This paper is a corollary to Moor Nam’s excellent paper in Medha Journal “The Caste Non-System”. I will try to show the roots of divisiveness and exploitation of colonial powers over ancient and creative cultures, like India’s, by focusing on the inner technologies and external means used in such an endevour, not only as it happened in the past but more closely in the present. This first paper will concentrate on the problem at hand, while a following paper will bring out the necessary categories that will allow us to correct the deviant path of the present so we may look forward to a brighter future.
- http://www.biocultural.org/ (Our own web site)
Part One: The American Experiment and the rise of The Social Sciences in Education, Politics and Commerce.
Before America became a Nation, Europe was fighting its own battles for the soul of its constituents. King and Pope were fighting for the legitimacy of their own power while a new front claimed legitimacy for itself: the rise of the people, what they called democracy. The Myth of Legitimacy was the battle ground of Europe and under this banner Protestants and Catholics divided Europe into different systems of education. It is no surprise that a Country founded by Pilgrims would never let its politics wander far from its faith. George Washington ad-libbed the line “So help me God” at the end of his swearing-in, Thomas Jefferson proclaimed Jesus as the most important philosopher of his life, Abraham Lincoln called the Civil War God’s punishment for the sin of slavery, William McKinley decided to invade the Philippines to “uplift, and civilize and Christianize” its people, and Woodrow Wilson believed that God had ordained him to be President, allowing Freud to wonder whether he had a Messiah complex. They might have fought then for the separation of Church and State and succeed, but they could never separate faith and politics and thus the Founding Protestants chose the program of education designed by Erasmus with its exclusive base on the Bible and the exclusion of the classics, while the Catholic Jesuits established Universities based on the Classics and a solid foundation on the Humanities. At the hands of the Jesuits cultures were studied by their own criteria, and in the process memory and imagination were exercised in the student, and not just theory and discursive thinking. However, what America inherited was the habit of mind of discursive thought, and other mental habits that came with the founders of the American University following the models of the British Oxford and Cambridge by the hand of the Masonic Lodges, the followers of the School of Night.
It should be clear, at this point, that we are not trying to indict anyone. And we should therefore separate the word America from the small groups we are focusing on. By the time these first Americans started to talk about America there were French, Dutch, German, Spanish colonies, communities, all around. There were also Christians of many denominations, Catholics and Protestants. Christians themselves were divided, while the Sate and Church were fighting for separation. How they came to collaborate later will be clearer as we proceed. At the State level the vision to be the exclusive vision of the Republic will be the British version as written down in the Constitution and following the dictates of the School of Night, the Protestant Divines, the Masonic Lodges and the British mind-set.
The modern version of this mind would be Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia, as an example. As its Academic brochure explains:
“The Candler School of Theology at Emory University is grounded in the Christian faith and shaped by the Wesleyan tradition of evangelical piety, ecumenical openness, and social concern. Its mission is to educate–through scholarship, teaching, and service–faithful and creative leaders for the church's ministries in the world… students … represent more than 56 denominations.”
In other words, Protestant Christianity is well represented.
And then, as an afterthought, there’s the Undergraduate Religion Department. A unit somewhere between the School of Law and the Department of South Asia Studies – well separated from the Candler School of Theology. Their Mission Statement is very interesting in contrast:
“…examine the role of religious traditions in shaping political and social institutions of diverse cultures and to explore religious issues involved in warfare and other political conflicts. The study of religion helps us to comprehend with greater sophistication and insight the faiths, world views, practices, and ways of life that have, both historically and in the contemporary world, shaped the actions and allegiances of human beings…”
Their Chair welcomes students thus: “The study of religion is among the oldest pursuits in human intellectual history. The curriculum at Emory is designed to introduce students to the teachings and practices of the living religions of the world. Equally important, the University provides an important context for stepping back from particular religions in order to study aspects of religion comparatively and thematically across traditions, e.g., religion in public life, religion and gender, religion and culture.” (Emory University Candler School of Theology Mission Statement. http://www.candler.emory.edu/)
As a contrast and dissent against this mind there is this version for the same enterprise by Fr. Peter‑Hans Kolvenbach, S.J., General of the Jesuits who recently gave a Conference at the University of Santa Clara, California. More than 420 delegates with the Directors of twenty eight Colleges and Universities the Jesuits direct in the United States were present. The message of the Conference was "The Service of Faith and the Promotion of Justice." Following in the footsteps of the previous General Fr. Arrupe, who pointed the Jesuits in the direction of serving the Community, that in those days was read as a call to serve the "poor" and therefore to activism, Fr. Kolvenback widened the scope of his talk to cover not only the history of the origin of the Jesuits " not to proselytize in the name of beliefs but to service Faith in the communities surrounding us" which include not only the "poor" but the concrete, spiritual and even psychic needs of the community around us.
While developing the theme of this Conference the Fr. General has not only changed the historical direction of the largest part of Theology, as understood and practiced up to this point, but he has also debunked the identifying criteria politicians use, like communities by ethnic origin, color of the communities, from white to black passing by yellow, or even the Communities of Christian, Catholic, Protestant, Hindu, Buddhist, Theologians, or the Communities of philosophers, realists, idealists, empiricists, rationalists, humanists. Fr. General has left this question in the air, unanswered, since a community can not be defined a‑priori, unless we wish to get rid of it even before me meet it. These communities must be discovered one by one as we/ they face us. But even this discovery cannot be based on the habits of mind of the Past, that is, habits we have developed and defended trying to save "beliefs" that were active in the past. He proposes instead new HABITS OF MIND AT THE SERVICE OF FAITH with an open heart towards the biological system facing us. As Fr. Kolvenbach remarks, quoting the previous Pope: “Concepts divide, contact makes for learning communities."
Notice how the only faculties and technologies students develop at Emory University are those of the left hemisphere of the neo-cortex, the discursive left brain, while in the case of the Jesuits the inner technologies of memory and imagination, the Classics and Humanities are basic skills needed in order to participate in the dialogue. These are also the technologies by which and through which oral cultures identify themselves. These are also the skills through which we can identify and separate theology from mystical/experiential practice, and those who write/talk about other cultures and the standing of their talk.
But this is not the American narrative and how ‘America’ started its political career. And so, let’s start at the beginning. Official American education was founded by those who were abused by their dominant tradition in England and had lost the freedom to act. The freedom those early Protestants tried to restore was the freedom to practice religion without restriction from church or state. Since the contents of education in Europe were reduced to philosophy and theology, the persecuted Protestants found no other alternative than to emigrate to America. The early colonial colleges were established under religious auspices and they served the upper social class. Harvard was established in 1636, Yale in 1701 as a more liberal institution in theological matters, Virginia’s William and Mary in 1693, Princeton in 1746 as a Presbyterian college and King’s College, later on known as Columbia University in 1754 to serve the Anglican contingent. These colleges were elitist and religious oriented. Primary, or vernacular schools, were opened for the lower socioeconomic classes, where students were taught reading, writing, arithmetic and religion. But the preparatory schools and the colonial colleges were reserved for sons of the upper classes. Women and the poor were excluded. Through social reform and several local and world wars education changed its colonial face, as it did in Europe and before long we had a new system in place. Religion was excluded from the curriculum. Experts from the social sciences were running education. In no time we went from a faculty of Protestant divines to a faculty of ‘modernist’ ideologues. How did social science become the epistemological foundation of education? And who was the beneficiary of this shift in educational foundations? Who was running the politics of education, and for whom? (See: http://www.iuniverse.com/bookstore/book_detail.asp?isbn=0-595-12666-9 Chapter 2 in particular.
Religion and Government worked hand in hand from the beginning and a sense of independence was hardwired into the nation so that all could worship as they pleased. Washington was a freemason and a deist; Jefferson read the Bible everyday but he wanted to remove all sorts of miracles and even the Resurrection from it; Lincoln was considered a faithful worshiper but he never joined a church and even Bill Clinton was proclaimed by Billy Graham as: “ He believes the Bible. He believes in Christ. He believes that he has been born again. He’s got the gifts that evangelist should have.”
Which is the “pilot-brain” ruling the Republic?
THE RISE OF THE SOCIAL SCIENCES
I will follow the four steps noted below.
a) The statistical method, and the birth of social science,
b) The invention and classification of humans by race,
c) The wealth of poor, primitive Nations,
d) The distribution of wealth among the chosen.
a) The statistical method.
In 1785 the Marquis de Condorcet published in the Encyclopedie an article titled “The application of mathematics to the theory of decision-making,” expanding the influence of the statistical probability method from only insurance actuaries to all fields of human interaction including medicine.
In 1792 Philippe Pinel began collecting data in a Paris hospital that housed 8000 patients and then correlated symptoms with post-mortem evidence, thereby establishing a new view of disease and treatment using statistical analysis.
Statistical analysis becomes the norm in medicine, as described in Brave New Brain, 18: “The main function of diagnostic criteria is to improve the agreement between two clinicians who are evaluating the same information or patient…Since diagnoses are standardized, patients from different institutions can be pooled together in research studies in order to produce larger samples that will have more statistical power.”
In 1790 Johann Frank of Vienna published A System of Medical Police that established public guidelines on all aspects of social care: food, housing, sewage, maternity care, garbage, and regulated medical care…strictly controlled to keep production effective.
Originally medicine relied on a patient’s description of the ‘disease’ and treatment was idiosyncratic, and therefore, individualized. The patient’s narrative was essential in diagnosis.
Then suddenly, a model of public health emerged because with industrialization, healthy populations produced wealth.
b) The invention and classification of humans by race
Classification becomes essential and categories are invented for its sake. Case in point is race:
In 1758 Carolus Linnaeus established the races of humans based on the old divisions of the four humours:
–Americanus Red, Choleric (wrathful), upright.
–Europaeus: White, Sanguine, (Cheerful), Muscular.
–Asiaticus: Yellow, Melancholy (sad), stiff.
–Afer: Black, Phlegmatic (Sluggish), Relaxed. This division, however, was changed later on in 1781 by Johann Blumenbach by adding a fifth race, the Malay and changing the name Europaeus to Caucasian (from the Caucasus Mountains in Turkey). He decided these people from the Caucasus were the most beautiful and therefore the most European.
The curious feature of this classification, not withstanding its arbitrariness, is how the individuals of these races are now viewed. The Encyclopaedia Britannica of 1798, first American Edition, describes Blacks as follows:
Negro: A name given to a variety of human species, who are entirely black, and are found in the torrid zone, especially in that part of Africa which lies within the tropics. In the complexion of negroes we meet of various shades, and they likewise differ far from other men in all the features of their face…Vices the most notorious seem to be the portion of this unhappy race; idleness, treachery, revenge, cruelty, impudence, stealing, lying, profanity, debauchery, nastiness and intemperance, are said to have extinguished the principles of natural law, and to have silenced the reproofs of conscience. They are strangers to every sentiment of compassion, and are an awful example of the corruption of man when left to him/herself.
c) The wealth of poor, primitive Nations, and the invention of Cultural Anthropology.
Lewis Henry Morgan (1818-1881) was born in upstate New York. He was a lawyer and a Freemasonic activist founder of a lodge called Inindianation. Historian Henry Schoolcraft, an associate of Albert Gallatin, head of the New York Historical Society worked with him. Gallatin, from a noble Swiss family, had been Secretary of the U.S. Treasury under Thomas Jefferson and led the controversial economic subversion of the 1800. This man spent most of his last fifteen years trying to show that pre-Columbian Americans were exclusively of Asiatic or Siberian origins. This same thesis that Gallatin tried to establish through linguistics, was taken up by Lewis Henry Morgan, though he tried to prove it through the comparative study of kinship and family structures. Their thesis, by the way is still the prevailing thesis in Anthropology, that pre-Columbian Americans migrated to the U.S. some 12 to 16,000 years ago, when there were no other humans inhabitants in the Americas. (The point of this thesis is to prove that there is no civilization until Europeans arrive on the scene.)
Behind this thesis there was the intent of inducing in Americans a profoundly racist worldview, including the justification of brutal treatment of those people and their descendants. This of course was later on extended to blacks, Hispanics, Asians etc. In Morgan’s scheme: (see 21st Century Magazine Science & Technology, Spring 2004: “Lewis Henry Morgan and the Racist Roots of Anthropology.”)
a) Social and Technological evolution is gradual.
b) Not all societies develop at the same rate.
c) Some societies are superior because of their racial stock, and have thereby developed superior social and family institutions.
d) It is wrong to change or improve the lesser races because they are not mentally equipped for it. They must develop at their own rate.
e) Protecting them from losing their primitive ways is the burden of the superior races.
f) America’s evolving superiority as an industrial nation did not rest on its deep cultural heritage in previous renaissances in Greece, the Arab world, China, and Europe, nor in the industry and freedom of its Republican citizenry, but instead on its special mix of Anglo-Saxon racial traits and superior family institutions.
g) There is no civilization until Europeans arrive on the scene.
In his own words: “The Aryan family represents the central stream of human progress because it has proved its intrinsic superiority by gradually assuming control of the earth…This great passion for civilized man never aroused the Indian mind.”
Or to put it in the words of another promoter of this same passion:
“The growth of a large business is merely the survival of the fittest. The America Beauty Rose can be produced in the splendor and fragrance which brings cheer to the beholder only by sacrificing the early buds which grow up around it. This is not an evil tendency in business. It is merely the working out of a law of Nature and God.” (John D. Rockefeller)
All we need in order to transform lower races into articles of profit is to turn them into some romantic product that forces them to stay put without possible progress. Or at least convey this image to the rest of the world. And this is what Morgan tried to do with the Indians in the States, and later on with China, South America and India. The plan seems to follow the same script. In a letter dated December 3, l840 Morgan wrote to President Lincoln suggesting these steps to make sure the Indians were contained from anything that would give the Indian economic progress:
a) Put the (Indian) Bureau under the War Department.
b) Stop appropriations for Indian agricultural programs in the West which interfere with the Indian way of life there, in that the plains Indians would be herders not farmers.
c) Gather all Indians into two locations, one in the West, and the other in Upstate New York, in the East.
d) Institute strict control of contact between the Indians and the outside world by appointed missionaries, and forbid the monetary circulation among the Indians.
e) Promote native handicrafts to promote a romantic appreciation for the Indian race and its heritage. (Carl Resek, 1960 Lewis Henry Morgan, American Scholar, University of Chicago Press, pp.144-145 at p.83
The same experiment was tried in America with the whole population in the 60s when romanticism and racism joined hands under the banner of cultural relativism. The fact that a written history of a people does not exist does not mean that those people had no history. You cannot divorce the study of a people because their history is not available. The champion of cultural relativism was Margaret Mead. She worked for the U.S. Military, training special forces in cultural counterinsurgency. Her book Coming of Age in Samoa, where she claims to have discovered an institution of Samoan premarital sexual promiscuity is pure invention. No Samoan has been able to identify such an institution and the opposite seems to be true, for Samoans are, according to posterior ethnologists, the most puritanical and sane in these matters. She was joined in this subversive cultural enterprise by her husband, the psychologists Gregory Bateson who helped create the most subversive counterinsurgent movement of all time, the Rock-Drug-Sex-Counterculture. Their idea was to have an entire generation emerge without any historical connection to the vast universal and multi-geographical history and culture of their parents and grandparents, not to mention their inner technologies of memory and imagination. The inhabitants of that culture would emerge placing their identity away from the shame of their origins into a variety of sensual experiences and feeling states, not in their history. No cultural identity for the non Anglo-Saxons. And so the effort of the social scientists would be to focus on suppressing any legitimate narrative of those cultures other than the ones they create, with sexual deviance, primitive thinking, primitive living, as the visual image of their constructed reality. And if other information appears, as it happened with the American Indians from the Spanish Chronicles, like that the Indians lived in cities, were wealthy, etc., they would ignore it, suppress it and turn it against the Indians. We are left by those ‘scholars’ in a world with no past and no future. Does it sound familiar?
In sum, the present scandals with the work of many academics from the Religious Studies Departments of American Universities recent debates and are the party line of the same racist policies of the past. And notice also how the scholars are only in the social sciences and not in Philosophy Departments. And notice also why it is so easy to pass from the State Department and its Agencies to Religion Departments. This discipline of Religious Studies does not have its own method, it depends on the social sciences for one. This explains also why so many scholars that have found their place in the Academy and in Departments of Religion have only one methodology at hand, the social science ideological arbitrariness with the aim at subverting human cultures. It also explains why so many scholars in the Religion Departments spend so much time and effort to sharpen their skills studying other people while at the same time they appear to hate those same people they spend their time with. The adversarial attitude of those scholars is dictated not by their studies but by the thesis they must implement. This same adversarial attitude is evident in the American way of life where friendly disputations in the style of Plato are out of place since adversarial technologies are the only technologies these people own to deal with the “other”, be they “primitives” or Americans of a different race, or persuasion, or academic training, or even political party.
d) The distribution of wealth among the chosen.
The business of America is business. And it is not different in this case.
Lewis Morgan was subsidized by the Peabody Museum in Massachusetts from 1874 to 1909. This Museum was established by the Peabody fortune and this fortune was made in the opium trade in partnership with the British East India Company. When the founding Peabody died, after retiring to London, the whole fortune was left to Junius Morgan, his junior partner, who is the father of none other than the banker and financier J.P. Morgan. In partnership with Frederick Ward Putnam, Lewis Morgan became the President of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, established the first Department of Anthropology in the United States at Harvard University, and an Ethnology Department at the Museum of Natural History in New York City, a most notorious institution for promoting racist research in Eugenics. With the assistance of Putnam a professorship of Anthropology was established at Columbia University and a Swiss physicist, Franz Boaz was recruited for this post. Franz Boaz (1858-1942) was the mentor of Margaret Mead, Ruth Benedict, Melville J. Herskovitz. Alfred Kroeber and others. The influence of Morgan, who was hailed as the Newton of Social Science, reached as far as Darwin, Huxley and Herbert Spencer. Frederick Engels embraced the ideology of Lewis Morgan and the head of the Socialist Party of America, Daniel DeLeon used Morgan’s Ancient Society as a political bible.
The economic line joining subsidies for this group and others of similar leanings went, and continues to go, from the Government and Foundations ( Peabody, Pew, etc.), through Secret Societies like Masons, Rosicrucian Order, to Evangelical Christians, to private corporations. The sophistication is enormous. As an example see the following numbers:
Spreading the Faith, overseas activities of four major Christian organizations:
Group: Southern Baptist Convention Assemblies of God International Justice Mission World Vision
Mission: To endeavor to make Christian disciples of all nations To seek and save all who are lost in sin To rescue enslaved and bonded laborers and prostitutes To enable "the world's children to realize their God-given potential by tackling the root cause of poverty."
Recent Results as described by the groups Established 8,369 churches and baptized 421,436 members overseas in 2002. (Special target this year: Muslims of Arabian Peninsula.) Baptized 618,000 people overseas in 2002. Had nearly 2,000 missionaries in 198 countries and territories, with some 200,000 affiliated churches. Rescued 37 girls in a single brothel raid in Cambodia, some as young as five; Freed 136 brick-kiln slaves in India, including entire families, and 63 quarry slaves; Trained 1,400 police to protect children. Arranged U.S. sponsorships of 733,000 kids in developing nations, and 156,677 orphans and vulnerable children in countries devastated by AIDS; Created 410,758 jobs through small loans.
Overseas Budget* $290.1 million $176 million $4.5 million $686 million
Belief: "All people without personal faith in (Jesus) are lost and will spend eternity in hell." "We are living in the last days of the present age; the next major fulfillment of Bible prophecy will be the Rapture, or physical removal, of the Church from the earth." "God commands us to be salt and light in the midst of this world's darkness and corruption [to preach the Good News of salvation [and demonstrate God's love and mercy toward those who suffer." "By our consistent demonstration of God's love through our work, we hope that people will experience life in all its fullness."
*Budget figures are the latest provided by the organizations.
Source: the groups
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Write to Peter Waldman at [email protected]
(Wall Street Journal, May 26, 04,)
When I was in California, doing some research about the Rosicrucian Order in San Jose, I heard this saying of the Masons to the President of the United States that summarizes the private deals of the Republic: “Give us your business and we will give you your citizens.” The Evangelicals are the last to arrive and are used by the powers that be to soften the path for subsequent American business in countries like South America or India. In both cases, but more so in the case of India, these American groups felt threaten at home, around the sixties, with the enormous influx of competent Indian ideas, products, and well trained people coming from India, and therefore a particular effort had to be made to quash this external presence of power. Departments of Religious Studies were filled with people from the State Department, Embassies, and other Agencies, and their role was to disseminate misinformation about India in our particular case. The result has been the adversarial publication of articles, books, propaganda against the cradle itself of civilization, India, in the name of business. The more subtle policy of the American Government and not easily seen by outsiders is the re-distribution of money itself by the Government. Grants, contracts, subsidies, the billions of dollars gathered from taxes from the people find their way back into the private institutions of the country through a devise to favor “friendly” private organizations the Government selects; the program is called “privatization.” The Government collects taxes but then it gives it back to republicans, or democrats, depending on who is the President, or Evangelicals, depending on the interests they serve, and there is no accountability for the use of this money. Privatization has gone so far these days that even the war in Iraq benefits financially some private corporations, called “contractors”, that they use in the jails, health, and so on to the point that after the torture scandals we have read about in the press the Government of the United States had to sue some of those private contractors to save face.
PART Two: The Rise of the “logos” bio-culture: Colonialism, Globalization and Faith-based Christian organizations.
David Lorimer, in reviewing the initiative of Father Bede Griffiths (see Bede Griffiths: An Introduction to his Inter-spiritual Thought, 2003) summarizes this section best by pointing out what is missing in the culture, and the transformation of experience into the experience of language:
“The danger for Christianity is that it has translated experiences into words and words into thoughts so that people begin to think that these words and thoughts are themselves the object of faith when we should let them go and move beyond them. Thus faith has become identified with assent to a body of dogmatic claims rather than a direct encounter with the living god. This also means that theology itself is pursued as a function of the same rational mind that pursues science…Theology should be open to the world of transcendent reality if it is to be more than philosophy, while only wisdom can transcend the rational mind and know truth directly at a level where knowing is being. the movement is always to a place beyond form, image and concept. (Network Review: Journal of the Scientific and Medical Network, 82, August 2003, p. 54)”
I remember the second part of the sixties when I started teaching Indic Philosophy at the State University of New York at Stony Brook. The fact that I was teaching philosophy and not religion or literature made my case more urgent. For one thing there were no text books, for another the rationality of the West had to be part of the teaching or the course would have been canceled. It was then that I came out with Meditations through the Rig Veda and Avatara: The Humanization of Philosophy through the Bhagavad Gita. My surprise was that all that research, all that effort of language, structures, difference, rationality, at the hands of the students became a near plagiarism of all the words written down in the books. My despondency was so deep I almost gave up teaching, not withstanding the fact that the courses were full beyond capacity. Two facts changed my desire to quit. First, I discovered one student, others later on, that could read beyond the words, and secondly I changed the style of teaching. Instead of demanding only a return in paper of what I said in class or had written in the books, I put a greater grade value on the students’ presentations. They divided themselves into groups and in three weeks they were supposed to present to the whole class (and visitors that came all the way from New York and Broadway) Buddha’s enlightenment, Arjuna’s crisis, the role of Agni, of the Sacrifice in the Rig Veda and so on. The result was astounding. There, in front of our very eyes, we could see and hear Buddha in his mother’s womb, a little fetus, reciting a grocery list of his conditioning; a Chinese student presenting the Gita and making us tremble when he said: “This is not just an academic exercise, this revelation passed through me and now it is here with us. It could have been not me.” Or the little woman, praying in a corner of a Church to an icon of a crucified Jesus, as the students are milling around in a presentation of Nietzsche’s The Birth of Tragedy. Suddenly a booming voice is heard just as the presentation is coming to an end: “Woman, don’t you see my son is hung up? Can I help you?”
Yes, this was in class, experience and language separated and together, and it lasted for twenty years, one thousand student per semester. Meanwhile outside it was obvious a new culture was born where the word, words, was all that it relied on. And the culture took over many corners of American life and it moved into main stream management, religion, communications, human relations. The most visible face of this culture was and is the fundamentalism of some Christian groups. These are the groups called faith-based with power and money to gather the natives of any culture around themselves and bring them to Jesus.
This section is based on materials gathered from the Union of International Associations, and Anthony Judge working in conjunction with the UN. It covers the background of faith-based policies, neo-conservatism and ideology using religion, psychology and the dominance of left-brain ideologies against right-brain domains. It is important to know this background for it justifies in the users the actual actions of power.
In this political transformation that started in the early seventies, several clues need to be considered. One, the distribution of ideological agendas has moved from the Secret Societies and Government Agencies to the Academy. Two, the Academy, as in the case of Emory University, is faith-based and dedicated to missionary work. Three, their rewards for these actions are available through the new policy of “privatization,” a convenient way of privatizing whatever the Government has power to privatize, from health services to war services. Faith-based organizations, not the Government, are now the beneficiaries of the taxes received from the people and channeled to them as compensation.
From the earliest reliance on faith-based tools of governance, there has been a difficulty with the deliberate, or inadvertent, misrepresentation of signs and indicators of spirituality in support of those seeking to reinforce their power. This process, exacerbated by the many claims and counter-claims (notably be tele-evangelists, as documented by the Trinity Foundation through the Door Magazine), severely reduces the credibility of those that rely on them. This is most evident in relation to the "end times" predictions on which the evangelical Christians tend to focus.
From this perspective, there is a strong case for reviewing the processes of tele-evangelism in the light of their tendency to mislead the unwary — as documented in the Door Magazine. Perhaps the dynamics of the interaction could be explored with tools such as Transactional Analysis that have so fruitfully highlighted the nature of dysfunctional game-playing in interpersonal interaction. Such insights would equip people to handle transactions with purveyors of ideas — in the same way as they become equipped to respond to purveyors of products and services. This would also help people to develop in advance the appropriate skills in response to efforts at "programming" by manipulative sects. The question is how to enable people to distinguish meaningful faith experiences from those which some perceive as a consequence of "programming". Such issues are especially important in a context of faith-based governance — where pressures to conform to certain patterns of behavior and belief may be extreme (as with White House morning prayer groups).
A special challenge for Christians is that the qualification "born-again" is attributed to (or adopted by) a range of people who may exhibit behaviors that are the contrary of what the term is believed to indicate. It is however increasingly used to imply "above criticism" — especially that coming from non-believers. Will Christians feel called upon to develop some form of "authentication" or "certification" procedure to distinguish "authentic conversions" (the genuine "born-again") from the fake — claimed by those fraudulently acting under the guise of such conversions? What about the vexatious issue of "conversions of convenience"? Are there stages beyond "born-again" to be considered, as suggested by Robert Price (see Beyond Born Again: Towards Evangelical Maturity, 1993)?
It is appropriate to note that for some, becoming "born-again" is simply a matter of repeating a prayer and dispatching an e-mail. This is dangerously reminiscent of the manner in which academic degrees have been depreciated by certain diploma-awarding institutions, especially in the USA. Indeed one website, Conversion Central, provides facilities for online conversion, as well for mass conversions of others. The future will undoubtedly see a website facilitating online conversion between any religions. How would this process be facilitated or regulated under faith-based governance?
A particular concern is that faith-based governance may reinforce tendencies towards superficial "conversion". The processes of the UN's Global Compact in persuading multinational corporations to subscribe voluntarily to a set of values — caricatured as "blue washing" by critics — may be seen as equally superficial. But, as with becoming "born-again", it may be used to argue for "remission of sins" in the arena of public opinion and be framed as a desirable exercise in public relations.
The conversion process through which a person becomes "born-again" — as understood by the leader of the Coalition of the Willing — has been highly dramatized by evangelists. The challenge for all concerned lies in the danger of misrepresenting this transformation of consciousness. Whereas other remedial change processes notably focus on a "12-step" transformation (as with recuperation from substance abuse), any implication that it is a "1-step" process may raise questions as to whether claims are genuine rather than shallow and illusory. Such questions have long been a concern of spiritual directors — whether within the Catholic Church or in other faiths. The involuntary nature of genuine transformation through grace has been a focus of the theologian Paul Tillich (You are Accepted) — a transformation which remains subjective and is not open to authentication by others. Misrepresentation may be especially important when it demeans the assiduous spiritual practice of those of other faiths who are conscious of the many stages ("initiations") through which insight may need to be embodied.
A particular problem lies in the great stress placed by Christian fundamentalists on literal interpretation of the Bible "word for word" — which surveys have indicated to be a belief shared by half the American population. This difficulty becomes most apparent in the case of the limitation to 144,000 of the number of seats available in heaven. To the extent that these seats are effectively promised to (or claimed by) existing members of evangelical Christian groups, efforts to evangelize others around the world — on the promise of such a seat — could be considered problematic under any trades description act regarding misrepresentation in advertising ! Arguments by fundamentalists that this number should not be interpreted literally need then to be applied to other areas where a literal interpretation is considered by them as the only valid truth.
Faith-based governance, policies and programs
What might be termed "faith-based governance" has a long history dating back to intimate involvement of priestly hierarchies in advising the ruler, if the ruler was not a priest or divinity in his (or her) own right. Policies were determined through consultation of oracles such as at Delphi or through the interpretation of entrails of sacrificial animals as in Rome (extispicium). The policies of the Empire of China were guided through consultation of the I Ching. Ronald Reagan, like Calvin Coolidge, Theodore Roosevelt, and Franklin D. Roosevelt before him, made use of astrology in evaluating important decisions. So did Adolf Hitler. Faith in such aids to governance is active in non-western countries at the highest level especially with regard to the selection of auspicious occasions. It remains to be discovered whether the well-recognized influence of Nancy Reagan's astrologers on the President of the USA is now matched by the influence of Cherie Blair's unconventional faith-based interests on the Prime Minister of the UK.
Early in his mandate, George Bush set in place a variety of faith-based initiatives in response to the wishes of his Christian supporters and associates. The focus was provided by the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives. Religious organizations have been given a powerful input to policy-making — particularly on sensitive issues like abortion. These initiatives have been supported by "faith-based legislation" as described in the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life's Lift Every Voice: Report on Religion In American Public Life (2002).
For many evangelical Christian supporters of George Bush it is to be expected that the global American hegemony sought by the new American strategic policy will be seen as the ideal vehicle through which fulfillment of the long-standing missionary aspiration can be brought to completion. This Great Commission to evangelize the world derives from the Biblical injunction: “Go ye therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost." (Matthew 28 : 16-20; Acts I: 8; II; Corinthians 5:20).
Franklin Graham, son of the Rev. Billy Graham (advisor to a succession of presidents) and one of the USA’s most outspoken critics of Islam, indicated that he had relief workers "poised and ready" to roll into Iraq to provide for the population’s post-war physical and spiritual needs (Crusaders sending in missionaries after the Blitzkrieg, 2003; Christianizing the Enemy, 2003). This is seen as part of the process of bringing about the Kingdom of Christ on Earth — overriding any opposition and ignoring the possibility that any such Kingdom is necessarily of the spirit. One preferred evangelical model is to "invade" the world. The major failure in post-invasion Iraq to win over "hearts and minds" is clearly a challenge for the future of this mindset and the assumptions on which it is based.
In emulation of the US initiative of George Bush, on 3 August 2003 it was revealed by The Observer that "Blair is to allow Christian organizations and other 'faith groups' a central role in policy-making in a decisive break with British tradition that religion and government should not mix". He has "set up a ministerial working group in the Home Office." Its terms of reference are:
"to consider the most effective means of achieving greater involvement of the faith communities in policy-making and delivery across Whitehall [and] to identify the specific policy areas where this input would be most valuable…It will lay down the foundations for the effective involvement of the faith communities' perspectives and needs in policy development across government."
Non-religious groups (including humanists and atheists) have been excluded from any involvement in the group. Should the Conservatives regain power in the UK, it has now become clear that they have associated themselves closely with a Christian faith-based perspective through their Conservative Christian Fellowship (based in the party's headquarters) and the recent appointment of Tim Montgomerie as the political secretary of the Ian Duncan Smith, leader of the opposition to Blair's Labor party. Montgomerie has posted an extensive set of prayers on the Fellowship's website in specific support of the Conservative party. He is known to be close to the American theologian Marvin Olasky who inspired George Bush in positioning his campaign for the American electorate.
A faith-based approach to governance, as currently envisaged, ignores:
- the lack of government experience with interfaith dialogue (see below)
- the extremely modest successes of such dialogue in relation to policy (Northern Ireland, Middle East, Kashmir, Sudan, etc)
- the disproportionate weight that is likely to be attached to the views of particular faiths (notably those with which Tony Blair has sympathies, by analogy with the situation in the case of George Bush)
It is a curious irony that a principal Western criticism of the governance of fundamentalist Islamic states, and of their inhibited development, has been the restrictive and distorting influences of the sharia as a legal interpretation of the prescriptions of the Koran. The question is what legal prescriptions would follow from a literal interpretation of the Bible in the light of the development of faith-based governance inspired by Christian fundamentalism? Was this not the experiment conducted by the early Pilgrim fathers in the USA? Has this evoked widespread calls for its emulation today?
Aspects of the theme of government by fundamentalists are now recognized as having been explored by Margaret Atwood in a prescient novel (The Handmaid's Tale, 1985) about a future dystopic Republic of Gilead (formerly the USA) where the regime spins news of war and terrorism to its advantage. Civil rights have been extinguished, books have been banned and culture has been terminated with extreme prejudice. Women are forbidden to hold jobs, property or money. Pollution and disease have decimated fertility rates — birth control and homosexuality are now crimes punishable by death. (The few remaining fertile women, called "handmaids", are used as brood mares for regime officials and their barren wives).
Infallibility of Christian leadership
Christianity has a long history of dealing with the infallibility of its leadership, whether deriving from:
- a traditional lineage, as in the case of the papacy, or of dynastic royalty ruling by divine right
- personal revelation, as with the founders of many schismatic Christian groups,
- the status of the Elders in fundamentalist communities
- conversion and becoming born-again, as with many ordinary Christians who then believe themselves to be especially graced by an understanding of God's will
The evolution of "Christianity" as a whole has resulted in constraints on the acceptance of the universal applicability of the infallibility previously attributed to the papacy, both amongst Catholics and especially amongst those forms of Christianity that broke away from Catholicism. Of course those on both sides of a schism are highly articulate regarding the spiritual danger their critics incur. They readily label each other as highly misguided — or even as agents of Satan. Analogous processes follow the unique perspective acquired from the revelation experienced by the founders of Christian sects. The process of becoming "born-again" may similarly empower the ordinary individual to recognize the depths of spiritual error associated with any who fail to agree with their God-given insight. Such error is to be closely associated with those acting as agents of Satan.
There is a long tradition of a special relationship between religion and rulership of a country — between divinity and royalty — dating back to the divine status of the pharaohs. For Western civilization, it was Alexander the Great who gave form to the concept that a man can be both king and god. Because of the vast empire that he established, the idea has affected many religions and cultures. Buddhism and Christianity share the belief in a man-god, and in Islamic writings Alexander's conquests are used as a precedent for Mohammed's quest to create God's kingdom on earth. The concept has echoes in African cultures. It was central to the status of the Emperor in China — and was a key factor in Japan during World War II.
In the case of Christianity, spiritual status was accorded to the royalty ruling many European countries. This bond with divinity was also translated into the "divine right" to rule. In 1521, as a reward for attacking Lutheran ideas, Pope Leo X conferred the title of fidei defensor (defender of the faith) on Henry VIII. Although the title relates to the Catholic Church, it is still held by current British monarchs.
A distinction can be made between three conditions:
a) where both the ruler and much of the population believe the ruler to be specially blessed by God
b) where the population (or some part) holds that belief, even though the ruler does not
c) where the ruler holds that belief, but the population (or significant portions of it) do not
In the case of Tony Blair, Condition (c) would appear to apply. His conviction of his infallibility with regard to Iraq is faith-based. In a basically secular society, however, few citizens of the UK would buy into the religious justification for this conviction although they may be impressed by his belief that this is so. But what of Tony Blair? He was as sincere as believers in the Flat Earth were sincere. He was sincerely wrong, sincerely self-deceived, sincerely praying to love one's enemies and turn the other cheek on a Sunday and sincerely going to war on a Monday. In short, he was, with deep sincerity, drawn to the magnet of power: the United States. I believe that history will show him to have been a sincerely dangerous man. (Guardian, 14 February 2004)
In the case of George Bush, Condition (a) would appear to apply, at least to some degree — as exemplified by his 2001 statement to world leaders: "I know what I believe, and I believe what I believe is right". This condition is accepted due to the predominant importance attached to Christianity in US politics and its importance in the socio-cultural life of the country. In the absence of a UK-style royalty, in which the symbolic bond between divinity and royalty continues to be nourished at coronations and other ceremonies, aspects of this bond are invested by US citizens in their presidency and in the belief that God specially cherishes America, and by extension, its leadership.
According to Michael Ortiz Hill (Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory: Bush's Armageddon Obsession, Revisited, 2003), it was the Reverend Billy Graham who taught Bush to live in anticipation of the Second Coming but it was his friendship with Dr. Tony Evans (a founder of the Promise Keepers movement) that shaped Bush's political understanding of how to deport himself in an apocalyptic era — "how the world should be seen from a divine viewpoint". Hill cites S.R. Shearer (Antipas Ministries) with regard to such "Messianic leadership":
Most of the leaders of the Promise Keepers embrace a doctrine of 'end time' (eschatology), known as 'dominionim.' Dominionism pictures the seizure of earthly (temporal) power by the 'people of God' as the only means through which the world can be rescued…. It is the eschatology that Bush has imbibed; an eschatology through which he has gradually (and easily) come to see himself as an agent of God who has been called by him to 'restore the earth to God's control', a 'chosen vessel', so to speak, to bring in the Restoration of All Things.
The challenge of infallibility is closely related to a sense of moral certainty on the part of the ruler and a dislike of nuance. A recent report (Political Conservatism as Motivated Social Cognition, 2003) concluded that conservatism can be explained psychologically as a set of neuroses rooted in "fear and aggression, dogmatism and the intolerance of ambiguity". According to the report, typical cases include: Hitler, Mussolini, Reagan and Bush — all of whom "preached a return to an idealized past and condoned inequality."
“…[W]e consider evidence for and against the hypotheses that political conservatism is significantly associated with (1) mental rigidity and closed-mindedness, including (a) increased dogmatism and intolerance of ambiguity, (b) decreased cognitive complexity, (c) decreased openness to experience, (d) uncertainty avoidance, (e) personal needs for order and structure, and (f) need for cognitive closure; (2) lowered self-esteem; (3) fear, anger, and aggression; (4) pessimism, disgust, and contempt; (5) loss prevention; (6) fear of death; (7) threat arising from social and economic deprivation; and (8) threat to the stability of the social system. We have argued that these motives are in fact related to one another psychologically, and our motivated social—cognitive perspective helps to integrate them. We now offer an integrative, meta-analytic review of research on epistemic, existential, and ideological bases of conservatism.”
According to psychologist Oliver James,
Authoritarian personalities are organized around rabid hostility to "legitimate" targets, often ones nominated by their parents' prejudices. Intensely moralistic, they direct it towards despised social groups. As people, they avoid introspection or loving displays, preferring toughness and cynicism. They regard others with suspicion, attributing ulterior motives to the most innocent behavior. They are liable to be superstitious. All these traits have been described in Bush many times, by friends or colleagues. (So George, how do you feel about your mom and dad? Guardian, 2 September 2003)
James argues further:
Most fundamentalist Christians have authoritarian personalities, derived of course, from the authority of the “group” of believers. Two core beliefs separate fundamentalists from mere evangelists ("happy-clappy" Christians) or the mainstream Presbyterians among whom Bush first learned religion… with his parents: fundamentalists take the Bible absolutely literally as the word of God and believe that human history will come to an end in the near future, preceded by a terrible, apocalyptic battle on Earth between the forces of good and evil, which only the righteous shall survive. According to Frum when Bush talks of an "axis of evil" he is identifying his enemies as literally satanic, possessed by the devil. Whether he specifically sees the battle with Iraq and other "evil" nations as being part of the end-time, the apocalypse preceding the day of judgment, is not known. Nor is it known whether Tony Blair shares these particular religious ideas.
The challenge in the case of the USA, as a purportedly democratic country, is that criticism of leadership is readily withheld — given that the leader holds, to whatever faint degree, the historical bond with divinity. Such restraint permits a degree of infallibility to be inferred with respect to policies affecting the future of the country — especially if the country can be framed as being in the gravest of danger. Critics can then readily be publicly labeled as traitors (for example, by popular talk show hosts). Politicians are wise to cultivate (with appropriate propaganda, if necessary) their relation to religion if they wish to succeed — even in the case of Condition (b). Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia may be of this type, as with North Korea's Kim Jong-il.
The irony for the Americans, is that the USA was in part created by those fleeing religious intolerance, notably of Catholic origin. Americans pride themselves on their independence and freedom of speech. But Americans have effectively bought back into the attribution of infallibility to their leadership — where this can be presented as religiously inspired in response to non-partisan concerns and in consonance with the Christian tradition. As a consequence they have bought into faith-based politics and into strategic initiatives informed by the morning prayer meetings of their leadership. Whatever its merits, the problematic historical consequences of faith-based politics of earlier centuries have momentarily been forgotten.
The dangers are evident in the historical statement by Tsar Nicholas, Emperor of Russia, on taking command of all military forces, who declared in an Order of the Day (6 September 1915): "With firm trust in divine mercy and unshakable confidence in ultimate victory, we shall fulfill our sacred duty of defending our country to the death, and we will never allow Russian soil to be dishonored" History may conclude that Russian soil was already dishonored by the conditions of the serfs who worked it under the Tsar's cronies. His failure to recognize and act on this knowledge resulted in the deaths of tens of millions. Despite his spiritual advisers in the Russian Orthodox Church, his interpretation of divine will would also appear to have been faulty.
The leader of the Coalition of the Willing, with the aid of his own spiritual advisers, is of course now free to act according to his own inspired understanding of his "sacred duty". It remains to be seen to what extent this is re-establishing a 21st century variant of the "divine right" to rule.
Evil and demonization.
Once having accepted that one's country is specially cherished by God, it is easily recognized that having been elected to lead that country one must necessarily (and by definition) be especially close to God in order to carry out his will. Under such circumstances, any attack of any kind on that country by outsiders, or any internal attack on its institutions, can only be understood as an attack on God and therefore necessarily Evil. As leader, given one's closeness to God, and as a privileged channel for his perspective, any dissenting views regarding the "goodness" of one's leadership decisions in articulating God's will must necessarily be framed as (at best) misguided, but necessarily serving the cause of Evil.
For a leader uniquely associated with Good in this world, the presence of individuals and groups opposed to that Good must necessarily be defined as Evil, and must necessarily evoke an "appropriate" response. Hence the justification for the phrase: "if you are not with us, you are against us". And those opposed to the Good must necessarily be expressing demonic attributes — providing a justification for the programmes of demonization that are a standard feature of American psychological warfare (PsyOps). This is a real challenge to those of deep religious conviction who now have difficulty in according their whole-hearted support to the leader of the Christian free world.
The challenge for Christians is that the evolution of Christianity over the centuries has offered them many insights into the difficulties associated with the detection of Evil in a community. This was most notably the case with respect to the processes of the Inquisition guided by principles articulated by what has since been renamed as the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Of the prominent leaders of the Coalition of the Willing, Tony Blair as a devout Anglo-Catholic, would tend to hold views closest to this Catholic tradition. Unfortunately he was unable to obtain the Pope's support for the actions against the Evil detected by the Coalition of the Willing. But in the USA itself, the role of the Elders in early Pilgrim communities in detecting and rooting out Evil has been the subject of extensive study (as in the notorious trials of the "witches of Salem") in 1692.
Whereas Evil in previous centuries was closely associated with sorcery and called for the detection of "witches", whether in Europe or the USA, during the Cold War it was to be detected in the form of Communism. In the current period, Evil is epitomized by the action of terrorists. For those lacking the clarity deriving from a privileged relationship with God, it is unfortunate that there is some confusion in the distinction, in each of the following cases:
the Evil of witches condemned from a religious perspective by male judges as distinct from the repression of women and feminine values (painfully recognized only centuries later)
the subversive initiatives of Communist agents as distinct from the expression of alternative ideological perspectives (as in Allende's Chile and in recent opposition to economic globalization)
the reprehensible violence of terrorists as distinct from the case in many countries whose independence was achieved as a consequence of what would now be labeled as terrorism (and who may celebrate early leaders who were in their time labeled as terrorists, or who would be so labeled by today's criteria)
the Evil associated with withholding assistance now to those in desperate need (as in the case of starvation) as distinct from that of promising future assistance now (as in the case of nation-building funds) in the full knowledge that it will in all probability be subsequently withheld
After Ronald Reagan's labeling of the USSR as an "Evil Empire", American presidents now make full use of their authority to detect and label Evil — a judgment previously reserved for religious leaders. Tony Blair follows this trend. Curiously, however, the definition — after centuries of unresolved theological controversy — has not been the subject of public debate or clarification by the United Nations (itself long-challenged by the definition of "aggression"). Nor is there any question of an appeal. The judgment is final and absolute and derives directly from God's guidance. It is regrettable that other religions — viewed as Evil by Christianity — find themselves equally able to label Christian undertakings as Evil. Such two-facedness is of course itself a characteristic of Evil.
The unfortunate feature for Christians is that their various sects tend to distinguish themselves precisely because they regret, or even abhor, the practices and views of other sects within the Christian community — even to the point of labeling such practices or views as Evil or inspired by the Satan.
This pattern is unfortunately echoed in some aspects of the conduct of science. The relationship between the disciplines may involve a high degree of arrogance and mutual disparagement. Scientists may even be demonized by their colleagues in other disciplines or by the media — all of whom would claim to be acting "in good faith". For example, the former editor of Nature, John Maddox advocated burning Rupert Sheldrake's books as heresy, stating: "He deserves to be condemned for the exact same reasons the Pope condemned Galileo".
This term has been used in an appreciative sense to refer to the involvement of faith-based organizations in seeking to respond to conditions of injustice — notably through charitable action for the needy. Unfortunately it also has a more sinister connotation based on the faith-based biases introduced in the handling of evidence (see above) and the biases in subsequently assessing that evidence during any judicial procedure before a tribunal.
The challenge of faith-based justice is highlighted at the time of writing by the actions of Chief Justice Roy Moore in Alabama who installed a two-tonne monument bearing the Ten Commandments at the entrance to the courthouse. In response to rulings for its removal, he declared to his supporters: "The acknowledgement of God as the moral foundation of law in this nation is being hidden from us"
In a period when re-introduction of faith-based policies is being actively considered both in the USA and in the UK, the extraordinary post-attack polarization of policy debate into "good" versus "evil" is also partly reinforced by the imminent "end times" scenarios of Christian fundamentalists — the final battle between "Good" and "Evil". Such framings notably call for re-examination of the legalistic procedures originally introduced by the Catholic Inquisition to root out evil in the population in centuries past. The current relevance is established by Doug Linder in Searching for Evil: an examination of the nature of evil and its persistence in the American legal system.
The problem is unfortunately echoed in the judgment meted out by scientific peer groups to those scientists who fail to respect the norms of a discipline. As with religion, the difficulty lies in the rigid belief system of some scientific authorities who claim to know what is true (arrogantly anticipating all future development of knowledge) thus precluding the need to give balanced judgment to any new evidence. Such patterns are only broken by "paradigm shifts".
Faith-based withdrawal of human rights
Many commentators have remarked on the initiative taken since 9/11 by the world's superpower to dramatically constrain the human rights for which so many had struggled for so long — even in the USA. It might be suspected that this initiative was to some degree reinforced, in a vengeful fit of pique, by the earlier termination of the USA's long-standing "automatic" membership of the UN Commission on Human Rights — and its unsympathetic reception at the UN World Conference Against Racism (Durban, 2001) . There is much irony to the fact that, as an enthusiastic promoter of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the USA has now become exemplary in its abuse of those rights in the guise of faith-based governance. Given the primacy accorded to the USA's own Bill of Rights in exporting democracy worldwide — including to countries such as Iraq — the reinterpretation by the Bush administration of the principles of the Second Amendment to the US Constitution (into which the Bill of rights is incorporated) should not be forgotten. The Amendment stresses the need for armed militias as a guarantee of the security of the state (see also Arming Civil Society Worldwide: Getting democracy to work in the emergent American Empire?, 2003).
The point has not however been emphasized that this curtailment of human rights has been promoted by a born-again Christian leader who is candid about the role of God in guiding his actions. There can be no question that George Bush is persuaded that God is personally guiding his decisions in withholding human rights and that Christians of the USA are in large measure tacitly or explicitly supportive of this understanding.
The actions declared to be in response to terrorism, and for the protection of Americans everywhere, are therefore to be understood as uniquely supported by God. The attack on Iraq is to be so understood — as with the treatment of those suspected of terrorism.
Before discussing this matter, it is important to recognize that the USA is one of the few remaining democratic countries that continues to make use of the death penalty — and has arrogated to itself the right to execute this penalty on others. George Bush himself, as Governor of Texas, was personally responsible for authorization of the death penalty against several hundred offenders. It has been clearly stated that, as a born-again Christian, he sought the guidance of God in prayer in each case before making the authorization. All concerned, including those terminated in this way, can therefore be reassured that his actions are a reflection of God's will. For there can be no doubt whatsoever, in a country "under God" that its leader could fail to act in a manner consonant with God's will. Support for this view has been affirmed in the USA by the National Association of Evangelicals and by the Southern Baptist Convention. Indeed the latter declared: "God…has established capital punishment as a just and appropriate means by which the civil magistrate may punish those guilty of capital crimes."
In the UK, Tony Blair, has appealed for similar recognition of the merits of his personal religiously-inspired conviction of the appropriateness of his actions in matters relating to Iraq. He has ensured the necessary legislation, matching that of the USA, for the treatment of those suspected of terrorism. John Howard in Australia has made similar endeavors. Christians are therefore significantly inhibited in questioning the merits of these initiatives undertaken in the light of their faith.
Curiously, as the would be successor to religion, science is also not reluctant to be associated with the curtailment of human rights in its pursuit of knowledge. This pattern is to be seen with respect to potential dangerous physical experiments, weapons research, biological research with inadequate safeguards, and experimentation on human beings without their consent — including torture.
Torture under faith-based leadership
With respect to curtailment of human rights of those suspected of terrorism on American (or UK) soil, few are aware of the treatment meted out to suspects behind closed doors under such Christian leadership and with its full approval. As with the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II, this may be understood as a justifiable precautionary measure whose injustice need not provoke Christian qualms of conscience. The fact that the legal protection of terrorism suspects is deliberately curtailed under the direction of US Attorney General John Ashcroft, a born-again Christian and an ordained minister, should therefore not to be considered a matter of concern to Christians.
The difficulty for those of Christian faith is their complicity in the subsequent processes of torture — carried out in their name and in defense of their values — processes which have become commonplace in the response by the Coalition of the Willing to terrorism.
Three aspects can be distinguished:
- torture practiced on the continental USA on terrorist suspects
- torture carried out in other countries on American bases: In the case of the Bagram air base in Afghanistan, two deaths were declared to be homicide. In the case of Guantanamo Bay, there is no information on the nature of the torture carried out or the number of deaths that have resulted — and there could be no confirmation of the veracity of official statements on these matters. Hard evidence concerning conditions there is restricted to widely distributed information from telephoto lens.
- outsourced torture: The USA is documented as having made use of the services of allies to whom suspects could be transferred for "less constrained" forms of torture — again with no record of their treatment or fate
The use of torture in these ways has been widely acknowledged. The precise nature and extent of that torture remains classified information since those exposed to it are entitled to no legal protection and may well disappear without trace — possibly to be "released" over the ocean from a plane as with many "disappearances" in Argentine and Mexico in the 1970s. Records will undoubtedly be shredded, if they are maintained at all. But again it is important to be absolutely clear that such torture is carried out under Christian leadership, fully supported by policy counselors inspired by daily White House prayer groups. It is done in the name of the highest Christian values, as the most appropriate action for their defense — in the light of God's guidance. However, it is unlikely that non-Christians would seek to make any fine distinctions regarding the degree of complicity of particular flavors of Christianity in support of such activity.
Ironically, torture was completely justified according to Christian principles during the period of the Inquisition — which was partly responsible for stimulating the emergence of the Protestant Christian groups currently most supportive of George Bush. The archives of the Inquisition have only recently been declassified for the appreciation of historians.
Faith-based military action
Christianity has a long tradition of justifying its defense and advancement through the use of military force. This has included the Knights Templar and the Crusades, the forces of the Papal States (including a papal navy dating back to the 9th century) and of the Holy Roman Empire — and the reinforcement of the activities of Christian missionaries (notably by the Conquistadores). A characteristic confusion was however cultivated between "saving souls" and "filling the coffers of Christendom". European colonialism was born of this ambiguity (now echoed in the preoccupations regarding "development" of the United Nations Development Programme and its associated Global Compact).
There is a long tradition of ensuring that military activity is appropriate blessed and supported by representatives of an appropriate priesthood. As early as 7 BC, there are records of the Assyrian Army having a cadre of military chaplains. The role of the chaplain became more clearly defined at the time of the Crusades when he was charged with the spiritual and moral welfare of the troops which has been formalized in recent centuries.
The notion of a Christian "church militant" (Ecclesia Militans) has long been cultivated as "the Christian church on earth, which is supposed to be engaged in a constant warfare against its enemies…". It is evident in the rationale of the Crusades — a term now widely used metaphorically in relation to missionary activity. It is evident in the title of the Salvation Army and its military structure, or the Army of God (that is open in its support of those assassinating abortionists. The point continues to be made with regard to the Army of Christ, that Christians are enjoined to serve as soldiers of Jesus Anointed.
The New Testament is filled with militaristic references and characterizations of Christians as soldiers. For example:
"You, therefore, my child, be empowered by favor in Anointed Jesus. And what things you hear from me through many witnesses, these things commit to men of persuasion, who will be competent also to teach others. You, then, suffer hardship with us as a good soldier of Jesus Anointed. No one serving as a soldier tangles with the affairs of life, so that he might please the one having enlisted him." (II Timothy 2:1-4)
"Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword." (Matthew 10:34)
"But now, he having a purse, let him take it. Likewise also a wallet. And he not having, let him sell his garment and buy a sword." (Luke 22:36)
Millions of children have been exposed to hymns joyously employing military metaphors such as:
Onward Christian soldiers, Marching as to War
With the Cross of Jesus, Going on Before
Such words raise questions about the legitimacy of concern expressed by Christians regarding analogous comments in the Koran relating to any references to holy war. The use of warlike metaphors by Christians was debated at a Consultation on Mission Language and Metaphors at the Fuller Theological Seminary in June 2000. It concluded:
"We regret that certain words and images long employed to call the church to mission have increasingly caused offense to the very people with whom we are seeking to share the good news. Some of these words and images are biblical; some are motivational tools from the secular arena that we use to inspire involvement and action. Many are military in nature: ‘target,’ ‘conquer,’ ‘army,’ ‘crusade,’ ‘mobilize,’ ‘beachhead,’ ‘advance,’ ‘enemy,’ ‘battle.’….‘warfare’ metaphors and terminology" have become "increasingly counterproductive to mission work." They recommend alternate words and images such as "blessing, healing, inviting, sowing and reaping, fishing, restoring family relationships, becoming reconcilers, peacemakers and ambassadors."
St Augustine provided five qualifications for a "just war," which are still useful in guiding a Christian's evaluation of the rightness of his nation's cause. The concept was reviewed, to justify exceptions, by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life (Just War Tradition and the New War on Terrorism, 2001). Briefly, St Augustine's points include:
- the war must have a just cause such as the punishment of injustice and the restoration of peace.
- the use of armed force must be the last resort when no other maneuver will stop the injustice.
- war must be waged under the authority and sovereignty of the state (not for private purposes).
- the effects must be proportionate; the evils inflicted by war should be less severe than the evils being righted.
- the war must have a reasonable probability of succeeding.
The degree of involvement of religion in the German military enterprise of the two World Wars is illustrated by the standard issue military belt buckle bearing the phrase Gott MIT Uns ("God is With Us"). For the first war it included the crown of Imperial Germany, for the second, this was replaced by a Reichs Eagle and Swastika as part of Hitler's symbolic agenda (see Hitler's Cross). The Serbian Orthodox Church was intimately involved in the nationalist aspirations of Slobodan Milosevic (since indicted for crimes against humanity). The Shinto religion was intimately involved in support of the Japanese war effort of World War II and continues to play a controversial role in Japanese nationalist policies. Islam promises direct entrance to the "7th degree of heaven" for those who die in battle defending, or promoting, the faith. Given Hitler's own interest in pagan religion — suggesting a distinct understanding of "Gott" by the SS — there is a high degree of irony to the existence of a Military Pagan Network within the US military forces that has provoked considerable controversy amongst Christian groups.
Ironically the assistance of witchdoctors, as the earliest practitioners in this arena, continues to be sought by combatants in conflicts in developing countries — thus acknowledging the power of early understanding of faith-based military action.
Few Americans would doubt from the words of George Bush that God is especially supportive of the successful outcome of the attack on Iraq in defence of US interests and Christian values. In American terms, the attack might be said to have been "endorsed" by God. The special theological problem is that Muslims hold to a corresponding belief that Allah is especially supportive of Arab interests and Muslim values. Neither Christians nor Muslims have ever been able to address these differences of perspective non-violently. In the world of binary thinking favored by both sides, the other must necessarily be wrong. As such each sees the other as misrepresenting God and therefore, as unbelievers, as being the epitome of Evil.
The Institute of American Values has produced a manifesto to demonstrate that a times waging war is not only morally permitted, but morally necessary, as a response to calamitous acts of violence, hatred and injustice. To justify this position the manifesto invokes those "American values [which] do not belong only to America, but are in fact the shared inheritance of "humankind". As reviewed by Richard Sennett (They mean well: the American flight from politics into faith. Times Literary Supplement, 7 June 2002):
They invoke an American version of religious faith as the most important of these values. While they recognize "no religious tradition in spotless", still they reject what the manifesto calls "ideological secularism"…What they affirm is that religious faith is an "important dimension of personhood"….
To the extent that military metaphors are very commonly used in business, it is expected that the perspective offered by faith-based military action would also be translated into commerce. This is admirably illustrated by Zac Goldsmith (Progress to Nowhere. Resurgence, 219, July/August 2003, pp 22-3) in a quote from the report of the head of the Campbell Soup Company:
As I look into the future, I shiver with business excitement. That's because Campbell Soup Company is engaged in a Global Business Crusade… The aim is to convert millions of new customers to Campbell brands very year. We are moving across the oceans and into new nation-states and blocs. The joy of it is that we can't be fined for speeding…
There is little wonder that such attitudes invite a vigorous response from those that do not wish to be the subject of such crusades and converted in this way. As might be expected, their opposition is frequently framed by those in favor of such crusades as an "anti-business crusade" (in documents on the web for example).
Similarly those religious groups with commercial interests, such as the Rev Sun Myung Moon's Unification Church, may well openly define themselves as having a "business crusade". This may be understood as religious initiatives in the business community.
Faith-based intolerance of disagreement: avoidance of dialogue with dissenters
One of the most significant features of terrorism and the response to it has been:
the virtual absence of dialogue,
the poor quality of any "dialogue" that does occur, and
the apparent failure to seek out new ways of dialoguing between those holding radically opposed viewpoints — whether or not these are religiously inspired.
It might even be declared that terrorism is a direct consequence of the failure of dialogue — of a failure of the privileged to listen and of the disadvantaged to be heard. One of the curious features of the Bush regime is that soon after its inauguration there was interaction with the Taliban. Reports indicate however that the nature of the "dialogue" was one of demand and threat which failed to intimidate those whom the USA subsequently chose to attack.
This pattern has obtained in more recent years to the degree that George Bush is reputed not to wish to be exposed to those holding alternative perspectives — a view which presumably reinforces any such tendencies amongst his subordinates. Dissenting views are not fully or energetically communicated to the President. Critics of this see-no-dissent, hear-no-dissent mindset are mocked for preferring leaders who have the capacity to doubt. As a superpower, the USA has emphasized its superiority through a refusal to dialogue — except on its own terms. And yet it is curious that the agents of the Christian-inspired Coalition of the Willing are always portrayed as "reasonable" — faced with dissenters who are "dogmatic" and "intractable".
The study cited earlier (Political Conservatism as Motivated Social Cognition, 2003) would appear to explain this reluctance to dialogue as a dislike of nuance within a framework of moral certainty:
This intolerance of ambiguity can lead people to cling to the familiar, to arrive at premature conclusions, and to impose simplistic clichés and stereotypes.
One of the authors of the report, Jack Glaser, suggests that the aversion to shades of grey and the need for "closure" could explain the manner in which the Bush administration ignored intelligence that contradicted its beliefs about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq — a typical example of groupthink (see Groupthink: the Search for Archaeoraptor as a Metaphoric Tale, 2002). Such an attitude is to be contrasted with that of the Czech Republic which described its policy on US-EU relations as one of "constructive ambiguity" — a view echoed by Poland (Financial Times, 12 August 2003).
Those of Christian faith like to portray themselves as naturally disposed to dialogue — to the point of perceiving themselves as leaders of the interfaith movement. Biblical stories focus fondly on the tendency of Jesus to seek out sinners and to consort freely with them. Christians have long engaged in missionary work in prisons for that reason. Despite the guidance offered by God to George Bush in avoiding dialogue, it would be interesting to see how the historical Jesus would react to the "sinners" who disagreed with Bush's views and abhorred his treatment of suspects of terrorism. Given his profile and ethnic origins, the provisions of the Patriot Act would in all probability now require that Jesus be strip searched and detained on entry to the USA — and possibly transported to Guantanamo Bay for more in-depth "dialogue"!
For Christians in general the threats of terrorism raise issues regarding the quality of dialogue with those of contrary views which they have sought and in which they have engaged. It might be inferred that they are largely supportive of the avoidance of dialogue — as practiced by Bush, Blair and Howard — little realizing how this fuels the processes from which terrorism is born. This avoidance makes a mockery of the "safe" forms of dialogue associated with the interfaith movement that completely fail to address the issues that inspire acts of terrorism.
In reviewing the impact of faith-based Labor leadership in the UK on the legislature and civil service, Jenni Russell (Victims of a culture of contempt, Guardian, 3 September 2003) makes the following points:
Here is a government obsessed with maintaining the public's respect. Yet it has shown that it is not willing to respect those who hold a different viewpoint, or question its interpretation of how to govern.
In the Lords, peers appointed by Labor because of their record of independent thinking and adherence to liberal values have been shattered by the pressures imposed by the whips when they dare to vote against the government. They have been threatened with social isolation, told they are loathed by their colleagues and warned to keep their profiles low….Meanwhile, MPs who stand their ground have been briefed against, warned they'll never have a career or told they'll be deselected.
But in some key departments — though not all — civil servants describe the ministers who arrived as suspicious, arrogant and completely intolerant of dissent. Officials who thought it was their role to raise queries discovered that they had been marginalized, while ministers looked elsewhere for advice….More seriously, in its refusal to listen, Labor made key managerial mistakes.
Such attitudes regarding dialogue are likely to inspire the emergence of "dissenters" whose effect on global society may eventually be similar to those of the protestant religious dissenters in England in the 17th century which were a direct force for the creation of the USA: Baptists, Congregationalists, Covenanters, Methodists, Moravians, Plymouth Brethren, Presbyterians, Puritans and Quakers. An indication of such a shift in perspective is evident in the collection of writings gathered by Stanley M. Hauerwas and Frank Lentricchia: Dissent from the Homeland: Essays After September 11 (2002).
The tragic irony is that the preferred mode of safe "dialogue" with those of radically opposed views, as now authorized by the Christian leadership of the White House, is under conditions of torture. As with the processes of the Inquisition of centuries past, the agents of the leadership defending the highest values of Christian civilization would appear to feel most comfortable with dialogue under conditions in which the partner in dialogue holding "deviant" views can be persuaded by pain under constraint to accede to the correct perspectives of their enlightened Christian counterparts.
Would the Inquisition have been especially comfortable defending Christian values in Guantanamo Bay? One might wonder at the number of born-again Christians engaged in dialogue with suspects there. It is curious that this same leadership prides itself on relieving the world of Saddam Hussein, notably because of his use of torture. One of the greatest contributions by the Coalition of the Willing to the art of governance may then be the clarification of the distinction between "acceptable" torture and "unacceptable" torture at the "cutting edge" of dialogue. At this stage it is not clear that any forms are defined as unacceptable or that anybody trustworthy is empowered to verify that acceptable limits are being respected.
It would seem that Christianity is peculiarly challenged in its ability to handle disagreement and dissent. As with the other monotheistic religions (and despite the complexities of the Trinity), its principles do not make provision for alternative complementary perspectives — which can only derive from error. With Christianity, deviance, schism and heresy therefore tend to be commonplace — and might even be said to characterize that faith and its evolution and speciation over time. This speciation is especially puzzling in the case of the many hundreds of religious orders within the Catholic Church — unrenowned for their mutual sympathies — whose complementarity is poorly recognized.
The challenges of difference are epitomized, as in some other faiths, by the relationship to women and the role of women in celebration of God. Christianity has been completely unable to devise a dynamic for a spiritual community without the need to design out the contrasting perspective epitomized by the opposite sex.
The issues of disagreement are currently highlighted by the challenges to Christian community of homosexuality (and same-sex marriages) — in addition to that of the acceptance of homosexuality in the priesthood. Tragically the world has been scandalized by the sexual abuses practiced within religious communities or on their charges — but above all by the denial over many years regarding such matters. The degree of denial has been highlighted by the recent revelation by The Observer (17 August 2003) of a 40-year-old confidential document Instruction on the Manner of Proceeding in cases of Solicitation (Crimine solicitationis, 1962) bearing the seal of Pope John XXIII and ordering silence on these matters on pain of excommunication. It is now being called a "blueprint for deception and concealment".
Transference of moral responsibility for deferred pain
Terrorism has been converted into a dramatic global challenge by 9/11 — and especially by the Christian-inspired response to it. Similar disasters have occurred before in other countries. The 1995 Oklahoma bombing was one such disaster in the USA. The Bhopal disaster of 1984 — resulting in many more deaths — could usefully be considered as a form of terrorism.
But for Americans, 9/11 is to be understood by the rest of the world as a heinous violation sans pareil — the ultimate rape of the spirit of freedom at the core of Christian civilization. The possibility that other cultures might feel themselves to have been raped by the USA at some time is a spurious argument of the most dubious motivation — although feminists have long struggled to promote awareness of male use of this mode of denial in the case of the rape of women. Neither the destruction of Amerinidan peoples through which American settlement was achieved, nor the enslavement of millions through which the USA first built its wealth, nor the economic exploitation of client states by multinationals, is to be considered comparable to any degree to the actions of a group of men armed with box cutters in an attack of surgical precision to rival any Pentagon missile.
There is also the supreme irony of the erosion of collective memory regarding the coup on 11 September 1973 against Allende's democratically elected government in Chile — a coup that history has established as having been strongly supported and funded by the US in order that the Americas should not be faced with a viable alternative model to capitalism. In contrast with 9/11 (with which many compare it), subsequent operations (notably Operation Condor) to ensure the stability of the new Chilean "democracy" resulted in over 3,000 deaths, and thousands of "disappearances" after torture. General Pinochet, later indicted for crimes against humanity, was portrayed as a strong ally by the USA and the UK. Margaret Thatcher, who personally supported him during his extradition proceedings asserted that he "brought democracy to Chile".
The special challenge of the times is that the complexities of world governance no longer lend themselves to any hope of strategic management with the skills and resources considered acceptable. There is therefore considerable merit in reframing the challenge by focusing on singular threats with well-defined "enemies" that are sufficiently elusive and dangerous so as to justify repressive legislation and continuing military initiatives. "Terrorism" is one threat that may be suitably promoted and managed to this end (Promoting a Singular Global Threat — Terrorism: Strategy of choice for world governance, 2002).
As many have remarked, the focus on terrorism very effectively draws attention away from the hundreds of millions of unnecessary deaths associated yearly with problems that have proven to be unresponsive to modest international programmes, notably in countries that have been labeled "basket cases". Such problems include starvation, water shortage, disease, illiteracy, shelter, etc. The resources briefly expended on the conquest of Afghanistan and Iraq vastly exceed the resources that have ever been recommended for remedial action by such programmes.
The actions against terrorism are claimed to be in revenge for a few thousand American deaths on the occasion of 9/11, and to prevent more deaths in that country later. But this neglects the fact that the allocation of scarce resources to this end has already guaranteed the deaths of far larger numbers of people — elsewhere. They will die because the intractable problems — that breed terrorism incidentally — continue to be neglected. And fewer resources are now available to address them — even if the will to do so has not now been severely eroded.
In this respect, Christianity is however curiously influenced by its foundation myth and especially by the "hand-washing" of Pontius Pilate that it has embodied through a perverse form of transference. It is a religion with a special relation to pain (as symbolized by the Cross as an instrument of torture and execution) and to lack of responsibility for the pain of others before God. Like the Aztec priests, Catholic priests were empowered to cause pain during the Inquisition to assist in the salvation of the sufferer — even if this was achieved through the actions of menials, alleviating those responsible of any direct personal responsibility. Withholding succour to those in distress is not to be framed as causing pain — since the pain experienced is the responsibility of the sufferer, especially if its manifestation is delayed for years.
Vengefulness and redemption
Specifically any Biblical notion of "turning the other cheek" (Luke 6:27-36; Romans 13:1-5, Matthew 5: 38-48) is then more un-American than the preoccupations of the Un-American Activities Committee. In relation to 9/11, it is a real challenge to Christians to understand the Biblical injunction "Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord" (Romans 12:19).
Will history judge US military activity in post-war Iraq (under a Christian leadership seeking to export Christian values) to be disproportionate and vengeful? Robert Fisk (Secret slaughter by night, lies and blind eyes by day. Independent on Sunday, 14 September 2003) sees the death rate of some 1,000 Iraqi civilians per week, against American military deaths of 7 per week, as being highly problematic. He states:
Given the assumptions about the special relationship of the USA to God, 9/11 was immediately presented by prominent Christian evangelists, Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson, as an expression of God's anger regarding liberal civil liberties groups, feminists, homosexuals and abortion rights: "God continues to lift the curtain and allow the enemies of America to give us probably what we deserve". Presumably subsequent disasters befalling the USA could be understood in the same light. However there is a certain irony to the total power blackout of the eastern USA (August 2003) at a time when the USA has been unable to restore power to Iraq. From a broader (and as yet unrevealed) perspective, God may have a variety of reasons to continue to express his anger against the USA.
On the other hand in the USA the possibility of redemption of those who have sinned is extensively cultivated. Whether it be drunkenness, adultery, embezzlement, perjury, or even abuse of power ensuring the death of thousands, Christian principles are evoked to grant remission of sins — in the eyes of God. As a criminal, recognizing Christ — and becoming born-again — is one of the most effective ways of obtaining the support necessary to ensure early release from prison, and possibly to avoid the death penalty. This follows a long Catholic tradition of the sale and purchase of indulgences. Non-Christians require much assistance in comprehending how Christian redemption is to be distinguished from a cynical process of "off-shore spiritual value-laundering".
It is curious that, to the above end, there is a capacity and motivation amongst Christian evangelists to dialogue with the most hardened killers — but seemingly none to dialogue with those suspected of terrorism.
Complicity of Christian faiths
The multitude of Christian faiths and sects has resulted in a complex psycho-social system in which none need take responsibility for the action of "Christians". In fact each Christian faith is distinct from others precisely because it does not wish to be held responsible for their actions or require specific allegiance to their prescriptions. Each derives its strength from the convictions through which it relates uniquely to God — recognizing in most cases the inappropriateness, or regrettable error, with which other such sects relate to God.
The complaint is often made regarding Islam, that there is no central authority that could be challenged or held responsible for the actions or views of Muslims in the world as a whole. The same is however true regarding Christians. Each Christian faith — however many its adherents — can readily deny responsibility for (or complicity in) acts perceived to be problematic by others. "Christianity" is not a well-managed brand! As with Islam, this might be understood as creatively maintaining a condition of plausible deniability.
And yet it is a fact that the current disorder in the world has resulted directly from the action of Christian-inspired leadership that has consciously endeavored to act in the name of Christianity in seeking to extend its strategic defenses to encompass the whole world — the quest for a form of spiritual Lebensraum. Protest by other Christians, as Christians, has been insignificant — even though these actions are carried out in the name of Christian values. Those of other Christian faiths are happy to be tacitly associated with any successes of the Christian project, just as when Christian values are advanced or exemplified by the actions of a person of one Christian faith (whether Mother Teresa or Martin Luther King) — denying their complicity in the harm they may cause under other circumstances.
Christianity should know better — if it would claim to be the basis of faith-based governance of the world.
THE IMPERIAL AGENDA
The outlines of an agenda, on the part of key groups associated with the US government, is becoming apparent beneath the declared strategies of "war against terrorism" and "regime change in Iraq". Features of this undeclared strategy appear to include taking over control of the world and its resources in a variety of ways.
Given that the attack against Iraq is likely to escalate at the time of writing, and that other countries will then be similarly attacked or threatened, this article explores the unforeseen advantages of the resulting situation — irrespective of whether it is to be regretted from many current perspectives.
The argument focuses on the manner in which engaging in the war on Iraq will make clear worldwide the distinction between:
the principles driving the American accumulation of resources at the expense of the remainder of the world and
the authenticity engendered elsewhere, hitherto obscured by the misleading propaganda regarding the reality of democratic values associated with the American Way of Life (AWOL)
The argument combines the insight of general systems theory regarding a degree of isomorphism between systems of every level (from cell to galaxy) with insights from the relevance of metaphor to governance. Within this framework, the argument compares the dynamics and attributes of the AWOL to those of an astrophysical black hole. It celebrates the way in which these dynamics will function to drain from the global system the preoccupation with accumulation of material resources — so as to enhance transcendental meaning and authenticity worldwide. Comments are made on the degree of symmetry and synchronicity associated with the passage of a very high mass astronomical object (dangerously close to the Earth in March 2003) with the level of expectant alert created by the attack on Iraq and the "war against terrorism".
Whilst Bush may indeed be sensitive to the increasingly dissolute nature of America, there is a curious irony to the possibility — long stressed by feminists — that the core problem for America is that it is becoming what might be appropriately termed an "Eve-ill Empire". The unilateral action against Iraq could be encapsulated in the phrase: "Eve is ill in the American Empire and Adam goes off to war". Not only has the feminine perspective been repressed, as long-analyzed by feminists, but through that repression "Eve" has become "ill" — as with any person incarcerated with inadequate care.
Outline of the imperial agenda: some indications
Egon Matzner, author of Monopolar World Order (2000) states that:
The obvious fact of US global hegemony has taken quite some time to enter public awareness. It is frequently described now, sometimes quite critically, sometimes celebrated as a great blessing to the world – e.g. in Thomas L. Freedman’s The Lexus and the Olive Tree. Understanding Globalisation (1999). Even the notion of an American Empire has come into use, the term often being used in a complacent manner. The most spectacular acknowledgement of US dominance was presented by the US historian Paul Kennedy. Until recently the prophet of American decline, he celebrated the one remaining global superpower with a brilliant essay in the London Financial Times. Its telling title is “The Eagle has landed” (Kennedy, 2002).
The Washington-based Project for the New American Century (PNAC) is a non-profit educational organization dedicated to a few fundamental propositions: that American leadership is good both for America and for the world; that such leadership requires military strength, diplomatic energy and commitment to moral principle; and that too few political leaders today are making the case for global leadership. It is committed to promoting American world leadership and notably to the control of international cyberspace. The philosophical underpinnings of these neo-conservatives are acknowledged to be the writings of Machiavelli, Hobbes and Edmund Burke — heralding in Robert Kaplan's terms The Return of Ancient Times (2000).
PNAC produced Rebuilding America's Defenses: Strategies, Forces And Resources For A New Century in September 2000. It supports a 'blueprint for maintaining global US pre-eminence, precluding the rise of a great power rival, and shaping the international security order in line with American principles and interests'. This dreams of PNAC 'American grand strategy' must be advanced for 'as far into the future as possible'. When Bush assumed the Presidency, the men who created and nurtured the imperial became the men who run the Pentagon, the Defense Department and the White House. Vice President Dick Cheney is a founding member of PNAC, along with Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Defense Policy Board chairman Richard Perle. Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz is the ideological father of the group. It has been argued that the desire for these freshly empowered PNAC men to extend American hegemony by force of arms across the globe has been there since day one of the Bush administration.
For, Tam Dalyell, the Labour MP, "father of the House of Commons" and one of the leading rebel voices against the war with Iraq, said:
This is a blueprint for US world domination — a new world order of their making. These are the thought processes of fantasist Americans who want to control the world. I am appalled that a British Labour Prime Minister should have got into bed with a crew which has this moral standing.
For Jim Garrison, President of the California-based State of the World Forum, and author of America as Empire:
If 9/11 reframed everything within the context of national security and the war on terrorism, the invasion of Iraq will recontextualize the world yet again within the new reality of overwhelming U.S. power in the world. The U.S. is choosing to do this by seizing the most strategic point in the Middle East, possibly in the entire world. …. For the United States to take control of this region at America’s moment of power is profound. It will be seizing the most sacred and fought over soil in the history of the world.
A strong U.S. presence along the Tigris Euphrates will make starkly clear that history has moved from an era of multipolarity, where there is a balance of power between nations, to a unipolar world, in which the Untied States holds global dominion. The consequences of this will be enormous and will raise many questions, one of the most profound of which is how the U.S. intends to act in the new unipolar world.
As a conclusion to an analysis of the internal woes of the USA, Norman Mailer (Only in America, 2003) notes that from Bush's perspective:
He also fears that the country is rapidly growing more dissolute, and the only solution may be—fell, mighty, and near-holy words—the only solution may be to strive for World Empire. Behind the whole push to go to war with Iraq is the desire to have a huge military presence in the Near East as a stepping stone to taking over the rest of the world. That is a big statement, but I can offer this much immediately: At the root of flag conservatism is not madness, but an undisclosed logic. While I am hardly in accord, it is, nonetheless, logical if you accept its premises. From a militant Christian point of view, America is close to rotten….Flag conservatives truly believe America is not only fit to run the world but that it must. Without a commitment to Empire, the country will go down the drain. This, I would opine, is the prime subtext beneath the Iraqi project…
Mailer points to the most thorough explanation, of this as yet unadmitted campaign toward Empire, by Jay Bookman (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 29 September 2002):
This war is intended to mark the official emergence of the United States as a full-fledged global empire, seizing sole responsibility and authority as planetary policeman. It would be the culmination of a plan 10 years or more in the making, carried out by those who believe the United States must seize the opportunity for global domination, even if it means becoming the "American imperialists" that our enemies always claimed we were.
Many of the arguments about, and against, American hegemony are made via links on the website of Americans against World Empire ("a Conservative/Libertarian coalition for peace, opposed to the bombing & hypocrisy which brings retaliation from enemies that we ourselves create, turning our free Republic into a military empire"). They notably provide information on the Armageddon Lobby in the US political system that is "trying to hurry up God".
Robert Cooper is a senior UK civil servant, currently Director General for External Relations and Politico-Military Affairs (Secretariat General of the EU Council). In his private capacity, Robert Cooper (Re-ordering the world: the long-term implications of 11 September. 2002) elaborated on the need for a "new imperialism" in the aftermath of the September 11 terror attacks, in a compilation published by the Foreign Policy Centre, with a foreword by Prime Minister Tony Blair. He argues that:
"What is needed is a new kind of imperialism, one acceptable in a world of human rights and cosmopolitan values. We can already discern its outline: an imperialism which, like all imperialism, aims to bring order and organisation but which rests today on voluntary principle."
According to Cooper, it could take two forms. First, there is the “voluntary imperialism of the global economy”. This would entail “failed” or “failing” nations being helped into the global economy in return for which they “open themselves up to the interference of international organisations and foreign states”. The second form, is the “imperialism of neighbors”, whereby as the price for keeping security in their own backyards, the more powerful nations basically take over neighboring countries, again voluntarily (as in the case of the UN protectorates in Bosnia and Kosovo where much of the aid, military hardware and personnel, and economic restructuring are the responsibility of the EU).. As one reviewer writes "Every statement Cooper makes is a barely concealed apologia for the forcible subordination of much of the world’s people to the dominant powers." One may rightly ask how much credibility is to be given in a world of spin to the notion of "human rights and cosmopolitan values" and "voluntary principle".
Gwyn Prins (The Heart of War) of the London School of Economics states bluntly (Goodbye to the old world):
But Iraq is simply a subplot within the play, whose major theme is the definitive end of the past cold war interregnum and the opening of the American imperial moment. We are at the passing of the age of Middle Earth. All the agents and the institutions of that age will be profoundly affected….For make no mistake, the ships of elves and hobbits are sailing from the grey haven as the age of Middle Earth passes." (Guardian, 15 March 2003)
It could be argued that the hegemonic project is but a momentary aberration of particular political tendency within the USA. The tragedy for Americans who do not support this view is that their president was elected according to their principles of the democracy that they are seeking to export to others globe — but seemingly without the provision of the Second Amendment to the US Constitution, considered so vital to citizen's rights in a democracy (and so effectively explored in Michael Moore's documentary Bowling for Columbine). Even though they may deplore that project, they are complicit in it according to those principles. What American would protest the declaration of President Bush Sr that the "American Way of Life is not negotiable" or his declaration that "I will never apologize for the United States. I don't care what the facts are."?
The neo-conservatives are quite open about the common cultural and ethnic background they share, despite accusations of "dual loyalty". Given their geopolitical biases, David P Ryan (Financial Times, 26 May 2003), himself a conservative, recalls the phrase in George Washington's Farewell Address (1796):
So, likewise, a passionate attachment of one nation for another produces a variety of evils. Sympathy for the favorite nation, facilitating the illusion of an imaginary common interest in cases where no real common interest exists, and infusing into one the enmities of the other, betrays the former into a participation in the quarrels and wars of the latter without adequate inducement or justification. It leads also to concessions to the favorite nation of privileges denied to others which is apt doubly to injure the nation making the concessions; by unnecessarily parting with what ought to have been retained, and by exciting jealousy, ill-will, and a disposition to retaliate, in the parties from whom equal privileges are withheld. And it gives to ambitious, corrupted, or deluded citizens (who devote themselves to the favorite nation), facility to betray or sacrifice the interests of their own country, without odium, sometimes even with popularity; gilding, with the appearances of a virtuous sense of obligation, a commendable deference for public opinion, or a laudable zeal for public good, the base or foolish compliances of ambition, corruption, or infatuation.
This hegemony is now being extended by the Bush Administration in the form of military control of what it terms "near space," thereby laying claim to the area of the Solar System that lies between the Earth and the Moon's orbit. "A key objective is not only to ensure U.S. ability to exploit space for military purposes, but also as required to deny an adversary's ability to do so," is how the Pentagon's Quadrennial Defense Review (2001) explained the strategy (see Joel Bleifuss. Rods from God. 2003)
Tony Blair, as handmaiden for the new American strategy, has vigorously promoted the need for the rest of the world to come to terms with this new reality of a world dominated by a single superpower preoccupied with promoting its own way of life. The question is what this new reality may mean for social processes around the world.
Martin Woollacott. Collaboration and coercion is building this new Rome (archived under the title: Something is being born, but let's not call it empire, Guardian, 20 June 2003) however concludes: "Free states may occasionally use the methods of empire to restore other free states. But let us not call this empire, lest it become one."
( This article continues in a follow up article showing the new bio-structures of culture to bypass these problems that were present in India's past and modernity tries to destroy).
Antonio de Nicolas Ph.D.
Professor of Philosophy, Emeritus
State University of New York, at Stony Brook
and Director of the Bio-Cultural Research Institute, in Florida.
More posts by this author:
- Religion — The last weapon of Discrimination
- Religion: The Last Weapon of Discrimination – II
- Technologies Of Transformation: From Mysticism to Creation
- Meditation — The Making of Images
- The Rig Veda: Religious Experience and Religious Languages