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Shouting from the Caboose

Hope lies beyond Social Darwinism and hyper-individualism. As the end of cheap oil could be the beginning of community, the end of everyday time could be the beginning of kairos time, the time of decision. Black is a new consciousness, not a skin color (Steve Biko).

By Marc Batko (www.mbtranslations.com,  http://demandside.blogspot.com,
email:  mbatko@lycos.com)

There are solutions to the banking-credit crisis but they are painful. A dual key currency of the dollar and the euro may be inevitable along with adoption of a subsistence and sustainable economics (cf. Fred Bergsten from the Peterson Institute for International Economics in "Droht die `Mutter aller Finanzkrisen'?" in Telepolis, 2/6/2008  http://portland.indymedia.org/en/2008/02/372229.shtml).

Our footprint is unsustainable. For a long while, our imports have been double our exports. Our grasping and greed, stylizing desires as needs and all products as products with inelastic curves, are unsustainable in a world of limits and shared responsibility.

Poverty can evoke sympathy or fear as world collapse can evoke alliances or withdrawal. The melting of the dollar is a result of the twin deficits, the balance of trader deficit ($800 billion in 2007) and the federal budget. Countries do not need dollars as in the past to buy oil. The weak currency means it's harder to earn euros to buy imported oil. These are the new realities in our brave new world calling us to changed priorities and perspectives.

Radical solutions are different than rhetorical or cosmetic solutions. We are all called to be transformational agents and to pressure Obama to radical progressive policy on militarism, health care, housing, job creation and poverty. Martin Luther King taught us that there is good in every person. This could be the cornerstone for a healed understanding of security. Valuing all persons including enemies is crucial for a healed world. Reconciliation means finding a new unity relativizing differences.

Empires like Narcissus fall in love with their reflection and perish. We could become a republic rather than an empire if we follow Britain's example and not Rome's self-destruction (cf. Chalmers Johnson's "Blowback," "Sorrows of Empire," and "Nemesis"). Consumerism is an anxiety religion that sets having over being. Advertising is based on convincing people of their inadequacy.

World civil civil society directly and indirectly fights empire-building and its veils - corporations, myths and lies, long-lasting and multi-purpose lies. People who spend their lives glorifying sales and profits are living pseudo-lives in cultures of denial and diversion.

World depression is a bitter fruit of market fundamentalism and economism where economic corruption and pandering are made practical necessities. The free moral state is in a tension to the national security state. The state has a social character and can't be reduced to a power and security state.
Denial like showmanship is a short-term palliative or sedative sometimes spread by all the media and disguised or justified as a natural law. Being upbeat becomes the all-determining criteria when advertisers rule over audiences. From a liberation theology perspective, we are called to create a new language and a new mathematics, a language that is inclusive and affirming and a mathematics that respects the past, present and future.

Let me give a few examples of concrete existential resistance. Californians live in internalized rage with the succession of republican governors (Reagan, Dukmajen and Wilson) each one vetoing more bills than the ones before. Students and mountain people in Chile formed the real government when Pinochet - their US-sponsored Nazi party - only served the tiny elite. Bonhoeffer organized an underground Confessing Church when Hitler appointed a Reich church bishop whose only interest was in making the church subservient to the Fuhrer. In "Ethics," Bonhoeffer after excoriating "cheap grace" distinguished penultimate and ultimate when the church was perverted or instrumentalized to legitimate dictatorial rule.

Civil society is the counterpower to the dominant trickle down mythology. in resisting the world depression! We are called to an ethic of solidarity and resistance, to work inside and outside the system for peace justice and integrity of creation. As the left needs celebration and organization, we should congratulate one another and become interdependent "internationalistas." We should learn to empathize, to live in and from other people and other cultures and free ourselves from work coercion, myopia, narcissism and apathy. We are not here to be "entertained to death" (cf. Neil Postman) but to be transformational agents working against the spirit of this world, the spirit of greed, over-accumulation and conspicuous consumption. Non-stop consumerism and corporations promote false consciousness in status-symbol land. Chevrolet doesn't mean revolution. Possessions can possess us as the helping professions can help themselves. The car is promoted or glorified as a lifestyle, a validation of power and status while its destructiveness is faded out.

Together we can repair the broken language where offense is called defense and dependence is called independence. There is power in our decision, our proclamation and our vision. The Great Upheaval brings forth the Great Refusal (cf. Paul Krugman). Rewriting history is as perverse as using religion to justify the national security state.

In Kaspar Hauser by Jacob Wassermann, a town stricken by drought fell to violence, mistrust and fatalism until a little boy plays so beautifully on his flute that water rose again in the wells.

The West is "arrogant, greedy and self-absorbed." This was one of the lessons learned from 9/11 by Jean Chretian, former Canadian prime minister. Hell is being without alternative, resigning and acquiescing to political, economic or spiritual corruption.

In a cable public access TV program on "Spirituality and Healing," sharing resources, listening to all viewpoints and opening our hearts were emphasized as crucial for truth-tellers and liberators. Christianity, Judaism, Islam, agnosticism and atheism can help change our paradigms from excess to access. As crisis and opportunity are represented by the same Chinese letter, times of upheaval should be times when we recognize the many efforts and campaigns. Diversity is a strength and enrichment, not a threat or false security.

In a three-hour CSpan Book TV program, David Lewis, Pulitzer prize winning author and black historian, said he felt like one warning from the caboose that the train's speed was wrong and that the wrong men were in control.

Here are links to recent articles and translations that can give us new hope and enthusiasm as we seek alternative economics and alternative spirituality. Jesus calls us to the creation of a new language and a new mathematics, to be salt, leaven and light. Faith is personal but not private and is more interruption than custom. In the words of Soren Kierkegaard, faith is a leap across seventy thousand fathoms of water.

"Community Centers: Learning from O Canada!"

"The Cart in the Speculative Mud"

"The Economic Consequences of Mr. Bush"
 link to www.vanityfair.com

"The Welfare State in the Market Trap"

"Egoism versus Pluralism: The Crucifix Decision"

"The Cure is the Sickness: Toward the Post-Washington Consensus"
"45 Articles to Celebrate the De-Selection"
The fire of youth will never be put out. Don't let them break your spirit. We are only called to plant the seed, to be truth-tellers and story-tellers, to redefine and expand work, to revive our welcoming tradition and decry the tradition of fear. In a world where understanding is a fusion of horizons, prejudice can be a stepping stone to the event of understanding (cf. Hans Georg Gadamer, Truth and Method). May we discover the wonder of parallel worlds and the different stages and phases of life. The race is not to the swiftest but to the simple, modest and merciful, to become as children, open, affirming and enthralled.

Paul Krugmann says the Great Unravelling is followed by the Great Refusal. An ethic of resistance and solidarity calls us to the Great Refusal of affluenza and American empire/American exceptionalism/American hubris and self-congratulation.

A German physicist once told me: Stars are invisible until they find their partner star and that life is full of supernova explosions. Jacob Wassermann in "Kaspar Hauser" said a little boy played so beautifully on his flute that water rose in the wells again and the people stopped fighting. Liberation theologians (and Kierkegaard) say everyday time is superseded by kairos time, time of decision.

On Passover, four questions are asked. Here are my four questions as we pass-over from hocus pocus market fundamentalism to people-oriented alternatives.

(1) How is the $3 trillion war related to (a) the guns-and-butter mythology (we can have guns and butter endlessly), (b) the blindness of empire, megalomania, narcissism and myopia (cf. Chalmers Johnson, "Narcissus" and (c) the 150-year American expansion shifting from trade- to military domination?

(2)As bio-ethanol and bottled water are disasters or system errors of profit over survival and human rights, are American exceptionalism, might is right and megalomania moral disasters?

(3) Are laissez faire economics, market fundamentalism and trickle-down supply-side economics examples of John Kenneth Galbraith's horse-sparrow theory (feel the horses so the sparrows can live), blindnesses, credit pyramids built on sand, Ponzi schemes or contempt for alternative economics as bolshevism?

(4) Do elites have a frozen consciousness where there are no alternatives, where myths are called natural laws and where corporate profits equal community health and bankruptcies are just normal business practice? (cf. Charles Boylan on "Wake Up With Coop," Vancouver coop radio MWF 7-9AM PST, www.coopradio.org)

Saint Francis preached to the birds, that they should be thankful for their wings and feathers, their freedom and their protection. The birds listened and flew away in the sign of the cross. May the wine and bread of Democracy Now give us strength and hope as the dollar, republicanism and the Delay shake-down pay-to-play system melt away!

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