but the urge to serve others at whatever cost." — Arthur Ashe
"For the oppressors, what is worthwhile is to have more — always more — even at the cost of the oppressed having less or having nothing. For them, to be is to have and to be the class of the 'haves.'" - Paulo Friere.
In contrast, one of the fountainheads of Christian resistance is what might be called "the Jubilee principle", which means that property rights, far from being absolute as those who own the empire's resources proclaim, must always submit to the demands of economic justice. To put the matter in human terms, "'I don't have a right to more than anybody else', she would say. 'And I believe that if somebody else is under violent repression and extreme poverty, I should be able to accept those conditions too. I have to act in ways that are consistent with that, because if I try to ignore what's happening, I feel a lot of conflict within myself.'" - Barbara MacQuarrie, quoted in "Heroes and the Courage to be There", Philippe Duhamel.
Democratic activity has come to be stigmatized by the ruling elite as a distraction from the proper activity of the masses, which is to fulfill their role as technocratic tools for the power and profit of that elite. Such activity must be neutralized by constant indoctrination with cynicism regarding the possibility of change and distraction in the form of mindless and addictive "entertainment", characterized by indulgence in sex, violence and drugs. Some of us fringe Christians even dare to believe that massive indulgence in sex and drugs is what destroyed the real spiritual movement of the 60's. This indulgence is not liberative, it is enslaving. Yes, renunciation of sexual hypocrisy is liberating, but it liberates us only from hypocrisy, not from the lack of pleasure which the human treatment of sexuality requires. The pleasure attendant upon exploitative sexual relations does not liberate, it enslaves just as any violence does. It also leads to addictive behavior which impedes our ability to live fully human lives. The same applies to drug taking, which is a form a despair in the creative possibilities of human activity. It relieves the pain of inhuman exploitation by desensitizing us, thus dulling the edge of justice. Clearly, the principalities have a strong interest in encouraging these behaviors.
The 60's revolutionaries also had a marked tendency to confuse the effects of fascism with its core values. They criticized effects such as conformist behavior, rigidity, rationalism, nationalism, and managerial efficiency as fascistic, while often ignoring the fundamental thrust of fascism as a strategy of power. This core value structure involves the reduction of humanity to a function of ideology and its effects can just as easily be flagrant self-indulgence as adherence to conventional norms. A careful study of Nazism demonstrates many examples of this. Confusing the effect with the cause in this way led to attacks on many false enemies, including real Christianity, which was much to the pleasure of the principalities.
From the viewpoint of the ruling elite, democratic activity is not desirable for most citizens. Their job is to produce and consume in sufficient qualities to ensure the enrichment of the rulers and their minions, while leaving the coordination of the system to a technocratic management class which has the required expertise to ensure smooth operation. Democracy works counter to the efficient operation of the system and thus should be treated as a nuisance to be tolerated only when absolutely necessary. Likewise, the concentration of power in the executive aids in the effective operation of empire, so ancillary bodies such as Congresses and Parliaments should be deprecated. The system will be designed to meet the needs of its subjects, which are primarily pleasure and entertainment, precisely by removing them from influence on government, either national or corporate, where their interference would only lead to disruption.
Another key element in the neo-fascist strategy is the elimination of non-technical or business-oriented education. Subjects that lead to broad humanist reflection such as history, philosophy, literature, theology or political science should be marginalized and their professors made to feel effete, non-contributing members of the new social order. Education that does not contribute to profit margins has no purpose in this social order. Such knowledge may lead to inconvenient demands for human dignity and rights and even provide leisure for political activity, which would degrade effective business performance. For instance, considerations of human rights might impede the ability to eliminate those unfit or otherwise unable to perform at the optimal level for the planned social order. Such education could easily lead to human "dead weight" that would reduce profit margins.
Humanistic education also often leads to an illegitimate questioning of globalization. Since the only valid type of human being is the business or technical person, an adequate religious ideology such as that supplied by Christian or Muslim fundamentalism is all that is necessary to answer spiritual questionings, which in any case will be reduced to a minimum because of our abundant sources of entertainment and distraction. Elimination of invalid categories of human beings can also be justified on humanitarian grounds since it is likely that they would find life in the new social order unfulfilling. Fortunately, recent studies in cognitive science demonstrate that we may be close to creating conditions in which humanity's spiritual aspirations can be completely eliminated.
Such is the logic of neo-liberalism taken to its ultimate conclusion. Yet we are Christians, which means that "Engagement in specific and incessant struggle against death's rule renders us human. Resistance to death is the only way to live humanly in the midst of the Fall." - William Stringfellow, "An Ethic for Christians and Other Aliens in a Strange Land"
The power against death is what Christ lifts us into: "In raising Lazarus, in other words, Jesus reveals what is implicit, but hidden, in all of the healing episodes, that is, his authority over death, his conclusive power over death, his triumph over death and all that death can do and all that death means. To so surpass death is utterly threatening politically, it shakes and shatters the very foundation of political reality because death is, as has been said, the only moral and practical sanction of the State. Of course the political principalities and their vassals would loathe and fear Jesus - and seek to consign him to death - because he healed, because he raised Lazarus, because he signified the Resurrection from death, because he exemplified life transcending the moral power of death in this world and this world's strongholds and kingdoms." - William Stringfellow, "An Ethic for Christians and Other Aliens in a Strange Land"