Tag Archives: Politics

OCCUPY: An Imaginary Society

I don’t hate or even envy the rich; what I do hate are materialist philosophies telling me I MUST in order to be socially just. Seems to me that in too many cases a certain disinterestedness (in the spiritual life of man) is shared by both, making each the poorer in those things that truly matter: the treasures of heaven. And it is the things of heaven that supernaturally draws one toward a healthy contempt for riches, and so a more just and merciful world. I’m thinking St. Francis of Assisi would agree.

Below is a great article on the inherit weaknesses of the Occupy movement. Enjoy.

The Occupy Movement’s Vacuous Critique of Inequality
by Carson Holloway
April 16, 2012

*************************************************

The Occupy Movement should be an occasion for the American left to rethink its own moral crusades, which turn out to be morally corrosive and hence incompatible with any serious commitment to social justice.
The so-called “occupy movement”—which began with Occupy Wall Street and then spread to other cities—is back. After a period of relative calm during the winter months, the movement reappeared in mid-March to celebrate the passage of six months since its initial protests in New York City. While the encampments themselves may come and go depending on the weather and resolve of city officials, the movement enjoys a persistent influence on our public discourse. The movement’s complaint about the inequality between the upper 1% and the lower 99% of American society has become a powerful rhetorical tool of the American left.

But the complaint, whatever its rhetorical power, is intellectually groundless. As a mere lament about inequality it is unrelated to any sober appreciation of human realities. As a complaint about injustice, or about the abuse of social power and influence, it is undermined by the left’s own moral crusades of the last two generations. An inquiry into the vacuity of the Occupy Movement’s critique of American society reveals two serious failings of the contemporary left: its utopianism, on the one hand, and its tendency to devour the very moral principles necessary for an effective defense of social justice, on the other.

To some extent, the movement’s invocation of the 99% against the 1% is meant to convey, without further argument, a sense of injustice: it is wrong that the 1% should have more wealth and political influence than the vast majority of the society, or at least it is wrong that the inequalities should be so large. In other words, the complaint assumes that inequality is injustice, or at least that extreme inequalities amount to injustice. While this certainly sounds reasonable, a moment’s reflection reveals that the fact of inequality itself, even extreme inequality, is not a sufficient basis on which to criticize a society—at any rate if we are applying realistic and non-utopian standards.

Machiavelli famously dismissed earlier classical and Christian political thought, with its belief that politics should aim to make men good and noble, as idle talk of “imaginary republics and principates.” That is not, he suggested, how political societies really are. Liberals are inclined to agree with that critique, but then they fall into a similar mistake by pressing too hard their complaint about inequality. To insist on a large scale society that is free from political and economic inequalities, or even free from extreme inequalities, is to demand an imaginary society. Experience teaches us that all human societies are characterized by inequalities: some people enjoy more benefits, status, and power than other people. The larger and more complex the society, the more extreme the inequalities become. Even modern societies that make equality their explicit aim fail to achieve it and in fact maintain extreme inequalities. Most people in the Soviet Union were not members of the Communist Party, and most Party members were not high-ranking enough to have significant influence compared to those at the peak of the pyramid.

Inequality, therefore, is simply a fact of human social life. To be sure, it may reasonably become a matter of complaint if it turns out to be an impediment to people’s enjoying other goods that they are due. Despite what the Occupy Movement wants us to believe, however, it is far from clear that this is the case in contemporary America. Certainly the elevation of the 1% is compatible with the life of the 99%. Starvation in America is not a widespread problem. Inequality is even compatible with the positive material flourishing of the 99%, who enjoy access to all manner of consumer goods and services, as well as higher things like education, far in excess of what was available in earlier societies, even societies characterized by less extreme inequalities of wealth. This generally rosy view may indeed conceal very real abuses and evils that should be remedied through political or economic reforms. But to speak in this way is already to surrender the moralistic utopianism of the left’s simple complaint that the 1% has more wealth and influence than the 99%.

Ultimately the Occupy critique goes beyond a simple complaint about the fact of inequality. The argument is pressed further, not merely that inequality is presumptively unjust, but that the 1% use their superior influence to rig the game of American life in their favor, at the expense of the 99%. We have a problem not just of inequality but also of exploitation. Given man’s fallen condition, some measure of such exploitation is probably inseparable from social life; and we might therefore respond to this complaint with reflections similar to those above. Why, we might ask, should we get so excited about such exploitation if it is compatible, as it evidently is, with an unprecedentedly high standard of living for all members of society? To raise this response is not necessarily to endorse or acquiesce in such injustices. It is merely to observe that they are part of the normal course of events, inevitable in any society, and therefore that their existence in ours does not constitute a justification for a radical reconstitution of society, as some of the Occupy protestors seem to desire, but rather for specific, limited reforms aimed at specific ills.

But why should we even care about such injustices, if they do exist? Put another way, why shouldn’t the 1% exploit the 99% if they think they can get away with it? In raising this question we move beyond the utopianism of the Occupy Movement and expose the moral bankruptcy into which the American left has spent itself over the last half-century.

The exploitation of the poor by the rich, and the moral condemnation of such abuse, is a common theme of the Bible. To that extent, our civilization has—or had—access to a widely respected moral tradition through which we could question such exploitation. For the last sixty years, however, the American left has dedicated considerable energy to undermining the social and cultural authority of biblical religion. They have tried, and succeeded to a considerable extent, to convince Americans that any appeals to religious morality are illegitimate in a pluralist democracy. The left’s full-court press against religion was really intended to advance specific aims: for example, the advancement of sexual liberation, which is impeded by conceptions of sexual morality held by traditional religions. But now they find that their effort to marginalize religious morality leaves them without an important source of support in their quest to evaluate inequality and exploitation.

Moreover, the American left has, by its own political example, repeatedly undermined the public sense that it is wrong for a small minority to use superior social power to impose its views or interests on the majority. It has done this most obviously by its persistent use of the judicial power to achieve aims that could not win popular political support. This is the mode by which the left has imposed extreme secularism in government, a liberal abortion regime, and is the mode by which it is trying to redefine marriage. In each of these cases the judicial victory was awarded to a position representing a minority of the population and was based upon constitutional principles that were transparently invented simply to achieve a desired outcome. If the left is willing not merely to tolerate but in fact to celebrate such maneuvers, on what principled basis can they complain that a wealthy minority manipulates law and policy to its own advantage? Complaints about the power of the 1% ring hollow in the mouths of those who have shown themselves willing to govern contrary to popular consent.

Finally, the left’s insistent promotion of a right to abortion further undercuts the capacity for indignation about the exploitation with which the Occupy Movement is now concerned. Abortion necessarily involves the exploitation of weak human beings by strong ones. This conclusion is unavoidable unless we adopt the claim that the being whose life is ended by abortion is not human. This claim, however, is hardly credible on its own terms and was proposed precisely in order to obscure the exploitation in question. Furthermore, this exploitation, done in the name of individual autonomy, necessarily involves a denial of moral bonds that are essential to social solidarity. According to the reigning pro-abortion ideology, individual autonomy is more important than a mother’s natural obligation to protect her particular child’s life, and also more important than the physician’s obligation to preserve and not destroy life in general. Contrary to what the left would like to believe, a society that, in the name of individual autonomy, authorizes mothers to pay doctors to destroy unborn children has already in principle authorized the wealthy to exploit the rest of us, if they can get away with it.

The Occupy Movement is a tool by which the American left wishes to compel America to rethink the question of social justice. It should instead be an occasion for the American left itself to rethink its own moral crusades, which turn out to be morally corrosive and hence incompatible with any serious commitment to social justice. Physician, first heal thyself.

Carson Holloway is a political scientist and the author of The Way of Life: John Paul II and the Challenge of Liberal Modernity (Baylor University Press).

Receive Public Discourse by email, become a fan of Public Discourse on Facebook, follow Public Discourse on Twitter, and sign up for the Public Discourse RSS feed.

Support the work of Public Discourse by making a secure donation to The Witherspoon Institute.

Obama’s Choppers: urban assault training over Chicago

Crazy.  Just freakin’ crazy.  Blackhawks over Chicago…

Brings passage of the National Defense Authorization Act, which gives the President the power to arrest and detain American Citizens, into perspective. In fact, it makes these Anonymous fruitcakes appear reasonable…

More video/coverage here.

END OF POST

Quote of the Day — On the purpose of Occupy Wall St…

FROM L.A.

And tell me, were there people calling for bringing back the guillotine? Yes. For beheading bankers? Yes. Complaining that the protest wasn’t violent enough? Yes. That the entire system of capitalism be destroyed? Yes. That this country needs a real revolution? Yes. That there were representatives of the communist party? Yes. That the protest was called for by a group out of Canada that don’t even live under our political system? Yes.

If you are going to tell the truth, tell the whole truth. This has been a 3 ring circus from jump street. The problem is, it’s using people’s anger or envy over 100 different issues, and when the only uniting factor is anger, being fueled by global reformists that are not part of or care about the American way of life, you are creating a brew that is not good for the 99%, not good for civilization. If you get your 100 wishes, the economy will be worse, entitlements will be unsustainable, blood will run in the streets, and the system that has done more for the quality of life of millions around the globe will be weakened.

Then and Now: The only Obama numbers that matter sixty days out from midterm elections

Personal Finance Index — 8/10/2010

Getting Better — 26%

Getting Worse — 46%

————————————————–

Presidential Approval Index — 1/21/2009 [+28]

Strongly Approve — 44%

Strongly Disapprove — 16%

Presidential Approval Index — 9/03/2010 [-16]

Strongly Approve — 27%

Strongly Disapprove — 43%

Notice any correlation here?

SOURCE: Rasmussen Reports

END OF POST

Video: Watch the cancer of unemployment growing county by county — Jan. 07 to Jan 2010

The legacy and fate of a one-term-only Marxist-Socialist president and his party…

Map Information/Large screen here

END OF POST

Telegraph UK: Barack Obama seems unable to face up to America’s problems

 The end of the road for Barack Obama?

 By Simon Heffer

It is a universal political truth that administrations do not begin to fragment when things are going well: it only happens when they go badly, and those who think they know better begin to attack those who manifestly do not. The descent of Barack Obama’s regime, characterised now by factionalism in the Democratic Party and talk of his being set to emulate Jimmy Carter as a one-term president, has been swift and precipitate. It was just 16 months ago that weeping men and women celebrated his victory over John McCain in the American presidential election. If they weep now, a year and six weeks into his rule, it is for different reasons.

Despite the efforts of some sections of opinion to talk the place up, America is mired in unhappiness, all the worse for the height from which Obamania has fallen. The economy remains troublesome. There is growth – a good last quarter suggested an annual rate of as high as six per cent, but that figure is probably not reliable – and the latest unemployment figures, last Friday, showed a levelling off. Yet 15 million Americans, or 9.7 per cent of the workforce, have no job. Many millions more are reduced to working part-time. Whole areas of the country, notably in the north and on the eastern seaboard, are industrial wastelands. The once mighty motor city of Detroit appears slowly to be being abandoned, becoming a Jurassic Park of the mid-20th century; unemployment among black people in Mr Obama’s own city of Chicago is estimated at between 20 and 25 per cent. One senior black politician – a Democrat and a supporter of the President – told me of the wrath in his community that a black president appeared to be unable to solve the economic problem among his own people. Cities in the east such as Newark and Baltimore now have drug-dealing as their principal commercial activity: The Wire is only just fictional.

Last Thursday the House of Representatives passed a jobs Bill, costing $15 billion, which would give tax breaks to firms hiring new staff and, through state sponsorship of construction projects, create thousands of jobs too. The Senate is trying to approve a Bill that would provide a further $150 billion of tax incentives to employers. Yet there is a sense of desperation in the Administration, a sense that nothing can be as efficacious at the moment as a sticking plaster. Edward B Montgomery, deputy labour secretary in the Clinton administration, now spends his time on day trips to decaying towns that used to have a car industry, not so much advising them on how to do something else as facilitating those communities’ access to federal funds. For a land without a welfare state, America starts to do an effective impersonation of a country with one. This massive state spending gives rise to accusations by Republicans, and people too angry even to be Republicans, that America is now controlled by “Leftists” and being turned into a socialist state.

Read the rest of the story at: The end of the road for Barack Obama? – Telegraph

Chicago Shocked! — U.S. Unemployed, Not..

Final-round vote numbers: Rio 66, Madrid 32, Obama 0…

A Chicago 2016 supporter reacts following the announcement from the 121st International Olympic Committee on the host city
No hope: A Chicago 2016 supporter reacts following the announcement from the 121st International Olympic Committee

No Olympics: Well.., at least unemployment scored a 9.8

London calling…

BBC News’ Adam Brookes in Chicago provides “coverage”:

“The shock of Chicago’s elimination was greater for the fact that it came in the first round. And greater for the fact that President Obama had taken valuable hours from his packed and tense political schedule to travel to Copenhagen. His legendary powers of persuasion will be said to have failed him, though in reality it will be Chicago’s bid that failed him. Nonetheless, this is a moment which allows the president’s detractors to allege waning prestige on the part of his presidency. And it will raise questions about the political advice that he is receiving.”

CHICAGO REACTIONUNEMPLOYMENT WOE

Was Jesus a Community Organizer? by Timothy Furnish

james mary evans
james mary evans

       Big Fratres Hat Tip to Justin Halter over at The Truth Shall Set You Free blog for the fine posting below. Clear, concise, and factual, Timothy Furnish pegs the audacity of false Alinskyian hopes rolled out by the religous left, the Dems and their media cohorts–Now, what I want to know is this:

Did Jesus ‘the Community Organizer’ consider it necessary to the mission that his followers should hack Pontius Palin’s e-mails before he suffered? 

You tell me…  

Was Jesus a Community Organizer?

by Timothy Furnish

According to Rush Limbaugh (citing Lexis-Nexis), the phrase “Jesus was a community organizer, Pilate was a governor” was devised on September 4, 2008, by a Washington Post blogger. As of this writing, 10 days later, Google lists 13,300 hits for the phrase. Most seem to be from the left-wing echo chambers of the Internet, where Daily Kosites, Huffingtonistas, and Obamists have separated virtual shoulders, giving each other electronic high-fives for their wit. But not all are e-cranks: no less a journalistic paragon than Tom Brokaw hit Rudy Giuliani with the phrase on the September 14 Meet the Press. And even some high-ranking Democrats have jumped on the bandwagon, most notably former Gore campaign chair and current DNC member Donna Brazile and Tennessee Democratic Congressman Steve Cohen. Brazile repeated the line on CNN last week, while Representative Cohen dredged it up on the House floor.

The phrase was intended to counteract the anti-Obama jab by GOP vice-presidential candidate Governor Sarah Palin that even a small-town mayor – her job before becoming Alaska’s chief executive – has more responsibility than a community organizer, Obama’s self-described seminal experience. Palin was in turn responding to Democrat belittling of her as the “former mayor of a town of 9,000 people.” (Of course, they can’t exactly call her “the governor of a state as large in land area as all the blue states of 2004 combined.”)

This Democrat trope is qualitatively different than the preceding merely political barbs, however. By invoking the founder of the world’s largest religion – considered not merely human but divine by orthodox Christians for two millennia – as well as the Roman official who sentenced him to death, the Democrats are not just raising the insult bar but moving the rhetoric onto a field of battle that is supposed to be off limits.

First, it constitutes the religious left injecting religion into this campaign. It’s an article of faith among the religious left and their secular media supporters that only the religious right ever contaminates the public square with religion, but that has been demonstrably wrong since at least the 1960s – when the civil rights movement was led by black and white ministers. Only when conservative (usually Protestant) clergy got involved in politics in the 1970s and started invoking Jesus in support of causes like ending abortion did the media suddenly find something wrong with religious involvement in politics. Of course, the religious and secular left often cast what are to a large extent religious issues – abortion and homosexality, to name but the most inflammatory – as purely political or civil rights ones, and their willing accomplices in the media rarely, if ever, call them on it. The same holds true now.

If any prominent Republicans supporting McCain had said that “Jesus was a torture victim; Caiaphas was a law professor,” they would have been drawn and quartered by the media. But I’ve yet to see criticism of Brazile or Cohen for injecting the views of the religious left into the 2008 presidential campaign. (For you Democrats who, like Howard Dean, still think Job is in the New Testament – Caiaphas was the high priest on the Sanhedrin, the Jewish ruling council that interacted with the Roman authorities in Jesus’ time.)

Second, it’s ahistorical to say that “Jesus was a community organizer.” According to Wikipedia, community organizing “is a process by which people living in close proximity to each other are brought together to act in their common self-interest. Community organizers act as … coordinators of programs for different agencies. … Community organizers work actively, as do … social workers, in community councils of social agencies and in community-action groups.” What’s striking about that definition – besides its poor grammar and redundancy – is how very little it has to do with Jesus’ life and ministry.

The “community” Jesus “organized” would have to be defined as primarily the core 12 apostles (13 if we count that important, but late-arriving, St. Paul), although we should perhaps include the 70 missionaries of Luke chapter 10. Looking at these two groups in the Gospels, it’s obvious that 1) neither group consisted of folks who lived “in close proximity,” and in fact contained members from different areas of Roman-occupied Judea; 2) neither the 12 nor the 70 were concerned with “common self-interest” but, on the contrary, were united around Jesus’ call for them to deny their own self-interest; 3) Jesus didn’t exactly have any Roman imperial social agencies from which to apply for grants, especially for messianic claimants. Jesus called these men – sorry, Dan Brown fanatics, the Gospels are clear that the 12 and the 70 were all male, a fact that would get Him disqualified for community organizing on Chicago’s South Side, no doubt – to take up a cross and follow Him, not to figure out how to write grant proposals to the first-century version of ACORN, had such a thing even existed. He also empowered them to heal the sick, drive out demons (not Republicans), and forgive sins. Therefore, “community organizing” doesn’t even remotely describe what Jesus did.

More importantly, the third problem with this trope is that it is an attempt – conscious or not – to undermine the gravity of Jesus’ role in Christianity and in history. From Albert Schweitzer to Episcopal “Bishop” John Spong to Oprah, outside-the-Christian-mainstream critics have tried to make Jesus only a man with a plan, a social reformer, a self-help guru, you name it – anything but the crucified and resurrected Son of God as described in the Apostles, Nicene, and Athanasian creeds. Community organizers don’t raise the dead, heal the blind and sick, walk on water, or return from death themselves.

Liberals are free to disbelieve what orthodox Christianity teaches about Jesus, but they are not free to ahistorically and insultingly appropriate Him for their own narrow political agendas, no more than the religious right is. Ms. Brazile is Catholic, so she should know better; Representative Cohen is Jewish, so he can be forgiven for not, although it’s worth observing that were a Christian legislator to opine publicly on a non-Christian religious figure – saying, for example, “Mohammed was (merely) a community organizer” – the critical outcry, and not just from Muslims, would almost certainly be deafening (at best); so why the double standard when a non-Christian makes a glib, politically expedient remark about Christianity’s founder?

Fourth, it’s ahistorical to equate Palin, a state governor in the 21st-century American republic, with Pontius Pilate, a provincial governor in the first-century Roman Empire. It’s pathetic, really, that this has to be explained to historically ignorant Democrats, but Sarah Palin was elected to her office, not appointed by an emperor – and no amount of jejune Bush-bashing will change that. As for responsibility and administrative experience, Alaska is about 23 times larger than the Roman Judea under Pilate’s watch. To be fair to Pilate, however, Alaska is not full of oppressed, resentful, conquered people longing for a messiah – unless you count the folks at Palin’s church, as the media does. And unlike Pilate, Palin has not had to order the slaughter of any such rebellious natives, much less of any prominent rebel leaders with messianic pretensions – which of course is the implied main point when Democrats analogize Palin to Pilate.

Fifth, the most egregious aspect of the “Pontius Palin” trope is the implied messianic role it imputes to Barack Obama and the fuel it throws on extant political fires. We’ve all heard and read about the deliverer, bordering on messianic, role imputed to Barack Obama by his supporters – and not just Chris Mathews – whether or not Obama buys into it himself. It’s insulting enough, both historically and religiously, to imply Obama’s messianism by suggesting he was, like Jesus, a community organizer; it’s even more offensive to imply, as Democrats clearly are in equating the jobs of Pilate and Sarah Palin, that Obama is a messiah targeted for liquidation.

We can already look forward, should McCain win, to cries of “the Republicans stole another election” and, of course, “America is racist.” Will we also be treated to post-messiah stress syndrome, in which Obama’s loss will take on not just political and cultural but eschatological overtones for his disappointed followers? Rhetoric like that employed by the left’s bloggers, Brokaw, Brazile, and Cohen make that increasingly likely. Some, like Phyllis Chesler on PJM, have even posited that a new American civil war is a real possibility should Obama lose. To use the Pilate analogy appropriately: do Brokaw, Brazile, Cohen, and the Democratic left really want that blood on their hands?

Timothy R. Furnish, M.A.R. (Church History), Ph.D. (Islamic history), is a recovering college professor and runs the website www.mahdiwatch.org, which tracks Islamic messianism and eschatology.