I was spending some quiet time this morning, mulling over some stuff in my head, listening to some Vivaldi and Baroque music and having a continuation in my head of the conversation I’d had over at a family member’s house the other day in real life. The gist of it was how I felt that too much emphasis was being put these days on free enterprise, the markets, the private sector, being a business person, owning and running a business and so forth.
I just feel that we’ve had a sort of pathological reaction to the left wing politics of the 1960s and 70s and have gone completely overboard ever since Ronald Reagan came to power in 1980-81 and gave us Reaganomics in the USA and Brian Mulroney came to power here in Canada and told the business community that Canada was ‘open for business’ once again. All of a sudden we were swamped with talk of ‘supply side’ economics and ‘tax cuts’ and more ‘tax cuts’ and still more ‘tax cuts’, until we now find ourselves scratching our heads with Libertarians and Tea Party types practically advocating for the abolition of the entire federal government in the USA, and whether or not anybody should be paying taxes at all in the first place. But all we keep hearing is that ‘we’ve got to cut taxes!’
What’s ironic in all of this is that these right wing sort of proto or neo corporate fascist types of shrill ideologues, with their Bibles in one hand and their assault rifles in the other, don’t seem to realize that what they are espousing actually resembles pure Communism than any sort of anti-Liberal or anti-Communist type of ideology. I don’t think these people have actually even taken the trouble to read what Karl Marx actually envisaged as a Utopic Communist society in the eventuality that his global Communist revolution took hold and abolished capitalism.
What Marx envisaged was that the workers take over from the business owners, like what happened in Russia (Marx put more emphasis on kicking out the business types and didn’t quite anticipate Communism taking root in a backward, less industrialized country like Russia, where they licked out the Czar and the nobility as well, but that’s beside the point), then set up the ‘Dictatorship of the Proletariat’, whereby the Communist Party took over all property from private interests in the name of the people and basically what you wound up with was what we had in the Soviet Union which was a form of ‘state capitalism.’
This, however was supposed to be only a transitional phase in the morphing over to ‘true socialism’, whereby Marx anticipated that the state would ‘wither away’ as the workers gained more control over their affairs and there would no longer be the need for the Communist Party apparatus as a huge governing structure to hold society’s assets in trust for the people, the people would then be able to manage their affairs solely with the use of local workers’ factory councils or ‘Soviets’, which is what that word means. Well, that didn’t exactly work that way, the evil necessity of governing ourselves in this ever-more complex post-modern society is still with us, yet we still have yahoos like the Libertarians and Tea Party types who think we could just abolish huge amounts of the government and just ‘let the private sector run itself’ and ‘let local government look after things.’
Funny how things come full circle, never thought Marxists and Tea Party Corporate Anarchists had so much in common!!! In any case, this leads me back to my original premise of this piece which is our overemphasis on all things of a business nature. Why is this? I guess because in the struggle against Socialism, private capital feels that it came out on top, so it must somehow show its superiority and ‘Lord it’ over everybody else. So now we hear nothing but talk about ‘how to start a business’, ‘how to draw up a business plan to start a small business’, ‘how to be your own boss’, ‘the virtues of being an entrepreneur’, ‘getting tax relief for small businesses’, ‘encouraging wealth creation’, ‘spurring economic growth’, ‘increasing consumer spending’, ‘the unemployment rate’, ‘housing starts’, ‘automobile sales’, ‘consumer spending during the Holidays’, and so on.
All of these temporal measures of our wellbeing are being much-ballyhooed as bell weathers of our personal and collective wellbeing. However, nobody seems to be concerned about other statistics such as the suicide rate, the rate of incarceration, the percentage of pregnancies terminated by abortion, (a woman’s ‘right to choose’ and to ‘control her own body’ is after all sacred, too bad her unborn child, half of all of whom are future women, don’t get to have the same sacred ‘right!’), the dropout rate for schoolchildren, especially boys, the rate of alcoholism, drug abuse, gambling, pornography, conjugal violence, sexual abuse, or the alarming drop in Church attendance in mainstream Christian denominations.
This underlines a fact which points to one thing and one thing only: That we are increasingly commoditizing all of the people, places and things which we relate to in any sort of social way, whether it be of a temporal or spiritual nature, and in doing so, we’re profaning any residual amount of sacred space, public or private, temporal or spiritual and all that we are, all that we do and all of our being is increasingly being desanctified and desacralized through the process of commoditization, which seeks to reduce everything, everybody and everyplace to a process of exchange, a process of buying and selling, whereby a buyer, agrees to purchase a good or service at an agreed upon price, quantity, appearance, delivery date, size, etc, and the seller agrees to sell said goods at the contractually-agreed upon terms as laid out in the verbal or written agreement. In case of dispute over the agreement, the buyer or seller has recourse to due process of law as per the courts.
However, when dealing with affairs of the heart, mind and soul, or the heart and soul of a nation, or of sentimentality, or of feeling, emotions, of spiritual well-being or lack thereof, how can such things be truly commoditized? How can the well-being of a nation be measured in economic growth in the production and consumption of goods and services? Isn’t that precisely the WRONG way to be going about it? All I see around me are politicians and business people who keep exhorting us on TV to ‘get the economy back on track’, to ‘get consumer spending back on track’, to ‘kick start economic growth in the housing sector’, ‘make buying a home more affordable’, ‘make credit easier to get so that CONSUMERS (not humans or people or citizens but units of CONSUMPTION) can start buying property again’ (or cars, or TVs, or washers and dryers, or furniture, etc… )

However, all I see are people who are maxed out on their credit, who are overweight, who eat too much, drive gigantic SUVs, are dragging around screaming kids who are constantly yelling and disobeying their parents in public (I shudder to think what it’s like at home), are constantly pointing at stuff at the store and picking a hissy fit saying ‘Mommy I want that!!!!’, and crying when their Mother tries to say ‘NO’. I see the Devil at work everywhere I go. The Devil, just like God, works through people. People design increasingly aggressive advertising campaigns in New York and Los Angeles as well as Toronto and Montreal to get kids who are younger and younger to nag their parents to buy more and more stuff at a younger and younger age. This strategy has even been chronicled in a video called ‘The Corporation’, which shows the scope of corporate malfeasance in the world.

Is this therefore the coming of the Beast here on earth? Some argue that the Fall of Adam and Eve already ushered in the reign of the Beast here on earth and made Earth the Devil’s worldly domain. As Catholics we believe that God is the God of both Heaven and Earth but that this Earthly realm is a fallen place where we can nevertheless redeem ourselves through our personal relationship with Christ and His Church. However, what I see increasingly is a level of temporal and spiritual evil so manifest in its grandeur and in its blatant explicit presence in the secular commercial capitalist world that I genuinely feel that it is only a matter of about 30-35 years before the entire edifice of western civilization undergoes an entire collapse and reconfiguration.
Our people simply cannot continue to gorge on a steady diet of fat, sugar and salt and continue to get bigger and bigger at a younger and younger age. This is genuinely a matter of National Security for both Canada and America. If there were a war tomorrow between the west and the east, specifically China, and the west had to mobilize all of its combat aged men and women for active duty, there would be at least a third of the population who would be unfit for duty and we would NOT have the time to put them on a sort of ‘Biggest Loser’ crash diet to slim them down in time for deployment. We would have already ‘lost’ by then to a genuinely superior fighting force of Chinese fighters, who’ve been preparing for this day for over a hundred and fifty years, if not more, ever since the empires of the west began invading their coastal cities in the mid-19th century and cutting deals with regional warlords and the Emperor began losing control over the country, which had been slipping away from him for some time already and had always been an issue to begin with and still is to this day.
If we want to truly redeem ourselves as Christians and as westerners, we need to lose weight, spend within our limits, consume less of everything, especially food and drink, and reclaim our rightful position as Children of the Light, as Children of God, not as Consumers!!!! Our ultimate value in the eyes of the Almighty is NOT our greater or lesser (in the secular world’s view, it would be greater) propensity to consume goods and services, but rather it is how and why and with whom and where do we dwell in the presence of the Creator and to what end and what are our predispositions of conscience regarding our relationship to the Almighty One and what do we ask of him? In last Sunday’s readings at Mass, the Lord came to Solomon in a dream at Gibeon and said ‘ask what I should give you’. And Solomon replied ‘Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people, able to discern between good and evil; for who can govern this, your great people?’

If only the world had the Wisdom of Solomon, we would be much better off, not to mention the patience of Job. But alas, I fear that the world is rife with impatience, impertinence, impudence, disobedience, and anger and so forth that only a great fall and a rebirth like a Phoenix rising from the ashes can save us from our folly. I can only imagine how it will ‘play out on the markets.’ How the transition from the Theocracy of Christendom in the Middle Ages led us to the Renaissance, the so-called Enlightenment thereafter, which led us to embrace Secular Humanist Republican Bourgeois Liberal Democratic Capitalism (with all of its ‘isms’, including Atheism, Agnosticism, Secularism, Alcoholism, Anarchism, Communism, Socialism, Fascism, Existentialism, Nihilism, Sado-Masochism and the list goes on…), which led us to the Industrial Revolution, massive urbanization, industrialization, social dislocation, the Tragedy of the Loss of the Commons, which had begun already sometime before with the Enclosure Movement, the emergence of consumerism, two World Wars, numerous boom and bust cycles from the 1870s onwards, a couple of stock market crashes in there for good measure , including the big one in 1929, a Great Depression, at least three genocides (Ukrainian: 10 million lives, Armenian 1,5 million and Holocaust 6 million), and two nuclear bombs which vaporized several hundred thousand people in one shot.
Not to forget the 20 million Russians slaughtered in WWII, the countless millions of Chinese and Indo-Chinese who lost their lives in the Chinese Civil War, the Korean War and the Vietnam War from 1945 to about 1979, plus the 500 000 Indonesians slaughtered in the troubles in that country in 1965, the 800 000 Rwandans and Burundians slaughtered in Africa in 1994 in that bloodbath. And the beat goes on. When it comes to killing each other, we’re tops here on earth and as we’ve become ‘More advanced’ in every respect, we’ve also become ‘more advanced’ in our ability to slaughter ourselves. That’s why I argued in another piece on this blog that in fact, we’re a very ‘advanced’ society, for both good and ill and that these two factors have led us to the brink of both an eschatological precipice, which will subsequently be followed by a phoenix-like rebirth from the ashes. The Beast is already rearing his ugly head in public and the Lord has been in His heaven for some time shaking his, wondering when the final scene of Act Five will play out. Maybe it won’t be in my lifetime, but then again maybe it will. I’ll just have to keep on living a life worthy of the Creator’s consideration and Mercy and hope for the best. Not to mention trying to convince and persuade as many of my fellow creatures to follow the Creator in His glory.

Not always easy with 24 hr. /day drive throughs and nonstop shopaholics all around me in their ginormous SUVs weighing God knows how many tons and the occupants weighing not far from that too. I think I’ll pack it in now and go for a walk. Gotta be a good ‘business person’ and be takin’ care of my own business!!! God Bless you all.

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