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.
Sunday, April 27, 2008
A Massacre of the World's Poor
"You're like fish that only see the bait, never the line," we would mock in return. For we believed – and quite a few of us still do - that people should not be measured by material possessions but by their ability to transform the lives of others - the poor and underprivileged; that the economy needed to be regulated and reorganised in the interests of the many, not the few, and that socialism without democracy could never work." - Tariq Ali, "Storming Heaven"
"Food riots have broken out across the globe destabilizing large parts of the developing world. China is experiencing double-digit inflation. Indonesia, Vietnam and India have imposed controls over rice exports. Wheat, corn and soy beans are at record highs and threatening to go higher still. Commodities are up across the board. The World Food Program is warning of widespread famine if the West doesn't provide emergency humanitarian relief. The situation is dire. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez summed it up like this, "It is a massacre of the world's poor. The problem is not the production of food. It is the economic, social and political model of the world. The capitalist model is in crisis." - Mike Whitney, "Food Riots and Speculators", April 26, 2008
"The philosophy of oppression, perfected and refined through civilizations as a true culture injustice, does not achieve its greatest triumph when its propagandists knowingly inculcate it; rather the triumph is achieved when this philosophy has become so deeply rooted in the spirits of the oppressors themselves nad their ideologues that they are not even aware of their guilt." - Jose Miranda, "Marx and the Bible"
The voice of Christian tradition transcends the childish evasions of the modern megachurch, "God willed that this earth should be the common possession of all and he offered its fruits to all. But avarice distributed the rights of possession." - St. Ambrose.
What are the obligations of justice? "You are not making a gift of your possessions to the poor person. You are handing over to him what is his." - St. Ambrose.
God did not intend that property be an absolute right transcending all other rights and duties and the Christian faith has always protested this travesty of justice. Property rights are always relative to our obligations to the common good. Once we accept this teaching, we experience a strange and wondrous transformation. In the last few centuries, many have sought to break the bonds of religion in order to live what they consider fully human lives. Our acceptance of Biblical truth frees us from the tyranny of property and the sin that wedges itself between buying and selling in the words of Jesus ben Sirach (Ecclesiaticus 27: 1 - 2). Thus we are freed from submission to the inhuman laws of materialistic economics, the global neoliberalism which always privileges blind economic growth over the needs of humanity.
The original sin of modern economics is the commodification of man's life and labor. Its fundamental injustice is to make a human being's life equivalent to a certain quantity of commodities. The fact that this seems utterly natural testifies to the most effective propaganda mechanism which the world has ever seen.
Now at last the Earth itself is in revolt, sick from a severe case of global capitalism, which sees no injustice when millions have to starve so the property rights of three or four commodity traders won't be violated. Global warming is the divine response which shouts, "If only you would listen! You would not listen to my son, so now the deluge."