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Fueling the Fire of Real Change

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Posted on Sep 28, 2008
Catholic Worker protester
desmoinescatholicworker.org

Kathy Kelly, a longtime peace activist and member of the Catholic Worker movement, shouts “Who would Jesus bomb?” as she is arrested during an anti-war protest at former Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee’s Des Moines, Iowa, campaign headquarters in this December 2007 photo.

By Chris Hedges

Turn your back on Wall Street. Walk a few blocks up from the gleaming and soulless towers of disintegrating capitalism to the shabby, brick Catholic Worker house at 55 E. Third St. Sit, as I did recently, in one of the chairs in the basement dining room with its cracked linoleum and steel utility tables. 

“Works of mercy and contact with the destitute sustain the spark in the ashes,” William Griffin, who has been with the Catholic Worker for 34 years and writes for the newspaper, told me. “It is with the poor and the indigent that you sense the imbalance and injustice. It is this imbalance that inspires action. Generations come in waves. One generation is inspired by these sparks, as Martin Luther King was during the civil rights movement. These fires often fall away and smolder until another generation.”

The coals of radical social change smolder here among the poor, the homeless and the destitute. As the numbers of disenfranchised dramatically increase, our hope, our only hope, is to connect intimately with the daily injustices visited upon them. Out of this contact we can resurrect, from the ground up, a social ethic, a new movement. Hand out bowls of soup. Coax the homeless into a shower. Make sure those who are mentally ill, cruelly cast out on city sidewalks, take their medications. Put your muscle behind organizing service workers. Go back into America’s resegregated schools. Protest. Live simply. It is in the tangible, mundane and difficult work of forming groups and communities to care for others and defy authority that we will kindle the outrage and the moral vision to fight back. It is not Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson who will save us. It is Dorothy Day.

Day, who died in 1980, founded the Catholic Worker in the midst of the Great Depression with Peter Maurin. The two Catholic anarchists published the first issue of the Catholic Worker newspaper in 1933. They handed out 2,500 copies in Union Square for a penny a copy. The price remains unchanged. Two Catholic Worker houses of hospitality in the Lower East Side soon followed. Day and Maurin preached a radical ethic that included an unwavering pacifism as well as a hatred of unfettered capitalism. They condemned private and state capitalism for its unjust distribution of wealth. They branded the profit motive as immoral. They were fervent supporters of the labor movement, the civil rights movement and all anti-war movements. They called on followers to take up lives of voluntary poverty. The Catholic Worker refused to identify itself as a not-for-profit organization and has never accepted grants. It does not pay taxes. It operates its soup kitchen in New York without a city permit. The food it provides to the homeless is donated by people in the neighborhood. There are some 150 Catholic Worker houses around the country and abroad, although there is no central authority. Some houses are run by Buddhists, others by Presbyterians. Religious and denominational lines mean little.

Day cautioned that none of these radical stances, which she said came out of the Gospels, ensured temporal success. She wrote that sacrifice and suffering were an expected part of the religious life. Success as the world judges it should never be the final criterion for the religious and moral life. Spirituality, she said, was rooted in the constant struggle to fight for justice and be compassionate, especially to those in need. And that commitment was hard enough without worrying about its ultimate effect. One was saved in the end by faith, faith that acts of compassion and justice had intrinsic worth. 

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Many of the old stalwarts of the movement do not place their hopes in Barack Obama or the Democratic Party. They see their task as sustaining the embers of social and religious radicalism. They hope that this radical ethic can once again ignite a generation shunted aside by a bankrupt capitalism.

“If you lived through the civil rights movement as I did, you would want very much to vote for Obama,” said Tom Cornell, who first came to the Worker in 1953, “but I don’t think I will be able to, given Obama’s foreign policy and his failure to promote a health care system for all Americans. I can’t vote for someone who leaves an attack on Iran on the table.”

Those within the Worker, however, worry that the looming economic dislocation will empower right-wing, nationalist movements and the apocalyptic fringe of the Christian right. This time around, they say, the country does not have the networks of labor unions, independent press, community groups and church and social organizations that supported them when Day and Maurin began the movement. They note that there are fewer and fewer young volunteers at the Worker. The two houses on the Lower East Side depend as much on men and women in their 50s and 60s as they do on recent college graduates. 

“Our society is more brutal than it was,” said Martha Hennessy, Day’s granddaughter. “The heartlessness was introduced by Reagan. Clinton put it into place. The ruthlessness is backed up by technology. Americans have retreated into collective narcissism. They are disconnected from themselves and others. If we face economic collapse, there are many factors that could see the wrong response. There are more elements of fascism in place than there were in the 1930s. We not only lack community, we lack information.”

I do not know if our hope lies with the Catholic Worker. Institutions, even good ones, ossify. They can become trapped in the deification of their own past and the rigid canonization of the views of those who began the movements. But as our society begins to feel the disastrous ripple effects from the looting of our financial system, the unraveling of our empire and the accelerated rape of the working and middle class by our corporate state, hope will come only through direct contact with the destitute. The ethic born out of this contact will be grounded in the real and the possible. This ethic will, because it forces us to witness suffering and pain, be uncompromising in its commitment to the sanctity of life.

“There are several families with us, destitute families, destitute to an unbelievable extent, and there, too, is nothing to do but to love,” Day wrote of those she had taken into the Catholic Worker house. “What I mean is that there is no chance of rehabilitation, no chance, so far as we see, of changing them; certainly no chance of adjusting them to this abominable world about them—and who wants them adjusted, anyway?

“What we would like to do is change the world—make it a little simpler for people to feed, clothe, and shelter themselves as God intended them to do. And to a certain extent, by fighting for better conditions, by crying out unceasingly for the rights of the workers, of the poor, of the destitute—the rights of the worthy and the unworthy poor, in other words—we can to a certain extent change the world; we can work for the oasis, the little cell of joy and peace in a harried world.”




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Anarcissie's avatar

By Anarcissie, October 8, 2008 at 10:52 am Link to this comment

’... If Obama is a muslim…. ‘

Don’t worry about it.  Obama is not a Muslim, he’s from Mars.  Remember Brother From Another Planet?  Well, there you are.  They’re coming to help us out, and not a moment too soon.

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By EarthPerson, October 7, 2008 at 9:37 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

It is all very well to discuss the legendary Dorothy Day and her work.  That she was a catholic and founded the Catholic Worker movement is relevant.  That she disagreed with the higher echelons of her own faith and their response to the poor is far more relevant.  She had some very humanist apporaches and in adopting these chose to follow Jesus Christ’s own example of the loaves and the fishes, of suggesting another way to those who teach as though they know.

Nothing is more important than feeding the hungry, housing the homeless and the provision of clothes and water.  All needs that a human has before these fade into insignificance without these needs met. They are basic.

Equal rights.  Most Western women want them.

If Obama is a muslim, then it might be the fear of some that it does not matter what differences the West has with the many variances of belief in any trinity or son of God, it does not matter that we cannot agree, collectively we are one to those of the Muslim faith.  We are the other. 

Education is paramount.

If anyone has looked at Noah Feldman’s: The Fall and Rise of The Islamic State and attempted to understand ‘Shariah’ law, they will know that the heart of a Muslim is firmly planted in a return to an Islamic State.  This could be achieved by critical mass and a Muslim leader being elected to a crucial economic force of the Western World.  People are uncertain.  The economy is not doing well.  People are still being killed.  The poor have been moved away from the rich to places where they will not be seen, only to be replaced by the emerging ‘new’ poor. 

Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin are inspirational, their work and the movement they inspire is worth everyone adopting.  It does not matter what faith you are - it only matters what intent to others you demonstrate.  Respect indeed, is a powerful tool.  With respect, perhaps understanding, with understanding, hopefully love.

Thanks.

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By lichen, October 6, 2008 at 8:29 pm Link to this comment

“Institutions, even good ones, ossify. They can become trapped in the deification of their own past and the rigid canonization of the views of those who began the movements.”

I think this quote is very interesting.  And this is a good column; we may not have the specific movements that existed in the 1930’s, but we have our own. 

The UN declaration on human rights includes food, water, shelter, education, healthcare and work; so no, there is no such thing as ‘welfare’ there is only communities that fulfill their innate obligations to each of its members inalienable rights, and those which violate them.

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By Anarcissie, October 4, 2008 at 5:11 pm Link to this comment

Folktruther: ‘Would you consider social security, or unemployment insurance or free medical care “Welfare”, Anarcissie? ...’

Broadly speaking, yes.  Of course a lot of people support these things out of motives I would consider charitable or communistic—or simply self-interested convenience.  For the leadership or ruling class, however, I believe their preeminent utility is keeping order.  The soft cop to go with the hard cop.

Welfare itself, though—aid to the indigent—is pretty horrifying, so I don’t know if I can properly call it “soft cop”.  Years ago, when I lived among poor people, I used to try to help them fill out their applications (Cyrena will kick me for failing to live up to my ideals), which were more complicated and intrusive than my corporate tax forms.  Eight pages of stuff like “List all your relatives, their addresses, and their incomes.”  People getting beaten up by cops at the RNC demonstrations?  Everyday life for those of improper pigmentation and economic class.  And they still believe in the system and want to succeed in it.  I guess I’m ranting off at a tangent….

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By Folktruther, October 4, 2008 at 2:10 pm Link to this comment

Would you consider social security, or unemployment insurance or free medical care “Welfare”, Anarcissie?

You can trade insults with me, Cyrena.  I like it.  I confess that I am also puzzled that your spirituality has led you the Catholic Workers.  Your comments are so poisonous.  Also your insights are often so penetrating.  both uncharacteristic of the Workers that I knew.

Ah, well.  Dostoievski has Dmiti say in the BROTHERS KARAMUZOV, “man is too broad.  I would have made him narrower.”  People are a constant astonishment.

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By Anarcissie, October 4, 2008 at 8:38 am Link to this comment

cyrena:
’... I notice that you didn’t bother to answer my questions about the difference between charity/welfare, and how or why it matters if it comes from another poor person, to give to the destitute, or from the state, having been collected from those who are NOT poor, or at least have far more. ...’

I was discouraged about commenting further on the Catholic Worker since, between Hedges’s article and your messages, I have gotten the idea that it has changed a great deal since my experience of it, so that anything I had to say about it was obsolete.

In regard to the question(s) you allude to above, I suppose the feelings of the recipients vary according to their personalities and their situation, especially the degree of their desperation.  Someone who is starving is not going to worry much about the pedigree of a ham sandwich.  Maybe that’s all that matters, but obviously I don’t think so.  What I was more concerned with was the mind of the doer, the persons holding power in these situations, the communist (I must use this word), the donor, the bureaucrat.  What are they doing to the world, the objects of their attention, to themselves?  We know, for instance, that Welfare fits well into a dreary world of militarism, imperialism, repression and wage-slavery; that’s why Bismarck liked it.  We have heard the expression “Cold as charity.”  We have someone right in this thread speaking about his discomfort with do-gooders.  Henry Thoreau wrote that if he saw someone coming to do him good, he would run away as fast as he could.  We can read William Blake, who writes, “Pity would be no more, if we did not make someone poor.”  We can read the parable of the loaves and the fishes.  To me, these are clues, but they don’t prove anything, and as you point out, they may not matter.  Or they matter to some and not to others.  They matter to me, but I’m not a nice person and certainly wouldn’t offer myself as an example of virtue to anyone.

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By WorkingMan, October 4, 2008 at 3:24 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Once again:
GOD BLESS CHRIS HEDGES
It seems kind of strange to volunteer when I am so close to joining the destitute myself, but I will make some inquiries.
I’ve got a certain distaste for the do-gooders of the world though, and I’m not quite sure why, but it is a gut feeling and I can’t shake it.
However, in light of the newly-minted $700 billion theft from myself and other harried workers, volunteering might in fact be a good idea.
There have been a few times when I have thought “All is lost” in recent years. The election of 2000 was the main one - even more than 9/11 - because, in my opinion, 9/11 was the result of November 2000. Obviously, the start of the War in Iraq was another, but today’s vote on the bailout package was the latest of the “no turning back” moments that has me feeling that it may, in fact, be far too late.
I am not quite as opposed to Obama as Mr. Hedges, though, and I am - yes, I’m gonna say it - hopeful that things might turn around.
And that’s because Obama - despite his strong connections to the power-brokers - has had a largely bottom-up organization. I think part of the plan is to Win First, then take on the task of real change.
All the same, The System is spitting out more individuals and families every day, and I hope Chris is right that the sheer numbers will fuel a new anger and radicalism. The opposition to the bailout was unprecedented. And the destitute are increasingly represented by those who have played by the rules but lost anyway, whether from medical problems, layoffs, or the deliberate shredding of the social safety net.
However, he is also correct that the Radical Right might capitalize on this situation to incite a new Nationalistic Fascism. Someone just the other day complained to me about how “these damn liberal politicians” are responsible for all this. (The bailout and associated events.)
With so many people eating a steady diet of lies, things look grim indeed for a new social consciousness.

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By cyrena, October 3, 2008 at 12:20 pm Link to this comment

In all sincerity anarchist, I’m not inclined to trade insults either, and I don’t generally indulge in such activity, unless frustration gets the best of me.

So, better that I just avoid responding to *you* since that’s what seems to prompt it.

My own reactions to you have been similar to a number of others who have been knowingly or not been caught up (into the same frustration) by your disingenuous posts. On the one hand, you show nothing but contempt for the intelligentsia, and a deep disdain for any academic profession, while on the other hand, you engage in the perfidy of attempts to bluff your way through as a ‘know it all’. Apparently, you can manage that well enough, with most of the people, and even most of the time. Eventually someone will call your bluff however, and that has happened frequently at this site, long before I ever responded.

So, don’t concern yourself about *my* spirituality, since that is not now, nor has it ever been a topic of consideration on this forum. I’ve addressed that only in terms of what Chris Hedges proposes in this piece, and it’s not about me, but rather this organization.

I notice that you didn’t bother to answer my questions about the difference between charity/welfare, and how or why it matters if it comes from another poor person, to give to the destitute, or from the state, having been collected from those who are NOT poor, or at least have far more.

But that’s fine. I didn’t expect you to be able to defend the rhetoric, once actually called upon to do so. I’ll continue to point that out.

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By Anarcissie, October 2, 2008 at 7:37 pm Link to this comment

Cyrena—I’m not interested in exchanging insults.  You’ll have to do that with someone else.  I must say your propensities for that sort of thing cast an odd light on your spiritual and political professions.

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By cyrena, October 2, 2008 at 7:00 pm Link to this comment

•  “In charity, the rich give to the poor, confirming the social hierarchy, humiliating the objects of their attention and degrading themselves into egotists.”

So anarcisse, which is this: (from the article)

“…The Catholic Worker refused to identify itself as a not-for-profit organization and has never accepted grants. It does not pay taxes. It operates its soup kitchen in New York without a city permit. The food it provides to the homeless is donated by people in the neighborhood….”

The food it provides to the homeless is donated by people in the neighborhood. He also says that there are 150 Catholic Worker Houses around the country and abroad. Is this big “C” or little “c” communism, or medium sized ‘c’ for charity? And NO, nothing is ‘obvious’ anarcisse, unless one is a far better writer or journalist than you are. In fact, the average person in the 21st Century, regardless of his or her level of education or exposure, is simply NOT going to make a cognizant or ideological ‘connection’ between Catholic and *communist* no matter how you choose to spell it, or what case the letter ‘c’ happens to be.

As for this:

•  “…Perhaps I am being tediously redundant, but you don’t seem to recall this and so I’m reciting it.  It’s all in her autobiography.  The clowning of the FBI is obviously completely irrelevant to this subject…”

Yep, you are being tediously redundant, and the clowning of the FBI has EVERYTHING to do with the point your trying to make in what you call the ‘earlier’ definition of the groups’ posture and ideological make up.

For instance, when I trek to Ft. Benning GA every year with a bunch of other Catholic Workers, and various and sundry other peace activists and humanists to protest what was the School of the Americas, and is now the Western Hemisphere Institure for Security Cooperation, what would you call that? We’ve been doing this for a while now, and we generally decide (in advance) who is going to allow themselves to be arrested, as you see depicted in the photo accompanying this article. We know these arrests are a ‘given’ and the FBI and the CIA are always around, (and not just there, but tracking Catholic Workers EVERYWHERE) and so we plan accordingly, since not ALL of us can afford to be locked up every time. Is that charity (on behalf of us protesting state sponsored torture and the like) or is that communism with a big c or a little c?

Or, when I take half of my own loaf of bread (and there’s just a couple of dollars space between me and the people Chris is talking about on 3rd Street) and give it to one or more of the folks there on 3rd Street, is that ‘charity’ with a medium sized ‘c’ coming from me? If so, how is *that* charity any different from the Robin Hood style communism/charity with the state acting as Robin Hood to use taxes paid by the rich to assist in the welfare of the poor?

Nope, I don’t see any difference at all. In fact, the latter is closer to Communism with a big “C” and is far more efficient in terms of leveling the distribution of what are human rights, and not charity or welfare, and allows for everyone to get in on the Spiritual Act. It’s the polar opposite of the Robin Hood tactics of the capitalism that has been practiced by the State for decades, which amounts to robbing from the poor, to make the rich even richer. And if I understand that when you don’t, then I guess it’s just because I have better vision; vision unhampered by an ideological stick up my ass. Free thinking allows one to consider alternatives to the language that you so love to twist, which means I can spin it just as well as you or anyone else can. Words/conepts almost always have more than one meaning anarcisse, but because of your constipation, you’re unable to recognize that.

http://www.soaw.org/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Western_Hemisphere_Institute_for_Security_Cooperation

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By Anarcissie, October 2, 2008 at 6:19 pm Link to this comment

Wouldn’t regulating the Internet be an expression of hatred?  Only instead of mere words the hater-regulators would have guns and could put people in prison.  That doesn’t seem like an improvement to me.

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By Virginia777, October 2, 2008 at 5:44 pm Link to this comment

“There are more elements of fascism in place than there were in the 1930s.”

This is what I am most scared of. I have seen massive volumes of pure hate swarming around the Internet - hate that has been unregulated. The financial industry is not the only industry in our country that was unregulated - so is the Internet.

Right-wing forums abound on the Internet. Right-wing “shock jocks” have “popular” blogs. These are “open to the public” at all hours of the day and night, 7 days a week.

No one is doing one thing to stop them. Their daily output of hate is not considered damaging to the community - even though time and time again, throughout history, the dispersion of Hate has proven an effective propaganda technique. Measures have been quickly shot down that have even tried to regulate the internet.

We are in deep, deep trouble because we have allowed a culture of hate to flourish, and at the other end of the spectrum, the ranks are severely depleted, even at their worst, corrupted.

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By Anarcissie, October 2, 2008 at 8:29 am Link to this comment

Folktruther—the Catholic Worker used to be too anarchistic to have anything to do with any government.  The article is contradictory on the point, and Cyrena has them hoping to get wired to Obama’s putative largesse to the faith-based, if I read her correctly.  I would not, therefore, call them a welfare or charity organization in their previous state, but maybe they have become one or the other now.

Religions, even the very sophisticated, elaborated, logically coherent imperial religions, usually include magical practices for those who want them, so they do not differ from Santería or Voudun in that regard.

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By Anarcissie, October 2, 2008 at 8:13 am Link to this comment

Cyrena—when I use the term communist with a small c I am giving it its original meaning, as I thought would be obvious.  It does not refer to the Communist Party or Marxism.  Dorothy Day was, at one point, a big-C Communist, became a Roman Catholic, and worked out a kind of anarcho-communistic vision of a new society with Peter Maurin.  Perhaps I am being tediously redundant, but you don’t seem to recall this and so I’m reciting it.  It’s all in her autobiography.  The clowning of the FBI is obviously completely irrelevant to this subject.

Perhaps again reciting the obvious:  There is a profound difference between communism and charity.  In charity, the rich give to the poor, confirming the social hierarchy, humiliating the objects of their attention and degrading themselves into egotists.  In communism (lower-case c!), everyone shares what they have, subverting the social hierarchy and confirming the equal humanity of their comrades.  The Catholic Worker I knew years ago was at least theoretically doing the latter, not the former.  Welfare takes charity a step further and makes it part of the state’s command and control system.  I don’t see how you can dismiss the differences between these activities, these relations, as unimportant; they seem to me to be in radical opposition to one another.

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By cyrena, October 1, 2008 at 8:48 pm Link to this comment

•  “Once they were communists; now, according to Cyrena, they’re doing charity; coming up is welfarist social work, plugged in to the almighty imperial state.”

No anarcissie,

NOT according to me. Did you even read the article that we’re discussing here? Apparently only with that one channel cognitive process that you have.

This is the second paragraph of the piece…

…..“Works of mercy and contact with the destitute sustain the spark in the ashes,” William Griffin, who has been with the Catholic Worker for 34 years and writes for the newspaper, told me…..

Here’s more:

…..”As the numbers of disenfranchised dramatically increase, our hope, our only hope, is to connect intimately with the daily injustices visited upon them. Out of this contact we can resurrect, from the ground up, a social ethic, a new movement. Hand out bowls of soup. Coax the homeless into a shower. Make sure those who are mentally ill, cruelly cast out on city sidewalks, take their medications. Put your muscle behind organizing service workers…..”

I guess that means they still know how to do more than one thing at time. Now if you in your bitter arrogance wanna call that being ‘plugged into the almighty imperial state’ then that is YOUR psychological pathology. Doesn’t mean that it is shared by humanists trying to serve other humans.

As for starting out as communists, I wouldn’t know. Sounds pretty suspect in my opinion, because that’s never been a ‘handle’ they’ve attached to themselves in my own long term association. Much of what the Catholic Worker does now, (and has for a long while) is patterned after the same Liberation Theology to which Archbishop Oscar Romero was doing in El Salvador. (oh yeah, you wouldn’t know that either…that distain for anything that might have a smell of education to it).

That’s not to say that they haven’t been treated (by the almighty imperial state) like the communists of long ago, seeing as how the feds of today’s reality are consistently spying on them, and watching everything they do.

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/12/20/politics/20fbi.html

http://www.democracynow.org/2005/12/20/headlines

http://www.aclu.org/safefree/spying/23124prs20051220.html

This last link includes this verbiage:
“Dec 20, 2005 ... ACLU Launches Nationwide Effort to Expose Illegal FBI Spying on ... on supposed Communist leanings of the Catholic Workers Group (CWG)”

(and yeah, I’m a proud member of the ACLU as well).

It says ‘supposed’ Communist leanings. So, do you really know what you’re talking about when you say that they started out as a Communist organization? I’m not asking because I have any issues with the former Communist Organizations of the referenced time period, but rather because I have issues with people who don’t know what they’re talking about, since ignorance and WRONG information seems to spread so much faster than truth and correct information.

Your suggestion that ‘wikipedia knows all’ is an indication that you DON’T and are willing to spread information that hasn’t been verified. In fact, wikipedia happens to be an excellent SECONDARY source of information, but it is definitely NOT always correct. The information it complied by average people and posted on line the way anything else can be posted on line. There is some attempt to monitor and/or contest incorrect information, but there is no one ‘authority’ on what is contained there. In other words, it isn’t gospel, and you can’t use it on the cheap to acquire the knowledge that you turn up your nose at when it comes from an institution of higher learning.

So yeah. The Catholic Worker DOES do social welfare work, and yeah, they do peace activist work as well. You can find them on Third St, and several hundred other locations. Meantime, you can still take a stroll up 3rd St. Just don’t try to chew any gum at the same time. I wouldn’t want you to be distracted.

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By Folktruther, October 1, 2008 at 8:44 pm Link to this comment

Anarcissie—I was using the term ‘folk’ in the German sense of ‘volk’, which the Nazis used to refer to the peasant population, but I was using it to refer to the general population.  Surprisingly, there are no good terms to refer to the past, present and future persons of earth as a totality, while being able to count and conceptually describe people in relation to each other.  I’m using the term ‘earthpersons’ despite its surreal implications.

The organizations you describe are cults of various kinds. Apparently some from Africa still survive in Cuba.  Magic plays a large role in them; I didn’t mean organs of that kind.

I don’t ever remember the Catholic Workers being anything else but primarily welfare people.  Kind of like American Mother Teresas.  Also, they used to refuse to challenge the Church on birth control. 
But maybe there were differet kinds.

The LA progressive radio station KPFK recently had a program on anarchist organs around the country.  Appartently focused in bookstores and bakeries and food shops.  Some were 30 years old.  But nothing was said about their linking up.

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By Anarcissie, October 1, 2008 at 6:05 pm Link to this comment

Folktruther—in regard to shamanism, I was thinking of medicine men and witch doctors in general.  There are certain similarities of belief and practice which cannot be explained by military conquest, as similarities between Christians or Muslims can.  It seems to me, then, like a sort of folk religion.

The most famous exposition of shamanism is a fake: Carlos Castaneda’s Yaqui Way of Knowledge (and so on—he wrote several books).  Although its facts are well-cooked, it may be a fairly accurate depiction of the scene.

I suppose one might also consider Santería and Voudun (voodoo).  But these are pretty close to shamanism.

Of course, Wikipedia knows all; it probably has some good links for these subjects.

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By Anarcissie, October 1, 2008 at 5:14 pm Link to this comment

Cyrena’s information may simply be more recent than mine.  Back in the day (of Dorothy Day and Chrystie Street), they didn’t accept money from the government, corporations and so forth, much less ask for it, and that’s why, I think, they’re still around, in form, anyway.  Once they were communists; now, according to Cyrena, they’re doing charity; coming up is welfarist social work, plugged in to the almighty imperial state.  Well, it’s hard to believe.  I think I’ll go up to Third Street and find out what’s going on one of these days.  Sounds like they’ve come a long way in recent years.

“Why I think they’re still around—”  Back in the 1960s there were all sorts of radical groups and organizations who were strangely offered funds by the government and other ruling-class institutions.  Once the mice smelled the cheese they couldn’t resist, although there was usually at least one meeting where the issue was argued passionately and the refuseniks sneered out as left deviationists and bourgeois dilettantes and so forth.  After the orgs became dependent on the money, the funds were cut off, of course, and most of them died and their leaders started hustling insurance or whatever.  A clever play.

My remarks about Obama and imperial war are based on his plan to expand the war in Afghanistan and possibly Pakistan, and his votes before 2007 to support the war in Iraq.  He has explicitly stated that he is not opposed to war as an instrument of policy; indeed, he could not possibly be the leading candidate for the presidency if he were so opposed.  I don’t see how one can interpret that history other than as I have done, unless one says that Obama is faking, which I think would be morally even worse than sincere belief, although it might portend better (less deadly) practical results.

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By Folktruther, October 1, 2008 at 3:44 pm Link to this comment

Anarcissie- I happen to be one of those people who DO want the ONE TRUE TRUTH ABOUT ASOLUTELY EVERTHING.  Unfortunately I haven’t found it yet, the world, and people, being so complicated and all, but I’ms still looking.  It is true that it won’t justify beheading anyone, which I agree is very popular, but you can’t have everything.

You should have known, Anarcissie, that Cyrena was a Catholic Worker.  You can tell by her generous spirit, good heart, love of humanity, intellectual integrity, and humility, all of which are evident in her filibusters.

What do you mean by a ‘Shamanism.’  The dictionary I have says its a belief of horthern Asia where the spirits are controlled by the priests.  Or any similar belief.  Is there another meaning?

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By cyrena, October 1, 2008 at 1:52 pm Link to this comment

Cyrena—Obama, the Democratic Party, those who run the U.S. government, can’t possibly do what the Catholic Worker does.  That is because they are “rich in spirit”, that is, they are ambitious, often arrogant people who believe they are better than others and rightly obtain their power and money by force, whereas the Catholic Worker movement is poor in spirit and its members believe they are the poor, obtaining whatever power and money they have by grace.  (That is, people give it to them freely.) Their methods may or may not be revolutionary but they are certainly not those of “that coldest of cold monsters, the state.”
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Anarcissie,

You are way out of your league here in addressing these comments to me. Your response is also intellectually disingenuous, and I believe intentionally so. It’s malicious, and dare I say arrogant and presumptuous, because even if you’ve not been around for much earlier discourse on this subject, my earlier post makes it clear how much I know about the goals and the motivations of groups like the Catholic Worker. I’ve been a Catholic WORKER for DECADES. I KNOW what we do, and WHY we do it, and HOW we do it. I’m no longer a “Catholic” because I long ago made the distinction between religious DOGMA and Spirituality. So save your bullshit lecture for the dummies who might fall for it, because believe me, I don’t and neither would the REAL Catholic WORKERS, who happen to come from all faiths; which was the only important thing that Chris points out here, before he starts in on his troll activity.

Nobody said that Barack Obama could do the ‘same work’ himself. It might be a tad bit difficult, even for a superhuman, to run the country and perform the work that the Catholic worker does at the same time. My POINT was directed (though I failed to mention any names) primarily to Outraged, who has been OUTRAGED by Obama’s proposal to FUND groups EXACTLY LIKE THIS. She claims it’s the same as ‘funding religion’.

So, in case you MISSED IT. These organizations, no matter how loosely or tightly they might be organized, are forced to do their work in a far less efficient fashion, just BECAUSE they much depend ENTIRELY on donations from various and sundry neighbors and others within the community. If any group or loose collection of people NEEDS and DESERVES funding from the federal government, it would be THE CATHOLIC WORKER. Obama has proposed funding groups EXACTLY LIKE THIS, and has made the ‘mistake’ of calling them ‘faith based organizations’ (probably because that’s WHAT THEY ARE) and the response from people like you and Outraged, is that this is a violation of the separation of church and state.

So, the Catholic Worker, or any other (fill in the blank) organization doing this work, has to inefficiently waste time that they could be doing other things, collecting what they can, when they can, from where they can, in order to provide the help that is so desperately needed by destitute people.

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By cyrena, October 1, 2008 at 1:50 pm Link to this comment

2 of 2 re anarcissie

As for your comment about Obama’s ‘support’ for imperial war, it’s just more bullshit rhetoric. You have ZERO basis for that statement, because the FACTS and the ACTIONS speak for themselves. Obama has always been opposed to the War ON Iraq, (an imperial venture if there ever was one) and has been the only one of the major candidates demanding a withdrawal of our troops, as well as an insistence that there be NO permanent bases left in that Sovereign nation state. (which hasn’t been sovereign in well over a decade, because of US meddling). This is the polar opposite of the Bush Doctrine that McCain wants to continue, and you know damn well it is.

That’s why based on FACT (and not rhetoric and slanderous innuendo) we can clearly see through the troll like ploys of Mr. Hedges here, with his intentional misuse of language that suggests that Senator Obama won’t ‘say’ in his demanded specific language, that an attack on Iran if off the table. It’s as bad as Hillary Clinton demanding that Obama take some ‘oath’ in their last debate that he ‘denounced’ Farrakhan. It’s hyper-petty BS.

And what’s up with this little diddy from the article…

•  “….“If you lived through the civil rights movement as I did, you would want very much to vote for Obama,” said Tom Cornell, who first came to the Worker in 1953,…”

What does ‘living through the Civil Rights Movement’ (as millions of us did) have to do with wanting to vote for Obama? Because he’s black? Is that a bit of a slip of the ideological tongue? If we lived through the CRM, does that also make us want to approve of Clarence Thomas as a SC Justice? I THINK NOT!

OK..I have to go now, to do my standard Catholic WORKER routine. Even though I’m definitely an agnostic bordering on atheism, I DO have faith in my fellow human, so I spend my time trying to do whatever might be possible to relieve at least a measure of the suffering. I’ll continue to do that, and I don’t have the slightest problem accepting or even DEMANDING some help from the STATE to get it done. If I get downtown and find one of the larger of the Churches locked up tight as a drum as I found it last week, I will raise holy hell until they UNLOCK it, so that it is available to anyone who wants to access whatever respite they can there.

And after THAT, I’ll come back here and do another tirade until arrogant people like you finally learn how to connect the dots, and communicate in more than your own chosen structured language. Because YEAH, it IS about morality anarcisse, and twisting the language to suit your own personal ideological agenda doesn’t change that.

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By Anarcissie, October 1, 2008 at 11:40 am Link to this comment

Folktruther: ’... folk theory ....’

Well, there’s shamanism.  This won’t satisfy those who want the One True Truth About Absolutely Everything, and the license to cut off the heads of unbelievers that comes with it, though.  And that seems to be very popular.

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By Folktruther, October 1, 2008 at 8:45 am Link to this comment

Reading these posts confirm what I have noticed before, that people are hungry for spiritual truths.  Much more so than for political truths.  Any truthpiece touching on religion or spirituality generates much more comment often than political pieces. 

Possibly it is a spiritual and emotional need to believe in something Larger than themselves.  Faith in something larger than an selfish involvement in an individual lifetime makes people stronger: it empowers people.

And this is what is necessary at the present time in history: not compassion, which contains elements of pity and condescension, but empowering people to rule themselves.  This requires taking power away from the powerful.  It requires a communal morality that does not focus not on relations of individuals, but relations among GROUPINGS of individuals.  It involves developing a moral ethic of power relations.

And this not because we are God’s creatures, but because it is our duty as earthpeople.  It is part of being fully human.

But traditional religion has been hijacked by oppressive power. It teaches us, by deceit and delusion, to obey Divine and earthly power. And it encompasses childish fables that if we are Good, and do what we are told, we will go to Heaven and live Happily Ever After.  But if we are Bad, and rebel like that great Rebel Satan, than a Just and Benevelent God will consign us to the Fiery Pit, where we will undergo hideous tortures for all Eternity.

Or, if we live in south Asia, in the Next Life we might be turned into a cockroach.

This is why honest truthers can’t take this stuff seriously.  If there is Someone up there watching over us, it is probably the FBI.  But the historical problem is that the only language for expressing spiritual truths is the religious language. And we have inherited this language to tell childish truths and legiitmate perverted anti-people values.  Including anti-sexual repression which is channeled into religious power.

So it is understandable that well meaning persons use this religious language to try to apply it to people relations.  Josephus, for example, the Jewish historian of Rome, considered that the Soul was the fragmented pieces of God distributed among people.  If we wish to Save our mortal souls, which I do not find an inspiring endeavor, we must adapt this religious language to people concerns.

This requires subverting the Western worldview.  this is necessary if we are to extend our world historical view to all earthpeople.  And it requires a change of class perspective.  Our Education, Information, and Entertainment is formulated from class-based power. If we are to develop a spiritual humanism that replaces the secular humanism of the Western tradition, it must be done from the perspective of the earthperson population, not from the perspective of national or regional class based power.

And people must do it themselves, as we are doing here.  It cannot be handed down by some Great Thinker who one identifies with as the Ultimate Authority.  People must tell their own truths from their own perspective in their own conceptual language. We msut disenthrall ourselves form the political Spectacle, arise from the audience, and take the stage of history ourselves.  we can enact our own drama.  And comedy.


This is not utopian. It is an extension of what we already have seen happen historiclly.  There is a folk art, arising separate from authorized art of an Elite.  Why cannot there be a folk theory, developed by the people to guide us against oppressive power.  Political and social science is obviously in the hands and heads of authorized power. Fine, then they can have theirs and we can have ours.

But this involves de-educating and de-informing ourselves of all the religious, politicaal and scientific delusions thaey have instilled in us to legitimate oppressive power. These power delusions include a secular humanism.  We cannot live this way.  We cannot even survive this way.

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By Purple Girl, October 1, 2008 at 7:21 am Link to this comment

Hallalujah a Religious doctrine that is Not entirely heretical, esp with the name Catholic in the title!?! Of course ‘Evangelical’ would be far More Surprising!
I am a Recovered Catholic, Since I’ve Always been ‘Spritual’ Never ‘Religous’.The Hypocracy of their actions and Inactions I could never Reconcil.
I Appaud This Group, but ask them to remeber…‘Rome was not Built in a Day’. We Can Not halt Work because Progess is not fast enough. We have fallen far off the path and must Work to find our way back. Please Do Not Hand McCain (CheneyCorp) Yet another ‘win’, come Sit at the Table and we will devise a plan for the Future, even if it is only One Step at a time.

OBAMA/BIDEN ‘08!!

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By Anarcissie, October 1, 2008 at 6:49 am Link to this comment

’... Hand out bowls of soup. ...’

Pity would be no more
If we did not make someone poor.
             
                —William Blake

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By Anarcissie, October 1, 2008 at 6:43 am Link to this comment

Cyrena—Obama, the Democratic Party, those who run the U.S. government, can’t possibly do what the Catholic Worker does.  That is because they are “rich in spirit”, that is, they are ambitious, often arrogant people who believe they are better than others and rightly obtain their power and money by force, whereas the Catholic Worker movement is poor in spirit and its members believe they are the poor, obtaining whatever power and money they have by grace.  (That is, people give it to them freely.)  Their methods may or may not be revolutionary but they are certainly not those of “that coldest of cold monsters, the state.”

As for taking exception to Obama’s support for imperial war, I don’t see anything hypocritical about it.  Surely one must expect the Catholic Worker organization and its members to take moral issues seriously.  By their lights, it is immoral to kill innocent people to advance foreign policy or improve one’s economy.  That is what war requires, however.  Far from thinking they ought to vote for Obama, I wonder that they can consider voting for anyone at all.

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By eileen fleming, October 1, 2008 at 5:44 am Link to this comment

Dear Folktruther and all,

You wrote: “I don’t think it’s necessary to love people in order to advance human liberation.  It is only necessary to respect them.”

I AM in solidarity with you there. Respect is the very essence of love for the other as you are seeing them with eyes that desire what you are doing unto ‘the other’ they will return it 2 U.

Does not always happen. And many reasons why-major one i think is ‘the other’ has been so damaged by those who claimed to have loved and respected them-

BUT did not. And thus another cycle of bad karma is ‘born’- or might it just be a continuation?


You continued:
 
“You may be gifted in such a way that you can love everyone.  Most of us are not.  But we can be taught to respect people, and not destroy the sense of dignity that is their right just by virtue of being an earthperson.  It is easier to respect people than to love them, and thus less utopian.”

 

YES indeed!!!

I currently am struggling with the concept of free will as it struggles with a power that drives a mission with a passion that one is powerless to say no to.

 

I would love to read your opine of the following read:

WAWA Blog September 30, 2008: Days of Repentance and Opposition as True Friendship

“Always be ready to speak your mind and a base man will avoid you. Opposition is True Friendship.-William Blake, Marriage of Heaven and Hell, 1796

Last week on a campus of higher learning, after a passionate exchange of words with a young man about what seems to most everyone to be an intractable conflict in the Holy Land, he hits me with a left to the liver when he says his brother was murdered by a “terrorist” in Israel.


In my heart/mind I imagined…


http://www.wearewideawake.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=1044&Itemid=204


Thanks for great insights so far Folktruther-you also have inspired what i will publish on Oct 2 WAWA.

all very good 2 U + all,
e

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By cyrena, September 30, 2008 at 11:07 pm Link to this comment

1 of 2
•  “There are some 150 Catholic Worker houses around the country and abroad, although there is no central authority. Some houses are run by Buddhists, others by Presbyterians. Religious and denominational lines mean little.”

This has always been my point about these faith based organizations and operations.

•  “Spirituality, she said, was rooted in the constant struggle to fight for justice and be compassionate, especially to those in need. And that commitment was hard enough without worrying about its ultimate effect. One was saved in the end by faith, faith that acts of compassion and justice had intrinsic worth.”

Indeed, Ms. Day could speak for me, and any other atheist or agnostic could be equally comfortable in signing on to this sort of “Spirituality based faith. HERE is the answer for those who don’t get the difference between religion and spirituality.

And….I knew it was coming….

•  “…“If you lived through the civil rights movement as I did, you would want very much to vote for Obama,” said Tom Cornell, who first came to the Worker in 1953, “but I don’t think I will be able to, given Obama’s foreign policy and his failure to promote a health care system for all Americans. I can’t vote for someone who leaves an attack on Iran on the table. …”

What a fraud. One minute you speak of a faith that even an atheist can buy into, (“Religious and denominational lines mean little”, when the point is to serve humanity) and then you go on about Obama’s failure to come up with a health care system for all Americans, even though not a single other soul in government or politics ever has before, and we don’t even know YET, how well his plan will work, BECAUSE IT’S NEVER BEEN TRIED!! We ONLY know that it’s a whole hell of a lot better than anything else that has come before it, aside from what Dennis Kucinich has proposed. And, like Obama’s or any other plan, there’s no way to know FOR SURE how that would work in reality.

So Chris, ya started off really well, since I’ve known and been involved with the Catholic Workers for many years, long after becoming an agnostic. But, you let your anti-Obama neurosis get in the way again. That’s really sad. In fact, it makes you a fraud and a hypocrite.


Here’s the incredible hypocrisy…

•  “…“What we would like to do is change the world—make it a little simpler for people to feed, clothe, and shelter themselves as God intended them to do. And to a certain extent, by fighting for better conditions, by crying out unceasingly for the rights of the workers, of the poor, of the destitute—the rights of the worthy and the unworthy poor, in other words—we can to a certain extent change the world; we can work for the oasis, the little cell of joy and peace in a harried world.”

This is what Chris chooses to quote from Day, much the same as how he starts out, but the fact that Obama wants to fund organizations that DO THIS WORK, the SAME work that the Catholic Worker does, is somehow unacceptable, and can’t even be mentioned. Chris can only quote the guy who says he can’t vote for him because he won’t take an attack on Iran off the table. Such superficial semantic cherry picking completely negates the whole point that the Catholic Worker, or the Buddhist, or the Presbyterian Worker is about. It negates the whole point of a faith based mentality for serving the poor, the destitute, the mentally ill, and all of the others of our fellow humankind who need this help from all the rest of us.

It would seem that Chris can’t give up the typical arrogance displayed by those who say, ‘we don’t need your help’. Look at us, and all that we do, because nobody else will do it, and so let’s just make all the rest of you feel guilty, and turn up our noses at whatever efforts you make, because we don’t like your campaign tactics or your politics, or that you are unwilling to say ‘never’

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By kath cantarella, September 30, 2008 at 8:52 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Folktruther:
‘You may be gifted in such a way that you can love everyone.  Most of us are not.  But we can be taught to respect people, and not destroy the sense of dignity that is their right…It is easier to respect people than to love them, and thus less utopian.’

Great post! You’re right: in this context, ‘respect’ is a much more appropriate word than ‘love’. You can love or claim to love someone, and still walk all over their rights because you think you know what’s best. Because you think you have God’s mandate to treat certain adults as infants. This is what a lot of missionary types did to indigenous peoples the world over, and what a lot of religious types do to women, (and others, but mostly women, and it is usually women doing it to other women, I’ve found) in the modern world. It is the result of a set attitude towards certain sets of human beings… i.e. bigotry. Which is the essential problem with ‘religion’ as opposed to ‘spirituality’. So many people just don’t seem to get it, or if they do, they aren’t quite the kind and just people they see themselves as. One can do good things for the poor, but it won’t make one any less of a bigot. That requires an internal change. A clearer vision of others, and maybe a better understanding of what ‘respect’ should really mean, if you don’t want your kind of ‘respect’ to make certain people feel degraded and/or helpless, in the presence of your own touted ‘moral magnificence’.
I know ‘religious’ people who aren’t bigots. But i know a lot more who are. I wish it wasn’t so.

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By Folktruther, September 30, 2008 at 2:57 pm Link to this comment

I don’t know, Big B.  Studies have shown that many people go to church, especially in Europe, who don’t believe in God.  Or probably much of the inherited myths.  They do it not only for the child care, etc, and the sense of community, but because they believe in the morality being advocated.  As the myths dwindle away historically, such as, notably, a belief in hell in Europe, a risidual moral husk is left, and what that husk includes is of utmost importance.

Legality and political beliefs are dependant on a more basic moral foundation.  This need not be primitive as it is in right wing religion, or lip service as is is in the mainstream religions, but can motovate a morality between groupings of people of the kind that exists between individuals.  And ethics of power can be developed, and needs to be developed, and this can only be instilled by a spiritual ideology of some kind.

The problem is that power structures have typcially hijacked religions historically to legitimate Divine and earthly power.  So the religious delusions accompany the traditional perverted values of religion.

But why would it not be possible to develop a spiritual ideology that instills people values instead of power values.  This was attempted in the French Revolution and previous to the Russian revolution, when some communists flirted with the ideas of a secular religion.

I don’t know what this spiritual ideology would entail but I would guess that a respect for people would be basic.  But of course your guess is as good as mine since we are entering here a largely unknown and unexplored area.

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By Big B, September 30, 2008 at 1:08 pm Link to this comment

folktruther,

I to think you should love as many people as possible before you die.(insert condom joke here)
Thanks for coming, don’t forget to tip your waitress!

What I have always found most facinating about americans is that many don’t do the right thing simply because it’s the right thing to do. We do right because we are afraid of the spector of an invisible man in the sky sending us to a nasty place when we die. Well, that and for the tax deduction.

It’s almost funny to see that the conservative mega churches that dot the american landscape are filled with parishoners that fail to realize that their church only exists because of the sizable donations of big businesses and their uber rich owners who only see the inside of a church for a family funeral or baptism. Those wealthy folks just want to use your fear of god to keep you in line. OBEY! don’t ask why that guy is rich and your not, just keep praying, know your place, and for crissake don’t look at the man behind curtain!

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By Folktruther, September 30, 2008 at 11:15 am Link to this comment

Eileen Fleming—I don’t think it’s necessary to love people in order to advance human liberation.  It is only necessary to respect them.  I know that Christian and other religious ideology conflates the two concepts, as it does so many others.  I suggest to you that it is important to separate them.

You may be gifted in such a way that you can love everyone.  Most of us are not.  But we can be taught to respect people, and not destroy the sense of dignity that is their right just by virtue of being an earthperson.  It is easier to respect people than to love them, and thus less utopian.

What this respect entails must still be worked out. And here religions may play a role despite all the delusion, deceit, violence and brutality they have engendered throughout history.  The development of this humanistic spiritual ideology would depend on the rejection of this religous evil as well as acknowledging the good it might deliver.

It is only in this way that a spiritual humanism can historically supercede a bankrupt secular humanism of the Western traditon.

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By yellowbird2525, September 30, 2008 at 10:25 am Link to this comment

it gives me great disstress to know, understand, and realize that the “democracy” being spread today is quite simply running to countries to teach them to hold back food for a higher price to the people; to know that the “leaders” who are lawless in our nation claiming to be a nation of law: have deliberately harmed the people of their own nation for profit; in every possible & conceivable way; from chemicals to take their health; from illegal credit actions to take their wealth; to the torturing of their own people deliberately by allowing collection calls 5 & 6 times a day every day; all of these are illegal; & every single politician in the USA today needs to be brought up for crimes against humanity; however, they refuse to be put into the hands of the international court of law. Of course they do; and the children die, the women weep; & the fat politicians & their buddies count their gold while the innocent sleep, thinking wrongfully that there leaders are “leading” them. Ah, but to where & to what? It is above & beyond disgraceful that the “leaders” of this nation have never kept 1 promise they made to any Indian tribe; have kept all their $ for themselves; have never kept promises to the vets; & all they know how to do is lie, deceive, & harm. And so many Americans want to enforce this monstrosity of oppression onto others. How sad.

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By WR Curley, September 30, 2008 at 9:10 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Capitalism. Doesn’t. Work.

Yes, you can scratch and scrap your long life through to feed your inner two-year-old. Yes, you can stretch your soul like shrink wrap around your life-pile of shiny stuff. Yes, you can buck up proud when you fire up the stainless Weber for the Sunday backyard meat roast.

But the debt just keeps rising, and then one day the sandman shuffles to your door.

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By nestoffour, September 29, 2008 at 7:37 pm Link to this comment

nrobi,

thank you for the inspiring words.

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By DocReality, September 29, 2008 at 6:41 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Screw the tar and feathers, start tying the knots. These criminal bastards should of hung long ago.

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By eileen fleming, September 29, 2008 at 6:36 pm Link to this comment

Within a month after my first return home from occupied territory I established my website and became a civilian journalist.

A Civilian Journalist is more than a blogger, for we leave our comfort zone to go and report for the benefit of we the people. We follow our heart and not assignments from editors. We spend our own dime and nobody pays us. We do it because we love to write and

“Writing…is hard because you are giving yourself away, but if you love; you want to give yourself. You write as you are impelled to write, about man and his problems, his relation to God and his fellows…The sustained effort of writing, of putting [words down while] there are human beings [with] sickness, hunger, sorrow…I feel that I have done nothing well, but I did something.”-Dorothy Day

That need to do something for love-and true Christians understand that God is love and

“Love is not the starving of whole populations. Love is not the bombardment of open cities. Love is not killing…...Our manifesto is the Sermon on the Mount, which means that we will try to be peacemakers.” -Dorothy Day

That kind of love is why I wrote two books and have spilled unknown thousands of cyber words all in pursuit of peace which requires justice.

I am fueled by my personal intimate relationship with Jesus Christ, who for me is a social, justice, radical revolutionary Palestinian devout Jewish road warrior who rose up against the corrupt Temple authorities and challenged their job security by teaching the people they did NOT need to pay the priests for ritual baths or sacrificing livestock to be OK with God.

For God LOVED them just as they were: sinners, poor, diseased, outcasts, widows, orphans, refugees and prisoners all living under the Roman Empire and Military Occupation. What got Jesus and any other rebel, dissident, agitator crucified was for disturbing the status quo of the Roman Empire and Occupying Forces.

The military occupation of Palestine is the status quo and innocent ones on both sides continue to be terrorized and die in the crossfire of violence.

2,000 years ago The Cross had NO symbolic religious meaning and was not a piece of jewelry.

When JC said: “Pick up your cross and follow me” everyone THEN understood he was issuing a POLITICAL statement, for the main roads in Jerusalem were lined with crucified agitators, rebels, dissidents and any who disturbed the status quo of the Roman Empire and Military Occupying Forces.

The problem is not with Christianity, but that too few actually do it The Way JC taught it:

A little of that WAWA Blog: September 28, 2008
Sir Paul in Tel Aviv: Plastic Soul Man, Plastic Soul

http://www.wearewideawake.org/

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By Fadel Abdallah, September 29, 2008 at 6:35 pm Link to this comment

Thank you Chris Hedges for reminding us of the moral, compassionate and spiritual dimension needed to help solving the concrete material crises we are going through. And thank you for educating me on the Catholic Worker movement and its founders of which unfortunately I was not aware.

Despite all the hate fanatic atheists display against any organized religion, the story you documented is a prove that people of true faith can provide concrete and meaningful contributions towards alleviating the pain of the least fortunate of human societies. Those people are indeed the salt of the earth that has much more weight than the materialists and the faithless! I hope Sam Harris and his “worshipers” can bear to read this article with open hearts and healthy minds, for they were riding high on their horses of faithlessness just a week ago!

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By yellowbird2525, September 29, 2008 at 2:54 pm Link to this comment

what folks need to wake up & realize is this: our nations leaders have been actively deceiving & harming it’s citizens & country: by removing laws that KEPT the people from being hurt: just in fiancial they have agressively taken repeatedly steps outside of the laws of the USA, banking, etc; to PUT people into poverty. They have used chemicals to harm people & rob them of health; all 4 1 single purpose: FATTENING their own pocketbooks; they have actively & agressively changed the laws to harm the people while “pretending” they are a nation of law, they operate outside the laws of USA, Congress, international laws; & have done so with such success they are trying for global domination. They bribe heads of countries like Mexico; and THEY lose their Constitution, land & water rights (the PEOPLE do); to the huge mega corps who are answerable to NO ONE AT ALL; they are doing this in country after country: any head of country that OPPOSES this to help HIS country & PEOPLE: find civil unrest; the 2 ambassadors planning takeovers in Bolivia & venezuela, were kicked out; they (US Ambassodors) claimed “we were trying to end poverty”; HORSE PUCKEY! How can they END it there when they are FORCING it on the people in the USA by CRIMINAL ACTS as stated by the head of the Fed Reserve re high interest rates & addl fees on credit cards? They have been operating at PREDATOR status for quite some time now which is above & beyond loan sharking; the LAWS protecting the people have all gone by the wayside in the overwhelming GREED to get it all for the “chosen few”; forcing millions in all countries to suffer. It ALL leads back to the WHITE HOUSE folks: to the PENTAGON: & it flows down to ST (Govenors); to counties, & to cities. The media is “staged”; and it is “claimed” we are the “free”; perhaps FREE for everyone & everybody to EXPLOIT to the nth degree: they “claim” this is the way democracy works: NO IT IS NOT. It is the way CRIMINALS work!

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By yellowbird2525, September 29, 2008 at 2:14 pm Link to this comment

louise: God wanted to end the oppression of the USA Gov back in 1949-1950; He said He had seen the babies born, the children, their hopes their dreams, & the lives forced to lead because of the oppression & it was NOT what He had led the people to this land for; unfortunately, His people thinking ERRONEOUSLY that it would be best for their children & grandkids humbled themselves, prayed, fasted & intervened; He reluctantly agreed but stated: it will get bad. NEVER listen to those who claim “God has blessed the USA because of blah blah blah. NEVER think for 1 instance that folks saying “God bless the USA can EXPECT HIM to do so; the oppression, the training of torturers to send to other countries; the lies, deception & deceit & criminal harmful acts against the people not only of THIS nation but onto other nations to continue harmful acts: they OVERTHROW any Gov that is NOT willing to allow them to do harmful things not only to the environment but to the people. The people have been lied to, deceived, manipulated, the NEWS is programmed to dislead, misdirect, etc: and while they “claim” we are FREE: it is a LIE. Consider this carefully: the Model T which just celebrated it’s 100th birthday was built for the common man; it ran on grain alcohol with NO harmful emmissions at all. It got 26 MPG; there have ALWAYS been cheaper & greener things use than what has been used such as oil; our Gov rejected it cuz they are BRIBED to do what they do; they were BRIBED to tax the people, instead of having profits from Big Business pay for all schools, roads, military costs, etc. The people are SLAVES to corporate greed, they knowingly HARM the people for the PROFITS to the pocketbooks of the few. Would that God’s people had a CLUE that the ONLY minister that I have heard SPEAK OUT the TRUTH: was the Rev Wright: when he said: the American Government & the way this whole country is run are TERRORISTS. The country got in an uproar: WHY? Because they would rather believe a LIE than the TRUTH? And they want to FORCE this MONSTROSITY on everyone else: which indeed shows beyond a shadow of a doubt that it is INDEED SLAVERY, TRICKERY, & DECEPTION: and NOT “freedom” at all! LOOK at Iceland, Norway, Sweden, England, & on & on & on: ALL of those countries have WORKED for THEIR PEOPLE: and THEIR COUNTRY: and they all have the same if not MORE freedoms” than the USA. HERE the people & the planet suffer endlessly from forked lying tongues!

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By Louise, September 29, 2008 at 11:20 am Link to this comment

So Congress having finally realized, “we’re damned if we do and we’re damned if we don’t,” have decided not to decide and be damned either way, anyway. Got to get home for that religious holiday you know.

Pardon my ignorance, but what will happen if they don’t make it home before midnight? A bolt of lightening from God? Maybe that’s exactly what we need!

Meanwhile the market plummets and we can all draw comfort in the knowledge that no one, absolutely no one knows what to do! Well actually there is no comfort in that knowledge.

Quick somebody ... get out the history books! What would FDR do?

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By troublesum, September 29, 2008 at 11:06 am Link to this comment

Everyone must know by now that the House rejected the bailout plan this morning by a comfortable margin.

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By TAO Walker, September 29, 2008 at 9:49 am Link to this comment

So have us surviving primitive savages got this right?  Global gangsters (a-k-a “international bankers”) pass a note to the supposed-to-be “teller” of the U.S. Treasury that says, in effect, “Give us a trillion dollars or we’ll blow-up your economy!”

It looks like they’re getting the money together to pay off this blackmail right now.  The thing is, of course, the pirates aren’t going to release the hostages anyhow.  Why should they?

And after they’ve extorted every possible dime, they’ll burn down the house to cover-up the evidence.  Bought-and-paid-for politicians will not stop this.  If theamericanpeople will take the example of those lauded in this article, and take care of one another, it’d break the grip of these ruthless privateers once-and-for-all.  What’s more, the gangbanbers know it.

They’re betting, however, that most everybody will stay caught in the trap of trying (in-vain) to “help themselves.”  It’s the lazy predators favorite wet dream….prey smart enough to build their own pens and slaughterhouses, but not smart enough to know they’re doing it.

The choice is between some serious “pain” now, or the dead-certainty of lethal levels of it a lot sooner than later.  As for the “homeless and destitute,” they’re way ahead of the curve already….“the meek” who will “inherit the earth”?

Hokahey!

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By Folktruther, September 29, 2008 at 9:46 am Link to this comment

The Dorothy Day movement, like the Mother Teresa, movment, is largely sentimental and ineffective.  The historical problem is not to ease the temporary horrors inflicted on the population, but to empower the population to change them.  Both Cathlic movements supported the religous position against birth control and sexuality.

However the ideology that it is part of the duty of the religious to help people is essential to a spiritual ideology necessary to unite people against power.  It is part of the obligation of being human to make the world better for our children.  All our children around the world.  To that extent religious values can, and must, be incorporated into an ideollogy that empowers the population in our struggle with oppressive power.

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By pds, September 29, 2008 at 9:26 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

As the bailout bill goes through, sides are slowly being formed as to who will control the political debate in the new and improved era of state capitalism:  democracy or libertarian capitalism. And progressives cannot shy away from this ideological contest over the political discourse.

The truth is crisis sleeps with opportunity but too many people want to keep it a secret. The time is ripe for exposing the culture of big $ for what it is: a bunch of money grubbing babies and venal bureaucracies.

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By Alan, September 29, 2008 at 9:16 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Oh yee of little faith (in democracy)!
If yee would be swayed by suede shoe operators
bearing broad smiles and promises of
heaven,  then smite thine own eyes,
for they of the suede shoes
be zealots and false prophets and purveyors
of the rupert.

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By jake3988, September 29, 2008 at 9:16 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

We, as americans, want change.  We want gay marriage.  We want out of Iraq immediately.  We want universal health care.  This, according to polls.  And usually a healthy majority.

Why then have we nominated a democrat who doesn’t support immediate withdrawl of troops (within practical reason, of course), doesn’t support universal health care, and doesn’t support gay marriage?

If we want CHANGE we need to nominate someone who will provide change!  Kucinich supported all three, and he received less than 10 delegates.  Gravel, as crazy as a person as he was, supported all 3.  He received 0 delegates.

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By Louise, September 29, 2008 at 9:10 am Link to this comment

The Rich Are Staging a Coup This Morning!
http://www.michaelmoore.com/

“Unbelievable. Wall Street and its backers created this mess and now they are going to clean up like bandits. Even Rudy Giuliani is lobbying for his firm to be hired (and paid) to “consult” in the bailout.”

“The problem is, nobody truly knows what this “collapse” is all about. Even Treasury Secretary Paulson admitted he doesn’t know the exact amount that is needed (he just picked the $700 billion number out of his head!). The head of the congressional budget office said he can’t figure it out nor can he explain it to anyone.”

“And yet, they are screeching about how the end is near! Panic! Recession! The Great Depression! Y2K! Bird flu! Killer bees! We must pass the bailout bill today!! The sky is falling! The sky is falling!”

“Falling for whom?”

The poor?

They’ve been sleeping under the sky for some time now. And their ranks are growing. Soon we’ll hardly be able to distinguish between the middle class and the poor. So maybe at the end of the day we’ll all find ourselves scraping what’s left of the few remaining Fat Cats off our sidewalks.

The way I see it,  the only difference between Fat Cats, Politicians and the plain and poor is, the plain and poor are a lot smarter. They have enough sense to avoid jumping head first into quicksand. Fat Cats and Politicians on the other hand will jump right in if they see money floating on top.

Perhaps the sad end to this story is, in spite of our smarts, those Fat Cats and stupid Politicians might pull us right in with them. So maybe nows a good time to gather firewood and move the tent to higher ground.

There’s a poll on http://whatreallyhappened.com/
 
“Get the Tar and Feathers ready to go” is up by 47% and climbing.

http://whatreallyhappened.com/content/when-bailout-passes-i-will

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By nrobi, September 29, 2008 at 8:31 am Link to this comment

In identifying the Catholic Worker Movement and the founders of that Movement, Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin
Mr. Hedges has struck an obvious and needed nerve.
Too often it is the destitute poor and those who live on the fringes of society that take the brunt of the economic downturns and serious economic depressions that have taken place throughout this countries history.
We, the people cannot shed our faith as we go to the ballot box and work in our jobs, but there are people who have taken up the cause of Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin without the Catholic Worker label.
For example, there is a friend of mine in an area of this country that without government approval and with the help of the community, has fed and clothed the poor and destitute for 5 years now. They do not seek approval from the powers that be, in point of fact they are a thorn in the side of the city commission where she lives. She started this organization because of the compassion and intestinal fortitude of the poor and destitute.
You would be surprised at the numbers of homeless and destitute families that are now living in the woods and making do with practically nothing. And all this happens in the faces of those with multi-million dollar homes, that now face foreclosure because of the financial crisis.
Are we going to sit by and let the Far Right Wing Christian’s forget that the Good News is not for the rich and famous, but for the poor and broken-hearted.
The network of people who are doing something about the crisis of homelessness and poor is growing by the day and will take up the cause of Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin. G-d bless those who do this work, with little or no fanfare and without remuneration. For if it wasn’t for these people many would die and be forgotten, while the empire burns because of the greed and avarice of the elite ruling class.

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By LibertyWatch, September 29, 2008 at 8:08 am Link to this comment

America has forgotten its roots. The illusions have blinded those who fail to see the reality of our lot. While many have the means to sustain themselves. To many have lost hope, and far to many have lost the will to succeed. Our society is rotting from within. The failure to educate and inspire is a failure to go forward. The abandonment of the needy, to cloth, feed and shelter is a badge of disgrace earned by greed and decay of moral values.

When it comes to America today, I can not help but think of Dante’s’ welcome to the fallen as they enter the gates of hell “Abandon Hope, All Ye Who Enter Here!”

This is the sum of Neo-Conservative leadership and the mass media that propagates the lies and deceit to enslave the masses into droids of despair and the result will be an implosion of need to change and thus the wheels of a revolution will turn the page to the next chapter of our history. . . The collapse of the world wide banking system appears to be that spark today. One must wonder where it will roll to?

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By nestoffour, September 29, 2008 at 7:37 am Link to this comment

Big B:
“We longer see the poor, because we can’t. We cannot see them from the windows of our SUV’s as we drive through our safe suburbs to the mall. They do not appear on TV, or our computer screens. We walk right past them with our heads down staring at our blackberries and PDA’s. The people that are left working don’t have time to stop and notice the downtrodden. They are too busy treading water, trying like hell to maintain their grip on what was once the promise of a comfortable middle class lifestyle.”

That was very eloquently put.  So true, even of our OWN RELATIVES, who seems most clueless or dismissive of our family’s struggles.  It’s as people are in denial.  I remember when Katrina hit, TV audiences were dismayed at the poverty they were seeing on their screens ... Not to mention the stigma that poverty carries—it is assumed that if you are poor, it is either because you are lazy or stupid.  Utter lack of awareness and sensitivity.

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By Big B, September 29, 2008 at 6:06 am Link to this comment

We longer see the poor, because we can’t. We cannot see them from the windows of our SUV’s as we drive through our safe suburbs to the mall. They do not appear on TV, or our computer screens. We walk right past them with our heads down staring at our blackberries and PDA’s. The people that are left working don’t have time to stop and notice the downtrodden. They are too busy treading water, trying like hell to maintain their grip on what was once the promise of a comfortable middle class lifestyle.

We should be coming to the conclusion that that was the plan all along. The wealthy recognized the threat of a rising middle class back in the 1960’s. Since then, the assault that has taken place on the middle class has been precise and massive in scope. Through the corruption of unions and the movement of jobs overseas, the middle class has been beaten back into it’s tenement lair. This master plan also made the poor even more destitute. Most people no longer have time to worry about the poor, let alone money or goods to donate.

The resubsurvience of the american working class is nearly complete.

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By kath cantarella, September 29, 2008 at 3:50 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Yeah, these are the kind of spiritual people that one loves whole-heartedly.

Great article, Mr Hedges.

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