Sister Sarah And The Coming Fascist Christian Troika

Rick Perry dived right in. The Texas governor, now a Republican presidential candidate, held a prayer rally for tens of thousands, read from the Bible, invoked Christ and broadcast the whole event on the Web. [RACHEL ZOLL – AP Religion Writer]

Well folks, it does seem like the chickens are coming home to roost in our fairytale after all.  The evangelicals are marching in from the cloisters and the forests all decked out in their Sunday come-to-meetin’ clothes, proclaiming a New Christian Century in Amerika. And we, the unwashed masses, repose complacently in our front row seats, watching the action unfold above the footlights; witnesses to an extravagant display of the most profound and intimate bond between religion and politics, as it continues to power this hungry beast of civilization. Was not this public exhibition by Governor Perry (he-who-would-be-president) just a clear and present reminder of that ancient premise concerning the sacrality of the State and its claims to transcendent power?  Was this not, as well, a revival of the fraudulent myth of American Exceptionalism (The Chosen Nation) now decked-out in all its resplendent Christian glory?

From the beginning of recorded history these two institutions of civic life – religion and politics – have been bound together to create an awesome matrix from whose amalgam would emerge those sacrosanct laws controlling the multitudes, while establishing an unassailable platform for legislator and priest alike. These twin hierarchies were borne-along by fast-moving currents that would feed the growing rivers of Western Civilization, beginning with ancient Sumer and Babylon in the Fertile Crescent. Recognizing the elemental force of this union, Alexis de Tocqueville commented in his work on Democracy In America (1835):

When there is no longer any principle of authority in religion, any more than in politics, men are speedily frightened at the aspect of this unbounded independence.

As for our current “democratic,” nominally non-theocratic hegemony of today, it has merely hidden its religious robes and affiliations, hoping to mask its underlying theology and its sacred roots, so as not to scare the unwashed among us. Yet, even the unregenerate among us have known, in the dark recesses of our unconscious, about this linkage, and the sacred genesis of political power, even here in the good old USA.  Again from de Tocqueville’s work:

I do not know whether all Americans have a sincere faith in their religion; for who can read the human heart?  But I am certain that they hold it to be indispensable to the maintenance of republican institutions.

And what was this religion that was indispensable to the new American republic? Christian evangelicalism, of course.

During the years between the inaugurations of Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln, historians see “evangelicalism emerging as a kind of national church or national religion.” The leaders and ordinary members of the “evangelical empire” of the nineteenth century were American patriots who subscribed to the views of the Founders that religion was a “necessary spring” for republican government… Converting their fellow citizens to Christianity was, for them, an act that simultaneously saved souls and saved the republic. (Religion And The Founding Of The American Republic).

Certainly we can neither ignore, nor soon forget that ‘wink’ and the slightly seductive, pixie smile of Sarah Palin.  But, the fundamentalist evangelical Rick Perry is Sister Sarah on steroids – hopelessly, nakedly unapologetic.  And without defensiveness, publicly parading the political legitimacy of his Christian fundamentalism, an ideology ever-present in the rarefied noosphere of our State but never so boldly enunciated as in that exhibition, speaks volumes not only about the mission of this self-ordained and delusional would-be king of kings, but the evangelical temperament of this nation as a whole.  If you don’t believe me, just look at the national media’s ecstatic gushing over his subsequent performance in the Republican debate this week at the Reagan library.  One would think the Honorable Mr. Perry is nothing less than the transcendent Godhead himself, descending yet again into human form – a spiritual savior and political hegemon – the anointed archon of a New Heaven and a New Earth.

In June of 2009, on the heels of the Iranian election uprising, I wrote a small piece, The Fertile Crescent and the Dialectics of Freedom, addressing this formative and powerful elixir of religion and politics.

As I then pointed out, one result of that televised uprising was to remind us from whence the overpowering synthesis of politics and religion (theocracy) got its start: in ancient Babylonia, Assyria, and Persia (modern Iran). I suggested that our fascination with the Iranian uprising was born in part of a vague but discomforting sense of our own unresolved enslavement to political and religious authority – institutions we love to hate, and alternatively seek to moderate or enhance depending upon our mood. I further argued that perhaps we distrust our own unquestioned assumptions about freedom in Amerika – “our minds floating at random between liberty and obedience”(de Tocqueville). And I wagered that perhaps we too secretly longed for more overt forms of control here – represented in part by the push for nationalized healthcare and the establishment of the department of homeland security. Interestingly enough, just the prior Fall we had been introduced to an emergent firebrand for our own Christian fundamentalist political chorus in the guise of Sister Sarah, raising the specter of an era of explicit theocratic rule right here in the land of the free and the home of the brave.

My friends, when the first settlers left the Old World on their journey to the New, they did so in search of religious freedom, so we are told.  They sought to govern themselves according to the dictates of their own faith and conscience, unhampered by the Church of their ancestors or their former overlords. Again, the religious origins of Amerika’s founding are no secret, and they are no less evident than those of Iran’s. We always knew that our nation was established explicitly as a religiously inspired and grounded republic.  And to this day the body politic uncritically testifies that ours is “one nation under God” at every public outing or sporting event, a proclamation rooted firmly in the evangelical chorus entrusted us by its pilgrims and its Founding Fathers.  And we cannot ignore lyrics from the final verse of the National Anthem originally penned by Francis Scott Key:

Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation. Then conquer we must, When our cause it is just, And this be our motto – “In God is our trust.”

Indeed, we have demanded that all of our leaders show appropriate deference to our often muted but underlying evangelical heritage, with a wary eye to any potentially competitive orthodoxy – be it Catholic, Moslem, or Jewish.  Just ask Barack Hussein Obama, Joseph Lieberman, or the ghost of JFK.

Concomitantly, tolerance for religious diversity has never been our strong suit; and it cannot be. Lest we forget, the Irish Catholic-Protestant wars in The Gangs of New York are a bloody and eye-popping Technicolor reminder of the principles that have guided those on the ground as well as those in our highest offices; just research our attitudes toward the Moslem community here even before September Eleventh, 2001. Any contravention of this underlying national faith cannot long be tolerated.  Why are we not open to religious diversity in the populace? It is because we are not open to it at the top of the pyramid.  Certainly, we may acquiesce at times, but this is largely a kabuki show in political correctness of relatively recent vintage.  As de Tocqueville correctly concludes concerning life in our democratic society: in subjecting themselves to religious authority, “they choose at least that it should be single and uniform.  Religious powers not radiating from a common centre are naturally repugnant to their minds.”

Every State needs to be erected upon a stable ideological foundation of unshakable faith in its institutions and its archon – its ruler.  Historically, that faith has strong religious roots by design. Even the totalitarian regime of the Soviet period required a forceful expulsion of the Orthodox Russian Church in order to more firmly establish its own dogmatic and totalizing ideology (read: theology) of the State.  Had it not done so, it would have had to fight continuously against that ancient orthodoxy for control of the masses. And our regime is not essentially different from any other in history; its foundations firmly embedded in the principles of a specific and vociferous religious proclamation.

As Jeff Sharlet proposes in his book, The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power, there is a hidden Christian fundamentalism embedded in the very heart of American imperial politics, and it is now rearing its monstrous head clearly for all to behold.  Again, just watch the continued ascension of our rising fundamentalist from the Lone Star State, Rick Perry; and you might even see “Rapture-Ready” Sister Sarah, or the self-described ‘submissive wife’ Michele Bachmann right by his side as all three stride on stage to do a victory lap.

There is your prospective future Amerika, not quite the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, but a Fascist Christian Troika – a gun-toting, book-burning, creationist-teaching, Moslem-bashing, gay-curing, rapture-ready regime – ushering in the final post-collapse anarchy, much like that proleptically foreseen in the closing book of the New Testament, the Book of Revelation to Saint John.  And, I do not doubt for one moment that these fundamentalist evangelicals understand their role at this moment in history precisely in such apocalyptic, eschatological terms.

I will say it again.  At bottom our kingdom – this American Empire – is not much different from those that preceded it almost 6000 years ago near the mouths of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers in ancient Babylon (Mesopotamia).  We all drank from the same ancient waters. Obviously we have much improved technology and significantly greater control over our environment, which we have attacked, consumed, and destroyed more voraciously than any other culture at any time in the written record.  As well, the tools of government are more highly refined, “kindler and gentler,” and therefore more insidious in many respects.  Indeed, our masters no longer physically beat their slaves; but we are, nevertheless, more effectively controlled by the State and its religious underpinnings.  And the goals of the legislator remain unshaken, the power of the State immutable, resolving itself in an underlying belief in its transcendent value and its unimpeachable stature.  Every historical political regime has relied upon core adherence to a State ideology typically nested in religious or quasi-religious beliefs, sometimes more harmlessly called nationalism or patriotism; the USA is no exception.

The eventuality facing us today is not new my friends. It is very old, with a long history, as I have described, even here in the land of the free and the home of the brave.  And it rears its fiery head yet again, now that our kingdom and its charade of equality are showing raw signs of rapid decay.  So now the various parasites and cancers, parading themselves as saviors and healers, will vie for the right to eat away at the decomposing corpse of this ill-begotten beast, bringing our disequilibrium civilization and its culture of excess and caprice to a final and bitter conclusion.  As the Roman Consul might have said in the Coliseum just before the Fall of Rome, “Let the games begin!”

98 Responses to Sister Sarah And The Coming Fascist Christian Troika

  1. Rg the Lg says:

    Amerika … the K says it all … as in KKK … the impulse was also present amongst the millenarian theorists of the 19th century … and it is this impulse that the right(eous) of a self inflating predilection tap into to justify the concept the founding fathers based the constitution on gawd of a xian flavor.

    Whether those so-called fathers were religious or not, they very carefully attempted to NOT mix the government with any form of gawd (or gawds) or religion. That has never been acceptable to the religioso and the blatant nationalism mixed with corporatism is well stated in this article.

    [Yes, the definition of fascism is the state for the corporation and the corporation as the state. Mussolini is denigrated by the very people who argue that the US is NOT a fascist state. A silly idea since WWII was fought amongst the fascist states to determine which form would prevail. Ours came out on top … ironically because the Soviets were willing to sacrifice so much and Hitler stupidly attacked them. Had he waited, I doubt that Britain would have lasted and the US would be directly fascist with blatant over tones today. The question we need to ask is … was WWII a failure in stopping fascism?

    My brief, and generally unsupported, answer would be yes. Would we be better off if we had lost? Probably not … there was a brief window in time when the political reality may have actually moved away from fascism … but as we all experience on a day to day basis … that didn’t happen.]

    Perry and his ilk are no more xian than the man in the moon … but as a (self) right(eous) wing politico he is blatantly tapping into that spectrum of thought / belief in Amerika … and the consequences may be awful. Ultimately the question is whether the corporatists will support that line of alleged thinking, or find a right winger of the Obama stripe. The decision will not be made in the ballot box … it will be made by those who manage the puppets in government.

    Ah well, maybe we’ll see the whole shittaree collapse as the empire falls apart. It won’t be pretty, but it will be deserved.

    • kulturcritic says:

      rg/lg – I wasn’t thinking of the KKK when I used the “k” in Amerika. I was more thinking of my Russian alphabet, where there in no “c” but “k” is used instead. And, I was also thinking of suggesting by that adjustment that America is not the country we tell ourselves it is. But the fascism is for real, and growing.

      • Rg the Lg says:

        I am not sure it is growing … I suspect that fascism is a natural consequence of capitalism. Slowly and steadily capitalism moves toward fascism … and that movement is simply caused by the demand of wealth to have its way. Our recent century (the 20th) is a clear and generally unambiguous move in that direction. Admittedly there was significant evidence during the 19th century, but it was not as apparent. The civil war was fought to make slaves worth less … or to eliminate the wealth that was represented by them … and was NOT done for humanitarian reasons but rather because that wealth was accessible for investment and capital growth. The same could be said for the family farm in the 2oth century … money (actually the people who live for money, called capitalists) wanted to control more money and family farms represented wealth that could not be invested as capital.

        In my opinion, capitalism is not negative so long as it crashes about every 30 or so years and is therefore forced to start over. Else, as times passes and wealth accumulates in ever fewer and fewer hands, it has an inevitable and pernicious affect.

        In the netLogo models library there is a wealth distribution model at the link below. The agents moving about on the screen are distracting … but what is of value to the observer are the ‘class plot’ the ‘class histogram’ and the ‘lorenz curve’ … these demonstrate rather well how wealth moves … and it has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO DO with who the agents are … it has to do with the random luck of the accumulator.

        My contention is that as wealth accumulates it demands power … as power centralizes it resembles a fascistic system in which the business of government is business and the government of business is business. Remember Cal Coolidge?

        Your turn …

        • kulturcritic says:

          “…in which the business of government is business and the government of business is business…” But it is forever wrapped up in the ribbons and bows of an ideology greater than capitalism.

        • kulturcritic says:

          Rg/lg – I think you are right, capitalism does move towards complete economic control, which would indicate a need for political control as well. However, I do think there are any number of ideologies (isms) that can lead in that direction. And I believe the capitalistic impetus here is itself grounded in a strong Protestant ethic of work, success, and dominion. Fascism as a nationalistic, authoritarian system of dominion and control has strong religious ideological underpinnings. The capitalist strain does not exercise control forcibly, but subtly through economic enslavement, and the carrot of wish fulfillment. That is how it has played its hand here in Amerika. I think when the religious component fully emerges, you will see some more heavy-handedness.

          • Maybe more basic than fascism and capitalism is the world view that urges cut throat competition as a means for procuring the the illusions of peace and happiness for one’s self and one’s own dear ones. Man struggling against man for one’s own self-interest fostering the many miseries is ages old. Fortunately many are seeing through this worldly convention (-al “wisdom”, What a divine joke) and are fed up with it, and are now looking within and finding wisdom, contentment, compassion, and the ever-abiding self-fulfillment. Giving without thought of return and serving one’s fellows without thought of reward through one’s thoughts, words, and actions (largest to smallest) are the creative expressions that can and will replace the worn out delusional paradigms. The great experiments bringing a new humanity are coming forth from the creatives among us and those who seek them out and take them up. It just so happens that at the same time, we are witnessing the results and inertia of humanity’s insanities–reaching new heights of hypocrisy, viciousness, arrogance, and cynicism.
            Let us hang in and let us hang on to the Truth within.

            • kulturcritic says:

              Ron – Survival will indeed require a new kind of vision; I am only afraid of calling it some kind of truth “within.” I am afraid that sets up a false dualism that still pits me against the world. Also, I tend to think capitalism IS the worldview that establishes the competitive state of mind more firmly than any other. best, sandy

              • My experience of truth within, Sandy, is the opposite of what you fear. It puts me more in touch with brotherly and sisterly feelings of love and connection with all things at the core of existence. It fosters in me a need to question the world’s conventional bs as you and the other wise people so often do here on this blog. But as much as I question and uncover the delusions and gradually unhook from my addiction to them, I do not question the inner guidance I receive and find essential. Instead, I offer up, as they come up in the process, all my strengths and weaknesses into this process.
                Sandy, I take your point about the general state of capitalism, but have you not heard anecdotal evidence that there are, in fact, heroes and villains who practice capitalism, socialism, or other isms? When realistic and lasting values are sought after, than the proper balance and use of tools (isms) for creating and maintaining them would not limit humanity.

                • kulturcritic says:

                  Ron – I now understand your commitment to a ‘truth within’ – it is like a genetic memory trace reawakening your connection to your flesh, the flesh of the world.

                  Most any system (ism) that has been constructed is troublesome, some more than others. All retain and manifest some degree of hierarchy which lies at the root of modern alienation and abuse of others as well as the environment (life-world). There may be moral men or women with the system, but the system controls ultimately.

          • StrayCat says:

            Here is the nub. When one analyzes the Italian Fascist model, we see the religious and nationalist joined together out of the history of Catholicism and state entwinement. There, the use of overt force was available because the history of force was there. Italy only united as a state in 1879, and was a group of often warring states before then. During the 19th c. the only unifying authority was the Catholic church. In the USA, different history requires differing methods and symbols, but the outcome is the same. The Calvinist doctrine of predestination and the idea that financial success was a sure sign of being among the elect has created an unearned credit to the financial predators. So, much more subtle forces are available. Loss of job and status, gossip campaigns to undercut the reputation of the uncooperative, the use of mental health records, and other means of control. Put together with 24/7 television propaganda both on the news and in the programming, this is a very powerful means of installing and managing a fascist state. Have you noticed the fear created by NCIS, Law and Order and other shows? The step to the 15 minutes of hate is no longer necessary, as we engage in this exercise routinely, and without noticing. Peace, love and joy to you all

        • Disaffected says:

          >I am not sure it is growing … I suspect that fascism is a natural consequence of capitalism. Slowly and steadily capitalism moves toward fascism … and that movement is simply caused by the demand of wealth to have its way<

          Absolutely correct.

          DA

        • StrayCat says:

          One element of European fascism that was missing was the idea of a national (as in natal) identity arising from birth in a place with a singular language and identifiable customs, including religion. Thus, I submit that until the Xian fundies began identifying their beliefs with the American born, nativist movements, together with the creation of the idea of the United States as a “homeland” from which it is legitimate to expand, much as the Germans claimed liebenstraum, now ironically claimed by the State of Israel, the institution of a fascist security state was not possible. There were attempts in the thirties and fifties, but the notion that we were a nation of immigrants forestalled these developments. Now, however, with the final identification of the United States with white, christian majorities, and an anti immigrant fervor different in quality from the anti immigrant movements of the nineteenth century, true fascism has become probable. We now have a situation of closed frontiers, identifiable enemies of arab, chinese, african and latin peoples, whose “otherness” can be pointed to as a mark of the enemy. Today, the culmination of the separation of “races” in different geographical and economic groupings allows a police/security state to become truly fascist with the identification of Goldman Sachs doing god’s work. Congressmen claim that the duty of banking regulators is to service the banks. People of the corporate classes never get prosecuted for criminal conduct brazenly carried out in broad daylight and on the front page. People exercising their right to petition for redress of grievances at the White House are arrested, and all public protests are placed in gated “free speech zones”. So yes, we now have a developing fascist government, and a growing fascist social sensitivity. Fear does this. The more we protest and disrupt at the seats of power, whether state or federal, the more marginalized we will become, and we will become the communists, gypsies (Roma) and dissidents of the European 30’s and 40’s. I submit that a new plan and a new response must be fashioned to preserve freedom and democracy. Just as electric power must become a set of distributed generating places using a wide variety of sources of energy, protest must also become distributed and not centralized. We must be brave enough to give up our soon to disappear plenty And the security of the supermarket and Wally World and disengage from the corporate system. Stay home. Buy from in individuals, buy local, and buy only what you really need. Enter into consentual, mutually beneficial relations with your fellow townspeople and neighbors and give none of your time, money, capital or energy to the financial/corporate wall street system. A thought experiment. Write down what items you think you really need to live fairly well. Come back a week later and see if the list can be further reduced. Spend a part of every day for a month looking around you at what you own and control. How much satisfaction do you get from each item or group of items? What does each cost in time, annoyance or money. How much of you time, peace of mind or free time does each item steal from you? I’ll bet we are all burdened with junk. Maybe we can discuss this later if it comes up as an element of Sandy’s material.

          • kulturcritic says:

            SC – “until the Xian fundies began identifying their beliefs with the American born, nativist movements, … the institution of a fascist security state was not possible.”

            Maybe the outward mechanisms were not possible, but the regulatory nature of its institutions essentially created the conditions for the possibility of such a State. Perhaps now they are just “letting their freak flag fly”… so to speak!!

            • StrayCat says:

              Agreed, the apparatus was always there, as it is part of the nature of a functioning state. We now have the freak flag flying because the remaining counterweights to full out fascism have been marginalized, whether science, unions, or other forces of democracy. The loss of economic security together with the fears of the post 911 paranoia have created the conditions for both the Xian right, the Dominionists and know-nothings and the corporatists and military control freaks to bond together. All these elements have long histories, but only now can they7 operate openly, as there is no public place where counter arguments can be broadcast. The corps own the airwaves, and soon will fully control the present internet.

  2. While the role of religion was a matter of great debate during the adoption of the constitution, those that prevailed (Jefferson, Franklin, Madison, et al) were not Christians, but deists, in practical terms, atheists. They wanted a government based on Enlightenment rationality, and avoiding the problems of church/state alliances prevalent in Europe. When Jefferson helped design the Virginia state constitution, he explicitly wanted to protect the rights of Muslims, Jews, and the Infidel.
    There was an instant backlash from religious leaders, of course, but Jefferson went on to eventually win the presidency, in spite of virulent criticism of his irreligious beliefs. At that time, church membership was around 20%, compared with 60% today, and to the great dismay of church leaders, Paine’s “Age of Reason” was very popular.
    But today, we have Perry, with his big “Response” prayer meeting, admitting that humans are helpless in solving their own problems, and asking God’s help. However that would be manifested was not articulated. Compare that to Jefferson,who refused to offer up any public prayers,when requested by church leaders. I hope that’s the last time I comment on Perry and Jefferson in the same paragraph..

    • kulturcritic says:

      Reid – And thank god I never said Jefferson was a Christian, did I? LOL. But what you do point out is that there was virulent criticism of his deist (atheistic) position. Further, let us not overlook the principal point here, that those who came to America, did so for religious reasons, to practice and be governed by their Reformation faith, not that of the Catholic Church. And while I do say: “a proclamation rooted firmly in the evangelical chorus entrusted us by its pilgrims and its Founding Fathers;” I am not claiming that all FF’s were practicing evangelicals. Certainly John Jay was an Evangelical Christian, Madison and Monroe both attended the Episcopal Church, and Hamilton showed much sympathy for Christianity for his political advantage. What I am contending is that there was a solidly Christian evangelical tone underpinning the emergence of this new land and its governance. That the concepts and theology were in the air, part of the landscape, and even evidenced by the colonial theocracies of the time. Glad to see you joining the conversation. sandy

      • Thanks Sandy, What I am saying is that the US was in the beginning settled by refugees from religious persecution, who then started their own persecutions, and we have an alarming evangelical hocus pocus bent in politics and the media’s portrayal of it today, but thank God, as you say, the prevailing influences that got our founding document ratified were rationalists, and wanted to guarantee the prohibition of church/state alliance. One of the benefits of the US’s religiosity is that the mind set that takes the Bible as the word of God literally, unalterable and relevant for all time, also views the constitution in a similar light, so we will always have that as a weapon to beat back the believer’s attempts to insert religion in government. There have always been periods where religion’s influence in public policy seemed to be in decline, only to come roaring back. I guess I’m more hopeful than you that at some point it will decline, and permanently.

        • kulturcritic says:

          Reid – see my last comment reply to Freeacre below. The Dominionists are here to stay, and they are coming at us with a vengence. As Freud would have it: a return of the repressed.”

  3. murph says:

    Sandy,

    I presume you know that the “under God” in the pledge was not introduced until the 1950’s.

    In my study of the “founding fathers” I had concluded that for the most part, they wanted to disconnect the political running of the country from whatever religion the citizens preferred to indulge in. I thought they were mostly deists which is a far cry from Christian fundamentalism.

    I admit with no qualifications that we seem to have a push in this country toward what you termed “Fascist Christian Troika”. I certainly see the seeds of that thinking in the little community we live in. I think we can thank Karl Rove for that development, a man I put into the same classification as Dick Chaney, curse his evil soul.

    I also presume you are familiar with Bertrand Russel’s condemnation of religion in general and Christianity specifically for setting mankind back 5000 years.

    On a personal basis, I find the assumptions and conclusions drawn from those assumptions that are the bedrock of the christian religion to be repugnant. Even the formation of the collection of religious text we call the Bible is of questionable origin. That these texts are taken to mean the god given right to enforce this belief at the figurative/actual “point of a sword” is an abomination of the writings and intent of those documents.

    As I’ve told some fundamentalists over the years; Believe as you will at the personal level, when you begin to insist I adhere to your beliefs by force, consider us at war in the literal sense. They seem to be actually aghast that I would make a statement like that.

    The best I can hope for in this Fascist movement is that they drown in their own hubris.

    • kulturcritic says:

      Hey Murph – thanks for chiming in. I want to clarify for everyone that I am not saying there was an intent to establish Christianity as the religion of the new nation, but that, in fact, the evangelical Christian mindset laid critical foundations for that new state (ideologically) and became de facto a national religion. Doesn’t matter what the FF’s wanted or did not want. They were also nurtured at the breast of Christianity.

  4. Rg the Lg says:

    The essay does not say that religion created the state … what it says is that there were religious influences.

    This distinction having to be made, it seems over and over, bothers me. I am about as skeptical of all things as a person can be … style me an atheist if you wish … but that does not mean that I am willing to say that we shouldn’t recognize both the positive and negative influences from any source. I do not deny gawd, I simply find her/him/it possible but implausible and totally irrelevant. What I do not find implausible at all is the notion that those who find gawd probable have significant contributions to society.

    Regarding the idea that ones imposing their religion / beliefs / etc resulting in implacable enemies is one that resonates deeply with me too … and yes, the religious find that shocking. However, while bluntness is admirable, civil discourse is essential … and thus I simply say to them that their point of view is one that they would be happy with if the were of another faith in a country where that faith was not only dominant but a threat to their current beliefs. Of course they don’t listen … I never expect true believers of any kind to ever listen

    Do you?

  5. javacat says:

    “Indeed, we have demanded that all of our leaders show appropriate deference to our often muted but underlying evangelical heritage, with a wary eye to any potentially competitive orthodoxy – be it Catholic, Moslem, or Jewish. Just ask Barack Hussein Obama, Joseph Lieberman, or the ghost of JFK.”

    I’m neither a student of religion or politics, and some of the folks will predate my conscious awareness, so help me out.

    My sense from a lay perspective is that for many years, the religious habits and practices of political leaders were acknowledged, but respected as private, the relationship between a man and his god. Occasionally, on solemn occasions, politicians and their families would be photographed, discreetly, entering or emerging from a church, or in the case of JFK, at prayer. Again, my sense is that these depictions represented a man seeking guidance from a higher power for difficult times, difficult decisions, to help him see the way for the greater good, the right thing to do.

    Sometime in the…name your decade–a first shift occurred: it became almost de rigueur for candidates for any major office to more loudly and publicly demonstrate their religious habits, that they did indeed believe in God. That God. Check that item off the candidate checklist.

    Move ahead…I don’t recall much of this push around Al Gore…but more with Kerry and W. And withing Bush’s administration, the deliberate diction related to the Rapture, to draw support from that audience, whether believed by him or not. As we move into Obama’s time, much is made of the influence of pastors, church affiliation, more as accusation than affirmation. At other levels, as the ones mentioned–Perry, Palin, Bachmann–it feels no holds barred to claim the rightness of the Lord as on your side, publicly, loudly, quoting out of context, inaccurately, and downright wrongly. What’s gone is any sign of reason to balance the blather. What is present is a willingness to accept perceived religious rightness as the sole justification for running, winning, strategies. Who dares questions can be damned for challenging the other’s religious values, or damned for challenging god. Kind of a tricky place.

    What has changed in our culture that has allowed the in-your-face approach, the heavy-handed rhetoric, the lack of accountability to spread and grow stronger? Are the “non-believers” still following old rules? Have enough people simple abdicated choice and responsibility in their lives to form a critical mass of followers, now emboldened with a sense that their time of oppression is done? What kind of response can counter this rising river water? Perhaps in the ancient examples you mention, Sandy, there are patterns of rise and fall, or cycles of religious fervor and subsidence that shed light on our state.

    • Rg the Lg says:

      javacat,
      I like your analysis. Indeed the religious right have entered the dialogue about what the US is. There has always been a religious element to the dialogue … during the US involvement in Viet Nam, it was the liberal end of the religious spectrum that was outspoken and involved in attempting to end that nasty little imperialist war. In some sense the rise of the religious right was a response to that involvement … in parallel with the development of an very vocal & present charismatic movement that split many congregations between the holy-rollers and their more staid brethren. As usual that battle over religious interpretation was virulent, vicious and just a shade short of violent (all in xian love, of course).

      Politicians on the right found this a natural constituency and it was most apparent in the election of Reagan … and built upon by his political descendants. It was the nexus of money and politics using divisive social issues that drove the ever increasing influence of the right and their political success in undermining the notion that society was a social system and not solely a political means to power (and wealth).

      Thus, the rise of the right could be adjudged a natural swing … but the damage is being, and has been, done to the concept that a civil society must act civilly. True believers have, and are destroying, the idea that compromise is necessary. That if anything is the impulse that drives the situation we find ourselves in …

      As a teacher of High School age kids I am appalled by the fact that their teachers are generally allied with the right. They are being taught that founding fathers were cheese-sause (read Jesus) freaks of the most right wing variety, and that such concepts as Darwinism are responsible for our economic plight. On the other hand, I work with the kids who refuse to come to school to listen to political bile, who do not engage in athletics to assuage parents desire to relive high school vicariously through athletics … they are credit recovery and alternative school kids … and they clearly have a different vision.

      Enjoy life … I hear that it is terminal … so we might as well …

      Doncha know … ?

      • kulturcritic says:

        rg/lg – I am not sure what civility you are discussing, or what it means anymore, other than pretending that one belongs where one doesn’t. Is civility just a nice way we have of avoiding the horrors of our cultural heritage, and the destruction it has brought upon the planet? Pleasant, civil, accommodating, agreeable, acquiescent. Let us be anything BUT confrontational… because that is the way our rich overlords prefer it. “Don’t rock my boat. Just shut the *&^% up and keep working.” Is that the civility you want to see?

        • javacat says:

          I know I’m weighing back in late on this post, but such is the return to fall and the enclosure of school.

          I don’t know specifically what rg/lg means by civility, but I disagree, Sandy, that it must mean acquiescence.I think discussions, debates, can be heated, passionate, yet still civil, in the sense of offering respect–If the intent is to arrive at understanding and solution. On the other hand, I agree with you that passivity, fear of confrontation, of being judged ‘out of line’ are powerful forces that make most of us think twice, if we even realize the default mode at all. At some point, some people make the deliberate conscious choice not to be ‘civil’ as the only way to unsettle, disturb, break the silence and stereotypes. Funny, an image of Cassius Clay, that uppity black man, just came to mind. In his defiance, he challenged that place to which he’d been assigned, and by extension, those who tried to place him there..

          What does civility mean any more? Is it just a way of pretending? If it’s just a veneer of politeness,of avoiding getting to any depth of questions that matter, then yes.If we talk only about the social construct that allows us to interact, somewhat falsely, with minimal friction,then yes. Maybe we just need a better or different term to describe a way of interacting that is real, compassionate and strong.

          Sadly, I think I do agree with you that many, most perhaps, do not recognize the signs of collapse are grow louder and more abundant, even as we all feel increasing dis-ease and unease that something isn’t right. I can point to my small northern city and look at petty thefts and vandalism, the rise of the use of bath salts and the increase of locked doors.Distractions increase, whether through sports, the trivialities of FaceBook, the number of charitable causes I support or the ways I volunteer.

          Amid all this, then, what matters ?

          • kulturcritic says:

            Java – i agree; but help me understand the “increased use of bath salts.” I’m not sure I understand how it forebodes the endtime. (LOL) But, I wait to be enlightened; really.

            • javacat says:

              Sorry for the confusion. I’m not talking Calgon or Mr. Bubble but a new street drug that causes bizarre behavior, hallucinations, and paranoia. Here’s the official description: “Bath salts are central nervous system stimulants that belong to a group of drugs called synthetic cathinones. Within this category are the drugs MDPV (3,4-methylenedioxypyrovalerone) and mephedrone which have been identified in illicit bath salt products.”

              Incidents are occurring with startling regularity in my small city, and throughout the state. It struck me as another sign of crumbling of social structures, of a disenfranchised group, an under- and unemployed population finding some way of escape.

              • kulturcritic says:

                On the other hand, you can’t blame people who do not identify the source of the disconnect they feel with society to escape any other way. We should also recall that hallucinogenics (mushrooms, peyote, etc) were used by many traditional societies in diverse ritual contexts. Just sayin.

                • javacat says:

                  No, I don’t blame them in the least. We all self-medicate, self-numb to some extent, with drugs, with booze, with exercise, with gadgets , with too many screens, and too many inane sitcoms. The harm these folks do to themselves, however, both saddens and frightens me, and in the case of bath salts, endangers others as the paranoid delusions tend to make people believed they’re being chased by men with guns, and they act accordingly to protect themselves.

                  I do recall that many indigenous cultures use hallucinogenics in diverse ritualistic contexts, from peyote to psilocybin mushrooms to ayahuasca, and more that I don’t know. Yet one can’t equate the ungrounded, non-contextual or non-ritual use of drugs to the use by traditional societies. The latter were used for a specific purpose, in clear and bounded contexts, often by a shaman or other spiritual leader, or under the guidance of such a healer or leader. From my readings, at least, the intent of the shaman was to connect with the Universal realm, the Unity, if you will, to seek answers to specific problems within his community. For others, the guided experience (think Jay Griffiths in Wild: An Elemental Journey), was a journey to release, to vision and clarity.

      • kulturcritic says:

        Life is short, then death. Right, Rg/lg!

        • Rg the Lg says:

          Maybe … I find the whole issue of gawd to be possible, and therefore an afterlife. I do not think that either are probable … in fact, I would say the concepts are highly implausible. The roots of such thinking is simple, IMHO, we lack the ability, or the imagination, to envision a world without us …

    • kulturcritic says:

      Javacat (JC) – the specific Christian rhetoric was always present in the social-political milieu of the country. And your comment about oppression is perhaps accurate. But, it is general sense of oppression that brings to the forefront some of the more latent issues and demands hidden within that milieu. As I said, I think these undercurrents were both there from the beginning, and influential, quietly and sometimes more demonstrably, over the course of our history. I am not sure these voices can be stopped right now, any more than we can stop our civilization from running off the cliff towards which it is headed at a full head of steam. There seems to be an inevitability to the entire progression at this juncture.

  6. Disaffected says:

    FIRST OF ALL, might I say I’m diggin’ the cover art this week! VERY geriatric Hitler in every sense that it should be. In a nation that has apparently embraced it’s inner “Nazi,” who could POSSIBLY expect anything less?

    Secondly, who can POSSIBLY DOUBT that the fix is in after hearing “President” NoBama’s latest concession speech?

    It’s funny to listen to cowards speak. They almost always lead with false bravado, in an effort to stave off the inevitable refutation led by even a simpleton and/or a political foe who sees through their bullshit.

    At this point, NoBama’s not even good theater anymore. He’s simply a joke.

    DA

  7. Spencer Day says:

    I like Javacat’s analysis as well. The history of religion, only within the context of Europeans migrating to North America, is exceedingly complex and absolutely non-linear. An unexpected but informative source of history ‘in context’ is the use case concerning New England along the coastal Maine area, as discussed in “The Lobster Coast”. My own appetite for elaborate historical study is limited, but because my own ancestors were originally from Wales and then Gloucester (MA) and then mid-coastal Maine, this was one of my recent studies. Luckily it was very interesting on a lot of fronts, and so I can recommend it for general reading as well as an illustration of religion as a primary driver of mass migrations and catalyst for regional/global strife. In short, I found some evidence about where all these nuts came from! See the book at http://www.amazon.com/Lobster-Coast-Rusticators-Struggle-Forgotten/dp/0143035347/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1315623970&sr=1-1

    • kulturcritic says:

      “…religion as a primary driver of mass migrations and catalyst for regional/global strife. In short, I found some evidence about where all these nuts came from!”
      Hey Spencer – thanks for stopping by; hope to see you here again.

  8. freeacre says:

    From what I understand, both Bachmann and Perry are not only fundamentalists, but Dominionists. Dominionists are flat-out supporters of theocracy, as well as being delusional morons. And then there is the megamillionaire Mormon, Mitt Romney. Cretins. It would be funny if it weren’t such a travesty. One can only hope that The Rapture is at hand, and soon we’ll be observing their naked butts ascending into the air, never to be seen again.
    In case that doesn’t work out, I think we can rest assured that given enough rope, they will hang themselves. The problem is that this will be accompanied by much suffering all around. Maybe they will be targeted by the hacktivists and be kicked to the curb by our kids. Hope so.
    Best to you, Sandy.

    • kulturcritic says:

      Freeacre – good to see you here as well, again. And you are absolutely correct about those Dominionists. My contention is the the impetus for religious dominion was ever present in the emergent nation, but that it was repressed by the will of a few in the founding of the republic. Further, I would venture to say that this repressed Dominionist energy was sublimated into scientific advancement, to gain greater control over nature, and continentally as well as globally – in the form of foreign military agression – to assert dominion over other populations (indigenous). And obviously, missionary work was right on the heels of such advancement. And, now, that the wheels are coming off the cart, I believe these Dominionist Enganvelicals and Fundamentalists see a window opportunity to take back the Republic, once and for all. IMHO.

  9. John Bollig says:

    The fundes are just as bad as the iranians. Let’s face it, Ameircan fundementalism has been focused on power ever since the 1940’s and now they may have it within their grasps. We have a perfect storm. The worst president since Jimmy Carter, a nation teetering on bankruptcy and a world ready to collapse. Whoever we elect as yahoo president is toast. What is going to be the most important thing to realize is the fix won’t matter in the long term. The fundementalists are getting the boobie prize. In a couple of years it won’t matter anyway who the president is or more likely was. Power already has shifted away from the nation state and to transnational and extranational ngos. The real power brokers have recognized that the nation state is a dying institution and that propping it up won’t work any more than trying to save the british empire. I think we must realize the implications of this are many and the most important is of course the nuclear stockpiles around the world. The WMD that will be floating around will tempt any of the prophets to speed up the Rapture. My distinct impression is that the rabid rightwingers will try to go for the nuclear arsenal and if they gain it, the rest of us are indeed toast. Chaos will be the order of the day rather than the exception.

    • kulturcritic says:

      John, actually the Islamic fundamentalists pose a unique challenge to our Christian fundamentalists. And I do think Iran will become a very hot spot for Islamic reaction to further Western incursions into MENA. I could imagine a closing scenario whereby Iranian supported, Islamic extremists face off against a renewed Christian fundamentalism here in the homeland.

    • Disaffected says:

      John,

      I’ll take your slight of Jimmy Carter lightly, as I think I know what you meant. Jimmy Carter is always reviled as the last “defeatist” President, when in fact, he was the last “REALIST” President. Since he was roundly defeated in 1980 by none other than “Ronny Raygun” himself, denial, especially with regard to the “almighty USA’s” place in history, seems to have undergone a somewhat historical revival don’t you think?

      It’s particularly funny to note that Jimmy and wife Rosalynn are still alive, active in the community, and QUITE well in lil’ ol’ hometown Plains GA after all these years. And Ronny, his wife, GHW Bush and his? Umm… not so much.

      http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/sep/11/jimmy-carter-human-rights

      Truth tellers ALWAYS pay a price. In my mind, Jimmy Carter might well have been THE BEST President of the 20th century on that count alone.

      I hear so-called “liberal” supporters denigrating true liberals sometimes and shake my head. TRUE liberalism is almost NEVER popular here in the “land of the free and the home of the brave” (talk about a fucking meaningless slogan!).

      TRUE liberalism means that we collectively as a nation don’t walk around with our dick hanging out inviting the whole world to suck it. TRUE liberalism means that we begin to consider the WHOLE EARTH our home, and stop acting as if we can just flush all of our affluent effluence (including our “security” issues) down stream for the rest of the world to deal with.

      Americans as a group just don’t get that. Never have. Never will. And that’s the problem. THE SHOWSTOPPING PROBLEM!

      DA

      • Disaffected says:

        Sorry to pile on, but the rise of the Neo-Nazi’s began in earnest with Reagan (whose rise in turn had its roots in Goldwater’s humiliation in ’64, which in turn seemed to greatly contribute to Johnson’s suicidal dive into the cesspool of Vietnam). Every Democratic President since then (all TWO of them!) have been little more than GOP sycophants. In that respect, Barry NoBama has merely taken it to a higher level (and then some!). The Neo-Nazi party now has complete control – tacit on the GOP side, complicit on the Dem/Appeasement Party side. At this point, two party politics merely represent the flip side of the same coin. Heads they win, tails we lose.

        Although, on the plus side, I think you’ve pretty accurately assessed it from there. Neo-Nazi’s with nukes, rabid political approval from an anesthetized/euthanized electorate, and not much else at their disposal. Don’t think it requires a nuclear physicist to figure out the “event horizon” from there.

        DA

      • kulturcritic says:

        100%, pure unadulterated DA!!! Wow!! Powerful shit!! I love it!! sandy

      • StrayCat says:

        Well, we agree on this. Jimmy Carter looked at history and with the knowledge he had as an engineer, saw the energy problem and its probable consequences and told us the truth. GM would have non of it, so the movie actor was brought in the assuage the masses and massage the message. And we are still screwed from that election.

  10. Too big a topic to condense adequately to an internet discussion or comment but the reach of modernity is different from the reach of what went before modernity.

    Ask a question: can there be another Hitler in a world made in Andy Warhol’s tinfoil factory? Yes, if he is gay, has nice boots and — unlike the real version — shares his drugs. Race vengeance, conquering the world? Who needs it? Too much of a hassle.

    Hitler’s appeal is his modernity, not anything else (because there never was anything else). The banality of evil? No, the banality of banality, Hitler was the failed artiste to Warhol’s artistic ‘Ubersuccess’. Nobody will pay attention the failed model as long as the successful version continues to resonate.

    Hitler’s sole triumph was to put Germany on wheels (and half-tracks) and have them commute to work … fanning out across the defenseless countryside. Why is Hitler the ‘love that (America) dares not speak its name’?. The wheels, and countryside part: highways, cars, shopping and office malls, development … fanning out over prostrate nature.

    The end justifies the means, right?

    So you have Perry et al, the closeted gay preacherman, lusting after Joe Dallesandro while the rest of the country watches on TV: He’s another Warhol superstar, grasping his fifteen minutes. Otherwise, there is no ‘there, there’.

    There can’t be an inner crisis because there are always new superstars crawling out of the woodwork like cockroaches. Warholism won’t die by itself because it costs nothing to run. Our crisis is external and entropy-derived. The waste-based American way has run out of the cheap fuel it needs to make a buck, the means-justifying ends are in the process of falling out of reach. Our various malaises are energy and resource conservation by other means.

    The unemployed don’t (can’t) buy cars, Maybe this is what happened to the Assyrians, but it’s certainly happening now.

    • kulturcritic says:

      steve from virginia – I am with you. U are loud and clear!!

      • Rg the Lg says:

        Hoo boy …
        You will appreciate this … maybe …

        I put your ILLUSTRATION above (yes of the pseudo-Nazi illustrating “Sister Sarah And The Coming Fascist Christian Troika”) on my background … at work.

        The principal came by … saw it and wanted to know what it meant. In this town he blends in as a quasi-xian … goes to church for the image of being an xian … and mouths the lingo … but doesn’t walk very close to the talk. He asked me to change it … I asked him why … and I got the sort of drivel one might expect from a person who, in order to advance in the field of educational administration had a frontal lobotomy …

        I took it down … but am still chuckling at the level of his discomfort …

        • kulturcritic says:

          Rg/lg – sounds like you made him sweat a bit. Keep up the pressure, maybe he’ll resign. 😉 best, sandy

          • Rg the Lg says:

            Are you kidding? He is the superintendents son … and papa sticks around because they see the development of a dynasty …

            The place is rotten … but I stick around just to play thorn … or pain ….

            One in the side, the other in the arse …

    • Disaffected says:

      >Hitler’s appeal is his modernity, not anything else (because there never was anything else). The banality of evil? No, the banality of banality, Hitler was the failed artiste to Warhol’s artistic ‘Ubersuccess’. Nobody will pay attention the failed model as long as the successful version continues to resonate.Hitler’s sole triumph was to put Germany on wheels (and half-tracks) and have them commute to work … fanning out across the defenseless countryside. Why is Hitler the ‘love that (America) dares not speak its name’?. The wheels, and countryside part: highways, cars, shopping and office malls, development … fanning out over prostrate nature.The end justifies the means, right?So you have Perry et al, the closeted gay preacherman, lusting after Joe Dallesandro while the rest of the country watches on TV: He’s another Warhol superstar, grasping his fifteen minutes. Otherwise, there is no ‘there, there’.The unemployed don’t (can’t) buy cars, Maybe this is what happened to the Assyrians, but it’s certainly happening now.<

      Ahh, but the unemployed CAN BE totally marginalized, their jobs off-shored, their profits taken from elsewhere, and their benefits – and soon to follow their very lives – totally eliminated. You're right, the end game's coming, but unfortunately for those of us still living, it's not quite here yet. In time. In time.

      The only difference between the current version of totalitarian evil and its past incarnations is its scope. While Hitler and Stalin contented themselves within national borders, content to "fight their good fight" on expressly nationalist terms, the current bunch of fascist capitalist monsters completely reject such terms from the start. Theirs is an unspeakable evil of an altogether higher order, owing no allegiance to anything – not family, not community, not tribe, not state, not race, not philosophy, not creed, not religion, not country – but PURE INDIVIDUAL MONETARY PROFIT AND POWER. In short: pure, unadulterated GREED!

      Greed attempts to elevate man above man and man above nature, just as it always has. Hmm, wonder if THAT'S what the whole biblical 666, the Beast, and the number of a man story was about to begin with? Food for thought.

      DA

      • kulturcritic says:

        DA – you becoming religious?? Lots of bible quotes/ 😉

        • Disaffected says:

          kC,
          No, definitely not. Just trying to point out that perhaps a lot of the actual wisdom in the bible is lost due to its zealots interpretations. I think a lot of the prophetic material in the bible (or any “holy” book for that matter) is actually archetypical in nature; i.e., the so-called “prophets” (and I’m not denying that they, or any of us, can actually tap into prophetic abilities that we still don’t understand as well) are mostly just “seeing” events that are for the most part entirely foreseeable given a fairly advanced capability to understand, and thus, predict human behavior. I pride myself on being a fairly astute observer and assessor of human behavior, and think I have a pretty good record of “predicting” future events within a very narrow band of interests (all on a VERY general level of course in the short term). And most of those observational forecasts I simply chalk up to plain old “common sense.” Where I think I have a distinct advantage over most people is that I’m fairly socially isolated (few close friends, very limited social life), I’m not overly media saturated (I don’t watch “shit” media, and I try to watch/interact with media that is at least a few levels out of the gutter), I’ve had a career in the military (before it turned into a mercenary killing force) and actually seen and lived in the world outside of the US (at the level of REAL people!), and finally, I’m just plain (thanks to All That Is – whatever THAT is, or, perhaps, just the luck of the draw) pretty god-damned smart (although, I must admit, that’s been both blessing and curse). In any case, I respect the “gift” of prophecy wherever and whenever it occurs; although, just more often than not, NOT for the same reasons that the religious nuts do.
          DA

      • Observing greed and selfishness in others can offer some value in one’s attempt to avoid its destructive results. Conquering those greedy “others” is quite a different matter. The limited ego-mind is quite impressed by size and, thus, attaches greater concern to say “fascist capitalist monsters” while ignoring the rippling influences of materialism and selfishness as they work their way into the consciousness of humanity at large.
        I think that recognizing and proclaiming these influences and there destructive outcomes will only lead to fulfillment when I attempt to conquer these in myself. But I also think that embracing this practice of freeing myself, provides a subtle benefit to others to whom I am connected.
        KC, a system can control or limit one physically, economically, politically, but, I think, you realize that one can aspire to be spiritually free by gaining mastery over one’s own
        thinking, wanting, and actions.

        • kulturcritic says:

          I think again, you are talking in the language of dominion and control, Ron. It is now second nature for us, who have been bred for generations in the curriculum of the West, to think like this. “Gaining mastery over” IS the problem. Maybe we don’t need to master anything. Perhaps we only need to recollect what our bodies have been telling us quietly all along. Maybe this is what you are trying to refer to when you speak about some ‘truth within’.

          • I once heard this rabbi say that religion offers a choice. I believe one can be free to chose or relinquish the real choice, which allows others to chose for you, and then get distracted by the false choices. What is the real choosing? Maybe since you don’t have much use for “mastery” you will like this way of looking at it, Sandy: simply put, one can chose to be a slave to one’s wanting/fears, or to be a slave to one’s highest principles or perception of truth/love.
            By the way, I am very much in line with the influence of hierarchical thinking. One of my favorite writers on the subject was Laurence J. Peter. In a hierarchical (-thinking) society, one will rise to the level of his incompetence. Clearly, this is rampant in our society today. But, I think, so are there many who are waking up recognizing the lack of self-fulfillment this attitude fosters.

  11. John Bollig says:

    DA,

    My first recollection of Jimmy Carter was his naive veiwpoint of the russians. He actually thought you could sit down and deal with the communists. But, I digress from the foci of the discussion. The first major threat that we will be confronted with is the game that NOBAMA is playing with the 400 Billion dollar gamble to get relected. The only job he is interested in saving is his own. If the fix is truly on, then the 2012 selection is going to be a curious affair. Both sides may actually throw the vote and whichever side can roll the courts will win. My feeling is that we need to watch the military very closely after this selection. We have a nation coming apart at its seams and everyone can see the underpants. My feeling is that Nobama will try to use race as a card and it will have to work in a spectacular fashion in order to win. Voter Fraud will become the order of the day in battleground states such as florida and Ohio. You think the 2000 selection was a joke, 2012 will be an outright war.

    • Rg the Lg says:

      Watch the military?
      It matters not which side wins … with their corporate influence, the military already runs things … .
      Why would they be any better off if they pulled off a coup?
      It was done once in 2000 … to their lasting benefit … or at least until we shatter into pieces.
      Voter fraud … where were you in 2008? Not in Ohio, clearly.
      Each of your concerns seems to be firmly ensconced in the system …
      It is only those who believe the myth of AmeriKan democracy … who still retain respect for the ballot box, who think there is still hope for the empire …
      But, then again, maybe not … ?

      • The politics in Scamerica is rotting away. Shock therapy is showing its buds and about to blossom right here in this “exceptional” good ole USA. Solving problems we can’t even agree are problems with the level thinking that created the problems is a form of insanity (I read that recently, who?). STILL, I ran across this today and it is a different level of thinking.
        Arianna Huffington in aportion of an article for the Progressive Populist:
        …What now?
        Well, one place to start is with ourselves. Even if we can’t control how Washington responds to out problems, we still have control over how we respond to them.
        quoting Tim Shriver, head of Special Olympics: “I think that a lot of political leaders have succumbed to the idea that we’re no longer a country of ideals, but a country of interests; that we’re not a country of sacrifice, but a country of selfish people. I don’t think they are trying to reach out to the people to say, ‘You’ve got a role to play, and we need your help.’ In the special Olympics movement, I ask big things of people every single day. And in asking big things of others, I think we unlock a side of the human experience that is the seat of excitement and enthusiasm — in deed, of the human spirit.”
        As Washington disconnects, the rest of us need — more than ever — to connect. in times of crisis and disruptive change, empathy is the most valuable quality we can nurture if we’re going to reclaim our destinies — and our nation’s.

        • kulturcritic says:

          Sorry Ron, this to me smacks of deluded nationalism. “Reclaim our destinies — our nation’s destiny?” I am not interested personally in that sort of project. But thanks for sharing, as always.

          • Sandy, when you say, “thanks for sharing, as always,” I only get a sense that you are offering a ceremonial politeness. As you say, you are “not interested personally in that sort of project.” After reviewing this current post, I can see that, you are only personally interested in criticism of the culture, hence the name. Your abilities at critical thinking are rather impressive, however, for me, I am not fulfilled by criticism alone. I seek inspiration, intuitions, and insights into what could prove worthy solutions to what is problematic in the culture. The following serves as an explanation.
            Discourses pg117 (Vol 3)
            Dogmas and creeds generally, however, are as much a source of evil as of good, because in them the guiding vision is clouded owing to degeneration or suspension of critical thinking. If allegiance to creeds and dogmas has sometimes done good to the individual or to the community to which he belongs, it has more often done harm. Though the mind and heart are involved in allegiance to dogmas and creeds, both function in such case under the serious handicap of suspension of thought. Hence dogmas and creeds do not contribute to unmixed good.
            When a person gives up uncritically accepted dogmas and creeds in favour of views and doctrines to which he has devoted thought, there is a certain amount of advance insofar as his mind has now begun to think and critically examine its beliefs.
            Very often, however, the newly held beliefs are seen to lack the fervour and enthusiasm which characterised allegiance to dogmas and creeds. If these newly held beliefs lack motive power, they belong only to the superficial aspect of life and they hang loosely upon the person like an overcoat. The mind has been emancipated from the domination of uncultured emotion, but this is often achieved by sacrificing the co-operation of the heart. If the results of critical thought are to be spiritually fruitful, they must again invade and recapture the heart so as to enlist its co-operative functioning.
            In other words, the ideas which have been accepted after critical examination must again be released into active life if they are to yield their full benefit. In the process of practical life they often undergo a healthy transformation and become more soundly interwoven with the very fabric of life.
            The transition from external conformity (i.e., Shariat or Karma-Kanda) to the life of inner realities (i.e., Tarikat or Moksha-Marga) involves two steps: (i) freeing the mind from the inertia of uncritical acceptance based upon blind imitation and stirring it to critical thinking, and (ii) bringing the results of critical and discriminative thinking into practical life. In order to be spiritually fruitful, thinking must be not only critical but creative. Critical and creative thinking leads to spiritual preparation by cultivating those qualities which contribute towards the perfection and balancing of the mind and the heart and the release of unfettered divine life. -Meher Baba

            • Disaffected says:

              Ron,
              I often have this “discussion” with my cousin (and likewise PhDs where I work, of whom I’ve developed a small following) after similar one-sided discourses (her quoting me some such similar esoterica as “proof” of her position), to which I respond: Yeah, but what do YOU think?
              Pretty basic undergrad shit really. I KNOW you’ve read the book or listened to the lectures. NOW, tell me what YOU REALLY THINK! And justify it! Personal experience please! As in, argue like you ACTUALLY give a shit!
              DA

              • DA & KC,
                I do not seek to prove anything. I can only do that for myself. My experience is that I recognize more and more that the problems among people are based on ego-identity, wanting, fears, and a sense of feeling divided or separate. Thus, I am drawn to spread a message of oneness, connection, love, a way of looking at the bigger picture. At least, I try. Reactions to this vary greatly; mostly, I think, because of my lack of sensitivity. As I have already said, I admire critical thinking just not as an end in itself. Let’s say one’s critical thinking is like a vehicle. This vehicle can take you to the “home” of truth and happiness. Unless one is willing to get out and go to and through the door, of what use is arriving? Becoming identified and self-satisfied as an expert “driver” is natural. I am not here to criticize criticism. Maybe you think it inappropriate that I should suggest in this forum something that might lie at the heart of a matter to get a potential solution, maybe an insight like it seemed Spencer was seeking.
                I risk being inappropriate all the time. I experiment, so failure is just as beneficial to me as success. However, I hope I have not hurt your feelings.
                And DA, what do you think I don’t give a shit about?

                • kulturcritic says:

                  Nothing wrong with positive solutions, Ron. But just a general call to appreciate our oneness, our love, may not go any further than Rodney King’s appeal: “Can’t we all just get along.” Maybe that is one reason for the sometimes cold reception you receive.

                  • Like Rodney, I deliver the appeal. Whether it gets from the ear to the heart is beyond my control. As you suggest, it is about the one’s receptivity to the message. I have experienced times when I was criticized for what I chose to offer by one person, and then came to be told that the same offering inspired someone else who was present. Life has many lesson to offer but receptivity to them is key.
                    KC, please feel free to either disinvite me from the discussion, ignore any future contribution, or ridicule it if you find it deserving. You are the host, Brother.

                • Disaffected says:

                  Hey Ron,
                  Sorry for the smackdown. It’s just that I’m always impatient with anything I perceive to be a long-winded academic discourse in an attempt to diffuse (mostly) or refute an argument that is mostly personally opinion based; i.e., MOST political arguments. As you might have noticed, I’m a little quick to jump to conclusions, so mea culpa in your case if I lived up to billing.
                  By way of explanation, I live in a land of PhDs, who constantly irritate me in our daily interactions in spite of (because of?) their “advanced” degrees. Don’t get me wrong, I have the UTMOST respect for modern PhDs, especially of the “hard” scientific variety. They have advanced mathematical (mostly) and analytic (MUCH less so) capabilities that most of us can only dream of. That said, the SCOPE of their expertise is usually so limited that they’re often functional idiots in the literal sense of the word when it comes to day to day activities (like managing a simple budget).
                  In my opinion, the TRUE functional masters of the new world (if in fact it ever develops), will be able to do BOTH equally well. In short, we don’t need a few geniuses to work our way out of our current predicament, we need a whole lot of practical, but “merely” smart people instead.
                  As a retired US military NCO, I can tell you personally that THAT’s what makes the US military so terribly effective (in addition to an overwhelming technological advantage based on virtually unlimited funding as well, of course). Regardless of funding levels, no personal “buy in” from the troops at the grassroots level, and all the gears grind to a halt. Probably why in addition to keeping the troops’ pay levels minimally respectable, TPTB also try to continue to prosecute the war against civilian labor, especially in the form of unions. Hey! No decent capitalist appreciates honest competition!
                  DA

            • kulturcritic says:

              Ron – thanks for the Meher’s discourse. Certainly, I would agree that critical analysis of unquestioned dogmas previously held is the key to escaping the system. And, in my mind there is only one way out of the system – that is through “creative action,” as you call it. However, creative thinking or action need not take a public or social route; and I would not endorse such action whose mission was to help reconstitute our nation’s sense of destiny – that to me is the dogmatic postion we are trying to escape. No?. Real creative action can be, and almost always is, personal change, a metanoia, if you will… But what is meant by “spiritually fruitful” I have no idea. sandy

  12. Disaffected says:

    Ahh… the muse, the muse!

    An insight to the cancer that is corporate America (anywhere, really) from an (barely) imaginary interview at the local Family Services provider, based on a conversation with a student where I work who is studying to go into the field (as a manager of course):

    Q: So, Ms. Smith, tell us what you do hear at Charter Health Family Services Clinic.
    A: Well, we, that is to say I and my executive assistant, provide expert management services for the local Family Services clinic. We provide expert efficiency and cost/benefit analysis, maintain an extensive corporate referral database, and provide expert advice on where to go to receive actual family service services.
    Q: So you’re a two man, err… woman, shop?
    A: Yes we are. And quite efficient if I do say so myself.
    Q: And are either of you two amazingly efficient women actually qualified family service providers?
    A: Well, as part of my initial certification I was required to be certified in that aspect of the business, but after my initial certification there was no requirement to maintain it, given my current position.
    Q: So, I take it that you have never recertified then?
    A: That is correct.
    Q: And have you ever actually provided any actual family services?
    A: On the job? No. I’ve counseled many of my dysfunctional friends and relatives of course, but that’s been strictly pro bono work [laughs].
    Q: And so your job here at the clinic involves mostly making referrals then?
    A: Yes.
    Q: And how much of your time does that take on average?
    A: My time? None.
    Q: OK. Your assistant’s time then.
    A: None. We have an automated call in system and a very nice web site that we pay to have maintained for us.
    Q: And the occasional emergency walk in?
    A: We don’t accept walk ins.
    Q: Not even on an emergency basis?
    A: We don’t even have a licensed provider on staff, so no.
    Q: So, what do you do in such cases?
    A: We refer to them to the local [big city name] clinic for treatment.
    Q: You mean [big city name]? That’s 90 miles away?
    A: That’s correct.
    Q: And they can get emergency service there?
    A: Well, provided they schedule ahead of time, of course.
    Q: And what is the usual wait time for that?
    A: Oh, I don’t know personally, but I’ve heard it can be quite lengthy.
    Q: So, it’s safe to say that you essentially provide no emergency services whatsoever.
    A: Well, not emergency, emergency, no [laughs].
    Q: So, in the case of an emergency domestic violence case for instance?
    A: Call law enforcement. They’re really very good at that sort of thing.
    Q: Very interesting. Well Ms. Smith, that about raps it up. In closing, can I ask you how much you make for providing family…err… whatever it is you provide?
    A: Well, that’s confidential of course, but I think it should be obvious to anyone that I’m making well into six figures.
    Q: And your assistant?
    A: Oh, she’s from the local temp secretarial pool. You’d have to ask her employer. We don’t discuss that.
    Q: And benefits?
    A: I have an excellent package.
    Q: And your assistant?
    A: Once again…
    Q: Thank you very much for agreeing to this interview.

  13. John Bollig says:

    DA,

    That sounds like a interview I had with a health insurance company years ago. They didn’t give a crap about anything but denying coverage and frustrating people whose claims they couldn’t deny. It was like a catch 22 situation for the customer ( they called them units of profit). They also called the consumers ” serfs”. The company decided to fight a claim if they could wait out a patent until.they died. They would also have these gatekeepers whose sole function was to confuse and deny claims from patients.

    The state and local government agencies are just as bad.

    • Disaffected says:

      And thanks to NoBama care, their bargaining position has only increased (exponentially). That’s why I can’t believe that most of the Republican opposition is all just smoke and mirrors. If you’re a corporate conservative, there’s simply not much to love about NoBama care, other than possibly the Government subsidies to the poor to actually (partially) pay for their mandated coverage. We’ll see how all that plays out once President Perry takes office. For once, it’s gonna be fun watching blue collar America actually get what they want, although I have no doubt whatsoever that they’ll STILL blame the liberal democrats for their problems. That’s why I believe that the best thing that can happen right now is for the Democrats to be voted completely out of power across the board, so that conservative GOP policies can at least be recognized for what they are and to whom they belong. Right now, all the dems provide is a very convenient boogey-man to blame everything on, even they act as little more than strawman speed bumps for the enactment of a blatantly conservative corporate agenda, all of which the American sheeple is apparently too god damned stupid to get.

    • kulturcritic says:

      John and DA – I will confess that one of my positions was running collections company in the healthcare industry, including a claims processing unit, trying to get money from those insurers that denied coverage.

  14. Spencer Day says:

    I am done with this esoteric thread. It is heady but ultimately no more enlightening than any other online venting by those who take sides with extreme statements that only illustrate the far edges of debates that, among the vast sea of moderate and reasonable people, would generate a lot more useful insights about ‘what should be done’. Merely venting, even with intellectual trimmings, does nothing to advance useful action, except to suggest that extreme responses are good ones. Bye bye.

    • Rg the Lg says:

      Hmm.
      I wonder if we were sitting in a bar sipping beer and chatting, if you’d just get up and walk out?
      On line venting it is … and that is an appropriate venue as the interconnectedness of the family, the community, the neighborhood barely exists any longer.
      I certainly am frustrated by the tone of this ongoing thread … but it seems to me that perhaps even garbage shared is better than sitting in the cesspool of ones own gloom. (That is where I sit … I am NOT saying that you are … )
      Civility is an art … somewhere above I mentioned it and the Sandy-Man asked what it was … implying, if not stating, that it was a dodge from reality. I see civility as civilized conduct, especially with regard to being courteous, polite, and the expression of difficult issues without rancor. I do not see your response to this thread as rancorous, but it could be so interpreted. I will miss your contributions.

    • Disaffected says:

      Well, I could say that Obama’s been a resounding success so far (or at least not a complete disappointment), that the economic recovery is proceeding apace, that ten years after the declaration of the “War on Terror” we were making great progress (how about ANY progress at all, at least as measured by a scaling back in the smallest amount of the blatant fraud, waste, and abuse surrounding it), or that by any one measure at all things were getting any better at all after voting for “Change We Could Believe In” in 2008. I COULD say that, not that any of it would be true in the least, but I could say it. As for ways to improve things, as I said above, vote GOP/Tea Party in 2012 and let’s get this party started in earnest. How’s the saying go? Sometimes you have to burn the [fill in the blank] down in order to save it? Yep, exactly.

    • Disaffected says:

      Hey Spencer,
      Here’s a popular movie excerpt that I always use to take the hot air out of hot air types like you, especially since that’s what it was intended to do in the movie in the first place. And for EXTRA credit, the VIDEO TOO! Very cool!:

      Why shouldn’t I work for the N.S.A.? That’s a tough one, but I’ll take a shot. Say I’m working at N.S.A. Somebody puts a code on my desk, something nobody else can break. Maybe I take a shot at it and maybe I break it. And I’m real happy with myself, ’cause I did my job well. But maybe that code was the location of some rebel army in North Africa or the Middle East. Once they have that location, they bomb the village where the rebels were hiding and fifteen hundred people I never met, never had no problem with, get killed. Now the politicians are sayin’, “Oh, send in the Marines to secure the area” ’cause they don’t give a shit. It won’t be their kid over there, gettin’ shot. Just like it wasn’t them when their number got called, ’cause they were pullin’ a tour in the National Guard. It’ll be some kid from Southie takin’ shrapnel in the ass. And he comes back to find that the plant he used to work at got exported to the country he just got back from. And the guy who put the shrapnel in his ass got his old job, ’cause he’ll work for fifteen cents a day and no bathroom breaks. Meanwhile, he realizes the only reason he was over there in the first place was so we could install a government that would sell us oil at a good price. And, of course, the oil companies used the skirmish over there to scare up domestic oil prices. A cute little ancillary benefit for them, but it ain’t helping my buddy at two-fifty a gallon. And they’re takin’ their sweet time bringin’ the oil back, of course, and maybe even took the liberty of hiring an alcoholic skipper who likes to drink martinis and fuckin’ play slalom with the icebergs, and it ain’t too long ’til he hits one, spills the oil and kills all the sea life in the North Atlantic. So now my buddy’s out of work and he can’t afford to drive, so he’s got to walk to the fuckin’ job interviews, which sucks ’cause the shrapnel in his ass is givin’ him chronic hemorrhoids. And meanwhile he’s starvin’, ’cause every time he tries to get a bite to eat, the only blue plate special they’re servin’ is North Atlantic scrod with Quaker State. So what did I think? I’m holdin’ out for somethin’ better. I figure fuck it, while I’m at it why not just shoot my buddy, take his job, give it to his sworn enemy, hike up gas prices, bomb a village, club a baby seal, hit the hash pipe and join the National Guard? I could be elected president.

      Umm, talk about “prophecy?” This movie was shot in 1997.

      DA

  15. Disaffected says:

    I MUST SAY as well, I thought the last two sentences in particular represented a recipe for success, if only for the last two decades or so.

    But who knows? I think there’s CERTAINLY room for “growth” there.

    LOL!

    DA

  16. While walking to work this morning something came to mind regarding the criticism of politics and religion. I think the vital part of critical thinking is the part that questions. The idea is this: critical thinking that concerns itself with religion in general or particular without concerning itself with the core message of it is like asking the right questions but finding the wrong answers, while critical thinking as regards political systems, theories, leaders and followers is like finding the right answers to the wrong questions.

  17. kulturcritic says:

    Recently disclosed FBI documents strongly indicate that it is impossible to be a Moslem and a good American.It was said that Moslems are more violent than Christians. Really? I don’t believe that. Perhaps they just don’t agree with the rules we set up for fighting… as I said the coming Xian fascism!!

    • Disaffected says:

      Perhaps it’s better said that it’s impossible to be a “good Christian” and a good “world citizen?” At least as currently envisioned. MUCH CLOSER to the mark in my opinion.

      DA

  18. Disaffected says:

    Pop test for points (to anyone paying attention of even MINIMAL intelligence this one should be a slam dunk):

    Given an INFINITE universe, the amount of knowledge yet unknown at ANY given time is:

    a. Very small
    b. Very large
    c. Unknowable and infinite
    d. Knowable and quantifiable
    e. Say what?

    and second…

    This implies WHAT about ALL current knowledge systems – scientific OR religious:

    a. They’re complete
    b. They’re incomplete
    c. I don’t know
    d. I don’t care
    e. I don’t know AND I don’t care

    and third…

    This says WHAT about ALL religions:

    a. I should accept ALL their assertions uncritically
    b. I should reject ALL their assertions uncritically
    c. I should examine ALL their assertions CRITICALLY before accepting them
    d. I should examine ALL their assertions CRITICALLY before rejecting them
    e. I should just shoot heroin

    and finally…

    This says what about myself:

    a. I’m a sheep. I’m a born follower.
    b. I’m a pig. I’m a born survivor and rooter for scraps.
    c. I’m a dog. I’m a born seeker of praise.
    d. I’m a shark. I’m a consumer of others for personal gain.
    e. I’m a liar, in claiming I’m not one of the above.

    DA

  19. kulturcritic says:

    I thought some of you might find this of interest regarding the religious (Catholic) backing of North America’s and the USA’s historical sense of ‘manifest destiny’ that allowed those coming to this land from Europe to steal the lands from the original, indigenous inhabitants in the name of Christendom!!!

    http://www.kumeyaay.com/kumeyaay-news/news-archive/705-dominorum-christianorum-at-play-again.html

  20. kulturcritic says:

    More on the Dominorum Christianorum and the Doctrine of Discovery

    9. The papal bull Romanus Pontifex, issued in 1455, serves as a starting point to understand the Doctrine of Discovery, specifically, the historic efforts by Christian monarchies and States of Europe in the fifteenth and later centuries to assume and exert rights of conquest and dominance over non-Christian indigenous peoples in order to take over and profit from their lands and territories. The overall purpose of these efforts was to accumulate wealth by engaging in unlimited resource extraction, particularly mining, within the traditional territories of indigenous nations and peoples. The text of Romanus Pontifex is illustrative of the doctrine or right of discovery. Centuries of destruction and ethnocide resulted from the application of the Doctrine of Discovery and framework of dominance to indigenous peoples and to their lands, territories and resources. (12)

    10. Written by Pietro da Noceto, private secretary and confidant of Pope Nicolas V, the decree Romanus Pontifex begins by saying that the document was issued for “a perpetual remembrance”. It was to be remembered, in other words, in perpetuity.(13) The Roman pontiff was said to be empowered to ordain and dispose of “those things which he sees will be agreeable to the Divine Majesty and by which he may bring the sheep entrusted to him by God into the single divine fold, and may acquire for them the reward of eternal felicity, and obtain pardon for their souls”. This language is suggestive of religious conversion, and the document goes on to reveal the Framework of Dominance to be applied to non-Christian lands previously unknown to Western Christendom.

    11. That Romanus Pontifex constituted and projected into the world a Framework of Dominance, conversion and violence is revealed by terms such as “vanquish”.

    The objectives of the Holy See and the Portuguese monarch were more likely to come to pass, said Pope Nicholas, “if we bestow suitable favours and special graces on those Catholic kings and princes, who … restrain the excesses of the Saracens and of other infidel enemies of the Christian name [and] … vanquish … their kingdoms and habitations, though situated in the remotest parts unknown to us”. The document praises vanquishing actions that “subject” non-Christians to the Catholic kings’ and princes’ “own temporal dominion, sparing no labour or expense”. Thus, the Holy See decreed a vanquishing violence to achieve dominance and control, as lords, over non-Christian peoples, and possession of their lands, territories and resources.

    http://unpfii10.blogspot.com/p/framework-of-dominance-preliminary_03.html

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