Why hasn’t feminism done better? It’s a movement that represents approximately half the world, and yet – as is driven home by the miniseries Mrs America, currently on iPlayer — its cultural force and legislative success arguably peaked well before the end of the twentieth century. Mrs America dramatises the battle by US feminists to…
Torch-carrying neo-Nazis in Charlottesville were the face of white supremacy in 2017.
Today it’s “Nice White Parents.” That’s the title of a new podcast distributed by the New York Times which argues that many black and brown children are not excelling in our public schools because of “what is arguably the most powerful force in our schools: White parents.”
This is inevitable in a society where what’s “acceptable” is in a state of upheaval, and worse when it’s in a continuous state of upheaval. Some examples, old and new:
- The beginnings of Anglicanism, when people lost their lives in the abrupt transitions caused by abrupt changes in monarchs, from Henry VIII to Edward VI to Mary to Elizabeth I…
- Nazi Germany, where Adolf Hitler, having ridden to power with the help of the Brownshirts, disposed of them in the “Night of the Long Knives.”
- China’s Cultural Revolution, where old Party stalwarts like Mao Dun found themselves at the wrong end of group struggle meetings.
- Soviet Union, where people like Leon Trotsky who helped make it happen ended up murdered in exile or at home.
- The McCarthy Era, where people who lived in the 1930’s–where both Communism and fascism were fashionable–suddenly were outcasts. (Fascists got theirs during World War II.)
White upper-income women have been at the front of BLM protests, but now they’re in the crosshairs of Antifa and BLM types. Perhaps they were trying to head off facing their reality.
It’s a dangerous game, don’t try it at home.
The overwhelmingly white, anarchist activists who populate the ongoing protests in Portland, Oregon should not be underestimated for their strategic savvy. In seizing the mantle of “Black Lives Matter”, they’ve discovered a work-around to arrogate moral cover for whatever insurrectionary upheaval they would have been ideologically committed to fomenting anyway. The Left/liberal political and media…
This interesting exchange between Danté Stewart and the well-known Episcopal theologian Fleming Rutledge appeared in my Twitter feed:
It’s not a simple subject to unpack but it’s not as hard to understand as Rutledge thinks it is.
First, no matter how you try to make it happen the New Testament doesn’t really advocate changing, let alone overthrowing, the existing social order. As John McKenzie pointed out in The Power and the Wisdom, “…if any image represents the encounter of Church and state, it is the image of Jesus before Pilate.” Although it’s a stretch to say that the Roman Empire ruled for so long bereft of the consent of the governed, it’s also true that it did not have the “democratic” means to effect change in a peaceful fashion the way we take for granted. Those democratic institutions–imperiled by our current political situation–are a necessary prerequisites for the kind of change that is generally advocated by the SJW’s. The New Testament moved in a world where such change was effected by armed revolt, as the Jews disastrously tried two score after Our Lord’s death and resurrection. That’s still true in many parts of the world today.
Second, when white Southern evangelicals had much less education than they do now, they pushed through some pretty populistic, anti-moneyed establishment things which we, with our venal political system, would struggle to replicate today. I discuss that in my piece on Elizabeth Warren (a product of that culture) and won’t repeat that analysis here. A major reason why Southern Evangelicals have gotten away from this or any other “social gospel” is that they’ve shifted to a more aspirational mode of life, and if there’s anything people on the left hate, it’s being aspirational.
Third, there’s always the natural enmity of the secular left to Christianity, one that goes back to the Enlightenment and the French Revolution. That’s one which is hard to get away from no matter how Christians view the situation. I discuss some of that in a European context in my review of Daniel-Rops’ A Fight for God.
My last point, however, is that the difference between what parts of the Bible Evangelicals and others are fed in church. Evangelical pastors can pick and choose the parts of the Scripture they want to for their sermons, and they know their audiences better than most of us care to admit. Growing up as an Episcopalian, I was presented (esp. in the Sundays after Trinity) with some pretty challenging stuff, as I document in my pieces on ordinary time and my “return” to my home church, Bethesda-by-the-Sea. That will raise your consciousness on what the Gospel really means when lived out as our Founder intended it to be lived.
The problem with that consciousness raising, at least for me, is that it became soon apparent that the Episcopal Church, with its elevated demographics (and largely white ones too) was inherently unsuited to be the engine of social change. So I took my leave. There is no substitute for personal action. At this point it’s nice to point out literature to people, but really, if you can’t manage to sell all or shut up, the least you can do is quit your job.
During the last night in my condo in DC, I had to walk my dog an extra lap around the block because a crazy person was outside screaming obscenities. I wasn’t afraid. I just didn’t feel like getting into it with him or having to listen to his story—his “Let me just tell you something,” attempt to get money from me. It was 1 A.M., and I was tired from a night out—but more so, just tired in general. Tired of it all.
“Woke” people are blind to their own elitism, and one way that elitism has manifested itself in “urban renewal,” with the accompanying “gentrification.” What they didn’t realise is that a great deal of that renewal was buttressed by a police force with the training, weaponry and mandate to enforce the law rigidly. Now that woke mayors and other officials basically let protestors run wild, that renewal is pretty much history.
With that we’re back to the 1960’s and 1970’s, when high crime was routine in urban centres (how conveniently my fellow boomers forget!) and people didn’t want to go there. My brother used to say there were certain parts of Houston where the police didn’t go, and we’re back to that too. A product of that volte-face in American life (we seem to specialise in those too) is that people who have the opportunity to leave will do so. (My experience “on the bus” tells me that the people who can’t get out aren’t any happier about the crime, irrespective of their race.) And one pillar of wokeness will be tumbled down.
Another one which is in trouble is higher education, but that’s another post…seems like there’s a Sampson running through our society:
And when their heart was merry, then they said, Call Sampson out of the prison-house, and let him play before us: and they called Sampson out of the prison-house, and he played before them; and they smote him with the palms of their hands, and set him between the pillars. And Sampson said to the young man that held his hand, Suffer me to feel the pillars on which the house rests, and I will stay myself upon them. And the house was full of men and woman, and there were all the chiefs of the Philistines, and on the roof were about three thousand men and woman looking at the sports of Sampson. And Sampson wept before the Lord, and said, O Lord, my lord, remember me, I pray thee, and strengthen me, O God, yet this once, and I will requite one recompense to the Philistines for my two eyes. And Sampson took hold of the two pillars of the house on which the house stood, and leaned on them, and laid hold of one with his right hand, and the other with his left. And Sampson said, Let my wife perish with the Philistines: and he bowed himself mightily; and the house fell upon the princes, and upon all the people that were in it: and the dead whom Sampson slew in his death were more than those whom he slew in his life. (Judges 16:25-30 Brenton)
Dollar hegemony isn’t foreordained. For years, analysts have warned that China and other powers might decide to abandon the dollar and diversify their currency reserves for economic or strategic reasons. To date, there is little reason to think that global demand for dollars is drying up. But there is another way the United States could lose its status as issuer of the world’s dominant reserve currency: it could voluntarily abandon dollar hegemony because the domestic economic and political costs have grown too high.
Dollar hegemony is a topic that doesn’t get much press. It was Henry C.K. Liu of Asia Times Online whose verbose explanations of the topic were my introduction to the concept. It explains a great deal of why the U.S. has gotten away with much of what it has with its swelling debt and incompetent governance.
Americans aren’t much for renouncing anything, and certainly not something as central to its own centrality in world affairs as dollar hegemony. But with ballooning debt, unravelling rule of law (that’s what these protests are all about) and the other woes we face these days, it could end unceremoniously when the rest of the world decides, as my old boss in Lay Ministries used to joke, we don’t know what we’ll do without you, but starting Monday morning we’re going to find out.
We are now approaching the two-month mark since the riots that erupted across the United States in late May and early June. There is a reasonable argument to be made that these riots were unprecedented in U.S. history — or at the very least, since the 1960s. Yet if one surveyed the national media today, you’d barely even know anything happened. Nor would you likely be aware that those who bore the brunt of the destruction — largely minorities whose sensibilities don’t fit into any neatly-delineated ideological category — are still acutely suffering from the fallout.
What’s going on? Surprisingly, one of the more convincing explanations comes from an anthropologist who has looked beyond narrow economic reasoning to examine the actual social or psychological functions served by many of the jobs in today’s service and knowledge economy. David Graeber of the London School of Economics argues in a recent book that the prevailing myths about the efficiency of capitalism blind us to the fact that much of economic reality is shaped by jockeying for power and status and serves no economic function at all.
There may be a more reasonable explanation.
This reminds me of something I heard at a political dinner many years ago. It was during Bush’s Iraq War and a friend and I were talking about the Middle East. His observation was that the difference between the U.S. and the Middle East was that we earned money to get power and there they got power to get money.
Difference? Or perhaps we’re adopting the Middle Eastern way, a fear I’ve expressed to my Middle Eastern friends. I think there are two things driving this, and they (as usual) are interrelated.
The first is the centralisation of power due to both the centralisation of wealth and of political authority with an expanding government. All the Middle Eastern powers of old, going back to Egypt and Babylon and going to the Ottomans (and neo-Ottomans,) Iran and Saudi Arabia, are autocratic in form, function or both. With power those at the top can “organise” things to make the wealth flow their way, and we see that in abundance here these days.
The second is the growth of endemic (pandemic?) careerism in our society. I discussed this phenomenon in my piece When the Sheep Have Anthrax: A Reflection on the Politics of the Middle East and won’t belabour the point.
Given what we’ve seen in the Middle East, I doubt adopting this idea is an improvement for us, and the inefficiencies it builds into the system is one evidence that we’re not moving forward the way we should.
In wandering through some old posts, found this one from 2010, with certainly bears repeating, on free speech:
Americans have always considered their rights–especially the one of free speech–as “inalienable.” And why not: after all, it’s in our fundamental national document, isn’t it? Isn’t that why we make such a big deal of “rights?” Because they’re important and legally enforceable?
Well, in reality the extent to which rights can be defended depends upon the recourse we have when they’re violated. If we live in a country whose economic system is dispersed, our recourse is better because our ability to sustain ourselves through the process is easier. But when wealth and its disbursement is centralised, then our rights are compromised by our economic dependence.
Put in terms more people can understand, we all know we don’t formally give up our constitutional right to free speech in the workplace. But we also know that we have to be careful about what we say–especially if it regards our boss, the company, and to some extent our coworkers–because our employer sends us money every now and then for what we do, and if they’re displeased about our actions, that cash flow can stop. It’s the same with centralised health care: as long as the federal government basically holds all of the cards, they can deprive insurance companies of cash flow and thus exercise some control over what they say.
In a system of state socialism, when government controls the entire economy (in theory at least,) their control over people is nominally absolute, no matter what their constitutions say. People who spoke out could find themselves unemployable in a hurry.
That’s the extreme example, but hopefully you get the idea. The more economic centralisation we have, the more our rights will be in the subjunctive rather than the indicative, where they belong.
In the midst of the souring relationship between the two countries: Beijing vowed to retaliate after it said that the United States ordered its Houston consulate to be closed within 72 hours, calling it an “outrageous and unjustified move,” marking a serious escalation in the quickly deteriorating relationship between the U.S. and China… The announcement […]