[This is a two part series; part 1 - "Colombia: America's New Vietnam" - deals with what's happening in Colombia, how we got there, Colombia's place in America's "New World Order" System, and finally the evangelical community's involvement in what's been happening there; part 2 deals with the spread of the "New World Order" System northward into the United States.]
[Information for much of this report was derived from Thy Will Be Done by Gerald Colby and Charolette Dennett; in addition, information from World Orders Old and New and The Washington Connection by Noam Chomsky; finally, we want to thank Sean Mayfield for his invaluable research.]
"Woe unto you that are rich! for ye have received your consolation.
"Woe unto you that are full! for ye shall hunger. Woe unto you that laugh now! for ye shall mourn and weep.
"Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! for so did their fathers to the false prophets." (Luke 6:24-26)
According to U.S. press reports, only about 200 U.S. military personnel are stationed in Colombia to "train" Colombian troops, operate surveillance equipment and carry out other missions; but according to reports out of Buenos Aires, there are now actually thousands and thousands of U.S. military personnel in Colombia. Many are acting outside of normal U.S. army channels and are, thus, not counted as "regular" army personnel (i.e., "civilians" under military contract; U.S. trained military personnel "temporarily" detached from the military and acting under separate contract to the CIA, DOD, the American Embassy, etc.).
But the employment of military personnel under "private" contract in Colombia is nothing more than a purposeful ruse designed to hide from the American public how heavily involved the United States is in that troubled country - a subterfuge that the American government successfully perpetrated on the American public initially in Croatia and then in Bosnia and Kosovo prior to the government's massive commitment of regular troops in these regions. [Please see "The Croatian Offensive: Too Much of a Good Thing?" by Walter Russell Mead in the Los Angeles Times, Sunday, August 13, 1995; Home Edition Section: Opinion Piece, Page: M-1.]
As we indicated in Part I to this series, "Colombia: America's New Vietnam," what's going on in Colombia is important because the "insurrection" (actually, a popular uprising that is widely supported by the Colombian people) that has taken hold there threatens America's "New World Order" dreams throughout Latin America. The truth is, America's presence in Colombia has very little to do with the "War on Drugs" and everything to do with America's effort to shore up its "New World Order" structure in Latin America, and the proof of this lies in the fact that the Colombian elites that the U.S. is allied with are far more closely tied to the drug trade than are the guerrillas.
Underlying the five-decade-old conflict in Colombia are conditions of gross social inequality and a ceaseless struggle between landless peasants and Colombia's ruling oligarchy. According to the Inter-American Development Bank, the gap between the rich and poor in Colombia, as throughout all of Latin America, is the highest in the world. In the countryside 48 percent of the land is owned by wealthy absentee landlords whose land is tied closely to U.S. business interests (coffee plantations connected to Maxwell, Hills Brothers, Starbucks, etc.; oil and gas interests linked to Occidental Oil, Texaco, etc.; cattle ranching linked to Swift and Company, ad nauseum). These landlords make up just 1.3 percent of the population. On the other hand, poor peasants, who comprise 63 percent of the population, own less than 5 percent of the land.
Needless to say, the rise of coca cultivation and the drug cartels have only deepened the profound social and economic divisions that the country suffers under - and the contention that the peasants benefit in any real way from the cultivation of coca is ridiculous. The cocaine economy of Colombia is not tied to the peasants, but to the elites in Colombia. The fact is, the narcotics trade deeply permeates the Colombian upper class and has led to widespread government corruption and complicity in the drug trade - with much of the profits from this trade being laundered back into the U.S. economy through the active collusion of U.S. corporations and banks doing business there.
On the other hand, the abused and oppressed people of Colombia are the victims of this setup. The "regular" economy of Colombia that serves the peasants and the urban poor (as opposed to the rich) is in a severe depression - the worst since the 1930s Depression, according to some accounts. Over 20 percent of the work force is officially unemployed (the real rate of unemployment is closer to 40 percent. According to Z Magazine, "Between 1990 and 1994, the number of Colombians living in abject poverty has increased by one million, to include about half of Colombia's population of 33 million people.
It's not without reason, therefore, that we can say that the American presence in Colombia has little to do with the drug trade and everything to do with saving America's investment in Colombia from the anger of Colombia's poor who are fed up by the ceaseless exploitation of their country by America's multinationals (Occidental Oil with whom Al Gore is heavily invested; Texaco with whom many of George Bush's cohorts are heavily invested, Swift and Company, Starbucks, etc.).
The reality of the matter is, it is nothing short of ludicrous for the American elites to portray themselves as champions of the "anti-drug" effort in Colombia. These are the same elites that allied themselves with the Kosovo Liberation Army when it suited their purposes in Kosovo (please see our article, "A Story Concerning The Drug Lords The United States Has Allied Itself With In Kosovo") - a movement whose connections with the European narcotics trade have been well documented; the same elites that used heroin money from the Golden Triangle in Southeast Asia to run their secret war in Laos in the 1970s; the same elites that backed the pro-U.S. forces in Afghanistan in the 1980s who were also deeply involved in the heroin trade; the same elites that were behind the Nicaraguan Contras who financed their reactionary activities in part through cocaine traffic into U.S. cities. Now, in Colombia, Peru and other countries of the region, the U.S. is using their "war on drugs" as a cover for counter-insurgency - it would be laughable if it wasn't so tragic.
It seems that Washington has a rather convenient and very flexible approach to the issue of drug-trafficking. When it is used to finance movements whose aims correspond with US strategic interests, it is either ignored or actively abetted; but when it is used to finance movements whose aims conflict with U.S. strategic interests, it is used as a cover for intervention.
The sad reality is, in Colombia the "War on Drugs" is nothing more than a convenient excuse for the American elites to hide behind as they viciously tighten their control on the country in the interests of their "New World Order."
What frightens the elites is not that Colombian drugs might reach America's youth, but that the Colombian guerrilla movements might spread to other countries - especially Brazil, Ecuador, Venezuela, Peru and Panama, AND FROM THERE NORTHWARD INTO MEXICO (and maybe, in the end, into the United States).
Indeed, if one counts the Zapatista Revolution in Chiapas, one can say it has already arrived in Mexico. What all this says is that "common people" throughout the Western Hemisphere have begun to take up arms in an effort to resist America's New World Order" schemes! - unfortunately, one might ask, to what avail? In the end, maybe none!
As the pathology which is driving this process evolves and becomes ever more brutal and vile, all that may happen is that the "New World Order" system will be imposed on average people in the Americas in a much more bloody and ruthless fashion than otherwise would have been the case!
In this regard, one needs to be very clear as to the character of today's elites. The Bible says that Man is desperately wicked [that's what Jeremiah 17:9 says: "The heart (of man) is deceitful ABOVE ALL things, and DESPERATELY wicked: who can know it?"] and when that propensity towards corruption is mixed with money and the power that money can buy, it's capacity for evil is magnified thousands and thousands of times over - producing in its wake the Rockefellers, the Mellons, the Milbanks, and the Scaifs of this world - the kind of people who led Honore de Balzac to lament,
"Behind every great fortune there lies a great crime."
These (i.e., the moneyed elites) are people who HURT other people; the kind that "drown men in destruction ..." (1 Tim. 6:9); who "... walk after the flesh ... and despise government" (i.e., who despise being told what to do, though they revel in the fact that they are able to tell others what to do); "... presumptuous are they, selfwilled, they are not afraid to speak evil of ... (divine things)" (2 Pet. 2:10); "they are wells without water, clouds that carry themselves around as if in a tempest ..." (2 Pet. 2:17); "... they speak great swelling words of vanity ... (and) allure (disciples to themselves) through the lusts of the flesh" (2 Pet. 2:18); they are "... raging waves of the sea ... wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever." (Jude 1:13).
Most Americans, of course, have little or no idea of how far advanced America's "New World Order" schemes for Latin America (and ultimately the United States) are; but they are already very highly evolved. At a series of closed-door meetings over the past several years, leaders from 34 countries of the Western Hemisphere have been negotiating a Free Trade Agreement of the Americas (FTAA). What this agreement amounts to is an expansion of NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) along with its "New World Order" implications involving the subjugation of the great majority of the people of the Americas to a kind of "worker-serf" status - AND ONE NEEDS TO BE PERFECTLY CLEAR HERE THAT THIS CONDITION OF THINGS IS MEANT TO BE IMPOSED NOT JUST ON THE CITIZENS OF LATIN AMERICA, BUT ALSO ON THE VAST BULK OF U.S. INHABITANTS AS WELL. The elites do not hold average Americans in any special regard in these matters. Insofar as the elites are concerned, serfs are serfs - whether Mexicans, Brazilians, Colombians, or U.S. citizens.
Carlos Beas Torres, the director of the "Union of Indigenous Communities of the Northern Zone of the Isthmus" (UCIZONI) says that the FTAA negotiators estimate that by 2005 all of the countries of the Americas - except Cuba - will be economically integrated. Torres sees the FTAA as a part of the larger globalization process that is at work in the world today. The first step of this process was the development of "structural adjustment policies" by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) - which essentially has meant the elaboration of a "free trade" regime which allowed for the free flow of investments and goods in and out of the nations of the world. Insofar as Latin America is concerned, what this has meant is that U.S. multinationals have been allowed to buy up indigenous corporations and businesses in that part of the world and integrate them into their own conglomerates, subjugating economic activity throughout the region to the interests of U.S. corporations.
In some countries - Venezuela, for example - this process has been extremely aggressive. Included in this process has been the privatization of public businesses that provide services, like electricity, water, and telephones at reasonable rates to the people. Privatization of these utilities has meant astronomical rate hikes which has placed access to these very necessary utilities out of the reach of average people in Latin America - and this is precisely what is happening in San Diego (and California), even today, as such policies are pushed in the United States by the very same companies that are pushing this process in Latin America. In addition, it has also meant the privatization of strategic industries like telecommunications, petroleum, and mining. In the process, the great majority of the people who are being impacted by all this are being reduced to poverty and forms of very penurious servitude as employment dries up under the impress of IMF policies, and as social programs that had served their needs are ended, while the wealthy are being enriched in ways never before imagined by the mind of man - AND THIS PROCESS IS ADVANCING INEXORABLY NORTHWARD TOWARDS THE UNITED STATES, AND IS THREATENING TO ENGULF AVERAGE CITIZENS IN THIS COUNTRY AS WELL!
The elites, of course, would have people believe that what this process is aiming at is efficiency - i.e., that publicly controlled businesses and indigenous corporations are inefficient, and privatization of public enterprises and control of private local businesses by U.S. multinationals means - in the long run - more productivity and lower prices. But that's not at all what the U.S. multinationals are aiming at. What they are really aiming at is PROFIT - profit not for the benefit of average people, but for the elites the multinationals ultimately serve. And if anyone thinks differently, I have a bridge I would like to sell them in Brooklyn.
Take, for example, what's been happening to agriculture in Latin America under the impress of agribusiness giants like Cargill, Archer Daniels Midland, and ConAgra. What it has meant is the introduction of "plantation farming" techniques throughout Latin America aimed at the production of export commodities for the U.S., European, and Japanese markets. Now what do we mean by "plantation farming" techniques? We mean the agricultural methodologies pioneered by the "Planter Aristocracy" of the "Old South" (the Anti-Bellum South) under its system of "black slave labor."
You're surprised? Well, you might be interested to know that - contrary to the belief of most Americans - the slave system was NOT at all the inefficient, unwieldy system that it has been painted to be by most histories, but was instead a highly effective and very efficient system of farming aimed initially at the production of export commodities and which was by the 1850s being successfully expanded to include the production of "foodstuffs" aimed at the domestic market. And this was so much the case that a civil war prosecuted mainly at the instigation of Northern farmers (which constituted more than 80 percent of the population of the North at the time) was waged in the 1860s to prevent its expansion into the North. Northern farmers realized that, in the end, there was simply no way that they could compete against the South's system of "plantation farming" - especially as that type of farming was being expanded to include the production of "foodstuffs."
One must realize that, in the end, what slavery is all about is "cheap labor" - the cheapest form of labor possible. What it aims at is the maximizing of profits to the investor class - in this case, the "Planter Aristocracy." Do the math, as Ross Perot warned American workers concerning NAFTA: when a Mexican laborer can do the same work as an American laborer for one-fifth the price, the American laborer is going to lose out. The same thing was true insofar as the Northern farmer was concerned vis a vis the "black slave." There was simply no way that the Northern farmer could compete successfully against slave labor, no more than American labor can compete successfully against cheap Mexican labor
That's what "black slavery" was all about: one "black slave" doing the work on forty acres of land at a fraction of the cost of what it would take for a family farmer (with his wife and kids) to do the same amount of work on the same piece of land. All that was needed was for the Planter Aristocrat to provide the black slave a hut to sleep in, rags to wear, and gruel to eat - while the family farmer required the approximation of a genuine house, decent clothes, decent food, etc. Even when the cost of armed thugs was added to keep the slaves in line, there still was no way for the Northern farmer to compete in such a system - and it's not too much to say that what the Northern farmer was doing in fighting the introduction of "black slavery" into the North was nothing more than what people are doing today in Chiapas and in the jungles of Colombia to prevent Cargill, ConAgra, and Archer Daniels Midland from introducing their forms of "plantation farming" (or "plantation industry") there.
Ultimately, what the system of "plantation farming" does is drive "family farmers" off the land in droves and into a "Never-Never" land where they exist in destitution and poverty as castoffs from the labor force. And this is exactly what had happened to the small, independent farmer in the South; by the time the Civil War was fought, average white Southerners had become nothing more than a "throw away" portion of the work force, people who had - if they couldn't find jobs as "managers" on the slave plantations in the Old South or work in the towns as artisans and / or "middle-men" - been reduced to indigence and penury, a status which in some instances was not that much better economically (if not socially) than the status of "black slaves." Northern farmers in Iowa, Ohio, Illinois, etc. wanted nothing to do with that - and they constituted the main force behind the Great Compromise of 1850 (which prohibited the introduction of the slave system beyond Texas and Arkansas), and finally, the Civil War.
The great genius of the "Planter Aristocracy" in all this, however, was that through the mechanism of RACISM and the resultant demonization of the blacks [something which all elites attempt to do to justify the treatment of their workers (i.e., the Egyptians vis a vis the Jews at the time of the Exodus; the Germans vis a vis the Poles; the Russians vis a vis the Khazakstanis; the Tutsis vis a vis the Hutus, ad nauseum)], they managed to secure the support of average whites in the South during the Civil War. RACISM was the means through which they secured this support. Divide and conquer their subalterns and underlings (which is what they considered both average white Southerners and "black slaves" to be), and turn them against each other. And in all of this, they never failed to use the Bible to help things along. [The "planter Aristocrats" were a very religious lot of "Bible thumpers" - far more religious than their counterparts in the North where early forms of "New Age" thinking were already taking root under the intellectual impress of Emerson and Thoreau.] AND THINGS HAVEN'T CHANGED ALL THAT MUCH SINCE THEN" - the elites are still using Christians to do their dirty work for them.
What all this (i.e., the impress of "plantation farming" and other "New World Order" schemes designed to turn average people into "worker-serfs" in the employ of the elite's multinational corporations) does is evoke memories of an especially dismal period in the past that corresponded to the first stirrings of the Industrial Revolution and the creation of a particularly dreary and gloomy economic order that I call the "Malthusian System," a system immortalized in Charles Dickens' book, Oliver Twist.
The world, Thomas Malthus and David Ricardo (the authors of this cheerless and stark system of "labor management") explained, is divided between the "haves" and the "have nots" - i.e., the rich and the poor; the capitalists and the laborers. It is a severe and cold "Calvinistic" world based on efficiency and ability in which the most productive rise to the top of the economic pecking order and the least productive fall to the bottom; in other words, a world where the rich have gotten where they are because they are BETTER than anyone else, and the poor have gotten where they are because they aren't. It's interesting to note in this connection that both Malthus and Ricardo considered themselves to be Christians. They believed that their new "Economic Science" was based on unchangeable Biblical principles. It's doubtful, however, that either man had anything but a nodding acquaintance with the Bible, and most certainly not Matt. 19:23 (i.e., "... a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven"); or Mark 10:25 (i.e., "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God"); or 1 Tim. 6:9 (i.e., "... they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition").
The heartlessly philosophical basis for the system that Malthus and Ricardo devised was coldly explained by Adam Smith who said,
"The people who own the country ought to govern it."
Smith continued by insisting that - in order to insure the smooth functioning of Malthus's and Ricardo's economic system - it was incumbent on the rich to use state power to insure that their interests "will be most peculiarly attended to," whatever the effects on others. Their (i.e., the rich's) minions meanwhile were to cloak what their masters were really up to (which was the maximizing of profits to themselves at the expense of their workers and the public in general) in the guise of "benevolence" and "harmony," laboring all the while to keep the "ignorant and meddlesome rabble" in their place, far removed from the arenas where real decisions are made.
In the main, this consisted of granting the rabble a periodic choice between the rich's representatives, which insured that - in the end - there was little danger that there would be much deviation from the desires of the wealthy, especially given the constraints imposed on state policy by concentrated wealth. [This is, of course, what the election between Bush and Gore is all about; any chance that the electorate would be granted a meaningful choice insofar as the "New World Order" aspirations of the rich are concerned was effectively destroyed when Buchanan and Nader were excluded from the presidential debates.]
It goes without saying that there is very little room in the economic system that the rich subscribe to for any kind of "mushy sentimentality" and "sloppy charity" insofar as the poor are concerned. Indeed, the "Economic Science" that the rich promote allegedly proves that the poor "can only be harmed by efforts to help them" - a fact, Ricardo and Malthus declare, which "possesses the certainty of gravity." According to Ricardo, someone who lacks independent wealth "has no claim to even the SMALLEST portion of food," and, in fact, has no business to be where he is apart from what his offer of labor (the last thing a poor man has left to give) will bring in the marketplace.
The "Economic Science" of the elites holds that that all efforts to lead the poor into believing that they have rights beyond what the owners of capital are willing to grant them are "great evils" and violations of "natural law." It is simple enough: the poor lack "independent wealth" because of their own sluggish inertia and indolence. The fact that they are poor proves that they are indolent, and they are obviously indolent because they are poor - the one proves the other in a kind of absurd circular logic.
This kind of thinking, naturally enough, leads to a less than compassionate view of the destitute, a view - as Karl Polanyi observes in his classic study of Malthus - which when taken to its logical extreme, values the utility of a poor man's life only in his ability to labor at the behest of the rich; and should he no longer be able to do so, he should make room for others by "getting on with it and dying."
By the 1830s, Malthus and Ricardo's "Economic Science" was becoming established in a legal code which regarded the poor as a blight on the human condition. What was needed for the poor who couldn't find work was not charity, but the discipline of a workhouse-prison. Polanyi writes,
"Never perhaps in all modern history has a more ruthless act of social reform (i.e., the legislation that legalized the economic system that Malthus and Ricardo advocated) been perpetrated; it crushed multitudes of lives while merely pretending to provide relief in the creation of the "workhouse-prison."
The miserable and cruel "end-result" of this kind of thinking manifested itself in the 1830s in Ireland, which had been subjected by the English a century earlier. After the English conquest, Parliament instituted a number of agricultural reforms which were meant to establish Ireland as the "breadbasket" for England. Ireland's utility to the Industrial Revolution - which had taken hold on England and forced the English peasantry off the land and into the new industrial work force - was to pick up the slack in the agricultural sector left by this development, and provide the food that England's new factory-based work force needed if it was to continue laboring in England's new industrial economy - after all, even Malthus and Ricardo recognized that laborers needed food to work.
In order to further this end, agribusiness farming techniques which utilized vast amounts of land and a highly transient agricultural work force were introduced into Ireland. As a result, Ireland's peasants were forced off their individual farms (actually, land which the old Irish aristocracy had allotted to the peasants to "share crop") and into mobile agricultural work gangs not unlike the ones John Steinbeck described one century later in his novel, Grapes of Wrath - a book which depicted the harsh, heart-rending economic conditions the "Oakies" and "Arkies" faced in California in the 1930s [the same conditions migrant farm workers (mostly "illegal" Mexicans) face there even today].
The purpose of these reforms was to streamline Ireland's ability to produce food for export to England. Ireland's surplus population which resulted from these reforms was pushed into the unproductive lands of Western Ireland where they were reduced to growing potatoes on small patches of ground to sustain themselves.
In the mid 1830s a blight hit Ireland's potatoes and resulted in the great "Potato Famine" of that era - a famine which killed off almost half of Ireland's population. What most people do not realize about this famine, however, is that during the entire period of the famine itself (1835-1838), Ireland, under it's new "plantation economy" - an economic system which approximated the "plantation economy" of the Old South - continued to ship an abundant supply of food to England. It's interesting to note in this connection too that it was no accident that Ireland's new economy resembled the economy of the Old South. It did so because it had been copied "chapter and verse" from the slave economy of the Ante-Bellum South by English Malthusians who had come to deeply admire its "agricultural efficiencies" - the sole exception being that the term "slave" was assiduously avoided in connection with the "white" Irish, and the term "agricultural laborer" was substituted in its place.
So horrendous did conditions in Ireland become during the famine, that a "peasant rebellion" soon became a very real possibility - a possibility that was avoided only by the ruthless and harsh suppression of the Irish peasantry by the English army coupled with the eventual establishment of a form of degrading and humiliating "workfare," the conception of which eerily parallels the philosophical concepts that lie behind today's "welfare reforms" in this country - a system which allegedly substitutes work for "handouts."
Starving Irish peasants (many of whom were at the point of death) were set to work sixteen hours a day building roads in Ireland. They were paid in food (a soupy potato gruel) which was dispensed to them twice a day by "food wagons" which followed the Irish work gangs as they labored on the roads. The English Lords steadfastly refused to countenance any kind of outright charity to the starving Irish - even to save lives. They considered such aid to be tantamount to a rejection of "natural law" and "biblical precept" - and, again, in all of this one needs to be reminded that the misery the Irish labored under during this period was not a misery that had been foisted upon them by "rotten luck" or their own laziness (they had always been a hardworking peasantry), but the machinations of a greedy economic system bent on reducing poor people to cogs in an agricultural system aimed at sustaining the English Industrial Revolution. All the potato blight did was increase the misery.
Moreover, one should not think that the English peasantry was treated much better than the Irish peasantry. It was not! This was not so much an "English / Irish thing" (as it has come to be portrayed in the history books - a great and merciful convenience insofar as the rich are concerned) as it was a "rich man / poor man thing." Average Englishmen fared no better as laborers in their "masters" industrial factories than did Irish agricultural workers - the only difference was that there was no potato blight in England. In the end, only the rich benefited from all this misery.
And where was the Protestant church in all this? - firmly on the side of the English Lords, and so much so that Irish peasants - who had begun to embrace Protestant Christianity - turned from it in UTTER disgust NEVER to embrace it again.
Sadly, this is a history that has been repeated over and over again in the record of the church - this is what YWAM is doing even now in Asia (more on YWAM in upcoming issues); this is what Wycliffe has been doing in Central and South America; this is what the Protestant missionaries did in Africa (and particularly South Africa). And then Christians wonder why the poor embrace atheistic communism. The reason is simple! - to the poor, Christianity seems to be a rich man's religion - and this despite the fact that the Bible says of Jesus,
"... 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)
Someday there will be a reckoning, and "Christians" who hold such views and have had a stingy heart (and even attitude) with regard to God's servants and the poor in their midst will have to explain it all to Christ. And be clear here, there are no "ifs," "ands" or "buts" with regard to this matter - the Bible is very explicit as to the nature of this future reckoning:
"Then shall he (i.e., Christ) say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:
"For I was an hungered, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink:
"I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.
"Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungered, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?
"Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.
"And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal. (Matt. 25:41-46)
It is precisely this system - the Malthusian system - that the elites are attempting to re-introduce into the world as a governing principle in their concept of a "New World Order." Professor Noam Chomsky of MIT writes:
"This history has, in fact, been relived over and over. There is little that is new in neoliberal programs, trickle-down theories, and the rest of the doctrinal baggage that serves the interests of privilege and power. The ideology of oppression may differ in form when applied to Third World service areas and domestic populations, but similarities are apparent and current enthusiasm are hardly more than a recapitulation, often sordid, of earlier devices to justify the privilege of those who hold the reins. As in the early nineteenth century (i.e., the era of Malthus and Ricardo), we are now once more to understand that it is a violation of natural liberty and even science to deceive people into thinking that they have some rights beyond what they can gain by selling their labor. Any effort to depart from such right thinking leads directly to the Gulag (i.e., communism), leading thinkers soberly explain.
Chomsky warns that what it's all leading to is armed resistance - not only in Latin America, but in growing population centers in the United States as well:
"The present era is highly reminiscent of the moments of enthusiasm before the unseemly noises of the rabble had become too threatening to overlook, a fact that carries lessons that are not too obscure. Amidst an atmosphere of general dismay and fear, there are also signs of (armed) resistance, taking varied forms. Compare two cases: the 1992 riots in south-central Los Angeles, and the Mayan uprising in Chiapas, Mexico, on January 1, 1994. In both cases, the uprisings reflected the increasing marginalization of people who do not contribute to profit-making under prevailing institutional arrangements, and therefore lack human rights or value. People who live in the slums of Los Angeles once had jobs, in part in the state sector that plays a critical role in the 'free market capitalist' society, in part in factories that have been shifted to places where labor can be more savagely exploited and destruction of the environment can proceed unhampered. By absolute measures, they (i.e., the poor people of Los Angeles) are considerably wealthier than the Mayans of Chiapas, who recognize that what remains of their lives faces destruction as the investor rights agreements (NAFTA, GATT) extend their sway. But the Los Angeles riots proceeded quite differently from the Chiapas rebellion.
"The contrast reflects the difference between communities that have become demoralized and devastated by external forces (i.e., the poor in Los Angeles who have been ravaged by the drug epidemic and who have lost their inner cohesion as a result of it and the harsh police measures that have been directed against them as a result) and others (i.e., the Mayans) that have retained their inner cohesion and vitality (because they have not yet been wasted by the drug epidemic). The specific problems that lie ahead are quite different; the crying need for solidarity and constructive participation could hardly be more clear, in the face of the 'global experiment' now underway."
"The 'global experiment' that is now underway!" - that's the way Chmosky describes what's going on. And make no mistake about it, Chomsky sees this experiment as an evil and malicious thing. And despite growing resistance to it in both North America and South America, and despite the defeat of so-called "fast-track" legislation which the elites used to get NAFTA through a reluctant Congress and impose it on the people of the United States - all in the face of polls which showed that better than sixty percent of the population was against it - it continues by means of subterfuge and deception to expand its reach throughout the Americas.
Mexico is the means through which the U.S. elites are skirting resistance to their "New World Order" plans for the Americas. First, the elites have "bought up" the Mexican government (PAN is as much in the pocket of the American elites as was the old PRI). Then, secondly, they have pressed Mexico to form "free trade" areas of their own with those portions of Latin America that have for now been left out of NAFTA. Then, thirdly, American multinationals have set about buying up every business that's available to be bought in Mexico. Finally, they are turning these businesses into "fronts" and conduits through which goods and services from other parts of Latin America that are not part of NAFTA can be funneled into the United States as if they were Mexican products.
As a result, the presence of Mexican businesses is exploding throughout Latin America. For example, a Mexican bread business is displacing local bakeries in Colombia. Mexico's cement company, CEMEX - the third largest cement producer in the world - completely displaced Venezuela's cement company. The big Mexican construction companies are aggressively seeking markets in Central and South America, increasing the asymmetrical relations between Mexico and other Latin American countries - the examples here are too numerous to mention, and in doing so, Carlos Beas Torres says that,
"... Mexico is acting as an instrument of the United States to move the FTAA (Free Trade Agreement of the Americas) forward."
"For more than a decade, the Mexican government has operated on behalf of the United States in Latin America. This role has increased since the December 1994 crisis, when the Clinton government rescued [Mexican President] Zedillo's government from Mexico's economic crisis. Our government (i.e., the Mexican government) didn't only mortgage the petroleum industry (to the interests of the American elites), it also promised to increase its role as an operator of U.S. interests.
As a result of all this, Torres says,
"What;' going on is the 'recolonization' of Mexico. In the context of globalization this is a deliberate policy ... (a policy) to give control of our natural resources and our land (here in Mexico) to large (U.S.) corporations [especially in the agricultural sector (i.e., ConAgra, Archer Daniels Midland, Cargill, etc.)] ... Because of this, large sectors of the (Mexican) population are deprived of even the basic capacity to sustain themselves [in other words, the same process which occurred in Ireland in the 1830s is now at work in Mexico, and just as that process then displaced countless numbers of Irish peasant farmers, it is now doing the same in Mexico, making them nothing more than a "surplus" population].
"Right now, the rural sector is the most deeply affected ... This has led to increased poverty and out-migration (of the peasants from rural areas to urban areas as large U.S. agribusinesses buy up farms, combine them in giant agribusiness conglomerates, and introduce "plantation farming" techniques for the production of commodities aimed at U.S., European and Japanese markets). As a result, there is intense immigration to the largest cities in Latin America: Sao Paulo, Buenos Aires, Santiago, Mexico City, Guatemala City, Bogota ... This is occurring not just in Mexico, but in every country in Latin America."
Naturally, there is a good deal of resistance to all this throughout Latin America, but most especially in Colombia - and so much so that the guerrilla movement in that beleaguered country now forms the nexus for much of the resistance that has taken form against America's "New World Order" schemes in that part of the globe. They (i.e., the guerrillas) now control almost half of Colombia, and their movement has now spilled over into eastern Ecuador, northern Brazil, and western Venezuela where it enjoys much popular support. Indeed, ten towns in Ecuador near the Colombian border have - in elections that most independent observers have called "fair" - elected socialist mayors with strong ties to the guerrilla movements - and this sends shivers down the backs of most American planners because it reveals at least to some extent how popular the guerrilla movement is with ordinary peasants throughout Latin America. ALL THIS HAS CREATED A PANIC INSOFAR AS THE ELITES ARE CONCERNED, AND HAS LED IRRESISTIBLY TO THE USE BY THE ELITES OF DEATH SQUADS.
Death squad activity, as a result, has been spreading exponentially in Colombia. The targets of this activity, naturally enough, have been the "common" people of Colombia - the peasants and the urban poor. Most of the death squad activity has been connected to the central army, and to the private militias of the coffee producers and other big landowners, all of which work hand in glove to commit atrocities against the people. The NACLA Report on the Americas (March/April 1998) describes one paramilitary action in July 1997. The report reads:
"Over 100 heavily armed men in military attire occupied the town of Mapiripan, in Meta, for six days, killing some 30 local residents and virtually emptying the town as people fled in fear. According to Bogota weekly Cambio 16, the paramilitaries (i.e., the death squad members) first flew into the small San Jose del Guaviare airport, which does double-duty as the antinarcotics base, before going on to Meta. The installation, which is under the control of the Colombian army, is home to U.S. civilian pilots and other U.S. personnel (all under private contract to the DOD and / or the CIA). According to police chief General Rosso Jose Serrano, the U.S. embassy's narcotics assistance section representative was at the base on the day the paramilitaries touched ground."
So much for the contention that the U.S. is not complicit in death squad activity in Colombia - unless one is prepared to believe that all the killing, rape, and torture at Mapiripan could be carried on without the Americans knowing about it and putting a stop to it. The thought is absurd!!
Still, despite the efforts of the death squads, the insurgency continues to spread and now constitutes Latin America's longest running armed struggle. As a result, the United States government has come to the realization that it can no longer rely solely on the Colombian military or peace negotiations to end the threat. In the final analysis, it will have to rely on its own military forces. The fact is, General Charles Wilhelm, Chief of the U.S. Southern Command, says that the Colombian guerrillas are now "out of control" and pose a very real threat to the four other bordering countries: Venezuela, Brazil, Ecuador and Peru.
Gen. Manuel Bonett, the commander-in-chief of the Colombian armed forces, agrees. He says,
"There are more deaths here in one month than in the Gulf War and more battles than in Vietnam."
Bonett added that his forces would now be willing to accept any US aid, including "atomic bombs."
No doubt, the process which is leading towards open conflict involving U.S. troops is a complicated one - it may heat up or cool down at any given time, the participants may vary, some compromises might be reached here or there, etc. - nonetheless, its trend is inexorably towards the open involvement of U.S. troops, and the fact is, the U.S. elites have no illusions about this. While they play the negotiations game, they are preparing militarily. Indeed, FARC's Jorge Brice accuses the U.S. of actually preparing to invade Colombia.
The U.S. denies it, yet recently the United States proposed to the OAS (Organization of American States) the creation of a "group of friendly countries to intervene in internal conflicts threatening democracy in Latin American countries." To this end, the United States has called for the creation of a joint military command for U.S., Mexican and Canadian military forces (in other words, the military forces of NAFTA) to "coordinate military action on terrorism, insurgency, security threats and drug trafficking" in the Americas. Speaking for the US Army War College, Lt. Col. Joseph Nuez said,
"If the Free Trade Area of the Americas becomes reality, the combined military command would stretch from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego."
What all this means, according to FARC spokesman Raul Reyes, is that the U.S. is now preparing for "total war" in Colombia. And it will be a very dirty war indeed. If it begins, it will no doubt spread northward into Mexico where, as we have already indicated, it has already taken hold in Chiapas in southern Mexico. Eventually, it could even reach the United States. And one shouldn't be too quick to dismiss such an eventuality as nonsensical.
To a very large extent, that's what the 1995 bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City which killed 168 people was all about. At the time it happened, most Americans thought it was the work of Islamic terrorists. But in Oklahoma and around the nation, FBI agents were looking across our own oceans of wheat, corn, and barley for their answers. They weren't raiding the homes of Palestinian nationals or people born in Iraq and Iran. Within hours of the blast, they were questioning men and women who had attended meetings on how to stop farm foreclosures which, of course, is the end result of "plantation farming" techniques introduced into the American heartland by Cargill, Archer-Daniels Midland, and ConAgra - the same techniques that are driving Mexican, Colombian, Guatemalan, etc. farmers off their land in Latin America."
While a shocked nation sat glued to its television sets and watched the Oklahoma body count rise, government agents were questioning those who had attended a meeting held at an Oklahoma City motel just two weeks before the explosion. The meeting was advertised as an effort to address the issue of farm foreclosures.
The speed with which the FBI moved to question attendees of the meeting demonstrated that although the victims and the national media had been caught off guard by the bloodbath in Oklahoma, the government had not. The intelligence community had been concerned about a growing internal "security" threat against it connected to its "New World Order" schemes long before the Murrah building became a bombed-out tomb. Agents may not have known who struck the match, but they knew the bomb's fuse had been lit somewhere in the economically devastated landscape of rural America. Moreover, they knew that - as horrible as it was - the Oklahoma City bombing may very well be only the beginning of an unprecedented wave of terror in America. These are the chilling conclusions reached by Joel Dyer in his book, Harvest of Rage. Dyer goes on to explain how big the landscape is that we are talking about here: a band of states that stretches from Mexico to Canada and runs from Eastern Washington in the west to Illinois, Michigan, and Louisiana in the east - essentially America's geographic heartland.
Most Americans, however, are totally oblivious to the reasons which have given rise to rural Americas anger. They dont live there and - for the most part - they dont know anyone who does. The newspapers dont write about it and television doesnt report on it. All that they know is that in one way or another, the bombing in Oklahoma City is attached to "antigovernment activity." Beyond that, urban America hasnt a clue. Moreover, the corporate elites who are responsible for much of the devastation and turmoil thats been going on there - Cargill, Continental, ConAgra, Louis Drefus, Bunge, Carnac, Mitsui/Cook, and Archer Daniels Midland - prefer it that way.
But whats been happening is truly appalling. And more: its outrageous! As a reporter who has spent years investigating the personal and social devastation facing rural Americans, Joel Dyer has documented the tragedy of whats been going on there. Dyer reports that rural America is "collapsing like a black hole, pulling an entire way of life down with it." Dyer writes,
"Norman Rockwells version of rural America is dead ... Whats left in the 90 percent of the landmass that is designated "rural" is massive poverty and despair ... Rural residents are drowning in a tumultuous sea of circumstances beyond their control. The millions of rural Americans still trying to tread water are being pulled under by the callous decisions emanating from corporate boardrooms ... [in distant cities like New York and Chicago (and even Tokyo and London) with very little real connection to the cultural values and mores of rural America and)] they (i.e., rural Americans) have grown angry."
According to Dyer, the pandemonium which companies like Cargill, Con-Agra, Archer Daniels Midland, etc. have unleashed on rural America is similar in almost every respect to the chaos they have unleashed in Colombia and the rest of Latin America. It is responsible for the loss of over 1 million small to medium-sized farms since 1980. Indeed, in one twelve month period in the late 1980s more than 1 million people were forced from their land. In 1996 alone, 10,000 families in Oklahoma (one-sixth of all farm families in the state) lost their farms through bankruptcies and foreclosure. And its not just that; for those who manage to hold on, it often means holding on in grinding, unending poverty and a constant struggle just to meet the day-to-day necessities of life. The fact is, while only 20 to 25 percent (depending on who one counts as "rural") of the U.S. population live in rural areas, 38 percent of all people living in poverty live there. Sixty-seven percent of the nations substandard housing is rural, and 27 percent of the children in rural America are growing up hungry, forced to live in destitution even though the parents of most of them work.
As a result, Dyer believes that a vast revolutionary movement has taken root in Americas heartland which most Americans know very little about - a movement which is, in both its breath and scope, far greater and much more massive than urban Americans have been led to believe, and one which is very similar to the insurrection that has taken hold in Colombia. It hasn't yet reached the level of intensity of the rebellion in Colombia, but it's growing! And it is unalterably committed to overthrowing Americas present government which those in "the movement" see as being dominated by corporate, globalist elites which are committed to destroying rural America economically and culturally.
"Common-law courts, militia groups, anti-tax organizations, and sovereignty groups are springing up in every nook and cranny of the rural landscape."
Ive attended a number of antigovernment meetings in different parts of the country. In many ways, they have become the center of social activity in their respective communities. Meals and casual conversation are often part of the experience. Women gather in the back of the room to talk about children, schools, and recipes ... while the men exchange hunting stories or talk about crops and weather. You would be hard-pressed to tell the difference between one of these meetings and a Kiwanis Club get-together, that is, until the meeting is called to order. Then things get deadly serious."
The antigovernment propensity of the rural activists is being fueled by elements which possess "world views" (Weltanschuungs) that Americas global (and secular) elites are little prepared or even able to understand and/or comprehend - elements which the corporately controlled elite media would like to pass superficially off to the American people as nothing more than "hate-mongers," "know-nothings" - ludites who are vainly trying to stand in the way of modernity and irresistible economic forces.
If that were simply it, there might be something to substantiate the scorn most of the elite media feel for rural Americans - but it isnt! Contrary to what most mainline Americans have been led to believe, the economic forces which are at the root of rural Americas problems are not "natural" ones, or ones which are necessarily even technologically driven, as the global elites would like ordinary Americans to believe. They are instead ones which are largely the creation of the globalists themselves and ones which are being driven by the chaos in Colombia and the rest of Latin America - forces that are NOT aimed at "rationalizing" market forces and/or lowering super-market prices on the food and other commodities they control, but ones which aim at maximizing profits to their own benefit and the detriment of ordinary people.
John Ross of the New York Times agrees. He says that essentially, the economic forces at work in rural America - the ones responsible for all the turmoil, heartache and dislocation in the countrys heartland - are the very same "globalist" forces which Cargill, ConAgra, Louis Drefus, etc. have unleashed on the worlds other agricultural areas. Ross reports that the "plantation-type" of agriculture which Archer Daniels Midland, Cargill, etc. have been introducing into this country over the past two decades which makes peasant farmers in Latin America and "family farmers" in this country compete against cheap labor which often pays less than subsistence wages is spreading everywhere and inciting rebellion.
Dyer explains the pathologies that are at work here:
"Consider the fictional story of farmer Jones, a family farmer trying to make ends meet by growing wheat and raising a few head of cattle and some chickens. This is how his year went. Jones bought his wheat, seed and his cattle and chicken feed from Nutrena Corporation. His old tractor bit the dust last year, so he had to go to the Bank of Ellsworth and get a loan for a new tractor that he bought from Waycrosse, Inc. Jones had another bit of bad luck - his irrigation system fell apart. He called his insurance company, the Horizon Agency, but the agent said it wasnt covered. He had no choice but to buy a new system from Venture Sprinkler, Inc. Jones then bought his fertilizer from Cargill, and his wheat was under way. At harvest time, the prices were low, so Jones decided to hold his crop in storage. He shipped his wheat by rail to the Heinhold Elevator Company. Eventually, Jones sold half of his crop to a Panamanian company called Tradax and the other half to a domestic milling operation owned by the Burrus Company. The Tradax half was shipped on a barge owned by Cargo Carriers, Inc., to a giant port elevator owned by Producer Marketing. A few days later, it was loaded on a ship owned by Rogers Shipping and transported to Europe.
"Meanwhile, Joness animals were ready for market. He sold the cattle to a feedlot owned by Caprock Industries, which later sold them to Cargills meatpacking plant. He sold the chickens to Dean Farms. Unfortunately for farmer Jones, the prices he received were disappointing. By the time he subtracted out the cost of the seed, feed, chemical fertilizer, tractor, sprinkler system, elevator storage, rail transportation, and insurance, hed lost money and couldnt pay the bank, which, therefore, repossessed his land.
"Jones was depressed. He couldnt figure out why the companies wouldnt pay him enough for his products to keep him in business ...
"If we looked at this situation as outsiders, we would probably reach the conclusion that farmer Jones had some bad luck and probably was a poor businessman (exactly what the globalists would like you to believe) ... What we probably wouldnt consider is that farmer Jones (wasnt a poor businessman at all. Hed been cheated). The fifteen different companies in the fifteen different industries (including the bank) to which Jones had paid out money during the year were all owned by one company - CARGILL. And that is the same company that paid him such a low price for his products and eventually repossessed his land. [And one shouldnt assume that the prices Cargill paid to Jones were prices that had simply been determined by "free market forces" on the worlds commodity exchanges; such is the control of the new globalist agricultural giants that the price that is ultimately paid to the farmer are the result largely of "price-fixing" which the government no longer pays much attention, even though there are numerous laws on the book which are supposed to prevent such practices.]
"The very real companies named in the farmer Jones illustration are just a few of the companies in Cargills vertical integration. The company owns many more subsidiaries in still more industries, and Cargill is not unique. The other giants (i.e., Continental, ConAgra, Louis Drefus, Bunge, Carnac, Mitsui/Cook, and Archer Daniels Midland) are equally integrated."
This is whats causing all the unrest, not only insofar as family farmers in this country are concerned, but peasant farmers in Colombia and the rest of Latin America as well. This is what all the fighting is about. It is against this unjust, plantation-type of farming that the Zapatistas have revolted in Mexico, and rural farmers in the United States are fighting - a plantation-type of agriculture which forces family farmers and peasants off their land and leads to their subsequent indenturing to a system of industrial and/or agricultural slavery - in the case of Mexican peasants to companies like Ford, General Electric, General Motors, etc. in the Maquilladora along the border with the United States; and in the case of family farmers in the United States as "subcontractors" ("share-croppers") in the indirect employ of Archer Daniels Midland, ConAgra, Cargill, etc.
"Bill Heffernan, dean of rural psychology at the University of Missouri at Columbia, shared his fears with me about the future of America. Heffernan compared our current rural uprising to several of the countries in South America where he's spent a fair amount of time. He said that unless something is done to stop the decline of rural America, there will come a time in the not-so-distant future when it will no longer be safe for people to move about freely. Heffernan sees a time when just driving across the country will be hazardous. He said that if the decline continues, we could become like other places where the gaps between rich and poor and urban and rural have become so large that people must fly from one city to another, knowing that if they drove through the rural areas they would be stopped by bandits or guerrilla factions composed of economically radicalized people." (Pg. 253, Harvest of Rage)
You might ask, how is this important to me as a Christian? Well, it's important in many ways, but chiefly because it relates to our ability to function as Christians as the "end of the age" draws near - especially insofar as the gospel and the "church-life" are concerned.
It seems today that many of us are working harder and harder just to stay even. We're told that unemployment is lower than it has ever been in a long, long time - hovering around 4 percent nationally. Jobs are plentiful, the stock market is good, and the GDP is rising. Then why does it seem that so many of us are working longer and longer every year for less and less pay and fewer benefits?
Back when I was a kid - in the 1940s and early '50s - all it took to keep a family together was Dad's paycheck. Mother was able to stay home and take care of the kids, and kids never had to return home after school to an empty house. Now it takes not only Dad's paycheck, but Mom's as well to keep the family afloat. Not only that, but more and more Moms and Dads are working more than one job - indeed, it's not uncommon to find Mom and Dad both working two part time jobs each paying no benefits and no hope of getting any.
Kids are left at home to fend for themselves, and the only time Mom and Dad see each other is to have a quick breakfast with one another when he finishes with his night shift and she is going to her part-time morning job and later to a second part-time job that she won't finish with until 6:00 p.m - just about the time he's getting ready to return to work. No time for the kids! No time for each other! No time for the church! They're like that person who commented on President Clinton's boast about the "innumerable" jobs the economy has been cranking out in recent years, "Ya - there's plenty of jobs; I have three of them and my wife has two." That's how it is today - maybe not in your home, but in thousands and thousands of other homes throughout the country, and the phenomenon is increasing exponentially year by year!!
We have all become slaves to the SYSTEM - trapped on a treadmill that is going faster and faster each week, each month, and each year. We are losing control of our lives, our kids are growing up and we hardly know them, and we see our spouses only occasionally, and then only to compare notes on which bills can be paid this month and which can't. Moreover, many of us are up to our necks in debt, with no chance to get out. And insofar as the things of God and the church are concerned - forget it. Yes, we love the Lord, but who has time for Him any more - I mean REAL time!! Our financial "responsibilities" are eating us up!!
Still, there looms a judgment concerning our relationship with the "Kingdom" that we all are going to have to face someday - just as sure as you are reading this material right now - and on THAT day, your excuses won't cut it. On THAT day, when YOU appear before the judgment seat of Christ, and the Lord asks YOU what YOU did with the talent He gave YOU, you will have to give an accounting of it - and God help you if you have nothing to report. You think I am being "too much" here? - too "negative?" Oh, really? - well, consider what happened to the "unfaithful servant" in Matthew 25:24-30 when he attempted to excuse himself by saying -
"... Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strowed:
"And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine. (Matt. 25:24-25)
If that's how you attempt to excuse yourself on THAT day, you will be in deep trouble! - for take heed of the Lord's reply:
"His lord answered and said unto him, Thou WICKED and SLOTHFUL servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strowed:
"Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury.
"Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents.
"For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath.
"And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (Matt. 25:26-30)
Pretty harsh! - wouldn't you say? And note something else here: when the master's servant said, " I knew thee that thou art an hard man ... and I was afraid," the Lord didn't contradict him. Something to think about, yes?
You say, but the Lord I know is a gentle and forgiving person - and, yes, that's true; but you should also bear in mind that you are His servant, and He is your master - and as such, He expects something out of you - and not just insofar as your responsibilities to your family and your job are concerned (everyone has those responsibilities, even the unbelievers), but also insofar as the Kingdom is concerned - or do you perhaps think that these verses were inserted into the Bible for naught? That Christ doesn't mean what He is saying here? That we can safely cross these verses out of the Bible with our black magic marker? If you think so, you're playing a very dangerous game with the Lord - and one you won't win.
You say, but I have so many responsibilities! I must take care of them first! There's my family! There's my debts! There are so many things I must take care of first before I can serve the Lord. Oh! - really? I warn you somberly, be careful here - there is NO excuse that will get you off on THAT day.
The Bible has already anticipated all of your pleas, and rejected them - consider the man who begged off from following the Lord because "... I have bought a piece of ground, and I must needs go and see it: I pray thee have me excused ..." (Luke 14:18); or "... I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them: I pray thee have me excused ..." (Luke 14:19). These men were trying to beg off from serving the Lord because of their financial responsibilities - and these were, no doubt, GENUINE responsibilities, not just "pretend ones" - but the Lord would have none of it. Instead, what did the Lord do? - He left them behind, and never went back for them!!
But what about family responsibilities? - they certainly rate a higher place in the scheme of things. But, No! - even here you are out of luck! Citing your responsibilities to your family won't wash either! - consider the man who told the Lord, "... I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come ..." (Luke 14:20); or the man who said, "... suffer me first to go and bury my father ..." (Luke 9:59); or the man who said "... Lord, I will follow thee; but let me first go bid my family farewell, which are at home at my house ..." (Luke 9:61). None of these excuses were good enough either! - and here the Lord appears to have been particularly harsh, for consider what the Lord said to the person who wanted to take care of his father? - "Let the dead bury the dead, but go thou and preach the kingdom of God!" (Luke 9:60) Pretty brutal! - wouldn't you say? And what about the man who just wanted to say good-bye to his family? - "No man, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God." (Luke 9:62). Again, a pretty sever and brutal answer.
Instead, what the Lord said is, "But go thou and preach the kingdom of God FIRST" - not when you've discharged your duties to your wife, not after you've taken care of your mother and father, not after you've paid all your debts, but FIRST, even if that means leaving all the rest of them "hanging." Your responsibility to the kingdom comes before everything else! If it is second place in your life, you'll NEVER get anywhere with the Lord. On THAT day, that's the only thing God will want to know about. He is not going to ask about your credit rating, or the kind of grades you got at school; He's not even going to question you about your family! On THAT day the only thing He will ask you about is what you did insofar as the kingdom is concerned - "go thou and preach the kingdom of God FIRST, and let the dead bury the dead!"
Now, you may be offended by all this, but your anger should not be directed at us. We have nothing to do with any of this. This is what the Bible says! It may not be what you want the Bible to say, but nonetheless - that's what it says.
Now at this point, it's probably best that those of you who have taken offense at this to just stop here and go no further. But for those of you who want to know more - who believe the Bible and don't want to "game" the Lord - to water these verses down and modify them so as to blunt their meaning and take the edge off of them; for those of you see things from an eternal standpoint, and not just from the perspective of the "here and now;" for those of you were are willing to read these verses as they are, then we want to talk with you.
There is a way to get off the treadmill you find yourself on. The Bible says:
"There hath no temptation (test) taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it." (1 Cor. 10:13)
God always makes a way out for those who are willing to pay the price. Yes! - there is a way to free yourselves from the constraints of life that today's SYSTEM has forced upon you so that you can serve the Lord. But it is not necessarily trying to make today's economic system work for you. It never will!
You must understand something here - today's economic system was not designed to help you in your walk with the Lord, it was designed to hinder and thwart you at every turn; to ensnare you; to prevent you from going on; even to hurt you. And the more you try to make it work for you, the more you will get harmed by it - maybe even irreparably, at least insofar as this life is concerned.
Believe us when we tell you, it's no accident that so many of you are working harder and harder and longer and longer just to make ends meet - there is a malevolent and venomous design behind it all. The fact that we are being plunged back into a new Malthusian System of things at the "end of the age" is no accident! - and it is important that you understand this fact; that you understand what is going on here!! There is a history here - and you need to know what it is. Once you know, you will have taken a giant step in disentangling yourself from the trap that has been prepared for you, and of finding a way out.
We said at the beginning of this article that the present era evokes memories of an especially dismal period in the past which corresponded to the first stirrings of the Industrial Revolution and the creation of a particularly dreary and gloomy economic order that I call the "Malthusian System," a system immortalized in Charles Dickens' book, Oliver Twist. What do we mean by this? And how did Christians react to it?
Malthusian economics brought out the worst and the best in Christianity. To those who were "pretend" Christians - who embraced Christianity for advantage in this world and to justify their involvement in it, it stripped away their pretense as Christians and revealed them to be the monsters they really were; but insofar as real Christians were concerned, the misery that Malthusian economics produced led to the development of a kind of Christianity that had not been seen since the early church - the Brethren Movement which eschewed the "clergy-laity" system, met in small, house-based churches and assemblies, opened themselves up to one another not only on a spiritual and emotional basis, but on a financial basis as well, and practiced the kind of church-life that we in Antipas have been encouraging since our inception as a ministry:
"The Last Days Church must go far beyond the shallow fellowships that characterize far too much of Christianity today. It must be the unconditional sharing of our lives with one another as members of the Body of Christ. The church should consist of thousands and thousands of small, informal and structurally independent communities of loving defiance to the Babylonian system of things that now surrounds us. Christian fellowship in the early church meant the total spiritual, emotional and financial availability of one to the other. Through such commitment, the early church was able to defy the Roman world - so also with us today.
This is what we must be all about today! Forming the kind of fellowships described above. And in doing so, remember what the charcter of the church should be. It's not just meetings - but community. It's much more than just the Sunday "worship meeting," or the Wednesday night "prayer meeting." It's community!! It's Christians living together in community - in small, loving family-like relationships, not in large "institutional-type" settings. The church is not an institution. It is the "family of God." It is not a hierarchy meant to impose "discipline and order" on the saints and bring them into "subjection" to the leadership. It is a family ruled by love, not compulsion. Jesus called -
"... (His disciples) 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 (servant);
And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant (slave):
Even as the Son of man came NOT to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many. (Matthew 20:25-26)
Don't let the cares of this life wear you down! The time is close at hand - look what's happening in the Middle East!
We urge you all to read the Church-life.
God bless all of you!