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.

Friday, April 03, 2009

What We Want




"We want a welfare system that is adequately funded and treats clients with dignity and respect. We want high quality education and healthcare for all, independent of one's financial means. And we want all this paid for by progressive taxes on income and wealth. We know that this is perfectly possible and can be achieved through well-tried policies. Only poor priorities that stem from the power of wealthy elites to impose their will stand in the way of achieving it." - Change How the World Works? Yes, We Can, Robin Hahnel, April 3, 2009.

Here is the key: "Finance should serve the real economy instead of the other way around."

So simple, yet it would turn the world around. The world has turned upside down and everyone grown used to standing on their head. We can turn it around, but we need to turn Obama upside down to make it work. First comes people's needs, their real needs, then comes what supports that. Finance has no other social purpose than to aid in producing goods that people need. If it fails in that, it has failed, totally, and must be removed. Jobs be damned. There are plenty of jobs supplying the needs of real people. Sustaining the current financial system only destroys people and the planet that gives all of us life.

The secret that none dare speak, even most of those on the left, is that none of this is necessary. The crisisis completely within the minds of ultra-rich Wall Street bankers and their acolytes throughout the world. The current productive capacity of our civilization is more than sufficient to give a decent living, health care and education to every man, woman and child on the face of this planet. But for the elite who own that productive capacity, real human needs are never the issue.

Obama is essentially saying that we can have both: a financialized economy that serves the profit motivations of speculators and a real economy that serves the needs of ordinary people. He fails to recognize that these two social forces are in fundamental conflict with each other. But this denial of conflict implicitly favors the victory of the more powerful entity.

The voice of the London protesters is actually this: "Our slogan 'better world is possible' means that we reject the economics of competition and greed as a human necessity and embrace the possibility of an economics of equitable co-operation. These approaches to solving our economic problems are fundamentally different. One way motivates people through fear and greed and pretends that market competition can be relied on to bend egotistical behavior to serve the social interest, when too often it does not. The other way organizes people to arrange their own division of labor and negotiate how to share the efficiency gains from having done so equitably. This way motivates people to work at tasks that are not always pleasant, and to consume less than they sometimes wish, because they agreed to do so, secure in the knowledge that others are doing likewise. The driving force behind our economic world is participation and fairness, no longer fear and greed." - Change How the World Works? Yes, We Can, Robin Hahnel, April 3, 2009.

We might call this the economics of solidarity and it has the power to reliably produce and distribute goods that meet real human needs. All we have to do is sacrifice our delusions of grandeur. What's more, all the beauty and true grandeur that this civilization has created - the art, the music, the technology - will still be there, in greater abundance and flourishing in a civilization with more capacity for appreciating them than ever before. Instead of dire warnings of imminent climate catastrophe, we can look forward to a future of unending spiritual growth.

But we have to let go the delusions bred by excessive material wealth. In the words of one London protester, "We're here to say that we can build the world anew, bottom up. I would put myself on the line and say that we could be on the verge of a revolution - we are getting to the point where people have nothing left to lose, and that's when they rise up." - Marina Pepper, 41, Liberal Democrat town councillor for Telscombe, East Sussex.

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