by: Claire Snyder-Hall on April 19th, 2012 | 4 Comments »
I came across something unusual yesterday on one of the Christian Right websites I visit regularly. On the American Family Association (AFA) homepage, there was a link to an article that sounded intriguing: “25 Signs That Middle Class Families Have Been Targeted for Extinction.” At first the article sounded progressive, then populist. As it turns out, however, it was a Christian survivalist article.
The article linked to a Christian survivalist website that recommends that people pay off their debt, plant a garden, and stockpile a cache of weapons and canned goods in preparation for the oncoming collapse of government. (Interestingly, in the comments section, a lot of people questioned why they should even bother paying off debt.) The AFA website also listed another article that pushed a Christian survivalist line. So one-third of the articles listed on that section of the page were Christian survivalist, which I think is a new turn of events.
Coincidentally, or not, the survivalist movement also came up in some research I recently did for another blog, Delaware Progressive, about my county’s right-wing sheriff, who has ties to the radical right-wing sheriff’s movement. One of the supporters of that movement is Freeze Dry Guy, who caters to survivalists.
Christian survivalists have been around for a long time. But what is most striking to me at this historical juncture is the increasing number of people, from a variety of different perspectives, who have seemingly given up on the idea that we can actually fix what is wrong with American politics, at least at the federal level.
That is why a lot of people don’t bother to vote. They think it’s a Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee situation at this point.
Many supporters of the Occupy movement also seem to think that engaging in electoral politics is a waste of time. The movement has been criticized for that, but I can’t blame people for thinking that trying to create radical change through electoral politics would simply result in more spinning of the wheels. The anarchist dream is to start building a more just society right here and now that will replace the rotten edifice we currently have. And that is one of the things the Occupy movements have been doing across the country, modeling a better way of being and interacting.
Personally, I sympathize with the desire to give up on electoral politics because I too am disgusted with Washington politics and the bureaucratic mindset. I want to have faith in the federal government, but this week alone there have been so many reasons to doubt. We have seen an expose of the so-called Justice Department hiding evidence from defense attorneys that could have exonerated many who have been wrongly convicted; the GSA spending over $800,000 of tax-payers’ money on lavish partying in Vegas; the Secret Service visiting strip clubs and hiring prostitutes; and more atrocities perpetrated by our military; not to mention many other problems with our big, bureaucratic government. The problem with large bureaucracies is that they don’t listen to reason, they move slowly, and they are often unaccountable. And don’t get me started on the grid-lock and corporate influence. It’s hard to keep the faith.
The other day, I told my spouse that I think the government has gotten too big. She replied, “Well you want single-payer healthcare. That would mean more big government,” which is true. I responded that “yes, I want that but with local controls.” But is that really possible?
Politically, I stand opposed to the unaccountable power of large corporations and recognize that the only entity powerful enough to tame large corporations is strong government. That is why I am not on the anarchist side of the left. But what do we do if the solution is just as bad as the disease? Think torture and secret prisons, illegal assassinations, eavesdropping on American citizens, the criminalization and persecution of the undocumented, who are simply doing what any human being would do, in trying to have a better life for themselves and their families, to name just a few examples. Of course, these are all examples from the military side of the state.
Anyway, today, for me, it all seems so hopeless. For one of my research projects, I’ve been reading The Rebbe’s Army: Inside the World of Chabad-Lubavitch, and while I am firmly on the left, I have to say, in light of what we are facing politically right now, focusing on simply completing more mitzvot every day seems kind of appealing.