Sunday, April 27, 2008

9/11 AND AMERICA'S CIVIC RELIGION

We Americans have feelings and beliefs about our country, our government and our capitalist economic system that have risen to the level of religious faith. Although these beliefs are very largely false, being in the nature of religious faith, they cannot be objectively questioned.

It may be enlightening to bring all aspects of this “religion” to our conscious minds so that we can evaluate whether or not it really coincides with our own experience, yearnings, moral, and ethical beliefs.

It may also explain why the official 9/11 story has risen to the same level of religious faith that is both unquestioned and unquestionable. “I just cannot believe that….”

THE TENETS OF “RELIGIOUS” FAITH ABOUT OUR COUNTRY AND OUR GOVERNMENT

  • God favors America and blesses America.

  • America is “of, by, and for the people.”

  • .American motives are always unquestionably good.

  • There are no classes in America.

  • Americans do not take unfair advantage of other peoples and other countries.

  • .America, and its businessmen and military are unselfishly helping other countries by bringing them democracy and progress. Any person or country that resists this help is a terrorist. America is justified in attacking and waging war against these terrorists.

  • It is moral and right that America should dominate and use its power and wealth to impose peace on the world.

  • All of the foregoing being true, America is above the law and should implement God’s will unbound by the UN, International Law, or Treaties.

When Americans pledge allegiance to the flag, and to one nation under God, Americans are demonstrating their unquestioned faith in this American Civic Religion as set forth above.

The actual facts of our country and our government are quite different.

We are not a government of by and for the people, and we never have been. A small wealthy leadership group actually rules us. Even though 75% of us want Universal Health Coverage and want to get out of the Iraq War, we cannot. Even though a majority of us elected Gore for President in 2000, the USSC selected George Bush to serve instead. Our nation maintains 700 military bases around the world in 40 countries to protect American businesses there. The US military has intervened in Latin America 15 times to help the banana companies get what they want. Between 1798 and 1945, despite the Monroe Doctrine, the United States militarily intervened in foreign countries 165 times. We are not a classless nation. There is a tremendous disparity of wealth and power between the ruling 1% at the top, and the rest of us. The small wealthy leadership group is no kinder to people and countries abroad than it is to us. The sole objective of this ruling group is to earn the maximum profit possible. Whether the US intervenes abroad peacefully, or by military invasion, it routinely compels the victim nation to abolish its welfare safety net, to privatize all publicly owned water, electricity, and oil works so as to create profit making opportunities for businessmen.

THE TENETS OF AMERICAN “RELIGIOUS” FAITH ABOUT CAPITALISM

  • Our capitalist economy is ordained by God. There is no alternative.

  • Capitalism unleashes modernity, progress, development and freedom.

  • Capitalism is the best system the world has ever seen.

  • Capitalism benefits and serves everybody

  • Capitalism and democracy and interconnected and interdependent. Neither can exist without the other.

  • Those who are not flourishing under capitalism have only themselves to blame. They are not trying hard enough.

Again, the facts on the ground are almost the reverse of what our faith proclaims.

Capitalism was created and is maintained by human beings, and human beings can choose other ways of organizing themselves to work together to meet their needs.

The leadership class benefits immensely from capitalism, the market and from America’s civic religion, founded on buzz words like “freedom,” “growth,” “future prosperity,” and “jobs.” We see this in the compensation of CEOs of major corporations and by the huge and ever increasing disparity of wealth between the rich and the poor. The rich are getting ever richer and the rest of us are getting poorer.

Capitalism which depends upon money and bribes for its political power, is the antithesis of democracy which rests on voting power of each citizen.

Every country abroad where U.S. business and military have penetrated has suffered impoverishment as a result.

Although a rising tide does not lift all boats in the real economy, all Americans rich and poor do benefit from America’s imperialism to some extent... Some of the benefits to the rich have trickled down in the form of cheap gasoline, food, clothing and electronic gadgets. Thus all Americans know at some level that we benefit from U.S. war crimes, toppling of foreign governments, and economic imperialism.

Every employee in America, in business, industry, NGOs, and academia, is dependent for his survival on a job supplied or funded by capitalist employers.

This employee works in an authoritarian setting for 8 hours a day for 40 years of his working life. During this time, his thoughts, his creations, his products are not his own. They are prescribed by his employer, owned by his employer, and used by his employer to make a private profit. We Americans are thus carefully conditioned to do and believe what those who have power over us, tell us.

OUR AMERICAN RELIGION IS FOUNDED ON THE MYTH OF REDEMPTIVE VIOLENCE.

Unfortunately, for 5000 years we humans have been addicted to what a great theologian, Walter Wink calls the myth of redemptive violence. It is a major component of our American civic religion. This is the myth:

There exists an evil that is a threat to the community. A strong man emerges among us who promises to rid us of the evil. The strong man kills the evil man. The strong man acts violently outside the law and apart from the community. This violence restores our sense of safety, law and order. We are personally redeemed with no effort on our part.

This myth is so ingrained in our consciousness that we do not realize that it is false.

I present here my own short summary of Wink’s explanation:

Our childhood TV shows, our comic books, many of our movies, and our foreign policy are all founded on the false myth of redemptive violence. It promises to redeem, to restore order, law, peace, and democracy, but it never does. This is civilization redeeming myth appears in Popeye, The Lone Ranger, Batman, Superman, cowboy Westerns, TV games, our foreign policy, and in the CIA. Notice that the cause of the evil is never discussed. It simply exists as a “given.” Nothing that the community did caused the evil. It often involves a projection of the evil within the community “out there” as an external evil.

The community believes that it is redeemed by this violence. The myth is the simplest, laziest, most exciting, uncomplicated, and irrational depiction of evil the world has ever known. The good guys always win. This myth survives in our religious institutions. This myth, and not Christianity, is the real religion of America. No bland Sunday school lesson once a week can match its power, its excitement, its addiction, and its fascination. “Might makes right.” There is an underlying theology that the violent strong man has the powers of God. The strong man is thus a king or a President with the power of God. It is the basic theology of empire’s domination systems and of men’s domination of women. The Church becomes the kept court chaplain of the violent national security state. We patriotically obtain salvation by identifying with serving and dying for this violent State. The dead and the wounded are honored. They died for a “good cause.” The myth is the essence of totalitarianism. We are devoted to this myth because it seems so real.

Intellectuals, employers, employees, capitalists, and socialists are unwittingly, addicted to this myth. The myth is totally false. It is the very core of our civic religious faith. The truth is that violence never works to achieve the stated idealistic objective. Violence did not achieve the stated socialist objectives in the Soviet Union nor in China. Violence is not establishing democracy in Iraq.

The above tenets of faith about our government, capitalism, and redemptive violence are accepted without question by rich and poor, left and right, Democrats, Republicans, union members, employees, and employers. No candidate for elected office dares question any of them. The rich and privileged in countries around the world do not question them. There is a planet wide taboo in the main stream media of the world against questioning any of these tenets.

OUR CIVIC RELIGION, BEING MORE POWERFUL THAN WE REALIZE, INDUCES US TO ACCEPT THE OFFICIAL STORY OF HOW 9/11 HAPPENED.

Reflect on the above components of our religion that are simply PR spin and have little connection with reality. We believe them anyway. Our jobs, our survival, seem to us to depend upon our believing them, and having faith in them. It has been so for over 100 years.

We were holding these beliefs in these important matters that were in fact false, when 9/11 came upon us. We were already programmed and brainwashed to believe what our employers and what our government told us, no matter what the facts were. It is with this mindset that many of us say, “I just can’t believe that…..” about the disturbing questions raised by the official story of 9/11.

Because our civic faith and our national mindset can be shown to be false, we may, just may, be ready to consider disturbing questions about 9/11 that contradict the official story like the following:

Were there any powerful groups in the United States who, since at least 1990, were urging that the United States should invade and dominate Central Asia in exactly the same way that 9/11 enabled them to do?

Had any persons in the ruling leadership group prior to 9/11, expressed a need for a “Pearl Harbor type tragedy” so that the American people would support an invasion of Central Asia?

Who benefitted politically and economically from 9/11?

What caused WTC 7, never struck by any plane, to fall 7 hours after WTC 1&2 fell?

Who placed the grossly unusual stock market “puts” or options on the stocks of the Airlines involved, thus betting that the value of the stock would drop?

Who shut down the military Jet Fighters that normally intercept civilian planes that deviate even slightly from flight plans?

How can airplanes hitting near the tops of WTC 1 & 2 and their burning kerosene, cause buildings to fall with the free fall speed of gravity exactly upon the footprints of each building with the precision that only professional demolition experts can achieve?

Why was absolutely no one brought to account for dereliction of duty anywhere in our government?

Why has the Bush Administration tried its best to prevent and to impede any investigation at all?

Why was a close associate of Condi Rice, Philip Zelikow chosen by Bush to control the content of the official report and to write it?

Was Zelikow’s academic specialty useful to him in drafting the official report?

(Zelikow’s specialty: While at Harvard he worked with Ernest May and Richard Neustadt on the use, and misuse, of history in policymaking. They observed, as Zelikow noted in his own words, that "contemporary" history is "defined functionally by those critical people and events that go into forming the public's presumptions about its immediate past. The idea of 'public presumption'," he explained, "is akin to William McNeill's notion of 'public myth' but without the negative implication sometimes invoked by the word 'myth.' Such presumptions are beliefs (1) thought to be true (although not necessarily known to be true with certainty), and (2) shared in common within the relevant political community.)

Dated: April 25, 2008

Douglas R. Page, Tucson, AZ dougpage2@earthlink.net

POSTSCRIPT

According to Wikipedia, Karl Marx had something to say about stories and taboos imposed on us by people with power:

“By ideology they meant ideas that reflect the interests of a particular class at a particular time in history, but which are presented as universal and eternal. Marx and Engels' point was not only that such beliefs are at best half-truths; they serve an important political function. Put another way, the control that one class exercises over the means of production includes not only the production of food or manufactured goods; it includes the production of ideas as well (this provides one possible explanation for why members of a subordinate class may hold ideas contrary to their own interests). Thus, while such ideas may be false, they also reveal in coded form some truth about political relations.”

I was an attorney for unions. Although I have never read Marx, I have been influenced by people who have.

I recognize that there is a great taboo against anything thought to be “Marxian.” This taboo against Marxian analysis thus applies with special force to the analysis of 9/11. It may be that in order to understand either capitalism or 9/11, we have to use a Marxian analysis. It could probably be said that my analysis above is Marxian.

Here are some further Marxian ideas from Wikipedia:

“Ideology as an instrument of social reproduction

Karl Marx proposed that a society's dominant ideology was a part of its superstructure.

Karl Marx proposed a base/superstructure model of society. The base refers to the means of production of society. The superstructure is formed on top of the base, and comprises that society's ideology, as well as its legal system, political system, and religions. For Marx, the base determines the superstructure. Because the ruling class controls the society's means of production, the superstructure of society, including its ideology, will be determined according to what is in the ruling class's best interests. Therefore the ideology of a society is of enormous importance since it confuses the alienated groups and can create 'false consciousness' such as the fetishism of commodities. Critics of the Marxist approach feel that it attributes too much importance to economic factors in influencing society.

The ideologies of the dominant class of a society (dominant ideology) are proposed to all members of that society in order to make the ruling class' interests appear to be the interests of all. György Lukács describes this as a projection of the class consciousness of the ruling class, while Antonio Gramsci advances the theory of cultural hegemony to explain why people in the working-class can have a false conception of their own interests.

The dominant forms of ideology in capitalism are (in chronological order):

1. classical liberalism

2. social democracy

3. neo-liberalism

and they correspond to the stages of development of capitalism:

1. extensive stage

2. intensive stage

3. contemporary capitalism (or late capitalism, or current crisis)

The Marxist view of ideology as an instrument of social reproduction has been an important touchstone for the sociology of knowledge and theorists such as Karl Mannheim, Daniel Bell, and Jürgen Habermas, amongst many others. However, Mannheim attempted to move beyond what he saw as the 'total' but 'special' Marxist conception of ideology to a 'general' and 'total' conception which acknowledged that all ideologies resulted from social life (including Marxism). Pierre Bourdieu extensively developed this idea.”

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