democratic control

I’m reading Slavoj ZiZek’s book again, Living in the End Times.

He suggests a strategy of democracies to prevent class struggle from happening on a large scale… to prevent the poor majority from discovering their own strength. The way this is accomplished is by dividing the large Federal majority into smaller units called States. This way the strength of the poor majority in each State, if they rebel, will not spread beyond the State’s borders. Hopefully.

At the same time, however, it is understood that a little revolution is necessary for the health of the democracy. The roots of democracy must be nourished from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. But not too much. Just enough to induce in the poor majority the illusion that it is affecting real change.

The discussion about laypeople and clergy being equal can be the same kind of empty talk. There is a lot being said about people having the right to think for themselves and assert themselves. A little rebellion is good now and then. It gives people the sense that they are actual contributors to the wellbeing of the organization.

But I’ve seen it over and over again. And maybe you have too! People are allowed to speak their minds, disagree, assert and challenge… until a certain line is crossed… and the hammer of authority comes crashing down. Usually when those in power and their positions are directly threatened. Then we all retreat back to our superficially sedate subservience.

This is a pre-launch, but I’ve published a new book, “Without a Vision My People Prosper”. I am excited about it and want pastors and church leaders to read it. As well as the ordinary member. I think it is important.

To order your copy from Amazon: CLICK HERE.

CAN I HELP YOU? CLICK HERE!

21 Replies to “democratic control”

  1. Slavoj ZiZek is a hard read, I think. When you say “people are allowed to speak their minds, assert, challenge until a certain line is crossed.., then the hammer of authority comes crashing down” and they (we?)retreat…this is a manner of speaking, yes? It’s people-all-around and all the way down: people allowing people, people hammering people, people speaking up, people being quiet. We both know there’s a limit of tolerance that any one of us has: when that’s crossed we are in defense/offense mode, lose our nice-guy exterior, and will do what we can to protect our homeland insecurities. Given this PEOPLE Propensity: what are you and Slavoj suggesting as transformative–individually or collectively? Fellowhip? Or are you just describing and not prescribing? I guess prescribing would be to have a vision.

  2. Involuntary wince at “ordinary member”… but it’s okay, I’d prefer not to be in authority in the church… sometimes it’s hard just being the little guy. 🙂

  3. “People are allowed to speak their minds, disagree, assert and challenge… until a certain line is crossed… and the hammer of authority comes crashing down.”

    In our country people are able to speak their minds, challenge, and make assertions all day long, every day without anybody or anything crashing down on them.

    There are hundreds of cable t.v. programs and thousands of newspapers and millions of blogs to prove it.

  4. Steve: you are right. I think NP has a vision of oppression that is reified into some invisible hand that hammers down on the folks who might
    cross the line of various convention. “For your nonconformity, the world whips you with it’s displeasure,” says Emerson. This is perennial. You can set up whatever scapegoat serves your vison and blame it on THEM–or blame it on the rain. Depending on your bias and outlook and agenda.

  5. But I’ve seen it over and over again. And maybe you have too! People are allowed to speak their minds, disagree, assert and challenge… until a certain line is crossed… and the hammer of authority comes crashing down.
    ———Absolutely true. And would you not agree that that principle applies to the NAKEDPASTOR blog?
    fishon

  6. Good thoughts, Sam.

    There are many places in this world (however) where THEY will crash down on you if you step out of line or say the wrong thing. China, North Korea, Cuba, Iran, Vietnam, Syria, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, to name a few.

  7. Steve Martin
    November 29, 2011 | 11:55 am

    “People are allowed to speak their minds, disagree, assert and challenge… until a certain line is crossed… and the hammer of authority comes crashing down.”

    In our country people are able to speak their minds, challenge, and make assertions all day long, every day without anybody or anything crashing down on them.
    —–Steve, in reality, that depends on the venue you are in. Try having an opinion of intelligent design at some Universities and see what happens. Try and use the name of Jesus in a pray in some State houses if invited to pray there, or maybe a city council meeting. Hey Steve, I dare you go to Berkely and stand in the Commons square and preach Homosexuality is a sin. Then report back to me if anything comes crashing down on you.

    Try being a teacher in a high school and write on your facebook that Homosexuality is a sin. See what happens then. Oops, already happened in NJ. I could go on and on.

  8. fishon,

    Good point, fishon.

    It does depend on where you are. The utopians on the left HATE conservative values and ideas and will shut you down immediately.

    I have experienced this personally in the union that I was a part of for many years. And I did experience some of that when I was in college many years ago. I know it’s much worse today.

    .

  9. How to catch the full significance of what-it-is to be a person, an individual inside various contexts and conventions (family, work, community, nation)with all the appropriate constraints and protocols and self-preserving staus quo conserving impact–and still maybe coming to terms with one’s own calling and vision? Can this best be talked about in terms of “freedom.” In terms of “class struggle … on a large scale… to prevent the poor majority from discovering their own strength.” In terms of external Bad Guys (Bad Pastors, Bad Churches, Bad schools, Bad Wall Street CEO’s, Bad Politicians etc.) that keep the individual down and cowering. Is this “vision” of how-it-is the best way to talk about and understand the human predicament? I’m just asking.

  10. It’s hard to prescribe an antidote for something that is so individual. Unlike curing a virus, the answers are not always clinical, or one to one, so let’s not trade reality for fantasy. Bias is everywhere and we all have our opinions, even of this cartoon.

    David may be taking a top-level view in his assessment of democratic control in larger communities, but I do not want to put words in his mouth. I can say that I have seen this sort of thing on a grassroots level, and failure can cause even the tightest, rooted friendships to fall apart. When personal bias and closed mindedness becomes the basis of ethics or law, that is one big step toward tyranny, no matter how much it is decorated as freedom.

    Is it really correct to think that the U.S. or Canada or Western Europe are immune to these fluctuations? Are we so egotistical to think that stubborn words and ideologies will save us from ourselves? In light of current events, I wonder.

  11. I was asking how to “catch the full significance” of the situation–not the solution. Or as David sometimes like to frame it: the description, not the prescription. You’re right, David–every individual comes to his own terms and resolves or does not
    what it takes to be both in but not necessarily of various social contexts and conventions. Framing IT in terms of Bad Guys with hammers and innocent folk with timid souls doesn’t do justice to Description. Watching how-we-talk about these matters is useful, seeing as our controlling metaphors can easily hide what’s going on, what’s going on.

  12. Steve said:

    In our country people are able to speak their minds, challenge, and make assertions all day long, every day without anybody or anything crashing down on them.

    As Scott Olsen, several dozen Cal students pepper-sprayed point-blank, and about 4000 other Occupy arrestees can readily attest.

  13. This is where I find that a simple catechism is such a protection. I keep hammering on the fact that I am only really constrained by the 10 commandments, and they are enough for me to work with.

    Your other conventions you can keep to yourself. They don’t bind me one bit. We can discuss them, but you are not going to frighten me with them.

    In the first hymnal I was ever given, there is a “mirror for repentance” and for the first commandment it gets you to ask yourself: “Have I feared men and their opinions?” This has always been in my mind, that fearing God is the opposite of fearing men.

  14. You make the notion “godfearing” make good sense, Brigitte. But that kind-of-talk might not resonate in many many contexts: those living under the fear of the hammer of authority come crashing down. Or the Jones–there’s an inhibition too.

  15. It’s funny, Sam. I was replying to one of your earlier comments, and then a whole conversation ensued in the meantime because I type s-l-o-w-l-y. I’m actually happy that what I wrote was still relevant.

    I’ll get the hang of this. 🙂

    You bring up a good point about significance, and I liked the idea of your “bad guys” above. I also want to know more about who that guy is. Is he hammering down on the poor people in some way (as you suggest)? Is he standing above them in judgement? Does he have the ability to help the poor and is he holding that help back because the people were misbehaving?

    Perspective being an issue, it is possible that each of us could have slightly different ideas. If we were to discuss them, or (better yet) collect them together, we might find that we disagree on the origin of Mr. Guy. Reading up on all these ideas is fascinating. Just by doing that, I find that I learn.

  16. Our dear, precious friend, Sam Scoville, you know very well that “god-fearing”, small “g” won’t do a thing. Small “g” will put you right under the thumb of the Joneses.

  17. ccws,

    I don’t know what happened there (before) the police pepper-sprayed those people. That they were blocking a public walkway may have had something to do with it. Free speech doesn’t mean people can break the law and obstruct public areas.

    There are other, better avenues to address one’s grievances.

    If you think there is no freedom to express oneself in the U.S., because of that incident, I think you are not seeing the big picture.

  18. The key is for us to rebel in our own lives and keep rebelling, keep that spirit of questioning, NEVER give in and NEVER let the man tell you what to do.

    You ARE free to do what you choose- live in peace, live in freedom.

  19. Look at Naked Pastor’s cartoon(s). Almost always some kind of Big Bad Ugly Guy oppressing all the people–oh look at all the lonely people. A VICTIMIZER and then victims galore. This is how IT is FRAMED. Oppression: oppressor (the bad guy of course) and then all the oppressed–good guys because underdogs and we sympathize, empathize, feel their pain. Am I right? I woke up this morning realizing what a bully I am. I blame the victims. (Because actually, there’s no such a thing as The Bad Buy–some nasty pastor, maybe, a church full of the Anxious and Needy. A guy with pepper spray: individual manifestations of our generalization Bad Guy / the Man.
    I don’t feel for them: victimized galore. Suck it up, I want to say. Get real. That makes me an afflictor of the afflicted. Meta-Bad Guy. God help me–damaged & damaging: man in the mirror.

  20. Sometimes, authority is required, or the rant of democracy runs riot. Maybe too alliterative? lol I am a catholic: The pinnacle of athority for Christian churches! Converted a while back, because churches were not being athoritative enough. Especially with doctrines that had a long pedigree of agreement. Doesn’t mean I can’t dissent on many things. But, if dissent on core truths, then I dissent myself out of communion with the Faith.

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