Magazine article Tikkun

Free America, Free Time

Magazine article Tikkun

Free America, Free Time

Article excerpt

For the last two years, we have been witnessing a breathtaking leap in the centralization of top-down power in the United States and in the world.

"Within the United States, two enormous tax breaks for the super-rich handed more power to those who were already dominant. Attacks on schools, health care, and the environment, on the states and cities, on civil liberties, privacy, and labor unions, and on openness of governmental decisions, have weakened the ability of grassroots communities to oppose the will of entrenched power.

In the world at large, the effort to shape a "new American century" (read "global U.S. empire") has joined the threat of the U.S. war machine to the growing power of global corporations. The "war on terrorism" is perfectly structured to feed the very terrorism it attacks, and thus to create permanent war at home as well as overseas.

Even worse, the imperial/corporate amalgam treats the earth as it treats human beings: with contempt and exploitation that damage the very fabric of life on this planet.

This top-down imperialism is the worst threat to democracy since at least the McKinley era. Possibly since the demand of the slave states in the 1850s to control the future of America. And possibly the worst threat ever. For sure, George II and his Congress have behaved much worse than George III and his Parliament.

No more than Rome can we be both a Republic and an Empire, no more than Athens can we be both a plutocracy and a democracy, no more than ancient Israel can we be both slaves to Pharaoh and a free people in touch with the God Who is always Becoming.

There are three levels at which we can respond. First, we can try through elections to topple the Bush administration and its acquiescent Congress. But even if Bush and his closest allies lose, and even more strongly if they win, America needs deeper change. Clintonism paved the way for Bush, both at home and overseas. Some Clinton redux may give us a moment to catch our breath, but no more. Like the colonists in 1776, like the Populists and Progressives at the turn of the twentieth century, like the Israelites who fled Egypt to stand at Sinai, like the Jews and Christians who challenged Rome, like Muhammad who challenged the power elite of Mecca, and like Gautama who challenged the palace-like them all, we need to create new forms of politics, community, and culture.

In 1774, the American colonists went beyond their dutiful critique of King George; they called for an economic break with the British Empire. …

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