Sunday, January 20, 2008

Religion: American Babylon

Yesterday I again picked up the Chris Hedges book, American Fascists, about which I wrote a couple of weeks ago, and began reading at the chapter entitled “The New Class.” In this chapter, Hedges tells of a visit to The National Religious Broadcasters convention in Anaheim, California. As an exemplar of the “new class” of the chapter’s title, he writes about his encounter with a woman who shall remain nameless here. This paragon is an entrepreneur, running her own company; the author of several self-improvement titles; and a regular guest on such Christian talk shows as Pat Robertson’s 700 Club. Hedges also mentions several other women, each of whom combines a form of evangelical Christianity with media celebrity, in a corporate context:

The women, minor celebrities in the world of Christian broadcasting, capture the strange fusion between this new, flamboyant gospel of prosperity and America’s celebrity-driven culture. …Wealth, fame and power are manifestations of God’s work, proof that God has a plan and design for believers. (American Fascists, pp.132-133)

The long excerpt which follows encapsulates the core of what I believe to be the great danger facing this nation—American Babylon--and the rest of the world, in the immediate future, and once again describes the symptoms of what I have diagnosed as the cognitive dissonance of the American far-right polity:

This is the apotheosis of capitalism, the divine sanction of the free market, of unhindered profit and the most rapacious cruelties of globalization. Corporations, rapidly turning America into an oligarchy, have little interest in Christian ethics, or anybody’s ethics. They know what they have to do, as the titans of the industry remind us, for their stockholders. They are content to increase profit at the expense of those who demand fair wages, health benefits, safe working conditions and pensions. This new oligarchic class is creating a global marketplace where all workers, to compete, will have to become like workers in dictatorships such as China: denied rights, their wages dictated to them by the state, and forbidden from organizing or striking. America once attempted to pull workers abroad up to American levels, to foster the building of foreign labor unions, to challenge the abuse of workers in factories that flood the American market with cheap goods. [Note: I think that Hedges is giving America the benefit of the doubt with those contentions!] But this new class seeks to reduce the American working class to the levels of this global serfdom. [Note: The Road to Serfdom redefined!] After all, anything that drains corporate coffers is a loss of freedom – the God-given American freedom to exploit other human beings to make money. The marriage of this gospel of prosperity with raw, global capitalism, and the flaunting of the wealth and privilege it brings, are supposedly blessed and championed by Jesus Christ. Compassion is relegated to private, individual acts of charity or left to churches. The callousness of the ideology, the notion that it in any way reflects the message of the gospels, which were preoccupied with the poor and the outcasts, illustrates how the new class has twisted Christian scripture to serve America’s god of capitalism and discredited the Enlightenment values we once prized. (Ibid., pp.133-134)

Anti-Christ: I have seen the Oligarch and his name is Legion:

A man and a woman
Are two.
A man and a woman and an oligarch
Are legion.

And the merchants of the earth shall weep and mourn over her; for no man buyeth their merchandise any more:
~ Rev.18:11