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Blueprint for Exploitation

by on February 16, 2015

                                                      Blueprint for Exploitation

                                                           by Marco M. Pardi

Note: All comments are appreciated, read, and responded to accordingly.  The comments sections for all previous articles have been opened for use.  I will certainly look forward to your comments.

“The exploitation of the weak by the powerful, organized for the purposes of economic gain, buttressed by imposing systems of law, and screened by decorous draperies of virtuous sentiment and resounding rhetoric, has been a permanent feature in the life of most communities that the world has yet seen.” R. H. Tawney (1880-1962). Religion and the Rise of Capitalism: A Historical Study, 5, 1926

I should say at the outset I am not writing an indictment or a screed of moral outrage.  True, some readers may experience such feelings and intentions subsequently arising within themselves, but I am an interested observer, “just passing through”, as it were.  And so I take interest in and observe systems, much as I would observe the workings of a cobra coiling to strike me.

The origins and evolution of systems interest me, especially when what starts out as a way to serve people develops into an entity which people serve, and are then trapped into.  Two of the more obvious systems are: Organized religion and politics, the don’t-go-theres of cocktail party fame.

Theologians,  Anthropologists, and Historians have long recognized the futility of discovering when pre-literate cultures first developed a sense of a god, much less a formalized doctrine.  And even the development of literacy has some surprising turns.  Literacy depends much on the formulation of agreed labels, but we must be careful to discern the origins of these.  For example, just as Hebrew appears to have developed from the Egyptian hebiru – “migrant laborer”, Berber from the Ptolemaic Greek barbarian, and (American) Indian from the misperception of the Spanish,  so too the term Hindu originated as the label given “local, native” populations by the Muslim Moghul (various Mongol, Turkish, and Persian) conquerors of the Indian subcontinent.  It was not a reference to religion in any way as there was no organized or unified “Hindu” religion until the British overthrew the Moghuls and, coming from the perspective of organized Christianity, labeled the large and disparate groups under one religious heading, “Hindu”, while completely overlooking the significant differences within this broadly composed group.

Unlike the traditions of Asia, where religious specialists were, at most, guides to assist in the process of ultimate self discovery,  certain traditions in the West emerged with specialist/clergy who, having separated the gods or god from Man, positioned themselves as privileged, insider gateways to these gods or god.

Despite the fanciful “mythology” taught in modern schools, the Greeks and especially the Romans developed quasi-personified values and traits such as patriotism, courage, ingenuity, and others into what would later be regarded as “their gods”, again coming from outsiders with a perspective based on organized religion.  To be a Roman was to be one who values Patria above all. Therefore, a Jewish or Christian refusal to acknowledge a State “god” was tantamount to a modern American refusing to be “patriotic”. It was an affront, and perhaps a threat to the well being of the State, not to some overly sensitive god.      

Later developments, notably the conflation of religion and secular politics seen in the Holy Roman Empire would lay the groundwork justifying social order.  The secular ruler became a paladin for an all encompassing but experientially absent god.

Few State level societies have arisen without a contrived blending of secular and religious values, even if it required the quasi-deification of the State itself.  And characteristic of these States was the continuous oscillation in the balance of power between the two.  An example of the deadly seriousness of this internal struggle can be found in 19th century America.

While the causes of the American Civil War are still debated, there can be no doubt that slavery played a large part.  Essential to the agrarian economy of the times, slavery was defended largely by the agrarian States.  Supporters of slavery found numerous passages in the Bible to justify their cause; Southern preacher James Henry Thornhill, among others, pronounced it a “good and merciful” form of organizing labor.  Abolitionists could find nothing in the Bible for support, and relied instead on the “spirit of scripture”.

While the benefactors of American slavery were obvious, who benefited from abolition?   In fact, the Civil War coincided nicely with the advent of the Industrial Revolution in the North.  Beneath the facade of increasingly mechanized production lay the still important unskilled jobs, dangerous in both short and long term with few labor laws and almost no enforcement.  “Freeing the slaves” meant, for the Southerners, a drastic change from ownership to wage labor, a change they could not afford.  As former slaves, now entirely “unemployed”, sought ways to feed themselves they were inevitably drawn into the dependent labor market of developing industry; they went from frank rural slavery to subtle urban slavery.  The profits from their labor merely switched from one American hand to another.

In 20th Century America the first significant test of the relationship of religion to politics happened with the Scopes Trial.  Intended as a vehicle to put the State of Tennessee’s law proscribing the teaching of evolution in schools on trial, it worked to utterly discredit literalist interpretations of Genesis and begin the nationwide process of separating religious positions from State school curricula.  Indeed, the fundamentalists went underground and were marginalized until the skillful use by the Reagan campaign of the untapped “Moral Majority” trumpeted by slick con artists such as Jerry Falwell and others.  Reagan himself, a distinctly low wattage bulb, appeared to share beliefs with Falwell while many in Reagan’s administration saw benefits in the vitriolic anti-science rhetoric of the fundamentalists.  This cabal was swept into office on a cognitively dissonant tide of utterly selfish greed coupled with “family values”.  Teaching college at this time, I saw enrollment in social sciences drop over night as students eagerly appeared for registration with a cartouche over their heads saying “MBA = BMW”.  

So who benefitted?  The anti-science stance of fundamentalism was used to bury the environmental movement of the 60’s and 70’s, leading to environmental rape of unprecedented scale, the rolling back of regulations on industries and banks, the ongoing and current attempts to dismantle the Environmental Protection Agency, and the ongoing and current attempts to overturn Roe v. Wade.  Taking a page from Hitler (deifying the “Fatherland”), Stalin (replacing Christian Orthodoxy with “Mother Russia”) and Zulfikar Ali Bhutto (cloaking his Pakistani regime in Islam while privately despising religion),  Reagan, G. H. W. Bush, and G. W. Bush proclaimed carefully selected “biblical values” as the Trojan Horse to win election and usher in policies and practices which ran directly counter to the well being of the fundamentalist demographic fooled into supporting them.  The net result was a narrowing of the base of the wealth triangle and an elevating of the top echelon in a magnitude not seen since the Gilded Age of the Robber – Baron days. 

One of the better illustrations of carefully selected “religious” values is the campaign to eliminate abortion, and even contraception.  Albeit filled with distortions and outright lies, how is this a blueprint for exploitation?  Precisely because these restrictions hit the poor the hardest.  No matter what laws are passed,  the wealthy can avail themselves of contraception and abortion any time they please.  Since recorded history, a primary axiom has been that overpopulation breeds poverty; poverty breeds dependence; and, dependence breeds the desperation to take any available work, no matter the risk, in return for the daily crumbs required for subsistence just above the revolt level.  Hungry populations do not care about their impact on the environment of tomorrow so long as they have enough to eat today.  Populations desperate for adequate living conditions and health care gladly enlist in militaries to be sent to achieve the goal de jour of the non-combatant elite, in the name of “national security”.  Hungry populations, standing in line for the few jobs not outsourced to other hungry populations will not fight for decent wages, affordable health care, and safe working conditions.  Hungry populations are right where the power elite want them.         

As I write this the political machinery is in motion testing 2016 platform planks with constituents.  Of course, since the Republican selected Supreme Court has blessed the unlimited provision of anonymous money to candidates, the real concern is not so much the candidate’s appeal to voters as it is his or her appeal to donors.  Donors can’t be bought; they already have power.  They need only to craft the most currently appropriate form of exploitation and select the salesman for it.

 

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4 Comments
  1. “I am tolerant of all creeds. Yet if any sect suffered itself to be used for political objects I would meet it by political opposition. In my view church and state should be separate, not only in form, but fact. Religion and politics should not be mingled.” Millard Fillmore, 1856

    How fortunate we are our forefathers were so forward thinking. Can you imagine a candidate stating something like this today? I don’t understand why we seem to be going backwards.

  2. Thank you, Mary. I think this is one of the indicators of Future Shock that Alvin Toffler warned of in his book. We seem to be going ever more quickly down this road.

  3. My parents were not religious, but their four children were sent dutifully to the Baptist church on the corner every Sunday. I hated Sunday school, but I loved the cadence of an old fashioned sermon; I still do. I don’t know how much I really got out of it, but I quickly realized that only part of the truth was to be found within those walls, and so my journey began .

    I’ve never been drawn to one particular religion, believing them to be created by man for the control of other men. Is it any wonder that religion and politics walk hand in hand; they are cut from the same cloth by the same tailor.

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