Thursday, March 4, 2010

Politics (and Love?)

In 1984, I got involved with a Mennonite Church in Dallas, TX., at the age of 22. I had been raised a Pentecostal, but became a pacifist at an early age due to the Sermon on the Mount. Mennonites were one of a handful of denominations that took pacifism seriously. While involved with the Dallas Mennonite Fellowship, I moved into an east Dallas neighborhood to be close to a couple of families and we started a small group with the intent of becoming a house church. My experiences with this group set the stage for my eventual relocation and involvement with Reba Place Fellowship, an intentional community that was part of the Mennonites. Tim Rapson was one of the 3 men in the Dallas group, including myself. This blog is a response to his blog about his political ideas and how they've changed in the years since we lived in the same neighborhood.

Tim writes that he finds it "painful" to see the "good intentions" of his "far left" friends so "misplaced." He says his views are based solely on love for people.

I will cop to being a far leftist, unapologetically. As a pacifist, I would never sanction the use of violence to achieve leftist goals, though I disagree with Libertarians like Tim who view taxation as violence.

It's interesting to me that while Tim makes a great deal out of pacifism keeping him aligned with Democrats, as I have never seen them as a "peace party." I support a few select Democrats, like Kucinich, but have voted Green since 2000. I boycotted the elections of '92 and '96. Before that, I held my nose to vote Democratic.

As a libertarian socialist, the meager under-funded efforts of the Democrats to address social needs are simply inadequate. Even the current health-care reform legislation is just Big Government caving in to Big Business yet again.

In essence I agree with Tim that Big Government will never really oppose Big Business, but I can't see why Tim thinks that Libertarianism is any cure for that problem. He lauds Ronald Reagan, the master of Big Government market intervention, also known as deficit-driven defense spending. That's right, the Gipper never balanced a single federal budget. Clinton did.

I am not as strict a pacifist nowadays as I once was, but from my Christian faith I gleaned a radical view of the economy. The Bible rails from one end to the other against the evils of wealth and in defence of the poor. I can't see how anyone can claim to take the Bible literally and not be a socialist, maybe even advocate central planning on behalf of the poor. I don't exactly advocate that, but it seems to me indisputable to me that the Bible is anti-capitalist.

Tim cites some things that the "free market" supposedly has given us like the "automobile, the plane, the suburban house, clothes, and more food." All of these things depended on government grants and state education, not one of them was purely a creation of a private entrepreneur.

I see several huge staggering problems. First, humankind is divided into haves and have-nots. I have always been closer to poverty than not, so I find it hard to care when some millionaire whines about higher taxes. Second, I believe that we are fast out-stripping the planet's capacity to support us. We have to redesign our cities, towns, transportation, agriculture, and other systems to leave a lighter footprint on the earth. Capitalism wants us to consume until we drop dead, how is that even remotely a Christian value? We also have to slow down our population explosion. Third, we have decided that war is some kind of solution to political conflict, which is insane.

Yeah, I am leftist because I love people, too, Tim, but that means I want everyone on the earth to have enough to eat, a creative education, healthcare, and rich natural environment. Is that too much to ask?

Peace! Charley

No comments:

Post a Comment