"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, May 02, 2009

Break the Power of the Wicked

"'Obama,' [Robert Sheer] writes 'seems depressingly reliant on the same-old, same old cast of self-serving house wreckers who act as if government exists for the sole benefit of corporations and executives.'" "As if"? Is there any shadow of a doubt here? The election of Barack Obama was one of the most effective marketing campaigns in recent history and has many lessons for activists. The first is the longing people have to subordinate their personal interests to an extra-personal cause. Trained by decades of subordinating our interests as workers to those of the employing class, we instinctively see their interests as our own. Notice how closely rage tracks the health of the stock market, though most workers benefit very little from such fluctuations.

We see ourselves as means to ends that are determined by experts and owners. Our neglect of our own interests is determined by the conditions of our employment. Those who identify most closely with the interests of their company advance the fastest. Obama and his administration know exactly who their employers are.

How can we arouse effective resistance? Though I believe we are in a pre-revolutionary situation, I see the proliferation of calls to violence as playing directly into the hands of the financial elite. Violence tracks their interests so closely that I suspect their minions behind much of the vitriol.

As always, their purpose is increased profits and faster accumulation of capital. The current Western democracies with their social supports and environmental protections, however anemic, have become inadequate profit vehicles. Bank bailouts have several beneficial effects for the elite. Beside direct access to Treasury funds, they can extend their long-term domination by imposing unsupportable debts on the majority of the U.S. population, using access to credit as an irresistible means of political control.

We may be a long way from violent revolution, but notice how the possibility is constantly hyped in the right-wing press. An excellent example is the coverage of the G20 summit during which the demonstrators were constantly referred to as "anarchists" and a loop of a demonstrator smashing a bank window was played over and over to the practical exclusion of any other demonstration image.

Gandhi showed that one who truly practices nonviolence has the world at his feet. While hatred binds us tightly to our exploiters, nonviolence can break both their bonds and our own. "In its positive form, ahimsa means the largest love, the greatest charity. If I am a follower of ahimsa, I must love my enemy." - Gandhi. This attitude must be coupled with total clarity regarding how opposed our interests are to those of the ruling elite if our tactics are to be effective.

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