Sunday, 29 April 2012

Reaction: Jet engine technology applied to politics

Following the same principle applied to jet engine technology, when there is action there is bound to be a reaction and this is exactly what we are seeing right now both in politics and in religion that is becoming increasingly politicized and taking sides.

The Breivik and the Meerah factors are just the tip of the iceberg of something that is even more sinister. The changes we are now seeing in societies across Europe point directly towards massive polarization. A discredited political class and a non-viable economic reality are just pieces of the puzzle.

In France, the traditional centre is being squeezed between two poles that paradoxically seem to have quite a few areas of agreement. In Holland, a government fell because it failed to get the support of a political party seen as right-wing (although I must say that the labels right-wing and left-wing have lost much of their relevance and appeal).

One area where changes are plainly visible is sexuality. Traditional Christianity, Islam and some branches of Judaism seem to share quite a few of the views seen as extreme when compared with liberal attitudes regarding sexuality. Why is this happening? Why suddenly there is such an aggressive attitude towards sexuality when a few years ago the trend was towards a more tolerant approach regarding sexual interactions?

While developments were happening outside organized religions, not many people thought that sexuality was a subject worth talking about. Provided the issue did not affect organized religions internally, there was a sort of status quo, a sort of no-man’s-land. Liberal society could do whatever liberal society wanted to do but without interfering with organized religions.

But then, thanks to political correctness and all the talk about human rights and equality, organized religions became a valid target and pressure was applied to change what is the core message of organized religions that is not compatible with liberal attitudes towards sexuality. Suddenly, the political world that had been a traditional ally of organized religions turned against organized religions that saw themselves increasingly under attack.

When you look at the precedents of the Spanish Civil War that began in 1936, you see how the Catholic Church felt threatened by Marxist ideas and liberal attitudes and a traditionally conservative organization like the Army sided with the Catholic Church and had a common cause. This is how General Franco became the reaction to counter the action of Marxism and Liberalism.

The Catholic Church in Rome, from the beginning, felt more inclined to support Conservatism or even forces that we call today Extreme Right. In 1933, the German Army – traditionally aristocratic – told Oskar von Hindenburg that they were in no position to maintain internal order in Germany and defend German borders at the same time. The choices were stark but extremely rational.

German aristocrat Oskar von Hindenburg was more inclined to side the Junkers (the landowner Aristocracy) and the Army rather than side with Marxist forces that wanted to create a Soviet Germany very much like the Soviet Union of 1917. Add to this traditionalist Churches – including the Catholic Church - linked to the ruling classes and detested by Marxists.

So for everything there is some sort of rationality. When you look at the Vatican’s message and you see the reaction of some organized churches in Britain regarding sexuality, there is a lot more than sexuality being discussed. In times of instability, in their search for security, people tend to become polarized. Erich Fromm wrote a book about ‘the fear of freedom’. Increasingly people align themselves with two opposite schools of thought to experience a sense of belonging and suddenly the middle ground is squeezed between two conflicting poles.

In 1930s and 1940s Germany both National Socialists and Communists exploited ‘people’s need to belong’ and similar examples are found across Europe today. Human nature is still very much the same despite technological advances.

The timing today might differ from the timing of 1929-1939 but the consequences could be even more catastrophic.

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