“Our Best Hope to Avoid As Much Violence As Possible”

“Our Best Hope to Avoid As Much Violence As Possible” June 29, 2018

Stan Goff, the author of Smitten GateMammon’s Ecology, and other books, and blogger at Chasin’ Jesus, on our current situation:

I am not a leftist. I am a Christian. I am not a progressive. I hate the term, and the whole history of the term, and the fact that many decent people don’t know that history, or understand the danger of “fighting for a ‘new future’.” The road to hell, and all that . . .

. . . but, I also know a bit of history, not fixed names and dates, but that process that constitutes the stream within which our lives flow. So I have some heterodox ideas about being Christian (and one who eschews violence) and participating in politics. The basis of those ideas is a commitment, imperfect as it is, and from an undestanding of the process that is equally imperfect, to peacemaking. And on that, I feel that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

So I promote and encourage the strengthening of a left pole in American politics — sometimes because they are plain right (ripping babies from their mothers is a pretty fundamental moral litmus test, imho, like torture, and shooting unarmed black people, and building oil pipelines, and encouraging rape), and sometimes in spite of the the fact that they can be wrongheaded — because they are what we now have as an alternative to THIS.

The polarization of American politics is reflected in a like polarization of politics around the world, because capitalism is a world system, and that system is in a protracted crisis that has been mounting for decades, and is reaching a kind of dangerous endgame that combines war, mass displacement, famine, financial ripoff schemes, and ecological collapse. And this crisis is the source of that polarization, which will, and is, amplifying the crises of power on other scales — nation, race, gender, and especially class. In periods like this there are always migrations from the so-called center (where the status quo has been destabilized) to the so-called right and left. And this cannot be overcome by ideological appeals, or appeals for civility, etc., because the causes are material, and our philosophical idealism tricks us into believing that ideas create material reality, whereas the opposite is more true (ideas and conditions are actually inseparable), inasmuch as wounds, and terror, and empty bellies, and illness trump ideas every time. Christians, in particular, know we are embodied creatures, and held in that embodiment.

So, if politics is the art of the possible — as I believe it is, though we often have an imperfect account of possibility — and the right (Trump still enjoys a 40%+ approval rating from a growing reactionary White America, which is in no way the same as red, brown, black America), with dangerous twits like Milo [Yiannopoulos] on the leading edge of it, then the best defense we have against a clearly articulated push for fascist violence is a strengthened left. Christians are not a majority (unless you count those pseudo-Christians of the far right), and in any case, we ought not aspire to rule (never worked well in the past), so our best hope to avoid as much violence as possible is to find as democratic a path as possible to blunt the far right with a strengthened left, BEFORE people on the left (and anyone else in the crosshairs of the right) can see no alternative but self-defense.

And we are inching closer to that breaking point every day, as I can testify by my own visceral reaction to the daily news outrages (I was not always a pacifist).


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