September 22, 2014

The USA and the New World Order: A Debate Between Alexandr Dugin and Olavo de Carvalho

AOI Observer reader Fabio Lins has a keen interest in political philosophy and culture. Occasionally he sends me links of debates happening elsewhere which always prove interesting and timely. Yesterday he notified me of an online debate between Russian nationalist Alexandr Dugin and conservative Brazilian philosopher Olavo de Carvalho. I asked Fabio to write an introduction included below.

The current globalization process is like the multi-headed hydra. Unlike the mythological monster, it seems to have no heart which, once slain, would stop it.

Internally, American conservatives feel and see it as the wave of liberal ideologies and policies that threaten to choke and destroy the very roots of the country. Externally, many conservatives from their own cultural perspective see in these same liberal global forces an expression of American imperialism. These same forces which fight American conservatism are understood as tentacles of American conservatism itself.

The Russian Alexandr Dugin seems to be one these foreign conservatives. A Russian nationalist, he has been called “the most influential post-soviet thinker” and suspected of close ties with Putin’s office. He created the concept of an “Eurasian Movement”, a China-Russia alliance, including Muslim participation against the Globalist Agenda which he and his followers understand to be the weapons of conservative America for world hegemony.

The Brazilian philosopher Olavo de Carvalho couldn’t think more differently. Since the 90s he has become persona-non-grata in the liberal circles of Brazil – which is pretty much *all* the local intelligentsia – due to his strict adherence to independence of individual thinking and to conservative values. After having his and his family lives threatened by radical leftists, he found refuge in the United States, where he was granted a green card due to “extraordinary ability” in the area of philosophical and politcal studies. His own ideas are that there are three main players on the global arena today: Western Globalism based mainly on economical power, Muslim religious ideology of the Global Califat, and the military Eurasian alliance proposed by Dugin, the only one that can be understood in terms of classical international analysis, being directly related to national interests.. Western Globalism for Olavo is the *nemesis* of American historical conservatism and could only advance if taming or destroying it.

Coming from these different perspectives, Olavo and Dugin have agreed to participate in an online debate on the place of the USA in the new world order. They have already made their initial statements by answering the question:

“What are the historical, political, ideological and economic factors and actors that now define the dynamics and configuration of power in the world and what is the U.S. position in what is known as New World Order?”

on the website (link opens in new window):
http://debateolavodugin.blogspot.com/

The rules for the debate can be found here (link opens in new window):
http://debateolavodugin.blogspot.com/2011/02/8-debate-structure.html

Dugin’s background can be found here (link opens in new window):
http://debateolavodugin.blogspot.com/2011/01/alexandr-dugin.html

And Olavo’s background here (link opens in new window):
http://debateolavodugin.blogspot.com/2011/01/olavo-de-carvalho.html

Here is Dugin’s reply to the question (link opens in new window):
http://debateolavodugin.blogspot.com/2011/03/alexander-dugin-introduction.html

And here is Olavo’s (link opens in new window):
http://debateolavodugin.blogspot.com/2011/03/olavo-de-carvalho-introduction.html

Olavo’s website in English (link opens in new window):
http://www.olavodecarvalho.org/english/

Dugin’s Eurasian Main Principles (link opens in new window):
http://www.evrazia.info/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=421

Comments

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    Macedonia74 says:

    I like where the blog is headed. As an American Orthodox Christian, with various leanings and soft spots, I feel it is important that the Church not only break away from the statist ideals of the left with their tool of government solution for everything and ultra-ambiguity as a weapon, but we also must distinguish between America “Republic” and America “Pax or Empire” lead by a neoconservative movement that, in all accounts, are very much like the left-progressive movement in seeking a statist-globalist agenda.

    And while certain issues in the political scene take precedence i.e. Abortion, family make-up and matriony, I also feel that many of us “conservatives” have given a rubber stamp to certain politically “conservative” candidates that aren’t really conservative rather promote the ideal of “Pax Americana” and not the American Republic, even if their rhetoric tends to smack of Republicanism. We need to be better discerners of this.

    In the end, I may in fact vote for a democrat who is pro-life and balanced on economic spending home AND ABROAD (meaning cutting of defense and returning to the traditional precepts of non-interventionism) over the pro-life neo-con that will suppsedly cut spending at home, but will continue to create a volatile globe with preemptive missions to enhance our addiction to foreign resources.

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    Scott Pennington says:

    “Russia is a den of corruption and wickedness as never before seen, one dedicated to the spreading of its mistakes around the world, as announced in the prophecy of Fatima. It should be noted that this prophecy never referred particularly to Communism, but to ‘the errors of Russia’ in a generic way, and it announced that the dissemination of these errors, with all its ensuing retinue of disgrace and suffering, would only cease if the Pope and all Catholic bishops of the world perform the rite of the consecration of Russia.”

    Well, that about says it all. I don’t necessarily agree with everything Dugin stated in his response, but Olavo is out there. I’m not sure much light will emerge from this. But it may be interesting to see how the two respond to each other. Dugin seems more analytical and Olavo seems more emotionally driven., Russophobic (or “miso-Rus”) and anti-Orthodox.

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      Scott Pennington says:

      In all fairness though, Dugin’s picture of the West is not perfectly clear either. Some Russians, especially those who have not lived here for any length of time, tend to see America as monolithic. I’m not sure that Dugin would be quite so critical of the Pat Buchanan type paleoconservatives – – not that paleoconservatives have much of a following here.

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        Macedonia74 says:

        Ron Paul?

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          Scott Pennington says:

          Paul’s from my home state. I looked over a list of his foreign policy positions. I agree with much of it – – end to liberal imperialism. He does believe in spreading American ideals by example rather than hard or soft power. Have to say I think we should re-examine American ideals. However, his views would place him squarely against the Israel lobby. Not sure how many American politicians have that kind of courage. International intervention is big business you know.

          As to the Constitutionalist mindset, I’ve already addressed that.

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            Macedonia74 says:

            Scott – I think it’s not merely liberal imperialism, rather neo-conservative, which is a compound of both liberal/conservative. But then again, I guess the other avenue, which we support would be the good portion of liberalism with conservativism, localism, adherence to morality….

            I fully understand and support the conservative opposition to the liberal-progressive policies, but for the life of me I cannot understand how we can back the likes of Newt Gingrich and company who are clearly not going to cut spending abroad and in all essence support this form of neo-socliasm we have been promoting in the world.

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            Scott Pennington says:

            Macedonia74,

            I see the American political spectrum as thus: Progressive liberals, moderate liberals, conservative liberals (both neo- and paleo-) and libertarian (liberals). They all presuppose Enlightenment Liberalism. Only the conservative liberals – – some of them anyway – – long for a more conservative morality (which is impossible in our current form of government). We don’t need a different party or political ideology to gain electoral dominance. We need regime change. What might actually accomplish this is a foreign policy crisis so perilous that in the face of the present administration’s incompetence, some number of military leaders step in (hopefully Christians of some variety). Other than that, I’m afraid we’re in for a long period of moral and economic decline.

  3. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    Scott Pennington says:

    I should mention this: What China, and now Russia, have discovered is that it is quite possible to have growth oriented state capitalism without democracy. In China, there is still a dictatorship that is nominally communist but, in practice, state capitalist. In Russia, you have a veneer of democratic structure that is controlled by the party Putin favors. It is responsive to a degree to the popular will, but also creates the popular will to some extent since it controls the parameters of public discourse.

    Putin was never in charge of the KGB. He worked in intelligence/propaganda. He eventually abandoned communist affiliation when the stability of the Soviet Union came into doubt. Eventually he did become head of the FSB. KGB was the best intelligence service in the world in its day. It was also brutal, ruthless and monstrous in some of its activities. Much like the CIA, it had a deep pocket to draw from. Unlike the CIA, its activities were not restricted to external intelligence or by anything like the Church commission.

    Anyone who knew how to run anything had to be part of the communist apparatus. It is not really a valid criticism to say that the leadership of the new Russian Federation was the same people who ran the Soviet Union. It’s true, but who else could? The important thing – – really the only important thing – – was that the economic ideology moved from communism to capitalism. The rest is really irrelevant. Greece, Italy – – basically any country that is not firmly 1st world – – has systematic corruption. The Italians even legitimize bribery as a cultural tradition. The term sounds a bit like the English word “recommendation”, I think.

    What scares neoconservatives is that fact that a different political ideology seems to be springing up on the other side of the globe that is halfway economically competent, one of whose proponents (China) has an economy which will likely overtake that of the US by mid-century. Russia is an easy target because for many decades a sinister image of the Russian people has been projected in the West. Neoconservatives believe in the universality of democracy and non-intervention of government in the marketplace. State capitalism is too much of a constraint on business for them. Some paleoconservatives will tell you that they think liberal democracy is not, in their eyes, universally valid. Some consider it a tendency of Anglo-Saxon thought and only exportable within the cultural world of Western Europe. I don’t agree, but I also do not believe in liberal democracy so I don’t get to the question of whether it is exportable since I don’t believe it is worthy of export.

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      Macedonia74 says:

      neoconservatives do not believe in non-interventionism in the market place, they’re as statist as liberals.

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        Scott Pennington says:

        If you take the Weekly Standard as a bellweather of neoconservatism, then I’m not sure you’re correct. I will admit that they’re not totally laissez-faire though. They are not necessarily as bold as the tea party.

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    Macedonia74 says:

    Scott – neoconservatives are as interventionists in the free-market as they are in foreign policy.

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      Scott Pennington says:

      http://www.weeklystandard.com/

      See for yourself. They’re opposed to Obamacare, his high speed rail plan, and they support Wisconson’s efforts to roll back collective bargaining rights.

      It also contains an essay by Peter Wehner called, “Citizens, not Subjects”:

      “In recent months, in response to a series of austerity measures, we have seen civic unrest in the streets of London, Athens, and other European capitals. Some of the cuts that sparked the chaos are quite moderate. In France, for example, violence broke out over the government’s proposal to raise the retirement age from 60 years old to 62.

      We are now seeing protests in America—including in Wisconsin, where over the last couple of weeks tens of thousands of people have marched on the state capitol to register their unhappiness with Governor Scott Walker’s request that many of the state’s public employees limit their collective bargaining rights to negotiations over pay rather than benefits. What started in Wisconsin appears to be spreading to other states.

      In each place there are different factors that explain what we’re witnessing. But as a general matter what is unfolding in nations throughout the West, including in America, are the predictable effects of increasing dependency on the state. This dependency creates certain expectations and patterns of thought, including an entitlement mentality. Every concession that has ever been gained is viewed as an unalienable right and therefore irreversible. The result is that government benefits are added one on top of another, with any effort to rein them in viewed as an “assault” (to use President Obama’s word) on this or that group.

      The great project for this generation is to offer an alternative to this governing philosophy of entitlement, to put in place policies that encourage individual responsibility and dignity, self-reliance and self-government.”

      Doesn’t sound too statist to me, but draw your own conclusions.

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        Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

        Look at this sentence:

        The great project for this generation is to offer an alternative to this governing philosophy of entitlement, to put in place policies that encourage individual responsibility and dignity, self-reliance and self-government.”

        In the end it won’t be much different than the Progressive/Dems. We don’t need an “alternative…governing philosophy.” We need a diminution of federal power and reach into private lives. The economic crisis may force that upon us (can’t borrow anymore to pay for the entitlements).

        As for China, this article is very interesting:

        The Heritage of Western Civilization

        Chinese scholar: “The Christian moral foundation of social and cultural life was what made possible the emergence of capitalism and then the transition to democratic politics.”

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          Scott Pennington says:

          “. . . a diminution of federal power and reach into private lives . . .” is a change in governing philosophy. Somebody would need to get elected and roll things back from within. That’s a policy change. The fact that it is stated as a “policy” is simply a recognition that policy is changed from within the government. It doesn’t just fade away.

          “The Christian moral foundation of social and cultural life was what made possible the emergence of capitalism and then the transition to democratic politics.”

          I don’t know about that. I just don’t see any seeds of democracy in Christianity. In fact, I think democracy is foreign to Orthodoxy and “traditional” Roman Catholicism. Now, Protestantism is a different matter. Certain forms of Protestantism are inherently democratic because they are inherently anti-authoritarian. And it is most certainly true that the Reformation, because it resulted in a number of competing sects, did have the effect of propagating the belief that religion should have a limited role in public policy.

          Modern capitalism really emerged from mercantilism which was a process of state investment. Islam was inhibited from it by its prohibition against interest. Judaism primed the pump by the facilitation and legitimization of lending at interest.
          How, precisely, did Chirstianity make capitalism “possible” and thus a transition to democratic politics? And when you’re answering this question, bear in mind that it did not result in capitalism until after the middle ages (why not before?). Honestly, I’d have to say that human techincal devolopment is what made capitalism possible as much as anything else. And that’s a long road that stems from antiquity and includes many contributors other than Christians.

          Moreover the author assumes that democracy is a good thing. Perhaps from a purely capitalistic perspective it is.

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            Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

            I guess it depends on what you mean by “change in governing philosophy.” I mean a return to states rights and local control. Upstream you sounded like you were advocating for a military overthrow of the US.

            How, precisely, did Chirstianity make capitalism “possible” and thus a transition to democratic politics?

            Read Novak’s “The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism” to start. Some good history there. Acton Institute has some good essays as well.

            How Christianity Created Capitalism

            How Christianity Created Capitalism

            The Interview: A Collection

            There is actually a lot of written material on this. Rodney Stark wrote a now well known essay on the subject about five or six years ago:

            How Christianity Led to Freedom, Capitalism, and the Success of the West

            I read Novak years ago and remember as a good book:

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            Scott Pennington says:

            I mean you personally. Why exactly do you think that Christianity made capitalism possible and thus a transition to democracy? I have no intention of reading several books to discuss a minor point. If you know why you believe this and can reduce it to writing, then I can respond. The fact that others have written books about it does not make it any more or less true.

            “I guess it depends on what you mean by ‘change in governing philosophy.’ I mean a return to states rights and local control. Upstream you sounded like you were advocating for a military overthrow of the US.”

            “Hoping/praying” would be a more accurate description. My advocacy would accomplish nothing. Such a revolution would have to result from a perfect storm.

            My point about “change in governing philosophy” was that your desire to see “a diminution of federal power and reach into private lives” would itself entail changing policy from inside the government. It could not possibly happen any other way. The federal and state governments would have to voluntarily retreat from areas into which they expanded. This would be a shift in government policy. I’m not advocating this change. I was merely pointing out to Macedonia that neo-conservatives do advocate a more limited role for government than progressive liberals. That’s not a commentary in any sense on what I think the role of government is. Just because I might agree with Ron Paul on foreign policy to a great extent does not mean that I agree with him (or any democrat, small “d”) on domestic policy or the role of the state.

            In point of fact, I do sympathize with the notion of subsidiarity. However, I also think the state has a vital role in terms of a certain limited redistribution of wealth for the welfare of those less able to take care of themselves. I would rather this redistribution be done by some authoritarian state. Such a state has the power and will to say “no” or “this much and no more”. Democracies have not demonstrated a penchant for such restraint.

  5. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    Macedonia74 says:

    So what you’re saying is that what will get us out of the current administration is more interventionist foreign policy? I agree the current adminstration is as morally bankrupt as we have had in a long time. So what we need is the Classical Liberals or Conservative Liberals as you put it, to take back the Republican party. So in essence, yes we need an ideologial shift from the current neo-conservative control that has a firm grip on both parities.

    Newt Gingrich is going to make us feel better, and he might cut taxes (but not the hidden ones) and he’ll talk a good game on moral issues on the Constitution, but he won’t work to repeal Roe vs Wade, nor will he repeal the Patriot Act. Sarah Palin won’t do this, Mike Huckabee won’t do this, and Allen West won’t as well. In fact, the only thing that really sets Obama apart from all of these guys is his horrendous support on late-term abortion and abortion in general.

    Bottom line – From Life, Liberty, and pursuit of happiness, we’ve removed Life, we’ve limited liberty, and we’ve put experts in charge of our happiness either way.

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      Scott Pennington says:

      “So what you’re saying is that what will get us out of the current administration is more interventionist foreign policy?”

      No. What I’m saying is that the only thing that comes easily to mind that might cause a revolution – – a serious, “change our form of government” revolution, not the 60’s kind or the “Reagan Revolution” – – is a national security situation so perilous that the military itself steps in, suspends the Constitution, and takes power because they might believe that otherwise some enemy might do us irreparable harm. I’m not talking about conventional politics at all. I don’t deal in that currency anymore.

      “So what we need is the Classical Liberals or Conservative Liberals as you put it, to take back the Republican party.”

      It won’t matter. Commitment to representative government is the problem. Not this party or that. The American people have proven time and again that they are incapable of wise governance. The missing element in your equation is a morally responsible public. It no longer exists in America. Without it, wiser leaders can’t gain decisive advantage under our current constitutional system. That’s why it needs to end.

      You see, American conservatives assume the very thing to be proved. I.e., they long for a public that would just wake up and see it their way and put them in a permanent, decisive position to run the country. It won’t happen. The reason is along the lines of that quote attributed to de Tocqueville (which I’ll paraphrase): “Democracies last about 200 years. They self destruct when the public realizes that they can vote themselves lavish benefits from the public trough.” That is only the half of it. What really happens is that because legitimacy of the government is seen to emanate from the consent of the governed, this source of legitimacy is idolized. Thus, there arises a source of morality in competition with God. Human will, the public will, is seen as determinative. The voice of the people is the voice of God. However, the voice of the people, unrestrained by the voice of God, is nothing at all other than an aggregate of the people’s passions. It’s like five dogs in a pit fighting over a piece of meat. Policy originating from this mess is not likely to reflect the divine law. And the more representative the government becomes – – i.e., the greater the franchise is extended to those individuals who are not otherwise responsible in their own lives – – the worse it gets. And it will self destruct.

      But so what? Human history has seen many forms of government and the people in the more dominant societies usually thought that theirs was the end all be all end of history. There’s no reason to believe that we are any different or that the illusion will not die at sometime in the future.

      Now, as I’ve suggested before, it would be nice if Orthodox thinkers would devote some time to the question, “What comes after Enlightenment Liberalism?”; i.e., how will politics morph and lurch from this phase of human development which has ended in a dead end into the next. Perhaps this Dugin fellow is on to something. There may be others who have ideas worth exploring as well. De Carvalho seems to me to regurgitate a type of ideology that sounds nice theoretically, but lacks a competent public to support it – – that together with truly breathtaking prejudice. Trying to revive the original American political ideology is like trying to raise the Old South from the ashes. Ain’t gonna happen. History doesn’t rewind. If it did, we’d eventually end up in the same place again. The question is “what lies ahead?”

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    Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

    I mean you personally. Why exactly do you think that Christianity made capitalism possible and thus a transition to democracy? I have no intention of reading several books to discuss a minor point. If you know why you believe this and can reduce it to writing, then I can respond. The fact that others have written books about it does not make it any more or less true.

    Christian notions of freedom, responsibility, civic duty, and so forth. In fact, I would use the term “free markets” over capitalism (Marx invented that term), which presupposes a moral order, and so forth. I’m not sure though how accurate your response would be however if you really think this question is a “minor point.” It isn’t. Historians have been examining it for decades. I thought you had more familiarity with the arguments.

    I would rather this redistribution be done by some authoritarian state. Such a state has the power and will to say “no” or “this much and no more”. Democracies have not demonstrated a penchant for such restraint.

    Could you provide an example of such an “authoritarian state”?

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      Scott Pennington says:

      “Christian notions of freedom, responsibility, civic duty, and so forth.”

      All religions have notions of responsibility and civic duty. Christianity, for its first, oh, say, 1700 years, was characterized by monarchy, empire and various forms of involuntary servitude. Freedom is not exactly a word I would use quite so freely to describe it. Bluntly, it is simply a falsehood to state that traditional Christianity militates in favor of individual freedom. There is just too much historical evidence that directly contradicts that proposition (buries it, in fact). The fact that notions of individual political freedom rose so late in Christian history is the best evidence that it was not due to anything intrinsic in Christianity.

      Now, Protestant Christianity is a different matter. The fact that some sects of Protestantism reject any authority higher than that of the conscience of the individual believer, or their favorite scholars, can fairly be said to militate in favor of individual freedom. Also, the fact that Prostestantism fragmented into an array of sects peppering Western geography probably resulted in our Western concepts of religious freedom. How else do you keep such a heterogenous religious mix from oppressing one another? And it may not be a coincidence that modern capitalism/industrialism saw its vanguard in English and German (protestant) society. Of course, in religious terms, this resulted in utter chaos and eventual apostasy. It is certainly no credit whatsoever to Orthodoxy or Roman Catholicism.

      As far as authoritarian states being more restrained in their largesse to the public, it is something for which they are usually criticized by both liberals and conservatives. If you’re arguing that Czarist Russia or the Byzantine Empire flirted with bankruptcy due to extensive expenditures on the poor, I’d be interested to see some documentation for that.

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        Eliot Ryan says:

        Scott: I believe the passage below proves that there is individual freedom in our religion:

        Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. Mark 8:34

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        Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

        Could you provide an example of such an “authoritarian state”?

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      Scott Pennington says:

      Fr. Johannes,

      An authoritarian state would be a monarchy, empire, oligarchy, etc. which did not elevate the state to the level of a God. The Byzantine Empire, Czarist Russia, Franco’s Spain, any number of “right wing dictatorships” that surfaced during the Cold War, the British Empire before its monarchy became totally defanged, etc.

      Here’s the essence of what I’m saying: I will never argue that authoritarian regimes are necessarily good or that they have not perpetrated great evils throughout human history. What I will argue, because it appears to me to be true, is that democracies necessarily degenerate into a condition where it is not possible for them to govern wisely or even loosely according to Christian teaching. The choice is really between forms of government which carry the possibility of yielding a society with Christian values and a form of government (democracy) which inevitably destroys a society’s capacity to maintain Christian values. Show me a modern democracy that has not waged war on the patriarchy, the family, the unborn and general Christian morality and I will gladly concede the point.

      Democratization = de-Christianization.

      When I realized that, I was faced, very reluctantly, with a choice. I had to choose Christianity or democracy. I do believe that a Christian can be a democrat. But I don’t believe that a Christian can be a democrat if he comes to the conclusion that democracy is the enemy of Christ.

      Eliot,

      I am referring to individual political freedom in the sense we understand it in Western democracies. I’ve never denied human free will. That does not mean that there is no necessity for laws to constrain it when it goes awry.

  7. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    Eliot Ryan says:

    The New World Order & the Globalization of Poverty

    http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=8877

    Famine is the result of a process of “free market” restructuring of the global economy which has its roots in the debt crisis of the early 1980s. It is not a recent phenomenon as suggested by several Western media reports. The latter narrowly focus on short-term supply and demand for agricultural staples, while obfuscating the broader structural causes of global famine.

    Poverty and chronic undernourishment is a pre-existing condition. The recent hikes in food prices have contributed to exacerbating and aggravating the food crisis. The price hikes are hitting an impoverished population, which has barely the means to survive.

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    Nick Katich says:

    Scott: i can’t believe it, but, for the second time we agree on something, namely your comment that : “I would rather this redistribution be done by some authoritarian state”. Amen. Ooops. I forgot to add: “As long as I am the Authoritarian”.

    I might add, the comment could be considered a paraphrase of both Lenin’s “On Revolution” and Adolph’s “Mein Kampf”.

    Get serious!

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      Nick Katich says:

      BTW, if you don’t think, Scott, that individual freedom is not inherent in Christianity, go back and re-read the Grand Inquisitor by one of the most astute theologians of the last 200 years, Fyodor of Blessed Memory.

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      Scott Pennington says:

      Nick,

      Actually, you’re wrong on both counts (and I am serious). Both Hitler and Lenin elevated the state to the role of a god. I have consistently rejected that type of government. Both that type of government and democracy deny the true source of morality – – God. Nazism and Bolshevism replaced God with the state. Modern democracy replaces God with “the consent of the governed”. Neither can possibly result in a Christian society.

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        Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

        Modern democracy replaces God with “the consent of the governed?” Really? Then why does democracy depend first on a Christian moral concensus in order to succeed? For that matter, why does monarchy require the same thing? It seems to me you are neglecting what should be a very fundamental principle: governments are not sources of moral renewal. That comes from other places. Further, your (nostalgic) longing for monarchy seems a bit idealistic. Monarchy was favored in Russia remember? Moreover, the Russian Church was a monarchical as they come. Both failed the anarchist challenge that eventually overthrew it.

        A lot of emotional energy is invested in your anti-democracy, pro-authoritarian, apologetic Scott, but you seldom argue facts or history. It seems like you are very angry that the West is in moral decline (I agree we are in decline), but your notion that a more authoritarian government will somehow foster the necessary moral renewal strikes me as “Christian nation” ideology dressed in Orthodox robes.

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          Scott Pennington says:

          “Then why does democracy depend first on a Christian moral concensus in order to succeed?”

          I don’t know. That’s your proposition. Tell me. My proposition is that democracy can’t “succeed”.

          “For that matter, why does monarchy require the same thing?”

          A monarch, emperor, etc. can impose a legal system that reflects Christian morality. A democracy decides what is right and wrong based on whatever criteria appeal to the people. I’ll admit, a monarch can reject the Church’s teaching and impose a different moral order. But the marriage of the Church to the State that has characterized Orthodox governments historically makes that more difficult. It is not at all difficult for the people to reject Christian morality – – in a democracy it is inevitable. I’d be happy to be proved wrong but I won’t be.

          “It seems to me you are neglecting what should be a very fundamental principle: governments are not sources of moral renewal.”

          I don’t know who formulated that principle but it is false. They can be, just not in a democracy. If a monarch ascends the throne who is more pious than his predecessor, he can accomplish much in the way of moral renewal. Kievan Rus was pagan. It was forcibly converted by Prince Vladimir. After some period of time, Christianity became the new norm. Sounds like moral renewal (unless you prefer paganism). Same is true with Constantine. It took time for the new faith to sink in. At first, for many it was skin deep accomodation to a new political reality. Eventually, it sunk in though. It is just simply false to assert that an imposition of a moral order can’t succeed. It may take a generation or two of people accepting the new status quo and thereafter learning to value the new system, but it can and has worked, repeatedly.

          “Monarchy was favored in Russia remember? Moreover, the Russian Church was a monarchical as they come. Both failed the anarchist challenge that eventually overthrew it.”

          The Russian Empire was not overthrown in favor of anarchy. It was overthrown in favor of a Provisional Government led by Kerensky, a democratic one, which only lasted for about 7 months due to their own stupidity and incompetence. I am not sure what you mean by the Russian Church being monarchial. If you mean its internal structure, nothing could be further from the truth. If you mean that it supported the monarchy, in general that is true. It was much more true after Peter the Great abolished the Patriarchate. But I’m not sure what that has to do with anything. I’ll take a czar over Lenin any day.

          “A lot of emotional energy is invested in your anti-democracy, pro-authoritarian, apologetic Scott, but you seldom argue facts or history.”

          Not true. I am still waiting for your list of Christian democracies. The history is that the Orthodox have historically favored authoritarian governments. The Fathers assume that empire is the norm. It is also historically accurate to observe that the rise of Western democracy has coincided with the demise of Christian values, the destruction of the patriarchy, the demise of the family as a stable institution, the proliferation of abortion, diving rates of reproduction, etc.

          “It seems like you are very angry that the West is in moral decline (I agree we are in decline), but your notion that a more authoritarian government will somehow foster the necessary moral renewal strikes me as “Christian nation” ideology dressed in Orthodox robes.”

          Yes, I know. I am a Bolshevik, a Nazi, a totalitarian and a proponent of Christian nationalism. I wish you and Nick would get together and decide which label you’d prefer to pin on me for suggesting that a form of government that the Fathers approved of might be better than one which has resulted in over 50 million abortions in this country alone as well as a gross distortion of family relations.

          By the way, suggesting that someone’s convictions are fueled by anger is classic liberalese. I was sad to come to the conclusion that democracy is inherently evil and it took a long time for me to accept the proposition. I had to be dragged by my conscience kicking and scratching. But it’s true. My alleged anger or serenity is irrelevant.

          Incidently, just out of curiousity, when you make your case for Christian democracy, do you label it an apologetic? You seem to wield that term as means of containing ideas you don’t like.

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            Scott Pennington says:

            Incidently, regarding this particular issue, I’m not particularly angry. I know God will deal with the situation in His own way in His own good time. We have the example of Ancient Israel’s strayings as well as Christian governments that strayed into various evil, heterodox or otherwise foolish waters and sank.

            I do think it is lamentable that democracy is sold under the brand name of Christianity. To me, and I’ve pointed this out before here, it is paradoxical that Christians wish to propagate a system of government that has so savaged their values.

            On occasion, I here Protestant Christians make a Christian case against the permissibility of slavery. And I’m sure the abolitionists of the mid-19th century asserted that slavery was somehow unchristian, quoting chapter and verse. Now, I am opposed to slavery anywhere. However, I also am relatively honest. There is simply nothing in Christianity which prohibits slavery and I would not misrepresent that fact to forward a political agenda.

            It is similar to “Christian” arguments against the death penalty or for stopping “global warming”. It is all very fanciful stuff. Rooting democracy in a religion to which democracy was a foreign concept for the first 16 centuries of the religion’s existence seems equally fanciful. It is not really a question of my being angry. It’s more like I think it appears disingenuous to non-Christians when we embarass ourselves by claiming credit for ideas that developed for other reasons.

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    Michael Bauman says:

    All states of any form are corrupt (we are sinners) and tend to become more corrupt over time. Ultimately, they die because of the corruption and entropy. There for one finds the phenomenon of the ‘Golden Age’ which is always at the beginning of a state’s existence. That is its best time.

    If we go on the assumption that the state is insituted among men to restrain and even punish sinful behavior (wrong use of our free will), then a democracy makes no sense. A democracy will, as Scott points out, will simply cater and enable the passions of the majority. The law is turned inside out to reward the passions of the favored classes and to discourage the virtue of the unfavored. A demogogic oligarchy tending to tryanny will result. We are seeing that now in our own country. It has been going on since at least the Civil War.

    The rule of law is what allows us to exercise our freedom more fully but it has to be law that is founded on an anthropology that is consanent with who we really are as human beings. Christianity provides the best explication of who we are. Islam has a very different understanding. Rousseauian Libertarians a third. There are many competeing visions.

    The Chrisitan model of government is top-down, authoritative and hierarchical, not the reverse. When we endorse the Protestant/deist ecclesiology inherent in our form of government, are we not risking doing the same in the Church?

    Are not some of the upheavals we are seeing in the Church at least partially the result of such an importation?

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      Scott Pennington says:

      Michael,

      Very well put!

      “When we endorse the Protestant/deist ecclesiology inherent in our form of government, are we not risking doing the same in the Church?

      Are not some of the upheavals we are seeing in the Church at least partially the result of such an importation?”

      Most certainly. When we accustom ourselves to the idea that authority is dependent on the consent of the governed, this attitude does not cease when we turn our eyes from government to the Church. Legitimacy is legitimacy. We eventually subject the Church to the same standard as we would a government. Since our form of government has worked with popular sentiment to derange our moral sensibilities, these deranged sensibilities will inevitably turn on the Church. They have turned forcefully against the Protestant churches. We can see the influence of this attitude in the sentiments reported in the PAOI study of lay attitudes.

      A democratic society works on the Church’s practice, morality and ecclesiology like a destructive acid.

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    Macedonia74 says:

    The Christian form of governt is top down, or hirearchical AND horizontal, or counciliar with the Body of faithful.

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      Scott Pennington says:

      Councils are of bishops, not laity. The laity may or may not be allowed a voice, but the decisions are made by the bishops. And that applies to the Church’s government, not necessarily the Christian civil authority.

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      Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

      Macedonai74, of course it is hierarchical and “horizontal.” If were strictly hierachical, the Council of Bishops would not vote on decisions. At the top level of decision making in the Orthodox Church, the ecclesiology is — democratic!

      Now of course a conscience has to properly formed and educated. A bad idea is still a bad idea no matter who voices it. Nor does it mean that we subject the decisions of a Synod to a popular vote. Authority does not imply infallibility, neither is the refusal to grant infallibility a prescription for anarchy. We have, more through organic experience than through charter or incorporation, a method of checks and balances that has developed. This is a good thing overall in my opinion albeit not always fair and sometimes a messy process.

      About six years ago a monk came to visit me for a talk. He was a good and solid man. He was torn because he vowed to obey an abbot who was nothing short of tyranical. The monk, because of his vocation was deeply conflicted. He was psychologically and spiritually abused by the elder whose decisions he promised to uphold. He asked me what to do.

      I understood the dilemma as well as what it mean for a monk (as oppossed to a priest or lay person). I prayed and actually got some wisdom on it. Here is what I saw: obedience, in order to be meaningful and true, presupposes freedom. Freedom, in other words, precedes obedience. Obedience has to be freely given in order to have value. When that freedom is denied, than obedience turns into coercion and deep interior distortion take place.

      I told the monk that he was free to leave, and his leaving might even be blessed by God. Yes, it was a radical thing to say, but the truth is often radical. I did not counsel him to leave (the decision had to be his), but told him his leaving would not displease God. Freedom, in other words, was of a higher value and I dare say more pleasing to God, than the vow of obedience that would contribute in the end to greater psychological/spiritual distortions.

      As it turned out, the words enabled the monk to muster an internal resolve to demand a release which he eventually received (truth is a clarifier). He is now permanently on Mt. Athos in a healthier environment and happy as a clam. He ended up where he was supposed to be all along.

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        Scott Pennington says:

        “Macedonai74, of course it is hierarchical and “horizontal.” If were strictly hierachical, the Council of Bishops would not vote on decisions. At the top level of decision making in the Orthodox Church, the ecclesiology is — democratic!”

        Wow, that’s a bold rationalization. So if a troika or a junta rules a country, is it also democratic of the three masters of the country or each member of the junta get a vote?

        “Obedience has to be freely given in order to have value. When that freedom is denied, than obedience turns into coercion and deep interior distortion take place.”

        Personally, I don’t care what motivates a pregnant woman not to kill her child, or a murderer not to shoot his victim, or a drug user to stop using, etc. It’s nice if they do it because they have become convinced it is the right thing to do. Maybe in time they can be convinced to do so. But that doesn’t offer their victims (even if it’s only themselves) and relief from evil in the meantime. And that is of value, coerced or not. Taken to its logical conclusion, your conviction is incompatible with the rule of law.

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          Macedonia74 says:

          Committing murder, Scott, is not a good example to refute Fr. Hans’ explanation. I’m sure if the monk came up to Fr. Hans and said, “Hey, I have this yearning to take a life” Fathers’ reply would not be “you’re free to do so, and it might even be blessed by God”

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            Scott Pennington says:

            Macedonia,

            Perhaps, but it does bring to light a point. I agree that he did the right thing regarding the monk. But he generalizes from that to a broader point about freedom and coercion:

            ” . . obedience, in order to be meaningful and true, presupposes freedom. Freedom, in other words, precedes obedience. Obedience has to be freely given in order to have value. When that freedom is denied, than obedience turns into coercion and deep interior distortion take place.”

            The implication is that this is valid as a general proposition. My remarks were geared to showing that this proposition is not valid at the level of civil government. Persuasion to virtue would be better. But no government is pacifistic. There is a value to coerced obedience, especially with respect to the malevolent. The real question is what constitutes malevolence. A democracy leaves this determination up to the voice of the people because the assumption is “Vox Populi, Vox Dei” – “The voice of the people is the voice of God”. That is why democracy is more akin to Bolshevism or Nazism than a Christian autocracy would be – – the idolatrous nature of its foundational principle. It is no wonder that all three have led to mass murder on an historic scale and monstrous social distortions.

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            Scott Pennington says:

            Macedonia,

            Let me clarify something because in re-reading Fr. Johannes story regarding the monk I may have misunderstood the degree or nature of abuse inflicted upon him. I should not have said that I agreed that Fr. Johannes did the right thing without more information. I’m not asking for more information because it was a personal pastoral situation. However, it really does depend on how bad the monk was treated. Some people percieve “tyranny” differently than others. If he was being physically abused or psychologically tortured, that’s another matter.

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        Michael Bauman says:

        Fr. Hans, your assertion that the ‘democratic’ process of the bishops in council somehow makes the hierarchy less than horizontal is illogical and just plain wrong. First they are not the demos they are the episcopos, the overseers, second even within the episcopate there is an hierarchical arrangement that seems quite important to them (otherwise why do we even rank by diptichs?); why have we argued so frequently about primacy, etc.

        Creation is naturally hiearchical.

        Hierarchy and freedom are not an either/or choice. In fact, I argue that freedom is impossible without hierarchy; without submission to Christ’s love in the person of another human being and obedience to the teachings of the Church. Abuse of freedom can only be solved by appeal to a higher authority, not by descent into egalitarianism. The monk you mentioned did, in fact, invoke the authority of the priesthood, to address his problem. It was not freedom he lacked, it was an hierarchical blessing to exercise it. What you did was not radical, it was a simple exercise of your priesthood, to loose on earth and in heaven. If that’s radical, we are all in trouble.

        ‘Democracy’ takes its impetus from an exclusively Protestant anthropology–that we can and should have a relationship with Jesus Christ as individuals exclusive of community; that the teaching authority of the Church is not normative or binding and creation is not a sacramental reality in which man mediates the presence of God in all we do (or rejects His presence). We object to such an approach to faith everywhere else, why do we accept it when its spawn in the political realm is considered?

        Self-will.

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          Macedonia74 says:

          Scott, Bishops are servants. Overseer doesn’t not preclude “lording over” the flock. Furthermore, where do we “get” our Bishops from if not the Body? There’s something more to this than just a motionless body sitting around “waiting for the love.”

          Father Hans is completely correct. It may not be pristinely structured like, for instance, our US Government. But the concept is there. There are checks and balances in Orthodoxy. The Body of Christ is a part of the process of Church doctrine. Nothing is accepted by the Church if it is not finally filtered through the Body. Even at the local parish level.

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            Scott Pennington says:

            Fine, Macedonia, the next time your bishop arrives for a visit to your church, walk up to him and tell him to shine your shoes with his omophorion.

            Bishops are indeed servants, but they are also “overseers” as Michael points out. Christ gave them considerable power as well as a duty of service. I do not dispute that there are “checks and balances” (a term from American legal parlance introduced into the discussion by someone who has chided me for introducing Western legal concepts into Orthodoxy, btw) as Fr. Johannes asserts. These are conciliar and canonical in nature. If a bishop makes an uncanonical or heterodox ruling or statement, his action can be appealed to a court of his brother bishops. If a council errs in its statements, a push by the Church at large, civil leaders, clergy and laity, might cause it to reconsider. No argument from me that there are self-correcting mechanisms within the Church.

            But the Church is in no sense a democracy or democratic. Thank God. You might call it “episcopocratic”. And I will concede the semantic point that in a council, the bishops could choose to arrive at their decisions according to majority rule. Of course, that’s a very select group that gets the franchise.

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          Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

          The monk you mentioned did, in fact, invoke the authority of the priesthood, to address his problem. It was not freedom he lacked, it was an hierarchical blessing to exercise it. What you did was not radical, it was a simple exercise of your priesthood, to loose on earth and in heaven. If that’s radical, we are all in trouble.

          Michael, I have no authority to challenge the order of an abbot. I had no authority to tell the monk what to do. He is not “under obedience” to me. (The entire notion of “under obedience” is so fraught with spiritual danger that it is best left to men who have four of five decades of real experience with matters of the Spirit in my opinion.) This was a simple example of the truth setting a person free. Obviously the man trusted me. That was clear when he came to see me. But if I were hauled in front of a spiritual court presided over by the abbot, I’d get a stern rebuke, maybe even a suspension, about not obeying ecclesiastical authority. And, if the Church were as fixed and static as you and Scott insist it should be, he’d be right. But the monk would also still be in turmoil.

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    Michael Bauman says:

    I would disagree Macedonian. Scott is correct in this. While bishops should be open to and empathetic with their flock–we are still flock. No bishop who is without a flock can really be a bishop (he should be nested within his community). His authority however does not come from the laity. When we say AXIOS, we are submitting to his authority; ratifying the apostolic succession; receiving what God has wrought and partaking of the communion from above. If we have an AXIOS problem, well that is something that needs to be investigated and ruled on by the other bishops.

    Once the authority of the bishop, or priest, is accepted any subsequent rejection of that authority, even if it is righteous, has consequences. The Church is no place for egalitarianism. Neither, IMO, is there any place in the Church for what the world would call dictatorship, i.e, where bishops rule without reference to or concern for the good of their flock(s) but just for themselves attempting to force obedience for their own ends. There should be a constant tension between the authority of the episcopate and the pastoral needs and wants of the flock. That is where economia comes in, IMO (real economia).

    Part of the problem for many, especially us good Americans, is that the lines of authority are hierarchical but without being legalistic (when all is working correctly). Despite the inherent fleibility we have, that does not mean that the laity can, should or do rule in a rightly ordered Church.

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    Macedonia74 says:

    Scott –

    I wouldn’t suppose you would expect me to take your first sentence seriously? You know there is a scriptural answer to this.

    What if we don’t yell AXIOS? What happens to that Bishop, does he “assume the authority” anyways because “he’s the authority?”

    I’m wondering if either of you two are Priests? If so, have you ever walked into your parish, stood in front of the altar and told your parish this is how it’s going to be because I say so? As the “stand in for the overseer” the priest has that authority right? Whose authority are we actually acknowledging?

    The Holy Spirit is the authority, the Bishop is a vessel of the Holy Spirit, and Icon of the Savior. We are to be obedient to the Bishop in as much as he remains that vessel and Icon. How does the flock know this? Because the flock, being of the Royal Priesthood, are also vessels of the Holy Spirit. Our obedience to the Bishop is as one of veneration before an Icon (as our veneration should be before our Brothers and Sisters as well). He is there for our marathon “practice” (if you will) of our promised, and hopeful, eternal obedience of Christ the Lord. But that same sort of obedience exists between a husband and a wife, boss and co-worker, husband and wife, child to parents, rich man towards the poor, all of us towards our neighbor. As long as it’s in Christ.

    And as Christ gave the Apostles (our Bishops) and example of how they should serve, scripturally, “so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.” The Apostles were almost scandalized that the Lord and Savior, the True Authority, would humble Himself. But how else would they know where true authority is sewn from if not from humility, service, and not wanting the vestments and titles? I’d like to think that I’d run towards that sort of leadership… think.

    If we look at things this way, then yes, I can agree with you both. The problem is that we rarely look at it this way. Unfortunately, we look at the “overseer/servant” who leads in example, and yes, has authority IN CHRIST only through the late Byzantine version of Despotes. So in essence, you’re right it may not be completely democratic in the conventional, secular sense that we have come to accept, but it is hardly tyrannical. I would even have a hard time calling it the same sort of monarchy that we understand in the secular sense of human governance.

    In any case, I’ve enjoyed the far country with much more ease than I have my Lord’s Home. So pray for me a sinner. And I’ll let someone else take it from here.

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      Scott Pennington says:

      “We are to be obedient to the Bishop in as much as he remains that vessel and Icon.”

      We’ve been through this before. Who gets to decide whether he remains so?

      “I wouldn’t suppose you would expect me to take your first setence seriously? You know there is a scriptural answer to this.”

      Macedonia, you will notice something about the Gospel story where Christ washes his Apostles feet: They did not tell him to do so. When one of them wanted Him to wash his whole body, He did not obey. The service of a bishop is not to obey his flock. His service is to look after them. A bishop owes his laity no duty of obedience.

      Now, I agree with you that priests and bishops do not habitually order people around. They don’t have to and they should do all that they do in love. Moreover, in the American context of religious freedom, no one has any reason to pay attention to what they say other than as a matter of conscience. This has not always been the case.

      The reason I phrased what I said above as “telling” your bishop to shine your shoes was to illustrate something about servitude. It is not mutually exclusive with authority. In fact, most people are both servants to some and authorities over others. And the nature of service can vary.

      You see, we throw words like “servant” and “service” around quite freely in our society. These words actually have teeth – – or had teeth in generations past. When an apostle opens his letter with a salutation describing himself as “a servant of Jesus Christ”, he is actually using a Greek word which refers to a slave. That is one type of service. The reaction you would provoke by ordering your bishop to shine your shoes would clarify that that is not the type of service a bishop owes you; i.e., he has no duty to obey you. If he chooses to serve you by voluntarily shining your shoes – – well, then he is being an icon of the Savior.

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      Michael Bauman says:

      Macedonia, I am not a priest, but many times my own parish priest has stood in front of the congreation and said, “This is the way it is going to be..”

      They were on matters regarding litugical observance. Funny, we obeyed. In other matters, the priest just makes a ruling such as non-Lenten food not allowed to be served duing fast periods. That is strictly on the priest’s say-so (no vote taken, no exceptions, more than a few folks objected). No smoking in the parish building–same thing. The list is actually pretty long.

      My bishop has done similar things.
      He places people under penance based on his interpretation of the cannons without discussion, debate or any appeal. That’s the way it is. Accept the penance or go by-by.
      I had that happen to me personally so I now know the tremendous value of such an approach and the obedience required. It was a wonderful thing for me.

      And I am in a jurisdiction which is considered by many as ‘worldly’.

      Without obedience to the bishop, we have no Church.

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    Macedonia74 says:

    Michael –

    “This is the way it’s going to be because this is the Church teaching?” or “this is the way it’s going to be because I say so?”

    Scott –

    I think I’m doing a poor job of communicating. I have a knack for that. I guess the short of it is that it’s supposed to be a synergy. If the Bishop doesn’t lord it over us, neither would I suggest that the flock lord it over the bishop. It’s eternal servitude on both ends, but it’s not blind obedience. Neither should you do things for a person that he/she is more than capable of doing for themselves. That would be a disservice to the entire community.

    You ask who decides? Well, if we’re given the option to proclaim, “He is worthy” then we are given the option to say the opposite. The fact that we take that for granted these days, doesn’t mean it’s not something we ought to take seriously. We are part of a living Church, and much like a democracy, our Liturgical Life is active. It’s when a constituency becomes inactive in both a democracy, and yes, the Church that “bad things” start to happen.

    A democracy fails when the voter relinquishes his/her responsibility as a citizen to the higher power; in doing so he creates a tyrant. A so a parish fails when the flock relinquishes the concept of a ministry or mission and gives everything up to either cultural make-up of the community or to the Bishop. This way, the flock is guilty of ethnopyletism or enables a Despot. And no, I’m not saying it is exactly like the voting process of a democratic state, nor do I suggest we start voting in our Bishops. But there is more to just mindlessly saying, “He is worthy/AXIOS” at any Bishop candidate suggested by a synod and committee. It’s much more than just agreeing with everything that a Bishop says or does, especially something tells you it’s not correct. Do I suggest that we enable a culture of constant skeptism of our clery like we do to our politicians, not in the least. But, Bishops are also not the cult of personality that we have created some to be. They’re certainly not infalliable on their own, nor are we expected to prop up failed mission – diocese if the Bishop is working himself to work with the communities to help them grow.

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      Scott Pennington says:

      Macedonia,

      Regarding your first paragraph above, I agree with you. Regarding the second, specifically the “Axios!” proclamation, I don’t know if it’s ever been tried but, frankly, I think that if three bishops want to consecrate someone as a bishop, synod approving, they can do so.

      There is actually a process for dealing with errant bishops. We appeal to his synod or the head of his synod to intervene and/or judge him. It has to be something serious though. A bishop is a kind of “dhespotes”/”master/lord” in his diocese, hence the phrase, “Eis polla eti, dhespota”.

      I’m not suggesting it’s like the military. It’s just that we who live in Western democracies tend to project Western democratic values into relationships that were established long before such modern values were in vogue.

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    cynthia curran says:

    Well, its true in the modern market there are some losers and winners but I was reading that in the wesr until the late 19th century about 20 percent of the population begged because they didn’t have some strength to work that long. However, sometimes I question free trade, and as far as the wars I think the biggest mistake Bush made was to try to fight a war cheapy. He cut taxes and fighting a two war front with a large tax cut drives the debt up. If he reverse some of his taxes to finance the wars in Iraq and Afgstantian the wars might be over. Too many american Republicans believe in tax cuts always, they dislike the Disreali and Bismarck approach sometimes.

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    Hi all!

    I’m posting here just to note that we already have Dugin’s first reply in the debate.

    Here’s the link:
    http://debateolavodugin.blogspot.com/2011/03/alexander-dugin-first-reply.html

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    DANIEL says:

    These foolish of New World Order will result in a Third World War. The final fight called Armeggido where it won´t have winners, but just loosers.
    I think this way: why be so ambicious? When we die and we leave this earth , all our things will stay. Till the weapons that will be used will rust.
    I am against New World Order, they must fix the mess at their own houses and fix their brains. Daniel from Brazil

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