Recently, one of the Cabinet took me to task for not being “soft” on Alexander Atty. Well, I’d say that stances have consequences, and that this imperfect world doesn’t allow us to make “perfect” choices. Let me illustrate this by using my political beliefs as an example. I’m a Democratic Socialist. I used to be a Republican, but reality mugged me. It started when I was “downsized” (something that happened due to Republican “deregulation”). I wasn’t able to get new work fast enough; prior to the Great Recession (another gift of the Republican Party), unemployment benes were only for 26 weeks. Therefore, I had to approach welfare. In the 70s, I knew that welfare in New York State had two components… a rent cheque and a cash cheque of about 360 USD for an individual. Republican welfare “reform” had changed that. There was only one cheque, of about 320 USD, to cover both rent and expenses (and a pittance in food stamps). Note well that the amount under Republican “reform” was less than that in the past, even though prices had increased greatly. I was stunned. I lost my apartment, and much of what I had worked for. Republicans shrugged their shoulders, it was just my luck, “Sorry Charlie, but I’m not responsible, and I’m not going to help you”. It’d raise their tax bill (very slightly), you see. That’s sinful greed, kids, marching through the front door proudly and without equivocation. If you support the Republicans in any way, you support that, like it or not.
However, the Left isn’t pristine. There’s much on its plate, too. I have to accept the blame for such, for that’s the consequence of my beliefs. For instance, the Democratic Party is “Pro-Choice”. No, I don’t think that abortion is a right “choice”… but that’s part of the Democratic platform. This leads to an important distinction… every human ideology has some evil in it. Every single one does, there’s no exception to the rule. Therefore, what one has to do is to “weigh it out”… that is, “Is it more good than evil?”
What’s BAD about the Democratic position? We’ve mentioned “Pro-Choice”… I’ve no use for “Political Correctness” or “Identity Politics” either. I don’t like those who play the “Race Card”, nor do I care for kneejerk pacifism or a blanket condemnation of the death penalty (we should use it as rarely as Aleksandr Aleksandrovich did). I don’t belong to the “Cause of the Month Club”. People who wish to ban guns entirely are nutters; hunters have a natural right to own and keep long arms at home. That’s not a small list, is it? It makes me a Classical Labour Socialist… a rather conservative (in the true sense) sort, actually. However, the “dirt” does stick, and the Holier-than-Thous are right when they say that people like me are “soft” on Pro-Choice. I’m sure that it’s something that I’ll have to defend at the Last Day.
I’m a Leftist because the GOOD in the Left outweighs all of that. I’m FOR universal access to healthcare, universal free education through the university level, a fair sharing of profits between labour and management, protection of our natural environment, a fair shake for all social minorities, a generous social safety net, and government protection of the working class against the moneyed fat cats. I’m AGAINST incessant warfare in foreign parts, tax giveaways to the Affluent Effluent, deregulation, “welfare reform”, “corporations as people”, black sites, the Department of Homeland Security Gestapo, and the abandonment of the Fairness Doctrine. That outweighs most of the BAD in the Democratic position, all are piffles, save for Pro-Choice. That’s where the moral dilemma comes in… do I support a basically-good platform because there’s a worm in this apple?
Firstly, there’s no such thing as a “perfect” human ideology. That being said, what does the Republican Party advocate? Sadly, the Republican Party uses Newspeak… “freedom” means, not the absence of tyranny, but the absence of government controls over all economic and social matters. That’s anarchy… that’s NOT freedom… Libertarianism is just a fancy name for Rightwing Anarchism. Not all “anarchists” throw bombs and wear beards… most of them sit in boardrooms and are “respectable”. “Family values” means that all those who don’t fit a narrow stereotypical mould are to be cast aside and trampled upon. “Patriotism” means blind obedience… and “building democracy” means bombing the shit out of wogs in parts far from the USA.
No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and Mammon.
Rather more simply, the Decalogue states, “Thou shalt have no other gods before Me”. Mammon, the personification of wealth and greed, is a god. If you subscribe to the Republican platform, you sacrifice to Mammon, making any Christian profession a mockery. However, this does NOT mean that you’re excommunicated. Only irresponsible toddlers use such language. Florensky and Bulgakov (the latter was Schmemann‘s mentor… ADS was his drooling disciple) taught heresy, the Church anathematised their heresies, but it didn’t excommunicate them. Excommunication (or, more properly, anathematisation) is a very serious step that the Church rarely invokes against an individual. The only two that I know of in recent times were Valentin Rusantsov and Philaret Denisenko… both got the nick for setting up opposition “candy stores”. The talk amongst rightwing konvertsy about excommunicating Orthodox who support Pro-Choice politicians isn’t only irresponsible, it goes against everything that we believe in, and it flies in the face of our history as “Church”.
I believe that Alexander Atty should face public censure for his public support of the Republican Party. I believe that the Republican designs on Syria and the GOP’s support of the Islamist thugs there requires that he speak out in condemnation of the Republican Party in general, and of Willard Romney, in particular. The fact that he’s of the Syrian Christian narod makes this imperative for him. I don’t believe that anyone should withhold the Chalice from him… we simply don’t do that; gad sir, it ain’t Orthodox. His political stance is noxious… that doesn’t mean that he’s crank to the bone. I believe that the OCA treated him badly; I believe that he’s justified in his EEOC complaint (interesting that… as a Republican, he’s against the EEOC, yet, he uses it when HE’S screwed… topsy-turvy world that we live in, no?). Yes, he IS terminally-ill.
Yet… ideas and stances have consequences. I’m willing to take the full burden of mine upon my shoulders. I believe that Alexander Atty is just as mature and forthright. He’s supported the Republican Party publicly… ergo, if he doesn’t condemn the Republican plan of invading Syria unilaterally, he’s a traitor to his own people. That’s harsh… but that’s what it is. I accept the fact that being a Leftist means that I’m open to the charge of being “soft” on abortion… it means that I bear some of the blame for it. Indeed, I do. None of us are sinless. We’ll all have stains on our garments at the Judgement. In my case, I want them to be stains caused by the fact that it was the only way to do something good in this fallen world (yes, I do have enough common-garden evil stains… we all do).
Anyone who would hate Alexander Atty is my enemy. He’s misguided… he’s misled… he’s blind… but he’s not evil in his soul. We’re all adults here… I know that some have criticised me for my stances, that’s the way of it. I’ve no doubt that Fr Alexander feels likewise. Sometimes, your best friends are those who criticise (and my friendly neighbourhood Cabinet member should know that)… it’s the only way to truth in this fallen world of ours.
Ideas have consequences in the real world… that’s why we should be careful what we stand for. We ARE going to answer for it all, aren’t we?
Sunday 28 October 2012