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					Transcending Political Tensions?

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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 (Spirit-
related) 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
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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   still the
Democrats demonize “the rich” and say they must “pay   their
fair share.” If one doesn’t acknowledge the Cultural   Marxist
aspect that has taken hold of the Democrat Party, it   will be
hard to parse current events.

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 (boom-
bust), 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, peer-
reviewed 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 market-
                              10
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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