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Transcending Political Tensions? This topic can be found at: http://shalomplace.org/eve/forums/a/tpc/f/16110765/m/544402711 8 13 December 2011, 06:26 AM johnboy.philothea Transcending Political Tensions? Our political dysfunctions (they are manifold & varied) are rooted in the same dualistic dynamics as our religious shortcomings. The optimal nondual (contemplative) approach to reality is multifaceted in that it aspires to 1) intersubjective intimacy via our unitive strivings whereby different subjects/persons celebrate coming together 2) intraobjective identity via our realization of unitary being whereby all realities present as somehow intricately interconnected as objects/functions within a divine matrix 3) intrasubjective integrity via each subject/person’s growth in human authenticity or true-self realization and 4) interobjective indeterminacy whereby created and Uncreated subjects/persons and objects/functions present as also somehow distinct. The nondual approach is profoundly relational as it seamlessly, hence optimally, realizes the truth, beauty and goodness that ensues from these different eternal relationships. The dualistic (empirical, logical, aesthetical, practical & moral) approaches to reality represent our imbibing of eternity from a temporal eyedropper that our finite existence might not be drowned in God’s ocean of truth, beauty and goodness, a heavenly tsunami that no earthly finite reality could withstand or contain! Our dualistic approach does not represent a theoretical capitulation or departure from our nondual aspirations, only a compassionate and practical accommodation of our radical finitude, while we take the transformative journey. Dysfunctional religion presents in many ways, primarily from an overemphasis of the dualistic and underemphasis of the nondual. For example, on the journey to intrasubjective integrity, we recognize it as our clinging to the false-self. In moral theology, some have overemphasized the procreative and under-emphasized the unitive dimension of conjugal love. In spiritual theology, some have overemphasized the moral and ascetical at the expense of the mystical and contemplative. How does all of this apply to the political life? Most political dysfunction is rooted in the either-or/all or nothing thinking of our dualistic approach. Further, this insidious dualism gets way overemphasized at the expense of our nondual vision of temporal reality. If we look through a Lukan prism, we might see a fivefold Christology, which recognizes that Christ came to orient, sanctify, empower, heal and save us. As Luke’s narrative continues in Acts, we see the 1


Spirit continuing this divine work. A nondual approach inspired, indeed inspirited, by a pneumatological (Spiritrelated) imagination sees the Holy Spirit infusing each realm of our temporal reality, always and everywhere, historically orienting humankind, culturally sanctifying us, socially empowering us, economically healing us and politically saving us. This is not to deny that, from time to time, place to place, people to people and person to person, the Spirit’s work has been variously amplified or frustrated in matters of degree; it is to affirm, however, that all good gifts have One Source, Who has coaxed all of humankind along on the journey! An overly dualistic approach, again, in an all or nothing/either-or way, contrastingly, always sees the Spirit – then but not now, there but not here, in this position but not that or vice versa. Worse, yet, it will see the Spirit in him but not her, us but not them, and not as a matter of degree but to the extent one gets thoroughly demonized and another absolutely deified! This is at the very root of the extremely polarizing rhetorical back and forth between our political parties. The wisdom of the catholic subsidiarity principle is rooted in the gift of Third Eye seeing, which affirms our eternal nondual aspirations and their proleptic realizations even while compassionately accommodating our temporal dualistic situations within their historical, cultural, social, economic and political contexts. It celebrates the fruits of our prayer that the Kingdom will come, indeed, on earth as it is in heaven. There is nothing intrinsically wrong with an approach that takes from each according to one’s ability and gives to each according to one’s need; at least, it’s worked in convents, monasteries and families for millennia! Because of our radical finitude, however, without theoretically abandoning our ideals, we compassionately accommodate our radical finitude and, precisely because we are not angels, we institute government in the place of anarchy and regulated free markets in the place of any rigid capitalism or socialistic communism. To the extent the ideals of our nondual, relational approach are being realized, governmental, regulatory and socialization processes must recede to optimize that freedom which best fosters authentic love. However, to the extent they are frustrated, then coercive government, regulatory and socialized means must be instituted to maintain order and advance the common good. The classical liberal or libertarian impulse (modern conservatism), then, is but a pragmatic critique of anarchism; it errs (and becomes indistinguishable from anarchism) when it treats the ideals of limited government as absolute values and ignores the practical realities that result from our radical finitude. The modern liberal or progressive impulse, then, is but a pragmatic critique of libertarianism; it errs when it treats governmental, regulatory and socialization processes as the default bias, when, in fact, limited government, whenever and 2


wherever practicable, is the proper bias. What both libertarian and progressive approaches have in common, then, is that they are grounded in pragmatic critiques and practical accommodations and not so-called eternal principles; so, all of the pious talk about so-called consistent principles is actually misplaced! Finally, when it comes to strategic approaches, the subsidiarity principle sometimes sees the virtue in flipping, at other times in flopping. It is only in moral approaches that consistency is fully warranted. But political systems are already grounded, for the most part, in a broad moral consensus (e.g Constitution, Declaration of Independence, Universal Declaration of Human Rights), and political differences are mostly rooted in practical and strategic differences toward goals that are otherwise already shared, like establishing world peace and eliminating poverty. To always recast our practical and strategic differences in terms of moral reality is just a sinister way to emotionally charge (they say energize) a political base. A nondual approach, via subsidiarity principles and relational ideals, however, transcends all of these differences and nurtures their creative tensions with a peace that surpasses all earthly understanding. 13 December 2011, 11:26 AM Phil Excellent perspective, JB! Thanks for sharing this. Your first three paragraphs, in particular, give us much to think about. This would make a good manifesto for political "independents" who seek the goods affirmed by what we today call conservatives and liberals, but who also want to avoid the shadow side of each. One problem, of course, is that political candidates have a vested interest in accentuating their differences from one another, even to the point of demonizing their opponent. Shared values are quickly forgotten in such an environment, which seems to be the norm these days. E.g., a congressional "super committee" (or "stupor committee," as I prefer to call them), could not agree on how to cut $1 trillion from the federal budget in ten years!!! Whose good was being sought, there? It's a good example of the "all or nothing or either/or" approach you mentioned. 14 December 2011, 11:55 AM johnboy.philothea What about the recent so-called Class Warfare rhetoric? Our world suffered somewhere around $60 trillion dollars in global wealth destruction in 2008 when the housing and credit bubbles burst. This resulted, in part, from laissez faire capitalism run amok via a lack of transparency (regulations – Wash DC & its lobbyists or K Street) in the credit default swap and derivatives markets (Wall Street). In our usual scapegoating, we blame K Street and Wall Street but absolve those on Main Street, who bought the size homes they didn’t need with money they didn’t have and could not afford to repay. And we’re talking Ft Lauderdale, Las Vegas and California, not inner city Community Reinvestment Act 3


initiatives, as some have so cynically speculated. The loss in governmental tax receipts resulting from this financial collapse and the ensuing economic malaise, combined with unpaid-for wars, a prescription drug program and simultaneous tax cuts, dwarf in significance the money spent on the bipartisan troubled asset relief program [TARP] and economic stimuli of 2009-2010 (Was the auto industry assist necessary or prudent though?). The TARP was not so much a Wall Street Bailout as it was a necessary intervention to prevent our indispensable financial infrastructure from collapse. This is to recognize that, analogous to oil pipelines, these credit pipelines are the circulatory system for our economy and had to be preserved. The Dodd-Frank legislation addressed some of the lack of transparency; ideologues who advocate rolling these new laws back are being penny-wise and pound-foolish with their short memories because that $60 trillion in wealth destruction could have funded our entire 2010 budget 17 times! None of this is to argue that our entitlement programs are now on a sustainable path. They are clearly not and we presently have Southern Europe acting as the canary-in-the-coalmine for any who would whistle past the fiscal responsibility graveyard, imagining that budget deficits do not matter. The taxpayers of the US have always supported a progressive tax structure where those of increasing means pay higher rates and we have not cynically called this Class Warfare. We have also recognized that small businesses are the primary engine that drive our economy toward fuller employment and that they should be regulated only as much as absolutely needed and taxed in a way that will not destroy their competitiveness and we have not cynically called this Class Warfare either. Government can nurture an environment that supports the engines of wealth and even provide catalysts for the fuel (capital) that keeps them running, but it is also needed to provide road signs (regulations) and speed bumps (money supply) to help keep these vehicles out of those ditches that can swallow up 17 years worth of wealth creation in one bad accident. (Some cycles and bubbles will happen anyway as the economy is way problematic!) Most of the strategies we employ and solutions we devise are crafted, legislatively, between the 40 yard lines, this despite the hyperbole that demagogues engage in on the extreme sides of our partisan aisles, throwing around terms like socialism, class warfare, appeasement, greedy capitalists and so on. Thoughtful people will get the job done, eventually, even if the process is suboptimal and some of the characters unsavory. Our system is flawed but remains the best the world has ever known. This message has been edited. Last edited by: johnboy.philothea, 14 December 2011 10:09 PM 4


20 December 2011, 09:37 PM Brad There's no doubt that the nature of political parties hyperventilates political differences. But I would say one needs to understand that the Democrat Party is now primarily a leftist party. There is a distinct difference between "sticking up for the little guy" and having a core doctrine that is hostile to business, hostile to profit, hostile to individual liberty, and that instead believes in state control and equality-of-outcome. If we simply look at our politics and conclude that most of the differences are due to ill tempers, we would be missing the forest for the trees. As for the Republican Party, don't get me started! 21 December 2011, 04:12 AM johnboy.philothea Political parties and stances like to imagine that they are wholly grounded in eternal principles when, in fact, from a Christian perspective, they are nothing more than pragmatic critiques that attempt to guide us as we cope with the fact that most of the time most of humankind will not behave like the good angels. Neither the GOP nor the Democrat Party, nor the Libertarian nor the Green, have articulated platforms, pursued policies - executively, administratively, legislatively, judicially - or campaigned politically in a manner consistent with subsidiarity principles. And none impress me as more consistent than the other. And they all traffic in caricatures and cliches of each other's positions. Contrastingly, there have been Christian anarchists, pacifists and eremitics who, by most consistently and wholeheartedly practicing Gospel ideals, have kept green our desire for the Kingdom. In their families, convents, monasteries, caves and forest cells, they thus willingly take from each according to their ability and provide for each according to their need. Their very lives are voices of prophetic protest of our American idols of capitalism and so-called liberty, although that witness is secondary to their Eucharistic strivings, which most nearly perfectly weave worship into every moment of everyday life. They emulate the ideals that must ground our subsidiarity principles, that must be invoked in our pragmatic critiques and that must inform any default bias in our political stances. 21 December 2011, 11:11 AM Brad quote: Contrastingly, there have been Christian anarchists, pacifists and eremitics who, by most consistently and wholeheartedly practicing Gospel ideals, have kept green our desire for the Kingdom. In their families, convents, monasteries, caves and forest cells, they thus willingly take from each according to their ability and provide for each according to their need. 5


There is an inherent economics to life and morality. There are some universal truths regarding government and human nature that political philosophies can acknowledge or reject. For example, when government does what people should be doing for themselves, it enfeebles people and weakens their character — while, of course, enlarging and engorging the power of government to keep this cycle going and make it worse. And as much as it is a good goal that we all should own a home, the economics of this doesn’t work out simply by the government declaring that this should be so, which is the real cause of the housing boom and bust. (Socialism is untenable because, as Margaret Thatcher noted, eventually you run out of other people’s money.) Some political parties — in theory — take these inherent realities of life to heart….and some don’t. It is impossible to speak about this subject without acknowledging the inherently Utopian nature of the left….and the modern-day Democrat Party. They wish to cure that which is not curable or that is best curable by other means (the free market and private charity). The cure for all of this — as much as it ever can be cured — is private morality. There is no collective morality worth a darn — at least outside a monastery. Theodore Dalrymple, in his book “Not With a Bang But a Whimper” comments on what he has seen socialism do to the once upright British character: quote: Hayek thought he had observed an important change in the character of the British people, as a result both of their collectivist aspirations and of such collectivist measures as had already been legislated. He noted, for example, a shift in the locus of people’s moral concern. Increasingly it was the state of society or the world as a whole that engaged their moral passion, not their own conduct. ‘It is, however, more than doubtful whether a fifty years’ approach towards collectivism has raised our moral standards, or whether the change has not rather been in the opposite direction,’ he wrote. ‘Though we are in the habit of priding ourselves on our more sensitive social conscience, it is by no means clear that this is justified by the practice of our individual conduct.’ In fact, ‘It may even be… that the passion for collective action is a way in which we now without compunction collectively indulge in that selfishness which as individuals we had learnt a little to restrain.’ Thus, to take a trifling instance, it is the duty of the city council to keep the streets clean; therefore my own conduct in this regard is morally irrelevant – which no doubt explains why so many young Britons now leave a trail of litter behind them wherever they go. If the streets are filthy, it is the council’s fault. Indeed, if anything is wrong – for example, my unhealthy diet – it is someone else’s fault, and the job of the public power to correct. 6


There are huge differences in political philosophies which can, and do, produce huge differences in society. But to have the one (limited and Constitutional government with a maximum of freedom consistent with public order), we must get our own acts together. 21 December 2011, 02:57 PM Phil quote: But I would say one needs to understand that the Democrat Party is now primarily a leftist party. There is a distinct difference between "sticking up for the little guy" and having a core doctrine that is hostile to business, hostile to profit, hostile to individual liberty, and that instead believes in state control and equality-of-outcome.

I recall people saying the same sort of thing about LBJ in the mid-1960s, and my mother often bemoaned FDR policies as she said they put us on the road to communism. Nothing drastically different about today's Democrats from FDR and LBJ. Truly, however, they aren't as socialistic as many on the right make them out to be. I mean: - cutting the payroll tax - bailing out big businesses like GM instead of nationalizing them - revamping healthcare in such manner as to leave private insurance very secure - maintaining Bush's tax reductions - cutting income taxes as part of the stimulus (yes, they did that) Granted, these all might not have been their first choice or impulse, but they went along with them and even pushed for them, in the end. The upshot is that most Americans pay less taxes than they did under Bush. So Democrats can be pragmatic, if need be. I'm not so sure about this new Tea Party movement among the Republicans, however. We shall see . . . 21 December 2011, 03:46 PM Brad We’ve gotten used to socialism, Phil. But note that socialism — or just statism (contributed to by both parties) — tends to advance. The little tax cuts that come and go fall like little snowflakes from the sky but don’t amount to much in the scheme of things. They are nice little diversions. But the debt continues to grow, and the unfunded liabilities (mostly entitlements) are in the tens of trillions. The state controlled approximately 50% of health care dollars even before ObamaCare. Both parties regularly exceed even the most generous reading of the Constitution. And the state and bureaucracy keep growing and growing, making more and more of the decisions that people used to make for themselves, and 7


taking over more and more of the free market. They do so first by regulation, and outright ownership comes next (and we’ve seen some of that). This is the way things are trending. It’s a fair question to ask whether this is good or not or really not as bad as those mean, ol’ conservatives say it is. But that is the state of things. Our education system is now busy turning out fully indoctrinated — but academically stunted — leftists. And we can look to Europe to see where the dogma of multiculturalism and other leftists ideas are taking us. And regarding the Tea Party movement, it’s not of Republicans. In fact, the Republicans would rather we all dried up and blew away. Both parties love the idea of all that power and control. They don’t want to give it up. Nearly 50% of people pay little or no taxes. And yet Democrats demonize “the rich” and say they must “pay fair share.” If one doesn’t acknowledge the Cultural aspect that has taken hold of the Democrat Party, it hard to parse current events.

still the their Marxist will be

If the Democrat Party lived by one, and only one of the Ten Commandments — thou shalt not covet — they would be put out of business tomorrow because that party depends on support of the constituencies they have more or less bought and paid for, with class envy and other tactics greasing the way. This is what our government has become, a very large patronage system. That’s not what America is supposed to be about. Not by a long shot. 21 December 2011, 06:48 PM johnboy.philothea quote: Originally posted by Brad: There are some universal truths regarding government and human nature that political philosophies can acknowledge or reject. For example, when government does what people should be doing for themselves, it enfeebles people and weakens their character — while, of course, enlarging and engorging the power of government to keep this cycle going and make it worse.

Yes, the subsidiarity principle, which no party has followed consistently, differing --- not whether they will invoke BIG GOV , but only --- where they will invoke BIG GOV , to wit: bedroom (social-cons), schoolroom (theo-cons), boardroom (left-wingnuts), war room (neo-cons). As for modern libertarians? They're consistent --- consistently absolutist! quote: Originally posted by Brad: And as much as it is a good goal that we all should own a home, the economics of this doesn’t work out simply by the government declaring that this 8


should be so, which is the real cause of the housing boom and bust.

The government's affordable housing initiatives did not cause this crisis. Fannie & Freddie weren't a primary cause either as those securities maintained their value throughout the crisis. Besides, as government sponsored entities, they transfer only interest rate risk to investors, while investment and commercial bank securities transfer default risk, too. In fact, lending standards for housing declined precisely as Fannie & Freddie were giving up loan securitization market share and a drill-down into mortgage data confirms which vintage years produced the most egregious default rates. As traditional underwriting guidelines were sacrificed, default risks rose inordinately. As with every credit cycle (boombust), at the same time that these credit standards were declining, so were the risk premiums (the difference in rate a lender would receive for subprime over prime credits). The crisis, thus, was primarily a regulatory failure. And it was the repeal of Glass-Steagall that originally changed the risk-profile of large banks. Additionally, derivatives markets with insufficient regulatory oversight and accounting transparency created an untenable uncertainty in financial systems. Furthermore, a shadow banking system with no capital, leverage or liquidity regulations exacerbated all of these systemic risks. Finally, federal regulators lacked sufficient oversight but also failed to use that which they already had. I know certain think-tanks produce alternative accounts but I do not find them credible for manifold reasons, primarily empirical. quote: Originally posted by Brad: Some political parties — in theory — take these inherent realities of life to heart…and some don’t. It is impossible to speak about this subject without acknowledging the inherently Utopian nature of the left….and the modern-day Democrat Party. They wish to cure that which is not curable or that is best curable by other means (the free market and private charity).

Being utopian about free markets is no virtue either. It was laissez-faire capitalism run amok that destroyed so much wealth in recent years. The mantra of deregulation continues to be mindlessly intoned as a utopian panacea. And infernal pessimists re: BIG GOV in domestic affairs, some are eternal optimists re: BIG GOV overseas! And time-honored, peerreviewed science, step aside! Let BIG GOV rewrite the textbooks. 9


Of course, most of the fan noise emanates from the crazies in the respective redzones (20% each) while the rest of us watch most of the political action between the 40 yards lines. quote: Originally posted by Brad: The cure for all of this — as much as it ever can be cured — is private morality. There is no collective morality worth a darn — at least outside a monastery. Theodore Dalrymple, in his book “Not With a Bang But a Whimper” comments on what he has seen socialism do to the once upright British character: [QUOTE]Hayek thought he had observed an important change in the character of the British people, as a result both of their collectivist aspirations and of such collectivist measures as had already been legislated. He noted, for example, a shift in the locus of people’s moral concern. Increasingly it was the state of society or the world as a whole that engaged their moral passion, not their own conduct. ‘It is, however, more than doubtful whether a fifty years’ approach towards collectivism has raised our moral standards, or whether the change has not rather been in the opposite direction,’ he wrote. ‘Though we are in the habit of priding ourselves on our more sensitive social conscience, it is by no means clear that this is justified by the practice of our individual conduct.’ In fact, ‘It may even be… that the passion for collective action is a way in which we now without compunction collectively indulge in that selfishness which as individuals we had learnt a little to restrain.’ Thus, to take a trifling instance, it is the duty of the city council to keep the streets clean; therefore my own conduct in this regard is morally irrelevant – which no doubt explains why so many young Britons now leave a trail of litter behind them wherever they go. If the streets are filthy, it is the council’s fault. Indeed, if anything is wrong – for example, my unhealthy diet – it is someone else’s fault, and the job of the public power to correct.

Ah, yes, but Maggie Thatcher straightened 'em all out. As I heard on Morning Joe, someone said that, right before she arrived, Britain was faltering like the old Weimar but without the nightclubs Smiler quote: Originally posted by Brad: There are huge differences in political philosophies which can, and do, produce huge differences in society. But to have the one (limited and Constitutional government with a maximum of freedom consistent with public order), we must get our own acts together.

That's part of the problem; folks imagining they have a philosophy when what they have is an ideology. The subsidiarity principle would negotiate between free market10


libertarian utopians and big govt utopians if they'd quit yelling at each other. I do embrace classical liberalism, essentially libertarianism, as the proper default bias. Ron Paul is an example of one who embraces it as an absolute and thus gets both a lot right but so much terribly wrong, too. Where Left wingnuts are concerned, because the only tool they have is a hammer, BIG GOV, every problem, suspiciously, looks like a nail.

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political tensions