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Chapter 3 | Fascism | Democratic Party (United States)

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CHAPTER 3. THE USE OF RELIGIOUS AFFILIATION - A WAY OF SAYING NO ? The quintessential American suburbs, with their gracious single-family homes, large green lawns, and leaf-shaded streets, reflected not only residents’ dreams but nightmares, not only hopes but fears: fear of others, of racial minorities and low income groups, fear of themselves, fear of the market, and, above all, fear of change. These fears, and the restrictive covenants that embodied them, are the subject of Robert M. Fogels
  CHAPTER 3. THE USE OF RELIGIOUS AFFILIATION - A WAY OFSAYING NO ?  The quintessential American suburbs, with their gracious single-familyhomes, large green lawns, and leaf-shaded streets, reflected not only residents’ dreams but nightmares, not only hopes but fears: fear of others, of racial minorities and low income groups, fear of themselves, fear of the market, and,above all, fear of change. These fears, and the restrictive covenants that embodied them, are the subject of Robert M. Fogelson’s fascinating new book.[i]  The religious right and the progressive left are both protests against themainstream economy, and while the reasons for that protest look very different, atroot they are similar: they have to do with being left out of the mainstreameconomy, the merry-go-round I described earlier. As people feel economic threatthey look for whom to align with for security. In much of the country religiousinstitutions and frameworks of faith are ready at hand, and even include “faith inscience” or “faith in the market place.” Insecurity tends to make fundamentalists(“This is rock solid true.”) out of most people. Having a meaning tinged worldview is of course not just a reaction to economic and violence prone insecurity, butit may be that its centrality in the political realm is triggered by fear, or disquietabout the perceived trends in overall social meaning.Is the use of religion in the public and political space a way of saying no tothe mainstream trends? The standard view is that the country is split between thosewho want change, the progressives or liberals, and those who want to standstill or go backwards, often identified with the religious right. But the model of changethat we are offered by the leadership of both parties, often called neo- liberaleconomics, has become what Bush means by democracy and markets. Bush hasdeeply weakened the positive side of these terms because what he really means isgovernance by a combination of large corporations, large government budgets, anda business owned press. Basically if you sign up for what both parties' leadershipsmean by change you are signing up for a corporate agenda.  The confusions on the conservative side are even stronger because in manyways those who vote Republican in the weaker states and communities really dowant change. They want change away from the corporate agenda, which they seeas weakening their local economies, and they want change towards a more hopefulexpectation for a healthy economy, education, and family. It is their mobilizationaround fear of bureaucracy and abstract authority that keeps them organizedaround what in fact is a large business system and its needs.We have a further confusion because the Democrats are working hard toconserve a mixture of policies from Roosevelt to Clinton, and for a decade it is theRepublicans who have been changing things. That is, the Democrats are acting asthe conservatives in the simple sense of wanting to preserve some of the New Dealspirit rather than change. I say “spirit” because the Democrats have become the party of the professional class more than the party of the poor. “Increase breaks for the middle class” is hardly a full spectrum politics. Current politics can best be understood as a complex reaction to change.Because GardenWorld is a change strategy, we need to be aware of how it will beunderstood and by whom. In a recent interview we have Proposition 13, the tax revolt -- by that time I was collaborating with a professor at UCLA, David Sears -- we've done a lot of work together, and our work essentially began with a theoretical question: how much is personal self-interest themotivation of one's political attitudes, as opposed to broader attitudes such asideology, patriotism, racism. We were doing work along those lines already, andthen the tax revolt occurred and [we] had an opportunity to look at that. My owntake on that was the tax revolt was, in some sense, another act of mass defiance of established elites, because Proposition 13 was opposed by every elite actor in theState of California, both major political parties, the business [establishment], theeducational establishment, the labor establishment, and yet it passedoverwhelmingly. It should never have happened. The way in which property taxrevolt developed was, in some sense, a failure on the part of state political leadersto react to an obvious problem. My take on the tax revolt [was] that it was amanifestation of the loss of trust, or the lack of trust, that I'd been studyingearlier.[ii]   Change is not new. Deciding what to do about it characterizes all societies because of the human dependence on circumstances which never remain fixed. Infact to do today what we did tomorrow is not the same thing – it has become arepetition which yesterday’s activity was not and repetition is itself threateningwhen changing circumstances require new responses – or reinvigorated old ones.John Maynard Keynes wrote in 1930 . We are suffering, not from the rheumatics of old age, but from thegrowing-pains of over-rapid changes, from the painfulness of readjustment between one economic period and another. The increase of technical efficiency has been taking place faster than we can deal with the problem of labour absorption;the improvement in the standard of life has been a little too quick; the banking andmonetary system of the world has been preventing the rate of interest from fallingas fast as equilibrium requires. And even so, the waste and confusion which ensuerelate to not more than 7½ per cent of the national income; we are muddling awayone and sixpence in the £, and have only 18s. 6d., when we might, if we were moresensible, have £1 ; yet, nevertheless, the 18s. 6d. mounts up to as much as the £1would have been five or six years ago. We forget that in 1929 the physical outputof the industry of Great Britain was greater than ever before, and that the netsurplus of our foreign balance available for new foreign investment, after payingfor all our imports, was greater last year than that of any other country, beingindeed 50 per cent greater than the corresponding surplus of the United States. Or again-if it is to be a matter of comparisons-suppose that we were to reduce our wages by a half, repudiate four fifths of the national debt, and hoard our surpluswealth in barren gold instead of lending it at 6 per cent or more, we shouldresemble the now much-envied France. But would it be an improvement?[iii] In ancient Egypt it was believed that the social and architectural structure of the capital metropolis was a reflection of the laws of the cosmos and hence anychange to the municipal structure was seen as upsetting to the cosmos itself. Thisof course was an anti revolutionary belief system. Another approach to change has been the deeply held religious belief that the only real drama in life is the fate of the soul. For those who hold this belief politics is trivial and should be left toothers. Another widely held view believes there should not be separation of church  and state but that a broadly acceptable religion must also play a political rolesupporting the establishment.Change always has winners and losers. There is no change without losers.The problems occur when the losers are not dealt with compassionately, whichmeans some kind of indemnification. If we can pay farmers to not grow crops wecan find a way to cushion loss of jobs from technologically induced shifts in thenature of the economy.The history of the US is filled with rapid change. From the signing of theConstitution to the Civil War is about sixty years. The Louisiana Purchase in 1803,was not just Louisiana, but west to Arkansas, Missouri, Iowa, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, Minnesota south of Mississippi River, much of North Dakota, nearly allof South Dakota, northeastern New Mexico, northern Texas, the portions of Montana, Wyoming, and Colorado east of the Continental Divide. The railroads,the rise of oil, the coming of industrialization, major recessions about everydecade. Looked at large or small, change bordered on chaos. The U.S. was on theway to becoming an empire, as Hamilton, wanting empire defeating Jefferson, whowanted rural democracy without business. “Great” Britain was for Hamilton the to be surpassed target. The civil war with its extended bureaucracy and reliance onmanufactured goods, and then the two world wars works to enhance America’sdominant position. Since then we probably have been weakening ourselves bytrying to protect the “military industrial complex” by engaging in strategicallyweak wars - the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the two Iraq wars, and all theGrenadas and Banana Republic / United Fruit wars in between. Each of us has our own history through these major events, and it is good to be reminded of thishistory and its impact on the American economy, our political structure, our  position as a nation and its powerful effect on our own culture and its blindness.The rise of the Religious Right is considered by many commentators to bethe major political event in the US since the Second World War. Its roots are deep.The first few generations that came from Europe to the new Colonies came for explicitly religious reasons. The generations that came to the United States fromthe early 1700s came for economic reasons and advance. It was the second groupthat wrote the constitution. The first room continued their migration westward andset the tone for local culture as religious opposed to the new ideas of theenlightenment. The two groups have always remain somewhat estranged from eachother but later politics, seeking leverage in the sound bite world stereotyped those
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