Life is physically easier nowadays. But we cannot take advantage of it because we have to work hard to earn enough to buy what is socially validated as good. Convinced that we have to meet the needs society tells us we must in order to make life worth living, we give away what makes life worth living. Rather than play with, and enjoy, our children, we work hard to buy for them the toys that will colour their disconnections. Rather than spend time with the wife, we labour to earn enough money to pay the solicitor’s fees for the divorce settlement. Rather than enjoy the company of friends, we slave to earn enough to buy the new car good enough to impress all those friends we do not see. Of value is considered to be only what has a price tag. What has no price has no value.
Likewise, situations answering to the name of global warming, homelessness and destitution, repression, loneliness, discrimination, racism, crime, environmental degradation, foreign occupation or nuclear weapons are our reality, obscene, unspeakable and unthinkable. The barefoot citizens of Manshiyet Nasar, in Egypt, who jump over pools of raw sewage, sort through piles of rubbish in the company of cats, dogs and flies, buy shampoo in sachets and cigarettes singly rather than in packets and nothing to hope for, certainly think so if the postmodernist thinkers may not. So will we when the unprincipled pursuit of profit, the religion of our time, may force us one day to produce what was previously abundant and free – oxygen for the atmosphere, water for the rivers and cold for the poles.
Good Christians, those who would not do anything unless their meanness is out of focus, can bomb, burn, destroy, rob, humiliate, exploit their fellow human beings, despoil the Earth, and commit the gravest acts of injustice as long as they appear to behave themselves sexually. For the Church, even political rebellion against the established order was nit as bad as free expression of a person’s sexuality. But society is unwilling to oblige and meet Christian expectations on issues such as premarital sex, contraception, teenage pregnancies, masturbation, abortion, divorce, homosexuality, pornography or nudism.
Little in our age, which like some currencies is rich in zeros, can take us beyond the freedom to have needs, those hinged on lifestyles. It is these needs that take priority over life, determine our existence, and fill the gaps between the moment and eternity. To meet them, we spend out life doing what we really do not want to be doing to earn the money to buy what we really do not need. Out time, health and lesure traditions, institutions and social formations, even our life stories, blood, smiles, kidneys or eggs and sperm are offered willingly in exchange for the appropriate remuneration which will give us access to all the tings money can buy. But in the process we are consumed at the expense of everything else that matters: our relations with the people we love, the connection with our inner self and our body, the bonds with our community, the links with our purpose, with all things, which as Kurt Vonnegut, the American novelist, said, ‘make you soul grow’. What is left is ‘fun’, reality shows that the system happily provides in unlimited quantities.
Eager to from a coalition against terror, the West has no intentions of forming a similar coalition in the interests of Justice., the best shield against terrorism…The world’s moral order on which just social, economic, political and cultural institutions can be built is beyond their concern, as valueless and poetry and annoying as the flu. On the agenda instead is the consolidation of a market controlled by oligopolies, those monsters indulging in unnatural acts of capitalist greed, whose ever-tightening grip over the world economy is nothing less than frightening.
Reduced to an almost meaningless political and economic unit, and largely unable to control their development, the nation state is simply overwhelmed by the forces it helped to unleash. Indeed, the ‘mega-institutions’, protected by the libertarian version of truth, the absolute freedom from government or inspection, which means not only free gun ownership, but also laissez faire economics, and consolidated further through mergers and acquisitions, are beyond control or even regulate. Rupert Murdoch, going on the offensive, even asserted at some point that regulations are, in effect, a reinvention of socialism.
The politicians with a voice, as Orwell would say, nearly as silent as a voice can be while still retaining a voice, have neither the guts nor the motivation to act; those investing in the stock market, often ordinary householders, prefer to shut their eyes and enjoy the benefits of their corporate investments in the form of rising share prices; and the international organisations, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, are ever ready to offer protection to the multinationals if the going gets rough.