Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Why I Anticipated That Hobby Lobby and the Koch Brothers Would Likely Prevail with the Supremes: It's About Men Who Own Things (A Reprise from March 28)

Today, another in the series of reprises of postings I have made in the past, anticipating the recent Hobby Lobby decision by the five Supreme Catholic men: this one is from March 28. Note that in this posting, I anticipated that the Supreme Catholic men who would prevail in the Hobby Lobby ruling would hinge everything on the personhood of corporations, as they had already done in Citizens United.

And so it has come to pass: as Paul Rosenberg notes at Salon today, the expansion of corporate power in Hobby Lobby has gotten too little attention but is central to the ruling handed down by the five Supreme Catholic men. Rosenberg summarizes the fundamental intent of the Hobby Lobby decision in the following way:

The United States is still a democratic republic, formally, but what that actually means in practice is increasingly in doubt — and the Hobby Lobby ruling, deeply disingenuous and sharply at odds with centuries of Anglo-American law, exemplifies how that formal reality is increasingly mocked in practice. It is a practice best described as neo-feudalism, taking power away from ordinary citizens, in all their pluralistic, idiosyncratic diversity, and handing it over to corporations and religious dictators in both the public and the private realm. 

And here's what I posted on March 28:

You do realize, don't you, that Hobby Lobby and the Koch brothers will almost certainly win the Supreme Court case? If the Supreme Court (as it's currently configured) respects anything at all, it respects money.

And men. It respects men who own things. 

When powerful men choose to wrap themselves up in pseudo-religious proclamations about "God" and the place "God"  has assigned all of us in the "natural" order of things, they turn themselves into a well-nigh unbeatable combination in a nation with the soul of a church.

Which happens to have been founded by white property-owning men, to promote and safeguard their interests as white property-owning men.

At one level, the monumental struggles about women's rights, the bible, gay folks, religious freedom, contraception and abortion that are roiling the waters of American democracy today are a continuation of an ongoing struggle dating from the foundation of the Republic: a struggle of white property-owning men to retain and extend their power and hegemony, while everyone else struggles to have a decent life in the republic founded by those men.

The white men who own things and who founded a republic reflecting and promoting their interests were not conspicuously religious men. They created the wall separating church and state precisely to keep religion (and the pesky bible, from which Jefferson, the deist slaveholder who wrote the Declaration of Independence, sought to remove the peskiest passages) out of their business.

White men who own things have discovered religion now because it's a nifty tool of social diversion as they seek to distract our attention, in an information-driven culture where more people have more access to information than ever before, from what they’re really all about—continuing to enrich themselves at the expense of all the rest of us. And they’re discovering religion right now because pesky women and pesky gay folks are claiming to find in the pesky bible warrant for challenging the claim of white men who own things to represent God and to speak exclusively in "His" name.

White men who own things can't have that. They won't have it. They will not have the power of the bible unleashed--pried from their clutching, controlling grasp--by riffraff who might stand some chance of reminding all the rest of us, in this nation with the soul of a church, that the bible is a quintessentially revolutionary set of writings, which insist that God made the world for the benefit of everyone and not for social and economic elites. Not expressly for white men who own things and their "natural" law.

And then there's all that blahblahblah about love and peace and justice. And workers and just wages and rich people being in danger of hell while poor people are beloved by God.

And in Christ there is neither male nor female, slave nor free, and similar blahblahblah.

The monumental struggle now underway in American culture is, at one level (and a fundamental one), all about white men who own things, and about their right to own the bible. It's about the personhood of corporations because corporations are, after all, the living bodies of white men who own things in American culture.

White men who own things sling their weight around through the things they own. They exercise speech disproportionate to the speech of everyone else in our culture precisely through what they own, through the embodiment of their gargantuan presence in . . . everything . . . via the things they own.

The Supreme Court respects the claims of white men who own things to become embodied persons through the things they own--claims that may seem ludicrous to the rest of us, since how can a corporation really be a person exercising free speech and engaging in religious practice?--because those claims are self-evident to anyone cozily embedded in the elite structures of our society created to swaddle white men who own things.

In those elite structures, money does, in fact, talk. It has a voice. Its voice is loud, clear, and perspicuous. In those elite structures, corporations do think. They exercise control, make decisions affecting everyone in our society, dictate what we all should like and what we all must disdain, decide what will be offered to us and what withheld from us.

In those elite structures, it's simply silly to deny that the embodied gargantuan presence of the white men who own things, a presence manifest in the corporations they own, cannot talk, think, decide--and now, pray and proclaim "God." All of this is self-evident to those embedded in the elite structures at the very top of American society.

Elite structures that are the bedrock of the lives of most everyone sitting on the supreme bench. . . . And, increasingly, of the mostly white men who run the Catholic church in the U.S., who will not tolerate the claims of uppity women and mouthy gay folks to own even a tiny portion of the bible (or the "God") that belongs to white men who own things.

And to the Catholic bishops, whose power is extended in incredibly influential ways in American government today. Because the bishops are, collectively, white men who own an incredible amount of things.

And money talks. The money of the U.S. Catholic bishops, added to the money of the white men who own things who run the powerful evangelical show in the U.S., added to the money of the Koch brothers and Hobby Lobby and the vast "Christian" enterprise those white men who own things fund: how can this money possibly fail to convince a majority of the Supreme Court justices, who just happen to be conservative Catholic men, almost all of them white, of the merits of the Hobby Lobby case?

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