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Re: <nettime>Christianity &the myth of democracy
Ian andrews on Wed, 31 Oct 2001 00:59:28 +0100 (CET)

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Re: <nettime>Christianity &the myth of democracy

Nik, I think you have made some good points. I have not had enough time to
respond to all of your points. But I will expand on the anti-state
Rightwing christian stuff. Thanks also to Kermit for his enlightened
critique all which I thouroughly agree.

>>This particular anti-state brand of idealism
>>seems to carry with it all the problems of right-wing born again Christian
>>idealism, or even neo-liberal free market idealism, for me to feel
>>comfortable with it.
>how did you get from society without state - state-denial point to
>state-denial-right-wing born again christian??
>I am perhaps reading you wrong, but I would have thought the claim
>that anti-state 'idealism' - right-wing born again christan would be
>evidence of someone who could not imagine any other way of life than
>the one they currently enjoy...
>but perhaps you can explain this point as well... how does anti-state
>politics equate to right-wing born again christian beliefs?

  A couple of days after the S11 attacks, a poll was conducted to see what
support George W Bush had for attacking Afghanistan.  The poll (if you can
believe it) reported 95% support. But what caught my interest was that it
was reported that the other 5% mainly consisted of right-wing Christians
who were worried more about the implications of a re-emergence of big
government than anything to do with peace. There is a substantial movement
of right-wing Christian elements that share this profoundly anti-state
ideology. This ideology consists of the outright rejection of any form of
state sponsored social engineering, including government health programs
such as immunisation (polio, tetanus, diptheria, etc), fluroidation of the
water supply, and medical practices such as organ transplants, etc. brought
on by an extreme paranoia of what they see as "socialised medicine" (which
they believe is a form of communism). They also reserve the right to bear
arms in case they are called up to fight the battle of Armaggedon, against
the anti-Christ (here again big-government). These born-agains see the
secular state as the usurper of God.  Their ideology radically departs from
traditional organised religion of the West (of which the dominant form is
protestantism) in that the latter see religion and the secular state more
or less as two sides of the same coin. From personal experience, in times
that I have come into contact with born-agains they have almost always
described their politics, perhaps in an attempt to seek common ground, as
anti-state (of course, not all right-wing Christians are anti-state,
particularly the non-born-again moralists, such as Mary Whitehouse and Fred

The end of big Government is also the agenda of the neo-liberals who want
to see government reduced to a minor administrative role in a world
dominated by corporate decision making. But unlike the born-agains, the
neo-liberals see big government as the natural enemy of the free market,
not God. Despite these radical differences, one can see many simularities
between the two groups and they share a large amount of common ground. Both
represent a reactionary or backlash politics in opposition to what they see
as an ideology of "political correctness," where they see the rights and
privileges of the WASP male being erroded by women, other races and
ethnicities, homosexuals, etc.  In Australia both John Howard and Pauline
Hanson share this view, and there is very little that seperates them in
regard to most ideas opposed by the backlash (on the other hand they have
radically different economic views, and as such their difference, and not
their simularities, are highlighted by the media who, as I said before,
tend to concentrate on economic agendas). The backlash can also be seen as
a kind of juvenile reaction to authority, a reaction against being told
what to do or how to think. This, according to the  idealogues of talkback
radio, was the main gripe against the  Keating Government, which according
to popular belief, saw the election of the Howard government. What strikes
me here is the way in which the Howard government seems to equate the
acceptance of socially progressive ideas with some notion of mind control,
while their own policies have been aimed at replacing the encouragement of
independent thought in schools, with vocational programs (training and the
3 Rs).  Their politics seems to represent both a reaction to the new
(conservative backlash) and the cynical exploitation of a certain infantile
opposition to authority (anti-authority backlash).

This is precisely why I am wary of anti-authoritarianism for its own sake.
The emergence of this stance in the left, which is exemplified by Negri and
Hardt, can possibly be traced to a certain (and I think bad) reading of
such thinkers as Foucault, Deleuze & Guattari.  The way that power
functions in, what Deleuze calls "the society of control," is far from
simple. The statement from Negri, that all opposition to authority should
be encouraged, is ridiculously simplistic and naive. In very basic terms I
would say that _all_ authority must be questioned, but this very different
from saying that all authority must be resisted or opposed.  We must always
ask the question: in whose interest does a particular law, or plan, or
policy serve? Is  it in the interests of the many, or the powerless, or is
in the interest of the powerful few?
Negri does seem to be formulating some kind of global counter-empire, which
is much more monolithic than a network of deterritorialised local
autonomous movements, but still the question remains: how can you theorise
such a thing without also theorising something that resembles a state, or
dare I say, democratic global authority?

Ian Andrews
Metro Screen

Email: i.andrews {AT} metroscreen.com.au
1981 - 2001 Metro Screen is a celebrating 20 years of access and
innovation in independent screen production.

Metro Screen
Sydney Film Centre
Paddington Town Hall
P.O. Box 299
Paddington NSW 2021
Ph : 612 9361 5318
Fax: 612 9361 5320

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