Monday 17 October 2011

Secrecy and Think Tanks

The public sector is now so transparent that we have a right to read the private emails of climate scientists working for a state-sponsored university. The private sector is so opaque that we have no idea on whose behalf the people who appear every day on the BBC, using arguments that look suspiciously like corporate propaganda, are speaking.

What does political theory have to say about secrecy? It seems that a large part of power - be it with tax havens or lobby organisations as above - is vested in its secrecy. Yet secrecy isn't ignorance. Secrecy has to be maintained; it takes intensive legal and political enforcement, not to mention highly convenient delineation. Secrecy itself is something fundamental to power - the power to define privacy. Making something public and hence political certainly takes power and a lot of work but this is no less true of making something private. This 'liminal power' that decides the contours of 'the political' is decidedly interesting to me.

Sunday 16 October 2011

Occupy London and the Church of England

I'm not a man of faith but I am a man of belief - belief that political alliances cannot be fussy or precious.

The Left so often acts as if until we agree on everything we can't do anything. The Right don't have this problem. They understand that if anyone agrees on anything then there is business to be done. Rightwing evangelicals and neoliberal bankers don't have a lot in common but they have enough to use and get used by each other. The usage is mutually beneficial. Their 'resonance machine' as William Connolly puts it is formidable.

What relationship does the Left have with organised religion today? Well, what does the canon chancellor of St Paul's cathedral Reverend Giles Fraser have to say about the protestors camped out in front of his 'house of god'?

Not a lot. Is it so hard to see dog-collared clergy and dishevelled youths standing and shouting side by side? They don't agree on a lot but they should agree on enough to know the exact answer to the question 'What would Jesus do?'!

Of course, this assumes that the Church of England isn't just another finger in the pie/dam (that damn pie) of the prevailing order.

Are they corrupted to the core too? Is there any trace of Christianity in the C of E?
It’s time to get off the fence Giles. It’s time to make your church the centre of resistance in the City. Or to admit instead that you’re just running a tourist attraction. That’s your choice. And there’s only one right answer if you really believe why you wear that dog collar.

So open those doors wide – especially when the police are nearby. It’s your job to provide a place of sanctuary or frankly that building you tend is of no relevance at all and nor is your faith.
Hard words - and, as usual, just the right ones. We need this alliance.

Of course, this alliance might require some people giving up - for a time - the prevailing sub-Dawkins religion-phobia and stop yapping on about religion being the root of all evil for long enough to actually engage in some politics: that is, collective action: that is, acting with people you don't necessarily entirely agree with about everything.

There's definitely a Leftist resonance machine to be constructed; but to do so will require some scheming, some cunning and some compromise.

Politics happens not when everyone agrees on everything but when some people agree enough enough something - anything - important enough to make them work together.

If these are not times for putting aside petty theological differences then we really are in the end times!