Thursday, November 22, 2012

The Theory of Everything

This was supposed to be a pretty post.  I had an eight-page outline of what I’ve been calling The-Blog-That-Ate-My-Life, with a list of snappy images and lots of metaphors involving light and flame, with the rough sketch of an index at the end.  But I’m running out of time. 

Have you ever seen footage of a controlled building detonation?  There’s a moment after the detonation when the building hangs there in space, separated from its foundation, before it all comes sliding down.  Fifteen days ago, we lit the fuse.  [Already so long, can you believe it?]  I feel like maybe I should finish before the noise, or we won’t be able to get out.  So I need to get through this, even if it’s ugly, because we need to grab our shit and go, and we need to know which way to run.  This isn’t going to have a controlled collapse.

[Breathe. –Ed.]


I want to start at the beginning.      

In the beginning, when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless wasteland, and darkness covered the abyss, while a mighty wind swept over the waters.

Then God said, "Let there be light," and there was light.

God saw how good the light was.

God then separated the light from the darkness.

God called the light "day," and the darkness he called "night." Thus evening came, and morning followed - the first day.

Genesis 1:1-6.

Stop!  This isn’t a sermon.  I don’t care whether you believe Day 1 happened five thousand years ago, eleventy billion years ago, or yesterday.  That’s all details.  I have only one point:

There is such a thing as goodness.

That’s all we need here.  If you believe only that, I think we’re together. 


So this is what I think went wrong:

1 – Institutional Changes

Three is the magic number.  A man and a woman have a little baby.  Or, if you prefer: thesis, antithesis, and synthesis.  Tripartite government seems most stable.  And I think that in certain times and places where humanity has shown the most beauty and learning and promise—the most goodness—there were three institutions fighting each other for individual: the Church, the State, and the Family. 

When these three fight it out in relative balance, man is left to develop to his fullest capacity as an individual, for growing in everything beautiful and exciting that makes life worth living.  And I think that part of the reasons why these particular institutions worked so well for the progress of humanity is that they are all incompatible with each other.  The church wants your soul.  The state wants your body.  Your family wants your heart. 

I think progress happens because while the institutions are doing all of this fighting over your organs, it leaves your brain for you. 

I would argue that the rot at the root of the American culture is because these institutions are no longer in an evenly matched battle with each other, and that they therefore exert a greater and more destructive influence on the individual.  Because now we have a new institution to contend with – the corporation.  The problem is that the interests of the corporation and the state are combined.  They want your money, which means they want your labor – your body.  The death of social conservatism in American politics is the result of decades of teamwork with an increasingly corporatized state to take down the Church as an influence in the lives of American individuals. 

Your church used to be your community, the hub of your social affairs.  For most of us, isn’t that how our jobs are now?   Not many people go to church.  So many of the ones that do shop around for a congregation they like that’s close to home, while commuting hours and hours each day to our jobs. 

Note: I’m not telling you to go to church, or whether you should have a religion at all.  If it will help me prove my bona fides, I’ll tell you that I don’t even go to church.  (I’m just Catholic enough to feel guilty about it all the time).  But I think the corporation, with the help of the state (which, after all, creates the corporations), have taken the place of the church in the lives of the individual. 

I think the corporation was aiming to win the battle for the body, but the prize it won for defeating the Church was body and soul.  Corporate culture – books, television, movies and videogames – are our new mythology, our new morality, and the doctrinal texts.

It seems to me that the corporate capture of government is seen as a crisis to both the left wing and the right wing in American politics.  The disagreement between them is whether the corporations should therefore be punished or the government should. I don’t see how that even matters anymore. 

I don’t think it's worth fighting over who your master will be.  That’s why I don’t care about Reds and Blues anymore.  The most important things going forward are that 1) the power of the corporate state must be brought to heel, 2) the corporate state is at war with the family and the church, and 3) even if you aren’t a big fan of the family and the church on an individual level, it is in your best interest that they don’t fail.  Unless, of course, you think that total control by the corporate state is in your best interest. 

But you don’t, because if you’re reading this far, you believe there is such a thing as goodness, and you already know that isn’t it.

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