Monday, January 14, 2008

What's "Wrong" With Faith In Our Politics? Other Than "Every-fucking-Thing," You Mean?

Why does the public invocation of Religion as a campaign/political issue threaten the whole fabric of our fragile 'democracy'? Well, for one thing, of course, there's "autos de fe," as the illustration illuminates, shall we say?

According to Ira Chernus, via TomGram:
"For starters, it's a direct threat to democracy. The essence of our system is that we, the people, get to choose our values. We don't discover them inscribed in the cosmos. So everything must be open to question, to debate, and therefore to change. In a democracy, there should be no fixed truth except that everyone has the right to offer a new view -- and to change his or her mind. It's a process whose outcome should never be predictable, a process without end. A claim to absolute truth -- any absolute truth -- stops that process...

...(Because the) political arena is the place where the whole community gathers to work for a better world, it's even more important to insist that politics must be about large-scale change. The politics of moral absolutes sends just the opposite message: Don't worry, whatever small changes are necessary, it's only in order to resist the fundamental crumbling that frightens so many. Nothing really important can ever change.

Many liberals and progressives hear that profoundly conservative (I'd call it 'reactionarily fascistic': ed.) message even when it's hidden beneath all the reasonable arguments about church and state (Wtf is a 'reasonable' argument for breaching the wall? Ed.). That's one big reason they are often so quick to sound a shrill alarm at every sign of faith-based politics. (Fucking A: "BWOOOOOP, BWEEEEEP! General Quarters. God-squad approaching, prepare to repel pirates! Ed.)

They also know how easy it is to go from "there is a fixed truth" to "I have that fixed truth." And they've seen that the fixed truth in question is all too often about personal behaviors that ought to be matters of free choice in a democracy. "
And that's just for starters. Read the whole thing. His conclusion, after such accurate analysis, though, is troublingly imprecise:
In itself, faith in politics poses no great danger to democracy as long as the debates are really about policies -- and religious values are translated into political values, articulated in ways that can be rationally debated by people who don't share them. The challenge is not to get religion out of politics. It's to get the quest for certitude out of politics.

The first step is to ask why that quest seems increasingly central to our politics today. It's not simply because a right-wing cabal wants to impose its religion on us. The cabal exists, but it's not powerful enough to shape the political scene on its own. That power lies with millions of voters across the political spectrum. Candidates talk about faith because they want to win votes.

Voters reward faith talk because they want candidates to offer them symbols of immutable moral order. The root of the problem lies in the underlying insecurities of voters, in a sense of powerlessness that makes change seem so frightening, and control -- especially of others -- so necessary.

The only way to alter that condition is to transform our society so that voters will feel empowered enough to take the risks, and tolerate the freedom that democracy requires. That would be genuine change. It's a political problem with a political solution. Until that solution begins to emerge, there is no way to take the conservative symbolic message of faith talk out of American politics.
Ay, there's the rub, innit: "The only way to alter that condition is to transform our society so that voters will feel empowered enough to take the risks, and tolerate the freedom that democracy requires."

Like THAT'S going to fucking happen. Voters tolerate insecurity? When the whole platform of at least one of the two political parties has been to create ever more and more IN-fuckin-security for the past 8 years? To say nothing of the fact that the whole economy depends, top to bottom, on consumer insecurity. That would mean that the fascist fux who want to use, and have spuriously and cynically appropriated, 'faith' as a lever to actually, actively OVERTURN the 'democratic state' would have to change their stripes, and EVERYBODY knows there's NO FUCKING CHANCE of that.

We Are SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO Fucked, friends!

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