Sunday, March 11, 2007

Making A Deal with Death

The politician, standing before the mob, however genteel, however august the surroundings, tells it what it wants to hear. This devise is manifestly exposed in the canonical New Testament; the power instrument of all who want to lay claim to superiority in their field of expertise. That it happens in the halls of Congress carries no excuse:
Standing before the Senate chambers of the United States Congress, Senator J. C. Holmes paused to adjust his glasses. His owl-like eyes seemed enormous behind the thick lenses. Congress with dignitaries from various foreign allies and the President waited for him to continue...

“And I say to you, my fellow Amarcans, the passage of this historic Bill is a triumph for democracy! Never since the birth of civilization has such progress been made for mankind. Today is the dawn of a new era: the rebirth of order and civilization from the ashes and destruction of the old. Therefore, to symbolize the unprecedented unity between peace-lovin’ nations around the world, bonfires of the purest natural gas shall burn and be maintained at our nation’s monuments here in Washington beginning Midsummer’s Eve. Such lights blazed in the Parthenon of Athens and the Pantheon of Rome – our forbears of democracy and the power of the will. And, my fellow Amarcans, we are lightin’ the torch of order and grandeur once again!”

Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle rose to their feet. The Vice President, seated behind the respected senator, nodded her head and applauded with the rest. The president and his wife smiled and whispered to the Nobel laureates on either side. The hallowed chambers quieted as the Senator at the podium began speaking again.

“And I say – and I say – let anyone who tries to stand in the way of the Dionysus Mandate, beware! The will of the world’s people has been heard! The will of the people and the will of the Almighty are one! We shall never be defeated by terrorists again!”
With this, the senator from North Carolina gives the stamp of approval to the Dionysus Mandate, mythologizing it into Satan's jurisdiction: that of state, pomp, and prestige.

The Dionysus Mandate.

14 comments:

Athos said...

I can recall Waldo Beach, my Ethics prof at Duke, I believe, telling us that one can enter the realm and work of politics with the very finest intentions; but "with power comes corruption, and absolute power corrupts absolutely."

The expedient takes the place of the faithful and moral. But why? Is it fear that causes the politico to take the easier path?

Is it even possible to enter the realm of the prince of this world without bowing (unlike Our Lord) to him whose accusatory gesture and who IS the accusatory gesture created all the world's kingdoms?

Porthos said...

Make yourself weak? Inverted hierarchy? Servant of servants? In democracies, transparency, separation of powers, 4th estate, fight against pork and perks . . . Plus, term limits for Congress might not be a bad idea. Also, have a good partner, wise friends, good advisors? All of these are basically ways to limit or temper power.

I'd hesitate to call politics intrinsically the realm of the prince of this world, though the temptation (as in so many other things) must always be there. An alternative might be anarchy--I mean, not the state of anarchy but the political philosophy of anarchy; it is a philosohy that has a pretty neat lineage in some ways (unlike Marxism/Leninism)--I mean Kropotkin and such. Anarchy, monarchy, democracy (of various stripes), benign authoritarianism (a la SIngapore), creepy authoritarianism (a la China), creeping bureaucratic nanny-statism (a la Europe and the UK), crony kleptocracy (as in much of Africa), internationalist paternalism (the UN), tribalism, warlordism, totalitarianism, and, maybe an emerging corporate bottom lineism--Babylonism. The last might be a large, rather unseen threat these days. Certainly, a lot on the political buffet menu!

Athos said...

C. S. Lewis also painted the picture of politics as servant of scientism in That Hideous Strength, in which he got everything right except the technology components. That is, government and its hierarchies answered to those who functioned by atheistic materialism's presuppositions.

Think Kurzveil's The Singularity is Near set calling the shots. O yeah. Bailie says it's already happening in Britain in today's Cornerstone Forum blog.

Porthos said...

I saw that. It was an excellent post, one of his best! That's partly what I was thinking with "creeping bureaucratic nanny-statism."

Porthos said...

But the nanny-state bureaucrats (who individually do not have that much power) probably see themselves as high-minded "improvers."

Athos said...

Make yourself weak? Inverted hierarchy? Servant of servants? In democracies, transparency, separation of powers, 4th estate, fight against pork and perks . . . Plus, term limits for Congress might not be a bad idea. Also, have a good partner, wise friends, good advisors? All of these are basically ways to limit or temper power

As Gil Bailie is wont to say, it is unforgiven people who cause all the problems in the world. That is, unforgiven people have an overpowering need to justify themselves. How is this accomplishe? By joining together to find the REAL culprit, of course.

Would political parties exist without the concomitant accusatory gesticulation - 'It's THEIR fault.' Now some may say such entities aren't posited on the negative but on the positive: our way will work best. Follow us.

Maybe.

The "beauty" of the Dionysus Mandate is that it is (a) born of futility; nothing has worked and things are only getting worse, (b) it is covered with a mystique of the sacred; people are thirsty for ANY kind of transcendence, so ALL party difference are set aside to "give the voters what they want," and (c) the scientists (the World Consortium et al) know best, just as in cosmology and physics studies; let's let 'em try.

It's basically the same action now being taken in Britain, the EU, and, soon, in the USA re: abortion, same-sex "marrriages" and the like. The APA buckled politically with the reformed DSM-IV.

Aramis said...

You know,..., this Dionysus Mandate is all too easy for me to see as our only way out, and this is specially true during Lent as no one extra seems to be coming to our Mass (daily nor Sunday). No one seems to care to enter into a bond with the people of Ninevah as they repented in sack cloth and ashes. Jonah 3:1-10. No one seems to connect "our" sins (our distractions and undisciplined lives) with the ease of slipping into violence run amok. It only seems to dawn on people when it is too late!

I'm sorry, but as Porthos provides for us a glimpse into the mighty political buffet menu, including an emerging corporate bottom lineism--Babylonism, I find chaos and distractions arising here, there and everywhere. And with that turmoil arising comes an ever-increasing tension to squelch it, and again in history we call out for the GMSM - ‘Generative Mimetic Scapegoating Mechanism’ - the Dionysus Mandate. Who am I to try to disassemble its mighty power?

Athos said...

That is exactly the effect it is supposed to have on us, brother Aramis: despair.

Those of us attuned to its insidiousness see the GMSM everywhere -- and I don't mean in a paranoid way, I mean gradiants of it, symptoms of it -- wherever we look at the vortex. From Iraq IEDs to the "WartHogs to Hell," from kids ostracizing a kid during lunch to the Skooter Libby trial, from 'American Idol' to Michael Jackson.

It can overwhelm. So it's specially discouraging when Church is ill-attended. I wish you could visit my St. James Parish, Aramis! Vibrant, every nationality ... a vision of the Catholic (universal) Church!

Truth is a great consolation for me, Aramis. And I also need great minds and hearts to hang around - Chesterton, Tolkien, Ker, Merton, Belloc and the like. The saints are sometimes too rarified for a common soul like myself to digest, except for moments of great grace.

Aramis said...

Truth is that if you were to be gazing down from the stars high above last night you would have noticed a glimmer of hope beaming heavenward as another great Cursillo weekend concluded, and another 29 strengthen witnesses to God's Truth began their 4th days today. Though very few have been yet exposed to the Dionysus Mandate - I believe that people deepen, in religious sensibilities, are much more attuned to the anthropological ramifications of the Gospels at work in history than those who meander mindlessly like a caged animal, pacing to and fro.

Aramis said...

From Bailie: The overt violence which destroyed the monasteries on the British isles in the 16th century is still in use by fanatical jihadists, but their hyper-modern secular counterparts in the West have yet to work themselves up into a comparable frenzy. (They eventually may.) For the time being at least, they employ a more subtle but so far extremely effective method.

When I read this I was reminded of Yeats, who penned "The best lack all convictions, while the worst/Are full of passionate intensity." Here we are in Lent, soon entering into the Passion of Our Lord, and so we must ask, how do we in the Church rev-up our lives? Just what are the consequences, for ourselves and for our children, if we continue in our sloth (our passionless intensity)? The past is full of this history, as the Bailie blog points out, and yet we allow the masters of evil (and myth) to taint our view of history (and Truth), putting us to sleep instead of convicting us into repentance and forgiveness – our only salvation.

Athos said...

The past is full of this history, as the Bailie blog points out, and yet we allow the masters of evil (and myth) to taint our view of history (and Truth), putting us to sleep instead of convicting us into repentance and forgiveness – our only salvation

Well said, Aramis. Well said. The prophets would recognize our miserable condition immediately: from the "cows of Bashan" and the greedy robbing from the poor to child sacrifice.

But, as you say, the masters of evil have glittering, fascinating objects dangling before our eyes, hypnotizing us into a lulled somnambulatory half-life.

I've started a reflection I'm calling "DISTRACTED TO DEATH."

Aramis said...

AAAHHHH, what lovely reflections you have, my fond Athos..."DISTRACTED TO DEATH." There is almost a sentimental quality to "DISTRACTED TO DEATH," don't you think? Maybe the title of your next novel, Athos?

Porthos said...

Hey, I was thinking the same thing! The sequel!

Porthos said...

hold on to your seat

you'll never get off it alive anyway

Dionysus II

coming for you