jack in a narrow box

Jack Layton, Canada’s leader of the official opposition was laid to rest this past week which really continued the issue that has arisen since his part’s electoral breakthrough: what exactly is socialism today and what does it mean within the actual political and social context? The short answer, which probably explains all the public hoopla is: Not much. Or very little. He ran his campaign within the 40 yard lines. …

“Of all the modern economic theories…Marxism is founded on moral principles, while capitalism is concerned only with gain and profitability. Marxism is concerned with the distribution of wealth on an equal basis and the equitable utilization of the means of production. For this reason I still think of myself as half Marxist, half Buddhist” the Dalai Lama. As Martin Buber said “religion without socialism is a spirit without a body and socialism without religion is a body without a spirit” . If that’s the case Layton was clearly lacking.

---Harry Joy photograph. ---more on religious socialism: "the core of liberation theology is profoundly "theologal" - that is, rooted in the very nature of god. you see, there's an immediate relationship between god, oppression, liberation: god is in the poor who cry out. And god is the one who listens to the cry and liberates, so that the poor no longer need to cry out. .. so we speak of a black god, mother god, worker god. this de-mystifies what's been passed on to us! In our process of organization and liberation of our people, it's important to meet a god who is more like us." - fr. leonardo boff---Read More:http://dialogicalecology.blogspot.com/2011/08/im-working-on-reader-that-will-include.html image:http://www.blackandwhitephotography.ca/harryjoy/content/AHJ_094_large.html

The National Post is pretty much a right-wing rag with pretensions of liberal conservatism and small “c” opinion; table scraps to bulk up the distribution. Nonetheless, in light of the Buber comment and the Dalai-Lama quote an opinion piece by Father De Souza touched on similar themes, though I doubt the conclusions to be drawn would be complementary:

Raymond J. De Souza:That business about love and hope was no doubt thought a suitable rhetorical flourish — an update on Obama’s audacity of hope. Yet the drafting team forgot that the trope of hope belonged to Obama’s messianic phase. Love and hope are religious words, hence their resonance. The idea that love and hope are more powerful than anger and fear is a religious idea. The world certainly doesn’t teach that. Common experience teaches that it’s every man for himself and the devil take the hindmost.

In contrast, St. John writes that perfect love casts out fear. So there were transcendent, even biblical, echoes in Layton’s coda. That was the problem faced by the eulogist, for Jack Layton’s life was unapologetically, unabashedly, unambiguously this-worldly, directed entirely to the mundane matters of politics.Read More:http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2011/08/31/father-raymond-j-de-souza-laytons-funeral-was-a-day-for-worshipping-idols/

---one of the most powerful arguments for religious socialism, again, relates not to economic policy, but to simple existential choices. the dalay lama said “man sacrifices his health in order to make money. then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. and then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and the he dies having never really lived.” Read More:http://dialogicalecology.blogspot.com/2011/08/im-working-on-reader-that-will-include.html image:http://avion.egloos.com/808087

What De Souza did not say is that the realization of socialism is essentially the fulfillment of a Christian ethic which I’m not sure De Souza would admit. Though, it has to be seen that radical criticism is inherent in every religion, there is a strong case to be made that acting according to the Christian commandment of love entails an advocacy of socialism. So, the religious principle is not limited to a particular religious sphere.

In its most dynamic and volatile form, religious socialism attempt to resolve the fixed and immobile opposition of the concepts of religion and socialist theory by working on the dynamics of their interactive relationship. I imagine this is what Buber thought of as religiosity being emancipated from the dogma and canon of perpetual ritual. So, the inherited and predominant forms of socialism and religion as fixed, determined, signed and sealed are not understood in terms of transforming them: a leap into the fearful unknown, but perhaps a true manifestation of Judeo-Christian humanism with all its bubbly tensions. You have to wonder whether morality, even within the discourse of religious thought, can be non-ideological; particularly given the tendency to view situations as “phenomenon” or even celebrity with the locus being on personalities: “… the same way you could extract the moral teachings of the Buddha from the religious system his followers instituted around him. similar with rabbi Jesus: after he died they made a religion about Jesus, rather than following the religion of Jesus.” ( Hune at Martin Buber Dialogical )

---rabbi yehuda leib halevi ashlag (1884-1954) argues that the messianic age will be characterized by the diminishing of the ego and of its principal activity manifested as 'me' and 'mine'. the messianic age will be the replacement of the ego by a new spiritual sense of overwhelming love for one's neighbors, in which rather than receiving and accumulating, the principal activity will be giving and sharing. ashlag called this a faith-based-altruistic-anarcho-communism. this brings up three separate issues: 1. the need to prepare spiritually to usher that age of messianic redemption. 2. the need to begin to implement the messianic age in the here-and-now if we hope to be able to prepare spiritually for it. 3. the continued understanding of spirituality and capitalism as two opposed paradigms of social and spiritual life. the extent to which we still agree and acquiesce with living in a society organized on the foundations of creating and distributing capital, we will need to continue to be fully dependent on our ego-identities, body-mind. if that identity is a radical misunderstanding, as buddhism argues, then our lives are presently lived in un-truth.--- Read More:http://dialogicalecology.blogspot.com/2011/08/im-working-on-reader-that-will-include.html image:http://d-d.natanson.pagesperso-orange.fr/berceuses_yiddish.htm

….Souza:When Layton won the NDP leadership in 2003, he defeated not only the caucus favourite at th

me, Bill Blaikie, but the social gospel roots the ordained minister represented. It was the Christian left that produced the early titans of the NDP, including Tommy Douglas, the Baptist minister whose courage in opposing the War Measures Act in 1970 initially attracted Layton to the NDP. Douglas would find it hard to recognize Layton’s NDP — 103 seats with nary a one in Douglas’ native Saskatchewan, and drawn from the most secular parts of the country.

Layton’s legacy is not love and hope properly understood, but rather an ideology so secular that love and hope are understood primarily in political terms. His funeral celebrated a life that marked the death of the Christian left as a political force in Canada. Read More:http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2011/08/31/father-raymond-j-de-souza-laytons-funeral-was-a-day-for-worshipping-idols/

‎In a time in which Communist regimes have been rightfully discredited and yet alternatives to neoliberal capitalist societies are unwisely dismissed, I defend the fundamental claim of Marxist theory: there must be countervailing forces that defend people’s needs against the brutality of profit driven capitalism.-Cornel West. Read More:http://workandentropy.tumblr.com/post/5295848815/in-a-time-in-which-communist-regimes-have-been


---As it turned out, the box and the china had not been in the family for generations, nor were they from Novogrudek. As Maya’s grandmother, Tonia Benton, explained that afternoon, they were among the things that she and her husband bought from impoverished Germans after the war; bartering the chocolate and cigarettes they received in the displaced-persons camp, they were able to buy valuable items that could be used as currency to get the family to America. That day, Maya Benton says, she learned a lesson about people’s need for, and uses of, mythical narratives. --- Read More:http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/04/magazine/04shtetl-t.html?pagewanted=2


Maurice S. Friedman:The principle obstacle to the erection of true community is that dualism which splits life into two independent spheres -- one of the truth of the spirit and the other of the reality of life. True human life is life in the face of God, and God is not a Kantian idea but an elementarily present substance -- the mystery of immediacy before which only the pious man can stand. God is in all things, but he is realized only when individual beings open to one another, communicate with one another, and help one another -- only where immediacy establishes itself between beings. There in between, in the apparently empty space, the eternal substance manifests itself. The true place of realization is the community, and true community is that in which the godly is realized between men. The prophets, says Buber, demanded a direct godly form of community in contrast to the godless and spiritless state. True to Jewish thought, they did not simply deny the earthly state but insisted that it must be penetrated by the spirit of true community. It would have been unthinkable to them to have made a compromise with conditions as they were, but it would have been equally unthinkable for them to have fled from those conditions into a sphere of inner life. Read More:http://www.religion-online.org/showchapter.asp?title=459&C=378 image:http://www.blackandwhitephotography.ca/harryjoy/content/AHJ_076_large.html

Souza:…It’s a fitting metaphor, the church decamping to the worldly stage. And so it was that Layton’s body went from home to Parliament to a final campaign stop in Quebec to Toronto’s civic chambers to a concert hall. He lived a grand life on a public stage, but with a narrow horizon. The horizon of the stage is only as broad as its curtain, and when the curtain comes down, there is only the dark. Turn off the lights, indeed.Read More:http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2011/08/31/father-raymond-j-de-souza-laytons-funeral-was-a-day-for-worshipping-idols/


Maurice S. Friedman:The mature expression of Buber’s concern with realizing the divine through true community is the religious socialism which he developed in the period immediately after the First World War. This development was decisively influenced by the socialism of Buber’s friend Gustav Landauer, the social anarchism of Michael Kropotkin, and the distinction between ‘community’ and ‘association’ in Ferdinand Tönnies’s work, Gemeinschaft und Gesellschaft (1887). Community (‘Gemeinschaft’) Buber defines as an organic unity which has grown out of common possessions, work, morals, or belief. Association (‘Gesellschaft’) he defines as a mechanical association of isolated self-seeking individuals. It is an ordered division of society into self-seeking individuals held together by force, compromise, convention, and public opinion….

Blatchford:The letter is vainglorious too. Who thinks to leave a 1,000-word missive meant for public consumption and released by his family and the party mid-day, happily just as Mr. Solomon and his fellows were in danger of running out of pap? Who seriously writes of himself, “All my life I have worked to make things better”? The letter was first presented as Mr. Layton’s last message to Canadians, as something written by him on his deathbed; only later was it more fully described as having been “crafted” with party president Brian Topp, Mr. Layton’s chief of staff Anne McGrath and his wife and fellow NDP MP Olivia Chow. Mr. Layton wrote it, as Mr. Topp told Mr. Solomon, “in his beautiful, energy-retrofitted house” in downtown Toronto. These people never stop. Read More:http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2011/08/22/christie-blatchford-laytons-death-turns-into-a-thoroughly-public-spectacle/ image:http://www.anomalousmaterial.com/movies/2009/11/movie-review-the-counterfeiters-2007/

…Modern western culture, states Buber, is on the way from ‘Gemeinschaft’ to ‘Gesellschaft.’ The mechanical type of social living has replaced the organic. Marxism, the dominant form of modern socialism, desires to overcome the atomization of present-day life and sees itself as the bearer and executor of an evolutionary process. Yet it is nothing other than the process of development from community to association that it is completing. For what today is still left of an autonomy of organic community of wills must, under the working of this tendency, be absorbed into the power of the state. The state will indeed guarantee justice through laws, but the power of the state will be raised to an all-controlling dogma which will make impossible any spontaneous righteousness. Community which once existed universally, and which today exists almost alone in personal life and unnoticed fellowships, will not be able to withstand the all-embracing power of the new socialist state. Read More:http://www.religion-online.org/showchapter.asp?title=459&C=378

Read More:http://www.religion-online.org/showarticle.asp?title=475

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