Thursday, October 14, 2010
5 Ways to Achieve World Peace and Prosperity -- Yes, It's Possible
May 12, 2010 | AlterNet | Berrett-Koehler Publishers
One of the most pernicious myths is that peace and prosperity are hopelessly complicated and unattainable. 2048 dispels myths. This is untrue. Peace and prosperity can be attained through the realization of five basic fundamental freedoms, for all people, everywhere in the world. They are: freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom from want, freedom for the environment, and freedom from fear. Of course, other rights are needed too, but these five fundamental freedoms establish a framework within which other rights can flourish. If our international community remembers these Five Freedoms, and if they become a regular part of our daily lives, then collectively we will carry the core of 2048 in our minds and they will become our way of life.
Please look at your hand for a moment. Hold it up, palm facing you. We all have five fingers, but the first we call a thumb. In appearance it looks different. It stands out. And it is strong. It represents freedom of speech, the idea that stands out, that stands up to dishonesty and corruption.
Next, look at your index finger. We point with this one. It gives us direction. It represents freedom of religion. Each of us is free to choose our own direction, with or without God, and for those who decide that God is their guide, then they are free to have their own relationship with God without the state telling them what that relationship must be. Interference by the state pollutes the relationship with God.
Third is the middle finger, the longest of all. It represents freedom from want, the long road of existence, and the certainty that there will be food, water, shelter, education, and health care for every one of us no matter where we may be on that road.
Next, for many of us, is the marriage ring finger, either the right or the left hand, and for all of us, a finger with a direct link to our nervous system. It represents freedom for the environment. Life. We all have a direct link to the Earth and the ecosystem of which we are a part. When the life of the Earth is spoiled, our lives are spoiled.
Finally, there is our “little finger,” shorter and smaller than the rest. It represents freedom from fear. It’s the “finale” of our hand, our reward. All the others lead to this one.
As you take a look at your hand and recount the Five Freedoms, remember that you didn’t ask for that hand, you were born with it. So too, you do not have to ask for the Five Freedoms, you were born with them. They are five freedoms for all!
Four of these Five Freedoms originated with U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt. He stated the following in his State of the Union address to the U.S. Congress in January 1941:
We look forward to a world founded upon four essential human freedoms:
* The first is freedom of speech and expression —
everywhere in the world.
* The second is freedom of every person to worship God in his own way — everywhere in the world.
* The third is freedom from want — everywhere in
* The fourth is freedom from fear — everywhere in
The beauty of these Four Freedoms is that they are an outline of an agreement for humanity. The Four Freedoms are a social formula. When we, the people of our international community, have created a social order whereby all people enjoy the first three freedoms — freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and freedom from want — then we will have created a society where we can all share in the fourth freedom, freedom from fear. This formula was born out of a desire not just to end World War II, but as President Roosevelt said “to end the beginning of all wars.” This quote and the Four Freedoms are engraved in granite at the Roosevelt Memorial in Washington, D.C. They are a guiding light for 2048.
I recall being at the Roosevelt Memorial in Washington, D.C., at dusk one evening. It is an outdoor memorial with a mix of monuments, trees, and waterfalls. The many cherry trees were in blossom and a light drizzle gilded the petals with water. My friend and I stood before a large stone wall, perhaps 30 feet high, with the Four Freedoms engraved in large letters on it. At that moment a group of twenty-five or thirty middle-school students, 12 to 14 years old, of all different races — black, white, Latino, Asian — came to the wall.
They were from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, United States, but the rights on that wall applied to any visitor from anywhere in the world. The students laughed and formed small groups to have their pictures taken in front of these freedoms. After the flashes stopped, several turned to touch the wall and run their fingers through the carved grooves of the letters on it. The connection for my friend Bart, who is black, and me, white, was clear: It didn’t matter what color they were, what sex, what religion or what nation they were from — the rights on that wall must become as real in the lives of all people as they are to the fingertips of those children.
Fortunately, we need not wait for the children to grow old for the realization of the Four Freedoms. Roosevelt saw the Four Freedoms as achievable within a generation. Commenting on his speech, he said, “It is no vision of a distant millennium. It is a definite basis for a kind of world attainable in our own time and generation.” Perhaps he was overly optimistic about the speed at which the Four Freedoms could be achieved everywhere in the world, but steady, immediate action is the message — not to put these rights off forever.
The Four Freedoms are the essence of a good life for all. They ensure the following: We can think freely, say and write what we want, and peacefully organize to protest; we can have a relationship with a god of our choosing, without interference by the state; we can live with security knowing that education and health care will always be available, regardless of circumstance; and finally we can live in peace, without fear of rampant crime and continuing war. In short, the Four Freedoms are the core of our social contract — our agreement about how we will live together.
President Roosevelt’s recitation of the phrase “everywhere in the world” at the end of each freedom is key. He was so adamant about these words that he handwrote them onto the pages of the speech he gave. He made it perfectly clear that the Four Freedoms were not just for Americans. His own speechwriters questioned him about this, saying that Americans wouldn’t be much concerned about the people in Java. Roosevelt’s response was that Americans had better care because we are all interconnected now. So as we strive for the Four Freedoms, we do so for all members of our international community. Security rests not in the well-being of one nation, but in the well-being of all nations.
In effect, the Four Freedoms were a New Deal for the world. Roosevelt had long been a champion of the common man in America. Through the New Deal in America, Roosevelt took the hard edges off of capitalism. He made sure that working people were not left destitute while wealth and power were consolidated into the hands of a few. With the Four Freedoms, he was expanding his gaze to all men and women, in all nations, to ensure that destitution did not befall anyone, for in destitution he saw the seeds of war. His wife, Eleanor, saw these seeds as well. In 1942 she wrote, “If we really do not mean that after this war we intend to see that people the world over have an opportunity to obtain a satisfactory life, then all we are doing is to prepare for a new war.” Recently we have seen the correctness of this insight in Afghanistan, where Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda have grown from the soil of crushing poverty.
Soon after Roosevelt unveiled the Four Freedoms they were incorporated into a multinational wartime strategy. A superpower summit between Winston Churchill and President Roosevelt was held aboard American and British ships in the Atlantic Ocean, on August 10, 1941, eight months after Roosevelt stated the Four Freedoms in his State of the Union address. Roosevelt summoned great courage and strength to rise up out of his wheelchair and walk across a ship while it was at sea. Each footstep, with crutches, and braces on his legs, was a stride toward a new deal, a new contract, a new agreement for humanity.
The famous Atlantic Charter came out of Roosevelt’s meetings with Winston Churchill at sea, and the Four Freedoms were included in that Charter. Like the Four Freedoms speech, the Atlantic Charter was written for everyone. It envisioned a postwar social order “which will afford assurance that all the men in all the lands may live out their lives in freedom from fear and want.” The embodiment of the Four Freedoms in the Atlantic Charter was a defining moment for the social contract between government and the common person.
While the Four Freedoms ensure dignity and cover most of our social contract among ourselves and our government, we also need a fifth freedom to preserve our planet, including the ecosystem that provides joy and beauty, and also sustains us: freedom for the environment. Just as our human DNA is 98.5 percent the same for all people in all countries, so too our well-being is intertwined with our physical environment.
Equally important, as we have learned from global warming, the health of our environment affects us all, everywhere, and therefore, as with the first Four Freedoms, freedom for the environment must also apply “everywhere in the world.” The demise of our planet’s ecosystem teaches us the folly of only working on local environmental issues while dramatic degradation takes place worldwide. I recall a lawsuit in which I represented an environmental group seeking to protect old growth forests. We won that lawsuit, but now, because of global warming, the temperatures are not dropping enough to kill the bugs that are today killing the trees. We can’t just protect the environment at the local level and expect to have a clean and healthy environment.
Furthermore, it’s time to discard the myth that we must be willing to sacrifice the environment for the sake of economic competition. What is needed is uniform, international regulation of the type that an International Convention would provide. Without an international approach there will always be pressures for some countries to sacrifice the environment to gain market advantage. Capitalism works well, but it also tends to create a race to the bottom when it comes to environmental protection.
Creating a fifth freedom for the environment is also harmonious with the other four freedoms. Often destruction of the environment results from the actions of impoverished people who are struggling to survive, whether by cutting down their local forest to an extent that it does not grow back, for example, or overfishing to where fish stocks do not come back. The lack of the first three freedoms, particularly freedom from want, can thus lead to the destruction of the environment. As we reach an agreement regarding the first Four Freedoms, well-being for all, the result is that the need to sacrifice the environment to survive is reduced. In this way, the Five Freedoms are intertwined and the success of each bolsters the others.
Given the strength and well-being that each of us will gain from five universal freedoms, it is also time to dispel another myth — that there is not enough to go around. We pay dearly for the myth that we can’t afford to have health care and education for all, and the myth that environmental protection is too costly. These myths are untrue. For example, studies have conclusively shown that not only will global warming cause serious suffering and diminishment of our daily lives, but it will cost us more to pick up the pieces after hurricanes, droughts, and flooding than it will cost to avoid these calamities. Similarly, while education may cost more initially, it creates good jobs to construct schools and results in highly productive workers. The net result of the implementation of 2048 is a financial savings in addition to fulfilling lives.
No Increase In Taxes
Furthermore, securing Five Freedoms for all will not require more taxes! All it will take is the reallocation of existing tax revenues. The real myth is that we must continue the way we are going. Our international community is spending $1.4 trillion a year on military expenditures. One percent of GNP for all countries is roughly $500 billion. Therefore, all it would take to bring about the full realization of the Five Freedoms and to usher in a new form of human security would be to reallocate $500 billion of military costs toward the realization of the Five Freedoms. That would leave $900 billion for military, more than enough!
The truth is that there is enough funding for the realization of fundamental human rights, including economic and social rights. The problem is those who are presently profiting do not want the public to believe there are sufficient funds for military and human rights because they have an interest in maintaining the status quo. It is time for the human rights community to have the strength and daring to band together so that we have the clout to stand up to this narrow-minded view.
One way that myths are perpetuated is by keeping people unaware of the truth. Today, for example, the United States gives only 0.17 percent, less than one-fifth of 1% of its GNP, to foreign aid, and much of this goes for military purposes, not education and health care. One percent of GNP is not too much to ask, particularly when greater security for ourselves and our children is the result. Just think of the cost if the bird flu or some other pandemic were to arise out of abject poverty in a poor country and then sweep the world, killing tens of millions in all countries and causing utter chaos and financial collapse because goods could no longer be produced and shipped in our global economy. A penny of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
People in the United States, on the whole, like people in all other countries, are fundamentally good and generous souls with whom you can sit and talk at their kitchen tables. Many do not know that their government gives less than one-fifth of 1% to foreign aid and is at the bottom for giving among developed countries. They probably also don’t know that the United States spends more on military than all other countries combined. Part of the role of 2048 is to help spread awareness. When people know the truth, they typically support reallocation of resources as part of our agreement to live together, in keeping with their self-interest and morals.
Awareness can be created with a small percentage of people. Just as it will only take 1% of GNP for the realization of education and health care for all, so too it will take only 1% of humanity to share the news of 2048. Word of mouth, spurred by our innate desire to live in peace and security instead of war and want, will spread the word. This 1% of humanity already exists within the arts and media, our nonprofit and for-profit businesses, our places of worship, our universities, and even our governments — now the Internet and 2048 are bringing all these communities together.
Knowledge of the Five Freedoms is essential to achieve this 1% “tipping point” for the success of 2048. Students and the public generally need to be able to recall the Five Freedoms just as easily as they can count the five fingers on their hand. As they learn their rights, they also come to expect them, both from one another and from their governments. What they expect today, they will demand tomorrow. The Five Freedoms are deeply held cultural values that lead to lasting results. Now, with the Five Freedoms for all etched firmly in mind, let us consider each of these freedoms individually.
J. Kirk Boyd is executive director of the 2048 Project. He teaches international human rights, civil rights, free speech and constitutional law at UC Berkeley.
© 2010 Berrett-Koehler Publishers All rights reserved.
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
Looking Beyond Money, Living Beyond Fear
Published on Friday, April 9, 2010 by CommonDreams.org
(bold text emphasis added by MMmeta)
The recession has dramatically demonstrated just how interconnected we are. As the housing crisis hit the calm waters of people's daily lives it sent waves that traveled over the nation and quickly reached far shores around the world. Unfortunately fear about the future is contagious. People hold back in their spending and local economies shrink like cashmere in the dryer.
We have given the idea of money incredible power. Great acts of altruism are accomplished through philanthropy that brings hope and comfort where there had been none. But in its darker incarnations money creates empires capable of destroying ecosystems and wasting the health of whole populations. Money fathered the industry of war.
On the individual level, lack of enough money causes us tremendous pain. We have been indoctrinated to believe that without the special printed paper that comes from any nation's mint we cannot obtain the goods and services needed for a good life.It doesn't matter if they are rupees, quetzales, pula, yen, rand, euros or dollars, without enough in their pockets people resign themselves to dissatisfaction, poverty and suffering.
Under the current economic circumstances, it is more urgent than ever that we shun the limiting beliefs we may have about our power to acquire what we need and look beyond our wallets for other forms of currency.There is a well of creativity that can be tapped to bring more abundance to people and communities. This is a good time to experiment with ways to re-invent commerce and expand our potential to acquire the things we need and want. Here are a few ideas that have worked.
In the early '80s while living in Durango, Colorado I made my living by practicing therapeutic massage. A town of ski bums, mountain bikers and climbers, people were just getting by from what they could earned during our winter and summer tourist seasons. Massage for many was a luxury they could not afford.
Wanting to increase my ability to acquire what I needed, I started offering to trade professional massage in exchange for goods and services. Who would not want a massage to relieve stress or to alleviate the pains of hard mountain biking or skiing? My trade activity grew rapidly. The owner of the local bookstore, an avid mountain biker, let me charge books which were paid for with massage. A fellow called to ask if I'd like a cord of firewood delivered to my cabin door before the first snows. I jokingly accused my dentist of being over zealous in finding work to do in my mouth to which she admitted wanting more massage. People began to pay debts to others by transferring massages to them.
This bartering grew to include others throughout town. There was no formal structure, just agreements between people, "I'll give you my services in exchange for your goods, sound good?" People were able to do business without cash just by keeping the agreements.
Eventually someone created a register of available bartering partners, making it possible to trade with people one did not previously know. As if to prove the success of the movement, the organizer of the register was contacted by the IRS with instructions to oblige barterers to pay income tax on the value of the trade. After a bit of eye-rolling, people continued the tax-free, people-to-people trading.
A more formal extension of bartering is the creation of "local currency" as a community-based system of exchange. One of the better known experiments with local currency has been going on since the recession of 1991 in Ithaca, New York. "Ithaca Hours" can be used to buy goods and services in Ithaca. The movement began when vendors at the local farmer's market decided to accept hours for products. It soon expanded widely to include many businesses. Eventually Ithaca Hours received serious attention from the central bank in China that sent a high level official to Ithaca to study it. The E.F. Schumacher Society, founded to carry on the ideas of the visionary economist and author of Small is Beautiful, promotes such community-based experiments.
Once you get out of the box of thinking you need money for all business there is no limit to the kinds of cash-free services that are possible as Alec Keefer demonstrated in Portland, Oregon. Alec dropped out of high school to read heady books in the basement of a house he and friends squatted. A true believer in the power of permaculture to reshape societies into sustainable systems, listening to Alec's analysis of how to transform society's institutions is as good as or better than talking with any futurist sociologist.
In his early twenties, Alec founded the Anarchist Post Office in Portland, a town where biking is a major mode of transportation. It worked like this. People dropped off their mail at boxes in participating coffee shops, stores and restaurants. Volunteer mail carriers delivered letters with destinations that happened to be on their way as they biked around town. No postage was paid. People just did the favor as they did their errands.
We are fundamentally creative beings capable of composing great symphonies and building hospitals to save lives. These times are testing us, encouraging us to remember the breadth of our better natures. We are being pushed to seize new opportunities for cooperation and trust, and to make a stronger commitment to the common good.
If we go into that realm where fear has to wait outside, we will encounter the courage and excitement to try new ways to meet our needs in cooperation with others. As more people experiment with creating innovative systems it will become clear that the crisis has presented us with an opportunity to refashion commerce to better support each other and help businesses thrive where we live. If that excitement were to become contagious, we could very well find ourselves creating prosperity for many while at the same time liberating ourselves from fear. Keep the faith.
The Death of Self-Interest Fundamentalism
April 2010 | Cognitive Policy Works | truthout
Self-interest fundamentalism was the economic religion of the 20th Century. We are now in the midst of an economic reformation on par with the Enlightenment as we enter the new millennium.
Have you noticed that a lot of people seem to think that appeals to self-interest lead to a moral and just society?
No, I’m not merely talking about economists. Self-interest evangelicals have been spreading the good news for decades in public policy programs, political science departments, and financial institutions too. Converts can be found in environmental organizations that tell us we’ll save on our energy bills if only we change those light bulbs. And blind zealots run polling companies that deploy the doctrine of self-oriented rationalism when they tell us that the preferences of individuals exist in a meaningful way to be measured – with nary an inkling that the way polls are conducted might influence how people respond.
Is self-interest fundamentalism dying? Cracks are certainly spreading through its foundations, as I’ll discuss in a moment. The more important questions we need to grapple with are whetherit should die away and, if so, withwhat should we replace it? Consider your answers to these questions. I’ll share some of mine below.
Yes, rationalist fundamentalism still has a stranglehold on society. It’s meteoric rise to dominance goes all the way back to the nuclear arms race that poured truckloads of cash from public coffers into defense contractor piggy banks through the “game” of mutually assured destruction during the Cold War. We saw it clearly during the Vietnam War when “body counts’ laid the foundation for an entire generation of video game players to score points by killing more enemies – never mind that we were slaughtering innumerable civilians.
And, of course, it was only a matter of time before schools fell under the knife of test-based bookkeeping to “hold students accountable” to rationalist ideals of performance measurement – at the expense of actual learning. A web of trans-national organizations have come into existence – the World Trade Organization, International Monetary Fund, and World Bank being the best known – that push the ideology of self-interest into the center stage of world affairs.
Theory of Self-Interest: A Creation Story
How could an impoverished model of human-as-self-focused-calculating-machine have ever come into being? A common myth is that self-interest theories rose out of behavioral studies conducted by psychologists. A nice bedtime story perhaps, but it isn’t true. Would you believe me if I told you the behavioral model underlying the global economy came, not from the human sciences, but from mathematics?
Back in the 1940’s and 50’s, a research center was created to explore fundamental issues of concern to the Air Force. This Research ANd Development institute was aptly named the RAND Corporation. Within the high security walls of this military think tank, mathematicians developed abstract principles for nuclear strategy during the Cold War. In the midst of this particular, historically contingent environment – and motivated by concerns of defense contractors in the air combat arena – the notion of self-interested rational action was born. Proof positive that the most bizarre stories are found in the non-fiction section of your local library.
So the birth place of modern market fundamentalism, in the guise of “rational choice theory”, was the military think tank that gave us the disastrous arms race. Untested and theoretical, it quickly spread throughout the highest levels of government during the tenure of Robert McNamara at the Department of Defense, then whipped through the economics departments of many prominent universities, spurred the creation of public policy analysis as a “scientific” field, and undergirded today’s global institutions of economic governance.
But things are starting to change.
Looking Forward: 21st Century Institutions
The first experimental studies of rational choice theory by behavioral scientists, principally Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky, showed that a foundational premise of the theory was wrong. (As a technical side point, they showed that preferences can be reversed by merely framing a question differently.) The “prospect theory” that arose through these experiments became the bedrock of a new field – behavioral economics – that has grown in prominence since its birth in the 1970’s. Throughout the subsequent decades, researchers found more damning evidence against self-interest. Paul Slovic and his collaborators at Decision Research have systematically explored how risk perception influences our decisions in many ways that fly in the face of rational choice theory. Human beings depend on emotional cues to make decisions. And many of these cues are associative rather than based on inferences – thus they do not fit the paradigm of rationality presumed by rational choice theory. In fact, human beings cannot manage risk – especially in the highly complex social situations we often find ourselves in – when regions of our brains that process emotional information are damaged. Antonio Damasio sealed this argument in his 1994 book,Descartes’ Error: Emotion, Reason and the Human Brain.
A new view of human reason is on the rise in academia. Unlike its predecessor, the new paradigm is profoundly based in the workings of our bodies. This “embodiment” view incorporates insights from computer science, linguistics, neuroscience, philosophy, psychology, and robotics. Its adherents include people like Gilles Fauconnier, Raymond Gibbs, Mark Johnson, George Lakoff, Eleanor Rosch, Mark Turner, and Drew Westen.
Arising with this new view is a profound shift in how we understand human thought and behavior. Just as the institutions of yesteryear grew out of the old paradigm, research in the cognitive sciences beckons us to think differently about the institutions of tomorrow.
This is where I do my work.
I’ve seen how methods like cost-benefit analysis fail utterly when applied to environmental challenges. Future costs are weighed against current gains in a false choice between short-term profit seeking and long-term sustainability. I’ve also watched as public policies built on outdated performance measures undermine that which they are meant to improve. A key example is the educational paradigm that gave us No Child Left Behind – high-stakes testing – which flies in the face of what our teachers know about real learning. Any effort to treat moral pursuits – like making the world safe for future generations or educating a child – will demand broader measures of success than numbers alone can describe. In a previous article, I described some things we’ll need our institutions to do in the 21st Century:
In a world based on this new perspective, things work very differently:
* Citizens recognize fear-inducing news reports intended to inflate manufactured risks and hide awareness of genuine threats, thereby reducing the effectiveness of these manipulative tactics.
* Journalists understand the consequences of how facts are presented and beliefs are promoted in the structure of news reporting, resulting in coverage that enhances—rather than erodes—the democratic process.
* Policy-makers abandon contrived and faulty presumptions about “economic rational actors” and instead craft solutions to societal challenges that improve the lives of real people through deeper insights into the human condition, culminating in robust policies that stand the test of time.
* Advocates articulate clear and compelling calls to action that resonate deeply with the values of the citizenry, thereby promoting greater civic engagement and community empowerment.
What’s more, we’ll need to build a new foundation for our economic institutions. A recent example shows that the old approach is inadequate. Amartya Sen and Joseph Stiglitz, two Nobel prize winning economists, led a commission to improve upon the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) when measuring economic well-being. They spent most of the 79 pages of their personal reflections (pdf) describing a long history of criticisms that show GDP to be grossly inadequate. Yet, very little of substance was offered to take its place. What does it mean that a group of leading economists don’t know how to measure economic progress? In the words of Sen, when talking about the limits of rational choice theory:
It seems easy to accept that rationality involves many features that cannot be summarized in terms of some straightforward formula, such as binary consistency. But this recognition does not immediately lead to alternative characterizations that might be regarded as satisfactory, even though the inadequacies of the traditional assumptions of rational behavior standardly used in economic theory have become hard to deny.
This tells us that many economists recognize the limitations of rational choice, but they don’t have ready-made alternatives. Yet the old tools are well-known and ready for use so they pick them up again and again. They are looking for something better, but haven’t found it yet.
I’d like to offer that the alternatives are starting to emerge in the unexpected corner of academia where researchers study the human mind. New tools cannot be found so long as the old paradigm of human nature remains. My colleagues and I are in the process of developing these new tools. What does our paradigm look like? Here are the key features:
* Human beings are profoundly social. We are wired for empathy and we learn how to act in the world through interactions with other human beings and the natural world;
* Human reason is embodied. We think and act through the interplay of brain, body, and environment. Emotions are vital to effective decision-making. And our understandings are shaped by the contexts we operate in;
* Human thought is evaluative. We interpret the world through core values, our sense of identity, and conceptual models for how we believe the world works. There’s no such thing as “an objective world” when dealing with social and political issues because we are co-creators of the realities we experience.
Each of these features tells us something about how a human-based economy should work. It should recognize the value of community in our dealings with one another. It should be designed around our biological needs for survival in a world where things like potable water and fossil fuels are becoming limited and the planetary climate system has been disrupted in a manner that threatens us all. And it should acknowledge that interpretations of human well-being are perpetually contested by competing perspectives.
Yes, it is time to let self-interest fundamentalism go the way of monarchy and feudalism. It may not go silently into the night, but the end is nigh. Pretty soon we will have laid the foundation for a sustainable future – both ecologically and financially. In order to do so, we’ll have to acknowledge how human beings actually are instead of how theorists engaged in military strategy presumed us to be 60 years ago.
This is a huge undertaking. It won’t be completed overnight. Nor will it be the sole effort of a few visionary thinkers. But it must start somewhere. My suggestion is that you’ll see it starting to take shape at the boundary between cognitive science and the world of expert practitioners at all levels of governance.
Look there and you’ll probably find me too.
Wednesday, October 6, 2010
Anarchism and Truth
A Treatise of the Spiritual Aspects of Anarchism
by Peter Ostrowski
1. OUT OF DARKNESS
... Who will endow our words with meaning if not we? We speak of work, of god, of society, yet have no common understanding of their meaning, nor even acceptance of their existence. Our words are chosen for us and inhuman forces decide on what they are to mean. So when these shells of language are finally passed down for us to use we find them to be but empty sounds. In fear of losing language and returning to darkness and not knowing, we look to the word-maker to lead us to their meanings.
From upon our tower, high over Babel, we see a land imbued with confusion. Some of us manipulate the chaos to create meaning for those who wish to believe; for for them to refuse to believe in that which is not true would be to believe in nothing. But what is truth? Can the absolute and the subjective both be truths? Cannot the allegorical and metaphysical be truth?
When meaning is taken away from our words, they will become the tools of the word-manipulators. Words with which we cannot communicate are not needed; they will become intersynonymous and then be lost. We must reclaim their meaning, for only then can we use language to speak of building mankind's future. New words will be needed and created as our understanding grows and new questions about our universe are asked.
We speak of jobs and professions as pertaining to purpose in existence. What are these things? Are they what we do to obtain money which we need to stay alive? If so, then we claim that survival is the purpose of our survival. In thinking of professionalism we vaguely acknowledge a tenuous divide somewhere between unskilled labour for money only and jobs which require skills or qualifications; something somehow higher yet still paid. So in a world with no money, will people cease to have professions? We face a plethora of ambiguity and non-definition and a paucity of words themselves. But to define the profession as vocational work towards revolution and, moreover, towards the realisation of humankind's highest potential, is to envision a money-less world in which all have professions; a world in which work becomes that which is chosen by the individual, and choice is truly choice, not submission to necessity, not the coercion of poverty and death, as all the paths of option will be leading away from the heart and mind and will of the individual.
I believe that there can be no political mechanism to act against famine, war, material and spiritual poverty and the daily murder of millions which is perpetrated by nationalism and capitalism. The revolution, when it comes, will be a spiritual one, for change can only be born of a new way of seeing the world, a new consciousness. A profession is, immediately, work towards such an end. It is work which is internationally illegal, for all governments actively stifle or legislate against its facilitation. But it also has a greater purpose. There will come a time when we no longer need to fight against our self-imposed oppression, and professional work will then become pure art and science, pushing us towards achievements we cannot even contemplate today. We will no longer be burdened by mere survival, but be free to explore Creation in any way we can, elevating ourselves ever onwards towards ultimate truth.
It is a lie that more than a very few of the labouring and administrative tasks set for us are necessary, for it is a lie that money exists, and without imagining money all but one in many thousands of the jobs that are being done today would be inconceivable. We tell ourselves that employment should be exploitative to have value, that to labour out of the greed of others is to have a job. Let us not belittle the worth of our lives so. Even accepting capitalism's compromises, that to work pragmatically and selflessly we need funding for food, shelter and materials, let us believe that one can only be said to be employed, to have a job, if one is financially able to live and work professionally, alone if need be. Self-funding through unrelated labour is unemployment if the work suffers, as it inevitably must, through the time that is thus wasted. We must reclaim all that which has been stolen from us by exploitative labour.
Even for those who want for nothing other than survival, labour, day after day, year after year, which merely supplements another's income, must be named, for surely then it does not provide a 'living wage'. Furthermore, if the supplemented income is insufficient, then it also cannot be funding for a job. Thus we must question how many 'jobs' (in the lower sense of the word) actually exist. How small a minority of people do this thing which is ostensibly compulsory?
To speak of 'earning' a living is surely mankind's greatest self-deprecation. It is as if we are stating that some people, through their own sloth or fecklessness, do not deserve to live. In this way we belittle art and science, which exist to benefit all mankind, not merely to provide the artist or scientist with money for survival. Yet we perpetuate massed fear and resistance of these highest of human activities, our only tools for realising our future, our common destiny.
We follow those who ensure that we believe we need to follow by reducing all human endeavour and aspiration to a simple choice between right and wrong. But is it right to deny one's own self and follow blindly? Is it right to lead? Is it wrong to believe that human worth lies beyond the making of money or mere survival? No one declares what the difference between right and wrong actually is.
So is it then 'right' that in our schools there exists such an extraordinary and profound dichotomy in what is taught as the basic truths of Creation? For science and religion are both presented as such truths. The purpose of compulsory state education was, ostensibly, to educate all our people, so that the fetters of superstition and ignorance would be removed and truth, that is, knowledge and understanding, would prevail, and thus free-thinking and our spiritual awareness of the world and our place in it would grow in all of us. But our chosen minister for education, responsible for the teaching and popularisation of science, declares that schools should be institutions where these undefined terms, right and wrong, are taught and explained. He tells us this can only be achieved through the teaching of religion to our children. Thus they will believe it right that the world was created in six days. That supernatural creating entities spoke to men, before murdering them all in divine deluge. That decaying corpses can rise and live again, that there is a world just above the sky to which they then levitate and enter. That it is right and preordained that we will destroy ourselves in a final battle and be judged good or evil, right or wrong, holy or irredeemably damned. Thus we are taught that the responsibility for our survival and progress and for our Armageddon does not lie in our collective hands, for if the blame for total and final genocide were held by all mankind, then who would be holy, who would be good, who would be right?
The lessons for life which are taught and learned in schools are inculcated through lies, intimidation and hostility; the last people in the world who should be teachers are teachers. We learn that respect is something to be demanded, and that it may be commanded through violence. We learn that, if our strength is sufficient, assault is to be used for coercion, that others will obey our orders if we kick and punch them. And then we take our lessons with us, scars proudly borne, into our solitary, final journeys. This is how we are building our future.
Hence we despise, fear or ignore true science and the highest art - our only means of progress and, indeed, survival. This is why we speak of employment and work as we do; they are to us the infrastructure of our conservative, stagnant world, and we are but epiphenomenal to it - sentience is seen as being no more than machinery. Those whom we regard as working are said to be employed, that is, the labouring are used - we regard labour as exploitation, something with which to be graced by others, and then regard it as our personal strength. But what of the unemployed? Do they not live? If so, why must we labour? Would we too not live without employment? It is possible that we would, but we must realise that those whom we term unemployed live only through a trick of language, because the unemployed are not the dead. In any case, we must conclude that we keep people alive who do not keep us alive. For the criterion for accusing those who do not earn money of irresponsibility and non-contribution to society is whether or not they need more money to stay alive than they already own. Inactivity, sloth and greed by the financially independent is at best envied, at worst lauded, while the unfunded professional is seen as a parasite in the world he loves and whose future he is fighting to work for, for such work is adjudged meritorious solely by the practitioner's financial solvency, and not its intrinsic value. The activities which people who have professions (in this sense of the word) demand to do are not just for their enjoyment or to alleviate boredom - theirs is anarchist work, which mankind must do because capitalism is murdering millions daily and for that reason alone has to be eradicated. Capitalists claim that we should let the unemployed die, for mankind has no future anyway and that there can be no social progress.
The Babel brought upon us by this inhuman force, the creator and annihilator of words, is its life blood. If the intangible remains nameless then it will not exist within our confounded language, and so will be unspoken, invisible, untouchable and perfectly armoured. Hence to name it would be to speak of it and to begin to understand that which cannot survive in our sight. We name it Mammon and expose it.
Mammon must defend itself. Its greatest strength is in knowing that human spirituality is the one force which would destroy it and so must be kept in perpetual twilight - capitalism ensures that anarchism and revolution do not pay and are therefore very difficult work for most people to do. Mammon's greatest weakness, and the reason why its own murder is inevitable, is in not understanding at all what the soul is, what it means to touch the numinous.
Then we must name the forces of Mammon which, like puppet strings, bind and violently repel us, keeping us as fractured tribes, strangers before our own people. This we name nationalism.
We are living in the time that history will remember as the dark ages. A time when good citizenship is taken to mean the willingness not to contribute, but to compete, to work only towards one's personal interest and gain; to show deference and obedience to the winners, the vanquishers. The ultimate winners are those who command deference even from those others who name themselves winners. But clearly, to hold such values is the antithesis of citizenship. And nowhere in these rules we dare not write down is there any reason why the thief and murderer should not serve self-interest at any cost to the other.
But what freedoms, choices and opportunities can there be for those who live within this artificial fortress we have constructed? When there is nothing to achieve or contribute, only competition and winning or losing, then the enterprise of the winner is negligible against the infrastructure within which such victory has been forged. For this game, this battlefield, has been created by the hundreds of generations before us and, of course, by the vanquished, the losers. The only achievement of the winners is to maintain this tyranny of our own making to create future winners and losers.
But our games are played and won with loaded dice. Those who do not win are bound and helpless at the start. We cannot even refuse to compete. And what is there to win but the right to throw our lives away, to beg for mindless labour? Capitalism would reduce free-will to a choice between unending toil and extermination. Those who think they have won, in so viewing their position in Creation, have nothing; Mammon feeds on such beliefs, leaving the winner with the greatest imaginable loss.
We believe that there are many different political systems in place in the world, other natures of nationalistic tyranny. We speak loosely of capitalism, socialism, communism, and think that there are fundamental differences in the ways that various countries maintain their existence. But what is capitalism if not the need to labour for money, while a ruling elite control the citizens by force? This is the only political system there has ever been in this world where no country can exist in isolation, and where each builds its armour of nationalism by creating, and maintaining or distorting, an abstracted economy.
So we will define capitalism as the building of economic fortresses, as nationalism, as inter-state economic competition. Thus to define communism will be to speak of a world without money, a world which must be all Earth, no less, for Mammon will not allow such a state to exist in isolated seclusion, surrounded by its totalitarian barbarism. It will be to recognise that there are no countries, and hence to never again speak of such arbitrary land areas nor of mindless allegiance to them. It will be our return to the allegorical Eden. Moreover, we will name this bridge we are building over genocide's canyon socialism. This will be the work and lives that are to take us to this great ending and beginning. It will be the name of our changing.
Out of all arrogance and presumptiveness, the worst is for one to demand obedience and deference from another. Communism will be lawless, for no one has the right to command others. At that time we will be united by anarchy. Each will have unreserved respect for every sentient mind, every being living, dead or unborn; human, animal or a future intelligence beyond imagining; terrestrial or other-worldly. For not only do we exploit and abuse that which is human, but also we exploit, abuse and even feed on, devour, all that is sentient, all that which knows. Never again will it be so; the revolution will facilitate the liberty of all. At such a time the anarchist will finally live by anarchy; today he must live by anarchism. Anarchy will be born of anarchism at the end of socialism's path toward our future.
Anarchism is the name of mankind's struggle against ignorance. Both science and the highest art have this ultimate aim, so they are both anarchist activities, but we also suffer in part from social ignorance, and fighting this is the third class of anarchist work. Social ignorance is ultimately blindness to our own spirituality, and it is our spirituality which fuels art and science, so clearly then our work must proceed in all three areas simultaneously if we are to achieve anarchy. But even in an anarchic Utopia, progress will not be finished, of course. We will still be living in a vast, unexplored, barely understood universe, only we will have then achieved a level of spiritual enlightenment - present in all individuals - which will allow us to finally pass the boundary between anarchism and anarchy. It will be like emerging from a global childhood.
It is preferable for anarchists to speak of the eradication of capitalism rather than its abolition. To use the word abolition would imply that mammon may be legislated against, when in reality it must be removed from our hearts, forever. When capitalism has been eradicated there will be no laws, not even those which promote freedom. (In fact, it is not even wholly correct to speak of the removal of capitalism, for capitalism's cause is not something solid and tangible, rather it is a great hole in our souls which must be filled with spiritual awareness and a sense of the numinous.)
Lastly, we must understand that which we call democracy. Through promulgated lies we believe unquestioningly that democracy, when taken to describe organised voting for government, is a man's highest freedom, that it creates a world of the people's choosing, of equality, that it is a levelling power. This is not so. Democracy must allow any action of the individual's own choosing. It is to assert and facilitate the right for each to achieve their full potential as human and spiritual beings. It is to never again vote for government, for no one has the right to govern another, even when claiming to be empowered to do so by the fiat of a majority consensus within a land area he chooses to name Country. Voting is enslaving and deference, and is not democracy. When capitalists speak of democracy and capitalism facilitating equality and freedom of opportunity for all, they speak solely of only one kind of opportunity - that to make money, and nothing else. In fact, all other freedom is denied unless, as a secondary consequence, it generates money.
We allow ourselves to believe that in Britain and other countries which we deem to be democracies, the laws we have 'chosen' to live under are equal for all individual citizens in each of those states. We consider this to be entirely just and condemn any alien state which we believe sets and upholds different laws for different groups of people within that state. But in fact we know of nowhere where this is not so, for we are all citizens of Earth and this is exactly the system nationalism necessarily creates for us all. And in any case, is it in fact just to homogeneously and oppressively attempt to regulate the behaviour and lives of so many people, all of whom are so very different from each other, having such widely varying aspirations and talents?
We are blind, silent, paralysed, numb and barely sentient. But we are here, and we look to see what this place is and what it is that we are. Is there a way to create our eyes and tongues and wings? I believe we know of a way; we must have the courage to take this path. And I believe that as I write, fewer than five hundred more years thus remain for humanity as it exists at present.
And so we point our radio telescopes toward the countless billions of stars, listening, waiting. But there is only silence, only the aching loneliness of being lost and alone in an unimaginably vast universe. It is for us to find what is beyond this darkness and to become something more than predators and prey in the primeval swamps and jungles. For, as long as there is no one here to be contacted, the sky will remain black, forever silent.
Exactly what is anarchism? Why is it important and what will we achieve through it?
The lower, most primitive parts of the mind are the cause of war, murder and capitalism. The higher regions are all we have with which to overcome these insentient urges - they comprise our only weapon against instincts which could eventually destroy us all completely. These highest echelons of our humanity are neglected in us all, and in some they lie totally unrecognised by that individual. Human culture must therefore embrace and exalt these facets of ourselves which point us to the full potential of sentience in the universe, for only such a culture can possibly ensure the survival of life on Earth. Such work - the gestalt sum of individuals' vocational professions - is called anarchism.
But all societies actively repress the use and development of these most highly evolved faculties of the mind, allowing the violent, unthinking, primitive parts to control us both as individuals and as a world society. Anarchism is the process by which we must reverse this trend if we are to have any future.
This concept of vocational professions [our ministry] - work towards both the spiritual revolution and the further development of Man - differing from labour for money, is very difficult to explain popularly because the great majority of us do not have such professions. Anarchists - the only people who do such work - comprise only a handful of members of the human race.
The people who are working towards the spiritual revolution are insultingly and vindictively accused of sloth and parasitism, when in fact the only true work is theirs. Such remarks and attitude come from those of no vision, aspiration or commitment to anyone other than themselves. They are the true unemployed. They are the ones who are lazy, the majority who are wholly reliant on a very few.
Facts must be demonstrable. We must find a way to articulate exactly why anarchism, art and science are important. Even if we give part of the answer - that these things are vital to our survival and progress - we must then give a reason as to why our survival should concern us, why progress has value and, indeed, define precisely what progress is. In any argument between anarchist and capitalist, the former will be able to deliver an unshakable counter-argument against every attempt to justify the capitalist system, the ultimate such refutation being that capitalism will destroy mankind. This leaves the capitalist with one last riposte - final and desperate, yet still seemingly impossible to refute. He will ask why we should care for anyone else, why we should care what happens on Earth after our own deaths. To find a reply is truly difficult.
When anarchism is such a seemingly arcane philosophy - the remit of a small number of individuals, each isolated from the others - then can the basic tenets of anarchism be expected to be embraced by humanity as a whole? They will not be if these concepts are philosophically complex and difficult to understand on an intellectual level. But they are not! The precepts of anarchism rest on the spiritual base which I believe is present in all people. If not for the social forces - in actual fact, anti-social, pernicious forces - which blind us and bury our spirituality, the spirit of anarchism would pervade the world we live in. Capitalism, by its very nature, leads people away from the sight of their own spirituality - it actively prevents us from living spiritual lives. We are denied true education, and are forced to engage in activities (under pain of death) which are humiliating, degrading, damaging to our physical and mental health, and are a waste of the time we need in which to work. We dedicate our lives to waiting for our own ends: for five o'clock, for Friday, for retirement, for death. Under Mammon, ambition consists of but wishing our entire lives away. And the paths along which capitalism does send us could lead anywhere - to violence, war or total genocide. We have lost control over our own directions.
In defending itself, Mammon doesn't merely suppress the word anarchism, but understands the power of ridicule and reduces the meaning of the name to something which people will equate with no more than terrorism and rioting, and which for them will have no political meaning or ideology at all.
Thus the police seek to exculpate themselves from any responsibility for incidents of violence at public demonstrations or rallies by directing the blame for any such confrontations onto 'anarchists', immediately gaining public support through the years of the misappropriation of the word. National and global television and other media networks duly and authoritatively report and disseminate this unchallenged libel. Anarchism is thus continuously fighting such world-wide reactionary political misinformation, becoming reduced to no more than a purely perjorative and abusive term, whilst being denied virtually any media access at all in which to expound its actual aims and viewpoint.
Mankind's destiny may only be realised through anarchism, yet it is the one political creed which is completely censored and suppressed by all aspects of modern society, including the popular media and all children's state education.
Would the creation of an anarchist political party help to strike back against this misinformation and media neglect? It is difficult to see how anarchism's work could be placed in the party political arena. Anarchism transcends leftism and rightism, and if it were to be placed in the political spectrum, there could be nothing to the left of it, and to its right would only be ranged various degrees of watered down capitalism. In any case, its voice would be tiny and unheard. Perhaps the formation of an anarchist union is possible, however - a society bringing individuals together so that they do not feel so alone in their work [the "anointed" community].
We need to identify the areas in which fundamental social changes must be made. For example, the problem of unemployment may be addressed by attempting to spread work out among all citizens. But in a society so advanced that a concerted effort has been made to share out jobs in a fair way, money will have been abolished too. This would eradicate 99% of the jobs which exist at present. Conversely, many more vocational human activities will be created by this monumental advancement in our spirituality. Necessary labour would then be done as a form of voluntary national service and would not impinge to an intrusive degree on liberty and the time which people need to work at these professions. Such labour would be performed during natural breaks in a person's career, if such gaps happen to arise. Inevitably, some professions would allow for little such time, and so people would have to give as much as they were able to, even if this meant that some could only contribute very little. But under anarchy we would understand and allow for this.
The 'industrialised' countries, of which Britain is one, garner a disproportionate part of the world's wealth and possessively hold it close, prepared even to murder in order to defend it. For not only is war murder, but so is the world-wide economic competition which starves millions. Moreover, given the arbitrary nature of country boundaries, all war is therefore civil war, whether it be in the form of armed combat or interpersonal socio-economic competition; we are citizens of one planet.
It appears that this is how most of the employed want the world to be. It is how most of the unemployed want the world to be. To then have the temerity to complain of being victims of such a system, or to pity the poor they themselves have created, is hypocritical, arrogant and wholly self-centred [we are complicit]. We speak of the concessions by which the unemployed are allowed to survive as being safety nets'. But why are we walking tightropes?
Countries do not exist - we have fabricated them from our bigotries. We have made them up. This is the most fundamental tenet of social organisation. Exploitative labour is maintained not by the ruling class, but by the exploited themselves. The exploited comprise the army, the one and only tool available to the rich and powerful with which to subjugate the majority, and to protect their own riches and power. The control of armed forces is ultimately the root of their power, the coercive mechanism which enables men to force their will onto others and to steal the common land. It was only because people who possessed this violent might took and divided the land long ago that exploitative labour ever came into being. People were spread so sparsely over the Earth that it was possible for anyone to find a plot of land, build their own home and grow their own food. If people had not been prevented from continuing to live so freely, trade and money could never have come into existence.
The existence of armed forces, therefore, is both a direct consequence of capitalism and a major prerequisite for its continuing survival. One cannot be without the other.
It is often said that prostitution is the world's oldest profession ('profession' is always misused in this common aphorism, of course - it is actually used here to mean exploitative labour). But this cannot be so, for military activity must be older still. Prostitution exists because of money - capitalism - which is forced upon us only by military means. Therefore there had to have been armies before there had been prostitution. The first exploited workers were soldiers.
The people of our world - the citizens of our global society, present and past - are lacking almost totally in pride, self-respect, dignity, a sense of the numinous and hope for our collective future. In place of these things fester violent hatred and nationalism, religion and superstition, and a fear of science, coupled with an inability to understand either it or the nature of its spirit. If we do not respect ourselves, then how may we ask for respect from others? We allow people to demand deference from us, and then meekly give it. This is my life - nobody has a right to tell me what to do, and I have no right to do likewise to anyone else - others' lives are their own. Only when we have first accepted this fundamental truth can we possibly accept responsibility for working towards mankind's future.
How can the exploited complain of their lot if they are not anarchists? About whom do they complain if not themselves? If they want capitalism, then they want to compete to stay alive, they want the ever present threat of redundancy, they want to be at constant risk of losing the game of Mammon. However, perhaps they do have this right of resentment if they have been enslaved and repressed, for a lifetime or for generations, and have had their intellectual and spiritual development stunted to such a degree that they don't even know what their basic human rights are. So many times I have tried to speak of rights and pride to such timid, obedient people as these, and have always found it frustratingly difficult to do when they so easily take deep offence at such frightening ideas.
Thus people who are trying to instigate anarchy are not trying to tell others what to do - they simply wish to ensure that individuals are fully capable of both making and exercising choices in their lives. A social system which allows this is by definition named Anarchy.
We allow God's land to be carved up and owned by a few and call the land - our land - property. Almost the whole world is chartered in this way, and we offer no opposition to this theft of our common heritage. Indeed, the popular use of the word heritage has been vulgarised to imply the ownership of the world by a few. Yet the ownership of the one thing which is above anything else the personal property of the individual - our very lives and minds and will - we unquestioningly throw away. We have damaged ourselves so badly that we cannot see that no one has the right to tell another what to do, to give orders, to starve, to murder, to imprison. We even surrender time. Our lives are so short, like the blinking of an eye compared to the cosmic time-scale, and still we speak of this time, this handful of years, as if it were not our own. We sell it to our masters so that we may live, and regard these contracts as just and fair. The 'theft of time' from these exploiters - shirking, impunctuality, sick leave - are condemned as anti-social, and we even speak of 'spare time', when we are not being abused and enslaved. But this time is ours! It is our lives! Must we be so helpless and obsequious? A day is such a precious thing, yet we let them all slip by, unused, one after the other until we die.
If people are not anarchists, then it is only they who must justify their reactionary stance. Yet although non-anarchists have vastly more opportunity than anarchists to expound their views, I have never heard anyone attempt to do so using a logically consistent argument. Not only do capitalists not understand anarchism, but it appears that they do not understand capitalism. Its proponents cannot justify it. There can be no subjective argument about right or wrong - if the mental handicap responsible for capitalism is responsible for the daily murder of millions, then it is wrong and must be cured or eradicated. It is not possible for there to be a logistically consistent counter-argument to this, and it is a waste of time to listen to anyone attempting to expound one. Anarchists need not justify that which is, by definition, the only way to facilitate mankind's survival and progress. Choosing and supporting capitalism entails wanting to live in poverty or under the constant threat of redundancy and poverty equally as much as wanting to live in wealth and luxury, for it is not possible for capitalism to exist without all these things. It also entails wishing such restriction and injustice on all other people. Capitalism's apologists claim that such a system facilitates the individual's freedom and choice. It does no such thing, because the free would not choose servitude. Under capitalism, social responsibility consists of being compliant, deferential and obedient, and merely deepening the age-old furrows worn by the machine of the system we live by. This social responsibility includes no form of contribution to society other than interpersonal and international economic competition - ultimately, to the death.
In places of exploitative labour (and, indeed, outside of such environments) so many people are quite prepared and willing to show deference to those who tell them what to do. No man has a right to give orders to another under such circumstances - that is, under the blackmail and violent coercion of capitalism - and conversely, for humanity's sake, no one has the right to give in to such false authority and offer such abject deference to others.
Governments aim to combat insurrection by exploiting this human weakness and seeking to create a strong and pervasive sense of hierarchy in society. In the workplace, if individuals are forced to compete within an infrastructure of fluid, meritocratic pay scales, then this will serve to destroy any sense of solidarity between those fellow workers, for everyone will then be at everyone else's throat - there will be no coherent 'mass' of employees, strong in their number. Also, by creating a culture where everyone is considered a 'consumer' or 'provider', governments ensure the fragmentation of industrial organisations, again stifling any possible spirit of solidarity.
So many accept and never question a great divide between 'manager' and 'worker'. Yet managers - secretaries and supervisors - serve no purpose other than to assist workers by organising their work for them. They have no other possible use, and if they do not perform competently then the workers must replace them with others. It is possible for entire companies - banks and suchlike, for example - to comprise no workers, in which case that whole organisation exists for no reason other than to serve and assist those who do work.
All the media perpetuate the capitalist ethos of home-owning, that is, the belief that a home is an investment and not a place to live. Anyone who regards their house as a monetary gamble and not a dwelling place must be prepared for the value of their investment to decrease as well as to increase. People who simply want a roof over their heads obviously desire low house prices, whereas capitalists speak of such a housing market as being 'depressed', and wish for prices to increase, which they then regard as being a 'recovery' of this market. People who choose to attempt to scale such a property ladder forfeit all rights of complaint against any loss or state of poverty they themselves suffer at Mammon's hand.
Consider also all the many exploited people who think nothing of calling others, whom they see as being in some sense 'above' them, Sir, Doctor or Mister, whilst they themselves accept being addressed by these people by their surnames or, more patronisingly still, their christian names. Those who demand deference must be prepared and willing to be themselves deferential to those who, under the system which they choose to embrace, are their masters. The implication is that there is yet another ladder to climb, and those at the bottom, if they take any opportunities to climb up, will treat their 'inferiors' - the very group of people of which they themselves were once members - in the same supercilious manner. Again, people who choose to play on this ladder forfeit their right of complaint against redundancy and any personality clashes in their place of exploitative labour which upset them, for the rules they choose to play by are of their own making. Ultimately all the players are on their knees throughout their lives, and their desire to demand and give deference is born of a gaping spiritual vacuum in their hearts which denies their own basic rights, indeed, suppresses knowledge of what those rights are, and veils and clouds all perception of the potential of what it means to be human. People seem determined to achieve absolutely nothing. It is a triumph of the human spirit, a magnificent achievement, that we have progressed even as far as we have, despite these seemingly insurmountable obstacles and this repression of the soul.
The second most profound act of this government's current residence in office has been the declaration that 'there is no such thing as society, only individuals and their families'. The most profound political act of this period has been for the electorate to then re-elect the party at the following general election (albeit after a cosmetic change of leadership - which I believe to have been precipitated by the immediate realisation by the government that this outrageous statement was politically grossly inexpedient, and urgently needed to be disowned and expunged from the people's collective memory). And now these same overlords have the hypocrisy to tell us that it is unacceptable for there to exist a social underclass of people who do not share the same values and aspirations as everybody else.
If the people who appoint themselves as our rulers claim that society does not exist, then what do they believe it is that they have dominion over? Nationalised industries - both manufacturing and service - and administrative bodies are steadily and systematically being privatised and the people are told that it is not the job of governments to organise such work. We are to believe that transport is not the government's concern - although the railways and roads have been and are still being built solely with public money. Nor do they wish to administer the distribution of gas, electricity or water. Such a philosophy, such a complete abrogation of their administrative responsibilities, is quite consistent with the belief that there is no such thing as society. So what is it then that has made the government contrive, organise, publicise and sanction the official national dream that is The Lottery? Why do they wash their hands of all the vitally important work which a government is elected to perform, while setting up and overseeing something which they claim has no importance other than being 'a bit of fun'.
The purpose of the lottery is to create, through an insidious, Machiavellian inculcation, a culture in which capitalism is customary and unquestionable, appearing to us to be as natural as the sky and trees. For the players are taught to be concerned only with a quest for their own luxury, just as it is in the capitalist world of exploitative labour and interpersonal economic competition.
This culture the lottery is aimed at creating is also one in which charity is not questioned. We are each expected to fight each other in serving our own, individual self-interests, and any pennies we have left over may then be thrown to charities. If we were to believe the truth, that important things such as feeding, housing and educating the citizens of the world should be funded and supported as a matter of principle, and not through charities and lotteries, then this would be a monumental step towards destroying capitalism. And Mammon is aware of this.
It is in capitalism's survival interest that people believe that there is no such thing as society, and creating a handful of millionaires will help to inculcate such a belief in us. If we aspire to win the lottery above all else, then there will be no room within our hearts for anarchist, revolutionary aspirations.
Mammon is prepared to make some of us millionaires in order for us all to believe the lie of Conservatism. In order to survive, Conservatism must take away all hope and aspiration from the people, except the hope of economic victory and victories of influence, power and command over our fellow citizens, and - apparently - the aspiration to win enough money to be able to avoid the need to do exploitative labour for the rest of one's life. The instigation of the lottery has acted to erode our sense of citizenship, for it has created a culture which actively elicits an expression of desperation, disenchantment and disenfranchisement from society from the vast majority of the populace.
When it is possible to compel people to do such labour, then it is easy to demand that they believe that those who do not do so shirk their social responsibilities and are a drain and burden on our common wealth, our public funds. So many show such blind diligence to their toils and deferential loyalty to their masters, who in turn are subjugated by the master of Mammon. Yet to them winning the national lottery is something to aspire to, a dream to hold and cherish and call a reason for living, so that they may cease labour and join the shirkers (those very people whom they had previously accused of not contributing through any work or labour toward a common good), for their million pounds would be paid directly from our shared national wealth, being in fact a far greater drain on that wealth than a man's unemployment benefit, even if it were paid to him for a lifetime.
Everywhere we turn we hear people saying what they would do if they won the lottery jackpot, how they would ostentatiously resign from their place of labour in an outburst of anger and relief. Yet, while they are still compelled to be exploited, they accept their lot without complaint or any concept of anarchism, denouncing 'scroungers and idlers' and speaking of how the wheels of society must be kept in motion through exploitative labour.
Capitalism demands only one form of contribution to society from its citizens - obedience, compliance and deference. Never does it expect the individual to actually want to do his or her tasks for any reason other than financial gain. This is why workers are subjected to pay scales and supervision, threats of redundancy and financial catastrophes if the earning of money ceases for but a week. If people are constantly being taught, forcefully, that the exploitative labour they are doing serves no purpose other than to make money, then it is hypocritical to expect them to have any intrinsic interest at all in that activity. The government's every public pronouncement is carefully designed to further instill in us such ways of thinking - unemployment benefit assessment explicitly demands that labour serves no other purpose than to make money for the labourer - and even the media, controlled by capitalism, also try to force us to believe these things. We live under the yoke of an insidious despotism. Thus the individual struggles against appalling odds to search for any truth at all.
As well as using the media and the law to control people's thoughts, to mould their ethics and aspirations, the government takes much away from us through censorship. Any society which uses censorship to control what its citizens hear, see or read, claiming that depravity and corruption are the products of social forces, in so doing admits that war (the greatest mass depravity and corruption) and crime are caused by society. Yet the only measures taken to combat these things are aimed solely at civilian criminality, and are merely punitive - deterrents against individual offenders. Punishment is always nothing more than anger, loss of temper and hatred. Those who wish to rule cannot admit this, because they themselves use violent moral crime in order to maintain their own power.
Censorship is but one example of the hypocrisy of capitalism's proponents who claim that their creed is a natural, self-regulating social system by which all of its members and their activities reach their own meritocratic level. For Mammon would destroy itself if it were not tempered by censorship, or the control of drugs and arms, or the regulation of privatised industries to ensure that they do not make too much money, or the provision of state benefits to those whom it has made losers, or the regulation of monopolies and mergers, or the state funding of science and the arts. Capitalism does always fail.
Anarchy will need no such tempering.
Capitalism expects so little from people. It assumes that we will only care for anyone other than ourselves, except maybe our families or close friends, if those others are 'customers'. Anarchism, however, recognises that people have so much more than this to give and to contribute, and because they want to do so. Without spiritual desire there would be nothing driving our work, no fire, no reason, and the whole of humanity would be volatilely simmering with discontent.
Many people who demand deference from those whom they see as being ranked below them in their place of labour (or even, in a general sense, socially) hypocritically claim that people who do not labour are not contributing to society. It is only possible to make such a contribution if one regards all others as being equal citizens. Those who demand deference are in opposition to anarchism and so cannot possibly contribute to society nor believe that such a thing is even possible except through capitalism's serving of 'customers'.
If this psychological subterfuge succeeds, if we are ever truly left with nothing to hope for or aspire to other than personal, selfish, cynical escape from the mindless labour, the fight for survival which we ourselves have created, then we will be left with nothing at all. Mankind will then have no future, because hope, the strongest political force there is, will have been lost for ever.
Sunday, October 3, 2010
Global Citizen Research and Media Group - Discussions
Article written by Charles Eisenstein
We live in a ubiquitous matrix of lies, a culture of mendacity so pervasive that it is nearly invisible. Because we are lied to all the time, in ways so routine they are beneath conscious notice, even the most direct lies are losing their power to shock us. The most shocking thing about the lies of the Bush administration is that those lies are not actually shocking to most people. Why do we as a society seemingly accept our leaders' gross dishonesty as a matter of course? Why does the repeated exposure of their lies seem to arouse barely a ripple of indignation among the general public? Where is the protest, the outrage, the sense of betrayal?
The answer to these questions lies deeper than the machinations of one or another faction of the power elite. It lies deeper than the subversion and control of the media. Our society's apathy arises from a subtle and profound disempowerment: the depotentiation of the language itself, along with all other forms of symbolic culture. Words are losing their power to create and to transform. The result is a tyranny that can never be overthrown, but will only proceed toward totality until it collapses under the weight of the multiple crises it inevitably generates. ...
What are we to do, then, when words, our primary creative tool in the modern world, have become impotent? Surely radical activists and writers must ask this of themselves, as they shout the truth from the rooftops, loud and clear, to so little effect (yes there are some small victories, but the inferno rages on). We feel the urge to stop talking and get out there and DO something. But to do is to speak.
The exception is activists who, impatient with all the talk, go out there and do good work on a local, individual basis. They help prisoners or poor children or the sick or some other victim of the world-devouring machine. They teach teens how to become conscientious objectors. They offer legal aid or friendship to people on death row. They go into the inner city and plant gardens. They staff soup kitchens. They lie down in front of tractors. They spike trees. They blow the whistle on an injustice. They become healers. On an individual level, they make a huge difference in many people's lives, and their own lives are spiritually rewarding and emotionally fulfilling. On the societal level or the civilizational level, however, they do little to stem the tide, because on that level the main impact of such operations lies, ironically enough, in their symbolic power, which has quickly diminished (in the public consciousness) to the status of clichés, gimmicks, or stunts.
The crisis of our civilization comes down to a crisis of language, in which words have seemingly lost their ability to create and can now only destroy. We have all the technology and all the knowledge we need to live in beautiful harmony with each other and the planet. What is needed are different collective choices. Choices arise from perceptions, perceptions arise from interpretations or stories, and stories are build of words. Today, words have lost their power and our society's stories have seemingly taken on a life of their own, propelling us toward an end that no sane person would choose and that we seem helpless to resist. And helpless we are, when all we have are impotent words.
What are we as writers, then, to do? Shall we stop writing? No. But let us not labor under any illusions. The truth has been exposed again and again, but to what effect? What have forty years of correct analysis of the environmental and political state of the world brought us? The reason that the entire staff of your favorite left-wing website is not in a concentration camp is that it is not necessary. Words themselves have been robbed of their power. Thoreau said, "It takes two to speak the truth: one to speak and another to hear." Who hears now but the already-converted? ...
Like words, images have become divorced from the objects they are supposed to represent, until the very word "image" itself has taken on connotations of inauthenticity: a corporate image, a politician's image. In a world of lies and images, nothing is real. Immersed in such a world, is the political apathy of the American public so difficult to understand?
The danger when we operate wholly in a world of representations and images is that we begin to mistake that world for reality, and to believe that by manipulating symbols we can automatically change the reality they represent. We lose touch with the reality behind the symbols. Grisly death becomes collateral damage. Torture becomes enhanced interrogation. A bill to relax pollution controls becomes the Clear Skies Act. Defeat in Iraq becomes victory. War becomes peace. Hate becomes love. Freedom becomes slavery. ...
Take heart: the evisceration of the language that makes our tyranny impregnable also ensures its eventual demise. The words, numbers, and images over which it exercises complete control are less and less congruent to reality. Such is the folly of the infamous "Brand America" campaign, designed to burnish America's "image" abroad. The image has become more important than the reality. Bombs blow up innocent civilians to send a "message" to the "terrorists". No matter that this message exists only in the fantasies of our leaders. They are, like those they rule, immersed in an increasingly impotent world of symbol and cannot understand why the world does not conform to their manipulation of its representation, the pieces on their global chess board.
However we play with the statistics to cover up the converging crises of our time, the crises continue to intensify. We can euphemize the autism crisis away, the obesity epidemic, the soil crisis, the water crisis, the energy crisis. We can dumb down standardized exams to cover up the accelerating implosion of the educational system. We can redefine people in and out of poverty and manipulate economic statistics. We can declare -- simply declare -- that the forests are not in precipitous decline. For a while we can hide the gathering collapse of environment and polity, economy and ecology, but eventually reality will break through. ...
Increasingly isolated in a virtual world, the mass of people fear authenticity even as they crave it. Except in the young, the fear usually prevails over the craving until something happens to make life fall apart. Following the pattern experienced by Cindy Sheehan, the fundamental corruption of first one, then all of our civilization's major institutions becomes transparent. In my various areas of activism I have seen this many times. Someone discovers that the pharmaceutical industry, or the music industry, or the oil industry, or organized religion, or Big Science, or the food industry is shockingly corrupt, but still believes in the basic soundness of the system as a whole. Eventually, in a natural process of radicalization, they discover that the rot is endemic to all of these and more. As activists for the truth, we are midwives to this process.
As the crises of our age converge and infiltrate the fortresses we have erected to preserve the virtual world of euphemism and pretense, the world is falling apart for more and more people at once. The truth is closing in. Let us speak it loud and clear, so that when they emerge into the stark glare of our true condition, someone is there to say, "Welcome to the real world."
Global Citizen Research and Media Group web page
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
Now therefore hearken unto their voice: howbeit yet protest solemnly unto them, and shew them the manner of the king that shall reign over them.
1Sa 8:1 And it came to pass, when Samuel was old, that he made his sons judges over Israel. 1Sa 8:2 Now the name of his firstborn was Joel; and the name of his second, Abiah: [they were] judges in Beersheba. 1Sa 8:3 And his sons walked not in his ways, but turned aside after lucre, and took bribes, and perverted judgment. 1Sa 8:4 Then all the elders of Israel gathered themselves together, and came to Samuel unto Ramah, 1Sa 8:5 And said unto him, Behold, thou art old, and thy sons walk not in thy ways: now make us a king to judge us like all the nations. 1Sa 8:6 But the thing displeased Samuel, when they said, Give us a king to judge us. And Samuel prayed unto the LORD. 1Sa 8:7 And the LORD said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them. 1Sa 8:8 According to all the works which they have done since the day that I brought them up out of Egypt even unto this day, wherewith they have forsaken me, and served other gods, so do they also unto thee. 1Sa 8:9 Now therefore hearken unto their voice: howbeit yet protest solemnly unto them, and shew them the manner of the king that shall reign over them.
1Sa 8:10 And Samuel told all the words of the LORD unto the people that asked of him a king. 1Sa 8:11 And he said, This will be the manner of the king that shall reign over you: He will take your sons, and appoint [them] for himself, for his chariots, and [to be] his horsemen; and [some] shall run before his chariots. 1Sa 8:12 And he will appoint him captains over thousands, and captains over fifties; and [will set them] to ear his ground, and to reap his harvest, and to make his instruments of war, and instruments of his chariots. 1Sa 8:13 And he will take your daughters [to be] confectionaries, and [to be] cooks, and [to be] bakers. 1Sa 8:14 And he will take your fields, and your vineyards, and your oliveyards, [even] the best [of them], and give [them] to his servants. 1Sa 8:15 And he will take the tenth of your seed, and of your vineyards, and give to his officers, and to his servants. 1Sa 8:16 And he will take your menservants, and your maidservants, and your goodliest young men, and your asses, and put [them] to his work. 1Sa 8:17 He will take the tenth of your sheep: and ye shall be his servants. 1Sa 8:18 And ye shall cry out in that day because of your king which ye shall have chosen you; and the LORD will not hear you in that day. 1Sa 8:19 Nevertheless the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel; and they said, Nay; but we will have a king over us; 1Sa 8:20 That we also may be like all the nations; and that our king may judge us, and go out before us, and fight our battles. 1Sa 8:21 And Samuel heard all the words of the people, and he rehearsed them in the ears of the LORD. 1Sa 8:22 And the LORD said to Samuel, Hearken unto their voice, and make them a king. And Samuel said unto the men of Israel, Go ye every man unto his city.
Friday, September 24, 2010
The Seven Annual Sabbaths
Our inherent value = love and truth; the communitarian way, the environment instituted in the pages of the OT and exemplified in the NT has a built-in reminder to maintain "the continual", the daily worship (the practise of the way): the annual Holy Days, the festivals; the shared symbolic behavior so important to fellowship and cognition.
The seven annual Sabbaths instituted forever not only the Holy Days [God's Plan of Salvation for humanity] but the way of life within, explicit in the harvest feasts: the communitarian way, the *path* [personal achievement of true humanity] - the first day of the sacred year (the annual beginning); the Passover (the sacrifice, the reconciliation, the acceptance; the SAGE attempt to silence); ULB (the putting away of sin, the commitment); Pentecost (the gift of God; a society of the gift); the fall harvest season, Trumpets, Atonement, FOT, LGD: the return Christ, of His message; the putting away of the adversary (Mammon; the alienated, privileged attitudes); the harvest feast (feast of booths, the millennium, the communal reconstruction); the judgement (the Book of Life opened; all of humanity to share in the way).
The Passover observance at even (sunset), in the NT the Last Supper; the wine and unleavened bread taken by the Baptised in acknowledgement of the sacrifice of Christ Jesus for the remission of sins and in rededication as the very flesh and blood of the "body of Christ"; the Night To Be Much Remembered, observed the next sunset, was instituted to remember the Exodus of Israel from Egypt (typifies sin), the 7 Days of Unleavened Bread [ULB] begin; they picture the removal of sin from our lives; no leavened bread or products of any kind (the puffed-up lives, attitudes); the first and last days are annual Sabbaths; next is Pentecost, which pictures God's Gift of the Holy Spirit to the Christian Community, the 3rd annual Sabbath.
The Feast of Trumpets pictures the return of Christ; the Second Coming when Christ directly intervenes in world affairs and establishes the government or Kingdom of God over mankind; the beginning of the Millennium; the next event is pictured by the Day of Atonement; the binding and separation of Satan, the author of all sin (the transgression of God's Ten Commandments) away from mankind until after the Millennium; next is the Feast of Tabernacles [FOT] or Booths, a feast of ingathering, a seven day festival where we leave our homes and gather together if possible; it pictures the Millennium when Jesus Christ is Lord and King over all the earth, when the Holy Spirit is granted to all mankind alive and born during the Millennium and the earth is prepared for the next great event to take place; that event is pictured by the Last Great Day [LGD], the resurrection of every man, woman and child who has ever lived/been conceived (including the stillborn and aborted, placed into their parents arms); the dead stand before God; this is the Great White Throne Judgement, not a condemnation to a hell as traditional Christianity believes, but a time when the "Book of Life" is opened to all of humanity and they are given their first opportunity to receive God's instruction, to learn his way of love based on the 10 Commandments and ultimately to be born into the very Family of God.
The spring (3 Sabbaths) and fall Holy Days (4 Sabbaths) picture the plan of redemption for mankind and are explained thoughout the Bible; by keeping them as commanded by God every year, the Church (the community) is kept in constant remembrance of God's plan for mankind and man's destiny to be born into the Family of God and ultimately to share in the rule and continuing creation of the universe.
MM Book 2 Chapter 10-17
When we come in contact with, or come up against, “character” that *lacks* God [in others or in ourselves], it is an opportunity to express God: INIQUITY PURGED BY MERCY AND TRUTH [mercy/forgiveness] – all of us have been casualties of the prevailing systemic character, the fear “bullet” [arrow] that is shot deep into us; God will heal the “inflicted wound”, and heal us !! — we must pull-back “for” engagement [from the evil; we are in conflict of interest]; WE MUST *OCCUPY* COMMUNITY, WE MUST *PLACE* GOD’S PRESENCE INTO WHEREVER WE ARE [location or situation]; GOD’S CHARACTER AND ABILITIES ARE OURS TO PLACE !! – WE *ARE* GOD FAMILY, WE EMBODY [our being] AND CREATE [our doing] COMMUNITY, THIS *IS* OUR RESPONSE-ABILITY !! — OUR MINISTRY [ministration] IS ** OUR RELATIONSHIP(S) **, OUR COMMUNITY !! – AGAPE LOVE IS THE GIFT, AND THE GIVING !!
“… The three main festivals in the Bible are Passover, Pentecost and Tabernacles – in the physical application Passover is the festival of political freedom, Tabernacles of economic freedom, and Pentecost, the central and most important, is a festival of spiritual freedom [see Harris L. Selig, "Links to Eternity", p. 370; Richard C. Nickels, Giving and Sharing, "Pentecost Paper"]:
PASSOVER = POLITICAL FREEDOM – EXODUS (out of bondage), Christ Systemic;
PENTECOST = SPIRITUAL FREEDOM – 10C, Covenant People, Holy Spirit, COG;
TABERNACLES = ECO-NOMIC FREEDOM – Ingathering, Harvest, KINGDOM OF GOD.
Previously posted MMr March 29, 2010
The Final Hour (41y8m): 1990-2031
For Your Consideration:
Four(4) Night Watches: even 6p-9p, midnight 9p-12a, cockcrowing 12a-3a [cry aloud], morning 3a-6a - final "hour" [1000/24] 41y8m [41.666667y / 500m] Psalm 119 "watches of the night", four(4) Watches [of 3 hours each]: ea. Watch = 10.41666675y = 10y5m = 125m / 3 hrs = 3.47222225 yrs [3y5m20d = 41m20d = 41.666667m] ...
W1 EVEN Jan.1990 + 10y5m = W2 MIDNIGHT May.2000 + 10y5m = W3 COCKCROWING [to shine, to shed light; voice, disclosure; trim wicks; Matt 24 witness] Oct.2010 *AT* MIDNIGHT [Psm 119:62, Matt 25:6] A CRY MADE+ 10y5m = W4 MORNING Mar.2021 + 10y5m = Sep.2031 SUNRISE(6a) ...
Oct.2010 At Midnight (in the midst of) (Last Great Day/LGD Sep.30.2010; last Sabbath of the seven annual Holy Days) - The Midnight Hour (ref: Mammon or Messiah Book 2), Trim Wicks ...
Previously posted MMr January 11, 2010
MM Book 2 Chapter 10 web page (widescreen)
Sunday, September 19, 2010
The hierarchical government form violates the 10C:
1. it is in the service of another god; BAAL [ownership; over and upon];
2. it is the Roman image, the image of the Beast;
3. it is taking God's name in vain; worshipping [as way of life] in vain;
[God's name(s) (His/our spiritual characteristics/responsibilities) denied; God's truth partially taught, but in *little strength*; His government has been denied; the strength has been consumed, in vain, from within];
4. it is employed, working for itself on the new moons, Sabbaths, holy days;
5. it is dishonoring God, our Father, and our Mother, the Church;
6. it is committing murder [the way of gain = the way of Cain];
7. it is committing adultery; fornication (with the world) as instrumentality;
8. it is stealing the authority of God away from the brethren; it is stealing God's tithes (community contribution) for its own work, the Gospel as product [maintaining the corporate church; way of gain as righteousness];
9. it is bearing false witness [hierarchy is NOT the government of God]; it is denying God's self-sufficient community [full preaching, witness]; it is denying the very "anointing" of the brethren, their ministry; it is (/they are) the "anti-Anointed";
10. it is covetous for position and power, honor and privilege; it is covetous for what its neighbor [the world] possesses.
The hierarchical government form is opposed to God, an enemy of God, *carnal*, yet, those within its grasp are our brethren -- you cannot exercise holy, righteous, spiritual character by utilizing the means of the world, the unholy, the unrighteous, the base; good cannot proceed out of evil [there is no good in evil, but, the *recognition* of the evil can bring the good] - God's presence will not occupy the same space, environment, with sin [evil is the absence of God; evil flows from sin, the negation of God's way; selfishness]; righteousness does not come from, originate, from unrighteousness, or its means, its instrumentality !!
We need to look at the governmental structure of the first-century church, built as it was on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, in which every person was a brother or sister and coheir with Christ; where no centralized hierarchy of power and control reigned supreme; where God's Spirit moved mightily among people who put their trust in Him alone -- we are the Body, *not* the corporation, of Christ; Jesus is our Master, King, High Priest and Lord - He and His apostles set the standard for governance -- it is when we understand our weakness that God will be our strength - if our hearts are right and our garments figuratively wet from washing each other's feet, then God can use us in His ** Ministry of Reconciliation ** to prepare a people for Christ's second coming - but, if we insist on patterning our self-rule after the kings of the gentiles, which invariably results in people *acting* like kings of the gentiles, then God might call others who will serve Him and Him alone. -- [this para., partial excerpt: Seeking the Government of God Here on Earth, by Lee Lisman; from the June 24, 1996 issue, In Transition]
The subject matter of 1 Corinthians 12 and Ephesians 4 is *spiritual gifts*, positions of service and responsibility, NOT positions of rank, privilege, and authority over, or upon, the brethren, but in the service for, and of, the brethren - eldership and service from within the congregation !! - there is no professional ministry, no central authority; the government of God is a relationship amongst the ministry of the brethren with Christ as High Priest directing *the* work: the autonomous, self-sufficient, loosely confederated, and flexible [not rigid, but open to new truth, new experience] community-congregations, each *a* work of God, growing in the grace and knowledge of God, each walking with Christ, working out their own salvation with fear and trembling [reverence and awe] !! - a plurality of elders, mature in the spirit, providing guidance in each, with a sharing of the gifts by the brethren amongst the congregations, a *reciprocal relationship* of freely sharing all that God has freely shared with them, for the edification and growth of the Body of Christ - in *brethren assemblies* there is NO imposed distinction between clergy and laity !!
God's self-sufficient and free community ensures preservation of, and absolute, prohibition of evil [fornication as instrumentality; female rivals (church typed: hierarchy; divisions), etc.] within, the COG - the COG is in league [earth community covenant], in alliance with, the natural order of God's creation, in a *reciprocal relationship* [physical as-well-as spiritual; RESTORED TO LIFE] -- the COG is *our* dwelling, home, habitation, *the sacred tent* of God [the tabernacle]; it is a place of health, prosperity, and peace - the COG community is visited [to oversee, muster, charge, care for; do judgment] ** without sin ** [complicity, incur guilt; judge] [without losing oneself, without wandering from the way] - the absolute disestablishment of the hierarchical systemic accomplished; ** pre-millennial fulfillment ** possibility (it is up to us to avert the coming Holocaust); the COG persuaded, opened, made simple again; a very deep, and profound *work* NOW begins; the Holy Spirit deeply stirred, the COG collected, and bound together.
Saturday, September 18, 2010
Americans Need National Repentance And Atonement
06 September, 2010 | Tikkun | CounterCurrents
Now that the Iraq war is supposedly winding down, America needs a period of reflection, repentance and atonement before rushing into more of the same mistakes we've been making globally and domestically. So I'd like to invite my non-Jewish neighbors and friends and allies in the struggle to heal and transform America to join with Jews to use the ten days of repentance from Rosh Hashanah (Sept.9) through Yom Kippur (Sept. 18) for that purpose-to create an All-American version of the Jewish High Holidays!
What makes the Jewish tradition useful in this regard is that it focuses not only on our own individual lives, but on taking collective responsibility for our larger world. The formulations of repentance and atonement use language like "Our father, our king, WE have sinned before you" and "For the sins WE have committed by…." (and then the community fills in the blanks).
The notion of collective responsibility means that we acknowledge how impactful the community, its institutions, its worldview, its shared understandings and assumptions, and its daily operations shape the behavior and consciousness of each of us. In contemporary terms, this means: Don't expect a society that privileges money, fame and power and ridicules idealism, prophetic critique and anything not judged "realistic" by the inside-the-beltway commentators and power-brokers to then produce human beings who can look beyond their own immediate self-interest and concern themselves with the well-being of the rest of the world and with the survivability of the planet.
The notion of "sin" in this tradition is also relevant. The Hebrew word for sin is cheyt, and derives from archery-the arrow shot toward the target has gone off course. In my own Jewish Renewal synagogue we expand on this notion by singing the atonement prayers this way: "Who are we? We're God's image and truth and infinite wisdom, eternal goodness. Yet we've abused, we've betrayed, we've been cruel, yes we've destroyed."
Rather than see ourselves as at the core evil, the Jewish tradition sees us as created in the image of God and hence intrinsically good and worthy-and it is with this understanding that Americans can then feel safe to explore where we've gone off course, missed the mark, and hence need a mid-course correction.
It won't take long to help each of us to construct a list of the areas that we need to address in our repentance.
We could start with the easy ones: our inability to stop deep ocean drilling for oil and gas even after the Gulf oil disaster; our inability to limit carbon emissions even though the scientific evidence is clear that rising emissions are above the level consistent with continuing human life (and possibly all life) on earth; our inability to acknowledge the pain we've inflicted on the Iraqi people by our invasion, pain manifested not only in having let loose a war that killed over 100,000 Iraqis and caused hundreds of thousands of casualties and millions of people fleeing their homes and becoming permanent refugees; our ruthless attempts, aided by drones to kill, or [to] imprison immigrants who have been driven to our country by the economic devastation brought by American trade agreements that wiped out local agricultural competitiveness for small farmers in South and Central American countries; our continuing legacies of racism, sexism, and homophobia which have not decreased even when prominent women and blacks assume national office or head major corporations; our growing Islamophobia leading some to participate in public burning of the Koran; our dedicating huge national resources to bailing out banks and investment companies while refusing anything comparable to the unemployed, under-employed, and those facing impossible-to-pay mortgages whose prices escalated dramatically when lenders invoked their small-print "rights" to raise monthly payments without limit; and the continuing degradation of the human rights fought for by the American Revolution but now being undermined in the name of a war on terror.
We have plenty of communal sins to address. Yet the cultural speed with which we forget and rush ahead, accelerated by the internet and by our sound-byte politics, makes it unlikely that we will ever have this badly needed community reflection and atonement unless we create a common ritual for doing so. President Obama is unlikely to help us do that-so this is one reason Americans might consider using the spiritual technology of the Jewish High Holidays to create public events in which we engage each other in public in this kind of a process.
Creating a Communal Atonement in Your Community
Invite your friends this year, and your larger community next year, to try this ritual. If your community assembled for the purpose of repentance and atonement, it might start by people reciting together the following "For the sins…" communal acknowledgment and then meet in small groups to discuss each one.
We Americans take collective responsibility for our own lives and for the activities of the community and society of which we are a part. We affirm our fundamental interdependence and interconnectedness. We have allowed others to be victims of incredible suffering, have turned our backs on others and their well-being, and yet today we acknowledge that this world is co-created by all of us, and so we atone for all of it.
While the struggle to change ourselves and our world may be long and painful, it is our struggle; no one else can do it for us. To the extent that we have failed to do all that we could to make ourselves and our community all that we ought to be, we ask God and each other and all the people on our planet for forgiveness-and we now commit ourselves to transformation this coming year, as we seek to get back on the path to our highest possible selves and most ethically and ecologically sensitive country we can possibly be.
We take communal responsibility and atone:
For the sins we have committed before You and in our communities by being so preoccupied with ourselves that we ignore the larger problems of the world;
And for the sins we have committed by being so directed toward outward realities that we have ignored our spiritual development;
For the sins committed in the name of the American people through our invasions of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, and the violence we used to achieve our ends;
And for the sin of not rebuilding what we have destroyed in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan;
And for the sin of failing to prosecute those in our government who enabled the torture of prisoners around the world and in American detention centers and the denial of habeas corpus and other fundamental human rights;
And for the sin of not demanding that our elected representatives provide affordable health care and prescription drugs for everyone, and for the sin of not demanding that they make the dramatic changes that are needed to save the planet or to lessen the power of big money to shape our democratic process to serve the interests of the corporations and the wealthy;
For the sin of those of us in the West hoarding the world's wealth and not sharing with the 2.5 billion people who live on less than two dollars a day;
And for the sin of supporting forms of globalization that are destructive to nature and to the economic well-being of the powerless;
For the sins of all who became so concerned with "making it" and becoming rich that they pursued banking and investment policies that were destructive not only to their investors but to the entire society;
And for the sin of honoring the wealthy for their wealth but not the wise for their wisdom, the artists for their creation of beauty, or the prophets for their sounding the alarm of concern about the ways we have all gone astray and "missed the mark"'
For the sin of being cynical about the possibility of building a world based on love;
And for the sin of dulling our outrage at the continuation of poverty, oppression, and violence in this world;
For the sin of not being vigilant stewards of the planet or protecting it from those who area abusing it for the sake of private gratifications they are unwilling to share with others or for private profit;
And for the sin of indulging materialism and selfishness, consuming the resources of the earth without regard to the needs of future generations and the need to protect the life-support systems of the planet;
For the sin of believing that major changes in the global economy are "utopian" and hence allowing private profit to dictate destruction of the Earth for the sake of private gain and in defense of "giving people jobs" or "giving people what they want"--instead of redesigning our economy in ways that environmental sustainability would no longer be counterposed to people having enough food, clothing, shelter, energy and mass transportation to sustain a pleasant life with good-enough material benefits, and in ways that no longer allowed advertising and media to generate wants that could only be fulfilled by denying others their own needs or denying human life on Earth long-term sustainability;
And for the sin of believing that we have to be "realistic" and settle for "the lesser evil" candidates in elections--instead of building political parties and movements that actually reflect our own highest vision of the good;
And for the sin of allowing our media and elected officials to have no problem finding the monies to make wars in Afghanistan, maintain troops in Iraq and Japan and drones in Pakistan, to support close to one thousand U.S. military bases worldwide, and to bail out the banks and the large corporations-only raising questions of where the money will come from and the dangers of inflation when addressing health care reform, environmental measures, or aid to the unemployed, the homeless, and those facing crushing debt or impossible-to-pay mortgages;
For the sin of not doing enough to challenge racist, sexist, and homophobic institutions and practices;
And for the sin of turning our backs on the world's refugees and on the homeless in our own society, allowing them to be demeaned, assaulted, and persecuted;
For the sin of allowing immigrants to be persecuted, exploited, and denied shelter;
And for the sin of ignoring the Torah command to "love the stranger";
For the sin of not sharing responsibility for child-rearing;
And for the sin of not providing adequate community emotional and material supports for those who are aging;
For the sin of being so concerned about our own personal tax benefits that we failed to oppose tax cuts that would bankrupt social services;
And for the sin of being "realistic" when our tradition calls upon us to do "tikkun"--that is, to transform reality;
For these sins we ask the people of this planet and the Earth itself to forgive us.
For the sins we have committed by not forgiving our parents for the wrongs they committed against us when we were children;
And for the sin of having too little compassion or too little respect for our parents or for our children or our friends when they act in ways that disappoint or hurt us;
For the sin of cooperating with self-destructive behavior and addictions in others or in ourselves;
And for the sin of not supporting each other as we attempt to change;
For the sin of being jealous and trying to possess and control those we love;
And for the sin of being judgmental;
For the sin of withholding love and support;
And for the sin of doubting our ability to love and get love from others;
For the sin of insisting that everything we do have a payoff;
And for the sin of not allowing ourselves to play;
For the sin of not giving our partners and friends the love and support they need to feel safe and to flourish;
And for the sin of being manipulative or hurting others to protect our own egos.
For the sin of stockpiling and modernizing atomic weapons and other weapons of mass destruction rather than eliminating these weapons;
And for the sin of spending hundreds of billions of dollars each year on militarism to support the global American Empire-- that could be spent on more urgent human needs;
For the sin of giving attention to the sins of our own country (the U.S., Canada, U.K, Australia, France, Italy, Israel, etc.) while not giving equal attention to what is wonderful and positive about it;
And for the sin of avoiding the needed ethical confrontation with what is destructive and immoral in our country;
For the sin of tolerating racism, sexism, homophobia, disrespect for gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transvestites,
And for the sin of tolerating anti-Muslim behavior and speech;
For tolerating a global economic system that leads to the death every single day of somewhere between 12,000 and 20,000 children under the age of five from starvation or diseases related to malnutrition of that could be cured with adequate health care and pharmaceuticals;
And for continuing to be puzzled at why some people "hate us" for our insensitivity to the suffering imposed on them by the unfair distribution of the world's wealth and resources that could be remedied through a Global Marshall Plan;
For the sin of not ever having provided reparations to African American families still suffeirng the aftermath consequences of having their ancestors brought to this country as slaves and then facing a legacy of racism that still plays out today in the economic and political life of the U.S.;
And for the sins of never having provided reparations for Native Americans who are survivors of a genocidal assault on their communtiies by settlers on the North American continent, or all those other victims of Western colonialism and imperialism throughout South and Central America, Africa, Asia and Australia;
For the sin of not taking hatred of Jews or anti-Semitism seriously when it manifests around the world, among our friends, or in our community;
And for the sin of seeing anti-Semitism everywhere, and using the charge of anti-Semitism to silence those who raise legitimate (though painful to hear) criticisms of Israeli policies;
For the sin of giving disproportionate attention to the human rights violations of the State of Israel while ignoring or giving far less attention to the far greater human rights violations of the U.S., China, Russia, Iran, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Egypt, Sudan, and many other states;
And for the sin of not acknowledging the human rights violations that are an integral part of Israel's occupation of the West Bank and its blockade of Gaza--and the pain and suffering that they cause, and not acknowledging or providing reparations for the Palestinian refugess displaced in the creation of the State of Israel;
For the sin of teaching hatred about Palestinians or Muslims, and then claiming that it is only they who teach hatred;
And for the sin of insisting that there is no "moral equivalence" between the deaths of innocent Israeli civilians, 9/11 victims, or victims of other terror attacks, and the deaths of innocent Palestinian, Iraqi, Pakistani, or Afghani civilians;
For the sins of tribalism, chauvinism, and thinking our pain is more important than anyone else's pain;
And for the sin of not putting our money and our time behind our highest ideals;
For the sin of allowing and participating in the dumbing down of our culture;
And for the sin of refusing to read longish emails that have important messages, or longish articles in magazines or newspapers, or longish books; thereby conveying to everyone that the short attention capacity generating sound bytes or type-bytes must replace the more complicated and complex thinking required to get a sophisticated and nuanced view of any given reality;
For the sin of not recognizing and celebrating and feeling blessed to experience the beauty and grandeur of the universe that surrounds us;
And for the sin of focusing only on our sins and not on our strengths and beauties;
For the sin of not giving adequate time to developing our own inner spiritual lives;
And for the sin of not building communities that nurture our spiritual capacities;
For the sin of religio-phobia and allowing cynicism to be dumped on those who believe in the possibility of a world healed and transformed;
And for the sin of believing that anything that cannot be verified through sense data or measured is not to be given serious place in our communal lives, but relegated entirely to our private lives;
For the sin of not being present to ourselves or each other;
And for the sin of being so caught up in the struggle for "success" that we didn't give ourselves time to relax, enjoy, and celebrate all that is good in our lives and all that is good in others;
For the sin of not transcending ego so we could see ourselves and each other as we are: manifestations of God's loving energy on earth.
And for the sin of not believing in the goodness of the American public enough to know that all these sins could be overcome when people feel safe enough to go for their own strong desire for a world based on love and generosity.
For the sin of always noticing what is wrong with others or ourselves and not enough attention to what is right in ourselves and others;
And for the sin of not forgiving others or ourselves for the ways that they and we have gone astray;
For the sin of moral relativism and believing that everything is o.k.;
And for the sin of being overly judgmental toward others or ourselves:
For all these, we ask each other, and the people of the world, the planet Earth, and the God/Spiritual Reality/Force of Healing and Transformation of the universe to forgive us and support us to do what needs to be done so that we can stop this kind of sinning and begin to be fuller manifestations of the love and goodness that sustains all life and of which we are an intrinsic part.
Feel free to make copies of this and to send it to everyone you know, post it on your website, or otherwise let people know that there is a Network of Spiritual Progressives that is bringing this kind of thinking into the global mainstream--and that they (and you) are asked to Join it or make a tax-deductible donation to it in order to help it survive the economic troubles facing all non-profits in this period. -Rabbi Michael LernerRabbiLerner@Tikkun.org ESRA: Environmental and Social Responsibility Amendment to the U.S. Constitution article link
Friday, September 17, 2010
Which religion has proved the most violent and destructive in US history?
The answer should not be a surprise.
August 20, 2010 | Religion Dispatches
What is the most dangerous religion in America?
A slightly loaded question that no one in their right mind would attempt to answer, no? But it is a question at the heart of the debates surrounding mosques and Muslims in America today. Theopposition against building an Islamic center near the site where the World Trade Center once stood, and the growing outcry around the country about the creation of other Muslim places to gather and worship, suggests that many Americans are not afraid to answer the question without hesitation. In the post-9/11 world we now live in, Islam poses the greatest threat to American lives and security; a nefarious, fanatical religion that can bring death and destruction to innocent people, that disregards our laws and codes of conduct, and that is prone to acts of violence beyond the pale of civilized society. At least this is the message we are hearing more and more frequently in the news, especially in the wake of President Obama’s recent statements; views espoused by religious and political leaders as well as average American citizens fearful of Muslims abroad and at home.
Hatred of Infidels, the Subhuman, the Different
But perhaps it might be worthwhile to take a step back from all the heated rhetoric and passionate emotions fueling the fires of hatred and distrust in the current moment and take a brief look into the past. In the pre-9/11 world and backward through time to the founding of this great country, a historical perspective leads to a very different picture about religious violence and what religion poses the greatest threat to American lives. Anyone who takes the time to research and reflect on the nation’s past might be led to believe that Christianity has been the most dangerous and violent religion in the United States: that it is a religion inspiring bloodshed and discrimination, hatred and terrorist acts against people understood to be infidels, subhuman, or simply different.
“Christianity” of course is a meaningless label, as I’ve written before. Like “Islam” it is too broad a category to cover the radically diverse practices, beliefs, and interpretive communities associated with it. So let me be even bolder and say that Protestants, and even more specifically, Anglo-European Protestant men, would appear to be the most dangerous religious individuals in American history. Without question white Protestant males from the colonial era to the dawn of the twenty-first century have inflicted more pain, more suffering, more terror than any other individuals in this so-called “city on a hill.” This historical perspective is placed in sharp relief by a new book that coincidentally arrived in the mail as I was preparing to write this piece last week. Religious Intolerance in America: A Documentary History, edited by John Corrigan and Lynn S. Neal, is chock full of fascinating documentation pointing to this interpretation, providing evidence that throughout US history the perpetrators of religiously-inspired violence have usually been white Protestant men fearful of non-Protestant communities. It’s an easy case to make with or without the book when commonly known events from historical eras are brought to mind: • In colonial America, Protestant men burned witches at the stake, hanged Quakers on the gallows, destroyed indigenous surrounding cultures, and supported the heinous slave trade bringing Africans to North America.
• In the early national period and through the antebellum era, white Protestant males continued the wanton devastation of Native American tribes as the American territories expanded; inflicted horrible suffering on slaves by tearing families apart, raping innocent women, and killing blacks as if they were not human beings; murdered Joseph Smith and harassed early Mormon followers; and discriminated against Catholics in both subtle and overtly hostile acts of violence.
• In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, men associated with Protestant churches espoused awful anti-Semitic views that led to the lynching of Leo Frank and a host of discriminatory practices against Jews, harassed freed blacks and others by wearing white hoods and engaging in despicable, cowardly, and murderous acts, and enacted numerous policies that forced Native peoples to convert to Christianity.
• From the early decades of the twentieth century on through to the end of the twentieth century, white Protestants made sure that Japanese Americans were placed in internment camps on the West coast, joined a variety of Christian militia movements spread across rural America that promoted violence against the federal government, and participated in a range of hate crimes against blacks, gays, and others deemed to be enemies worthy of discrimination and brutality.
Is it Fair to Generalize?
Throughout American history white Protestant men enjoyed privilege and opportunities not available to others, and asserted that the destiny of the nation belonged to them under the providential power of their God. And they had no qualms about creating laws to oppress those less fortunate or taking the law into their own hands to lash out against the perceived threats to their version of a Christian nation. Racist views, economic injustices, and political machinations were rationalized by religiously-inspired, divinely-sanctioned hatred emanating from the home, the streets, and even, at times, from the churches they attended.
Did every single white Protestant male share exactly the same perspectives on blacks, Native Americans, Catholics, gays, and others? Were all white Protestant men guilty of heinous actions based on the cruelties and violence perpetrated by segments of the Protestant communities? Is it fair to generalize about an entire religion by singling out the acts of specific individuals associated with that religion?
Using the same logic as those who group all Muslims under one America-hating banner, the answer would appear to be yes. And if we follow this same ignorant logic, it would indeed make sense to begin protesting the building of Methodist, Presbyterian, Baptist churches near hallowed sites that are supposed to symbolize the highest ideals and values of the American experiment: religious freedom, opportunity for all, equality before the law, sacrifice for a greater good, and so on. Forget about diversity within white Protestantism—the Social Gospeland pacifists, or communitarian movements and Unitarianism—in this worldview.
But no one in their right mind would use the kind of simplistic, odious, ill-informed logic we hear so frequently in the news and originating from the blogosphere and mainstream media about Muslims. Muslim-Americans who worked and died in the World Trade Center, who are pillars of their local communities, who participate in significant interfaith efforts—all of these religious human beings are utterly and completely disregarded in the vile rhetoric spewing from those who oppose ensuring Muslims have the same rights as other Americans. Even white Protestant Americans who belong to the same religion as those in the past who have been killers, fanatics, and terrorists.
Gary Laderman is Director of Religion Dispatches and Professor and Chairperson of the Department of Religion at Emory University. Order his most recent book, Sacred Matters (The New Press, May 12, 2009), here. His full bio can be found here. Read his other articles here.
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
Would Jesus Hate Muslims?
September 11, 2010 | Consortium News
Editor’s Note: Though many Americans regard themselves as devout followers of Jesus, they often ignore his commands to reject fear and to love your neighbors and even your enemies. Instead, a disturbing number of American Christians are behaving like modern-day Crusaders ready to battle Muslims.
In this guest essay, Baptist minister Howard Bess voices his regret over these misguided Christians and challenges them to be truer both to Jesus and to the finest traditions of the United States as the world’s melting pot:
Early in the 21st century, America is being gripped by xenophobia, the fear of strangers or foreigners, or more broadly the fear of the unfamiliar.
There is evidence that this particular fear has become worldwide, heightened by a large increase in the global mobility of people.
The United States should be the world leader in calming the fear of new neighbors, the great melting pot nation. With great pride, we inscribe e pluribus unum on our coins, out of many, one.
However, over our 234 years of history, we have had great difficulty living up to our own standards.
Jews, Catholics, Quakers, Mormons, Chinese, Japanese, Hawaiians, Cubans, Mexicans, Vietnamese, African-Americans, Indians and Eskimos have felt the sting of persecution and rejection because of differences of skin color, hair texture, language, and religion.
The total list of Americans who have suffered discrimination is even longer. Indeed, the United States may qualify as one of the worst discriminators in the history of human kind, partly because it has so much diversity within its borders, so many different people to fear and discriminate against.
Yet, nearly all of this discrimination has occurred while Christians have held the majority in the United States and while many have waved Bibles, which contain Jesus’s teachings about loving thy neighbor and even one’s enemies.
The new target of choice for today's American xenophobia is the American Muslim community.
Yet, with this rapid rise of the fear of Muslims, American Christians have been presented a unique opportunity. Now is the time when they can show the power and wisdom of practicing one of the most basic teachings of Jesus, the lesson about loving others.
So far, the performance of Christians has again not been hopeful. But the opportunity is there for American Christians to set the example as the world's leader in the eradication of xenophobia.
To do so, however, may require “A New Kind of Christianity,” the title of the latest book by Brian McLaren, one of the intellectual leaders of what many are calling “the emergent church.” The book’s subtitle is “Ten Questions That Are Transforming the Faith.”
We can disagree with McLaren (he welcomes that), but he has one thing correct. To get right answers, right questions need to be asked.
McLaren poses ten questions that he believes are vital to Christian beliefs and practices. (He also welcomes the posing of additional questions.)
I believe his first question is on target. He asks “What is the overarching story line of the Bible?” In recent weeks, I have had great fun asking people this question.
I also have heeded McLaren’s suggestion that addressing his questions not be an exercise in questions and answers. Rather, they should be an exercise in questions and responses with a commitment to be good listeners to one another.
I have asked his first question to people who have a high level of exposure to the Bible material and its messages. Some of the folks that I have asked are seminary graduates. The answers cover the landscape. No two people have given the same answer.
Of course, I have my own answers that keep changing or at least getting tweaked most every day.
This week, I addressed the question to a good friend who responded to the point. The Bible is a book about loving, he said. I resonate with his answer.
When Jesus was asked about the greatest of commandments, he responded with two love challenges. He stated that the first of all commandments was that you shall love the Lord your God with heart, mind and soul.
When he gave that answer, he was quoting the Shema, the declaration of faith in one God that was placed on every Jewish door post and worn as headpieces and bracelets. It was the command that was never to be forgotten by the people of God.
The second command from Jesus was that you shall love your neighbor. Again Jesus was quoting from Old Testament law, reinforcing Israelite prophets who said the killing of neighbors had to stop. They taught that love was God’s way of relating to neighbors.
Jesus added the comment that these two commands summarized all of God’s laws.
Collectively, the Bible materials do not make a unified statement about loving. In the history of the Israelites, the fear (not love) of God was at times a dominant theme, and there was active debate about how to handle neighbors.
Were faithful Israelites to love their neighbors or were they to kill their neighbors, especially if they wanted their neighbor’s land?
Jesus came down very clearly on the love side of this argument. Jesus also did not live a life of fear, and his recurring advice to his disciples was “Fear not!” His followers were to love their neighbors. Even enemies were to be loved.
We live at a critical time. And as some of the recent outpourings of anger, fear and hate have revealed, a new kind of Christianity is greatly needed.
The Rev. Howard Bess is a retired American Baptist minister, who lives in Palmer, Alaska. His e-mail address is email@example.com.
Monday, September 13, 2010
Self Defense: A Christian Viewpoint
Wayside Presbyterian Church | Mouseguns
Many Christians are not aware that the Bible has quite a lot to say about owning and bearing arms in self-defense. Take for example the book of Esther. Esther’s central theme is the Providence of God, and especially His preservation of the Jews, by allowing them to defend themselves, in the face of the hatred of a high official in the Persian empire in the fifth century BC.
LESSONS FROM ESTHER
In Esther 9:1-10, the Jews established the "Feast of Purim," which celebrates the armed self-defense of the Jewish people. This feast is still observed by the Jews today but many Christians know little about the Feast of Purim. Here is the text...
"Est 9:1 On the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, the month of Adar, the edict commanded by the king (Xerxes who reigned over Persia 486-465 BC) was to be carried out. On this day the enemies of the Jews had hoped to overpower them, but now the tables were turned and the Jews got the upper hand over those who hated them.
Est 9:2 The Jews assembled in their cities in all the provinces of King Xerxes to attack those seeking their destruction. No one could stand against them, because the people of all the other nationalities were afraid of them...
Est 9:28 These days should be remembered and observed in every generation by every family, and in every province and in every city. And these days of Purim should never cease to be celebrated by the Jews, nor should the memory of them die out among their descendants."
The Feast of Purim, also called the Feast of Lots, is celebrated in either the latter part of February, or early March.
Whenever we read the Bible, we should be looking for modern day applications. How does the story of the Book of Esther, and the authorizing of armed self-defense in the 5th century BC, apply to Jews and Christians today? Clearly, armed self-defense is approved by God.
"The tables were now turned in their favor; and though their enemies made their long meditated attack, the Jews were not only at liberty to act on the defensive, but through the powerful influence enlisted on their side at court together with the blessing of God, they were everywhere victorious." Jamieson Faussett and Brown on verse 2
In order for God's people to accomplish the will of God, it may sometimes be necessary for them to bear arms and literally fight. King David wrote in Psalm 18:34-39...
"He teacheth my hands to war, so that a bow of steel is broken by mine arms...I have pursued mine enemies, and overtaken them: neither did I turn again till they were consumed. I have wounded them that they were not able to rise: they are fallen under my feet. For thou hast girded me with strength unto the battle..."
LESSONS FROM NEHEMIAH
When Nehemiah was rebuilding the wall around Jerusalem, it was necessary for him and the other men to go armed for self-defense.
"And it came to pass from that time forth, that the half of my servants wrought in the work, and the other half of them held both the spears, the shields, and the bows, and the habergeons; and the rulers were behind all the house of Judah. They which builded on the wall, and they that bare burdens, with those that laded, every one with one of his hands wrought in the work, and with the other hand held a weapon. For the builders, every one had his sword girded by his side, and so builded. And he that sounded the trumpet was by me." Nehemiah 4:16-18
"We made our prayer unto our God, and set a watch] The strongest confidence in the protection and favour of God does not preclude the use of all or any of the means of self- preservation and defense which his providence has put in our power." Adam Clarke on Nehemiah 9:4
Many of the heros of the Bible were men at arms: Joshua, Gideon, Samson, etc.
LESSONS FROM GOD'S LAW
The first five books of the Bible are sometimes called the Torah, which means "The Law." In these books we find the Ten Commandments, and many other laws God gave to His people to order their lives. In Exodus 22:2-3 we read:
"If a thief be found breaking up, and be smitten that he die, there shall no blood be shed for him. If the sun be risen upon him, there shall be blood shed for him; for he should make full restitution; if he have nothing, then he shall be sold for his theft."
In other words, homeowners are allowed by God’s Law to defend themselves against burglars who break in at night.
"If a thief broke a house in the night, and was killed in the doing of it, his blood was upon his own head, and should not be required at the hand of him that shed it, v. 2. As he that does an unlawful act bears the blame of the mischief that follows to others, so likewise of that which follows to himself. A man's house is his castle, and God's law, as well as man's, sets a guard upon it; he that assaults it does so at his peril." Matthew Henry's Commentary on Exodus 22:2
LESSONS FROM JESUS
In Luke 22:36 Jesus commanded His disciples to be armed for self-defense.
"Then said he unto them, But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip: and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one."
Jesus commanded his disciples to buy swords, if they had none. They said they already had two, and Jesus said that would be enough. As a band of a dozen able-bodied men, they were quite safe from roving bandits, even if every man in the group was not carrying a weapon. The application is that Jesus commands us to be armed for self-defense, but He does not recommend that we go overboard with our weapons. Jesus said in another place, "He who lives by the sword shall die by the sword." Jesus encourages his followers to defend themselves, but He does not encourage us to be eager for battle and bloodshed. Self-defense may be necessary as a last resort, but violence should not be sought after and relished. God’s people are supposed to be peacemakers, not ruffians. Neither are we allowed to spread the Gospel by means of violence or military aggression.
The Old Bible Commentators agree that Jesus was authorizing armed self-defense in Luke 22:36.
"Judea was at this time, as we have already noticed, much infested by robbers: while our Lord was with his disciples, they were perfectly safe, being shielded by his miraculous power. Shortly they must go into every part of the land, and will need weapons to defend themselves against wild beasts, and to intimidate wicked men, who, if they found them totally defenceless, would not hesitate to make them their prey, or take away their life."
"He warns them of a danger that is very near; and in a common way of speech lets them know that they had more need of providing swords for their defence against the common enemy, than be any way quarrelling amongst themselves."
And why is two enough? Because they were a large band of men, and not likely to be set upon by robbers.
Of course, Peter was wrong to do as he did, and try to stop Jesus' arrest by violence. But not because physical self-defense was wrong. It was wrong because it was necessary for our Savior to be taken, and to die for our sins, and Jesus had already told Peter and the other disciples that.
LESSONS FROM PAUL
"But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel." I Timothy 5:8
We must provide food and shelter for our families. It is also our duty to provide protection from criminals. The most effective way to do this is to move your family to a safe neighborhood. Also, we should make sure our communities have effective law enforcement officers. But what would you do if a criminal broke into your home? Are you prepared to defend your family?
We pray for God to provide for us; but that does not excuse us from earning money, buying food and building houses. We pray for God to defend us from criminals, but that does not excuse us from taking steps to protect our families.
In Proverbs 25:26, we read: "A righteous man who falters before the wicked is like a murky spring and a polluted well." Certainly, we would be faltering before the wicked if we chose to be unarmed and unable to resist an assailant who might be threatening our life. In other words, we have no right to hand over our life, which is a gift from God, to the unrighteous. It is a serious mistake to equate a civilized society with one in which the decent people are doormats for the evil to trample on." (Colonel William Flatt)
PRESERVING YOUR RIGHT TO KEEP AND BEAR ARMS
The importance of preserving your right to keep and bear arms is illustrated in I Samuel 13:19-22.
"Now there was no smith found throughout all the land of Israel: for the Philistines said, Lest the Hebrews make them swords or spears: But all the Israelites went down to the Philistines, to sharpen every man his share, and his coulter, and his ax, and his mattock. Yet they had a file for the mattocks, and for the coulters, and for the forks, and for the axes, and to sharpen the goads. So it came to pass in the day of battle, that there was neither sword nor spear found in the hand of any of the people that were with Saul and Jonathan: but with Saul and with Jonathan his son was there found."
The Philistines conquered and dis-armed the Israelites. They even took away the means of weapons production, in order to enslave them. But some Israelites had kept their weapons "illegally." In order to revolt and become free men, the few Israelites who had weapons attacked some Philistines and took their weapons. This process continued until many Israelites had arms. It is impossible to overthrow tyrants and have a free society unless the citizens have firearms.
In the Constitution of the United States we find the "Bill of Rights." It is vital for every Christian to realize that all our rights actually come from God. The government never gives you rights, but only recognizes rights you already have, or tries to take your rights away from you, to increase its power.
The second Amendment of the Constitution, the second right enumerated in the Bill of Rights, is the right to "keep and bear arms." If enough Americans will exercise their rights, especially the right to keep and bear arms, we may prevent our government from becoming a dictatorship. If the government begins registering, and then confiscating everyone's weapons, then don't be surprised at the tyranny that will soon follow.
AN OBJECTION ANSWERED
Someone may ask: "But what about turning the other cheek and not resisting evil? Aren’t Christians supposed to always act like that?"
The answer is simple: No. In those verses Jesus was telling Christians how to react to minor insults: a slap on the cheek, the loss of a coat, and so on. He was not addressing the Christian’s response to criminal activity. He did that when He said, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." and "Love your neighbor as yourself."
If we love our neighbors, we will take steps to keep them safe from criminals. We will support our local police. Instead of taking vengeance personally, we will call on the police to find and arrest criminals. But when criminals attack us, and the police are not there, we will do what it takes to stop them, not just for our own sake, but for the sake of our families, and our neighbors. To dis-arm and to allow criminals to attack us and our neighbors unopposed is to be negligent about our Christian duty. Cities which forbid weapons to law-abiding citizens are playing into the hands of criminals. Gun control makes no one safer except the criminals, who never turn in their guns.
In the Larger Catechism, Answer # 135 we read that "The duties required in the sixth commandment" include "just defence against violence." Self-defense is not only our privilege as a Christian, it is our duty. The Making Of The Westminster Larger Catechism web page The Westminster Larger Catechism (1648) web page
Saturday, September 11, 2010
MM Book 2 Chapter 8-12
The community of God is the ** relationship of God, of His family ** — our needs and wants, our management of ourselves and our resources, our labor providing for each other, is all held within the context of the “gift” – we all partake equally of the COMMON-WEALTH by our COMMON-MINISTRATION of the gifted-wealth provided by God – WE *ARE* EACH OTHER; WE CREATE EACH OTHER !! – OUR NATURAL AND SPIRITUAL ABILITIES ARE GIFTS TO BE GIFTED IN A RECIPROCAL RELATIONSHIP, IN LOVE !! – THIS IS WHAT GOD IS, AND WHAT WE MUST BE IN THIS WORLD !! – ** THE GOD RELATIONSHIP MUST BE EXTENDED TO ALL OF HUMANITY ** !! — business is the “wasting” of the majority of mankind and of our common home, while the few are enclosed in their own fat [Psm 17:10] [consumption is laying waste (our) humanity and environment; money is *not* life, money is disease, a wasting consumption; money is eventual death] !! – money is held as able to possess all; all is available to money; anything can be bought for those with “the” money [ownership as right, privilege]; all of life can be equated in terms of money, NOTHING IS EXEMPT, NOT EVEN GOD; MONEY IS ABSOLUTE AUTHORITY, MONEY AS GOD, and those with “the” money are regarded as gods !! — God’s community must provide God’s nourishment, physically and spiritually; WE MUST PROVIDE GOD’S LIFE, ** WE MUST DESTROY THE FALSE ALTARS ** !!
MM Book 2 Chapter 8-13
There are only two ways of life: “give” and “take,” and they are mutually exclusive, they cannot be blended in context [lukewarm] – the LOVE of GOD (rooted and grounded; righteousness) vs. the LOVE of MONEY (the root of all evil; unrighteous Mammon) – WE MUST CHOOSE BETWEEN THESE SYSTEMICS – as stated previously ** OUR CHOICE IS MAMMON OR MESSIAH ** !! – our society, its laws, institutions, relations, etc., are all based on money/iniquity [lack of righteousness or justice; wickedness; inequality] – GOD IS EQUITY [fairness; impartiality; justice; equality] and God’s community is equitable – business *claims* equity: all are equal and free to take from each other — our *only* motive is God; our motivation is His Kingdom, the Family of God !! – we *become* God by our “being and doing,” by our God-ing !! — the “family of man” has the potential of becoming the “family of God” yet the “family” in either instance is *not* recognized !! – we assume many labels, and these labels take precedence over our *being* Christian, ie., our national labels, our religious labels [Baptist or RC first, even COG first, Christian second (anyone actually "being" or trying to be a Christian would soon discard the labels; actually turning unto God makes God very apparent, God turns unto you !!)] – the Family of Man/Family of God [the physical/spiritual] are a mutuality; the corporate is a wedge driving apart the “body”, ripping it apart, taking what it needs for the “corporate body” discarding the rest [a beast without a conscience] – we must “overcome” the world, “repent” of our/its sins in total, we must separate and withdraw from it !!
MM Book 2 Chapter 8-14
Mankind faces a common enemy; that enemy is “business” [the banality of evil; commonplace; unrecognized as such] – the “corporate form” is opposed to God, no matter the cultural expression [expressing God, the consciousness of a God(s) in their lives (His love, attributes); their way to "form" God, to "know" Him, in terms of a particular people, time, place, experience, etc., expressing the God relationship without benefit of the Word of God, or of His Spirit, yet making (a) sense of life (testimony to the human spirit given by God); but, God is *not* carnally formulated (do this and God will do that), and is without carnal love and hate] – the commonalities of giving and love reflect God, the contrivances and excuses to take and hate reflect Satan !! – many today call the various religions and faiths “many paths to the one God,” but that very same God has laid out His path for us to follow [the many paths will eventually lead to, end at, the one path, and that path to God] – many claim Christianity is sourced from a variety of religions and cults, citing many similarities, yet it was the various mysteries, Pantheons, etc., which actually sourced from ancient Hebraism, from the revelation God gave to Adam and Eve [Nimrod, etc., the Mazzaroth] and the Patriarchs — THE GOD FAMILY IS *OPEN-SOURCE* AND INVITES EXAMINATION, DIALOGUE, A REASONING TOGETHER !! — man’s carnal religion(s), including his Christianity, is multi-sourced and polluted, but Christ is ** pure-sourced ** from God the Father Himself, as is His Family !!
MM Book 2 Chapter 8-15
A NEW HUMAN-ITY, A PURE CHRISTIAN-ITY vs. the Faith of the Fallen — the only true and righteous value is family and community; shewbread community – the Anointed become servants of/to humanity as God Family – we claim to be “spiritual Jews” yet we negate our Christian-ity in and by our “physical” existence; our physical systemic *serves us* by the use of oppression and violence on others – the use/abuse of another is slavery, incl., “wage slavery,” especially “minimum” wage; all human beings have ** EQUAL RIGHT OF GOD ** !! – MAMMON MINIMIZES MOST; GOD LIFTS UP, BRINGS DOWN, AND EQUALIZES ALL !! — each and every moment of our lives, each experience of our existence must be a God-moment, a God-experience, every thought must be brought to Christ and His righteousness, in the service of the Family – we must reduce and finally eliminate the compromises, the contradictions that are seemingly inherent – the passage of time, the growing maturity, deepens the roots into truth, the deep things of God; we are being prepared of, and for, God [1 Cor 2:9-10] !! — Human [Human Spirit] and Christian [Human-God Spirit] are two beings of consciousness designed by God, the physical Human designed to receive the spiritual, the very Mind of God; the physical being a reflection of the spiritual – the spiritual mind is in service of the physical mind; the God-family is in service of the Human-family !! – a Christian Being is a ** new creation ** in Christ Jesus; an “evolutionary” jump in consciousness.
Mammon or Messiah Book 2 web page (widescreen) Mammon or Messiah Book 2 blog home The Midnight Hour
Friday, September 10, 2010
"Beginning on the Day of Trumpets and ending on the Day of Atonement ... [are] the "Ten Days of Penitence," or "Days of Awe," dedicated to the inner cleansing of the man. They are also known as "Days of Return," because we are to examine ourselves and return to God." [quote from article by Richard C. Nickels, MMr Day of Trumpets: The Return of Jesus Christ 2]
MM Book 2 Chapter 6-14
The 10 Commandments [10C] are a mental environment, each an attitude of mind [an expression of God's very own mind, His character]; “thou shalt not” implies the opposite “thou shalt *do*” [ie., in God's community there is no need, or desire for stealing, all shall freely share], our involvement and responsibility, our family consciousness [of God and man, our relationship], our personality; Philippians 2:5, “let this *mind be in you* that was also in Christ Jesus” – the 10C represent *together* the ultimate, genuine *survival* mentation matrix and paradigm [intelligent design, application (obedience); psychologically, the deep things of God; the ** COMMANDMENTS OF LIFE **]; 2 Cor 10:5, “… bringing into captivity *every thought* to the obedience of Christ” – the 10C are active, real, *living* laws, physically and spiritually [with real penalties when broken; witness the world], they *are* the God Family, they are the Family’s ** Law of Agape Love **, yet the 10C and God are not real to most people !! – it is the transgression of these laws [1 John 3:4, sin is the transgression of the law] that has separated God and man, that has made the reality of our evil systemic [and the resultant suffering engendered] paramount in our lives – these laws are the only way to a *sustainable existence* for man on this planet; they are God’s systemic, His guiding principles, they are what we were designed for !! — the reality of this world must be God’s reality, we must make God our own, a systemic based on “give” NOT a systemic based on “take”, a true systemic of resultant blessings NOT a false, evil systemic of curses [an absence of the blessings !!] – these “living laws” engender [to beget; to bring into being; cause; produce; originate] a *true life*, a living, symbiotic environment; they are part-and-parcel of God’s Holy Spirit, and as such THEY IMPART GOD’S LIFE AND WITHOUT THEM WE WILL CEASE TO EXIST !!
MM Book 2 Chapter 6-15
We know and love God, by, in and through His living and eternal law !! – God’s SHEPHERDING LAW is now *critical* to the very survival of humanity — the concept of grace without law is A LIE and has resulted in the bondage of mankind [Romans 7:7 What shall we say then? [Is] the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet. 1 John 1:8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not *in* us] – the Law of God is NOT done away with; it provides the knowledge of sin and its existence, the knowledge that is so vital, so critical to our very survival !! – it is God’s *law of liberty* that gives us freedom, that allows community; it is eternal life, God’s *gift* to us !! — grace without law negates itself [grace is the freedom given to us by God to do the *works of God*; grace under law enables the shepherding "ministry of gifts"], it results in a false grace in bondage [slavery] to Satan and his systemic; it abrogate’s the environment of God’s grace, the way, the path out of sin, it abrogate’s the knowledge of God, the very preaching and witness [so speak ye, and so do] !! – WITHOUT THE LAW OF GOD WE CANNOT KNOW AND LOVE GOD, OR BE KNOWN OF GOD !! – the penalty of sin is death [cessation of existence], and faith without works [our Family Names, our responsibilities, and our purpose (to destroy the works of the devil)] is dead !! – WE HAVE, WE ARE *LIVING FAITH* – CHRIST FULFILLED THE *ROYAL LAW* AND SO SHOULD WE !! – THE 10C ISSUE FROM THE VERY THRONE OF GOD OUR FATHER, THEY ARE HIS VERY CHARACTER, AND THEY MUST BECOME OURS !!
MM Book 2 Chapter 6-16
The Works (spiritually/physically) of the Devil are opposed to the Law of God, to the Family:
1 you shall have other gods before God, you shall serve me (way of life);
2 you shall make images of the Beast, the hierarchical systemic;
3 you shall take/carry God’s name in vain, you shall worship me;
4 you shall NOT obey God’s Sabbath;
5 you shall NOT honor your mother and father;
6 you shall murder;
7 you shall commit adultery;
8 you shall steal;
9 you shall bear false witness;
10 you shall covet.
This is a description of a world systemic *of the devil*, of every evil way !! [John 8:44 Ye are of [your] father the devil, and the *lusts of your father ye will do*. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.] — BY DESTROYING THE WORKS OF THE DEVIL (the Works of the Flesh) WE FULFIL THE LAW OF GOD, WE FULFIL *OUR* PURPOSE !! — there is much brilliance in the world but the current, the force of flow lighting and applying that intelligence, is a fallen Angel, NOT THE FORCE AND LIGHT OF GOD’S WORD !! — man took to himself Satan’s knowledge of *good and evil* and that is the systemic in the world today; both good and evil are existent, and the evil separates God from man [our sins; our choice of the evil way].
Mammon or Messiah Book 2 web page (widescreen) Mammon or Messiah Book 2 blog home The Midnight Hour
Thursday, September 9, 2010
The Annual Feasts and Holy Days:
September 09, 2010 Day of Trumpets
September 18, 2010 Day of Atonement
September 23, 2010 Feast of Tabernacles
September 30, 2010 Last Great Day
The Scriptures teach that there are seven annual feasts and holy days which were ordained by God to be observed as special commanded convocations. These feasts and holy days portray God's plan of salvation for mankind. The observance of these holy convocations is a sign between God and His people. God's annual feasts and holy days were observed by His people during Old Testament times. In the New Testament, we find that ** Jesus Christ's entire ministry was centered around the *spiritual meaning* of these holy days ** [THE ENTIRE PLAN OF SALVATION]. The New Testament apostolic church faithfully observed these annual feasts and holy days. The Scriptures reveal that they will be observed by all mankind after the return of Jesus Christ.
As the holy days are annual Sabbath days, they may fall on any day of the week (except Pentecost, which always falls on a Sunday). When a holy day falls on a weekly Sabbath, the special observance of the annual holy day takes precedence. God's feasts and holy days are to be observed from sunset to sunset in accordance with the calculated Hebrew Calendar as preserved by the Levitical Jews. The seven annual feasts and holy days (along with their scriptural date of observance) are as follows:
[0. FIRST DAY SACRED CALENDAR (NISAN 1); MOSES SETS UP TABERNACLE]
[0. PASSOVER LAMBS SET ASIDE (NISAN 10); ISRAELITES CROSS JORDAN; CHRIST ENTERS JERUSALEM]
1. Passover: Kept 14th day of the first month. Not a holy day. [ANGEL OF DEATH PASSED OVER; BLOOD ON DOORPOSTS; CHRIST OUR PASSOVER LAMB SLAIN; PASSOVER CEREMONY AFTER EVEN (reflection all night, bed in morning)]
2. Unleavened Bread (7 days): 15th through 21st days of the first month (the 15th & 21st are HOLY DAYS). [LEAVEN; SIN PUT OUT; NTBMR OBSERVED AT EVEN ULB1, EXODUS FROM EGYPT (SIN); ULB2 GOD PARTS THE RED SEA]
3. Pentecost: Date counted annually. Fifty days are counted, beginning with the first day of the week [WEAVESHEAF (oblation of the first fruits of the harvest; Nisan 16)], following the one weekly sabbath day that falls during ULB. The feast is observed on the fiftieth day, which always falls on the first day of the week. [SIX DAYS THOU SHALT LABOR; 10C GIVEN; HOLY SPIRIT GIVEN]
4. Trumpets: 1st day of the seventh month. [1st DAY CIVIL CALENDAR; CHRIST RETURNS AT THE LAST TRUMP]
5. Atonement: 10th day of the seventh month. [SERMON ON THE MOUNT; SCAPE GOAT; SATAN BOUND]
6. Tabernacles (7 days): 15th through 21st days of the seventh month (the 15th is a HOLY DAY). [CHRIST'S BIRTHDAY 4BC, MINISTRY 27AD; FEAST OF BOOTHS; MILLENNIUM]
7. Last Great Day: 22nd day of the seventh month (HOLY DAY). [CHRIST CIRCUMCISED; GREAT WHITE THRONE JUDGEMENT]
[8. NEW MOONS; 1st DAY OF EACH MONTH; NOT A HOLY DAY, BUT TREATED AS SUCH]
[9. FEAST OF DEDICATION; Chislev 25 (8 days); HANUKKAH; FESTIVAL OF LIGHTS; MARY, HOLY SPIRIT CONCEPTION OF CHRIST 5BC; (NOT HOLY DAYS)]
Scriptural References: Lev. 23; Ex. 23:14-17, 31:13; Ex. 12:1-20; John 7:37; Mat. 26:17-18; I Cor. 5:7-8; Acts 2:1; Acts 18:21; Acts 20:16; I Cor. 16:8; Zech. 14:16-19; Isa. 66:23. [Outline based on Statement of Beliefs: The Christian Biblical Church of God with additions] Day of Trumpets: The Return of Jesus Christ 1 MMr article Day of Trumpets: The Return of Jesus Christ 2 MMr article
Tuesday, September 7, 2010
Five Steps to Burning Books
September 7, 2010 | Shalom Center | OpEdNews
From a small right-wing church in Florida, there has gone out a call to burn copies of the Quran on September 11. Instead of being ignored as clearly cuckoo, this call won national media coverage.
As the German Jewish poet Heinrich Heine wrote almost two centuries ago, "Those who begin by burning books will end by burning people.” The theater piece for which he wrote those words, called "Almansor," was addressing the Inquisition's burning of the Quran. In 1933, university students in Heine's own beloved homeland burned his books, along with many others. They burned people soon after.
Many American religious communities and organizations, as well as secular groups like Common Cause, have condemned this call for burning. The road to burning people is by no means so open here, now, as it was in Germany in 1933.
But still, we need to face the question: How did we get to the point where some Americans would burn a sacred book, and many more oppose the building of a sacred mosque in their own town––not only in Lower Manhattan, but in many other neighborhoods?
It would be easy to start with the aftermath of the terror attacks against the Twin Towers on September 11, 2001. But the spiritual chasm between Christianity and Islam goes back centuries. The hostility of Jews toward Islam, on top of the ignorance of almost all European and American Jews about Islam, goes back at least to 1948. And the economic dislocations and unwinnable wars of recent years also have their place in pouring out the fear and anger that provides the fuel for the spark of bigotry.
Step 1: The Old Hostilities
There are perverse and paradoxical spiritual roots to the hostility between Islam and Christianity.
All the great religious traditions––not only those we call monotheist, but Hinduism and Buddhism and Shinto and Wicca and for that matter what we call "secular" traditions like socialism and liberalism ––are rooted in the profound effort to make loving contact with the ONE. One God, one historical dialectic, one Web of life in soul and body on our planet––ONE.
Once a community has begun to reach out toward the ONE, it begins to create the metaphors, the rituals, the languages, the practices in daily life, the festivals to embody this searching toward the ONE. And then the community bumps into another community that also claims it is in contact with the ONE, and has its own quite different set of metaphors, rituals, languages, and daily practices, with which to make this contact real.
There are often two responses to this discovery:
One is to say with surprise and delight, "You have shaped a different path from ours! Of course there must be many ways of lighting up the Infinite, unfolding truth. How could the great Infinity reveal itself except through sacred diversity? Let us learn from each other!”
The other response is to say: "We have unearthed the one way to the ONE, and any other path must be a false one. And worse than false––since you claim falsely to have made contact with the ONE, you must be lying. Corrupt. Deceitful. Worth killing."
In the various British colonies that became the United States, this bitterly hostile response was embodied in the persecution of one or another faith community (e.g. Quakers, Jews, Roman Catholics), by one or another of the original colonial governments. The uncertainty of who might get persecuted in the nation as a whole was one of the factors leading to adoption of the First Amendment, and much of the hostile reaction was then muted by the existence of the First Amendment. If no religion could wield state power and violence against another, this reaction was less likely.
Native American religions and Mormonism did not "count" in this context; state power or pressure was used against these religious communities. And there was public pressure in the 19th century against Roman Catholicism, and in the 20th century against the "Nation of Islam" (a racially focused variant not accepted by any other Muslims as truly Islamic).
Step 2: The 9/11 Attack
Until 2001 in America, both hostility and interfaith exploration were quiescent, in regard to classical Islam. Then a tiny proportion of the more than one billion Muslims of the world, claiming they were acting on behalf of Islam and God, murdered about 3000 people.
Again, there were two responses:
There was a wave of rage against Muslims and anyone who looked as if he might be Muslim. Some were attacked, a few were killed. Officials arrested hundreds of Muslims out of fear, almost always utterly unjustified, that they were would-be terrorists. Some of them were held for months without access to families or attorneys.
And during the same weeks and months, some Americans–– often religiously motivated Christians and Jews––rallied to protect Muslims and their mosques. Some stood guard to prevent attacks, some created vigils, some brought together Jews, Christians, and Muslims under " The Tent of Abraham, Hagar, and Sarah.”
Step 3: The Wars with Islam
Soon after, the government of the United States began wars against two Muslim-majority nations. It quickly became clear that what began under the banner of "liberation” actually became conquest and occupation. Yet the wars dragged on, bringing death to thousands of American soldiers and hundreds of thousands of Iraqi and Afghan civilians. And meanwhile, there were deadly US military attacks on Pakistanis, threats of war against Iran, and a continuing close alliance with the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands and people in the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem.
There is a process that researchers in psychology have uncovered and call "cognitive dissonance.” People who begin with one opinion but act in a way contrary to that opinion change their ideas more than their behavior. After almost a decade of American wars against a number of Muslim-majority societies, and several actual murderous attacks by self-proclaimed Muslims against civilians in various countries allied to America, some Americans who had begun with few opinions about Islam in general began to view it with anger and disgust:
"If we are killing lots of them and they are killing some of us, there must be something evil about them.”
Step 4: The Great Slump
Meanwhile, Americans experienced a disastrous economic slump. The last time that rates of disemployment and of home foreclosure had been this high, during the Great Depression of the 1930s, one of the reactions was a great wave of anti-Semitism across America. Father Coughlin on radio, Henry Ford through the Dearborn Independent, were reaching millions of Americans with fear and hatred of the Jews.
So now, in another time of economic trauma -- and now also of unwinnable wars and a deep sense of cultural dislocation -- there was seething not quite visible below the surface of American culture and society a current of xenophobia. Hispanic immigrants, legal and illegal, became suspect. And Muslims.
Step 5: Crystals of Bigotry
And then into this hyper-saturated solution of fear, suspicion, and hatred came some who chose deliberately to drop the poisonous crystals of bigotry .
In December 2009, the New York Times––a liberal leader of opinion––and Laura Ingraham––a conservative leader of opinion–– carried articles and interviews about plans of American Muslims to establish Cordoba House, a community cultural center in Lower Manhattan. There was no fuss, no fury.
Not till May 2010 did the ultra-right-wing anti-Islam blogger Pamela Geller and organs of Rupert Murdoch, the right-wing publisher who later gave $1 million to the Republican Governors Association, begin to carry inflammatory stories about what they call the "Ground Zero Mega-Mosque.”
And then, step-by-step, the crystal they sowed precipitated the super-saturated solution into a noxious brew. Right-wing blogs and talk-radio programs described the Cordova House as an insult to the dead of 9/11, a triumphal celebration by Islam of its victory in the attacks on the World Trade Center's, anything to arouse fear and hatred of Islam.
Even Jewish organizations that claimed their mission was to prevent "defamation" not only of Jews but of all religious and ethnic groups, or claimed their mission was to promote "tolerance," spoke out against the planning for Cordova House. "Yes,” they said, "Imam Faisal Abdul Rauf and his wife Daisy Khan have every constitutional right to place their mosque or cultural center two long long New York City blocks from Ground Zero, but it is not ethically right or spiritually wise to do so. It would offend the sensibilities of the survivors of the 9/11 dead."
These assertions ignored both an important fact and a crucial principle. The fact was that hundreds of 9/11 survivors, in the organization called September 11 Families for Peaceful Tomorrows, had endorsed the placement of Córdoba House. The principle was that the constitutional right of freedom of religion has no reality if a wave of hostility from "private" citizens, sparked by great media empires and backed up by public officials, can prevent the fully legal placement of a house of worship.
Why then did the right wing media and right-wing politicians like Sarah Palin and Newt Gingrich decide to light this conflagration? The spark would not have lit a fire if that there had not been gallons of gasoline beneath the surface, but why light the spark?
I think the answer is that the right wing was and still is hoping to split the vote of progressive Americans by using not just Cordoba House but also broader fear of Islam as a wedge issue, just as they used the issue of gay marriage––which now has little bite. They have used the fear of Hispanic immigrants in the same way.
Fanning fear and hatred of Islam has one major advantage over firing up fear of gay people or of Hispanics: it may offer the possibility of splitting the Jewish vote, which is, next to the vote of African-Americans, the most progressive voting bloc in the country.
Indeed, many Jews, outraged by attacks on Israel that are sponsored by two Muslim organizations––Hezbollah and Hamas––and by Holocaust denials from some leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran, may be susceptible to an Islamophobic campaign. At the same time, of all American communities, Jews are perhaps the most likely to smell and taste the danger of bigotry against a religious minority.
So the American Jewish community is one of the crucial arenas of struggle over whether burning the Quran becomes a step on the path that Heinrich Heine prophesied toward burning people.
Out of this witches' brew of dark past and explosive present, there emerged not only bigotry but another wave of interfaith engagement. Those of many religious and ethical communities gathered to condemn the burning of the Quran and to affirm all sacred texts, all sacred gathering places.
This kind of affirmation is important. And if indeed the official wars against Muslim-majority countries and the great wave of disemployment and home foreclosures have been crucial to pouring the gasoline of fear and anger that have been ignited by sparks of bigotry, then working for economic healing, a peaceful foreign policy, and the transfer of war budgets into rebuilding America are also crucial.
The path America will take is still uncertain.
As for the Jewish community, in its possibly pivotal role: Let us hope that a story from my own childhood echoes so strongly the memories and sensibilities of other American Jews that overwhelmingly, we will walk the path toward freedom and diversity, peace and economic healing:
When I was about seven years old (1940), my grandmother interrupted other Jewish women in line at the kosher butcher shop who were talking contemptuously about "the shvartzes" -- that is, Black people. She challenged them: "That's the way they talked about us in Europe. This is America, and we must not talk like that!"
We must not act like that, either.
Sunday, September 5, 2010
Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power
February 15, 2010 "Politics & Imagination"
The FAMILY, by Jeff Sharlet, sounds rather like the title to a book about the Mafia. And in a way this book is about a religious fundamentalist mafia. The problem is that the very people who should read this book and be warned probably won’t be bothered to take the time. The Genealogy of American Protestant Fundamentalism goes back to the early history of this country, and further back to England and Europe, Lutherans and the wars among the Christians, Catholics and Protestants. Sharlet explores the early history and traces where the “Experimental” Fundamentalists breaks away from the traveling preachers or revival preachers – the Evangelical brand that is closely identified with the American Frontier.
Missionaries are part of many religions. The need to convert others, to save others, to offer salvation to the world, the heathen world has been a driving force behind the colonization of the globe by European Nations – oh that and the allure of Gold and other high values commodities. Set this concept of Missionary aside and think of the one very special class in need of salvation. Then set this aside and think of an even more exclusive class, the ruling class and even despot dictators.
The goal of the Secret Fundamentalist cult is to turn the US into a Theocracy followed by the whole world. Just a simply little goal – and as usual with cultist only the supreme leader is able to speak directly with their God. Democracy is messy. This Fundamentalist cult has a history of seeking the powerful politically and corporate leaders. Their idea of creating Christ’s heaven on earth is using the existing power structure.
Jeff Sharlet takes us from his first encounter with the Family and then backward in time to the roots of this Dominionist religion. If you were raised in one of the many American Christian Fundamentalists sects you will no doubt be familiar with much of the religion-speak. But forget about the Jesus of the New Testament and his beatitudes, of caring for those less fortunate than ourselves. The very wealthy corporatists aren’t interested in welfare and social security. Their version of God smiles on the rulers and leaders. The reason people are poor it is God’s will and it is the fault of the poor, they have been bad and are evil. The gilded era of America is when the missionaries to the top tier of the wealthiest began their form of American Fundamentalism. These missionaries are not interested in spreading democracy. The reign of Jesus on earth will not be through democracy in the view of the founders of this brand of Christians.
The problem is that this Dominion over the world brand of fundamentalist has a vision of their perfect world. There are several different versions of God’s Kingdom on earth according to the different evangelical fundamentalist sects, each has their own path to their perfect world. Free will or choice doesn’t enter into their perfect world. Independent women, or women’s view equal human rights to those of men isn’t part of the perfect world of the Dominionist’s world view. Women can and have been used a soldiers to further the goals of these Secret Fundamentalists.
It wasn’t Sharlet’s goal to write about the Domination of women by men, but that thread runs through his book. This is not surprising since ALL fundamentalist religions have as a foundation belief that women are evil and must be controlled or dominated. In some fundamentalist religions women who do not comply with the patriarchal rulers demands are eliminated. Wealthy women, especially widows who willingly fund the spread of the Dominionist fundamentalism are promised a special place in the new kingdom of Jesus on earth. These women have fallen for the oldest con in the world – the promise of heaven and “life everlasting.” This is one of the code words that fundamentalists use, which others who are believes, recognize instantly. These code words are spoken by politicians to let voters know that these politicians are working for goals specific to the Fundamentalist movement. GW Bush used code words, as have other politicians.
The wall between church and state have been breached; the Constitution is becoming a meaningless document filled with meaningless words that have no relationship to the Nation of God that the Secret Fundamentalists want for America. Many of the so call liberal blogs have been taken over by moles who do their best to block any discussion of the Dominionists efforts to take over the US. Anyone who brings this up is branded crazy.
Sharlet’s book is a must read, it is not an easy book to read because of the world view, the point of view of the Dominionist Fundamentalists so far from Democracy and Free will that most people simply won’t believe that such a thing could happen in America. To understand the Secret Fundamentalists means that you need to understand the history and the philosophy of Narcissistic personalities who founded this ministry to the despots and Corporatist of the world.
Saturday, September 4, 2010
The Biggest Game in Town
"GROSS" INCOME of government is now 1/3rd "TAX" income and 2/3rds NON-TAX income derived from: return on INVESTMENTS and money generated from government Enterprise projects. ...
Pensions, self-funding debt financial authorities, self insurance authorities CAFRs [Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports] should be looked at also. As of 2005 there are over 84,000 "individual" Annual Financial Reports (the CAFR) produced by just our local government operations. Each with their own investments and cash accounts.. ...
The composite totals of investment assets held internationally by the USA government is staggering. Between local and Federal government, the total of liquid investment assets held Internationally is a conservative sixty(60) Trillion dollars (2005). ...
Are the Banks at Fault? Not Really
There are now in this country over 136,000 separate government corporations in place. In doing so, government has expanded take-over ownership of it all by investment. They, composite government now own by the predominance of their investments the banks, stock market, and the insurance industry.
Let me qualify this: In 1963, all local and federal government investments (not public like SSI or Medicare but government's own stash) held with the Bank, Brokerage, and Insurance industries was about four-trillion dollars. Today? About one-hundred-ten trillion dollars internationally, and Oh yes, silence has truly been golden here for them. ...
From all US local and federal investment wealth in composite totals now amassed, or that $110,000,000,000,000 (one-hundred-ten-trillion) if divided by 300,000,000 the basic population of the US = $366,666.66 each, for every man, woman, and child in the USA. It would be great in reality to be a "real" shareholder here. US Government, all local and federal "gross annual income" from tax; investment; enterprise; and other in composite totals is now about 10 trillion dollars each year.
The Who and How they Own and Control it All!
December 15th 2009
I will note that the most important fact the people need to know is that in collective totals government (thousands of individual government entities) owns by stock ownership; bond participation; and equity participation most of the large public traded companies such as technology; pharmaceuticals; energy; banks; insurance; and war industry groups through collective ownership (in many a case 71% to 83% ownership).
There is no one individual government entity that will call the shots for these companies (even though some carry more clout than others) but there are private associations that network thousands of local and federal government accounts that have been assigned representative proxy vote rights for the thousands they represent and here is where the control rests.
By proxy vote representing the "collective" primary shareholders they can exert pressure for that company to do as told and if not they can remove the board of directors by representative proxy vote. On the other hand they can network millions if not billions of dollars of government investment capital for direction and investment with any company. ...
CAFR1 ARTICLES 2004 - 2009 link
The Common Denominator
The key for the masses to see this and fill the void intentionally created in their comprehension's is to start looking at collective totals. Keep in mind that as of 2009 there are over 184,000 separate local government entities big and small alone in the USA before Federal is accounted for, each with their own investments and separate totals. ...
In each state there are several large government retirement funds and many small fund sometimes several hundred in a large state. Looking at the big ones will give a representative example. When looking at say fifty or sixty of the large funds the collective totals add up to being evidently clear that the government OWNS these companies by investment.
With the thousands of separate government entities networked through a few private associations, they can rule towards policy; price; procedure; and market saturation.
This intertwined ownership and the ability to funnel taxpayer funds into these companies guarantees massive profits for the government's investments and creates the ups and downs in any one market as they enter and exit in uniform collective motion. Any other private investors outside of the loop are subject to guess work and luck if they obtain a profit. The only fundamentals at play here is the movement of the large government institutional funds creating the market as they move in and out in concert networked in perfected timing by the private associations that call the shots for them in consult. This gives a new definition to the golden rule: "He who controls the gold makes the rules" and in this case it is: "He who controls the investments makes all the rules"
As you start to look at the different international holdings held in these reports, you will see the top four profit makers in order of profits generated are: The Pharmaceutical / Health Care Companies; The Bank / Financial Companies; The Oil / Energy Companies; The War Industry Groups.
Government in its collective totals has acquired absolute ownership of these companies through stock; bond; and cash investment in these companies. The private sector ownership in the same is insignificant in comparison. So here we have government determining policy; events; and programs that in all reality guarantees themselves massive profits and in many case bringing forth policy and events that are very counter productive to the general public good and well being. War and Health care costs being perfect examples. ...
It is important to realize that as these funds grew over the decades they drove the economy by capitol investment. The power base that was created was unequaled especially when collective totals are amassed, we are talking just from the thousands of separate government retirement funds both federal and local somewhere between $26 to $28 trillion. ...
As an end result of the road we all have been on that is why the masses are being stripped piece by piece of freedoms; wealth; and operational unions and the individual is being told for all intents and purposes to shut up; do what you are told; and mind your own business. Arrogance flourishes when massive wealth is created by deception; theft; and extortion as it has within our own government as it has been also within other governments throughout the world and throughout the decades. Government is marketing to the masses that they are broke. Why do they do this? Quite simply; Who looks behind the poor mans house for a tower of gold and riches held.
A miraculous awakening needs to take place here to reverse the path we are heading down. It is a very unpleasant path that will lead to our own annihilation in due course. When there is massive wealth as there is in this country, there is the potential for massive orchestrated theft. Well, it has, is, and will continue to happen if the fundamental structure of things remains the same without true corrective measures to reverse the path we are currently on. ...
Any local government can be restructured to meet their annual budget needs "Without" taxes. TRF (Tax Retirement Funds) paying for every City, County, State’s annual budgetary needs!
Friday, September 3, 2010
War on Terror: Greatest Covert Op
August 31, 2010 | Consortiumnews
Editor’s Note: The following commentary is drawn from a speech delivered by Douglas Valentine at a peace conference last week:
The politics of terror are the greatest covert operation ever.
In explaining why, I’ll begin by defining some terms, because, when discussing the covert op called “the politics of terror,” words and their management are all important.
How are politics and terror actually defined: how are these meanings manipulated; for what purposes, and by whom?
Terrorism is defined as "violence against civilians intended to obtain a political purpose."
This is an ambiguous phrase, which begs the questions: what are politics and violence?
Politics is defined as “the process by which groups of people make collective decisions.” And violence in this context is the use of force to compel a person or group to do or think something against their will. That includes the violence of words – of threatening to hurt – and of social structures, as well as the violence of deeds.
So, by definition, terrorism is political violence – hurting people, or threatening to hurt them, in order to make them govern themselves (or acquiesce to an external force) against their will.
In America, terrorism is always condemned by the government, and, accordingly, America is never a perpetrator of terrorism, but always the victims of it.
The U.S. war on terror is the ultimate expression of this principle: it is a military response to terrorism; violence in self-defense, not (ostensibly) violence for a political purpose.
That’s the official story – the assumption. But I’m going to show that America does engage in terrorism – violence against civilians for political purposes. This “state” terrorism, however, is covert, in so far as it is equated with national security, and thanks to that built-in ambiguity, it has both stated and unstated purpose.
The State and Unstated Policy in America
Politics is a process by which groups of people make collective decisions. But who really makes the overarching political decisions in America? Who governs us?
The two political parties represent the people and they compete for control of the government. Historically, Republicans have generally favored business and Democrats have favored labor. The political division is, generally, class based.
Now, the government can be controlled by either political party; but the state endures – “the state” being the nation’s indispensable industries and infrastructure (banking, auto industry, insurance, Microsoft), and the institutions which defend the nation’s enduring interests: the military, law enforcement, the intelligence and security services.
In Europe they often, cynically, refer to the state as “industry” or Big Business. In America we tend to call “the state” the Establishment – an ambiguous word that needs to be defined.
The dictionary defines Establishment as, “An exclusive group of powerful people who rule a government or society by means of private agreements and decisions.”
I would venture to say that the interests of the state and the Establishment are the same, and that the definition of Establishment with a capital E is the pivotal phrase in discussing “state” terrorism.
Consider this: there is the politics of the two parties vying for control of the government, and there is the Establishment, the state, making the covert (ostensibly non-political) decisions that effectively govern America.
Many of those covert decisions concern national security: they are unstated policy.
Moreover, these covert policy decisions about national security are made by people who control the military, law enforcement, and intelligence and security services. These guardians of “the state” are collectively called the National Security Establishment.
Like the Establishment that secretly rules the “state,” the National Security Establishment is an exclusive group that is not accountable to the political whims of the people.
These professional guardians of the state – the Establishment – are assumed to be above partisan politics. Their loyalty is assumed to be to the law or national security. And that assumption is the Big Lie upon which state terrorism is based.
Yes, it is true that the National Security Establishment is not accountable to the people: and, in fact, it has built a series of ever-larger, concentric moats around itself called the National Security State, precisely to keep the people out of its business.
The National Security Establishment rules the National Security State, with an iron fist, but it is pure propaganda that the National Security Establishment and State are not political.
In order to get inside the National Security Establishment, and rise to a position of authority within it, one must be born there (like Bush or make billions like Bill Gates), or submit to years of right-wing political indoctrination calibrated to a series of increasingly restrictive security clearances.
Political indoctrination – adopting the correct right-wing ideology – and security clearances represent the drawbridge across the moats.
The National Security State is the covert social structure of the Establishment, and it has as its job not just defending the Establishment from foreign enemies, but also expanding the Establishment’s economic and military influence abroad, while preserving its class prerogatives at home.
By “class prerogatives,” I mean the National Security State is designed to keep the lower class from exerting any political control over the state; especially, redistributing the Establishment’s private wealth.
To these unstated ends – imperialism abroad and repression at home – the National Security State engages in terrorism – i.e. political violence – on behalf of the Establishment.
Indeed, the National Security State is political violence, terrorism, in its purest form.
The Establishment and its National Security State as Terrorism
The lower classes in America have little voice in making government or state policy. Some members of the lower classes have given up hope, others are content: but in either case, voter turnout is a mere 54 percent.
Whether hopeless or content, they know they cannot fight conventional thinking. For example, when the Establishment exerts its influence, it is not considered politics; it is simply the status quo. The rich create jobs and must be accommodated with trillion-dollar bailouts, paid for by workers taking furloughs.
That’s just the way it is. Politicians in the service of the Establishment, for over-arching reasons of national security, have to keep the capitalist financial system afloat.
It is the same thing with the National Security Establishment: America invaded Iraq, and there was nothing the people could do about it. The decision was made for them. Peace activists, least of all, had no voice in the decision, because they are assumed to have no stake in national security.
You will not find peace activists in the National Security Establishment; and that political repression is part of covert state terrorism.
Likewise, if labor seeks to exercise influence, its efforts are described as exploiting the state for more than it deserves, because it does not have an enduring stake in the state.
It is a fact: only Establishment wealth – ownership – is equated with national security.
Consider the immortal words of Leona Helmsley: “Only the little people pay taxes.”
That injustice in the tax code is political repression and, in so far as it makes the people fearful, it is state terrorism. The Establishment fears losing its loopholes, while workers and the poor fear losing their homes: two types of fear, one for each class, one stated, one unstated.
The Establishment engages imperialism and political repression through propaganda (word management violence) and social structures. This state terrorism also is unstated, covert.
Only when the people rebel and challenge the Establishment is the word terrorism applied.
Likewise, the military, police or intelligence actions that provoke rebellion, or the responses to rebellion, are never called terrorism: they are national security.
And that’s how the management of words helps to repress the lower classes.
Language and the Psychology of State Terror
America’s industrial-sized war machine was never said to terrorize Iraq; the invasion was not political because the war machine is owned by the Establishment.
The Establishment profiting from war is not politics; it is ideological neutral “profits.”
In fact, America exerts its unwanted political influence overseas, through the state terror of aircraft carrier fleets, bombers, nuclear subs, shock and awe invasions, pacification programs, the overthrow of governments, and support of repressive puppet regimes.
This state terrorism, which you never hear about, is the biggest covert psychological warfare operation of all time.
This psywar operation depends on narrowly defining terrorism as a suicide bomber, a hijacked plane, the decapitated body of a collaborator: the “selective terrorism” of rebels and nationalists who, outgunned and outlawed in their own country, have no other options, other than submission.
The purpose of this “selective terrorism” by rebels is psychological: to isolate collaborators, while demonstrating to the people the ability of the rebels to strike at their oppressors. Brutal pacification cam paigns – state terrorism – prevent people from making a living. Selective terrorism does not.
That’s a big, meaningful “class” difference.
The National Security Establishment understands that selective terror achieves political and psychological goals that state terror does not – that it rallies people to revolutionary ideals. So the National Security Establishment engages in selective terror, too, by targeting the rebel, his family and friends in their homes.
This is the selective terror con ducted by counter-terrorists. But don’t be confused: it is terrorism. All terrorism is psychological and political; state terror seeks to immobilize people and make them submissive, apathetic and/or ostensibly “content.”
The National Security Establishment fully understands that once people have been terrorized, they have been politically defeated, without necessarily receiving bullets.
As former Director of Central Intelligence William Colby once said: “The implication or latent threat of terror was sufficient to insure that the people would comply."
This principle of the psychological use of “the implication or latent threat of terror” is what brings us back to America and the business of terror.
The Business of Terror
State terror – colonization abroad and political repression at home – is a key means of extracting profits and maintaining ownership of property. Ask the American Indian.
In its colonies abroad, the U.S. engages in state terrorism by removing all legal protections for rebels; detention, torture, and summary execution are the price for rebellion against U.S. policy.
State terrorism overseas, imperialism, is never acknowledged by the U.S. media, because the media is a big business closely affiliated with the National Security Establishment; indeed, two of the major networks are owned by defense contractors.
And state terrorism applied domestically to ensure “internal” security is never acknowledged. But the National Security State is well thought out, by professionals in language management, and political and psychological warfare, aimed at you.
"Personal violence is for the amateur in dominance," says Johan Galtung, a founder of the disciipline of peace and conflict studies. But he adds "structural violence is the tool of the professional. The amateur who wants to dominate uses guns; the professional uses social structure. The legal criminality of the social system and its institutions, of government…is tacit violence. Structural violence is a structure of exploitation and social injustice."
As Colby said: “The implication or latent threat is enough to insure people will comply."
The war on terror and its domestic version “homeland security” are the law of the land – America's new legally criminal social structure based on administrative detention, enshrined in The Patriot Act and a number of executive orders, some secret.
This lack of due process comes on top of a justice system already skewed to protect the propertied elite and pack the prisons with the poor, through "structural violence," mainly the drug wars.
The Establishment’s new anti-terror and anti-drug laws make the National Security State the most fearsome covert political and psywar machine the world has ever seen. And the National Security State is growing: the “Top Secret America” series in the Washington Post put it at 750,000 cadres.
This secret state within a state extends into the homeland’s critical infrastructure and beyond. For example, the arms industry provides good jobs, making American imperial aggression seem a positive value.
And this is how the psyched-out people become one of the moats.
As it is modeled on the totalitarian corporate paradigm, the National Security State in all its manifestations fits the classic definition of a fascist dictatorship. And we know what its intentions are. They have been stated.
In the days after 9/11, right-wing Republican stalwart Kenneth W. Starr, the Clinton inquisitor, said the danger of terrorism requires "deference to the judgments of the political branches with respect to matters of national security."
But is there an on-going emergency that requires deference to the political branches, meaning the right-wing ideologues who rule the National Security State? And what does it mean for Establishment opponents if due process is completely abandoned at home, and subjected to politics?
Michael Ledeen, a former counter-terror expert on Reagan's National Security Council, blamed 9/11 on President Bill Clinton "for failing to properly organize our nation's security apparatus."
Ledeen's solution to the problem of those who sneered at security was "to stamp out" the "corrupt habits of mind." By which he means Liberalism.
In other words, the reactionary right-wing that owns the National Security State wants to impose its total rule on the people in order to create a security conscious, uniform citizenry - marching in lock step, flags waving - that is necessary to win the war on terror.
This is how the National Security professionals are incrementally creating the requisite fascist social structure - through terror, the best organizing principle ever.
"This is time for the old motto, 'kill them all, let God sort 'em out.' New times require new people with new standards," Ledeen asserted. "The entire political world will understand it and applaud it. And it will give us a chance to prevail."
When Ledeen says “political” world he means the "owners of the business" of state terror, the right-wing ideologues who pack the National Security State and the capitalist Establishment they serve.
And they have won the propaganda war, folks.
Thursday, September 2, 2010
The Fourth Turning
Economic and Social Skies Over the United States Darkening
09.01.10 | Silver Bear Cafe | LewRockwell
William Strauss and Neil Howe published The Fourth Turning in 1997. This was before the internet bubble, before the housing bubble, before 9/11, before the two wars in the Middle East, and before the financial collapse of 2008. They made a strong case for their generational theory of history. Everything that has happened since 1997 supports their theory. We are currently in the early stages of the Fourth Turning.
In the last two chapters of their book, they describe the possibilities during a Fourth Turning. In the last section of the book they provide guidance on how to prepare responsibly for a Fourth Turning. Without preparation, the Fourth Turning is much worse. Below is a description of Fourth Turning possibilities, the preparations that were recommended by Strauss & Howe, and my assessment of how prepared we are as a country.
"What will America be like as it exits the Fourth Turning?
History offers no guarantees. Obviously, things could go horribly wrong - the possibilities ranging from a nuclear exchange to uncurable plagues, from terrorist anarchy to high tech dictatorship. We should not assume that Providence will always exempt our nation from the irreversible tragedies that have overtaken so many others: not just temporary hardship, but debasement and total ruin. Since Vietnam, many Americans suppose they know what it means to lose a war. Losing in the next Fourth Turning, however, could mean something incomparably worse. It could mean a lasting defeat from which our national innocence - and perhaps even our nation - might never recover.
If America plunges into an era of depression or violence which by then has not lifted, we will likely look back on the 1990s as the decade when we valued all the wrong things and made all the wrong choices."
"However sober we must be about the dark possibilities of Crisis, the record of prior Fourth Turnings gives cause for optimism. With five of the past six Crises. it is hard to imagine more uplifting finales. Even after the Civil War, the American faith in progress returned with a new robustness. As a people, we have always done best when challenged. The New World still stands as a beacon of hope and virtue for the Old, and we have every reason to believe this can contine.
By the middle 2020s, the archetypal constellation will change, as each generation begins entering a new phase of life. If the Crisis ends badly, very old Boomers could be truly despised. Generation X might provide the demagogues, authoritarians, even the tribal warlords who try to pick up the pieces.
History is seasonal, but its outcomes are not foreordained. Much will depend on how tall we stand in the trials to come. But there is more to do than just wait for that time to come. The course of our national and personal destinies will depend in large measure on what we do now, as a society and as individuals, to prepare."
Preparations Needed (1997 - 2006)
In their chapter on preparations for the Fourth Turning, Strauss and Howe essentially tell Americans to grow up. Give up the bad habits that had become part of our life during the Unraveling. We needed to prepare as if a blizzard was headed our way.
"Reflect on what happens when a terrible winter blizzard strikes. You hear the weather warning but probably fail to act on it. The sky darkens. Then the storm hits with full fury, and the air is a howling whiteness. One by one, your links to the machine age break down. Electricity flickers out, cutting off the TV. Batteries fade, cutting off the radio. Phones go dead. Roads become impossible, and cars get stuck. Food supplies dwindle. Day to day vestiges of modern civilization - bank machines, mutual funds, mass retailers, computers, satellites, airplanes, governments - all recede into irrelevance. Picture yourself and your loved ones in the midst of a howling blizzard that lasts several years. Think about what you would need, who could help you, and why your fate might matter to anybody other than yourself. That is how to plan for a saecular winter. Don’t think you can escape the Fourth Turning. History warns that a Crisis will reshape the basic social and economic environment that you now take for granted."
Their suggested preparations as a country and as individuals were:
America’s Recommended Preparations
Prepare values: Forge the consensus and uplift the culture, but don’t expect near-term results.
Prepare institutions: Clear the debris and find out what works, but don’t try to building anything big.
Prepare politics: Define challenges bluntly and stress duties over rights, but don’t attempts reforms that can’t now be accomplished.
Prepare society: Require community teamwork to solve local problems, but don’t try this on a national scale.
Prepare youth: Treat childrenas the nation’s highest priority, but don’t do their work for them.
Prepare elders: Tell future elders they will need to be more self-sufficient, but don’t attempt deep cuts in benefits to current elders.
Prepare the economy: Correct fundamentals, but don’t try to fine tune current performance.
Prepare the defense: Expect the worst and prepare to mobilize, but don’t precommit to any one response.
How America Prepared
No consensus on values was forged. The culture became more decadent and materialistic between 1997 and 2006. Get rich quick became the rallying cry. Institutions became larger and more unwieldy. Federal and state governments doubled in size between 1997 and 2006. They became addicted to tax revenue from the Internet and housing booms. They enacted thousands of new rules, regulations and laws. The debris has not been cleared. The country failed miserably in preparing politics. Blunt truthfulness about our national problems was needed from our leaders. Public purpose and collective duties should have been preached by our leaders. Instead, personal rights and entitlements were promised to every constituent. Corrupt politicians in Washington DC have fed the slide into cynicism, apathy and malaise with their false rhetoric and spineless inability to own up to the truth about the financial obligations that cannot be honored.
Society has not prepared for the Fourth Turning by stressing teamwork, civic duty, and self sacrifice for the betterment of our country. Local communities have not improved schools, housing, or transportation. People have continued to group themselves along party lines. The Millennial generation who will do the heavy lifting during this Fourth Turning have not been raised to understand how important their efforts will be needed in the next 15 years. We have not educated them properly and they have not been made to understand their importance. The elderly have not become more self sufficient. They have become more dependent. More entitlements have been passed for the elderly, making our fiscal picture much worse than it was in 1997. The elderly are prepared to wage a generational war for their goodies.
The preparation of our economy for the Fourth Turning has been a complete and utter disaster. We needed to raise the national savings rate in preparation for the difficult times ahead. Instead it went to 0%. We needed to reduce debt. We doubled it. We needed to balance the budget. The deficits are beyond comprehension. We needed to under consume. We consumed at hyper speed levels. Lastly, we needed to prepare for the inevitable major war that always accompanies a Fourth Turning. We needed to conserve our resources and build up our forces for the coming test. Instead, we wasted trillions of dollars and thousands of lives on worthless wars of choice in the Middle East. Our military is stretched to the breaking point. We are completely unprepared for a new major conflict.
Rectify: Return to classic virtues.
Converge: Heed emerging comunity norms.
Bond: Build personal relationships of all kinds.
Gather: Prepare yourself (and your children) for teamwork.
Root: Look to your family for support.
Brace: Gird for the weakening or collapse of public support mechanisms
Hedge: Diversify everything you do.
How Individuals Prepared
Only you would know whether you are prepared for the Fourth Turning. Can you be counted on by your neighbors? Do you have a reputation as a person of honor and integrity? Are you a good citizen? Lone wolves will not fare well during a Fourth Turning. Team, brand and standard will be new catchwords. Appearances will matter. Society will deal justice in a brutal way. You need to know people who can help you. Personal relationships will be crucial. Face to face interaction with neighbors, fellow workers, the public, and the police will determine whether you are a good guy or bad guy.
People who work well in teams will more successfully navigate the Crisis. Children will need to be taught to excel in groups. They are likely to be indoctrinated by the government when danger rises. Your family members will be essential to your survival. Being a loner will not bode well for you during the Fourth Turning. Young and old will likely occupy the same household as other supports will disappear. Government benefits are likely to be dramatically cut. Dependence on authority should not be assumed. You will need to protect your wealth. Healthcare services could be limited. Being physically fit will be important. Being a generalist that can do many things well will make you more valuable during the Crisis. Having less debt will allow you more flexibility. The USD is likely to be devalued, so hedging your bets will be important. If the financial markets crash, will you survive?
As a country, we were completely unprepared for the onset of the current Fourth Turning. We were warned in 1997. We had time to prepare. Instead, we did the exact opposite of what needed to be done. We pressed the accelerator to the floor. Our actions have ensured that this Fourth Turning will be more deadly and brutal than it needed to be. Considering the two previous Fourth Turnings were Depression/WWII and the Civil War, the next 15 years will be grim. As Strauss & Howe point out, this test cannot be avoided:
"Don’t think you can escape the Fourth Turning the way you might today distance yourself from news, national politics, or even taxes you don’t feel like paying. History warns that a Crisis will reshape the basic social and economic environment that you now take for granted. The Fourth Turning necessitates the death and rebirth of the social order. It is the ultimate rite of passage for an entire people, requiring a liminal state of sheer chaos whose nature and duration no one can predict in advance."
The economic news worsens by the day. Worldwide tensions grow. There are fingers of instability throughout the system. All it will take is a grain of sand falling on the wrong part of the pile to initiate an avalanche of pain and suffering. Our Archduke Ferdinand moment awaits.
"Thus might the next Fourth Turning end in apocalypse - or glory. The nation could be ruined, its democracy destroyed, and millions of people scattered or killed. Or America could enter a new golden age, triumphantly applying shared values to improve the human condition. The rhythms of history do not reveal the outcome of the coming Crisis; all they suggest is the timing and dimension.
A Fourth Turning harnesses the seasons of life to bring about a renewal in the seasons of time. In so doing, it provides passage through the great discontinuities of history and closes the full circle of the saeculum. The Fourth Turning is when the Spirit of America reappears, rousing courage and fortitude from the people. History is seasonal, but its outcomes are not foreordained. Much will depend on how tall we stand in the trials to come."
James Quinn is a senior director of strategic planning for a major university. James has held financial positions with a retailer, homebuilder and university in his 22-year career. Those positions included treasurer, controller, and head of strategic planning. He is married with three boys and is writing these articles because he cares about their future. He earned a BS in accounting from Drexel University and an MBA from Villanova University. He is a certified public accountant and a certified cash manager.
These articles reflect the personal views of James Quinn. They do not necessarily represent the views of his employer, and are not sponsored or endorsed by his employer.
James Quinn: firstname.lastname@example.org
© 2010 Copyright James Quinn - All Rights Reserved
The Age of Mammon
08.31.10 | Silver Bear Cafe