Just to reflect on the great secular state

Before I go off for a bike ride, I just thought that I would reflect on the great secular UK State. You know. The one that has over sixty thousand children in care, rising on some figures to eighty thousand. The one that costs £696 billion per year, rising to over a trillion by 2011.

The one that gives a million a year to Marie (friend of Hitler) Stopes International to abort baby Africans, whilst contemplating an academic qualification in sex for schoolchildren that could very easily see Teachers breaking anti-paedophile laws if they taught it.

The state where pensioners, two million of whom live in poverty, burn books to keep warm; where four million children and eight million adults live in poverty.

The State that gave its money to the banks who are now busily screwing people right left and centre; the state where sixteen per cent of deaths in 2007-8 were the result of 'continuous deep sedation'.

The same state that charges people to visit sick relatives in hospitals they pay for but which are sold to private shadow companies, which locked people out of the London tunnels in the Blitz and now celebrates survival from mass bombing, which wasted North Sea Oil, and which has gifted families with an average of £78000 per person of national debt and private debt on average of £8628 for every man woman and child, excluding mortgages.

A state whose leaders meet in secret, as chief executives, or civil servants, or members of the European Council, and which 'inspires' people who think they should govern you, right down to your wheelie-bin or smoking habits.

Big Capitalism turned into fascism because it upheld the rights of huge companies to crush competition and treat people like resources. Big States squander freedom because they realise that power follows property, as Daniel Webster knew--but they either steal the property or let banks they are intimately bound up with do it, and then encourage people to lie to themselves because they just view people as parts of voting blocs.

Yet through all of this, the miracle is that most people understand what clever people do not; that human beings are more than one aspect of their personality, are not defined by any one activity they engage in, and should not be reduced to the categories that bullies and the evil use to remove the humanity of people. No one is gay, or straight, or disabled, or black, or white, or Jewish or young or old or sick or fit or working class or middle class or aristocratic or intellectual--or Catholic--alone.

We, the people, are persons.

Repeat after me.

Own your own property. Pay a flat tax. Vote for good, traditional education. Look after your farmers. Make things. Force government to be smaller, and starve it of funds. Break up banks. Be as independent as you can. Balance reason and faith. Own your own country. Hold to your families and friends. Do not give in to a stupid media that will tell you to hate and try to divert your anger against people whom you do not know who have not hurt you because video war is fun. Don't give in to the sentimental blandishments of narcissism. Understand that this life is short, and we have been gifted with the ability to love and to think, but that we live in times when the pressure on resources is intense and where the complexities of life are bewildering.

And hold on, because the cold is coming.


Toni said…
Well done with this post. Most people do know we are more than just one activity, (well most of us are - I seem to be alarmingly one dimensional). However most of us don't realise the extent of the fascism in this country, (is it fascism if it is directed at the general population)? What people in this country fail to understand is the enormous wealth that was generated by this country since the industrial revolution and through the days of empire and the oil boom should have ensured a more egalitarian society, perhaps something more along the Norwegian or Danish lines, rather than the heavily lopsided society we live in. The truth is the great and the good of this country have always regarded the citizens as at best an annoyance and more often an exploitable commodity. I frequently tell my parents that the reason their pensions are so derisory is that they broke the rules. When they first started working the statisticians estimated a man from the deprived area of Glasgow my father is from would die in his fifties and therefore never require his pension. The pyramid scheme that is the National Insurance was based on stories like his. The fact that he overachieved and is a relatively healthy seventy year old man who has never had a serious illness in his life has screwed the system up. His role was to pay his contribution and hopefully die before ever claiming a pension.

Whilst I am uneasy about the huge wealth of the Vatican and the bureaucracy of the Catholic Church, I can't see how the secular state has helped us any more.
Martin Meenagh said…
Thanks for your comment, Toni, I appreciate it.

I agree with you about the attitude of the ruling people of this country, and I don't think swapping one set of tyrants for another would do anything about it.

Britain, and even more Ireland, have lost so many chances to be fairer, or more equal societies. It's shocking when, as you point out, you consider the accumulated wealth, but I think that it is a function of the wish of most people to do what others do.

What others do is admire those who own assets and who have 'lifestyles' rather than lives, so they copy them, with debt. Debt allows the traps to be set which begin the troubles, but we also accept such lies--that abandoning critical rationality or self control leads to a more 'free' expression, that sex is something serious, that pleasant drinks or drugs can help us escape from the notion that our material lives aren't our own.

That helps, indeed creates a space for, any oppressor.

We oppress ourselves because, sometimes, the ways that we do so are fun and we are not allowed very much meaning. I suppose that's what Heidegger was going on about when he noted how obsessed we were with being rather than 'be', with doing and explaining not living and thinking our way to the meaning of our nature.

Or maybe that's just an idle Sunday thought.

The Church is a networked organisation, so its orders, and episcopates, tend to hold any money in themself, helped along by tax law. That makes it enourmously difficult to say that the body as an entity is rich in any meaningful sense--it couldn't swap assets around or liquidate wealth. The Vatican/Holy See rides the currents of this wealth and nominally has assets it couldn't leverage, but in reality runs a small state on the cheap (indeed to the chagrin of the Vatican unions, often). It makes up for the lack of funds with a very defined form of control, but then finds that it can't deploy it as fully as it wants.

This administrative and financial confusion was wide open to the infestation of the paedophiles, in a different way from the UN or various social care departments, because the natural aim of such an organisation would be to protect members who might be innocent with shielded investigations, and to accept the added capital of experts from outside who spoke of a pathology to be therapised rather than crimes to be punished. Small administrative cliques would also have guarded their control closely, allowing some to play the rules and the gaps between divisions. Thank God Benedict, primus inter alia, saw that and has taken really serious steps to deal with it.

I wonder what a network diagram of church wealth as opposed to income, operating capital and cash flow would look like; I assume bizarrely dissonant to what most people think. At least it can't go bust.
Toni said…
The finances of the Catholic Church are opaque in the extreme. The nominal balance sheet shows the revenue as the collection income and other tithes and fees generated by their activities around the world. I, for example, went to a Christian Brothers school established by Ignatius Rice which charged heavy fees but my parents paid as it was the best school in the area. the links between the Banco Ambrosiano Veneto and the church have never been fully disclosed and I am fairly sure you would find church involvement in other major financial institutions in Catholic countries around the world. The asset value of the church must be incredible, think of the property value, let alone the art collections and the texts that would be worth millions to collectors.
Martin Meenagh said…
Most of that couldn't or shouldn't be sold, Toni, whether you think it shows the capabilities of man or the pointlessness of materialism or a way to God through art and senses rather than reason.

I've said before on this blog that I would have been quite keen at one point to find one order that was implicated in the scandals, dissolve it, and create a fund for therapy and penance, but I think that we are well beyond that now. Understanding American lawyers as I do, that probably won't sate them.

Banco Ambrosiano was Marcinkus' operation and I shudder to think what went on there. The twentieth century was one of the darkest times for the world since the seventeenth, and it's no surprise that a church that was in the world was touched by it. My worry is that the Church, unlike, say, governments or corporate institutions, keeps fantastic records for her own benefit; I hope those are kept safe for a good few years, or God knows what twisted badness the media and the enemies of the Church will make out of them.

You can't hold up a mirror to the abyss the modern world is in and not expect something horrible to rear up from the abyss and try to smash it. We saw in London yesterday people of real venom who know what has them in its grip on some level and who can only lash out. They can't allow themselves to hear or see what they are because a fallen world has tied them in knots, and its a tragedy. God help us, there are similar pathologies within some in the church.

I think that only the peace of Christ, and a coming to terms with our nature, can solve that; many others whom I respect do not. I wish people would be at peace, though.

There's something about modern society which won't let them. There are times when I think that we, in modern society, are living in the belly of the beast.
Toni said…
I certainly agree with your last statement, and your quite right it is unreasonable to expect the Church not to be affected by the condition of the world it operates in. The Catholic church more than any other attracts attention because of the obvious wealth. As far as the scandals go, the protesters seem oblivious to the facts that there are over 1.5 billion Catholics, so there are bound to be a few bad eggs and the Catholic church is the single leading contributor to human aid in the world. That aid includes support for HIV sufferers in Africa, (for some reason this is a very popular talking point for the chattering classes) and was providing relief for The Pakistani flood victims before any other organisation. Although once again, that was denigrated as some kind of "recruitment" move.

The protesters against the Papal visit were just aching to promote their own agenda, I had expected more muslim involvement but they at least seem to have respect. Instead it was the pro-choice, homosexual brigade, lead by Peter Tatchell. I don't know about you, but what is annoying to me about this is there is no need for these groups to pay attention to what the Church believes, you will get some people who say well its my right to choose to be a Catholic homosexual, but its not as if the Vatican has suddenly switched the rules after welcoming them with open arms - as far as I know the Church has been consistent in its views. I remember a bar I used to go to in Bangkok, the owner had placed a picture of the previous Pope on his "wall of fame" and a very gay customer was outraged and defaced it. This guy was ok and a good customer but had repeatedly been told not to kiss his Thai boyfriend in the pub as the owner was running a family pub. He always replied it was his right to show affection to his partner. That's what annoys me, I guess, its all about their rights with no consideration for anyone else.
Anonymous said…
Of course, if the Catholic church did the appropriate thing and promoted the use of condoms far less money would need to be spent on abortions in the third world.
Martin Meenagh said…
Anonymous--thanks for your comment, but nope. There is a proper logic to the church; telling people that they are ends in themselves, that families and life are precious, and that fidelity and just economic systems are the best thing is one thing. To turn around and throw rubbers at black people (or anyone else) and say 'there you go', or to collude in that, a contemptuous other.

The evidence is that countries with strong families, low inequality, and fair economies have less aids and lower abortions than others.

The secular solution to abortions is jobs, homes, and justice. The theological solution is to say that people should not use other people for their own ends when babies could result, or at all, really.

In either case, contraception is a cheap, contemptuous modernist solution. Anyway, the church must be true to itself, otherwise it might as well just give up (which is a different matter)--the consequence of that would be the mess that Anglicanism has got itself into, and its loss of moral authority.

People aren't robots, and I have to confess that I don't think that sex really matters as one of the bigger issues of life unless you want to invest it with great meaning--its certainly not worth breaking the logic of the faith over. The church in its thought is meant to be expository; it shows people whats right, and has to be honest, and they can agree or disagree and see where it leads. Thats much better than wringing hands or compromising.

All best to everyone


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