Dissenting Radical

The Common Good: A 'Christian-Left' perspective on radical theology, progressive politics, authentic culture and sustainable living.

Month: August, 2016

Ephesians 2:8-9 (as applied in practice)

“For it is by creedal orthodoxy that you have been saved, through adherence to the formulations of fourth century councils – and this not from God, but from the political needs of the emperor Constantine – by esoteric study and mental feats of semantics and logic bending, so that everyone who is able to subscribe to those things can boast.”


In sympathy for Trump supporters

Twice I voted Obama

Like a poor-boy Democrat

Didn’t want Armageddon

Or any shit like that

And I’d still vote for Bernie

If he was in the race

But now I’m for Donald

And here I make my case


On September 11th

The whole world done changed

Now we got tribulations

And economic pains

We took out Osama

But fucked up in Iraq

I’m just glad that my brother

Didn’t come back in a sack


They closed down the factory

Where I worked for a while

But now I don’t worry

Face each day with a smile

Cos Fox News said Trump’s

Is gonna get re-elected

And that Mexican wall’s

Gonna soon be erected


Well I can’t afford health care

Hope I don’t take sick

But I’m sure it won’t matter

The world’s ending quick

And when rapture comes

In a golden Cadillac

I’ll be shoutin’ for ‘Murca!’

And I won’t look back

The Far-Right’s ‘Bait and Switch’

The rise of the ‘Radical Right’ is a fascinating phenomenon. Often, people like me have spent so much time being terrified, shocked and appalled by it, and not enough time trying to understand it. For the sake of research, I have spent much of this evening listening to speeches by Donald Trump, Nigel Farage and Geert Wilders.

Approached in a detached and dispassionate way, they make for quite interesting listening. You have to filter out a lot of nonsense, of course, but underneath it all there’s a fairly consistent message, in the form of a classic ‘bait and switch’.

This clip is a typical sample. They start with real problems: a lack of jobs and opportunites, economic depression, pressure on wages and public services, fear of crime, the sense that political and economic elites have it all stitched up for their own benefit, while ordinary people get a raw deal. They talk about these issues with a frankness and bluntness, in a folksy downhome way, that the left just cannot emulate. They tap into very real and painful grievances.

That’s the bait. And they bait well. It’s great big shiny bait that looks attractive when you live precariously on a falling wage in a run down town, where the library and the swimming pool have closed, and where you cannot get a doctor’s appointment and the school is overcrowded and under staffed.

But then comes the switch: rather than blame the neo-liberal economic policies and chronic under investment in education, infrastructure and services which have caused this mess, they kick downwards and outwards: the blame the immigrants and foreigners. They try to turn this real grievance into an unrighteous anger, and anger than can only destroy, rather than channeling it into a call for solidarity and inclusive justice. They seek not to heal, but to harm back. Not to address underlying causes, but only to scapegoat.

This is of course the classic function of the far-right in an oligarchy – to distract the people’s anger away from the real economic causes of their distress and to turn it on others.

The soft-left liberals must bear some responsibility, however, for allowing this situation to develop. It is the wholehearted acceptance of Thatcherite Reaganomics by the West’s liberal elite that is, in fact, causing the hardship and the revolt of ordinary people. People will turn to virtually ANY anti-establishment force to show their anger. I hope that liberals everywhere will begin to realise quickly that their acceptance of the ever increasing growth of corporate power, and the ever-increasing gap between the richest and the poorest, is the real cause of the rise of Trump – and of Brexit sentiment.

But there’s hope in all of this. There is scope, now as never before in the last century, for a popular movement of the left that seeks to address the real economic causes: a new New Deal coalition. It just needs to be articulated in terms that people can understand. Not in Guardian reader terms, but in Sun reader terms. We take take that which is a harmful counterfeit (neo-fascism) and replace it with the real article (social democracy), and people will flock to it.



Machiavelli: Liberation Theologian

Machiavelli is not only a much-misunderstood political philosopher, but also a very practical, hard-headed theologian of freedom and justice. We must neither fall into the despair of thinking that God is unconcerned with great causes of justice and liberation, not sit back and just wait for God to act without us. We have to actively co-operate with God in the mission of bringing peace, freedom and justice to the world. Work and pray. Trust God, and keep your powder dry. Be wise as serpents, but harmless as doves.


On Cameron’s Resignation Honours



Corrupt oligarchies act in corrupt oligarchic ways, according to their corrupt oligarchic nature. Trying to change the ways of government, without changing the nature of it, is doomed to failure. This is not a personal misdeed by Cameron; he is simply working within the internal norms of a corrupt system. Almost any other prime minister in that system, accepting those norms, would do the same. This is why a change in personnel or parties will always disappoint. Nothing short of a fundamental constitutional regeneration of the state can change its nature. From that renewed nature, beneficial changes in policy and conduct will flow.