Sunday, March 6, 2011
Capitalist Societal Cannibalism.
While other political systems may crush, discredit or otherwise make their enemies impotent, only a capitalistic democratic republic has the ability to absorb them. What do I mean by that? Our governmental system has a unique ability to make its detractors a part of itself. Allow me to explain.
The unions were originally formed to work to protect the worker from the greed of the company owners and managers, now they are the engines of greed. They are driving for ever more government and more largesse, which is completely antithetical to what they were about in the first place, honest pay for honest work.
The Church too has become an ally instead of a watchdog. The lure of money is so great that few can withstand it. It seems that nearly everyone who possesses it is in turn consumed and possessed by it. Politicians forget where they came from, ministers forget the warning that you can't serve God and money and the government, the system, the greedy monster that has become America just laughs and looks for the next victim. It will lull them to sleep as well.
Success is the ultimate sedative. Once a person reaches a certain level of success in life anything approaching true moral outrage is all but impossible. We tend only to care for ourselves and the well being of those closest to us. The poor and marginalized tend to fade from memory very quickly. The rich man can ill afford the luxury of outrage and the poorest of the poor don't have time for it, which leaves it to the shrinking middle class to carry the load.
What God needs is people who literally have nothing to lose. It isn't that poverty is righteous, just the opposite, it is that wealth can breed a special kind of evil and its name is complacency.
Here's how it works. Group A opposes the actions of the government, or the “free market”, which by the way are finally being revealed as one and the same, so the government first tries to suppress them. Sometimes this works and the opposition amounts to nothing, other times this makes them even stronger and they continue to fight. At some point someone within government becomes their champion (or they send a man to Washington to fight for them) and convinces his peers to give them part of what they want, under the guise of “doing the right thing”. Soon the group that opposed the government becomes dependent on them for their sustenance. They actually become partners with them.
Another example is the civil rights movement, they fought to change the law, now they use government as a weapon to attain their ends. After partnership is established government becomes their friend, or so they think, and we are programmed to defend our friends.
Once this partnership, or team mentality has been achieved it is easy for government to shape the goals and methodology of that group to suit their purpose. They make them irrelevant by placing them in a long line of “issues” and giving each a small amount of their time and attention so that no meaningful reform can possibly be made without upsetting the whole apple cart and that would stop government and we don't want that.
Capitalism is particularly adept at this game. As long as the ATMs (AKA “citizens” or AUTOMATIC TAX MACHINES)don't revolt and keep paying their ever higher taxes, more and more people can be brought into the government, or supported by it. Therefor, all those who oppose it make up a smaller and smaller minority, and their causes being separate splinter this number even more. They are the fringe groups. It is the ultimate playing out of the saying: Politics makes for strange bedfellows. Completely disparate groups find themselves not on the same side of the issues but on the same side in defending the institution that supplies them with what they see as the only means of making any real change, the Federal Government of the United States.
A Democratic Republic is the only political entity that can sustain social canabalism. Cannibalism is the act of eating one's own kind, “Of the people, by the people and for the people” no other system has this same power because government is separate, it is another species and cannot cannibalize the social structures within it. They can be at odds, but their enemies are always separate. It is the only system that can be constantly at odds with itself and is inherently so.
In the beginning the founders realized this and in their wisdom created a loose confederation of individual states that were each, by and large, self determinate. Through the years, especially the last half of the twentieth century, since the civil war the states power has been eroded by an ever increasing consolidation of money, resources and power at the Federal level. This, in turn, is used to coerce the individual states into toeing the political line in order to receive what they perceive, just like other institutions and groups, to be their lifeline. The funding the provides the only way for them to accomplish what they see as vitally important.
Among groups that cannot be brought directly into the fold oppositional thinking is employed to keep them in competition with themselves. We rank the states in order of successes in: education, cost of living, per cap-pita income and the like. This has the effect of placing them in direct competition for the attention and reward from the Federal Government. The same is true for political parties. They posture as if there are major philosophical differences, but in reality that is, at least in part, a ploy to make the people feel that there is still a system of checks and balances in place.
Most of these differences are not substantive. Take for instance, the current debate over healthcare. Many members of congress are rebelling at the thought of state supported abortion. In substance there is very little difference between state sanctioned abortion (it being legal) and state supported abortion (it being paid for with tax dollars) In a very real way there is no method of compartmentalization that can justify the support of any government that allows this practice to continue through the paying of taxes or the adherence to its laws, except as regards the sanctity of other lives, for a person who believes that the practice of abortion is wrong. We are all guilty by association. The apostle Paul said: For him who knows what to do and does not do it, for him it is sin. Logic dictates that the reverse is also true, If you know what you should not do, then doing it is sin as well. If we believe that we should not allow unborn children to be slaughtered by the thousands then we should be doing what we can to prevent it from continuing.
While it is an extreme example, abortion provides one of the clearest pictures of societal cannibalism. It starts as a measure to protect women who feel they need the ability to avail themselves legally of what they perceive as a necessary “medical” procedure. Without capitalism, this reaches its zenith with only a small percentage of women willing to make this decision, with capitalism, the debate is redefined. Someone, somewhere began to see the potential for money to be made. I know, crass but the numbers don't lie. Average number of abortions per year = 854,000, cost per abortion $350-$550 each= a 38 million dollar per year idustry. In comparison, this is more than total annual sales for one of the current most popular tech gadgets, the Ipad.
So, what do we do about it? We can no longer continue to allow things to happen around us that we know are wrong with no response. We must personally take a stand and be willing to to the right thing, even when it costs us. We must think of others more highly than ourselves, realizing that there is a very real connection between us and others and that what effects one negatively effects us all. We must first “be the change we want to see” in the words of Ghandi.
We must continually express God's thoughts on the matter in a loving, kind, embracing way, with the view in mind, not of changing others into what we want them to be, but with the revelation of God in mind. In other words, we are not working to expose the others, but to expose the heart of God, to aid in his goal of reconciling creation to himself. We must refuse to engage in capitalist cannibalism by conducting our own lives and businesses by first “doing no harm”. This means being aware of who we are conducting business with and what the outcome of our work, purchases and investments ultimately are and find ways around supporting the cannibals.
While boycotts and other “negative” actions can have some effect, I think we are better served by promoting partnerships with those that are working toward the same aim, rather than engaging in their battle of oppositional thinking by spending our time and energy opposing what we disagree with. One positive action is so much more powerful than a campaign of negative responses.
Lastly, we should have this attitude that was also in Christ Jesus, who being found in form like God, did not think equality with God a thing to be grasped, but humbled himself, taking on the form of a servant. He submitted himself to his creation, even allowing them to crucify him on a cross to serve the Father's purpose. We must die to ourselves both emotionally and in ownership, holding the things that God lends us lightly, so that as they have served their purpose in our lives, we allow them to flow from us to meet the needs of others. It is hard to cannibalize the capital of a people who own nothing.