"A measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny; and see thou hurt not the oil and the wine." (Rev. 6:6)
D.R. McConnell, in his book, A Different Gospel, writes:
"It is a strange curiosity that those Christians who are most adamant that our's is the generation that will see the Lord's return - and the endtime deception and apostasy associated with his return - look for signs of this deception outside the church, in such conspiracies as the New Age movement, and in such cults as Mormonism, the Jehovah's Witnesses, and Christian Science.
Admittedly, these movements pose potential threats to the church, but perhaps we would do better to look for the deception of the end-times where Jesus and the New Testament predicted it would occur: within the church, within groups that call themselves "Christian" but which actually preach a different gospel."
We agree. The apostasy that the Bible says will occur in the "end of days" is not something that is going to take place OUTSIDE the church; rather it is something that is going to take place INSIDE it. But how? - that's the question. To understand the dynamic at work here we must put what is happening to the church in a larger context. Too many people try to understand "last things" from only the perspective of RELIGION. But that's not possible.
There are other dynamics at work - political, economic and military dynamics - and all of them one way or another impinge on the church and the apostasy that is at work within it, transforming what we know as the ORGANIZED church into the monster the Scriptures say it will become. And one needs to be clear here: IT WILL OCCUR - as sure as the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, and NOTHING will stop it! The Bible says:
"Let no man deceive you by any means: for THAT DAY (i.e., the day of Christ's return, cf vs. 2) shall not come, except there come (first) a falling away (i.e., Gk., apostasia - or the apostasy of the church) first, and that MAN OF SIN BE REVEALED, the son of perdition;
"Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God." (2 Thess. 2:3-4)
One of these dynamics is the increasing speed at which REAL democracy is disappearing in the world today - contrary to what one hears being trumpeted from the mainline press. The fact is, the world is not becoming more democratic, but less - and it is being driven forward in this process by the ever quickening pace of globalization and the inexorable division of the world into a small elite of wealthy "worthies" and a huge population of indigent "worker-serfs" - a division that follows in the wake of the globalization process as surely as water flows downhill.
And it is important to note here that the division of the earth's population in this fashion is occurring not only in the socalled "Developing World," but in the socalled "Developed World" as well - so that now the meaning behind that mysterious lyric in Rev. 6:6 becomes understandable:
"A measure of wheat for a penny [literally - denarius, a Greek coin which represented a WHOLE DAYS wages], and three measures of barley for a penny; and see thou hurt not the oil and the wine." (Rev. 6:6)
The meaning of this lyric is that the condition of man during this era (i.e., the "end of days") will be reduced to such that he will have to labor a whole day simply to buy a loaf of bread or three measures of barley. But the second part of the lyric [i.e., "... and see thou hurt not the oil and the wine ..."] means that the "hard times" of this period will not extend to the elites. This is the common interpretation - the one subscribed to by Ryrie, Pentacost, Ironside, Gaebelein, etc.
OBVIOUSLY, UNDER THE IMPRESS OF THIS KIND OF MALIGNANT DYNAMIC, DEMOCRACY IS NOT WORKABLE. Why? - because in societies where people are ground into the dirt by the crush of the powerful, those responsible cannot then expect those they have beaten down to endorse what they have done through the socalled "democratic process."
In other words, when the elites force the poor into what are for all practical purposes "slave-labor camps" in countries like Thailand, Indonesia, El Salvador, Hati, etc. - and when they lock the gates to keep the workers in - forcing them to make Armani shirts for 80 cents a day at the rate of more than 100 shirts an hour in twelve hour shifts that run seven days a week, they cannot then expect these workers to endorse this kind of brutality through the ballot box. Democracy - REAL democracy - is not something the elites would want to endorse in this kind of situation.
It's tantamount to giving the whip to the slaves and expecting the slaves to willingly give it back so that they can be beaten all the more! At best, in such situations democracy must be reduced to a sham - the way it was in the South during the era of Jim Crow where blacks (and the poor in general) were "limited" in their access to the "democratic process."
If the elites, then, are unable to derive their legitimacy as a result of a REAL appeal to the "will of the people," how then can they derive it? After all, ALL authority must be legitimized. Ultimately, naked force is not enough, as the recent collapse of Communism in the old Soviet Union and Eastern Europe clearly demonstrates. No one group - especially a small minority (i.e., the rich) - can assert to any great degree and over any great length of time its superiority and right to rule based simply on brute force.
AND IT IS PRECISELY HERE THAT RELIGION PRESENTS ITSELF AS A USEFUL TOOL IN THE HANDS OF THE RICH!! In those societies where an appeal to the "will of the people" is not possible on any kind of meaningful basis, religion gives sanction to the rule of the privileged minority over and against the oppressed majority.
And not only that, it puts at ease the sometimes tortured souls of those who must exercise brute power in the name of the state - in other words, those who must do the elites' dirty work; it allows them to believe the lie that what they are doing, they are doing in the name of God and as His servants; that they hold their power as a result of "divine right" - Gott mit uns ("God is with us"), as the beltbuckles on the uniforms of the SS read.
This is what sustained the army officers in the Argentine military who were responsible for dumping leftist political prisoners (men, women and children - some barely into their teens) alive over the Atlantic from the bellies of Argentine naval planes in the late 1970s and early '80s: Accompanying each of the death flights were Protestant pastors and / or Catholic priests whose job it was to "comfort" NOT the victims but the occasionally squeamish death squad functionary with various Scriptures from the Bible about the necessity of "separating the wheat from the chaff" - i.e., the Junta's enemies from the Junta's friends.
The truth is, until the relatively recent advent of broad based democratic institutions and their concomitant appeal to "the people" as a basis of legitimacy, religion formed the foundation for most social and state authority - and this was as true for the nations of Western Civilization as it was for the civilizations of Asia, Africa, the Near East and Central and South America. As a result, the state has historically been bound up with religion either explicitly or implicitly.
RELIGION LEGITIMIZES STATE POWER IN SOCIETIES THAT ARE ESSENTIALLY UNDEMOCRATIC AND CANNOT, AS A RESULT, RELY ON THE "WILL OF THE PEOPLE" AS THE SOURCE OF THEIR LEGITIMACY. And it should be remarked here that religion is important to the state in INVERSE proportion to the state's brutality. The more brutal the state, the greater the need for its rulers to undergird it by a resort to religion.
Historically, then, religion has operated as an INSTRUMENT OF OPPRESSION - A MEANS THROUGH WHICH THE RICH CAN OPPRESS THE POOR. Religion, when it operates in this capacity, has NOTHING TO DO WITH COMPASSION, TENDERNESS AND MERCY, AND EVERYTHING TO DO WITH THE EXERCISE OF BRUTE POWER - and this is why the poor and the dispossessed have always hated STATE-sanctioned religion.
When Christianity operates in this capacity; when it serves the interests of the elites of this world, when it becomes the servant of the state; when it becomes an instrument of the rich to oppress the poor - IT HAS BECOME APOSTATE. That is what apostasy is all about! - AT LEAST IN THE FIRST INSTANCE!!
That's where it begins! The false doctrine that inevitably follows this condition of things - i.e., apostasy - is made necessary to mold the church to its new reality as a servant to the rich rather than to the poor; as a servant to the elites rather than to the downtrodden; as a servant to the state rather than to the kingdom of heaven.
After all, what do the elites want with a religion whose Originator says:
"LAY NOT UP FOR YOURSELVES TREASURES UPON THE EARTH, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:
" But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:
" For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." (Matt. 6:19-21)
Or what good is a religion to the elites that would tell the rich -
"... If thou wilt be perfect, GO SELL (ALL) THAT THOU HAST, AND GIVE IT TO THE POOR, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me." (Matt. 19:21) ?
Pretty hard to be a member of the elite if you don't have any money - that is, after all, the basis of the elite's power. And what do the elites want with a religion that forbids its members to "Lord it over God's heritage:"
"But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them.
"But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister;
"And WHOSOEVER WILL BE CHIEF AMONG YOU, LET HIM BE YOUR SERVANT:
"Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many." (Matt. 20:25-28) ?
Pretty hard to set yourself up as a member of the elite and justify your position over the rest of mankind when you are commanded by the same religion not only to give your money to the poor, but to become their servant (slave) as well. And finally, what do the elites want with a religion that says -
"... LOVE YOUR ENEMIES, DO GOOD TO THEM WHICH HATE YOU,
"Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you.
"And unto him that smiteth thee on the one cheek offer also the other; and him that taketh away thy cloak forbid not to take thy coat also.
"Give to every man that asketh of thee; and of him that taketh away thy goods ask them not again." (Luke 6:27-30) ?
Pretty hard to command armies and conquer your enemies when your religion commands you to "LOVE your enemies," "do good to them which hate you," and you are told to give to those who would steal your jacket your coat also. No! - such verses must be "RE-INTERPRETED!" - and, again, that's where apostasy begins!!
Now if the main purpose of religion insofar as the elites are concerned is to justify their oppression of the poor, and if that oppression is predicated on how undemocratic the system of government is that the elites are using to guarantee their rule, the question that begs to be answered is, How undemocratic has their rule become? That will give the answer as to how dependent the rich in this country have become on religion to guarantee their rule. And the answer is, Pretty undemocratic!
One has only to peruse the model that the elites in the United States are using insofar as their "New World Order" is concerned to substantiate that fact. The model calls for most of the nations of the world to be divided into two parts -
The "managers" rule the country at the behest and in the interest of American corporate power, which itself is sustained by the machinations and intrigues of the CIA in coordination with local police and military forces coupled with the use of death squads when the occasion demands it; all of this in turn is backed up by the guns of the American military.
Now insofar as what passes for democracy in this world, it should be noted that within the boundaries defined by this class (i.e., the "political / economic manager" class) a semblance of democracy does indeed prevail, and it is because of this that the United States never tires of trumpeting the so-called "fact" that it is helping to "build democracy" throughout the world. But it should also be noted that the kind of "democracy" that the United States is promoting here is, as we just noted, the same kind of "democracy" that prevailed for whites in southern states like Mississippi and Alabama during the era of "Jim Crow" (i.e., 1880-1960).
Unfortunately - and just as the case was for blacks in these states during "Jim Crow" - for the eighty percent of the population of America's system of "CLIENT-STATES" that fall into the "worker-serf" category, it is a notably cruel and utterly despotic system that entails grinding poverty and horrifying, constant humiliations of every sort that aim at stripping people of their self-respect and robbing them of any vestige of what might pass as dignity and honor - a process which tends to dehumanize all those against whom it is directed, just as it did to blacks during the age of "Jim Crow" and segregation.
There is no place in such an environment for real democracy, nor can there be much occasion in this kind of system for the exercise of a legitimate, Bible-based form of Christianity where the church serves the interests of heaven (and the poor) rather than the interests of this present evil world (and the rich). It's a universe where the leaders of the church have been pressed into service as population "CONTROLLERS" (overseers and "labor managers," so to speak) for the wealthy, and whose primary function is to "mold" and "fit" the "worker-serf" portion of the population into useful and effective "cogs," "gears," "sprockets," and "ratchets" in the elite's corporate machine.
Being a "good Christian" in such a world means being a compliant and docile worker, which, ipso facto, means avoiding membership in unions or worker organizations of any kind; knowing how to say, "Yes sir" and "No sir" to your "Betters;" not being a "complainer;" avoiding welfare even if that translates practically into holding down several jobs at the same time in order to make ends meet - and making your wife and children do the same; not fussing when elections are rigged; not fretting about police brutality or questioning the authorities when your neighbors and loved-ones are hauled "downtown" on trumped up charges, and so forth. This is what is meant when people say that this person or that person is a "good Christian" in country after country in America's system of "CLIENT STATES" like Brazil, Guatemala, El Salvador, the Philippines, Argentina, Honduras, etc.
AND ONE SHOULD BEAR IN MIND HERE THAT IT IS THE MANIFEST INTENTION OF THE ELITES RESPONSIBLE FOR PUSHING THIS MODEL ON THE WORLD AT LARGE TO EXTEND IT TO THE UNITED STATES AS WELL. And that is exactly what they are doing right now - and just how far they have proceeded in the process of reducing a great portion of the population of the United States to "Third World" status becomes apparent when one examines the developing gulf between the rich and the poor in this country. The fact is, the gap has become so wide that today the top 3 percent of the population make more money than the bottom 51 percent, with only the remaining 46 percent of the population (i.e., that portion of the population whose income falls between the 51st percentile of the populace and the 97th percentile) still comfortably ensconced in the middle-class.
The bottom 51 percent of the population (the "counter-opposite" to the top 3 percent) range from the ultra poor to those who, at great human cost to themselves (e.g., both spouses working sometimes at more than one job apiece paying little or no benefits, children growing up without a mom at home, etc.), are still contriving to hold on to a semblance of a middle-class lifestyle (usually a "lower middle-class" lifestyle). Moreover, within this 51 percent of the population there exists a portion of these people who have fallen into the "underclass." [More about these numbers and percentages later.]
This "underclass" constitutes today between one-quarter and one-third of the total U.S. population. It's a portion of the population that no longer possess the means of keeping body and soul together in any SIGNIFICANT manner because they are either unemployed or are grossly under-employed in part-time jobs paying minimum wages with no benefits.
The truth is, when people exist at this level of unemployment and "under-employment," they are led inexorably into all sorts of malignant social pathologies. And why is that? - because without MEANINGFUL work, their routine of life begins to collapse around them. The collapse occurs because it is precisely this routine - more often than most of us realize - around which we regulate our civil behavior. And that is important for us to realize: our occupational behaviors and outlooks underpin our way of life and determine our family, community, and cultural patterns. When large numbers of people are barred from MEANINGFUL occupations, our system of social control is weakened.
Without work, people cannot conform to family and community roles; and if the dislocation is widespread, the legitimacy of the social order itself will inevitably come to be questioned. When that happens, the result is usually civil disorder which in time may threaten to overturn existing social and economic arrangements as more and more people begin to define their hardships not as an individual failure, but as a fault of "the system." This is what happened in the French Revolution of 1789, in the Mexican Revolution of 1911, in the Russian Revolution of 1917, in the Iranian Revolution of 1978; and this is precisely what brought the Nazis to power in Germany in 1933.
THIS IS EXACTLY WHAT IS BEGINNING TO HAPPEN THROUGHOUT THE UNITED STATES IN THOSE AREAS WHERE THE UNDERCLASS HAS BEEN CONFINED - REVOLUTION IS IN THE AIR, and it is beginning to be manifested in America's ghettos in incidents like those that occurred in Los Angeles in 1991 and Cincinnati just recently.
For example, in Cincinnati - in interview after interview - when so-called rioters were questioned by the media, they defined the disorder they were engaged in not as criminal behavior or vandalism - which is what the elite press defined it as - but as "acts of insurrection." This is certainly what members of the "New Black Panther Party" called it, and the NAACP wasn't that far behind in embracing such a definition also. White, evangelical Christians might dismiss such talk as nothing more than an excuse for vandalism, but then this is how the British defined the Boston Tea Party - as an act of vandalism, not as a well-justified act of "civil disobedience," as white evangelicals would call it. "Criminal Behavior" or a noble "Act of Insurrection?" - IT APPEARS THAT IT'S ALL IN THE EYES OF THE BEHOLDER!
The same holds true for the student activists engaged in acts of violence in Seattle, in Washington D.C., in Philadelphia, in Los Angeles, and most recently in Quebec City against the hated institutions of globalism, i.e., the IMF, NAFTA, the WTO, the FTAA, the World Bank, etc. - disorders which encompassed a student / labor alliance that the elites are increasingly terrified of.
Apologists for the elites try to pass the poverty and unemployment that is driving the revolt off on the so-called MORAL failure of the poor. That at the bottom of the underclass's financial difficulties lie personal problems of a MORAL nature - i.e., indolence and slothfulness, single motherhood, family breakdown, drugs, criminal behavior, etc. - and this is what leads to chronic unemployment. But the EXACT opposite is true - crime, broken marriages, single motherhood, and all the rest flow in large part from the lack of jobs.
The truth is, as we just suggested, the financial stress of poverty and unemployment (or "under-employment") is extremely debilitating. Just how much this stress has contributed to the general malaise affecting the one-quarter to one-third of the population that is unemployed or "under-employed" and that - as a result - live in poverty and "near-poverty" was demonstrated some years back by a computer model developed at the University of New York. The university fed job, gross national product, divorce, and other demographic data into an econometric model to arrive at the conclusion that for every 1 percent rise in the unemployment rate, approximately 10,000 more divorces occur.
The econometric model developed by the University of New York has since been substantiated by a study released by the Census Bureau. The study documents in stark terms the social impact of job loss, and the resultant poverty which inevitably follows, on American families. The report was the bureaus first systematic analysis of social and economic conditions under which households are created and dissolved. The report states,
"Poor two-parent families were about twice as likely to break up as were two-parent families not in poverty."
Donald J. Hernandez, the Census Bureau demographer responsible for the report, says that,
"... stresses arising from low income and poverty appeared to cotribute substantially to the breakup of two-parent families."
The likelihood that a two-parent family will break up increases when the husband does not work, and it is even greater when neither spouse works. The Census Bureau found that 12 percent of poor white two-parent families had dissolved within two years, but only 7 percent of white families above the poverty level had broken up. Among African American two-parent families, 21 percent of those who were poor broke up within two years, compared with only 11 percent of those who were not in poverty. Among Latino families, the dissolution rates were about the same for poor and non-poor households: 11 percent and 9 percent, respectively.
Hernandez goes on to say:
"Over the last decade or two, there has been a lot of emphasis on the rise of one-parent families as a cause of poverty. BUT THIS REPORT SHOWS THAT THE OPPOSITE PROCESS IS ALSO IMPORTANT."
Hernandez continued -
"... many poor one parent families formed within the last year were already poor before their two-parent families broke up."
That was true for 26 percent of white families and for 39 percent of African American families. Hernandez wrote:
"When you look at one-year transitions into poverty, most of them are associated with job losses and income reductions, not with major changes in family structure, such as the breakup of two-parent families."
Similar correlations can easily be demonstrated between economic stress, on the one hand, and child neglect, spousal abuse, alcohol and drug addiction and other moral failures.
It's easy, of course, for white, middle-class Christians to believe otherwise; in fact, it is very CONVENIENT for them to do so! But if they were faced with the barriers to MEANINGFUL employment that most blacks, Latinos, and a growing number of "throw away" whites face, they would no doubt think very differently than they do now! There is simply not enough MEANINGFUL jobs in the United States anymore (largely as the result of elite "free trade" policies and job shifting from the U.S. to the "Third World) for everyone to find MEANINGFUL work, not even close - AND THAT'S THE TRUTH OF THE MATTER. And this phenomenon is an ever growing reality as more and more jobs are shipped overseas so that the elites can take advantage of the cheap labor and lax environmental standards that prevail there.
The fact is, a REPUDIATION of societal values takes place in areas where extreme poverty prevails. At first this repudiation results in what can be defined as criminal behavior - i.e., thievery, burglary, fraud, gang-banging, etc.; after all, thievery is one way of surviving in areas where MEANINGFUL work cannot be found.But should the kind of mass unemployment and / or underemployment that caused the criminal activity continue on indefinitely and in such a way that it begins to appear SYSTEMIC, then the criminal activity can come to be defined as morally proper, and as an appropriate response of the oppressed toward the oppressors, and as activity that can be justified on the ground that the rich have stolen from the poor - so, in a way, reparations are due.
This phase - when illegal acts pass from being CRIMINAL acts in the minds of those committing them to REVOLUTIONARY acts - is a critical step in the pathology that leads to revolution. Again, this is what happened in all those instances listed above - i.e., the French Revolution of 1789, the Mexican Revolution of 1911, the Russian Revolution of 1917, the Iranian Revolution of 1978, etc. When this occurs, disorder is likely to spread and even worsen. To the extent that such a "TRANSVALUATION" takes place, the kind of disorder that leads to revolution becomes a very real possibility.
Some who are reading this article will, no doubt, believe that the kind of conditions we are describing here do not as yet exist in the United States. But they do! - it's just that they are being carefully hidden from most white, middle-class Christians by elite manipulation of the mainline press. Take, for example, how the elites are manipulating the serious nature of unemployment (or under-employment) and poverty.
To hear the corporate media, one could very well be excused in believing that there is no longer such a thing as "unemployment" in this country - and that's because for years the real extent of unemployment and under-employment in the United States has been purposely understated by the government. Technically, the unemployment figure is supposed to be based on a national survey of households; but in reality - after everything is said and done, and all the mathematical models have been employed through which the survey numbers are "crunched" - the only people who are really counted as "unemployed" in the U.S. are those who are drawing unemployment benefits.
If a person has not found employment in the time allotted for him to draw these benefits, he is simply dropped from the unemployment rolls and counted as "no longer looking for work." What this generates is an open-ended condition of things where the number of people who enter the unemployment list is offset by those who are exiting the list on the other end because their benefits have run out (usually after six months). It's a marvelous bit of bureaucratic obfuscation - a kind of "catch 22" in which the government can't lose. In addition, people who work part-time, but who desperately want full-time work, are not counted; people who are seeking a job, and in the interim do volunteer work, are not counted; people who manage to scrape up occasional odd jobs (mowing lawns, washing dishes, etc.) are not counted, and so forth and so on. It's all smoke and mirrors!
For example, in 1995 we did a study of unemployment in the United States. At the time, the nation's official unemployment rate was touted at 5.47 percent or 7.18 million people who said they were looking for work, but couldn't find any; that's the figure that was being bantered around in the press and by all the "talking heads" in the media. But the real figure was much, much higher. In addition, to the 7.18 million officially counted as "unemployed," there were another 5.58 million (4.4 percent) whose "unemployment" benefits had run out, and they had been - as an administrative matter - dropped from the "unemployment list" and counted as "no longer looking for work." The reasoning here seems to have been that if they couldn't find work in six months time, they weren't looking hard enough. Then there were another 4.46 million people (3.4 percent) who were part-time because they couldn't find full-time work. In addition, there were 3.01 million (2.3 percent) who were doing volunteer work in the hope that it would result in permanent employment, and, finally, there were 3.27 million (2.5 percent) who were classified by the Bureau of Labor Statistics as "permanently unemployed." All this puts the real jobless rate at about 18 percent - that's more than three times the figure that was being advertised by the corporate media and the government as being "unemployed."
The Bureau of Labor Statistics, of course, reports that they are careful to note in their reports that the government's "official rate" of unemployment discounts the categories listed above (and, as a result, they are not being dishonest in their reporting). Naturally, however, this is done in the fine print! In addition, the fact that the "unemployment rate" does not reflect the categories listed above is certainly not "talked up" by the Bureau of Labor Statistics to the press; nor does the corporately-controlled press seem to be in much of a hurry to dig these facts up for themselves.
Eighteen percent unemployment or under-employment! - that comes pretty close to the amount of people in this country that are living in conditions approaching abject poverty - and that brings us to the second example of how "truth" is being "MANUFACTURED" and "ENGINEERED" to suit the needs of the elites. Government figures estimate that fifteen percent of the U.S. population are living in extreme poverty. But this "official" measure of poverty - like the unemployment figures - greatly underestimates the amount of poor in America.
When the poverty line was first calculated back in the 1960s, the average family spent one-third of its income on food, and the poverty line was set at three times food costs, adjusted for family size. But by 1990, food costs had dropped to one-sixth of the average family budget because other components - such as housing - had inflated at far higher rates.
If the 1990 official poverty line of $13,360 for a family of four had been recalculated to reflect changes in the real costs of these components, it would have been about 155 percent of the official rate, or $21,700. [Note: the 2000 figure has not been officially established, although it is estimated that as a percentage of the population, the number of people who are "officially" poor will increase.] Now, that's HOUSEHOLD income. That's 25.6 percent or ONE-QUARTER of the U.S. population living in conditions approaching unimaginable poverty insofar as those who live in the gated communities of "Yuppie Land" are concerned. That's one out of four people in the United States!! - and most of these people are working, holding down two, three, and sometimes four part time jobs paying minimum wage with no benefits. And remember here - there is no such a thing as AFDC anymore; it's all "workfare." MOST OF THESE PEOPLE ARE WORKING!
You don't hear that figure - i.e., that one out of every four people in the United States are living in poverty - bantered about much in the country's corporate media, now do you? You don't hear the people on CNN and CNBC (between adds touting brokerage services for Goldman-Sachs, Morgan Stanley, the Kaufman Fund, Schwab, etc.) talking much about this. THESE ARE SOCIETY'S CASTOFFs - the people no one sees, though they are all around us.
The poor are there! - but somehow or other we look straight through them as if they don't exist; for example, the busboy that greets you at the Hilton next time you stay there; the maid that makes your bed up at the same hotel; the janitors that come in after your office closes for the day and clean up after you; the people down at the mail room; the so-called "Greeters" at Walmart; the security guard that patrols your gated community as you sleep; the day-laborers you see everywhere these days; the "temps" that come in when there is a staff shortage, and on and on and on. There are a lot more of them than most people think, and they are everywhere these days.
And, of course, you won't see them when you get home after work. They probably don't live in the neighborhoods you live in. But that doesn't mean that they have disappeared into the ether somehow. They've gone home too - but to what kind of a living situation?
Take a family living at the higher end of those who fall under the poverty index (and I mean, the real one, not the phony one established by the Bureau of Labor Statistics); for instance, a family that brings home $18,000 a year. True, these people do not pay any income tax, but they sure as heck pay social security and payroll taxes - so subtract about $1,500 from the family's total HOUSEHOLD income; that leaves $16,500 a year or $1,375 a month to live on for a family of four.
Even in the poorest areas, one is lucky to find an apartment for less than $600.00 a month - so there goes almost 44 percent of the family's take-home pay. Then suppose that even with food stamps, the family must pay out-of-pocket grocery bills (including things like toilet paper, cleaning supplies, health items, etc.) of another $250.00 a month; that leaves $525 a month. Then throw in a bare minimum $150 for utilities (phone, gas, and electricity), that leaves just $375 for all other expenses: medical (and remember here, the "breadwinners" in this family hold down only part time work, so they have no medical benefits), car expenses (gas, oil, repair, insurance, etc.), bus fare, clothing (that's a laugh), recreation (that's even more of a laugh), school supplies for the two kids, and so on.
You try to live this way! That's one out of every four people in the United States who live like this - AND THEY ARE WORKING!! - despite the attempt by the corporate media to paint them all as welfare cheats, single mothers, drug pushers, etc. who somehow or other deserve the fate that has overtaken them (and, again, remember, there is no more welfare - get that into your head: THERE IS NO MORE AFDC!). The attempt to label all these people as "ner-do-wells" is nothing more than a bunch of hooey dreamt up by the corporate elites to "justify" the presence of so many poor in our midst by demonizing them.
Of course, many people who don't know any better will be tempted to say that a great many of these people are "illegal aliens;" they're not even citizens. But even if they're not citizens, so what? But that's not true either! - the fact is, they are citizens! At most, the so-called "illegal alien" population of this country numbers about 7 million people - AT MOST!
That's only 2.8 percent of the total U.S. population! What about the other 23.2 percent of the entire U.S. population that is living in poverty? These people ARE American citizens - the same people that, if there is any war, will be thrown into the battle first, long before the sons and daughters of the "Yuppie Elite," just as they were in Vietnam!
Finally, one needs to be clear about all this - the expectation is that the number of poor in this country will keep on growing! A simple glance at the trend the statistics paint with regard to the poor in this country will confirm that. From 1977 to 1994, the poverty rate in the United States increased by almost 20 percent. If that rate of increase is maintained, by the year 2010, the amount of people living in poverty in the United States will constitute 30 percent of the population. THIRTY PERCENT! - a little short of one in three people! Can you imagine?
The ominous trend in the poverty rate is reinforced by what's been happening to "Average Weekly Earnings" in the paychecks of nonsupervisory workers for the past thirty years. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, nonsupervisory workers constitute 80 percent of all employees. These statistics exclude executives, managers, and professionals such as doctors and lawyers, but include the vast majority of the labor force. What this trend indicates is that real earnings peaked at $315 a week in 1973 and since then have been on the decline, falling nearly 30 percent in CONSTANT or REAL dollars. This is what moved economist Wallace Peterson to call 1973 a watershed year that marked the beginning of today's "SILENT DEPRESSION" - silent, as he puts it, because the deterioration has been slow and insidious like a cancer, hardly noticed by either the press or the people. And it is a DEPRESSION because it has continued for so long.
Elite economists like to cite the growth of GDP and per capita income to refute the facts presented above. But aggregate measurements such as GDP and per capita income can be highly misleading in coming to grips with what's really going on in average, everyday American households because they lump the rising prosperity of a few rich families with other people's incomes, which may or may not have risen. Thus, the aggregate can rise when the incomes of a large majority have actually declined.
The aggregate income measures also become suspect when higher numbers of people join the labor force or employees have to work longer hours. For instance, suppose your income stays constant but you need to work only half as many hours as before. You are now easily better off. You are in a position to enjoy the so-called "good life." But suppose your income rises by 5 percent while your working hours rise by 20 percent. You will not be amiss in thinking you are worse off than before even though your income has grown.
So, what does all this say? - it says that from both the standpoint of falling weekly earnings, and the growing percentage of people who are falling into poverty, we are fast approaching a time where fully one-third of the population in this country will be poor. THAT'S ONE-THIRD OF THE POPULATION! - and it doesn't matter whether you run into these people on any kind of a daily basis or not - THEY ARE THERE, WHETHER YOU SEE THEM OR NOT!
It's here that the elites begin to run into a problem - and that problem relates directly to how this "SURPLUS POPULATION" created by the elites' economic programs - i.e., society's "THROW-AWAYS" that America's "free trade" and "deindustrialization" policies have created - can be contained and suppressed so that their rage does not spill out into the general population and create disorder.
What the elites have done with regard to this "problem" is precisely what they have done in their "CLIENT-STATES" like Guatemala, Brazil, Argentina, Thailand, etc. (and those who think that the elites differentiate between the poor in this country and the poor in the "Third World," are greatly mistaken): they have instituted a policy of TERROR against these people - i.e., against the country's "THROW-AWAY" population - designed to frighten and intimidate them into submission and a quiet acceptance of their "station in life" through the use of intensely SAVAGE and very BRUTAL police techniques.
Now, no doubt, some people might be tempted to say that we are being ALARMIST in the use of such terms - too SENSATIONAL. But stop for a moment and think about what's happening here. For the most part, the TERROR and INTIMIDATION that is being used against this nation's "THROW-AWAY" population is being used against them principally under the cover of the "WAR ON DRUGS;" but does anyone really believe that drug use in wealthy, white, suburban neighborhoods is any less than drug use in poorer neighborhoods? I know of no studies that would yield such a result. True, the rich are a little bit more discreet about it - but should that really make any difference?
The fact is, there are very few suburban white kids (i.e., the sons and daughters of the affluent) who haven't used drugs to some extent by the time they have finished high school. But if that's so, why are so very few arrests made in these neighborhoods? Why are only blacks, Latinos, and "poor white trash" hauled downtown to jail or to "Juvenile Hall?" If there is really a "WAR ON DRUGS" going on in this country, why isn't this war being carried out in the neighborhoods of the rich? Why only in the neighborhoods of the poor?
Why don't we see the police storming into the houses of the wealthy? Why don't we see the cars of the well-to-do being pulled over for broken tail lights so that warrant checks can be run on them and their cars checked for drugs? - after all, such police stops are nothing more than a thinly veiled excuse for getting around the constitutional guarantees against illegal searches. Why aren't sobriety check points (which have in recent years become nothing more than another excuse to run unconstitutional warrant checks) established in neighborhoods like River Oaks in Houston or Simi Valley in Southern California? Why is it that we only see this sort of thing occurring in the neighborhoods of this country's "THROW-AWAY" population?
If it's drugs the police are really after, then surely there are as many drugs and "druggies" to be found in Beverly Hills as there are to be found in Watts - and probably more if people are honest about it. And if that's the case, why don't we see the same "WAR ON DRUGS" with the same SWAT teams dressed in the same black uniforms, wearing the same bulletproof vests, the same military-like helmets, the same black ski masks, and armed with same AR-15s and MP-5s and the same "blunt trauma ordinance" storming around in wealthy neighborhoods as well as poorer neighborhoods? - after all, as we just indicated, there are as many drugs and "druggies" to be found in Beverly Hills as there are to be found in Watts. Everyone knows that! And why is it that the police differentiate between powder cocaine (the cocaine of the rich) and "crack" cocaine (the cocaine of the poor)? Why do they treat possession of "crack" cocaine so much harsher than possession of powder cocaine?
It's because - in the end - the so-called "WAR ON DRUGS" is not really about drugs and "addicts" at all! It's about POPULATION CONTROL! And the "WAR ON DRUGS" is nothing more than a convenient FRONT for what's really going on! An excuse for TERRORIZING the nation's "THROW-AWAYS" and keeping them "off-balance" and SUPPRESSED through the use of very brutal police tactics - THE SAME KIND OF POLICE TACTICS THAT THE COLOMBIAN GOVERNMENT USES AGAINST THE "FARC" IN BOGOTA, OR THE PERUVIAN GOVERNMENT USES AGAINST THE "SHINING PATH" IN PERU.
Christian Parenti, in his book, Lockdown America, gives a glimpse of what America is like to the "THROW-AWAY" portion of our population. The description he gives resembles what's going on in many "Third World" countries where police and para-military police forces patrol sections of Rio de Janeiro, Bogota, Lima, Mexico City, Jarkata, etc. (i.e., those cities that constitute the principle cities in America's system of "CLIENT-STATES") not so much with an eye towards fighting crime (though that's what they are pretending to be up to) as suppressing the "THROW-AWAYS" that America's "New World Order" system has created there.
The object in all this is, as we just indicated, to cower the population into submission, much in the way an occupying military force would "police" a conquered city - the way, for example, the Germans "policed" Prague, Paris and Warsaw during the Second World War, or the Americans ran Saigon under the impress of the infamous "Phoenix Program" during the Vietnam War, or the way the Algerian military controls Algiers even today.
In instances like these, fighting crime is merely an excuse for insinuating an overwhelming police presence into "ENEMY TERRITORY" for purposes of population control. Intimidation is what these forces are aiming at in areas like south-central Los Angeles, Harlem in New York, and Annacostia in Washington D.C.; the police are not in these communities to "serve and protect," as their minions in the elite media would have you believe.
They are there to DOMINATE and TERRORIZE, and to prevent these populations from crossing over the line from disorderly activity (i.e., crime) to rebellion and insurrection; from embarking on what the elites would believe is a malignant process of "transvaluation."
To demonstrate how these policies are being carried out in the neighborhoods of America's "THROW-AWAY" population, Parenti steered clear of big city underclass neighborhoods and chose instead to focus on a relatively small town in the Central Valley of California, believing that in doing so he could better illustrate how PERVASIVE this kind of policing has become. Parenti picked Fresno, California; specifically how Fresno police are policing an underclass neighborhood of "THROW-AWAYS" in the town's sprawling southwest side.
There, on the pocked streets, among the stucco bungalows and dying railyards, Parenti found what he was looking for: a massive para-military police presence, the primary purpose of which was to DOMINATE and TERRORIZE the "SURPLUS POPULATION" of the Central Valley's huge agricultural operations - people who had been deemed no longer necessary for the agri-business operations that were now engaging "illegal aliens" to do the "heavy lifting." "Illegals" are preferred to workers from Caesar Chavez's United Farmworkers Union because they have no "legal" rights, are not unionized (which the elites hate with a burning passion) and can, therefore be worked much more savagely than can the workers from the United Farmworkers Union.
Parenti describes an operation he witnessed personally one cold October evening. It was carried out by Fresno's Violent Crime Suppression Unit (VCSU): a special forces-type para-military team not unlike the kind of para-military forces Peru's military deploys in the streets of Lima or the Indonesian military deploys in the streets of Jarkata. Parenti writes,
"Since 1994 these soldier-cops have been conducting the criminal justice equivalent of 'search and destroy' missions in Fresno's 'gang-ridden' badlands. 'It's a war', explains one police spokesman."
The use of this kind of police force - the kind that employs the equipment, training, rhetoric, and group tactics of war - is typical today in "THROW-AWAY" neighborhoods throughout the country. In order to carry out this war, the Fresno Police Department (FPD) has increased its force from 400 to 655 (on its way to a goal of 800 by 2002), established a plethora of new special units, and introduced new technology into every aspect of policing. Thanks to $28.4 million in federal grants, the FPD will soon have the nation's latest "field automation system," complete with electronic notepads which, using cellular phone technology, can communicate with the brand new computers in each patrol car. The computers in turn can communicate with, and search, local, state, and federal databases, thus giving officers in the field nearly instant access to mountains of intelligence, ranging from outstanding warrants to DMV records.
Another gadget on the way is a portable, electronic, fingerprint reader. With this Dick Tracy dream come true, police can check prints in the field, then automatically and remotely search local, state, and federal databases for matching prints, outstanding warrants, mug shots, and other information. At the larger level of strategy Fresno will soon be using its own version of the Vietnam-inspired "electronic battlefield" for state-of-the-art, real-time, computerized crime mapping and deployment. With this technology, Chief Winchester hopes to begin holding Comsat-style meetings. This hybrid between Pentagon whiz-bang tech and New York QOL policing is also being adopted by other departments around the country.
The Fresno VCSU is only one example of the more than 30,000 (that's THIRTY-THOUSAND!!) para-military Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) teams that America's elites have deployed around the country - again, not so much to "fight crime" (as they pretend to be doing), but rather to suppress and intimidate America's growing population of "THROW-AWAYS" the elites no longer have a use for as they ship the factory jobs these populations once depended on overseas to take advantage of even more disadvantaged and compliant populations.
First developed by a young LAPD commander named Daryl Gates in 1966 to combat the kind of Civil Rights disorders that swept through the country in the 1960s and early '70s, SWAT teams - also known as "tactical" or para-military policing units - WERE CONCEIVED NOT AS CRIME-FIGHTING UNITS BUT RATHER AS COUNTER-INSURGENCY UNITS AIMED AT GROUPS LIKE THE BLACK PANTHERS, C.O.R.E., THE SYMBONESE LIBERATION ARMY, THE WEATHERMEN (or Weather Faction, as it later came to be called), ETC. And make no mistake about it, that's still what their job is today! As one early SWAT officer explained,
"Those people out there - the radical and the revolutionaries - are damned good at using shotguns, bombs or setting ambushes, so we've got to be better at what we do."
"THAT IS WHAT MAKES THEM (i.e., the SWAT teams) FUNDAMENTALLY DANGEROUS. IF POLICE ARE SOLDIERS INSTEAD OF CIVIL SERVANTS, AND THEIR TASK IS DESTRUCTION AND CONQUEST, THEN IT FOLLOWS THAT THE CIVILIAN COMMUNITY THEY ARE POLICING (i.e., the underclass) WILL BE THE ENEMY."
Even the etymology of LA's initial tactical unit reveals a bellicose world view. Gates started with the acronym SWAT - which has both a violent and dehumanizing ring to it - and then filled it in with the name "Special Weapons Attack Team." His superiors saw this candid and robust name as a "bit too provocative," so they decided to change it to the more technical sounding "Special Weapons and Tactics." Parenti continues with his description of Fresno's SWAT or VCSU operation,
"A helicopter clatters overhead, sweeping its lights across the shabby trees and flat homes. Nearby in the shadows, three squads of ten police officers in combat boots, black fatigues, and body armor lock and load their Heckler and Koch (H&K) MP-54 submachine guns (the same weapons used by the elite Navy SEALs) and fan out through the ghetto.
"Dressed in black fatigues, military helmets, bulletproof vests, ski masks, goggles, combat boots, and armed with AR-15s, MP-5s, attack dogs, 'flash-bang' stun grenades, smoke bombs, tear gas, pepper spray, metal clubs, and less-than-lethal 'blunt trauma ordinances', the SWAT team patrols the southwest almost every day ... Their immediate task was to round up a list of some 300 suspected ... offenders ... The enemy was to be tracked down, busted, and put away for as long as possible. The operation involved raiding homes, stopping cars, interrogating 'suspicious persons', and storming an archipelago of 'hot spot' corners."
Now, stop here for a moment and think about it - and be honest as you do so!! Can anyone possible imagine these kinds of tactics being used in the neighborhoods of the wealthy? - especially given the fact that these "sweeps" often have little to do with advanced intelligence directed at specific targets chosen in advance, despite what some of the propaganda emanating from programs like "Crime Stoppers," "America's Most Wanted," "Unsolved Mysteries," etc. - all of which glorify the tactics of America's SWAT teams and DEMONIZE the poor - would have you believe, or does anyone believe that the police officers who pumped 42 bullets into Diallo in New York City, or the roving bands of rogue police officers at the Ramparts division of the LAPD were out on the streets as the result of a well-thought-out plan involving advanced intelligence aimed at specific targets?
No! - for the most part, these units are deployed exactly as Parenti describes above - as roving units aimed at "TARGETS OF OPPORTUNITY!" - targets of opportunity picked out using a plethora of thinly veiled ways around the constitutional protection against illegal stops, such as stopping cars for "unsafe lane changes" and busting people for just standing around because of "suspicious behavior." Parenti continues,
"The street corner raids usually began with officers tossing 'flash-bang' grenades (designed to stun and disorient suspects), then swooping in with barking dogs and guns drawn as they bellowed orders to 'get the f--k down'. Civilian-owned pit bulls, Rottweilers and Dobermans were shot on sight, while EVERYONE in the targeted area was forced to the ground at gunpoint. As one team of ten VCSU officers established an armed perimeter, another team would train guns on prostrate 'bad guys', while a third team would take photos, conduct 'field interviews', run warrant checks, note tattoos, scars, clothing, distinguishing characteristics', addresses, and add new intelligence into local, state, and federal databases from the mobile computer terminals in each patrol car. Prisoners were carted out in a huge gray bus, with SWAT emblazoned on the side, that police likened to a rolling billboard.
"Lately VCSU foot sweeps have been less common. The unit now prefers to roam the south side in regular patrol cars, "like a wolf pack" looking for "contact." This is due in large part to declining narco-commerce in Fresno's hot spots. Police and local ethnographers credit the relative calm to the mass internment of a whole generation of Ogs (original gangsters) and mid-level players (i.e., all those who might possess leadership capabilities and who could form the nexus of an urban guerrilla warfare movement), who are now serving infinities of time in state prison on second and third-strike charges, or in federal joints under the federal government's mandatory minimum sentencing guidelines. And as [these people (i.e., those who possess leadership capabilities) are taken off the street and] ... buried in human landfills, the VCSU's attention necessarily turns to less and less threatening behavior.
"It's almost midnight and the Central Valley is getting cold. A typical VCSU operation is underway. The target is a brightly lit gas station, known for dealing and surrounded by barren waste ground just outside a rundown suburban ghetto called 'the Dog Pound'. As the first cruiser approaches, six young African American men on the corner start moving away: that's suspicious behavior, probable cause for a stop. Half the group slips into the dark, three are stopped. More cruisers pull up at high speed, cops pile out and surround the scene, a K-9 team unloads its barking Alsatian. The young men stiffen with fear, hands on their heads, facing the high beams of the police cruisers. Then it's down on the ground, legs out in front, crossed. The field interviews and frisking begin, scars are noted. IDs checked. From a patrol car terminal an officer runs warrant searches through the local Fresno PD database, the California Law Enforcement Teletype System (CLETS), and the FBI's all-encompassing NCIC.
"'Bingo', says a crew-cut trooper. One of the youths is wanted; he is cuffed, placed under arrest, his pager and keys taken, and he is stuffed into the back of a squad car. Next call. A unit has 'contact' on the far end of the Dog Pound, and on foot an individual has fled the scene of a traffic stop, entering a nearby house; VCSU cars surge towards the action. While the occupants of the car are dealt with, the VCSU officers with AR-15s and H&K MP-54s surround the area and 'holding the perimeter', some look at the house, others look out at the community. A line of five officers rush the door. Technically they are not in hot pursuit and have no right to storm the building, but they look angry and their guns make it seem serious, so the elderly woman behind the black metal security gate quickly consents to a search. Five big, white cops move into the blue-cathode-ray lit room and grab a black man named David. 'What? Man, I didn't do anything!' he protests. His voice breaks and a tearful grimace momentarily clouds his face.
"As police begin searching the small home, with consent from a trembling grandmother, it appears as if the past has suddenly lurched forward and collided with a high-tech future. More than anything else the VCSU robocops resemble the 'patrollers' of the old South, the white, slave-catcher militias that spent their nights rousting Black people's shacks in search of contraband, weapons, and signs of escape.
"'Are you on parole, probation? What? Huh? Let's go outside, David'. The man is cuffed, searched, interrogated, forced to the ground, warrants checked, flashlights continually shone in his face. No drugs found. But David lied, said he wasn't on parole and he is. 'That's a violation of parole, David'. Another black man arrested and packed off to jail.
"More 'contacts' produce three ounces of crack - a huge bust. 'He didn't signal, had an air freshener hanging from his rear-view mirror, so we pulled him over. He didn't have ID. So we searched'. Boom - the white cops take another black man to jail. Then the radios crackle: 'Code three at 621 South ...' An officer needs help. The VCSU's fleet of Crown Victorias race towards the action.
"A youth reportedly brandished a gun (not a crime unless there is a victim being threatened) and has sped off to his mother's house. The radios crackle again: '1010, deploy units in the alley'. The house is surrounded by the whole VCSU. From behind cars, officers train AR-15s, MP-5s, and the larger MP-54s on the front door and in the windows. Overhead a chopper beats the air, flooding the house with light and scanning the area with Forward Looking Infrared (FLIR). Gathering neighbors are kept at bay by detachments of regular Fresno PD officers. A CHP officer and several armed DA investigators arrive on the scene, guns drawn, and crouch dramatically behind vehicles. Because the person who reported the crime was not themselves threatened by the gun, the VCSU has no probable cause to enter the house, and so the stand-off continues.
"The FPD helicopter overhead runs short on fuel and sweeps back to gas-up, as a bigger, louder CHP chopper takes its place pouring down an even brighter klieg light. (In a few months the choppers will have the capacity to send live video and FLIR feed or freeze-frame maps from the air directly to the eleven-inch screens of the VSCU's brand-new in-car 'mobile data terminals'.)
"From the door emerges a Latino teenager, hands in the air, tears streaming down his face. He walks slowly toward the bristling mot of white cops and into the blinding lights. Behind him comes a young woman and two small children. After them an older woman in slippers and curlers. But the suspect, Juan, stays inside, phone off the hook. Desk jockeys from probation - until a few years ago, unarmed bureaucrats - are now hovering at the elbow of the VCSU commanding officer. The probation wannabes are eager for action, wearing jeans, bulletproof vests, and blue windbreakers and toting radios, cuffs, and Smith and Wesson .44 automatics. Juan is on their list so they have the right to storm his home without permission, probable cause, or a warrant."
These are the tactics of a terrorist state - and they have been introduced into the United States by the same elites that pioneered them in Guatemala, El Salvador, Brazil, Thailand, the Philippines and countless other nations in America's "CLIENT-STATE" system. These are not the tactics one uses in a REAL democracy. These are the tactics one can expect to find in a Central American oligarchy; the strategies one would expect to see in countries where democracy is nothing more than a sham, and where the government is held in power at the point of a gun. These are the methodologies of a regime that can maintain itself only by violently suppressing vast portions of the population, coupled with "rigging" the political process, manipulating the press, and instituting policies reminiscent of George Orwell's world of "Big Brother."
And insofar as Orwell's "Newspeak," is concerned, it is already far advanced in the United States, and so much so that James Peck, in his introduction to the Chomsky Reader, could say that -
"... there is a pervasive, omnipresent ideological process of INDOCTRINATION that permeates American life, makes us immune to the suffering all around us, and BLINDS US TO WHAT IS ALL TOO OBVIOUS."
Yes! - this is "Newspeak," and the elites are "into it" with all their might. Take Walter Lippmann, a member of the elite class, and his comments about the necessity of "the MANUFACTURE of consent" - by which he meant "educating" (to put it facetiously) the "brutish masses" in such a way that they would come "naturally," as it were, to the belief that the interests of the elites were their interests also - EVEN IF THOSE INTERESTS MEANT CONSIGNING A GREAT PORTION OF THEM TO PAUPERISM AND INDIGENCE? Isn't that what Edward Bernays (likewise a member of the elite) called "the ENGINEERING of consent?" Isn't that what Harold Laswell - like both Lippmann and Bernays, also a card-carrying member of the elite - cynically meant when he talked about "mass indoctrination" as a means of "DISCIPLINING" the rabble? Of course it is!! AND IF THAT'S THE CASE, HOW MUCH OF A DEMOCRACY IS THERE LEFT IN THE UNITED STATES? Not much!
Nonetheless, so subtle is this process of indoctrination that most Americans hardly recognize the process for what it is, and that's what makes it so much different from the mechanisms of indoctrination that were at work in the old Soviet Union or those that are at work even now in countries like Iraq and Communist China - mechanisms which were (are) relatively simple and quite transparent.
The fact is, while people in countries like these are expected to parrot the official "party line" and stay within the proscribed boundaries of political and intellectual expression, these same people, nonetheless, fairly well understand the difference between what is state-sponsored "propaganda" and what is "truth." Not so in the United States!
In the United States, the mechanisms of indoctrination, as we have already indicated, are very different, and much more subtle and indirect. Nonetheless, the delicate nature of these mechanisms does not in any way detract from their effectiveness, and by now the omnipresence of the message these techniques have been created to convey to the "masses" in our society is so all-encompassing and universal that one falls victim to its message without ever realizing it. And so a situation is created where even reasonable people have a difficult time understanding the difference between what is state-sponsored "propaganda" and what is "truth" - a situation that is totally at variance with what the populations in the old Soviet Union had to put up with.
Where is there here any room for democracy - REAL democracy? There is none - at least insofar as the poor and the near-poor are concerned. This is the point the student demonstrators were trying to make in Seattle, in Washington D.C., in Philadelphia, in Los Angeles, in Quebec City.
Democracy - REAL democracy - is fast disappearing from the cultural and political landscape, and is being replaced by a corporate oligarchy - a plutocracy (rule of the rich) run by General Electric, Viacom, Ford, DuPont, Microsoft, 3M, General Motors, Cargil, Exxon, Sun Microsystems, Boeing, Netscape, Bank of America, etc.
It's exactly here that we should remind ourselves of a point we made early on in this article regarding the relationship between democracy and religion: RELIGION IS IMPORTANT TO THE STATE IN INVERSE PROPORTION TO THE STATE'S UNDEMOCRATIC NATURE. The more undemocratic the state, the greater the need for its lraders to undergird their rule by a resort to religion. When democracy becomes an open sham, as it is fast becoming in the United States, and the elites are no longer able to rely on the "will of the people" as the basis of their legitimacy, religion becomes their "fall-back" position - the only means left to them of legitimizing their rule. The elite response here is to cynically substitute the "will of God" for the "will of the people."
It is, therefore, no accident or fluke of history that WHEREVER SOCIETIES FIND THEMSELVES UNABLE TO RELY ON THE "WILL OF THE PEOPLE" TO LEGITIMIZE THEIR EXISTENCE, RELIGION HAS STEPPED INTO THE GAP TO FILL THAT FUNCTION. It is not without reason, therefore, that the rich in this country - ESPECIALLY THOSE PEOPLE AND CORPORATIONS CONNECTED TO THE "ESTABLISHMENT WING" OF THE REPUBLICAN PARTY - have found it convenient to "GET RELIGION." That's what the rich have always done! - though they care not a whit for it.
Some people might object here! - what about communism? Surely that system of government is undemocratic. And that's true! Nonetheless, communism always insisted that it's legitimacy did indeed flow from the consent of the governed, and that the so-called "DICTATORSHIP of the proletariat" was nothing more than an interim phase that would be replaced as soon as the "emergency situation" brought about by the aggression of the capitalist system had been dealt with. Of course, that was nothing more than a farce, and as time wore on, it was exposed for what it really was - a myth! a fantasy! As a result, it all came tumbling down! Communism - because it embodied atheism - afforded the elites of that system no back-up position; no way of defending their prerogatives once they were exposed as operating outside the "will of the people," and that the so-called "DICTATORSHIP of the proletariat" was nothing more than a convenient fiction designed to excuse the fact that the communist elite did not enjoy the people's support.
And so we repeat our premise: WHEREVER SOCIETIES FIND THEMSELVES UNABLE TO RELY ON THE "WILL OF THE PEOPLE" TO LEGITIMIZE THEIR EXISTENCE, RELIGION HAS STEPPED INTO THE GAP TO FILL THAT FUNCTION. And if, per chance, a government is unable to draw upon religion to fulfill this function, it will collapse, just as the governments of the old Soviet Union and Eastern Europe did.
But when Christianity allows itself to be used in this fashion - when it allows the elites (in this case, the "capitalist elites") to legitimize their rule through the church, when it becomes an instrument of these elites (i.e., the rich) to oppress the poor, when it becomes the servant of the state rather than the servant of heaven - IT HAS BECOME APOSTATE. That is what apostasy is all about! - AT LEAST IN THE FIRST INSTANCE!!. That's where, as we indicated earlier, it all begins! The false doctrine that inevitably follows this condition of things - i.e., apostasy - is made necessary to mold the church to its new reality as a servant to the rich rather than to the poor; as a servant to the elites rather than to the downtrodden; as a servant to the state rather than to the kingdom of heaven. After all, as we suggested early on, what do the elites want with true Christianity, a Christianity whose Originator says:
"LAY NOT UP FOR YOURSELVES TREASURES UPON THE EARTH ..." (Matt. 6:19) ?
Or what good is a religion to the elites that would tell the rich -
"... If thou wilt be perfect, GO SELL (ALL) THAT THOU HAST, AND GIVE IT TO THE POOR ..." (Matt. 19:21) ?
And finally, what do the elites want with a religion that says -
"... LOVE YOUR ENEMIES, DO GOOD TO THEM WHICH HATE YOU, "Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you." (Luke 6:27-28) ?
No! - such verses must be "RE-INTERPRETED!" - and it is this "reinterpretation" of the Scriptures that leads to apostasy. We repeat: THAT'S WHERE APOSTASY BEGINS!! - as an effort to make the Scriptures conform to the church's "new" role of legitimizing state power, and validating the rich in their suppression of the poor.
Christianity as a partner of the elites! - of course, this is nothing new insofar as American Christianity is concerned. It has been sponsored in America's "CLIENT-STATE" system for a very long time by such groups as the Rockefeller Foundation, Swift and Co., the Olin Foundation, Occidental Oil, etc., AND THE RESULT TO TRUE CHRISTIANITY - TO THE CHRISTIANITY OF THE HUMBLE CARPENTER OF NAZARETH [of whom the Bible spoke: "Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head" (Luke 9:58)] - HAS BEEN DISASTROUS!!
Take, for example, the way the Wycliffe Bible Translators have allowed themselves to be used by the corporate elites and the CIA in America's system of South American "CLIENT STATES" as "pamphleteers," as "information gatherers," and as "fronts" for the CIA. And then there's the way that Christian missionaries allowed themselves to be used as "toadies" by the Calero brothers, Enrique Bermudez, Oliver North, Elliot Abrams, etc. in Reagan's Contra War - an effort that totally duped people like Pat Robertson, Tim LaHaye, and such "Seed Faith" luminaries as Larry Lea, Cubie Ward, Phil Derstein (who is closely associated with Oral Roberts) and various others of that ilk - people who could with Paralife evangelist John Steer (who spent a short time as a pastor to Salvadoran government soldiers and "Death Squad" functionaries) make the bizarre and hideous statement that -
"Killing for the joy of it is wrong, but killing ... against an anti-Christ system ... (is) not only right but the duty of every Christian."
This is the "stuff" that turns countless numbers of the poor off to Christianity! But these kinds of repugnant statements - statements that support murder and slaughter in the name of Christ - are what inevitably follow in the wake of the church's partnership with the elites. This is what happens when the elites partner with the church in order to legitimize their rule as "from God."
The "Scripture-twisting" that is necessary to justify the Christianity of a John Steer, or the Calero brothers, or Enrique Bermudez, or Oliver North, or Cubie Ward, or Phil Derstein, etc. is beyond being grotesque.
AND NOW THIS HATEFUL PARTNERSHIP BETWEEN RELIGION (i.e., Christianity) AND POLITICS IS BEGINNING TO INSINUATE ITSELF INTO THE UNITED STATES - and just as "TERRORIST-STATE" activity was carried out in the name of "right religion" in America's system of "CLIENT-STATES," so also is it being carried out now in this country under the same name.
And while the "cover story" that is being used to justify the elite's terrorist activity is not the "war against communism," but rather the "WAR ON DRUGS," it's still the same thing. Different names; but the script and players remain the same! - a war carried on by the elites using the church as a "cover" against the poor.
The rich have declared war on the poor, AND EVANGELICAL CHRISTIANS ARE IN GRAVE DANGER OF FINDING THEMSELVES ON THE WRONG SIDE OF THIS CONFLICT, just as they have been on the wrong side in America's system of CLIENT-STATES" - and there are grave implications in all this for the Gospel. After all, it's NOT the rich who are open to the Gospel (though they often make a pretense of being so), it's the poor, or do we think that the Bible says in vain,
"... NOT many wise men after the flesh, NOT many mighty, NOT many noble, are called:
"But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;
"And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are ..." (1 Cor. 1:26-28) ?
Listen! I tell you the truth; bear this carefully in mind! Wherever the church makes common cause with the elites and with the state, apostasy is not far behind! The question, then, that begs to be answered is this: what's that say about the alliance between today's evangelical church and the "Establishment Wing" of the Republican Party? It means that those who involve themselves in this alliance may someday be declared APOSTATES by Him to Whom we must all someday give an account.
Until then, God bless you all!
S. R. Shearer