"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, January 10, 2010

Who Narrates Rules

"Who narrates governs" - this key insight deserves development. As David Michael Green rightly points out in his recent article, "The Implosion of the American Political Consciousness", Orwell understands how power gains control over narrative. The most effective way is to "... just remove the possibility of imagining alternatives from the public's consciousness. Much easier. Much cheaper."

This is how propaganda works - by the removal of possibilities. "The goal of all enemy propaganda is not to annihilate an existing force (this function is generally left to police forces), but rather to annihilate an unnoticed possibility of the situation." - Alain Badiou.

The possibilities they don't want us to notice are obviously the ones Green uncovers. But the hypocrisy he senses behind the propaganda machine hides a deeper cynicism that has become all-pervasive: "...it is cynical precisely insofar as it does believe it's own words, since it's message is a resigned conviction that the world we live in, even if it is not the best of all possible worlds, is the least bad, such that any radical change will only make things worse." - Slavoj Zizek. It is the chains of this cynicism that we must first shake off.

This imaginative failure is due to the false restrictions that we have unconsciously absorbed from the main channels of political discourse. But the obvious possibilities he raises point in the direction of yet more hopeful ones. For instance,

1) Direct control over productive capacity by those who do the actual work in this country - producing goods to meet human need so that all can share in the bounty that technology has made possible.

2) The expropriation of idle and destructive wealth now in the hands of those determined to ruin the earth's ecology. Their violation of the common good has voided their right to that wealth.

Such ideas were the common currency of political discourse not so long ago - what's happened to our minds? Those interested in these ideas might want to take a look at the Universal Birthright proposal: http://dissidentvoice.org/2010/01/universal-birthright/


Unknown said...

Check out my blog, the "Political Theology Agenda":


Not just liberation theology, but may still be of interest to you.


Boyd Collins said...

Thanks, Erich. I've linked to your blog on my site. We need more material like this. I welcome further suggestions.