Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Paradise Lost

Today we search for the prize
Of an earthly Paradise
Where pain and fear are spent
Only heaven knows where it went
Because pain is up with the rent
And the future is broken and bent
Promises made to compromise
Are meeting an old demise
In the rise of the ideologues
And making of deeper bogs
Along with a feudal caste
To fight the wars and to die
To hold the wealthy on high
Lest they pay a small fee
For another’s dignity

Today, we are in a stew of our own making. Compromise cannot exist in the conflict of ideology and reality. We see this in multiple ways. Even the recent murders committed by Anders Breivik of Norway were committed in the name of fundamentalist Christianity. Ironically, “Anders” is pronounced “Honors” for those who note such things. The murders are not simply excused by his fundamentalism, but his fundamentalism compelled him to take direct action against fellow Christians in order to stem the growing Islamic menace. Now surely, that concept sounds insane, but not to the fundamentalist mind. I will venture that fundamentalism itself is a greater predictor of behavior than any underlying philosophy. In other words, Christian, Islamic and Jewish, Sikh, or any other philosophy has less impact than fundamentalism itself. A fundamentalist Christian has more in common with a fundamentalist Muslim than a Baptist to a Lutheran within the Christian experience, etc. Recently, on announcing her candidacy for president, Michele Bachman resigned from a fundamentalist Lutheran Church (Salem Lutheran) that denounces Christians and terms the Pope the Antichrist. Ms. Bachman very suddenly recognized that her fundamentalism might be exposed for what it is and she withdrew from membership without condemning Salem Lutheran. In Waco, Davidians chose death by fire over compromise. Fundamentalists in Jonestown, Guiana chose the poisoned Kool-Aid over compromise. Father Feeney who announced that there was no salvation outside the Catholic Church in the 1950s commanded a following until he was excommunicated for his fundamentalism. That is their common bond. Absolutism in ideology means there shall be no compromise. Yes, death over compromise. Excommunication over compromise. Vicious assault over compromise. Kill friend and foe alike but do not compromise.

Currently, we have calls for compromise in the debt ceiling negotiations between our two major political parties. Over 250 national elected representatives, almost exclusively Republican, have signed the Grover Norquist pledge to not raise taxes. There are far more in state legislatures. That might not be so bad except for how they interpret tax raises. Eliminating the $Billion in subsidies to GE which is currently in the process of moving its medical imaging leadership and production to China, is interpreted as a tax increase, therefore any plan to remove the subsidy is tantamount to a tax increase, albeit for a corporation and against our national interest to subsidize creation of jobs outside these United States. Michele Bachman has not only signed the pledge, she has openly stated that she will not vote for raising the debt ceiling. It is against her principles. This was clearly spoken by a woman from the party of Cheney who said “Deficits don’t matter,” at a time when Bush put two wars “off the books.” Tea Party fundamentalists are first fundamentalists and then Republican or Democrat or Libertarian. There can be no compromise with ideologues unless one considers adoption of the fundamentalist position as a compromise by all the others party to a dispute. Calls to compromise are effectively calls for unconditional surrender. If House Speaker John Boehner appears to be waffling and uncertain as to defining his position, remember that he is facing President Obama on one side and his own fundamentalist Tea Party “Republicans” on the other. He must adopt their position or face ouster from his position. Mr. Eric Cantor is waiting impatiently to take over if Mr. Boehner falters. Do not forget that Mr. Cantor is selling T-Bills short in order to make a few bucks on the impending financial calamity. Ideology has its rewards, I guess. Do not bet that protecting the United States will overcome these ideologues regarding the arbitrary deficit ceiling. Another characteristic of fundamentalists is that facts don’t matter. Ron Paul (Libertarian-Republican) is looking forward to the default of our national credit for the return of the gold standard. The likelihood of that outcome is zero, but that does not matter to Paul or other fundamentalists. Think of a child who believes in Santa Claus and is immune to cues to the contrary. That describes the fundamentalist and the child-like faith that, despite abundant contrary information, the ideology is goodness itself. Either they believe that great good will arise from destroying our economy or perhaps that the economy will not be destroyed. Much as true believers of Communism believed that Paradise would be achieved through the withering away of the State, these fundamentalists believe that Paradise will be achieved by insignificant government, zero taxes and elimination of all the social safety nets. Dignity for Grandma in her dotage? Hell no. She needs to get rich or die. She got lazy or unlucky or lived too damned long with healthcare provided by the “job creators.” “Job creators,” too, is a myth unsupported by facts or history, but what are facts compared to an ideology?

Recently, it has become clear that we have contrasting visions of America. We have the ideologues who profess that economic Darwinism is our goal and may those who achieve the most toys rule those who did not. They see no socialism in blind subsidy of “conservative” wealthy people and corporations They see socialism in Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. We also have those who have contributed to the common good by paying their fair share of taxes, contributed to Medicare and Social Security and hope to live out their years. “Shrink government!” shout the ideologues and yet they would expand government by gaming national laws to make our nation as one in access to guns but not access to healthcare or women’s reproductive rights. They would expand the power of corporations but shrink the power of unions that might fight for a fair share of the economic pie. It is tragic, that the ideologues who practice economic Darwinism actually forbid Darwin’s theory from being taught because it conflicts with their ideology that the earth was created 6,000 years ago and that their ideology should be given the upper hand in schools and courts. Man shall have dominion over the earth and everything on it. It matters not that “man” is defined narrowly to include the ideologues and exclude you. We faced this in the 1920s and it took a massive depression to change our hearts. Is history being recycled?

George Giacoppe
28 July 2011

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