"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, December 02, 2017

Awakening to Evil

Those of you who have followed by my blog since the early 2000's need to be aware of a fundamental change in perspective that I have undergone since the time of the Iraq War. As a long-time anti-war activist, I delved deeply in the social and political forces that animated that war. Gradually, around the year 2011, it dawned on me that the forces at work in that war were more than social and political. 

This has led to research into the spiritual beings that could be called the "authorities of darkness", those forces which Paul referred to as follows:

"For our part is not to fight against powers of flesh and blood, but

against the spirit-beings,
mighty in the stream of time,
against spirit-beings,
powerful in the moulding of earth's
against the cosmic powers
whose darkness rules the present time,
against begins who, in the spiritual
are themselves the powers of evil."

Ephesians 6:12 (New Testament: A Rendering by Jon Madsen)

My research has led to the identification of these spiritual forces with certain brotherhoods, human associations that have interests far wider than the domination of the Middle East. I realize that many will find such a turn difficult to follow. Those of us who have achieved the higher degrees in the academic realm instinctively avoid association with what what previous ages called "spiritual evil."

Distaste for such concepts is both reasonable and politically cogent: By identifying a material evil such as the Iraq War with "spiritual darkness in high places", we risk replacing material factors that can be effectively fought through non-violent resistance with a mythology that could destroy our political effectiveness.

I fully recognize this fact, but nevertheless I am compelled by my own spiritual growth to recognize that what we are fighting in the U.S. imperialist wars is much deeper than nationalist capitalism. Further, I have come to believe that the conventional "left" may be as much subject to the rule of anti-human forces as the neo-cons.

Of course, the orientation of this blog has always been explicitly Christian, but clearly inspired by liberation theology. This theology has always tended toward identifying the spiritual evil with specifically material forces which could be resisted by the poor through political action, the only hope for the wretched of the earth.

But now such action seems irretrievably corrupted and not merely ineffective, but counterproductive. It is counterproductive because it reinforces an ideology that is the true enemy of universal brother- and sisterhood - materialism. The brotherhoods I speak of are the fountainhead of a philosophy that presents itself as the source of liberation from the religious mythologies which justified the power of the ruling classes for thousands of years. But these liberators have not delivered us into genuine liberty, but into a world rapidly abandoning all pretense at democracy.  

What is unfolding is the replacement of democracy to structures focused on policing and management as enabled by massive surveillance systems. The constant stream of new terrorist outrages have shifted the philosophy of governance from democracy to  the management of disorder brought about by terror. The word "security" as currently applied refers not to its traditional meaning of a restoration of public order, but to a permanent technology of government. The exceptional measures demanded by terrorist attacks have become permanent policy throughout the world.

Traditional leftist struggle is no longer realistic because its social and political underpinnings have been removed. The words of Giorgio Agamben ring quite true to me, "The growing extension to citizens of technologies which were conceived for criminals inevitably has consequences for the political identity of the citizen. For the first time in the history of humanity, identity is no longer a function of the social personality and its recognition by others, but rather a function of biological data, which cannot bear any relation to it, like the arabesques of the fingerprints or the disposition of the genes in the double helix of DNA. The most neutral and private thing becomes the decisive factor of social identity, which loses therefore its public character.

If my identity is now determined by biological facts that in no way depend on my will and over which I have no control, then the construction of something like a political and ethical identity becomes problematic. What relationship can I establish with my fingerprints or my genetic code? The new identity is an identity without the person, as it were, in which the space of politics and ethics loses its sense and must be thought again from the ground up. While the classical Greek citizen was defined through the opposition between the private and the public, the oikos, which is the place of reproductive life, and the polis, place of political action, the modern citizen seems rather to move in a zone of indifference between the private and the public, or, to quote Hobbes’ terms, the physical and the political body." (From the State of Control to a Praxis of Destituent Power).

In such a world, the purpose of the state is no longer to create order which allows the the human to flourish, but to manage disorder brought about by synthetic terrorism, "The state in which we live now is no more a disciplinary state. Gilles Deleuze suggested to call it the État de contrôle, or control state, because what it wants is not to order and to impose discipline but rather to manage and to control. Deleuze’s definition is correct, because management and control do not necessarily coincide with order and discipline. No one has told it so clearly as the Italian police officer, who, after the Genoa riots in July 2001 declared that the government did not want for the police to maintain order but for it to manage disorder." (Ibid.).

Something much different from the political struggles of the past is now emerging - the reduction of the human to its material constituents and the declaration that the human being is flawed hardware and software in dire need of an upgrade. Materialism in its modern form of scientism is now exposed as the basis for a spiritual control system of unparalleled penetration into the human heart and mind. The true forces of human liberation must now be sought the zone of spiritual freedom that can only be created by those delivered from materialist hegemon.

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