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The Future of the American Experiment is in Your Hands
Wednesday, 21 April 2010 07:23

Tea Party

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I begin my answer to the question with a quote from a theologian. One responsibility of theologians is to analyze culture and create dialog with the highest good. And most good theologians who are anchored in a movement toward love, compassion and unity will deal with the common good. In Noam Chomsky's article ( on the common good, he points to some of Aristotle's central features of the common good: “among those he considered the people, they have to be equal, free, participatory. And the government must not only be democratic and participatory, but also a welfare state, which provides, as he put it, 'lasting prosperity to the poor by distribution of public revenues' in a variety of ways that he discusses. The point being that an essential feature of a decent society, and an almost defining feature of a democratic society, is relative equality of outcome--not opportunity, but outcome. Without that you can't seriously talk about a democratic state.” (Aristotle was the first to speak of a Common Good in society) When the common good is operative, poverty will give way to a fuller way of life, the outcome of a “common good” being a working value in culture.

There is a common good which underlies the aggregate of private interests and sustains the free society. This is what the government should serve and protect above all else and not the aggregate of private interests.

Henry Nelson Wieman in his work Creative Freedom, identifies the problem he feels his generation faces and that is, “the Democratic peoples have come to interpret freedom in terms of private, local, competing in transitory interests. They will view democracy as a utility to serve these interests. They do not recognize as commanding their ultimate allegiance a common good underlying these private interests and sustaining them. They do not recognize the prior claim upon their devotion to that development continuous through history which creates freedom in social relations and in the mind of humanity. Having no such ultimate commitment to Democratic peoples identified freedom with social control exercised by changing desires, hates and fears which happened at any time to possess the minds of individuals and the voting majority. Under such conditions that leaders of a democratic society cannot command great sacrifice for what preserves freedom when its demands run counter to private interests and popular slogans. This results in a disastrous weakening of the power for concerted action in the struggle for dominance between freedom and purity.” Page 3

The Roman Catholic church, which presently has been associated with a non-progressive stance on issues like birth control and abortion, historically was part of an effort to create common good, “The living wage is a concept central to the Catholic social teaching tradition beginning with the foundational document, Rerum Novarum, a papal encyclical by Pope Leo XIII, issued in 1891 to combat the excesses of both laissez-faire capitalism on the one hand and communism on the other. In this letter, Pope Leo affirms the right to private property while insisting on the role of the state to require a living wage. The means of production were considered by the pope to be both private property requiring state protection and a dimension of the common good requiring state regulation. Pope Leo first described a living wage in such terms as could be generalized for application in nations throughout the world. Rerum Novarum touched off legislative reform movements throughout the world eliminating child labor, reducing the work week, and establishing minimum wages.” Other examples are FDR's New Deal, Glass - Stegal regulation and The Public Utilities Holding Company Act, Lyndon Johnston's civil rights and Medicare legislation, and Obama's health care legislation

The Tea Party is in reality supporting movements that will continue the fragmentation the substrate of our democracy, which can be seen in the evolving economic fascist state that is forming as we live and breath. It is the end of the common good, which is being deregulated out of existence. When our government no longer fights for the common good over particular special interests, corporations become warlords devouring resources, people, mortgages, polluting in the name of freedom, lessoning the quality of life for others without care. I can understand the outrage of the members of the Tea Party, however, so far their efforts are only strengthening the monster they say they want to slay.

Last modified on Monday, 30 August 2010 08:03
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