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, October 31, 2010

Most of the left/liberal media seems to miss the growing irrelevance of our two-party political circus. We need ask a basic question about our political system: Why does it not seem to matter that candidates for public office don't even to pretend to engage the real issues such as global warming, the worst health care in the developed world, the catastrophe-prone nature of our financial system?

The really crucial decisions in this society are not made by the U.S. government, but by transnational corporations and the national security apparatus. The primary role of the government is to provide the necessary bureaucratic and legal infrastructure to ensure the interests of those who control these entities. Part of the reason that the quality of politicians has plunged so dramatically may be that they have fewer and fewer possibilities of modifying the real situation. As in the later Roman Empire, the legislature devolves more and more into a masque of what once had been genuine power.

In the current empire, the same applies to the president. The unseen irony of so much liberal commentary is that it is inspired by a belief that America as described in the Constitution still exists. How many liberal articles lament the cowardice and timidity of Obama and the Democrats in such florid terms? So many wail, "If only Obama had championed single payer, how different would the political landscape be today!"

Such commentaries misunderstand how power really works. Obama is not "the most powerful leader on the planet" as we hear so often. He plays an important role in a large array of power relationships, but real decisions are the result of continually evolving negotiations within that web of power. Obama's options are the product of these negotiations, not of his own principles, be they strongly held or otherwise. Because of this, politicians have evolved into rhetorical figureheads, role-playing symbols in the political theater directed by the media. They still wield real power, but this power is not the direction of public policy, whose conditions are foreordained, but act as negotiators between competing sections of the ruling class.

Where does the solution lie? In unity lies power. We need to seek out those willing to make the mental effort necessary to truly understand both the real situation and our options for changing it. Then we need to unite across all our differences, which may seem less important in the face of looming catastrophe.

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