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Catalyzing worker co-ops & the solidarity economy

Does God Care About Political Elections?

November 1, 2008
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My perception is that yes, God does care, from environmental pollution to financial responsibility and economic justice.  The nature of God, however, still asks something of us.  Like Joseph remained in direct contact with God to evaluate Potiphar?s building blueprints and to interpret dreams, and Moses remained in integrity with his own Jewish roots and God, I think we need to recognize hypocrisy and mistaken priorities, and understand them sufficiently to build a culture of integrity.

      Clarifying what God wants has become possible for me by recognizing the historical origins and accomplishments of activists and mind-body healing.  Constantine, for example, was a critical ?activist? in that he transformed the position of Christianity in the Holy Roman Empire.  As I recall, he invoked religious tolerance.  By the time of Martin Luther in 1521, much corruption had set in as the result of choices by individuals up to Pope Leo.  Martin Luther then represented a new activist effort for an honest expression of God through Christ.  This process had reached a new level in St. Thomas of Aquinas about 250 years earlier with the Four Laws of God?s universe, the Eternal Law of God, Divine Law of the Scriptures, Natural Law of the Universe, and Human Law of Society.  Luther as an activist might be seen to bring to bear the various laws on the Church?s conduct in 1521.  The selling of indulgences for salvation was taking place, and so on.

As the show goes on and the Protestant Churches emerge, so does modern science, economics, and political philosophy.  By 1776, the United States? leaders debated and developed the Declaration of Independence, and then later the Constitution, they deconstructed monarchy, and began to deconstruct aristocracy in political philosophy.  I understand that someone urged George Washington to use the army to declare himself King.  He said no.  The American Revolution involved the Boston Tea Party early on, which represented the role of the large aristocratic British East India Company in trying to suppress small independent sellers.  That same year, Adam Smith came out with The Wealth of Nations.  I understand that he, Ricardo, Malthus, and Mills, not to mention Marx, all had some notion of limits to natural resources.  David Korten addresses the assumptions of Smith, that fair play and no big bullies were supposed to be allowed.

The industrial revolution also began after DesCartes and Newton by 1687 had taken God out of daily life.  Leibniz seems to have disputed Newton?s theology, for example.  After James Watts? steam engine, also in 1776 or so, aristocrats and merchants were joining forces to create machine-run factories and corporations.  They treated the workers like the stereotypical Aristocrats they were, harsh and cruel.  Smith?s ?laissez faire? free markets became their ideology.  The Church of England itself had emerged in the 1530?s because of the King?s divorce plans, and as the factories were built and run, lost none of its hypocrisy as it did not challenge the bosses? bad behavior. 

The Quakers had emerged in the 1600?s, and represented one good example of the integrity of the Christian Church in aristocratic England.    Then came Robert Owens, a boss who had a kind heart, and became an activist.  In 1830, the office of the British prime minister assumed its modern form with Alex Gray, rounding out the political divisions of labor with Parliament in a constitutional monarchy.  The English Civil War had begun that trend in 1649.  Coming back to 1844, then, labor activism had met much resistance and oppression from the aristocratic merchant factory owners, but striking workers came to form the first cooperative business partnership in Rochdale by the ?27 Rochdale Pioneers?.  As the idea both spread and appeared elsewhere, the International Cooperative Alliance was formed in 1895 in London. 

The U.S.?s own inequalities between the privileged rich and the disenfranchised belies the rhetoric of liberty and equality, as discussed amply in Howard Zinn?s book, and emblematically shown in the Whisky Rebellion of 1794.  A whisky tax had been levied to pay interest on bonds to the wealthy.   Marjorie Kelly, Thom Hartmann, Joel Bakan, and William Greider then have written on the development of the Corporation since then.  As the rich got their hands on technology, they made the most of it.  The Railroad Barons are an early example.  When the 14th Amendment came along, meant to benefit slaves by protecting them from being deprived of property, Corporations like the railroads stepped in and had themselves, as economic entities of wealthy, overly privileged persons, called not an economic interest, but ?legal persons.? 

Labor unions had to struggle until they finally overcame oppression sufficiently to form the AFL in the late 1800?s.  The American Cooperative League, now the U.S. National Cooperative Business Association, was founded in 1916.

Remember then the Anti-Trust legislation and Teddy Roosevelt the ?Trust-Buster?, with Rockefeller?s Standard Oil being split up.  After the wealthy speculated and defrauded their stocks a little while later came the Stock Market Crash and the Great Depression after 1929.  A little while later FDR brought his New Deal.  FDR, by the way, was called a ?traitor to his class? by some.

All the movements of the 1960?s represent the issues that are generally ignored by people focusing on corporate wealth, power, and privilege.  Nowadays, they turn this reality into the privileges of consumers and the general standard of living. 

            Does God care who wins the election?  I think he does.  The Truth has set me free, and many people free.  Look at how many food cooperatives already exist across the country, how many non-profit activist groups are in motion, how many green products are already available.

           However, the problem of the poor is really the problem of the rich, and the rich liars worst of all.  In this age of modern education, science, and technology, we who know the value of the environment and socioeconomic justice need to continue to deconstruct hypocrisy in its various forms.  Unfortunately, the New Testament suggests the magic of Christ?s return.  If the university can be understood as a fruit of Christ?s love, we can deconstruct the myth?s of Christ so that we can manifest the principles he taught.

         God?s will through nature, like Moses? ?pillar of fire? is coming in the form of rising sea levels and other threats from Climate Change, and environmental degradation in its many forms.  Republicans like to attack government regulation and taxes to let corporations act, to use force, and attack opponents like Democrats and create alarming and exaggerated half-truth smears whenever possible.  Nixon was involved in violating the Constitution, and resigned in 1974.  Ronald Reagan attacked environmentalists and contrasted them to jobs, deregulated the economy leading to junk bond scandals, the S and L debacle, and the Iran Contra Scandal.  George HW Bush called himself the ?environmental president? for a kinder, gentler America, and attacked environmentalists as anti-employment.  George W. Bush used the 9/11 attacks to create propaganda about WMD?s in Iraq and to use our forces to defy the U.N. and invade and occupy the country.  He also furthered deregulation of the economy, unleashing further the forces of corporate interests and the consequences, like the global Wall St. meltdown.

          Democrats have shown significant forebearance, as with John F. Kennedy when he resisted the use of military force on at least 4 occasions.  Who killed him?  Whatever CIA was involved in setting up Lee Harvey Oswald weren?t Democratic in spirit.  That allowed Lyndon Johnson to escalate the Vietnam Conflict at the hawk?s behest.   Jimmy Carter advocated human rights and promoted solar panels by putting them on the White House.  Bill Clinton and Al Gore lead with Maya Angelou?s democratic poem and signed the Kyoto Protocol. 

         Like Joseph and Moses, educated activists can, and have to be the ones to deconstruct the myths and lies to lead our people to freedom and responsibility characteristic of the Democrats, though I?m also interested in the potential of the Green Party, and Republicans for Environmental Protection.  Of course, as far as Republicans are concerned, until I see groups like Republicans for Whole Cost Accounting, Employee Ownership Property Rights, and Sufficient Regulation, Republican policies are based on the myth of tax cuts and deregulation for trickle down economics, or Voodoo Economics.  As for Democrats, I would like to see them advocating for more entrepreneurial, small business activity, and employee ownership.

         Thus, that is the job for us as activists, to get educated and entrepreneurial so that we can contribute to demystifying political, mostly Republican, smears and ideology, and empower all politicians that promote educated and just policies, which then follow the principles and commandments of Christ: love Moses' ten commandments of God, love God, love your neighbor, yourself, until you love your enemy.  In the Seven Woes, he also points out love Justice and Lovingkindness.  With the true nature of modern education as a Christian development, there are many options to avoid the use of force until absolutely necessary.  Blockades, for example, like Kennedy used, and the Peace Corps., also from his administration.     

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