Saturday, August 28, 2010

Christian Anarchism

Count Lyev Nikolayevich Tolstoy
Earlier this month, I finished the book, "The Kingdom of God is Within You," by Leo Tolstoy. It is an incredible book filled with truth and insight about the nature of government and society. It has been labeled by some a treatise on Christian anarchism that exposes the true nature of the teachings of Christ, as elucidated in the Sermon on the Mount and elsewhere in the Gospels. 

In this light, the political anarchism of intellectuals such as Noam Chomsky can be better understood and appreciated; but it must be differentiated from that of Tolstoy's exposition of  that of Jesus of Nazareth.  

Although Tolstoy more or less independently developed his thinking on the active non-violent resistance that is at the heart of Christ's teaching, after his first edition, entitled "What I Believe," he was introduced to the writings of the American Quakers, William Lloyd Garrison and Adin Ballou, both of whom deepened his understanding and led to the current edition entitled "The Kingdom of God is Within You."

Quaker activist William Lloyd Garrison
Quaker activist Adin Ballou
According to Tolstoy, over time ALL governments become despotic despite the forms they take, whether democratic, republican, socialistic, fascistic, communistic or monarchic. Their first act of state is to secure their own power against the people, whom they perceive as a threat because of the human propensity to form groups that seek their own interests.

Given over to a basic anxiety regarding holding onto power and status, they rely upon violence or the threat of violence to achieve their ends.

Despite all their glorious and benevolent promises enshrined in constitutions and legal systems, the incipient function of all government is to preserve and protect itself.  The institutions of police and military forces are given the mandate at their deepest levels to protect government and the elite who empower them. 

Only after they have secured their own power do governments act outside their borders to extend the goals of its merchant and upper classes through commerce and adventurism. All foreign policy and commerce is underwritten by the ability and willingness to employ violence.

Persian miniature of Sermon on the Mount
Dependence on violence and aggression is treated as a given by all forms of society, whether primitive or post-modern, despite all efforts by the few, at least thus far in history, to initiate lasting transformation. Our greatest sages have recognized this limitation in our current level of spiritual evolution and so have directed their teachings on transcendence to those called, few being chosen, for these are noble truths.

The principle of violence is upheld by all social institutions, including religion, whose essential betrayal of the teachings of Christ is to ignore through specious reasoning his core teachings on active non-violent resistance to evil. This core teaching was never meant to be parsed in a way that would justify the use of violence by the state.

Indeed, the Kingdom of God is within us, hidden from those who have no eyes to see, no ears to hear; thus, it is the refuge of all who perceive the Light of Truth.

Those "of the world" who cannot or will not come to this Light of Truth, sadly, remain caught up in the bondage of suffering at the whims of social trend and the mundane attachments of the ego. All denizens of current forms of society are subject to their governments' use of violence in all the forms it takes to achieve for its apparatchiks and the elite they represent ever expanding power, status and wealth, even at the cost to its own people and neighboring nations.

This lust for power, status and wealth is the dysfunctional attempt by all to allay the existential angst we suffer in the absence of faith.

The Sermon on the Mount by Carl Heinrich Bloch
"Look at the birds of the field. They do not reap, nor sow, nor gather in barns. Yet their Heavenly Father feeds them. Therefore, resist not evil with violence but with love, for there is nothing to protect from thieves, no life to protect from murderers and enemies of the state that does not already extend beyond all limits of measure, united in the Universal Essence." [paraphrased] --Yeshua ben-Yosef

Words of Kindness 
This is what should be done
Be the one who is skilled in goodness,
And who knows the path of peace:
Let them be able and upright,
Straightforward and gentle in speech.
Humble and not conceited,
Contented and easily satisfied.
Unburned with duties and frugal in their ways.
Peaceful and calm, and wise and skillful,
Not proud and demanding in nature.
Let them not do the slightest thing
That the wise would later reprove.
Wishing: In gladness and in safety,
May all beings be at ease.
Whatever living beings there may be;
Whether they are weak or strong, omitting none,
The great or the mighty, medium, short or small,
The seen and the unseen,
Those living near and far away,
Those born and to-be-born,
May all beings be at ease!
Let none deceive another,
Or despise any being in any state.
Let none through anger or ill-will
Wish harm upon another.
Even as a mother protects with her life,
Her child, her only child,
So with a boundless heart
Should one cherish all living beings:
Radiating kindness over the entire world
Spreading upwards to the skies,
And downwards to the depths;
Outward and unbounded,
Freed from hatred and ill-will.
Whether standing or walking, seated or lying down
Free from drowsiness,
One should sustain this recollection.
This is said to be the sublime abiding.
By not holding to fixed views,
The pure-hearted one, having clarity of vision,
Being freed from all sense desires,
Is not born again into this world.

-Guatama Siddhattha Buddha

Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Jewish Kapos and the Tragic Manifestation of Trans-Generational Introjection

Victor Frankl
The famous psychiatrist of the 60s, Victor Frankl, was a Holocaust survivor. In his book, Man's Search for Meaning, he devoted the entire first section to describing life in the concentration camps from a personal psychological perspective.  The thing he most noted was how human personalities were driven to extremes.  Some became altruistic, some became sadistic. The camps brought out one's deepest fears, anger, hatred, love, gentleness, kindness, compassion, sharing, duplicity, thievery, surrender or hope of survival.  But despite the brutality in the external world, Frankl recognized that the mind was free to transcend the suffering through the discovery of personally significant meaning.

A Kapo brutally managing fellow prisoners*

Introjection at the pathological level is described by psychiatrists, psychologists and therapists as a psychological defense-mechanism formed as a reaction to extreme external threat by hostile individuals in one's environment.  It's most notable presentation occurs in the prison system or in prisoner of war camps. Introjection is a phenomenon of the psyche wherein the ego takes on the persona, values and behaviors of the oppressor through identification, thus mirroring the personalities of the perpetrators in an attempt to "belong" and so escape from or reduce the anxiety produced by the threat.  It is a survival mechanism. Unfortunately, in such traumatic settings as the Nazi work camps, its unconscious force drives a person to treat others as their perpetrators would treat them. In many cases, extreme fear and anxiety expressed in the staged process of introjection can propel an individual into realms of brutality beyond that of their perpetrators.

The Jewish "kapos" of World War II Nazi concentration camps are an extreme example of the tragic manifestation of introjection. The most brutal among their peers and obsequious to their captors, they were selected by their Nazi overseers to serve as guards over the camp work-crews and to enforce docility and absolute compliance upon their fellow prisoners.   

In a narrative illustration of the absoluteness of  poverty in the camps, Frankl wrote that as their cigarettes ran out, many of the men would save the last one and keep it hidden for weeks. It represented the sole luxury left to them. One could tell when a man had given up when he smoked that cigarette. Death soon followed from disease and starvation.

Some survivors, though deeply wounded spiritually and psychologically, went on to make the best of their lives, deepened with compassion. Others later dealt with their suffering by becoming vengeful and bitter.

70-years later, the scars of suffering are carried into their children's and grandchildren's generation.  One can see it nakedly expressed in the Zionist Movement and in the treatment of Palestinians where sadistic brutalities are acted-out -- racism, murder; ethnic cleansing of the land, the stealing of Palestinian water, systematic destruction of their homes, illegal acquisition of their farmland and possessions; the concentration, isolation and containment of the Palestinian people; collective punishment -- much of it acts of revenge as much as war crimes committed by wounded souls who have no conscious awareness of the racism they have introjected and externalized from previous generations who suffered the inhumane trauma of genocide which they now project onto others.  It is a sickness that Frankl might describe as the national neurosis of Israel.  What now seems to be the majority population of Israel is composed by Ashkenazim, many of whom have inherited an identity of victimhood, a people that cannot really be described as survivors; but rather, as a people unconsciously living as angered and pathologically cruel victims of history, acting-out the traumatic anxieties or their ancestors. No one can describe their condition as "free."

But there are others who find identification with the suffering of their neighbors and can see in the treatment of Palestinians the violence and evil perpetrated by a new generation of fascists, a generation of Jewish Nazis who now hold in their hearts the power of displaced anger through a false revenge, the vile and vicious power to dominate, the raw power of violence formerly inflicted upon their grandparent's generation by an oppressive WWII racist Aryan generation of sociopathic authoritarian leaders and their right-wing authoritarian followers.  These with hearts of compassion can see the incongruity between the myth of The Promise to those made righteous by The Law and the reality of fascist nationalism.

The pathological introjections of their grandparents have continued inexorably, exploiting the Jewish motto, "Never Again," in order to prosecute a campaign of ethnic cleansing.  Tragically ironic, the crimes against humanity now perpetrated by Zionists in the name of Der Judenstaat not only cast a pall of shame on Jews throughout the world; but far worse in proportion, they are being suffered by a generation of Palestinians who will communicate their victimization and anxieties to their own children for generations to come.  It is the karma of generational suffering, a momentum of ignorance and lost innocence.

Yet, we must remember that not all Jews are Zionists and not all Zionists are Jews.  The authoritarian mindset of the current Israeli government can not survive history because it is unjust.  As Martin Luther King put it, "The moral arc of the universe bends at the elbow of justice."

The therapeutic remedies of Victor Frankl involve the transformation of this traumatic existential suffering into constructs of meaning and release. Israel certainly is blessed with such compassionate ones of the priesthood of transcendence.  One can only guess that their absence from the public life is the result of social oppression by the cruel zeitgeist of Zionism.

*Image supplied from a Facebook collection by Patrick Mac Manus

Work Camp Survivor Victor Frankl Explains Logo-Therapy:

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Sky Pilot

I dedicate this song, "Sky Pilot," to one of my favorite writers and mystics, Leo Tolstoy, who wrote "The Kingdom of God is Within You."

We should never let institutional religion and it's lying clergy lead us to war. They will rationalize false limits upon the commandment, "Thou Shalt Not Kill." They will equivocate, attempting to convince us that our nation is chosen by God, and thus, that war is our sacred duty.

We should never let greedy oligarchs and their lying corporatists trick us into sacrificing our blood and the blood of our children for their self-aggrandizement and lust for power by claiming their cause is the cause of liberty, justice, freedom, or to spread democracy. Indeed, they hold close their own definitions of these words.

Resist not the force of evil nor any of its perpetrators; rather, love your enemies and do not to them what you would not have them do unto you.

"Sky Pilot" by, Eric Burdon and the Animals