Facilitate the power of love - confront the love of power

Mon, 28 Jun 2004

Dominionist Christianity

I uploaded yesterday's blog (and found that due to some server glitch it didn't appear). Then, feeling that I had done enough business with one or two of the messages from our lost planet, I took myself a glass of wine and checked to see if Google had indexed yet (it seems to be taking an age) I searched for a unique piece of my text 'we all live in Israel now' and what came up was this page.

'We all Live on the West Bank'. a blog page by Janine Roberts that is essentially making the same point as my page - that Israel's intransigence has resulted in the export of the style and content of their conflict to the rest of the world.

Some short but eloquent notes follow on the religious discrimination that Israel practices that would, as Janine Roberts points out, be illegal almost everywhere else.

Further down her page I followed this link:

The Despoiling of America - How George W. Bush became the head of the new American Dominionist Church/State

by Katherine Yurica

It's hard to convey the extent to which I felt gobsmacked by this piece, perhaps that was what was intended, and I will be duly sceptical.

However, The Despoiling of America is a long, referenced article. It supports with chapter and verse what I had previously felt were intuitions, lacking in evidence, of the extent to which christian fundamentalism in the US was allied, even fused with neo-conservatives there and pursuing autocratic, world domination agendas. I wouldn't have dared coin the phrase 'Domionism'... but Yurica presents evidence enough.

Here are some quotes from the article: (but do read it for yourself)

As Antonin Scalia, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court explained ... the Bible teaches and Christians believe "... that government... derives its moral authority from God. Government is the 'minister of God' with powers to 'revenge,' to 'execute wrath,' including even wrath by the sword..."

It is estimated that thirty-five million Americans who call themselves Christian, adhere to Dominionism in the United States, but most of these people appear to be ignorant of the heretical nature of their beliefs and the seditious nature of their political goals. So successfully have the televangelists and churches inculcated the idea of the existence of an outside "enemy," which is attacking Christianity, that millions of people have perceived themselves rightfully overthrowing an imaginary evil anti-Christian conspiratorial secular society.

Dominionism started with the Gospels and turned the concept of the invisible and spiritual "Kingdom of God" into a literal political empire that could be taken by force, starting with the United States of America. Discarding the original message of Jesus and forgetting that Jesus said, "My kingdom is not of this world," the framers of Dominionism boldly presented a Gospel whose purpose was to inspire Christians to enter politics and execute world domination so that Jesus could return to an earth prepared for his earthly rule by his faithful "regents."

But the Dominionists needed the aberrant extension of Calvinism; they believe as did Calvin and John Knox that before the creation of the universe, all men were indeed predestined to be either among God's elect or were unregenerate outcasts. And it is at this point Dominionists introduced a perversion to Calvinism... its technical name is "supralapsarianism." It means essentially that the man called from before the foundation of the world to be one of the elect of God's people, can do no wrong. No wonder then observers noted a definite religious swing in George W. Bush from Wesleyan theology to Calvinism early in his administration.

All this and the pages listed below look to be essential reading for anyone trying to figure out how anyone could conceivably combine global domination with Jesus-style love. It turns out the recipe, a purified form of Calvinism, is well established, even hugely popular in the US, if also well hidden.

As of today it has the effect of me telling myself that now I can pause, stop digging in this patch and direct you to Katherine Yurica's article and the sites below and doubtless others as they emerge.

Religious Right Watch. More dominion!

...and if this wasn't enough there is 'Christian Reconstructionists - Theocratic Dominionism Gains Influence. This is an earlier article, pre-Bush, pre the neo-con infiltration of the US administration, that draws a picture of the origins of US fundamentalism, brought up to date in 'The Despoiling of America'.

Sun, 27 Jun 2004


I got going with this blog because I felt overwhelmed by the sheer weight of evidence of domination coming at me. Being sensitized, some might say over-sensitized, to this comes from paying a lot of attention to the power of love and trying to live from love, and today I want to start a new section that makes a place on the blog for this. I'm going to call it Satyagraha. Gandhi argued that an essential accompaniment to the non-violent direct action which accelerated the exit of the British from India was the development of 'positive programms'. He called these Satyagraha and I've adopted it here for organisations, groupings, actions events that demonstrate living from love.

If you want to have more detail on the origins of Satygraha Jonathan Schell in his highly recommendable book 'The Unconquerable World: Power, Nonviolence and the Will of the People' gives a lot of space to it and Gandhi.

That a positive programme is an essential ingredient of resistance and critique isn't a new idea for me. Left-wing analysis of social ills often seems to me very one-sided in the direction of too much intellect and not enough positive programme. Too much god (Marx/Freud) and not enough love.

Also, paying as much attention to creating what we want to have as to the critiques that come so easily to our dissociated lips really matters. Why? Because sustained critique can have the unintended effect of unconsciously replicating in us the style or dynamic of the oppression or injustice we are busy resisting or contradicting.

Resist and confront domination yes, but also create, devise, test, build, institutions that not only avoid reproducing domination, but are shaped by love and living from liking. As and when I find them, the Satyagraha section here will point to examples of this. Here's one.

Birth Matters
I want to celebrate a film about the pyschology of birth which comprehensively provides pointers to what is adrift in our medicalized approaches to child-bearing and child-care, and what to do about it. 'The Psychology of Birth: Invitation to Intimacy', a 53 minute documentary currently released on DVD and VHS, outlines an approach that emphasizes 'welcoming' the coming child into a community of carers and 'sharers'(as one of the contributors, Sobonfu Somé elsewhere argues, one parent is not enough, one parent can't handle all those demands); the film invites us to accept the scientific evidence for intelligence and sentience in the foetus and newborn child and to have this re-shape the birth process; parents-to-be are invited to diligently attend to any unfinished business they might be carrying around with them that might prove to be an unwelcome gift for their child.

My oldest son Elmer, wrote, directed, produced and edited 'Invitation to Intimacy'. It's an eloquent, richly touching recipe for recuperating how we do pregnancy, birth and child-care. It will set a standard for some time on how to speak about why birth matters.

Another day
Other items to come in Satyagraha include: how to start a Steiner school, and a piece about the Independent Practitioner's Network [IPN], ten years old this November. IPN has developed an entirely new form of accountability for psychopractioners based on peer assessment and non hierarchical organization.

Sat, 26 Jun 2004

Sailing barge, repair and maintenance.

I live on a large timber boat and at this time of the year if the weather blesses, which it has these last weeks in the UK, I shift into shipyard mode,  I scrape, paint, chisel and fill the damage due to sunshine, frost and bad weather in the previous 12 months. Which explains, if explanation were needed, the recent gap in the blog.

This doesn't mean that the world hasn't been offering a shedload of experience, example and evidence matching the theme of our inquiry here, just that until today I haven't had time to write about them.

The Normandy landings - a snippet
Winston Churchill and Franklin D. Roosevelt met off Newfoundland to discuss the invasion of occupied Europe in 1944. Their business completed, they and all the assembled officials sang the hymn 'Onward Christian Soldiers'. Isn't that neat? How bizarre that, 60 years later, the contemporary leaders of these same nations could plausibly do the same.

Fundamentalism cont.
I begin to get an inkling that fundamentalisms of all kinds, but especially branded religiosity, are parasitical. A special form of dominance; living off the rest of the world but putting nothing back, contributing only destruction and damage. A example, familiar to me, is the scale insect, which mines the sap of tasty plants such as amarylis and lemon trees and has killed several of my house plants.

Another is the tapeworm. Reading the amusing, if challenging tale of my friend Vincent's tapeworm, triggered the notion that here is a great metaphor for fundamentalism. The tape worm feeds off, and yet makes zero contribution to, the economy of its host. Isn't this also true of fundamentalism? For example the 'Reverend' Ian Paisley whose fundamentalist religiosity has depleted and impoverished Northern Ireland for decades while holding it locked into Protestant dominance; and the economic fundamentalists who persuaded Russia to move from a command to a market economy in 30 seconds, creating a licence to steal state utilities; a pope, sitting in the country with the lowest birth-rate in Europe, who imposes worldwide the belief that contraception, women priests, and abortion are anathema.

Hmmm, abortion, we'll have to come back to that.

I begin to get a sense that fundamentalisms often equate to a love of power. Not necessarily personal power but being in love with the expressions of power, in love with powerful others, tycoons, kings, queens and princes, popes, stars, saints, warriors, champions, tyrants and gods.

Here are a couple of examples of 'warrior worship' that I recently collected. This ad is for a computer game, currently on show in London's underground celebrates... well what do you think? And this one on Pepsi Cola bottles champions a soft drink. And lest this seems self-righteously aloof, here is a warrior drawn on his bedroom door(now a storeroom) by my youngest son, then aged 12ish, and at the time a Judge Dread enthusiast. More on the warrior stereotype another day.

State power
In the way that the world turns, an example of state power interrupted this writing. I opened the post to find that my request to be excused jury service because it conflicts with the work I do as a psychotherapist, was refused. I can and will appeal but this probably means shaking out the suit and tie and showing up before the appeal judge. Not that I have anything against jury service as such, no doubt it will provide a sobering experience of the inner psyche of West London, maybe my own included.

If this is the first entry you look at today be sure to check out the new section, Satyagraha, devoted to living from love, living from liking, creating the world we want alongside confrontation of those aspects of the the world we find damaging, or indefensible.

Wed, 02 Jun 2004

We all live in Israel now

I have had less difficulty admitting to naiveté about the politics of the Middle East since I realized how few people would count as well-informed. Plus, the realization, as Madrid recently discovered, and as I have elsewhere proposed, that 'we all live in Israel now', means that the Middle East has become a branch of local politics. UK petrol 4 a gallon. It matters. Today's entry here is a result of giving some further attention to how this could be.

A friend who has made several tv documentaries about Israel told me, perhaps as a warning hint, that whatever the Palestinian/Israeli conflict needs, it is not, as he put it, 'more words'.

And yet.... for this inquiry into cultures of dominance, there is something about the Middle East that exposes the dynamics of what is supposed to 'natural' and 'inevitable' about human nature. So that we can see how we do ourselves, see past the words to how we bystand, or collude with, offensive and damaging political arrangements.

And so it was that today, while looking on the web for something else, I came upon a site that surprised me. Jews against Zionism. Could this be? You can read it for yourself but an executive summary of the overall argument of the site sheds interesting light on the kinds of worldview that orbit around Zionism.

I hadn't understood that there was a version of Jewish faith that, as the site emphasises, following the biblical expulsion of the Jews in 60AD from the 'Holy Land', argued strenuously, with biblical support, for assimilation of Jewish communities in whatever country they find themselves.

The Holy Land was given to the Jewish people on the condition that they observe the Torah and its commandments. When they failed to do this, their sovereignty over the land was taken from them, and they went into exile. From that time, we are prohibited by the Torah with a very grave prohibition to establish a Jewish independent sovereignty in the Holy Land or anywhere throughout the world. Rather, we are obligated to be loyal to the nations under whose protection we dwell.

This Torah strand of Jewish faith, at least as expounded here, looks like a clear recipe for subordination. It looks as if it might account, at least to my relatively uninformed eye, for the apparent docility and lack of active resistance of many European Jews to the Nazi pogroms of the recent century and perhaps earlier one too.

By contrast despite the injunctions of the Jewish teachings, Zionism, the political wing of the Jewish faith (think Provisional IRA and Irish Catholicism?) appears, in both origins and continuing history, to be at home with the use of force and coercion.

This tends to challenge my take on Zionism as a classic exponent of domination, might it have been equivalent to the IRA? A necessary, if appalling, way of bringing an oppressed people out of subjugation? I don't know. Maybe someone will offer clarification here.

What does seem increasingly clear is that Zionism, as it took to itself and became entranced by the myth of a 'return to the homeland' was, and continues to be, as ruthlessly uncaring of the rights and well-being of indigenous population of Palestine as other colonizers, such as the Britain, France, Belgium, Spain, and the US. Did I miss anyone?

Israeli History: take 2
A substantial group of Israeli scholars have opened the book on the official rewrite of Israeli history taught in Israeli schools. Their account, read a very helpful summary of it here, pays more attention to the 'hidden transcript' as James C. Scott calls it, of the oppressed Palestinians.

What seems to emerge from this is that Zionism mimics the Great Game of the European imperial nations, reproducing, in a Zionist secularization of the Jewish faith, many of their least humanly caring traits. In particular their devotion to colonization, militarism, nationalism, enemy-making and racism.

So if we look in horror at the cruelties of the Israeli state cultures of dominance, where did they learn it? Stand up the UK?

Israeli History: take 3 'Cruel Zionism'
In 'The Jews of Iraq', Naeim Giladi, an Iraqi imprisoned in Abu Ghraib in 1947 and sentenced to hang as a Zionist smuggler of Iraqi Jews out of Iraq into Israel-to-be, has written a very different, first hand account of Zionist history on the ground.

Giladi was profoundly disillusioned with the Israel he eventually reached.
"I write about what the first prime minister of Israel called "cruel Zionism." His text details the discrimination that Giladi, an Iraqi Arab Zionist activist suffered when he reached Israel. But as he saw first hand, the Palestinians were being hurt much, much more.

"... through the Jewish Agency, I was advised to go to al-Mejdil (later renamed Ashkelon), an Arab town about 9 miles from Gaza, very close to the Mediterranean. The Israeli government planned to turn it into a farmers´ city, so my farm background would be an asset there.

When I reported to the Labor Office in al-Mejdil, they saw that I could read and write Arabic and Hebrew and they said that I could find a good-paying job with the Military Governor´s office. The Arabs in what was now Israel were under the authority of these Military Governors. A clerk handed me a bunch of forms in Arabic and Hebrew. Now it dawned on me. Before Israel could establish its farmers´ city, it had to rid al-Mejdil of its indigenous Palestinians. The forms were petitions to the United Nations Inspectors asking for transfer out of Israel to Gaza, which was under Egyptian control.

I read over the petition. In signing, the Palestinian would be saying that he was of sound mind and body and was making the request for transfer free of pressure or duress. Of course, there was no way that they would leave without being pressured to do so. These families had been there hundreds of years, as farmers, primitive artisans, weavers. The Military Governor prohibited them from pursuing their livelihoods, just penned them up until they lost hope of resuming their normal lives. That´s when they signed to leave. I was there and heard their grief. "Our hearts are in pain when we look at the orange trees that we planted with our own hands. Please let us go, let us give water to those trees. God will not be pleased with us if we leave His trees untended." I asked the Military Governor to give them relief, but he said, "No, we want them to leave."

"I could no longer be part of this oppression and I left. Those Palestinians who didn´t sign up for transfers were taken by force—just put in trucks and dumped in Gaza. About four thousand people were driven from al-Mejdil in one way or another. The few who remained were collaborators with the Israeli authorities."

"I was disillusioned at what I found in the Promised Land, disillusioned personally, disillusioned at the institutionalized racism, disillusioned at what I was beginning to learn about Zionism´s cruelties. The principal interest Israel had in Jews from Islamic countries was as a supply of cheap labor, especially for the farm work that was beneath the urbanized Eastern European Jews. Ben Gurion needed the "Oriental" Jews to farm the thousands of acres of land left by Palestinians who were driven out by Israeli forces in 1948."

Where did the Zionist leaders learn this domineering ruthlessness? An important part of Giladi's account deals not only with the origins of Israel, but also of contemporary events in Iraq, not least the ruthless use of force of British colonial rule, being reproduced in Iraq, 50 years later, by the UK and US administrations.

Goodbye Goodwill
So what does all this tell an inquiry into cultures of domination? Here is a preliminary review.

Faced with taking account of the gross victimizations of Torah spirituality, which across centuries had lived peacefully within, or alongside many very different communities, Zionism appears to jump to one of the opposite psychological poles, from victimization, persecution.*

The necessary beneficial alternative, for nations as for persons (the US is a ripe current example) is to examine how much of the hostility directed towards us is justified, self-created, due to how we do ourselves. But I hear you say, isn't this blaming the victim? No, what I want to point to is the need for previously victimized populations such as the Jewish community to realize that, if they choose to be client-state masters of shock and awe, as Israel has done, that this is to take to their hearts, adopt, and reproduce, the inhuman cultures of dominance that have been so damaging to women, jews, roma, homosexuals, trade unionists and communists, to speak only of Europe in the last century.

Israel continues to reap the whirlwind of this profound political (and psychological) error. It generates for Israelis, as night follows day, a 'shadow' of suicide bombings and war crimes, and the onset of pariah status. And provides a living model, were one to be needed, of how a people can piss away, as both the US and Israel have done in my adult lifetime, the goodwill of half the world.

* This tendency along with 'rescuing', is a well-known psychological notion first outlined by Stephen Karpman, a teacher of Transactional Analysis. Here is an accessible account by Lynne Forrest of how it plays out.

Tue, 01 Jun 2004

'Subjects for your approval...'

A friend sent me the following remarks about Prince William's future:

Here in the UK the press have recently been preoccupied with what Prince William will do when he graduates.  One commentator favoured his going into the army as, in her view, it would allow him to meet a wide range of “future subjects’ from all walks of life, in a safe environment.  The word “subject’, redolent of times I thought had passed - of forelock-tugging and executive lavatories, is offered as a definition of the relationship this young man will be expected to have with other citizens of the UK.  Going out into the world is not intended, for him, to be an opening up: a journey of exploration or discovery, an opportunity to find out what goes on in this country and others, the opportunity to really get to know people from different backgrounds.  Rather, this step on life´s way is presented as a closing-down, a time when he will assume the mantle of dominance, and look down on his fellow man from a position of superiority.  In this context the army will indeed offer a safe environment, as those he meets will already have subscribed to notions of hierarchy, of everyone-in-his-place, in fact to what is likely to be Prince William's own view of the world.  And so it will be reinforced.  No closet republicans there.  What a missed opportunity!

W Riley