To Joe Carter and his blogpost on our addiction to pseudo events in the news. This appeared in the Gospel Coalition website.
The purpose of news about pseudoevents is to cause us to lose interest in real news and real events. And the less attention we pay to real news and real events, the less accountable those with wealth and power are to the rest of us.
To R. Scott Clark and his blogpost containing a video of a Muslim woman claiming that much, if not the majority, of Muslims pose a threat to the West. This appeared in Heidelblog.
One of the problems with this post is that it removes the context from Islamic terrorism. While the title here talks about Global Islamism, it fails to mention America's Empire. It fails to mention how America, and the West, has intervened in Islamic nations. For America, that started in 1953 with the overthrow of a democratically elected government and the installation of a dictatorship as its replacement. For the West, it started in earlier when France and England took control of parts of the Middle East including what is now called Iraq? And what about the West's support for dictatorships such as the one in Saudi Arabia? And none of this mentions Israel's occupation of Palestine and the atrocities that it daily visits on the Palestinians. And before pinning anything on the Muslim religion, we should acknowledge how America has intervened in over 50 nations since WW II and that includes disrupting or overthrowing democracies over 30 times. Does that record show an adherence to the Western values of free speech and tolerance?
In his book Al-Qaeda: The True Story Of Radical Islam, Jason Burke, who approached this subject from an investigative journalistic point of view, noted that Islamic terrorism is not a monolith. Within Al-Qaeda, are both secular and religious participants. Within those Muslims who have participated in terrorism, there are both those with localized and global perspectives and goals. However, as the West continues to support the oppression of people in Islamic and other nations, eventually some start to join together. In addition, he noted that people get involved with terrorism when the available political structures offer no legitimate way to address grievances. Considering the brief record of American interventions cited above, is it possible that our nation's policies is significantly responsible for some of the Islamic terrorism we see in the world?
Note that if 1% of all Muslims are fighting some kind of Jihad, that would leave us with over 10 million radical Muslims to battle. As for the polls cited above, remember that what they want for where they live is not necessarily what they want for all nations. In fact, that was stated explicitly. And yet, there seems to be an effort here to associate Islamic terrorism with those advocating Sharia law. Thus some of the polls are used to give a false impression of what we are facing. In addition, the citation of such polls tell us little. Before drawing conclusions, what is need are the demographics of those participating in the polls.
This isn't to deny that there aren't serious problems with terrorism from terrorists with either local or global concerns. But these problems will never be adequately addressed by the kind of approach taken by this article. Rather than addressing the problem, articles like these simply promote attitudes and policies that both fan and add fuel to the flames. And that is not to mention the self-righteously oblivious view of one's own nation or group.
To Joe Carter and his blogpost citing the work of Samuel Gregg as he answers the Pope’s criticisms of Capitalism. This appeared in the Acton blog.
Gregg's writings show either an inability or unwillingness to criticize Capitalism. This is seen in his denial of Capitalilsm's materialism, which Martin Luther King Jr. called pernicious and as materialistic as what was attributed to Communism, as well as how it causes poverty through wealth disparity, and its relationship to the destruction of the environment. And what is not even mentioned in Gregg['s writings is mention of how globalizing trade agreements weakens national sovereignty and increase foreign investor sovereignty. And why that is mentioned by those who pride themselve on love of country is a mystery.
We should note here that as globalized Capitalism allegedly eliminates poverty, it sometimes does so at a very high cost. For example, globalization is credited with bringing the largest group out of poverty, the Chinese. However, when one llooks at the sweatshop labor conditions endured by some and the environmental hazards suffered by those in major cities, such as Beijing's most recent red alert for smog or that roughly 25% of the air pollution in LA can at times be attributed to air pollution coming from China (see http://www.nytimes.com/2005/10/30/weekinreview/chinas-next-big-boom-could-be-the-foul-air.html?_r=0 ) with air pollution is not China's only environmental problem, we see that whatever benefits Capitalism is bringing to China, there are significant problems that must be addressed.
Or we could talk about India's eonomic performance. While Greeg included India on his list of nations that escaped poverty through globalization and Capitalism, Gregge fails to mention that the number of Inidian farmers who have committed suicide because of the economic distress they have suffered due to "free trade" numbers in the hundreds of thousands. So apparently, while overall numbers in Indian's economy might be increasing, such improvement is not reach all sectors especially the critical sector of agriculture.
We could also talk about Chile and its ecape from poverty. What is not mentioned is how Chile got its economic start. It was through a US sponsored coup where a democratically gov't was replaced with a brutal tyrant. That tyrant, General Pinochet, was indicted for crimes against humanity before he passed away. He did get a hearty thumbs-up from both Reagan and Thatcher. And again, not all Chileans benefited from that strictly enforced globalize Capitalism (see http://santiagotimes.cl/very-high-inequality-in-chilean-society-breeds-resentment/ ).
The above provides partial narratives of just a few of the nations Gregg listed as proving how honorable and productive globalized Capitalism is. As for the USA, where income for much of the population ranking below the 90% in wealth has stagnated for decades, we see a growing wealth disparity and a shrinking middle class. We measure our economic progress by gains made on Wall Street even though those gains are distributed in terriby disproportionate amounts and where the greed on Wall Street not ony showed massive corruption, it almost crashed the world's economy.
BTW, none of this mentions how trade agreements attack national sovereignty. Just to note a couple of examples here, Costa Rica is being sued by a Canadian mining company for denying the company the right to mine for Gold in its borders. The reason for the denial was the belief that such miniing would significantly hurt the environment. Another case involves the WTO and how it is threatening to place sanctions on the US for some of the consumer warning labels put products. But it was our gov't that decided on placing those labels on products in order to inform consumers.
So far, I don't see why Gregg or others at Acton step back from their roles as Capitalism's cheerleaders to become Christian critics who call for reform or even the replacement of Capitalism with other systems.
To Joseph Sunde and his blogpost on how the 6 parts of Capitalism, as he identified them, creataed the wealth we enjoy today. He made an analogy between those parts and the 'elves of the shoemaker.' This appeared in the Acton blog.
Are 'elves of the shoemaker' the most appropriate analogy to use here? Take private property for example. We are celebrating private property in a world full of scarcity as if the holding of that private mitigates the effects of that scarcity? Does the ever growing wealth disparity we see around us qualify private property as a good 'elf'?
But let's suppose the exclusive ownership of property allows for world improvement--supposing that without asking for proof that is. Is that what we are seeing today? Are we seeing more hoarding and resource wars while others go without?
Elf #2: This elf is voluntary exchange. But what is the basis of our voluntary exchange? Is it so that we can get the most out of the deal for ourselves? If so, how does that provide for those who have less than the average person to give in exchange?
Elf #3: Dvision of labor is celebrated by those on top, not necessarily those on the bottom. In addition, Adam Smith strongly criticized a strict division of labor. He stated that when a person's job becomes limited to simple tasks that always, or almost always, produce the same or similar results, that person loses his ability to 'understand' and to create solutions . Thus, such a man becomes 'stupid' and 'ignorant (see pg 21 of http://samples.sainsburysebooks.co.uk/9781134091188_sample_518267.pdf or Smith, 1776: 781–2 in Wealth Of The Nations). So it is easy to understand why those at the top would celebrate the division of labor that limits the intelllectual exercise by those who are underneath them and are competing for scarce resources in the market place.
Elf #4: Yes, risk-taking by entrepreneurs should be conditionally honored. But should these risk-takers enjoy privileges over the rest of us as if they were part of an aristocracy? We are all forced to become risk-takers. Yes, the kinds and degrees of our risk-taking are different. However, there is a danger here. That danger is to grant privileges to entrepreneurs that put them above the rest of us. In the end, gov't is formed so that it represents them more than the rest of us showing that while entrepreneurs are allowed to depend on gov't, the rest of us are restricted to relying on the good graces of a limited number of entrepreneurs. And indeed, with corporate welfare and the number industrial compexes (i.e., military industrial complex or the prison industrial complex) that rely on gov't business for survival, that is what many of us have been left with.
Elf #5: Certainly the accumulation of capital is an important part of our economic system. But we need to ask what are the tradeoffs involved with today's accumulation of capital? Again, with today's growing wealth disparity as well as the growing control money has over our political systems, it is easy to see what some of those costs are. In addition, with accumulated capital going to those with wealth rather than sharing that with those who labor, how are we not teaching society that wealth is more important than work?
Elf #6: The problem with elf #6 is not the desire for a better life, but what defines a better life. Is it things or our connections with others, especially with those who are in need?
There is something completely disingenuous about this article. For it would like us to believe that what we have today is the result of what our economic system has enabled invidiuals to accomplish. It is a "We Built That" cheerleading article. The problem lies with the truth claims of "We Built That" message. For history teaches us that when societies reach new zeniths in wealth and prosperity, it happens within the context of empire. This happened within the Roman Empire. And this happened within the British Empire. Is there any reason to doubt that what we have today is, in large part, due to it happening in the American Empire?