Benny's World

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Hope Has Two Daughters: Anger and Courage

This is from Montana Maven's place, and she has given me blanket permission to cross-post her work. Montana Maven devours ideas and consequently books (or articles) and when I want political philosophy or framing occasionally (she's irregular like me), I read her blog when my political soul wants to be rekindled or fed.

St. Augustine wrote, Hope has two beautiful daughters. They are anger and courage. Anger at the way things are and the courage to see they do not remain the way they are. We stand at the verge of a massive economic dislocation, one forcing millions of families from their homes and into severe financial distress, one that threatens to rend the fabric of our society. We are waging a war that devours lives and capital, and that cannot ultimately be won. We are told we need to give up our rights to be safe, to be protected. In short, we are made afraid. We are told to hand over all that is best about our nation to those like George Bush and Dick Cheney, who seek to destroy our nation.

A state of fear only engenders cruelty -- cruelty, fear, insanity, and then paralysis. In the center of Dante's circle, the damned remained motionless. If we do not become angry, if we do not muster within us the courage, indeed the militancy, to challenge those in the Democratic and Republican parties who herd us toward the corporate state, we will have squandered our courage and our integrity when we need it most.

I can be optimistic and angry at the same time, like John Edwards. Like him, I can walk and chew gum at the same time.

Tom P. points out in a diary the Furman Furor Obama appointing Jason Furman as economic policy director) that many of us are "angry at the way things are" and we hope we have the "courage to see they don't remain that way". That means keeping an eagle eye out for anything and anybody that advocates "The Shock Doctrine" or the Friedman/Rubin Feudalism Flim Flam. Without a powerful labor, socialist and communist movement in the 1930's, the moderate FDR would not have had to do battle with the friends of fascism in the U.S. Chris Hedges quotes FDR in his:

"Recommendations to the Congress to Curb Monopolies and the Concentration of Economic Power." In it, he wrote:

The first truth is that the liberty of democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of power to a point where it becomes stronger than the democratic state itself. That, in its essence, is Fascism -- ownership of Government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. The second truth is that the liberty of a democracy is not safe if its business system does not provide employment and produce and distribute goods in such a way to sustain an acceptable standard of living.

Chris Hedges warns us time and time again that we are seeing "America's Democratic Collapse". He agrees with John Ralston Saul that we are undergoing "a coup d'etat in slow motion." Workers' rights, voters rights, citizens privacy rights have eroded to the point that we are barely a republic let alone a democracy.

The economy, despite the official statistics, is not growing. It is shrinking. And as the nation crumbles, we are awash with the terrible simplicity of false statistics. We confuse our emotional responses, carefully manipulated by advertisers, pundits, spin doctors, television hosts, political consultants and focus groups, with knowledge. It is how we elect presidents and those we send to Congress, how we make decisions, even decisions to go to war. It is how we view the world. Four media giants -- AOL-Time Warner, Viacom, Disney, and Rupert Murdoch's NewsGroup -- control nearly everything we read, see and hear. This growing disconnect with reality is the hallmark of a totalitarian state.

What's the answer? Hedges says it's not enough to vote. We must "lobby, organize, and advocate for the dissolution of the World Trade Organization and NAFTA. And he says we need to repeal the regressive anti-worker Taft-Hartley Act. This is the mission of David Bonior's group, Americans Rights at Work. They want to pass the Employee Free Choice Act.

Seems that all roads lead to Rome. In this case, in order to avoid a fall like the Roman Empire, we need to flee Rome and set up shop out here at Democracy's edges and advocate for our rights to be called citizens and not treated like bulk items.

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