By David E. Roy
Introduction to Part II
Last month in Part I, the focus was primarily on the foreground battles progressives are fighting on numerous fronts to vocally “stand our ground” against the insidious efforts to eliminate not only the traditional safety nets for the marginalized but also the middle class in the United States.
I illustrated this with Rush Limbaugh’s ignorant and inflammatory efforts to label Pope Francis as a Marxist while the Pope has been giving voice to and modeling the traditional 2,000-year-old Christian biblical theology of concern and care for those with the least.
The fact that the Pope’s advocacy and critique has been so startling to those like Limbaugh highlights the failings of the Christian Church to keep this theological value in the forefront by continuously and repeatedly proclaiming this as the Good News instead of emphasis on personal salvation coupled with a fear-driven hatred of diversity. (“If you’re not like me, you’re not a Christian.”)
Strong advocacy for the poor certainly has not disappeared from the Christian Church, but the relative coziness of the one-on-one relationship with Jesus (and Jesus embodying various degrees of God) has taken the lead in many Christian communities of worship. In addition, our hyperbolic, drama-thirsty media has been delighted to build audience ratings by focusing almost exclusively on the mean-spirited, harshly judgmental far-right churches and clergy.
Greed and Unchecked Self-Focus
Greed seems to help support one of the deepest psychological needs we have, the need to feel precious, worthy, accepted, loved—to feel special. This drive to feel special is exceedingly powerful. Greed as one of its servants slumbers like a dragon, with one eye open, ever watchful for an opportunity to awaken and seize all that it can.
These dynamics truly never go away. Some societies may subdue them more effectively than others, but there still is something that has to be subdued. These dynamics have to be part of our more fixed template as much as energy level at birth or height or the numerous other factors that make up body and temperament, rational intelligence, artistic gifts and so on.
Trans-Pacific Partnership: World Domination in Stealth Mode
I stress this because these dynamics play a central role in a highly problematical movement that has been taking place under our noses for several years. I am referring to the so-called Trans-Pacific Partnership that purports to be a trade agreement among 12 nations, including the United States. The agreement being developed is much more than that; I will share highlights shortly.
I want to stress here, however, that this move is an excellent example of how these core dynamics can be hard at work and yet be superficially camouflaged. Being alert to the underlying form is important for our own self-protection.
We also are diverted from recognizing these dynamics because our attention has naturally been on all the numerous assaults across the entire front of efforts to maintain (let alone to improve) the well-being of the broad sweep of humanity that are taking up an enormous amount of energy and resources.
The Goal: To Subordinate Governments and NGOs to Profit-Seeking Corporations
These efforts have to be maintained, but we also have to focus intensely and prepare to oppose what appears to a growing number of people to be an all-out effort to subordinate national governments and many other institutions to the giant multinational corporations and their interwoven partners in the finance world—and the individuals who control these private entities.
For several years, meetings among the financial leaders from 12 nations have been held in Washington, D.C., shielded by an invisibility cloak so deep and dark that it rivals anything that Lord Voldemort possessed. Maintaining such tight security and opaqueness belies the fact that it is undoubtedly something the public would protest vehemently. From what we are learning, this is a correct assumption.
In the extreme, some who have seen at least some of the draft sections believe if this is not halted that just about everything for which progressives have been advocating will be jeopardized or destroyed. I will explain how that could happen in a moment.
The irony of Limbaugh’s chatter, along with most of those in the Tea Party, the self-appointed guardians of freedom at all costs, and older “black helicopters” groups, is that they are looking in the wrong direction. They are like the Maginot Line in France where the guns could be pointed only in one direction, so the enemy (the German tank forces) got around them and came from behind instead.
In this case, the enemy ultimately is not the various governments but the corporate class that is running many facets of our governments. Another way to put this is that the manufacturers of the black helicopters are the ones who are the real enemy of the people, the enemy of the principle of benefit to the common good.
The Intellectual Property chapter, for example, would permit corporations to own a copyright for 120 years, would extend the patent claims for Big Pharm for far more time and so on.
Corporations Anywhere Can Sue Any Nation for Damages—Through Special Trade Courts!
The worst part of it that I see is the ability of corporations in any nation to sue any nation they perceive as impeding trade, and the lawsuits will take place within the structure of the agreement! This already is happening in a modified form, and the United States is potentially on the hook for billions of dollars to foreign countries.
Think about all the effort put into safe and healthy work conditions, to employment standards, to environmental standards, to health standards in general, to minimum wage. All of these and more could be framed as impeding the ability of a company in a poor nation, or a nation with less concern, to do business. While the fact that one of the nations (Brunei) has adopted Sharia law may have little or no impact on business and trade conduct, it does suggest the enormous cultural gap that can exist among these nations and therefore point to potentially serious setbacks for our efforts.
I urge everyone to become at least minimally familiar with this effort to strengthen what is the de facto Megacorporation Oligarchy, or Mo for short. Slogan: No Mo! If something is discovered as coming up for vote on Congress, we really must protest. Every right we promote stands to lose ground or disappear under this type of control. With this many rights potentially being wronged, we have to let people in power know that We Do Not Want This.
To start, go to Public Citizen (www.citizen.org/tpp) for excellent background.
Ordained in the United Church of Christ, David Roy is a pastoral counselor and a California licensed marriage and family therapist who directs the Center for Creative Transformation. He has a Ph.D. in theology and personality from the Claremont (California) School of Theology. Send comments to him at email@example.com or 5475 N. Fresno St., Suite 109, Fresno, CA 93711.