Editorial: Occupying Everything

Jason Pitzl-Waters —  December 4, 2011 — 239 Comments

What I love about having conversations with vibrant, intelligent, people is that you often find yourself verbalizing your beliefs in a distilled and succinct manner that may never have occurred in solitude. In this case, I was having lunch with a retired Lutheran minister, a member of my wife’s family, and our conversation turned to social justice and the Occupy movement. Specifically, we were talking about “Occupy faith” initiatives that have been springing up to support the movement, and  what the role of faith communities should be regarding outcry over economic injustice. I posited that this moment in history provided a rare opportunity for the dwindling mainline Protestant congregations, and for progressive Catholics, to provide the infrastructure, support, and moral guidance they did during the height of the civil rights era, before a confluence of political and social shifts resulted in a profound shift in our collective priorities and goals. After all, Martin Luther King, Jr.’s final campaign before being assassinated was the Poor People’s Campaign (and enshrining economic justice in our constitution has been around at least since Roosevelt).

Lately I’ve been covering Pagan reactions to the Occupy movement, watching as our faith communities negotiate what our place is in this growing phenomenon. I’ve talked to Pagans directly involved in Occupy, people like T. Thorn Coyle and Glenn Turner, and I’ve listened to Starhawk speak in amazement about how the organizing ethos she’s long preached suddenly sprung forward organically to effect massive changes in a matter of months. For myself, I’ve hesitated speaking directly on Occupy, partially because I generally try to avoid being partisan at The Wild Hunt, and partially because I didn’t think I had anything to add to the existing discourse. However, I now think that I do have something to say, and if my words carry any weight with our faith communities, as some attest, then I can stay mute no longer. I think that the Occupy movement has come at a vitally important time, and if there was a time for every available voice to speak up for social justice, surely it is now. In short, we need to Occupy everything, we need to embrace a new ethos of structurally engaging with issues of economic injustice, and stop simply hoping that the problems will go away if we cut taxes, or eliminate government agencies, or raise taxes, or shop more, or vainly hope that wealth will “trickle down” and we can simply wait these hard times out. I believe in a Second Bill of Rights, in making explicit that there can be no “pursuit of happiness” in a society that does not enshrine basic fundamentals of care and humanity.

Grinding poverty isn’t an abstract in my life. My wife is an independent solo physician who’s dedicated her life to providing quality care to those who can’t normally afford it. While a percentage of her patient panel are lucky enough to have decent health insurance, many more live on the margins, are uninsured, and often haven’t had decent medical care in years. Every time I see someone demonize the flimsy reforms of “Obamacare,” a watered-down half-measure that doesn’t do nearly enough, I think of the millions who are slowly dying because they simply can’t afford good health care. Just look at the vast number of 99% narratives that talk about health care, the lack of it, or the debt incurred obtaining it. The health care industry is the wild, wild West that some libertarians dream of, where “patients rights” are purely secondary to the profit margins, and “death panels” have long existed thanks to the insurance industry. I’m not surprised that people are voicing their anger and frustration, I’m only surprised that its taken this long, and that it has managed to stay as peaceful as it has.

Several polytheistic cultures have some version of the “hospitality test.” Where a wandering god or goddess is disguised as a beggar, or a weary traveler, and seeks aid at someone’s home. The moral of these tales is to welcome all who come to your door, to practice the virtues of hospitality and charity, for the beggar you reject might be really be a god. If the divine resides within us all, if every man and woman is a star, if what’s above is truly what’s below, then we should live in a culture where no one fears losing their home, or their medical care, or should wonder where their next meal will come from. Some have said that such an ethos should be an individual mandate, and not enshrined in our government, but isn’t our government an extension of our collective will? If we are to have governments, then they must mirror what we say our ideals are, and not cater to simply “keeping the lights on.” That the Occupy movement is now occupying homes says much about how broken the collective expression of our values truly is.

There have been those who’ve spent a lot of time pointing out that the Occupy movement has feet of clay, or has lost the moral high ground due to one incident or another, but I think such arguments miss the point. This isn’t about the good behavior of every Occupier, its about what needs to happen now. We need a shift in our priorities, we need the dramatic excesses of our current capitalistic system to be reigned in, and we need justice. I think modern Pagans have much to offer the Occupy movement, and that this movement has much to teach us in return. We are, after all, part of the 99% too. I know that there will be Pagans who disagree, who’ve written off the Occupy movement in one fashion or another, but  I can no longer sit on the sidelines and pretend to have no opinion. For me, the Occupy movement is the movement I was waiting for during the anti-globalization protests of the 1990s, a true continuation of the work sparked by social justice pioneers like Dorothy Day, Gandhi, King, and  Jane Addams. Now is the time for Pagans of a like mind to envision what our social justice looks like, to craft a theological and historical framework for a future where we have a voice, because that future is happening now.

I guess what I’m saying is that we need to Occupy Paganism, and in turn, Occupy everything.

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Jason Pitzl-Waters

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  • http://twitter.com/YnysAfallon Jhenah Telyndru

    Powerfully well said. Thank you.

  • http://www.owlsdaughter.com Beth Owls Daughter

    Well worth the wait. Thank you, Jason, for this succinct, deeply true vision.

  • http://www.patheos.com Star Foster

    Well said.

  • http://www.facebook.com/paposehn Philip Posehn

    I was raised Lutheran.(ALC) I remember the minister asking us to pray for the members marching in Selma. They seemed to lose that spirit with all of the mergers into a larger synod.
    I see a lot of the same energy and bright joyous enthusiasm in the people of Occupy that I saw when I was young in the Civil Rights and anti-war movements of the 60s. I had begun to despair of ever seeing it again in my lifetime.
    Becoming active in Occupy seems to me to be natural. Paganism has always been a religion of compassion for me. The re-introduction of compassion into American government is what much of Occupy seems to be about to me.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=562035360 Larry Vigus

    Blessed Be.

  • http://twitter.com/lofrothepirate Eric Scott

    http://www.occupywriters.com

    You could add your name to the list. I think they’d love to link to this editorial. Just sayin’.

  • http://www.thedallemagnes.info Angel

    Thank you, I enjoyed reading this.

  • Amy Hale

    This was just beautiful, Jason.

  • http://twitter.com/xRedRoverx Kristi

    The man who gave us the saying “every man and every woman is a star” was most definitely NOT an advocate of giving away all your stuff to any hobo who comes begging. Just sayin.

    It is easy for an affluent person, whether pagan or Christian or Jainist or what-have-you, to say that the higher mind wishes for everyone to give all his stuff away to everyone else.

    Practice what you preach before you preach it: Give your stuff away. Reject capitalism. Go to the barter system. Pay more taxes if it pleases you. Come back and let us know how well it works.

    • Sharon Knight

      Where in this article did Jason say anything about giving away all our stuff? Where does he say “reject capitalism”? What I read was a very balanced view of changes that are needed.

      His exact words were “We need the dramatic excesses of our current capitalistic system to be reigned in”. That is a far cry from “Reject capitalism”.

      With all due respect, it’s these types of knee-jerk responses that kill any real progress in these discussions. All this does is raise the tired old “Socialism vs. Capitalism” bogeyman, where we promptly throw each other in to one camp or the other and then stop listening. If we are going to move beyond this into discussions that draw strengths from both systems and possibly even create something new, we have got to get behind this sort of commentary.

      • Baruch Dreamstalker

        I agree with Sharon. It has been the job of government in liberal capitalist democracies for the past 100 years and more to temper the excesses of the marketplace. The United States has lost sight of this since the administration of Ronald Reagan. The Occupy movement is potentially a route to recovering this function, if Occupy can ever come up with an effective way to make choices.

        • http://heathenfaith.blogspot.com Norse Alchemist

          The first problem with that though, is who defines the “excesses.” Is it the government? (which has a long history of being far more excessive in every sense of the word than the corporations which it “polices”.)

          • Baruch Dreamstalker

            Liberal democracy has muddled through for more than a century without abstract defintions of excess.

          • Sat-Sekhmet

            Oh, I pretty much think it’s like pornography–we recognize excess when we see it. Would you like a list?

          • Bookhousegal

            Who ‘Defines the excesses?’ We do. Not by a ‘definition,’ but by a *process of informed consent and guaranteed liberties.* If this was about a ‘definition’ we wouldn’t need all the politics.

      • Sharon Knight

        Erm…I meant, we have got to get “beyond” this type of commentary. Doh.

      • http://witchesandscientists.blogspot.com Genexs

        Agreed Sharon. It is true that the 1% has a vested interest in keeping many people in the 99% stuck in a world view were everything boils down to a battle of left against right. The sad thing is–and it may come as a shock to them–many in the Tea Party have some common cause with the OWS movement. It would be great if we could put away the major differences, and pool resources to fight for what we agree on.
        But when one side’s been hearing for years that everyone on the other side is “un-American” or “a Communist” or “Godless”, it makes helping each other impossible. In the mean time, the 1% laughs all the way to the bailout.

        • Madrona999

          A handful of Tea Partiers have joined my town’s local Occupy. The more we talk to each other the more we find we have in common.

    • http://sarenth.wordpress.com/ Sarenth

      In addition to what Ms. Knight has written here, there is also this: I have yet to find an example of an affluent Jainist.

      Not all citizens in America are awash in money, but we consume most of the world’s resources and yet still, our citizens experience crippling poverty. We have income disparity not unlike a great many dictatorships. We have people who let infections go until they’re near-death because they’re not sure if they can afford the medications, and we let them suffer under a system that places a price not just on their happiness, but their well-being and health. We have people who linger in abject poverty because of racism, greed, and bigotry against the poor because “they’re lazy” or “they just won’t pull themselves up by their bootstraps”. So many job positions now require crushing debt via college just to qualify for a position that has not seen income growth for the last 30 years.

      I don’t have much to give away; I own relatively little. I do the barter system where and when I can. I would be happy to go fulltime to such a system, or at least one that promises better equity and fullness of life to my fellow citizens. However, most of my country is still enthralled by a capitalist system that gives them the lie that they can make it just like the 1%.

      The idea of exponential growth latent in capitalism is an impossibility when stacked up against the limits of the Earth to provide for our wants. We need to be willing to have courage and try something different. I certainly don’t have all the answers, but by the Gods, can’t we work together to make a system that is more hospitable to our own citizens?

    • Grimmorrigan

      I’m sorry you missed the point and cannot argue with Jason without resorting to this level of misdirection. If the subject material is beyond you please see the teacher after class to arrange tutoring rather than acting out and prevent others from learning.

      Childish.

    • http://witchesandscientists.blogspot.net Gene

      Heh, Kristi! If you think throwing up straw men is way way to engage people here, you’ve come to the wrong place.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=548883612 Flame Bridesdottir

        I’ve not once seen Kristi actually post anything germane. At least she’s a consistent troll, and doesn’t confuse me by occasionally lapsing into reason.

        • http://witchesandscientists.blogspot.net Gene

          thanx for the head’s up, Flame.

    • Anonymous

      The rule I usually try to follow is simple: help others but not to the point where I’m completely screwing myself and my family (because then I can’t help anybody). Never had anyone start railing at me about “you have to give everything you own to the poor” unless it’s sarcasm from the kind of people who think the poor aren’t punished enough for being poor.

      • http://paosirdjhutmosu.wordpress.com Djhutmosu Si-Hathor

        Why aren’t more people this reasonable? It doesn’t seem all that hard, really.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1650681499 Diotima Mantineia

    Well said, Jason. I am hopeful that one of the concepts Pagans can bring to the Occupy table is that social justice cannot be achieved without environmental responsibility. Having good health care is important, and that starts with affordable access to healthy food, not processed, factory-farmed, genetically-modified, pesticide-poisoned crap. Social justice means not spreading depleted uranium around and thinking its OK, because it’s happening in another country. Social justice means understanding that the planet’s limited resources must be carefully nurtured, and recognizing the rights of eco-systems instead of corporations. Occupy Earth.

  • kenneth

    This is easily the most important post you’ve written on this blog, at least in the couple of years I’ve been reading it. As pagans, we are growing and maturing as a movement. We’re big enough and old enough that we need to be able to talk about the vision we have for the larger society in which we live. If we’re not to be dismissed as a bunch of goth/gamer kids playing dress up in the woods, we need to be able to articulate what we really stand for, and act upon it.

    It turns out we have some very powerful ideas about “family values” and real prosperity and honor. We have some excellent concepts about the rights and autonomy of the individual which are complemented, not threatened, by the responsibility of that individual within the concentric circles of family, clan and nation. Some of these ideas are very ancient, others derive from more recent times. They are values that, in their own way, are deeply American, or at least deeply in tune with the best ambitions that led to this country’s formation.

    This country needs what we have to offer. It needs help and the kind of leadership from ANY religious or secular movements which possess similar tools of conscious living. I believe it’s no accident at all that our movement was reborn when it was.

    The Occupy movement has its screwballs and extremists, but the core of what they stand for is spot-on. They are reminding us that this country was founded for the simple (and radical) purpose of providing ALL of its citizens with the kind of environment humans need to reach their maximum potential. We are very close to losing that forever. Our old British overlords were positively benevolent compared to our new corporate ones.

    We are rapidly approaching a state where we and especially our offspring will enjoy MUCH less freedom and social mobility than the “bad old Europe” our ancestors rebelled against. Essentially ALL of us reading this blog will find ourselves without chairs at the table, or our children certainly will, no matter how financially comfortable and secure you may feel now. The 99% will increasingly become serfs, in a very real sense, with zero job security, no healthcare, no retirement (and probably lifespans around 50 or so). Look at the recent immigrants wherever you live and see the folks working 70 hours a week just to scrape by. Now picture your descendants living like that for 10 generations. That’s the real deal of where this country is headed.

    The partisans on here will argue the point, but I think most of us can see that neither party offers any real solution to this problem. At best, they are fumbling around with partial fixes that will delay the day of reckoning. At worst, they are turning on the nitrous tanks as we race toward the edge of the cliff. They collectively have NO vision larger than preserving their own power and sticking it to their opponents.

    Our one hope, and it is a slim one at this point, is for ALL sectors of the 99% to “occupy the Occupy” movement and articulate exactly what our country stands for. Then, with that vision in mind, we must make the lives of the 1% impossible until they comply with that vision. That’s not a call to violence but to resistance. We need to make them dedicate massive amounts of money and time to dealing with us. Deny them profits. Refuse to carry weapons for them. Deny them secrecy. Deny their elected lobbyist flunkies their jobs. Reward those who start to do the right thing. It’s not rocket science, just classic carrot and stick behavior modification.

    To do any of that, we need to shake off the stupor they have lulled us into with reality shows and the mental conditioning which tells us that their enrichment benefits us all. We need resolve, and we need a vision of what a better society would look like. We pagans have both to offer in spades, and its time we step up….

    • Sharon Knight

      This is very well written Kenneth. Thank you for writing it. We absolutely need a vision of what a better society would look like, and I think many of us have at least some ideas on the subject. More importantly, we need to start implementing these ideas within our own communities as best we can as soon as we can. For my part, I have given up on any faction of government being there for us any time soon. I think it is a noble goal to try and change government, I think this fight will need to occur on my fronts, so no disrespect to those who are trying to change government. It’s just that for my part I am tired of waiting for them to get their heads out of…well yeah. I want to see what kind of support can be build up within local communities, small businesses etc.

      • kenneth

        This is a struggle that needs people of EVERY talent and interest. Not everyone needs to work the government angle, nor to carry a sign at every barricade and Occupy camp. This is a struggle on the scale of World War II.

        Like that war, it will require far more than soldiers or any one class of people in any one frontline role. It needs millions of people doing what they do best with a shared sense of urgency and purpose.

        It will need those people willing and able to stand in the line of battle and suffer tear gas and batons. There will be people who will die for this cause. But it cannot be won by those people alone. It needs people to help in any capacities they can, even, as you suggest, to bring their best ideas and actions to new ways of living, buying and doing business right where they live.

        Just the simple action of acknowledging the problem and engaging it is crucial. Right now, the interests threatened by the occupy movement are trying very hard to marginalize it as the rantings of a few hippies and anarchists. The simple act of being counted as an ordinary American in the fight can stop this effort to de-legitimize it. It will also keep the focus on productive strategies and keep the movement from being hijacked by fringe groups.

        • http://heathenfaith.blogspot.com Norse Alchemist

          Any economic system that requires that people die in order to put into place over the old system is an economic system that needs to be seriously reconsidered. Our current economic system has evolved naturally, but Kenneth is talking about a system that is requiring a “war” and literal casualties to bring it about and that is not good.

          Tell me Kenneth, who shall be the ones to die? The 1% made to pay for their crimes and excess, like the French nobility? Or the “99%” made to lay down their lives so that a new batch of people can replace the old 1%.

          It’s economics 101 people. There will always be people at the top and at the bottom. You can no more change this than you can change that some people will be smarter or stronger than others. And to try leads only to madness, stagnation and extinction.

          • Baruch Dreamstalker

            “Our current economic system has evolved naturally”

            This is simply not true. Our system has evolved and continues to be maintained by policies, with lobbyists for various economic interests holding enormous clout in DC. Indeed, “K Street,” home of many lobbyist offices, has become code for lobbyists.

          • http://heathenfaith.blogspot.com Norse Alchemist

            I was speaking more in terms historical. First we had the barter system, then we had the precious metals system, and then we came to the capitalist system (which arguably has existed in some form for pretty much the history of economics). The point I was trying to make is that they grew naturally out of each other. First we had just the things in themselves. Then we made money from metals, so that a man could sell his items, take that money, and go buy more items instead of having to take his livestock or products with him, and finally the advent of paper money. All through this we moved from barter to capitalism.

            But I think, Baruch, that you are dodging the issue of what Kenneth said that I was actually talking about: That People Will Die to bring for the new economic system.

          • Baruch Dreamstalker

            Alchemist, I’m having to reply to myself to respond to you.

            Capital*ism* has not been around for the history of economics. *Capital* has been around for a long time, but arrangements like the Mercantilism that settled Europeans in the New World preceded the system known as Capitalism.

            That was a product of policies. For example, the idea that corporations are persons is more than 100 years old, and it is a political idea that enhances the deployment of capital; the Supreme Court decision that OWS is protesting says that corporate persons have free speech rights.

            To address Kenneth’s point: I neither expect nor hope for a new economic system. The 20th century was littered with new economic systems, and nothing seems to produce wealth more reliably than a market-oriented system. I’m not a fan of such systems; I’m facing facts.

            What I would hope to see is the system we have, regulated capitalism, swing back more in the direction of reasonable regulation. As you may have noticed, some people on this thread have noted that the Reagan years marked a change in the direction of deregulation. This has proved to be a terrible blunder; the Great Recession is merely its latest bad outcome. So, I am a radical meliorist.

            The 1% (if I may use that shorthand) and its running dogs in the media will surely portray such a swing-back as a socialist revolution. This is why I’m not bothered that OWS has not produced position papers; they would be answered not by reasoned rebuttals but by demagogic bullshit. Why bother?

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=574896155 Ryan Smith

            Our current economic system decrees that thousands must die every day so insurance companies can make a profit.

            Next strawman please?

        • Robert Mathiesen

          What kenneth wrote!

        • CA

          The Occupy movement was conceived of, organized, and in large part, maintained by anarchists of various philosophical orientations. I have been an Occupier since the early planning of the Los Angeles encampment, and I can attest that the early days did not see “ordinary American[s]” taking the initiative. Rather, it was the “fringe”—the so-called radicals who the United States government has long sought to disparage and undermine with propaganda, misinformation, and concerted legal and military action—who were the roots from which the occupations sprang and blossomed. In attendance at the first general assemblies (leading up to the march on and occupation of City Hall) was a motley band of anarchists, communists, anarcho-communists, socialists, anarcho-pacifists, syndicalists, free market antistatists, and a few ‘regular’ folks. Those of us who harbored preconceptions were willing to put these aside and speak with one another until we arrived at a mutually acceptable course of action to address common problems. The forum in which we accomplished this—the general assembly—operated according to directly democratic (and in many cases consensus-based) non-binding decision making processes that paradoxically allowed for maximal free expression and idea exchange, in addition to total individual autonomy. This sort of forum has been used historically by leftists and left-anarchists; it has recent precedent in the student assemblies of the 1968 occupation movements, the popular assemblies of anarchist Andalusia during the 1930s, the communitarian self-governance of autonomous indigenous villages organized by the EZLN (Zapatista Army of National Liberation) in Chiapas during the 1990s, and in the union halls of the American labor movement of the early 20th century—particularly those occupied by the Wobblies (members of the syndicalist and antistatist industrial union known as the Industrial Workers of the World, or IWW).

          Putting aside for a moment the rich legacy of radicalism on which the present occupation movement stands, I will mention in conclusion that those “willing and able to stand in the line of battle and suffer tear gas and batons… people who will die for this cause” are, first and foremost, those who live every day of their lives in defiance of the systems and institutions that they find physically, ethically, intellectually, and spiritually unpalatable. Many such people are anarchists. To mischaracterize anarchist positions and history and to downplay their present contributions (or worse still, to set them up as straw people alongside “[ranting] hippies”) is at best to do profound disservice to the quality of debate surrounding the present occupation movement, and is at worst an exercise in intellectual dishonesty.

    • Sat-Sekhmet

      Thank you, kenneth. You write more lucidly and profoundly about the issues than I ever could, and I support what you have to say here. There is much in my worldview that supports where the Occupy movement would like to see the US go. More and more of us need to see that the political system is irretrievably broken–that the elected officials of both parties exist only to serve the 1%, their lobbyists and flunkies. Every citizen of this country needs to wake up, take back our country and live by many of the ideals with which the Constitution was written. This includes an end to corporate personhood, along with an end to the marginalization of the poor, the homeless and the hungry.

      It is significant to me that this movement has spread globally in a very short time. And everywhere the response of the 1% has been the same–to shut it down, close it off, marginalize its messages with stories and images of violence, when the only true violence is coming from the authorities.

      I and a number of people I know have been active in and/or supportive of the Occupy movement. We will continue to support this movement and its ideals.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/paganswithdisabilities/ Tara “Masery” Miller

    Jason, please contact me via Google+. Peter Dybing and some members of Officers of Avalon, Cara Schulz, T. Thorn Coyle, and Starhawk are putting together a discussion panel. Participants will be Pagan Activists and Police Officers. We started a Discussion Panel circle which I shared with you and a thread about the panel. Thank you.

    • http://www.facebook.com/EdAHubbard Ed Hubbard

      Hi, if interested on December 21st, we are doing a Pagans Tonight episode on Occupy, and I am looking at finding those who would love to explain it to my mostly confused audience on this subject.

      • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/paganswithdisabilities/ Tara “Masery” Miller

        I could do a general overview and offer reasons why people with disabilities tend to support the movement. My email is on my blog Staff of Asclepius here at Patheos.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=574896155 Ryan Smith

        I’m with Occupy Heathens (link for the curious@ http://www.facebook.com/groups/255219584523825/) and we have a number of people who are involved in the movement. If you’re looking for people to talk we’ve got a number of people who can provide a solid explanation of our perspective as Heathens. We’ve even got a declaration!

        • Baruch Dreamstalker

          For those who don’t do Facebook: What city are you in, Ryan?

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=574896155 Ryan Smith

            I’m personally in San Francisco but Occupy Heathens is nationwide. If anyone wants to contact me outside of FB my email is lonehawkboy AT hotmail.com

    • http://jadedhippy.blogspot.com whatsername

      Are you going to have active Occupy/Decolonize activists as well? Sorry if I misunderstand, but coming out of Berkeley/Oakland it seems extremely strange to me that a panel on this topic would include only pagans and police officers!

      No offense meant (my aunt is in the LAPD so please don’t view my criticism as black and white) but the police, in particular in Oakland, and honestly at most “occupation” sites, have NOT been friendly towards this movement or its participants… By and large they have “come out swinging” in defense of the 1%….

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Sara-Amis/4938819 Sara Amis

        Not Pagans and police officers. Pagan activists, and Pagan police officers…

      • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/paganswithdisabilities/ Tara “Masery” Miller

        The idea for the panel came out of Peter Dybing’s letter addressing conflicts between police and activists hoping to put some of the misconceptions to rest such.

  • http://sonneillon-v.livejournal.com/ Sonneillon

    + 1,000,000

  • Rahula

    yes, yes, and yes.

  • Kelley

    –The health care industry is the wild, wild West that some libertarians dream of, where “patients rights” are purely secondary to the profit margins. –

    The health care industry is probably the most regulated industry in the nation. It is no where near being either the “wild west” or what libertarians want. What we have now is nothing close to a test of what a free market would be. In a true free market, patients’ rights are human rights and are no more or less important than doctors’ rights.

    –If we are to have governments, then they must mirror what we say our ideals are–

    No; no, they must not. To enshrine our ethics in government, to force others to bend to our own ideas of what is proper and right, is to become that which we have fought against, as Pagans, for so long.

    Enshrine your ideals in your _life_, and leave everyone else to their own ethics.

    • http://sarenth.wordpress.com/ Sarenth

      I’m not sure I can agree with libertarian policy if the doctor and I are on the same footing from a rights perspective. The doctor is in a position of power and I am behold to hir skill, expertise, etc. Does the doctor have a right to make a profit, for instance, at my suffering? Does the doctor have a right to refuse my need for an operation if it goes against hir personal beliefs?

      Our governments mirror ideals regardless of whether we wish them to or not. When the federal government engaged Prohibition, that was an enshrining of ethics in our government. The protection of all religions in our Constitution is as much an ethical statement as it is legal one. The very construction of our legal system bends others to the ideas of right, wrong, proper and improper. We do not reward murder; we punish it. This alone is an ethical statement.

      I cannot leave a murderer to hir own ethics, as their ethics negatively impact society, and possibly my own, life. Likewise, I cannot leave a CEO whose sole purpose in life is to make money at the expense of their workers, the environment, etc. These have negative impacts on the workers, the environment, and potentially the availability of resources for others.

      I simply cannot agree with Free Market capitalism. My understanding of it more or less goes along the lines of Investopedia:
      “A market economy based on supply and demand with little or no government control. A completely free market is an idealized form of a market economy where buyers and sellers are allowed to transact freely (i.e. buy/sell/trade) based on a mutual agreement on price without state intervention in the form of taxes, subsidies or regulation.

      In financial markets, free market stocks are securities that are widely traded and whose prices are not affected by availability.”

      Read more: http://www.investopedia.com/terms/f/freemarket.asp#ixzz1fb5dFhpF

      This is simply unworkable from a consumer angle. Snake oil salespeople of all stripes can take advantage of such a system, with a caveat emptor attitude towards their customers. Regulation at the least allows consumers the ability to be afforded some protection from, say, predatory lenders and salespeople. Regulation allows restrictions to be made on the prescription of drugs and procedures, on the safety of food, etc.

      In short, not everyone acts ethically toward society or myself, so I cannot leave them to their own ethics.

      • Kelley

        The doctor has no more of an intrinsic position of power over you because of superior knowledge than a mechanic or a tutor, or than you have over him because he wants your money or trade. A doctor has a right to refuse service. I would not forcefully compel anyone to perform acts they would not do; plainly put, that is slavery.

        Prohibition was (and is) a disaster.

        No libertarian ever argued for a society where murder was condoned. The prime role of government, most libertarians argue, is to secure against the threat or initiation of force against another’s right to life, liberty or property. Murder, kidnapping, theft, fraud, trespassing or destruction of property are not disregarded in libertarian philosophy and to say otherwise is a straw man argument.

        In fact, most libertarians tend to be more rabid about such things than authoritarians. Consider the example of your hypothetical CEO, making money at the expense of the environment. The authoritarian solution to this is to regulate how much the company can pollute, which by definition means that some level of pollution is acceptable. As long as this CEO stays under that limit, a person subject to that pollution has no legal recourse. The libertarian, in contrast, allows no such exceptions. _Any_ amount of destruction of property or personal injury due to pollution affecting any person or that person’s land, air, or water would be legally actionable.

        Fraud, medical assault, and willful negligence in food safety leading to injury are all actual crimes. Prior restraint regulations and laws (making illegal those things which do no harm to others in the attempt to prevent actual crime), in addition to being unjust, also do not prevent bad outcomes. Deaths and injury due to medical mistakes are _rampant_ in the highly regulated hospital industry, as an example.

        Why try more of the same? Though everyone is _used_ to these intrusions, they are unjust and could be handled better without government force. There is a lot of talk of taking back the power; why not take it back _all the way_?

        How would you feel about being able to pick which safety procedures and types of drugs your doctor uses? I could also pick which set my doctor uses, though my preferences may be different than yours. A wonderful example of just this sort of consumer-oriented service is in the food industry, where private companies are set up for the express purpose of certifying standards, such as ‘ethically harvested’ or ‘local’, without the use of coercive force.

        One advantage is that these services are much less likely than government to fall prey to the machinations of the largest producers (regulatory capture) and much more likely to respond to the wishes of the consumer, most likely due to competition. Just about everybody knows that the USDA organics standard is no where near as good as the old private standards used to be, even before the states got involved.

        The ideal for government is the least which insures that everyone has the ability to pursue their own aesthetics and ideals save where such would impinge on the equivalent ability in others. Libertarians are for absolute respect of person and property and otherwise allowing people to express their own ethics in whatever way best suits them. Can you think of a better way to live?

        • http://sarenth.wordpress.com/ Sarenth

          “The doctor has no more of an intrinsic position of power over you because of superior knowledge than a mechanic or a tutor, or than you have over him because he wants your money or trade.”

          If I am ignorant of how my car works and I entrust my car to hir care, I am hoping that shi is acting in an ethical manner in regards to my car. Shi, thus, has power over me. Sure, I can shop around, but each mechanic has a similar power over me. I do not fully understand hir trade, and so, I am having to give my power of understanding my car over to them. They can take advantage of my ignorance, as a mechanic has done so before to me. A doctor, likewise, can act unethically though I mercifully have not experienced this. They act unethically within the regulation, or lack of regulation that we have already. The same goes for bankers, and most any other profession that I simply do not have enough grounding in to fully grasp X detail or Y procedure. I put my money into their hands in the hope that they act ethically, that they reciprocate my money with services that I need, and follow established regulations and standards of practice.

          Regulations are there to protect my wellbeing as well as that of the person I am receiving services from. They establish standard practices so that consumers like myself can know what to expect when we enter a doctor’s office, a car repair shop, or a bank. They establish levels of safety and conduct for workers, and that, in turn, protects the people within the company as well as without.

          “A doctor has a right to refuse service. I would not forcefully compel anyone to perform acts they would not do; plainly put, that is slavery.”

          This is from Physician’s News Digest:

          “Once a physician/patient relationship is established, the general rule is that a physician has a duty to continue to provide care to the patient until that relationship is terminated by the mutual consent of the physician and patient, the patient’s dismissal of the physician, the services of the physician are no longer needed or the physician properly withdraws from the physician/patient relationship.”

          Also:

          “Both the ethical opinions and legal precedents agree that a physician may not intentionally and unilaterally sever an existing relationship with any patient, unless the physician provides reasonable notice to the patient, in writing, and sufficient time to locate another physician. Failure of the physician to continue to provide care when the patient remains in need of care or failure to provide notice and an adequate opportunity for the patient to find another physician before the physician terminates the physician/patient relationship can be construed as the physician’s abandonment of the patient or dereliction of the physician’s duty if injury results.”

          You are absolutely right that a physician has the right to refuse service, but that decision is bound within certain ethical and legal frameworks. They cannot deny me because of my religion, for instance; this is pure discrimination. If they are a Jehovah’s Witness and cannot recommend blood transfusions because of their religious convictions, yes, I am free to find another doctor. However, once the doctor and I have entered into a ‘relationship’, that is, I or my insurance or the state is paying them, it is unethical and quite possibly illegal to refuse me service. Also, doctors in the ER don’t get to turn away someone who is dying just because a person may or may not be able to pay. Call it slavery, but I would call it heinous to have a system where a doctor who has the ability and training to save a life refuse to do so on the basis of being able to pay or not. Insofar as our regulations and many of the ethical ways in which doctors must operate to legally practice medicine say, they agree with me on this point.

          “Prohibition was (and is) a disaster.”

          No doubt, but my point on this still stands. The repeal of Prohibition was as much an ethical statement as it was a legal one, as was the case with the enactment of Prohibition.

          “No libertarian ever argued for a society where murder was condoned. The prime role of government, most libertarians argue, is to secure against the threat or initiation of force against another’s right to life, liberty or property. Murder, kidnapping, theft, fraud, trespassing or destruction of property are not disregarded in libertarian philosophy and to say otherwise is a straw man argument.”
          I did not say that a libertarian argued for a society in which murder was condoned. What I said was that there are reasons we make the decisions to condone certain behaviors and not others. My apologies if I conflated libertarian philosophy/governance with condoning murder; that was not what I was trying to say.

          My point was to take an extreme case, in the case of murder, and provide analogies to why we do not also condone, for instance, a CEO or company’s ability to destroy the water supply with effluence or treat their workers in poor conditions. The ethics behind both are the same: we seek to deny destructive behavior and punish it where it occurs. We thus, make an ethical statement about the status of people, murderers, workers, the environment, etc. While of course I see individual protections, such as protection from theft, murder, etc. in most libertarian philosophy (I have read from those who seek a kind of social/personal Darwinism as well), I do not see many protections beyond this enshrined in libertarian principles, especially in regards to workers and the environment.

          Frequently when I have cited instances where America engaged in laissez-faire capitalism, notably during the Industrial Revolution, I note that there were not regulations on child labor, the rights of workers, the impact of the industry on the environment, etc. While the Industrial Revolution and its many inventions, industries, and drive spurred incredible economic, political, and resource-oriented growth, it destroyed many lives and burdened its workers very unfairly, while paying them very little in regards to what the robber barons and CEOs were making at the time. That, and the environmental destruction was catastrophic. Those who had the money reaped the benefits, while the workers, including children, had to simply deal with amputation, black lung, and a host of other issues. The regulations that were eventually enacted protected workers, children, and whole communities from exploitation. That had to be done after years of campaigning, riots, police and hired muscle crackdowns. I would not see a return to where this is a possibility.

          “In fact, most libertarians tend to be more rabid about such things than authoritarians. Consider the example of your hypothetical CEO, making money at the expense of the environment. The authoritarian solution to this is to regulate how much the company can pollute, which by definition means that some level of pollution is acceptable. As long as this CEO stays under that limit, a person subject to that pollution has no legal recourse. The libertarian, in contrast, allows no such exceptions. _Any_ amount of destruction of property or personal injury due to pollution affecting any person or that person’s land, air, or water would be legally actionable.”

          Yet we are not living in an authoritarian system. We as citizens can and have petitioned our representatives, including local, State, and federal government, for a redress of grievances to these effects. However, I find this particular point of yours very intriguing. Hell, I may well be for it. I’m not one for throwing out the baby with the bathwater. It would definitely be a boon to people whose land has been poisoned or destroyed by upstream or other land development. However, I have a question: Who determines if it is legally actionable? Without standards set by government, I would imagine the ones setting what is legally actionable, or who down the line arbitrate such actions, would be set by companies and personally interested parties. How does libertarianism allow for the setting of standards, from weights and measures to law, without a solid corpus defining all these things, and setting standards of practice and determination for the settlement of grievances, and similar processes? How does the potential (not intrinsic; not everyone is unethical and some may act purely out of ethical reasoning) for conflicts of interest get resolved in such a society?

          “Fraud, medical assault, and willful negligence in food safety leading to injury are all actual crimes. Prior restraint regulations and laws (making illegal those things which do no harm to others in the attempt to prevent actual crime), in addition to being unjust, also do not prevent bad outcomes. Deaths and injury due to medical mistakes are _rampant_ in the highly regulated hospital industry, as an example.”

          You are right. No arguments here. The statistics state right out that you are far more likely to die of hospital industry mismanagement than you are of actual disease. I would say this is a symptom of how we deliver service in the industry, and this can be affected by changing hospitals away from for-profit institutions and into more non-profit models. It would also take a revision of how we deliver healthcare in this country, and the price for medical care would have to go down. We pay immense amounts to for-profit medical beneficiaries, insurances, medicines, etc. and get a fraction back from what we put into it. Socialized medicine would be one way to go, and I would sooner trust We the People, aka the government, than someone who makes a profit on whether I have an unnecessary test or procedure.

          “Why try more of the same? Though everyone is _used_ to these intrusions, they are unjust and could be handled better without government force. There is a lot of talk of taking back the power; why not take it back _all the way_?”

          I am unsure how these are intrusions, when many of the papers that we are required to sign are there to protect us from predation in the first place. I am not sure how these are intrusions or unjust; perhaps I am not seeing your point, or I’m being obtuse. You’re right, laws don’t always protect people from harm. Regulations don’t protect us from a staph infection when a nurse or doctor screws up. It doesn’t always protect us from human greed, vice, avarice, arrogance, wrath, or apathy. Yet, so long as there are human beings there have been lawbreakers, oathbreakers, liars, charlatans, and frauds. Laws, regulation, etc. give us, the common people, ways that we can determine others’ unethical behavior and business practices that we may not otherwise have knowledge of. For all the failures of law and law enforcement to protect people from criminals, there are millions and millions more following the rules and using them to protect themselves and others from those who would break the law.

          I have yet to understand how libertarianism would do such a thing on its own. I also do not understand what you mean when you say “take it back all the way”.

          “How would you feel about being able to pick which safety procedures and types of drugs your doctor uses? I could also pick which set my doctor uses, though my preferences may be different than yours. A wonderful example of just this sort of consumer-oriented service is in the food industry, where private companies are set up for the express purpose of certifying standards, such as ‘ethically harvested’ or ‘local’, without the use of coercive force.”

          I am ignorant of the many, many medicines with which my doctor has a working knowledge. I am ignorant of the many, many procedures with which my doctor may assess my health or conditions of treatment. I am not a doctor. I do not have hir specialized training, and as such, I cannot be expected to make informed choices about what a good practice would be for hir specialization. I would certainly not trust another person, ignorant of medicine, surgery, etc. to set standard practice for doctors.
          However, there are standards to which we can hold doctors, even in ignorance of the fullness of the practice. There are measures we have given doctors to hold up to, such as the providing of care, whether or not a certain procedure is medically required, etc. We impose these standards so that, while we may be ignorant to the full extent of what a procedure, prescription, etc. we as people, as their patients, are afforded protection from fraud, medical assault, and the like. I would not trust for-profit institutions to provide me more accurate information than, say, the non-profit certification bodies we currently have for medicine. Their ultimate goal is the bottom line, and not my safety. They may act as ethically as they please, but at their core, the for-profit motive is the informer of all that occurs within that company, organization, etc.

          I do not generally tend to trust companies on their certifying standards because these are in-house decisions and the standards can vary wildly from company to company on what ‘ethically harvested’ or ‘local’ means. This is how greenwashing takes off. Saying on your bottle that it “does not contain sulfates” is nice, until you look that up and realize that sulfates in shampoos were illegal since 1993. Saying something is ‘natural’ is also often used in greenwashing by companies, and is often a stand-in for ‘organic’, which in the industry has a certain amount of requirements to be counted as organic, and these we have standards for from the government. There are no such regulations for ‘natural’, except what the industry sets. There is, quite simply, no across-the-board accountability that exists with organic products.

          “One advantage is that these services are much less likely than government to fall prey to the machinations of the largest producers (regulatory capture) and much more likely to respond to the wishes of the consumer, most likely due to competition. Just about everybody knows that the USDA organics standard is nowhere near as good as the old private standards used to be, even before the states got involved.”

          I find this hard to believe. Where industry has flourished and set the standards in markets where it controls much of the share, the company tends to set the rules for the product. Sometimes this is a good thing. Competition between various computer companies can lead to better products and cheaper ones all around, promoting choice and diversity of product. On the other hand, Michigan has some of the best meat industry standards due to State standards for the industry. It sure didn’t get that way from the meat industry.

          A lot of industries would and do choose profitability, that is, cheaper manufactured resources with less emphasis on safety, when they are deregulated or without regulation. The banks did, providing loans to those who they knew could not afford them, engaging in CDS (Credit Default Swaps) and similar dangerous monetary practices. Until industry was curtailed by regulation on child labor and worker safety, most of our natural resource and manufacturing industries exploited these people without regard to their wellbeing or safety. I am not saying industry can’t provide its own regulations which are better held and more stringent than our government, but what I am saying is that this very seldom happens.

          According to its Mission Statement, the USDA “We provide leadership on food, agriculture, natural resources, and related issues based on sound public policy, the best available science, and efficient management.”. The USDA sets the standard, and it is up to companies if they wish to excel beyond that. The USDA determines baselines for healthy practice, natural resources, etc. They become the standard by which companies, private individuals and organizations are judged for the quality of product. Read Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle, or a brief overview of the history of industrial food production and the difference between industry regulation of food and our government’s regulation of food is in pretty stark contrast.

          “The ideal for government is the least which insures that everyone has the ability to pursue their own aesthetics and ideals save where such would impinge on the equivalent ability in others. Libertarians are for absolute respect of person and property and otherwise allowing people to express their own ethics in whatever way best suits them. Can you think of a better way to live?”

          We already have powerful protections behind this idea enshrined in the 1st and 9th Amendments. Again, I do not know all peoples’ ethics, and I am not a cultural or ethical relativist. I believe that there are standards by which we can be judged, whether the ‘we’ is people, organizations, companies, governments, and/or administrations. People, by and large, are already allowed the ability to express their own ethical principles, and for those that seek more ability to express their own ethical principles, there are a variety of methods that they are using to allow their principles to become part of the fabric of our country. Absolute respect of a person and property is fine, and something I agree with. I agree with allowing others to express their own ethics in whatever way best suits them, excepting in cases where it infringes on the health, safety, wellbeing, or ability of another to express their own ethics, and the same to them. I do not follow, however, how libertarianism intends to enshrine these principles when it is, by and large, a voluntary association.

          I am also unsure of how libertarianism is in any way better than our current system. I am reading critique, but I am seeing no redress of any of the points I have, so far, made. For instance, in regards to the environment and CEOs exploiting it, there is the point you made that we can litigate any destruction to the environment. How? How would this work in a libertarian framework? If it would work, would it work anywhere near as effective as our own system works, and if so, how and in what ways? How would such a system of government effectively rectify destruction to the environment? How does a person, or group of people determine best practices for an industry which may be exploiting them or the environment when the industry writes all the rules? How does one shop for, say, a better mining company, and enforce a mining company to certain practices under such a system? What about chemical companies that send their chemicals downriver, poisoning wildlife, people, and the soil?

          I’m willing to hear ideas on how this would work. I may not agree with everything in libertarianism, but again, I’m not one to throw out the baby with the bathwater.

          • Kelley

            Most doctors do adhere to ethical standards that they should render treatment in cases of need and I agree with you that that is a good thing. I would just not compel them by government force to give care where they would personally choose not, though I may disagree with the decision they have made.

            I also do not agree with the idea of allowing others to have so much power over me. If I hire a mechanic or a doctor or a tutor, I do so because they have knowledge I do not, but I do not give up my power to them. If they should commit fraud (“You need this fixed!” when you really don’t) or harm me through intent or negligence, then they should absolutely be held accountable.

            You are right, Prohibition _was_ an ethical statement; it is also amongst the very best arguments against legislating ethics.

            Libertarians are often quite passionate about the environment. “Protections” beyond individual and property rights are unjust and unnecessary.

            Ron Paul: “The environment is better protected under private property rights … We as property owners can’t violate our neighbors’ property. We can’t pollute their air or their water. We can’t dump our garbage on their property … Too often, conservatives and liberals fall short on defending environmental concerns, and they resort to saying, “Well, let’s turn it over to the EPA. The EPA will take care of us … We can divvy up the permits that allow you to pollute.” So I don’t particularly like that method.”

            As far as workers, the libertarian philosophy protects workers; we think that those who know best what will benefit them is the people themselves, and not some government bureaucrat. I often say that we have the most to fear from those who would protect us from ourselves.

            Libertarians, as a rule, do not want to see a return to the economies of the 19th century, any more than you do. The economic system during the Industrial Revolution may have been “capitalism”, depending on one’s definition, but it was most definitely not a free market. Government intervened in business and unions, on both sides, allowing and condoning theft, trespass, fraud, even murder. Interestingly, one of the most injurious manifestations of government force in the market is the creation of corporations, especially giving then limited liability.

            Libertarianism operates under a very simple premise: the Zero Aggression Principle. You can find good discussions of this in many places, but I will attempt to summarize.

            Basically, this is based on the idea that people are endowed with unalienable natural rights: life, liberty and property, to name the most well known. If someone initiates or threatens violence against your life, liberty or property, then they are at fault. This is true crime, not prior restraint. This is how we determine if something is actionable.

            If you like videos, here’s a nice one explaining it:
            http://www.isil.org/resources/philosophy-of-liberty-english.swf

            An authoritarian system is one that seeks government force to control non-criminal activities. I would disagree with you about whether or not we are living under an authoritarian system.

            Under a libertarian system, (non-criminal) standards are set by individual and individuals working together in consensual groups, for themselves. This actually works exceptionally well for resolving conflicts of interest: because no one is allowed to impose their ideas of (non-criminal) behavior on another with force, so no one is allowed to make policy decisions based on what their crony or campaign contributor says.

            I could not agree more that our health care system needs re-vamping, for all the reasons you mention. This is a wonderful example of the conflicts of interest that inevitably happen when governmental force is used to dictate non-criminal actions. (I am _not_ speaking of getting rid of disapprobation of “lawbreakers, oathbreakers, liars, charlatans, and frauds” when I discuss getting government out of health care (or anything), though you seem intent on thinking so.)

            Getting the government out of medicine allows for something few people have thought of: we would no longer have _a_ health care system, but rather _many_ health care systems. This was the point I was trying to make with my question about picking standards. You get to pick who you would like to advise you, such as the fictional “American Association of Medical Doctors”, and I get who I would like to advise me, like the equally-fictitious “Herbalists for Medical Choice”.

            Intelligent, well-educated people can differ on many things and libertarianism allows us to differ without imposing our standards on others. Government has no special powers to make those that work for it smarter or more capable than others; it merely has the social sanction to use force to compel adherence with its policies.

            The same is true for food standards. There are certifying companies out there whose standards are laughable; mostly these get figured out soon and then are no longer paid attention to. If you don’t like a private standard, you seek another one you do agree with or start your own. Don’t like a ‘regulation’? Well, you have a problem, there.

            So, how does this work? To go into _all_ the details would make this tome of a post longer than it already is, so I shall use our example of environmental protections. You own a piece of land. On your land, you wish to have a mine. So, you use whatever method you feel is best to extract whatever it is you are extracting from your own land.

            You may not extract from my land, without permission; you may not pollute my land, air or water; and you may not do so to any one else’s land, air or water. You may not harm my person or my livestock or wild life living on my property through your activities. If you were to do any of these things, then you would be _criminally_ liable.

            After you have extracted your whatever, then you may take it to market. I may then decide if I wish to buy it. One of the factors I may use in deciding whether or not to buy your whatevers is what method you used to extract it and whether or not I feel it is environmental sound. You may have many such people thinking your methods are bad and choosing not buy from you. In order to sell at all, you may have to sell cheaply.

            You and others watching this will notice that they can get a higher price at market if they use a better method; they will begin to do so. Even if _you_ have chosen to continue, the damage is limited to your own property, which may be hard to replace if others won’t sell to you because of your mining practices.

            Additionally, even the damage you could do to your own property would be severely limited by the fact that it is _very_ hard to completely waste one’s own property without effecting those around you, which would be, as I said above, criminally liable. Ground water contamination and down-stream surface water contamination, two of the most common ways mining damages the environment, are straight out.

            I think a lot of people are misinformed about libertarianism; they get it confused with “right-wing” or what gets called conservatism. We are not pro-corporations or pro-crony-capitalism; we are pro-liberty. Libertarianism doesn’t neatly fit on the left-right spectrum; both “sides” of the mainstream debate are authoritarian, just about different things.

    • http://heathenfaith.blogspot.com Norse Alchemist

      Well said. The instant the State becomes the dictator or morality, is the instant that freedom of belief or action becomes forfeit.

    • Zachary Fisk

      Great reply Kelley I wanted to touch on those sentiments myself. I would add another concern of governments ‘mirroring’ us. In the US the majority of the people are Christian, should we scrap freedom of religion from the first amendment and adopt a national religion? We should be change we want to see and lead by example not force.

      Also Jason the libertarian dream is not to place patients rights second to profit. The dream is to place freedom first, they often use the profit model to illustrate how the market can deliver better healthcare.

      I’m often stunned after reading and following examples of how the most regulated industries are technologically stunted while service prices are escalating. Such as healthcare we need to look at new ways to deliver care and make it affordable to all. Why have the prices of televisions steadily dropped while healthcare costs soar? Why are optometrist services steadily improved and costs gone down under less regulations?

  • Ursyl

    “…but isn’t our government an extension of our collective will?”

    It certainly should be.
    Maybe that is also something that needs to be “occupied” as well.

    • http://heathenfaith.blogspot.com Norse Alchemist

      The problem with this, though, is the nature of that “will” and what it seeks. Ideally, the government is there to restrain the collective will, so that it cannot turn against any one or more groups.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=574896155 Ryan Smith

        Government must also restrain the power of other institutions. Just because government is the most effective tool for oppression doesn’t mean it is the only tool in an oppressor’s arsenal.

  • Haakon

    A nice effort for Shangri-La. Good luck with that.

    • http://quakerpagan.blogspot.com/ Cat C-B

      I find it interesting that essentially any public calls for taking a more moral or ethical position on any subject will be met with accusations of naivete and excessive idealism.

      I’m with Twain, though: I don’t think much of any man’s religion whose neighbor and whose dog are not the better for it. For too many Pagans, our religion is used to rationalize doing precisely and only what we individually enjoy.

      I’ll admit that I myself enjoyed hearing Jason’s reminder that ancient paganisms generally held their practitioners to standards of hospitality and care of the stranger: ie, they would have passed the Twain test.

      I hope my own religious practice does also.

      What are the specific moral and ethical imperatives of Paganism in the modern world? On that subject, good people may differ. But that there are some, I hope we can all agree–whether it seems like Shangri-La to a few non-religious Pagans or not.

      • http://heathenfaith.blogspot.com Norse Alchemist

        Except that those standards of hospitality were cultural, but not mandatory, and certainly were not regulated or demanded by the state. There’s a far cry from culturally saying a man should be charitable and hospitable, and forcibly taking said charity and hospitality in the name of “Justice.”

        Tyr, the Norse god of justice, gave his hand freely to the wolf. He did not demand another give that hand in his place.

        These things are personal, not public. Yes, people have rights, but the rights of one man do not mean you can subsume the rights of another, just because wyrd has smiled upon one and not the other.

        • http://quakerpagan.blogspot.com/ Cat C-B

          NA, those cultural norms were considered to be enforced by the gods–note merely by human law. If you’re implying that I want my own interpretation of what is moral or ethical conduct to be enshrined in a legal code, you’re not responding to what I wrote.

          If you’re implying that moral and ethical conduct were considered optional in ancient pagan societies, you’re even more off base.

          • http://heathenfaith.blogspot.com Norse Alchemist

            There is a difference between “Enforced by the Gods” and “Enforced by the State.”

            And I don’t think I’m off base. They were completely optional. You just had to be willing to face divine consequences.

          • http://sarenth.wordpress.com/ Sarenth

            Not in all ancient Pagan cultures was there a difference. Especially in Greece, Egypt and Rome.

            They were NOT completely optional. If you were a citizen of Rome, you sacrificed to the genius of the Emperor, unless, like the Jews, you had special permission not to.

        • Bookhousegal

          “”Tyr, the Norse god of justice, gave his hand freely to the wolf. He did not demand another give that hand in his place.”"

          You forget *why* He did that, and who for. Wasn’t cause of any wrong or contrivance of *his own,* was it?

  • Baruch Dreamstalker

    I agree with you. As someone who was in his twenties in the Sixties, I welcome the return of the massive peaceful confrontation for progress.

    About the polytheistic hospitality test: There is a folk Jewish tradition of leaving an empty chair at the table during a religious feast, against a possible visit by the prophet Elijah. Jesus, in Matthew 25, identifies himself with the “least” of humanity to say that when you clothe the naked, feed the hungry, etc, or when you spurn them, you are doing that to him. So the Abrahamics have picked up this meme in one way or another.

  • Nightfall

    Great post, Jason. Much needed, I think.

    I was at first uncomfortable with the word ‘occupy’. As others have said, it has some negative connotations, bringing to mind things like the occupation of Japan and British rule of India. Not very good stuff.
    But recently, and I realise that others have said this way better than I ever could, that ‘occupy’ means something altogether different. It means being fully present in the place which you are occupying. Present, having a voice, having a hand, participating. Occupying Wall Street is not so much yelling at the bankers and tearing them down (or at least, it shouldn’t be), but being part of the system, making it better, making it suit the needs of the people it’s supposed to serve. It’s tearing down the wall between us and them, so to speak. Unification of a certain sort. Because, by the Gods, do we need it.
    I think everyone can agree that the system ain’t functioning right.
    Anyway, my $0.02.

  • Anonymous

    Brilliant! Thank you for posting this!

  • Stormy

    The local Occupy where I live is one of the few still standing in terms of an overnight camp, and its being held together at the seams by earth-based practitioners of various types. I know of an indigenous shaman down there, several Reiki healers, various Wiccans of all stripes, and a Feri initiate who seems to hold the reins more than any one other person and also acts as a spokesperson for the group. What they have done is truly transformative, and the media here has been talking about their work on a daily basis. This Occupy is a perfect example of local pagans who walk their talk and have devoted themselves fully to social change in their local community.

    • Baruch Dreamstalker

      Stormy, can you share what city you are in, and links to (or at least names of) the media that have been covering it? (I’m guessing the Left Coast….)

      • Stormy

        I’m in Eugene, Oregon, where we have recently absorbed many from the Portland occupation which was just shut down. The Eugene occupation is being covered by the Register-Guard, the Eugene Weekly, and the local television affiliates for NBC (KVAL) and ABC (KEZI). Both the physical occupation as well as the people and politics behind is really just a remarkable story. The folks I mentioned earlier are not only amazingly holding together the occupation, but are also making quite a distinct impression upon local citizens and city officials alike. They are currently lobbying for a permanent site for the Occupy community here.

        • Baruch Dreamstalker

          Thanks!

  • Sharon Knight

    Thank you for writing this Jason. Very well said, and I appreciate you speaking out. I understand your desire not to appear “partisan” on the Wild Hunt. One of the beauties of the Occupy movement as I see it, is, it goes beyond partisanship itself. It is so much more than the usual protest cliches of granola munching hippies waving signs about everything. Soccer moms, small business owners, veterans, etc. are raising their voices.

    I support the Occupy movement as well. And I don’t fit neatly into a “socialist” or “capitalist” box.

    When you say “We need the dramatic excesses of our current capitalistic system to be reigned in” that hits the nail on the head for me.

    I support Occupy because it is not okay with me for my government to shower their big business cronies with dollars that I and my future generations will be expected to pay back. It is not okay with me that they crash the economic system, so that no matter how much money we earn it still amounts to pennies. This is a flaw of Capitalism unchecked.

    How is it that we have gotten ourselves into a situation where our government has the power to do this without our consent? This is a flaw of Socialism unchecked.

    It is my hope that we can stop dismissing each other as “Socialists” or “Capitalists” and start addressing the underlying issues, which are much more complex. Admittedly, it is far more scary to acknowledge that neither of these systems as they stand now have all the answers we need. But if we can get beyond dismissing one another as “parasitic hobos who want a handout” or selfish, greedy jerks” we might be able to really listen to each other. And that would be a great place to start.

    I take heart knowing that we are indeed the 99%. There are simply SOOO many more of us ‘regular folks’ than there are the super wealthy, that I don’t think it will be possible for them to control everything all the time. We will be able to regain power over our own lives eventually.

    On that note – while I feel it is important to try and steer our government into serving the people – whether that means more social services or less government involvement is up to you – I also don’t think we should wait around for our political situation to smooth out. I think we must organize within our own communities, and make sure we are able to take care of one another. Which I have a lot to say about, but this post is already plenty long. In short, let’s make the society we want to live in together, right now, without waiting to see if our protests will sway TPTB. Protests = just one piece. Let us not overlook the other pieces while we’re at it. I support action toward more self reliance within our own communities. Which last I checked was something that conservatives and liberals alike could agree on.

  • http://egregores.blogspot.com Apuleius Platonicus

    The tradition of what we today think of as “social justice” in ancient Paganism goes far beyond mere “hospitality”. For example, Pagan Athens was a hotbed of radical egalitarian ideas and social and political experimentation. And Pagan Rome was “multicultural” long before multiculturalism was cool.

    The Egyptian religious text “The Book of the Coming Forth By Day” (aka “Egyptian Book of the Dead”), which dates to before 1000 BC, states in one section:

    “I have not oppressed servants….
    I have not defrauded the poor of their property…..
    I have not caused harm to be done to a servant by his master.
    I have not caused pain.
    I have caused no man to hunger.
    I have made no one weep.
    I have not killed.
    I have not given the order to kill.
    I have not inflicted pain on anyone…..
    I have not stolen milk from the mouths of children…..
    I have given bread to the hungry man, and water to the thirsty man,
    And clothes to the naked man, and a boat to the boatless.”

    • Anonymous

      <<<(smiles at A.P.)

    • http://witchesandscientists.blogspot.com Gene

      Kewl! ;)

    • http://quakerpagan.blogspot.com/ Cat C-B

      Thanks for the wider context, Ap. I look forward to the day when I see most modern Pagans, of whatever pantheon, really striving to live up to ideals that were old long before the birth of monotheism.

      • Bookhousegal

        Frankly, Cat, I look forward to the day when people don’t so casually claim ‘most’ do not.

      • Bookhousegal

        I might add, too, that I think that in terms of living our ideals, ‘Most Pagans’ are trying to dance with two feet in three ‘worlds:’ what this one is supposed to be, what this one is, and our own.

        Not everyone dances the same that way, and who’s to say I served best by not accepting that?

    • Nightfall

      Thank you so much!! Egyptian paganism doesn’t get much mention usually.

    • Sat-Sekhmet

      Enshrined in the laws of Ma’at as well. I am grateful for the reference to a piece of my path.

    • http://paosirdjhutmosu.wordpress.com Djhutmosu Si-Hathor

      Thank you for this. :)
      I don’t think there’s a single religion on Earth that the condones the kind of greed, short-sightedness, and lack of empathy that has gotten the world into this mess, yet there are many people who don’t seem to realize this. ☥

  • Sabina Magliocco

    Right on, Jason! Thank you for this; it’s an eloquent and important piece of writing.

  • Anonymous

    You’re so right about health care. The company my husband works for closed its doors after more than 50 years in business. I’ve carried him on my health insurance for years so we’re OK, but many of his co-workers now find themselves in a tough situation. Cobra will kick in for a while, but it’s expensive, especially when you’re unemployed, and many are finding that family coverage is prohibitively expensive.

    Your endorsement comes at a good time, Jason. I think Occupy fatigue is starting to set in for some people. It’s important to remember why they’re out there.

  • Jonathan Korman

    Well said, sir. And

  • henry

    “Now is the time for Pagans of a like mind to envision what our social justice looks like, to craft a theological and historical framework for a future where we have a voice, because that future is happening now.”
    More ‘theological framework”? there’s too much of that already in politics.

    • http://sarenth.wordpress.com/ Sarenth

      Perhaps, but I could see it in the context of a communal as well as personal theological framework for ourselves, and a historical framework of where our values intersect with what should be our nation’s secular rules. We don’t have religious tests for office, but that does not mean that our religion does not affect our decisions, whether they are personal, political, communal, etc.

      A lot of Pagan theologies stress personal responsibility alongside the responsibility to provide for the family, community, and guests. In deep contrast to what I see in politics right now, and possibly into the future, that would be a welcome change for me.

      • henry

        understand what you’re saying. agree with the personal framework to work from. There really isn’t a communal framework, nor would I like to see one, as it has the scent of an imposed framework.
        My thoughts are keeping theological framework out of the rhetoric. One doesn’t need a theological rationale to treat people decently.

        • http://sarenth.wordpress.com/ Sarenth

          I deeply agree with this: “One doesn’t need a theological rationale to treat people decently.”

          I wasn’t trying to say we must impose a framework, but more that a revitalization of our society, small and large scale, can have its inspiration and longevity informed by our religious ethos. For clarification, when I said communal I wasn’t meaning the whole of Paganism needs to agree or impose a framework; I was meaning individual communities or Pagan religions underneath the umbrella of Paganism. I think politics could stand to gain from the wisdom of Wicca, or Heathenry. I don’t think that should imply its framework is a thing forced onto society.

          Let me ask: when you say “keeping theological framework out of the rhetoric” what do you mean?

          • henry

            I mean things like declaring occupy camps as ‘sacred space’ and portraying as some sort of religious duty to participate.

          • http://sarenth.wordpress.com/ Sarenth

            For some people they are sacred spaces for one reason or another.

            I wouldn’t say that the Occupy spaces are more sacred than, say, where my altar rests, but they can be places of cross-cultural communication, and religious experience. The last Occupy event I went to, people were teaching Yoga, and others were teaching on the issues that the Occupy movement represents. Just because someone takes a theological tack doesn’t mean the whole of Occupy or even that area of Occupy, is all about that.

            For some people, especially for whom activism is part of their spirituality, it may well be a religious duty for them. It doesn’t, I don’t feel, make it a religious duty for all, or really for anyone except those who accept that activism is part of their spirituality.

            What is of concern, to you, for people declaring these spaces sacred, and/or it being part of their religious duty to participate in the Occupy movement? I believe I understand, but I do not want to assume.

  • Juliaki

    My big concern about the idea of us 99% vs. them 1% is that everyone is *someone’s* 1% once we take this beyond just economic class warfare. If the 99% of non-pagans out there decided to “occupy” the 1% pagans out of society, how would we respond? What it if were a geographic issue? Or an ethnic issue? Or some other arbitrary identifier to segregate people into “us” and “them”.

    For me, my faith and personal practices do not require (or even advise) standing up with a group for the sake of standing up with a group, but does suggest standing up for clearly defined causes that are well-thought, well-run, and in line with my personal views.

    So for the different occupy movements, give me some sort of tangible universal message for me to pin my flag to, and I’ll support in the ways that are a best fit in line with my abilities and ethics. Until there’s a message more clear than just “tear down the 1%”, I don’t have any good options except to sit back and watch or tune out and ignore.

    I am a witch–I am someone’s 1%.

    • http://www.wildhunt.org/blog/ Jason Pitzl-Waters

      “tear down the 1%”

      That isn’t the message of the Occupy movement. They don’t want to “tear down” the 1%, they just want economic reform and a more level playing field. The various Occupy movements are remarkably consistent in this message.

      • Juliaki

        And therein is the PR problem… I’ve heard the line about economic reform, but when I ask individuals how that is to be done, step 1 consistently seems to be to remove the 1% from power and/or influence. Am I just running in to the wrong part of the occupy movement? What is the action-plan-focused message? What verbs are there in the official occupy statement?

        • Baruch Dreamstalker

          Juliaki, the Occupy movement manages to exist without action plans and official statements. Some find this baffling, but the result is a movement that does not try to keep everyone on the same page, because there is no page.

          • http://heathenfaith.blogspot.com Norse Alchemist

            Actually, that’s changing. As they have been moved from the parks, they’ve started getting office buildings and moving into buildings, and they’re going from a leaderless blob to something that’s hashing out a plan of action and where they want to take this “occupation.”

          • Baruch Dreamstalker

            The brick-and-mortar occupations represent a change in venue for the same movement. Whether they stimulate an evolution into a movement that makes lists of demands, remains to be seen. I personally hope OWS gets beyond the “We’re mad as hell and we’re not going to take it any longer!” stage.

          • Juliaki

            Like Baruch, I do hope that different occupy movements can move beyond the “mad as hell” position and in to actionable goals. Sara mentioned below the idea of overturning Citizens United. That is an example of a specific goal in line with my ethics. From that point, I would want to know what steps are to be taken, and what I as an individual could do to tangibly make a difference. As a top of the Beltway resident and former DuPont Circle worker, I am very used to rallies on any number of topics. What I have seen is that those rallies that are effective use the enthusiasm as fuel to drive the machine of change that occurs in paperwork, meetings, legal battles, and other painfully dull acts of reform. The enthusiasm has been there (although rally fatigue is setting in for both the participants and those whose lives are disrupted by a nontrivial minority who behave poorly). Now,do you let the machine idle until the fuel runs dry or do you put this baby in motion? I want to hear more stories about what actual changes are being strategized and less about the lack of sanitary conditions in Tent City. Although it goes against some of the occupy mindset, maybe having people go out as spokespersons to do the media circuit is needed. What I am hearing is that if this movement matures in its message and it’s ability to act for tangible change, there might be something for those of us who do not identify as 1 or 99 percent to hang on to support. I am more than willing to watch and wait…and even hold out hope for the best.

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=574896155 Ryan Smith

            To my knowledge that has been floated as a proposal for cities to get them out of sight and out of mind. So far no General Assembly has accepted the offers for office space.

        • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=548883612 Flame Bridesdottir

          Occupy is a social movement. Not a Monday morning ad agency pitch session replete with the latest buzzwords.

          • Sat-Sekhmet

            Indeed, the best thing about the Occupy movement is that it doesn’t allow itself to be reduced to a series of simple slogans or ideas. The problems it is addressing are deep, serious and complex, and require deep, serious, complex thinking to solve them. They’ve started a dialogue that has been sorely missing in a country where political campaigns have been reduced to 30 meaningless sound bite attack ads.

        • http://quakerpagan.blogspot.com/ Cat C-B

          Really? Because I’m hearing things like overturning Citizens United, raising taxes on the wealthy to levels consistent with administrations prior to that of George W. Bush’s, and re-examining generally the interface of corporate “personhood” with money in politics.

          Would that result in the removal of the wealthiest from power and influence? If so, it really does suggest we already have the best democracy money can buy.

        • Bookhousegal

          You say ‘Remove,’ Juliaki, but no one says we as people have to ‘remove’ anything from you by saying you don’t get as big a cut *next* year.

          See?

    • kenneth

      Yes, you are someone’s 1%, but I’m going to bet that you’re not screwing 300 million people out of a living by the mere fact of your being a demographic minority. Nobody, or at least nobody that matters, wants to “tear down the 1%.”

      We don’t want to drag them to the guillotine or even deny them their money in any real sense of the word. We want to force them to acknowledge that the rest of us do not live at or for their pleasure. We want to make them realize that the sustainability of their position ultimately depends on the sustainability of ours.

      This is not a radical idea. Until quite recently, the 1% understood this concept quite well. From about the Depression up through the 70s, at least, the wealthy classes knew that they had to allow SOMETHING to flow back to the rest so that there was a middle class. The knew that peace and avoidance of real class war depended on most people having a realistic shot at the American Dream, as modest as that was. If you want a universal message to pin your flag to, here’s one to run up the pole. “Make America Work for Everyone.”

      • Juliaki

        Hi Kenneth,

        Thanks for the succinct reply. Although it is still missing actual action (what I am picturing is that if the 1% took out some apology billboards, all would be forgotten, and I don’t realistically think that is what is desired even though that would be a public acknowledgment), that is a better description of a goal than I have seen.

        Because Make America Work for Everyone isn’t in line with my personal ethics, I am afraid I can’t rally around that, however. Thank you for taking the time to explain the organization’s views, and have a wonderful winter season!

    • http://jadedhippy.blogspot.com whatsername

      I would really encourage you to find some event that speaks to you that your local Occupy/Decolonize group is putting on and get involved. Honestly, this is not a movement with policy platforms or just one message, part of this thing is that is morphs with locality. In other words Occupy Oakland and Occupy Wall Street have some concepts and practices in common but they are also distinct movements. This is something that really has to be experienced more than talked about on the internet for you to “get it”. And don’t get me wrong…I love talking about things on the internet…

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=548883612 Flame Bridesdottir

      I am beyond tired of hearing people oversimplify and disingenuously claim that the only message they’re hearing from the Occupy movement is “tear down the 1%.” If that is all you’re hearing, you’re either being deliberately obtuse, lazy, or engaging in dismissive language that absolves you of actually having to clarify *your* message and position.

      • http://www.tigerseyetemple.org Dan Miller

        Right on with this FB. The factual information about Occupy is out there, just mere seconds away in this instant information age. Occupy is not hiding information from you Juliaki, but it does take a modicum of effort on your part, which I hope you’ll do.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Sara-Amis/4938819 Sara Amis

      1% here doesn’t refer just to being a minority. It refers to the fact that 1% of the population controls 30-40% of the wealth, a bigger wealth disparity than we have had for over a hundred years. It is not a coincidence that we now have the exact conditions that created the Great Depression, and that those conditions developed after a prolonged campaign to remove all of the legal protections enacted during the New Deal which were intended to PREVENT a repeat. This campaign succeeded because of the way that that same 1% holds an undue influence in our politics, by virtue of campaign contributions, PACS, and paid lobbyists. A vicious circle has developed wherein the corporations buy political influence which gets them favorable legislation geared towards short-term profits for them at the expense of everyone else (and in come cases their own long-term interests; just ask Lehman Brothers and AIG, who fought regulation of derivatives trading ferociously). They make more money, which they in turn dump into political contributions and lobbying, and so on around the merry-go-round. The corruption of our political process is profound and longstanding and has led to absurdities such as the Citizens United ruling which declared that political contributions by corporations is protected free speech because corporations are legal persons. It’s a complex situation that developed slowly over three decades and does not lend itself to simple solutions or thirty-second sound bites. However, the broad shape of the solutions that are being suggested and discussed in Occupy Atlanta and elsewhere include campaign finance reform, restoring the provisions of the Glass-Stegal Act, overturning the Citizens United decision, abolishing or seriously restricting the concept of corporate personhood, and similar ideas. More profound solutions include re-examining the system that consistently produces such abuses, and working towards economic democracy.

    • Robert Mathiesen

      For me, one of the great strengths of the Occupy movement is that it is *not* offering a specific political message or a specific political program around which one might form a movement.

      Now that I have some seven decades of life under my belt, I have become convinced that the era of effective political movements is over in the United States forever.

      The “establishment” has figured out how to co-opt any and all political movements, the marketers have learned how to commodify them, the professional activists have reduced the art of taking them over to a fine science, the media turns them into nothing more than titillating news items — and eventually they lose all the power that their supporters hoped they might have. Also, the technology for shaping public opinion is very far advanced now, as are the methods of quietly stealing elections. I do not see any way for any political movement to be as effective now as they sometimes were in the ’60s or earlier.

      Rather, deep structural change — if it can come at all — can only come in our times if and when a *very great* number of citizens, ideally a super-majority, refuse to participate in the system any more than circumstances absolutely force them to, and they also bear convincing witness that they will never again participate in it. They seem to me to be saying something like, “We have a huge problem here, and it’s no going to get fixed until you — the ones with all the money, all the power and all the influence — are willing to work on fixing it with the rest of us. If you won’t work with us, then it’s not going to get fixed, and none of us will like the results of that. As for us, We Who Occupy are no longer living our lives as usual, and we are not planning to live them as usual for however may years it takes to fix things.” This sort of radical witness does take months and years of sacrifice before it becomes truly convincing, and usually it does cost many lives. But I think it is the only thing that has a chance of making a difference.

      And even this approach is a long shot . . . It may never happen, or it may not work. In that case, things will only get worse and worse without limit — even for the so-called 1%, and certainly for the rest of us.

  • http://jadedhippy.blogspot.com whatsername

    Thank you for writing about this Jason!!! I too think this is really important for pagans to get involved in, that this is a moment where a lot of what I believe can really begin to be put into practice with regards to economic and social justice (and those things are intertwined with my own faith).

    The only thing I would add to the discussion so far is that as pagans/Neopagans/Wiccans, etc. it is REALLY important for us to stand in solidarity with First Nations/Indigenous/Native activists in understanding how we can “occupy to decolonize”.

  • Cara

    Where you lose is when you call for the government to force your neighbor to live your ethics to the level described. That isn’t government as “an extension of our collective will” (a more moral place to live) – it is a coercive measure to remove peoples’ will.

    Yes, there is a hospitality test in polytheism. Very true. But in every story the most important part was that the hospitality shown came from the heart, not because they were forced. Once it is forced, it is no longer hospitality, it is theft.

    I don’t believe every person should be guaranteed in the Constitution of the United States a living wage job. I’ve worked with some people who were incompetent, destructive, cruel, lazy, etc. They shouldn’t they be fired? How would every person be guaranteed a job? A job they like or a job they are forced to do?

    What about personal choice? About Will? If I make decisions am I to be striped of the consequences of those decisions – good or bad?

    I help my fellow man. I think there are many ways our government could be more responsive to its citizens. I think there is much good that can come out of the Occupy movement and I support peoples’ right to Free Speech and freedom of assemble. I’ve been horrified by the coordinated violent reaction to the Occupy movement. But I can’t support granting the government MORE power over my life.

    They are too powerful already and I don’t trust them.

    • kenneth

      I don’t see the movement’s purpose as demanding that the government force anyone to retain incompetent workers or to create useless makework positions. No do I think anyone really envisions a “guarantee” for jobs or a system where everyone gets paid regardless of talent and drive.

      The Social Compact, when it worked, was not really a guarantee that any one individual would get anything, save for a reasonable opportunity. What it did mean was that MOST people who were willing to work hard and to improve themselves would have a realistic chance to make a reasonable living most of the time.

      That sort of social compact is not primarily created or enforced by the government, but government does have a role in curbing heinous abuses that corrode and undermine the social compact. I think most Occupy people, at least those who understand what our country historically stands for, would agree 100% with you that government should not shield people from the consequences of their own poor choices (barring children and incompetents). I would take that a step further though and state that is the very reason we are in the mess we now face. Government HAS been doing that very thing. The corporations who drove their businesses into the ground got taxpayer bailouts. We have pure socialism in this country right now, but only for the 1%.

      This really isn’t a project to give the government more or less power. It’s about motivating it to use the power they have wisely and for all of our benefit.

      All we really want from the government is:

      1) Stop helping the criminals screw us. 2)Don’t “help” us by giving us one-time or short term handouts. Make some strategic investments that will move us forward and make us the contender in the world economy that we used to be.

      The problem, in brief, is that NOBODY on the left or right in power right now has any real program to grow the pie that feeds us all. They’re concerned about helping their various interest groups stake out the biggest piece they can get in a zero sum game and then try to fortify their financial and social positions forever. That’s feudalism, and it’s not what our country was meant to be….

      • http://heathenfaith.blogspot.com Norse Alchemist

        It’s interesting then, that the more the government tries to regulate, the smaller the chance of personal growth and chance has gotten. Sure, there’s a need to regulate somethings, but as we’ve regulated more and more, things have gotten worse. Look at the levels of regulation in the 20′s, 50′s, 80′s, and the 00′s and look at the amounts of regulation.

        Kenneth, yes, your points 1 and 2 are all we really want from the government. The problem is that not everyone shares that view, and those that don’t have gotten the power to make their view the one in action. and now we’ve got more like 2,000 points.

        Cara is right. hospitality by force is not hospitality. Social and Economic justice, enforce by the state or the “collective will” is not Justice. It too, is not but theft.

        • http://sarenth.wordpress.com/ Sarenth

          I think you will find that we suffered more catastrophe from deregulation. The deregulation of banks in the late 70s and early 80s gave us the Savings and Loan Scandals. The deregulation of the banks and loan programs in the 90s and early 00s gave us the market crash and housing bubble of 2008 and the global meltdown that still has yet to be resolved. Where government removed its protective hand, predators from industry have moved in to exploit the absence of oversight.

          • Thriceraven

            I think it’s also worth looking at what has worked in other countries. Here in Canada, our economy is nowhere near as bad as it is in the U.S. Without exception, this is attributed to the greater regulations we had on our financial system. And we do this with single-payer socialized health care, which affords us better health as a society by several important measures, including greater life expectancy and better maternal health outcomes. It appears that these sorts of government interventions are working for us.

            What about other economies that are working? Germany has been a bastion of growth (notwithstanding the troubles the Eurozone is in right now) the social safety net is so strong there that Democratic policies in the U.S. would be considered right wing in Germany.

            The U.S. has the most free of free-market economies in the first world, and it doesn’t seem to be working out all that well. Run your country the way you wish of course (I have no say, as a Canadian) but it might be worth looking at evidence of success.

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Sara-Amis/4938819 Sara Amis

            Yeah, pretty much, what you said. I don’t see how ANYONE can look at what happened in 2008, and how it happened, and conclude that regulation is the problem. Also, the boom-time 1950s were solidly a product of a regulated liberal state where even the Republicans wouldn’t try to touch Social Security or other social safety net programs, and the boom *lasted* whereas the 1920s boom led directly to the Great Depression, and had been preceded by a series of increasingly severe booms and busts. The fad for deregulation in the 80s produced high-level fraud and the recession of the early 90s. History demonstrates over and over that corporations will *always* tend to act in the interests of short-term profit to the detriment of everything else, unless forced to do otherwise, and the bigger they are, the less they are guided by any human being’s conscience.

            I also do not accept the premise that the government is the only source of coercion and constraint. The wealthiest people in this country control the media we see, the conditions under which we work, the availability of both goods and jobs (often based on foolish personal prejudices rather than any economic rationale), and also hold an absolutely outrageous amount of influence over the political process. Meanwhile they enjoy apparent total immunity from the consequences of their own behavior; the fact that no one has gone to jail or even been investigated for the massive, global-economy-busting fraud and malfeasance that happened in 2008, is a demonstration of that.

          • http://heathenfaith.blogspot.com Norse Alchemist

            Ah, but the market crash and housing bubble that resulted from something that wasn’t really a deregulation. The banks were forced into that because the Clinton government told them: “We see you haven’t been loaning to minorities as much as we like, because they aren’t economically safe to lend to. Well, that stops now or we start investigating you for ‘racism’ understand?”

            So the banks, knowing what such “investigations” would lead to, gave in to the government. They gave loans to people with no hope of repaying them, setting the stage for our current economic woe.

          • Baruch Dreamstalker

            “The banks were forced [...]”

            Alchemist, I’ve seen this assertion before and I’d like you to verify it if you can. (And I don’t mean Fox News or Rush, but a respectable source.)

            Two decades before Clinton the Community Reinvestment Act forbade banks to “redline” areas, designate them as zones where no mortgages would be granted. It did not require any particular person to be granted a mortgage and certainly did not require the unqualified to be given mortgages. It was a move to inhibit racial discrimination.

            I was a community activist at the time, and was involved in monitoring CRA compliance.

            Your formulation, as far as I can see, is a conservative fabrication intended to blame government for the fecklessness of banks. I would be interested if you have evidence to the contrary.

          • http://heathenfaith.blogspot.com Norse Alchemist

            I will see if I can find some articles on it.

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1650681499 Diotima Mantineia

            The nonsensical and oft-repeated soundbite of “The Clinton administration caused the financial crisis by forcing loans to minorities” just won’t seem to go away. Apprehending the reality of the situation requires some work — following actual data arranged into a lucid argument. For those with the time and energy, here are a couple of links to the data and the arguments that refute the soundbite: http://www.truth-out.org/private-sector-loans-not-fannie-or-freddie-triggered-crisis/1321912124
            http://www.splcenter.org/get-informed/intelligence-report/browse-all-issues/2009/spring/minority-meltdown

        • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=574896155 Ryan Smith

          The current performance of the German economy shoots a giant hole in your argument. Statistically speaking per capita income, life expectancy, infant mortality, literacy, and social mobility in Germany are BETTER than in the United States. Germany is also posting substantially lower unemployment than the US (currently at 5.8% in Germany) and faster GDP growth (3.6% vs 2.9%). Looks to me like government regulation is doing the Germans just fine!

          • http://heathenfaith.blogspot.com Norse Alchemist

            Okay, 1) You are aware of the Giant Economic Crisis over in Europe, right? This includes Germany, which I heard is starting to destabilize too. 2) there is a difference, between Germany functioning like that, inside the European Union, and The US fuctioning. Size matters. Basically, Germany is working much like a State in the US works. Some States are doing better than others. Now, the better analogy would be comparing how regulation has effected both the US and the EU, rather than the US to Germany.

          • Bookhousegal

            They shouldn’ta listened to the big unregulated corporate banks and their bookkeeping games, then, should they have?

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=574896155 Ryan Smith

            That’s a patently false comparison using sets of data that do not properly match up. For one the EU is NOT, by any stretch of the imagination, a government in the sense that the United States is. It does not have anywhere near the policymaking power or regulatory authority the US government does. Making that comparison is one founded on incomplete facts and evidence, something you do pretty often.

            For two since you want to claim Germany compares to US states none of the states in America are performing anywhere near as well as Germany economically speaking. The only ones that come close are Nebraska and the Dakotas thanks to their largely agrarian economies that have been more or less unaffected by the housing bubble. Even then when you look at those states Germany still does better on per capita income, literacy, and all the other stats I previously cited.

            Try again, this time with facts using something called consistent academic methodology. You claim to be a smart guy so I’m going to assume you have an inkling of what that means.

      • Cara Schulz

        Click on the link “Second Bill of Rights”

    • Cigfran

      > Where you lose is when you call for the government to force your neighbor to live your ethics to the level described.

      Enumerate the ‘freedoms’ you believe that you now have, that would be eliminated by the kinds of policies generally called for by the Occupy movement. Specify the government powers that do not already exist, that you are afraid would be given more control over your life.

      The fact is that you already live – and, absent anarchy or utopia, will always live – in a society shaped by an ethical outlook. The fact is also that the power in this society is largely given to, vested in and defended by a culture of sociopathic greed.

      The big lie – the hook that the ’1%’ use to control *you* – is that the alternative to their control is the Soviet Union and total state control.

    • http://www.wildhunt.org/blog/ Jason Pitzl-Waters

      Did you know the government passed a Full Employment law in 1978? It quote: “expressly allows the government to create a “reservoir of public employment.” These jobs are required to be in the lower ranges of skill and pay to minimize competition with the private sector.” The threshold for invoking that clause is when unemployment is over 4%.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Humphrey-Hawkins_Full_Employment_Act

      This power has never been used.

    • http://www.wildhunt.org/blog/ Jason Pitzl-Waters

      Cara, I know we don’t see eye to eye politically, but I’d argue that, since Reagan, many of us on the left have been forced to live under ethics we don’t agree with. The political center, but any sane accounting, has only moved rightward since Reagan (it was Clinton who oversaw the “reform” of welfare after all). Obama, again by any dispassionate observer, is a dyed-in-the-wool moderate, yet he’s treated like the second coming of socialism.

      Tell you what, I’ll be happy to give up the “right to work” if we can at least enshrine the right to health care and the right to not go hungry. How about that?

      • Cara Schulz

        Jason – you’ve spoken from the heart, and I grant full respect and honor to that. Your words also resonate deeply with many. This has been an epiphany moment for me.

        Your post is about much more than the Occupy movement. What you’ve done is clearly outlined “This is who we are” for the Contemporary Pagan movement. People have argued for so long now about what the Pagan umbrella means and I believe you have laid out what connects groups under the umbrella. It isn’t mainly about religion, it’s a social and political outlook. One of the reasons The Wild Hunt has been so successful is (besides the fact that you are so consistent and dedicated) that you have a feeling for the soul of the movement. You see what is really there.

        I’m a fairly stubborn person, but not a stupid one. My tilting at windmills is done.

        • http://heathenfaith.blogspot.com Norse Alchemist

          I fear I understand what Cara is saying, and she is right. Too much these days, it seems that Paganism has become a set political view wrapped up in the old gods. Is it any wonder we have the current Pagan/Heathen schism?

          I see people here saying “The gods demand we take this action!” or “Our Paths demand we follow the course and join the Occupation.” They speak of universalism and justice.

          Sometimes I wonder how many are “Pagan” simply because they will not be Christian, but can’t handle the implications of Atheism. But then, I sometimes wonder, if they truly understand what Paganism really is.

          Paganism is pluralistic and accepting, this is true. Paganism doesn’t care what gods you worship or what views you hold. (And here already we see a betrayal of this principle, in those who lash out against those that do not agree politically or morally with them). But Paganism is dark. Paganism is the natural world and it’s spiritual extensions. Paganism at its core contains a heart of darkness and violence. It is not an egalitarian religion, it is a near Darwinist religion.

          Paganism, true honest Paganism as practiced by our ancestors, was not universalism. It is the antithesis to universalism.

          Social justice is not found in the old Paganism. The Gods would laugh at the concept (and then Zeus would likely hurl a lightning bolt at someone). Yes, there are rules of hospitality and taking care of the poor, but there is also the Glorification of the strong, the noble! In the Old Paganism, in it’s ideals, is the glorification of what people here call the 1%! Not the call for their destruction!

          New Paganism, the Paganism that Jason has so surely captured in his words, this paganism made of politics, is not the Noble Morality of the Old Paganism. It is what is called the Slave Morality! It is the morality of those who look with envy and hate upon the powerful and the successful and say: “This is not just! They, with their excess and their wealth and their power, are evil!”

          And this is why we have the Heathen/Pagan split! And this is why so many have turned away from Paganism. Because it is not “religion” but politics clothed as religion. And it is an unwelcoming politics too, for it is as dogmatic in its insistence as all other “Universal” Paths, like Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Science, or Atheism.

          Cara says she is not stupid, and that she will not tilt at windmills. I understand why, and support her.

          But for now, I shall not, for in my heart echo the words of Thor, as said by Simonson: “…Heroes have and infinite capacity for stupidity! Thus are legends born!”

          I will not give up, no matter how foolish or stupid, because I remember the dreams that brought me to my Heathenism, the dreams of what Paganism is supposed to be. I may never be a hero, or even a legend, but I continue!

          So I call to all of you, from greatest to least, look at yourselves. Look at what you do! Is it truly what the Gods ordain, or is it the voices of people seeking their political power who claim to be the voices of the gods? Is it politics or faith that you follow? Is it the Gods of Old? Or the “teachings” of the new?

          Will you be Noble? Or will you be a slave?

          • Cigfran

            So, to you, “making explicit that there can be no ‘pursuit of happiness’ in a society that does not enshrine basic fundamentals of care and humanity” = slavery?

            Interesting.

            Well, yes, then… by all means. Let’s return to the Noble Morality and start exposing infants, trading slaves, and all that other woofy Viking stuff.

          • http://heathenfaith.blogspot.com Norse Alchemist

            Cigfran, I would encourage you to read the works of Nietzsche, for that is where I draw the Noble and slave morality from.

            Also, who defines “basic fundamentals of care and humanity”, hmmm? What are they? Is it all the medical care you need? All the food you could desire? What about the quality of them? Does one have the right to have only the highest possible care, or the lowest? If mortality is part of the human condition, do we have the right to fight it? Do we have the right to antibiotics to kill our sickness? But what about when the sicknesses have evolved beyond what the antibiotics can do? Do we make the doctors slaves, because they have the ability to heal? If there are not enough doctors, do we conscript people to become doctors? Do we pay them? Or do we insist that because they have the power to save lives, they have the responsibility to do so, regardless of their need for compensation?

            We are born. We live. We die.

            These basic fundamentals of care and humanity? Are they determined by the abilities of the society? what if they are beyond the abilities of society? Have they been universal throughout time, or do they change as the years change? To whom do they extend? The unborn? Do they not have the rights to these fundamentals of care and humanity? You jeered at the “exposure of the infants” but what do you call abortion? Or would Abortion be considered one of these “fundamentals” in the regards of women’s health.

            You laugh at the ancient morality, at the call for Nobility. But tell me, where is your morality superior? Or is it as monstrous, but merely lies about it’s nature?

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=574896155 Ryan Smith

            @NA: So you are deriving your ideals from a modern philosopher whose entire works were, in many ways, crafted in reaction to the prevailing Christian-based morality of his time with little, if any, grounding in the sagas and lore?

            That explains quite a bit.

          • http://egregores.blogspot.com Apuleius Platonicus

            Justice is a Pagan virtue. In societies where Christianity has become dominant, there has been no concomitant increase in justice. In fact, the opposite is the case. This begins with the very way in which Christianity, in every single instance, has become the dominant religion: through violence and every conceivable form of coercion. This was the case in the Roman world, the first place where Christianity became dominant. This was the case in the other parts of Europe that were Christianized during the Middle Ages. This was the case in the Americas, and in those parts of Africa and Asia that have been Christianized in the last five centuries.

            In point of fact, there is no such thing as a “dominant religion” in any society where there is any actual justice.

          • http://heathenfaith.blogspot.com Norse Alchemist

            Ahh, but this Justice that is called for looks a lot like the Morality of Christianity brought to its fullest ideal, AP

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=574896155 Ryan Smith

            @NA: Proof or GTFO. You’ve been heavy on rhetoric and light on facts. Let’s see them.

          • Cigfran

            > Also, who defines “basic fundamentals of care and humanity”

            You do, of course. As do I. That’s what a society is. Theoretically, at least – who *really* defines it is whoever has power, which is what this is all about.

            Even in the past of your imagination, those fundamentals were largely collective. The ‘social order’ that underlies the Heathen fantasy world was not, by and large, a constant arena of glorious battle. It was a social world, in which real people made group decisions, even under the hand of a ruler.

            Would you be willing to put questions like this to a modern Althing?

            By the way, a raft of rhetorical questions does not make you Socratic, but merely evasive.

          • http://heathenfaith.blogspot.com Norse Alchemist

            Who is evasive, the man who asks questions, or the man who doesn’t answer them?

            And yes, I would put these questions before the Allthing, past or present.

            I don’t know where you’re getting that I have a rose colored view of Glorious battle, ’cause frankly I don’t. I know the realities of my ancestors lives. I have studied them. As for the “even hand of a ruler” most Scandinavian and Germanic societies didn’t have kings or rulers. In times of crisis they might appoint someone, but if the guy didn’t leave willingly afterwards, he was retired. That is, however, besides the point.

            You are right, those in power decide the rights. But what if those in power disagree with you. Or what if you are in power, but those not disagree with you? You are saying that fundamental rights must be given, but you do not define these rights, nor do you explain how they shall be made to work in reality.

          • Cigfran

            > And yes, I would put these questions before the Allthing, past or present.

            Ah, so you do acknowledge consensus after all.

            In which case, your hectoring really is just rhetorical.

          • http://heathenfaith.blogspot.com Norse Alchemist

            “> And yes, I would put these questions before the Allthing, past or present.

            Ah, so you do acknowledge consensus after all.”

            The heck you talking about? Consensus to what? between the attitudes and actions of Althings a thousand years ago and now?

            You asked if I would put these questions to an Althing, and I said I would, be it one in the past or in the present. Now, if you wanna make something different of that, that’s your business, but that doesn’t mean you’re right.

          • http://kauko-niskala.blogspot.com Kauko

            It sounds a lot like you’re taking you’re interpretation of pre-Christian Germanic religion and claiming that the diverse range of ancient Pagan cultures all conform to Germanic ideals, which comes across as quite chauvinistic. You can’t claim to be against ‘universalism’ and then claim that all ancient Pagan cultures universally held the same values.

          • http://heathenfaith.blogspot.com Norse Alchemist

            I was not claiming that all cultures conform to the Germanic system. I was speaking from the Philosophies of Nietzsche, and of the patterns found in the ancient moralities, where it was the “Noble Virtue” that was praised, namely strength, honor, and so forth. The manifestation of these things were culturally different. There is a difference in the existence of an “archetype” and how that “archetype” is presented. For example, both Thor and Zeus are gods of lightning and thunder, but they present as different individuals with different personalities.

          • http://kauko-niskala.blogspot.com Kauko

            Replying here as we’ve run out of room.

            But your comment outright makes generalizations about all ancient Pagan cultures.

            “Paganism, true honest Paganism as practiced by our ancestors, was not universalism. It is the antithesis to universalism.”

            “Social justice is not found in the old Paganism.”

            “Paganism at its core contains a heart of darkness and violence. It is not an egalitarian religion, it is a near Darwinist religion.”

            “In the Old Paganism, in it’s ideals, is the glorification of what people here call the 1%! Not the call for their destruction!”

            Ancient Paganism was incredibly diverse on every issue, I don’t think any of us can say as an absolute statement that all of the ancient peoples thought some way or all valued the same things. If those statements represent your Paganism/ Heathenry that’s completely fine, but I, and I’d imagine others, don’t feel comfortable with you projecting all of those statements onto the religions and cultures of our ancestors. As a reconstructionist-type Pagan I don’t find any of those statements to resonate with my experiences with Suomenusko (Finnish Paganism), but then again the ancient Finns were very different than their Scandinavian neighbors, for instance largely lacking the kind of ‘warrior ethos’ that is so important to people reconstructing ancient Germanic religion and culture.

          • http://heathenfaith.blogspot.com Norse Alchemist

            As you said, it was highly diverse. I spoke of the Paganisms that I know, namely the Greeco-Roman, Germanic, and Celtic. What I said were not absolutes, but included in those Paganisms.

            Yes, I made generalizations. Such things exist. The differences are cultural. Admitedly I don’t know much about Finnish reconism, but I can’t imagine that it’s filled with universalism, “social justice” ideals, and so forth. I would be happy to learn more about this Finnish paganism though.

          • http://kauko-niskala.blogspot.com Kauko

            “but I can’t imagine that it’s filled with universalism, “social justice” ideals, and so forth.”

            Of course, you have to understand that pre-Christian Finland was a place with no cites, where people lived in small clan-type groups, practicing a semi-shamanic religion like that of many other sub-arctic peoples, in a land so far north that agriculture was difficult, if not impossible, depending on just how far north you were. In such a situation notions like ‘social justice’ or ‘universalism’ don’t have much meaning. The urban civilizations of the Mediterranean, however, could arguably have things that were the forerunners of what we might see as social justice.

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=574896155 Ryan Smith

            Show me proof of your claims that Paganism, both ancient and modern, is inherently Darwinian. Based on my understanding of the FACTS I’d love to see where yours came from.

          • http://heathenfaith.blogspot.com Norse Alchemist

            Proof? Look to the Epics and the Sagas. Look to the tales of Hercules, Sigfried, Thor, Hercules, and so many more.

            Do they praise the weak? Do they lift them up as examples to follow? No, they praise the strong, the chosen, the exceptional, the “fittest” of their worlds and hold them up. This is Darwinian in nature. The weak, the cowardly, the “sick of the soul” they look down upon, and chastise.

            Look at how they related to violence, death, and darkness. There in lies the proof. See it if you can. But be warned, for they Dionysian horror may be too much for you.

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=574896155 Ryan Smith

            They also praise the generous and heroes who defend others at the expense of themselves while condemning those who live at the expense of others. If you had a truly Darwinian society then the entire idea of heroic self-sacrifice would be anathema.

          • Mr Willow

            Do they praise the weak? Do they lift them up as examples to follow? No, they praise the strong, the chosen, the exceptional, the “fittest” of their worlds and hold them up. This is Darwinian in nature. The weak, the cowardly, the “sick of the soul” they look down upon, and chastise. (replying here as there is no room)

            That is an absurdly over-simplistic view of classical mythologies the world over, seeking to do nothing but turn human relations into one enormous bloodsport. The strong survive and the weak die. That’s it? You must be joking.

            On nearly all accounts of the Heroes of the ancient past they were revered not only for their tremendous strength, but also in the beneficent application of that strength in protecting those who could not protect themselves!

            Theseus sought to free Athens from the disgusting tribute they were coërced to give king Minos, and thus offered himself, slaying the Minotaur. Imagine if he had told one of the merchants or farmers to go on the ship. Would we know his name today? Or afterward, once he became king, did he continually remind everyone of how great he was, how he was some sort of ‘freedom provider’?

            Or Hercules, who you conspicuously mentioned twice. Did he look down his nose at all those that he freed from the terror of the Hydra or the Nemean lion? Or complain about cleaning out the Augean stables, chastising Augeas, or those of Elis for having such dirty stables? And before you say ‘yeah, but he got payed for it’, I should feel it pertinent to remind you that because payment was received it rendered that labour irrelevant.

            How about Thor, who shamed himself by dressing as a bride to retrieve his hammer, sparing Freja the humiliation of becoming the wife of Thrym? I guess it would have been better for Thor to look out for himself and told Freja to go to Jotunheim.

            Or Baldur, who by all accounts was patently coddled by his mother and father, making all the stones and metals promise to not harm him? And all the world (save Loki) wept for him. Why? He was just some spoiled mamma’s boy, probably some entitlement snob, too.

            Or Tyr, who literally sacrificed a piece of himself so that Fenris could be bound?

            Could you imagine if Beöwulf had turned his back on the town when it was assaulted by the dragon, or before that, not even slain Grendel? Perhaps that is what should have happened? He should have just said “The world is cruel, you want the monster dead, you do it yourself.”

            The Gods and Heroes were all worshiped and revered because they were protectors of the downtrodden, of the weak—not the cowardly, which are not equatable—and because they presented an idealised form of what Man should be, and that included virtues such as compassion and equality. Do I really need to point out that Narcissus was not seen as a character to emulate?

            But beyond that, civilisation is a group effort. If you want to have some fantasy about how everything should be a competition and everyone should be an individual first, completely invested in their own interests first and to hell (or Hel, as the case may be) with the wills, the wishes, the concerns, and the needs of those around you—be a hermit, because, as far as I see it, the sheer myopia of this logic is so damnable that it hurts my head.

          • Jin (仁)

            a post worthy of a serious scholar of comparative mythology. thank you.

          • http://sarenth.wordpress.com/ Sarenth

            I agree with Mr. Willow here. Also, look at where Odin takes back His gifts in any of the sagas. The Hero of the saga has, in some way, shape, or form, wronged another or has shamed his honor. The Gods do not support jerkoffs and assholes who abandon their oaths, wrong their people, and/or blaspheme Them.

          • Crystal Kendrick

            Hear, hear, Mr. Willow! Bravo! [stands applauding wildly]

          • Anonymous

            “Social justice is not found in the old Paganism.”
            Have you ever heard of Antigona?

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=574896155 Ryan Smith

      So to ask the flip side of the question Cara do you support giving corporations more power than they already have? At this point they own Congress, can assemble private armies (see Blackwater, union busting in Central America, etc), have effectively exempted themselves from the normal legal process, and in some cases have literal life or death power over the average consumer. All of this without anything resembling accountability to the people, only to profits.

    • Bookhousegal

      In a free nation, our government is *supposed* to be *we the people,* …not a ‘They.’ People who have been claiming ‘Government is the problem’ have duly been funded by greedy interests to get elected and *make* it a problem.

      Not to mention a ‘they.’ Not a ‘we.’

      We. The. People. With certain guarantees.

      If it’s become anything else, the problem is not the idea of self-governance, it’s who *bought* our government at firesale prices. By claiming we don’t want any anyway.

  • http://heathenfaith.blogspot.com Norse Alchemist

    I know not everyone studies history the way I do, but does no one else see the serious problem with attaching our religions to a political movement? What happens if it goes wrong? Worse, what happens if it works, but then turns out bad (or good).

    It used to be the Jews who ruined everything. We remember when the Pagans were, and still are, blamed for everything. Do we really wanna give them more fuel for that fire!? We get enough from the Satanic scare BS, do we really wanna add “The Pagans cursed the economy” to our list of woes?

    Individually, people can do as they please. But People, now is not the time to try and mix our religions with politics! Only bad will come of it. We should do the sane thing. Stay out of this. Keep to ourselves, grow our community, and let the world do as the world does. I know many of you feel your Paths demand you take action here. That you must step forwards in the name of “justice” but I council you not to do so. Rather, remain back, because your actions affect all of us. Your deeds under the flag of Paganism will reflect on all of us. And all of us will pay if things go wrong.

    We are persecuted enough. There will be times to act in the future. Times when action will be needed. But this doesn’t feel like such a time to me. This feels not like a movement for justice, but a power-keg that is going to explode, and it will burn everyone on all sides when it does.

    • Anonymous

      I love how you go from “individually, people can do as they please” to “everybody needs to stay out of this because we’re all going to get into trouble”. If this doesn’t feel like the right time for you, that’s fine. Step out of the way, go back to your hearth, shut your door and distance yourself from all this as much as you wish. You’ve made your feelings clear on this matter and not many will desire to drag you along with them. Your path is your own and I respect that, at least. But “we need to be quiet and just keep to our own” only works until there’s no others left besides us. We can either stand up to the powerful soon, together, or we can stand up to them by ourselves after they’ve dealt with everyone else and it’s our turn.

      • http://heathenfaith.blogspot.com Norse Alchemist

        There is a third option, Mertvaya, one that you seem to have missed.

        Don’t pick a side. Gather together with fellow pagans. And then when they come for us, we leave. Picking a side now places a doom upon us and ties our fate to them, but you may be over estimating the generosity and gratefulness of the side you choose. Too often in history have minority groups thrown in with a political side, praying that it was more understanding than the one they saw as hating them, only to find themselves sacrificed for the good of that larger group.

        Look to the Jews, the Gypsies, to the Native Americans, and others. We could do well to learn our lessons from them about how to deal with the larger world, until our numbers are large enough to protect ourselves.

        • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=574896155 Ryan Smith

          Look at your own ancestors. When storm clouds gathered and their communities faced crisis the choice they always made was clear:

          Better to fight and die for something worth it than live a coward.

          • http://heathenfaith.blogspot.com Norse Alchemist

            Yes, they did.

            But they also knew that it was sometimes better to preserve their lives. Iceland was founded by the followers of the Aesir and Vanir after they left their homelands, because it was better to leave and try to preserve their way of life than to die or convert to the last man woman or child.

            But this is different. This is not a war made to exterminate us. This is a bunch of people who have come together with no goal and no ideas beyond blind rage at some nebulous 1%. A 1% which they have no solutions to. They scream for change, but what change do they offer? What solutions?

            It is the height of foolishness to join sides, especially with a side that doesn’t even know itself. Either they will crash and burn, and Paganism will be smeared with their failure, or they will become violent, and we will be smeared by their violence, or they come up with something and they will win, and we will be smeared by those that lost out in the change.

            You want to fight and die for that? Fine. But do not drag the entire umbrella of our religions down with you!

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=574896155 Ryan Smith

            They are offering ideas and solutions, the first one being taking corporations out of government.

            That’s something you would know if you got your news from an outlet not owned by Rupert Murdoch. Only the intellectually dishonest could possibly claim Occupy doesn’t have ideas, solutions, and proposals. Your obsession with that repeatedly disproven talking point only reinforces to me you have nothing more than a bunch of worn out BS focus-group tested memes, not facts or ideas.

            As to your example of Iceland what you neglect to mention are the warriors of Hermann who chose to fight against the oncoming Roman Empire instead of surrender, the Norsemen Danes and Swedes who fought against Olaf Trygvassen instead of run, and the many others who chose battle and death over flight. Even the Gods, at the end of all days, choose battle over retreat even though they know the battle is doomed.

        • Anonymous

          Leave? To where, exactly? Unless you’re got an Einstein-Rosen bridge in your pocket, currently we are stuck on a planet where no one is out of the reach of anyone for very long without moving to regions of the world that are incredibly hostile to human life. There’s not going to be a Paganitopia anywhere in this world for us and even if there was all we’d be doing is putting ourselves in a nice, concentrated area for convenient disposal. There are no places we can run that we cannot be found and as you’ve all ready said, our numbers are too low to protect us should it come to that.

          I am looking to the Jews who were herded into ghettos, the Gypsies who were forced to constantly be nomadic and rootless and the Native Americans who were put in reservations where their cultures and their people were systematically ground down. The larger group DID sacrifice all of them for what it felt was its own good. Being out of the way, being with their “own kind” DID NOT SAVE THEM. It just made it easier for the larger group to do to them whatever they felt like doing. By steadfastly refusing to ally with those not like yourself, your third strategy is nothing more than letting the beast eat those slower than yourself and hoping against hope that its bottomless hunger will be satisfied before you tire of running.

          • http://heathenfaith.blogspot.com Norse Alchemist

            So your idea is to join with a group in the hopes that you will what? Be saved by the “kind mercies” of that group? Left and Right both jeer and sneer at us. Remember Pagangate? It wasn’t the Right that made fun of Paganism, it was the left.

            Yes, my option does sound like “lets run and hope the bottomless hunger is sated before we are devoured.” But yours? It sounds like “let us line up, so that we may be the first to be eaten, so that we do not have to live through the horrors that follow.”

            Look. this situation will change. The economic situation will change. If we stay out of it and don’t pick sides as a religion, we have a better chance of getting through this without making it worse from our foes. You pick a side, Or Someone says “Paganism as a whole stands for X” and guess what, it won’t mater if we’re scattered or gathered. You think we face persecution now? Just wait.

          • Anonymous

            Why is it you assume that any common cause must be made with us on our knees, begging for aid, rather than standing tall alongside other marginalized people? I really hate to break this to you, but the Norse aren’t the only people in the world to ever have a proud warrior tradition. And to be perfectly honest, given the choice between the ill-mannered jeering of the ignorant and the open calls for our destruction by the fearful, I know which one I’m going with. People who think I’m silly or strange can be either educated or ignored. People who want me gone or dead, not so much.

            The horrors aren’t coming. They’re *here*. The wealthy and the powerful have poisoned our land, air and water. They wasted our youth in their desire for dominion over others and their resources. They have looted the wealth of our folk and clutch it so tightly that not a single coin escapes their grasp. They send their armed and armored thugs among us like wolves among sheep at the slightest murmur of our discontent. They criminalize behavior that harms no one and profit from the imprisonment of millions. They buy off the men and women who we elect to be our voice. They drive people from their jobs and their homes. That these horrors are not currently knocking at your door asking for a cup of sugar does not mean others are not facing them.

            I also don’t think you’ve been paying attention. Voices, very loud and influential voices, have been saying “Paganism as a whole stands for X” for decades now. None of them need or want evidence of wrongdoing from any of us to back up what they’re saying and they never have. We’ve all ready seen people lose jobs, homes, children, et cetera for being Pagan or even just non-christian. “Worse” at this point will involve people being regularly imprisoned, injured or killed for it. Are we supposed to wait around until it gets that bad? Or when that starts happening, do we just hunker down and thank the Gods it’s not happening to us, just the ones who chose to be open and visible?

          • http://heathenfaith.blogspot.com Norse Alchemist

            I am not advocating getting on our knees and begging. I am advocating strategic withdraw and playing ninja. If we fight, fight from the shadows. But not in open public engagements.

            You can blame the wealthy and the powerful all you like. And personally, I like impossible fights. Why do you think I come here. But this isn’t about individual glory, more’s the pity. This is about survival and making Paganism an open and viable option for everyone, not just a set group of people. Alienate if you wish, in the name of “justice.”

            Yes, the horrors are here, and they are getting worse. But that doesn’t mean throwing in with the first bunch that looks halfway willing to take you.

            You wanna stand for something? So do we all. But make sure what it is you’re standing for, and not just jumping in with a buncha people who have pretty buzz words.

          • http://www.tigerseyetemple.org Dan Miller

            In reply to your statement a bit further down which I could not reply to directly…

            “You wanna stand for something? So do we all. But make sure what it is you’re standing for, and not just jumping in with a buncha people who have pretty buzz words.”

            You mean like the Tea Party? Of course the Occupy isn’t perfect, but how long are we suppose to wait for your perfect storm?

          • Cigfran

            > And personally, I like impossible fights. Why do you think I come here.

            Rarely does a troll exhibit such concise self-awareness.

          • http://heathenfaith.blogspot.com Norse Alchemist

            Cigfran, one man’s “troll” is another man’s “Socrates.” The fact that you don’t like me or my reasoning, doesn’t automatically invalidate me nor make me a “troll.”

            @Dan, How long do we wait for the perfect storm? Why wait. You’re free to make your own storm. You’re free to join this storm. But you, nor anyone else, is allowed to make the entire group of Paganism jump into the storm on the side that as many of us don’t believe in as do. That has been my enduring point through all these comments.

          • Cigfran

            Yes, I know you think you’re Socratic. Your written affectations reek of it.

            And no, your opinions do not make you a troll. Nor even does the endless dishonesty which you exhibit, even in short replies like this. It is exactly what I quoted… that attitude. The chest-beating “I’m going to stand here and yell at you idiots just because I can and it puffs my ego” thing. Pure troll.

            At least in this thread it was effectively invited by Jason’s open editorializing, rather than being just another of your “all about me” derails.

          • http://www.tigerseyetemple.org Dan Miller

            NA: I asked how long do we wait for YOUR perfect storm? At what point does Norse Alchemist move from the sidelines to the field of play? And no one is telling all pagans and related groups to jump into the Occupy movement. Good luck trying to get all pagans to even agree on any one thing, much less a socio-political movement like Occupy. As this very blog demonstrates in the comment section time after time.

          • http://heathenfaith.blogspot.com Norse Alchemist

            Ah Cigfran, I think you misunderstand me. ;)

            I do not do this from a desire to feed my ego. Nor is there much chest beating on my part, or making this about myself. My affectations are playful, a nod and a wink, seeking to change things up so that this site doesn’t fall to the stagnation of dogma.

            Have I derailed threads? Perhaps, though often enough I think it has been people nitpicking a tiny point and running with it rather than responding to the point I was making (which generally is on topic, in one form or another.)

            Also, I don’t recall calling anyone an idiot, or treating them as such. Misguided, occasionally, or misinformed, but never idiots. Honestly, I think more people have treated me as an idiot than I have treated anyone else that way, but it matters not.

            As for the dishonesty, where have I been dishonest? I have always given an honest opinion, I have given facts that I believe to be honest (and generally acknowledge those that have proven false) The fact that my truths are sometimes different from your truths do not make my truths dishonest. But if I am dishonest, it is the dishonest of the writer, who tells lies to reveal truths.

            So call me a troll if you wish. All trolls are different, and they are not inherently evil. But if you think me evil, so be it, for good cannot exist without evil, and if I must be the villain in your world, well I suppose I am the villain in many already :D

          • http://heathenfaith.blogspot.com Norse Alchemist

            @Dan, When do I move from the sidelines and into the fight? Partially, I’m doing it now. As for the rest of it, when I really get up and moving? That’s coming. I have been studying events from around the world, analyzing them and planning. And if my analysis is correct, the world is going to shift, drastically, as the dominoes begin to finally come together. Because all this that’s been happening, and so much more that’s been going on? It’s just the set up, we haven’t even gotten to the main plot. But that’s going to hit in the next year, give or take a few months, if things keep going they way they have been.

            That’s when I’ll move.

    • Baruch Dreamstalker

      I’m glad you used the plural “religions” here because your position ties in to your religious flavor, which is rather clannish. Your position here makes far less sense for those of our religions that are more universalist.

      • http://heathenfaith.blogspot.com Norse Alchemist

        But what happens to the “clannish” when the “universalists” drag our names into the flames with them?

        As some pagans are seen, so are all pagans seen. We have all seen this, we know it well.

        • Baruch Dreamstalker

          Just when and how did the universalists drag our names into the flames? I guess I didn’t get the memo.

          • http://heathenfaith.blogspot.com Norse Alchemist

            They haven’t, yet. But this article and a great many of the commentators seem to be pushing towards that situation.

    • Cigfran

      I think it is possible both to applaud Jason and, in this instance at least, agree with NA in principle.

      Our personal ethics will always inform what we do, and if our ethics are pagan then we will act on how we understand that. Because Jason’s pagan ethos reflects my own, I applaud him.

      But no political system or movement should be founded on any religious outlook. That simply never turns out well.

      There need be no conflict, among rational and empathetic people, between personal – even collective – faith and a strictly secular state.

      The GOP has long since abandoned that position. Don’t make the same mistake.

      • http://sarenth.wordpress.com/ Sarenth

        Taking nothing away from what you’ve said here, I have to disagree on this one point: “But no political system or movement should be founded on any religious outlook. That simply never turns out well.”

        A great many of the civilizations from which our modern mathematics, engineering, medicine, etc. came from were founded on religious outlooks, and lasted for millenia. I’d have to say that Egypt was a roaring success, as was Greece. Both societies had more than enough room for others’ Gods, and provided a rich soil from which ideas of all kinds could spring and bloom.

        While I would not like religion to shape politics as much as it has, it will be the case so long as people follow religions. What we have in the United States, insofar as I see its secularism, is a standard set by Protestant Christianity that continues to be informed by Protestant Christianity. Simply given where America has been, and where it is at, I do not believe that we are going to be capable of being anything like a truly secular state for a good, long time, if at all.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=574896155 Ryan Smith

      Alarmist nonesense based on moonbeams and paranoid fantasies, par for the course for you really. I’d LOVE to see some facts supporting that claim minus historical generalizations and distortions, at least in the case of Jewish persecution a big part of why they were the recipients of that was because of their prominent role as the main source of moneylending in Christian Europe. It’s easy to get mad at someone who has something. Claiming we somehow “cursed” the economy into breaking and expecting that to really take hold when the polls show MOST PEOPLE understand it was thanks to Wall Streets machinations and insider gamesmanship would require the American public to be gullible enough to think all it would take to reach Mars is a roll of duct tape and lots of HOPE.

      If you have an issue with Pagans getting involved in Occupy try arguing issues that are real, not phantasms of your imagination. People throughout the ages have been moved by religion, nation, philosophy, and whatever other cause you can name to act for the sake of the betterment of society. Pagans invoking Pagan reasons to stand up for a cause drawing people from all walks of life will show, quite to the contrary of your fearful hypothetical, that Pagan reasons for acting are just as founded in good sense, solid principles, and good people as any other reasons. Showing people, by deeds, that we have the same concerns they do and our beliefs move us to act on those concerns will go a long way to slaying the beast named Religious Bigotry.

      • http://heathenfaith.blogspot.com Norse Alchemist

        Oh look, personally insults. Yay.

        Ryan, I do not have issues with INDIVIDUALS getting involved in the OWS. My issue is with Jason and other saying that the RELIGIONS of Paganism have to become involved.

        You want real hard facts? How about these:

        The OWS doesn’t have any solutions. It is nothing but a bunch of people claiming to be the 99% and vilifying the so called 1%. All of whom seem to be wealthy people, but surprisingly No One In The Government. They blame Wall-street, but they have a very narrow view of who is to blame. They are sheep, to be used by whoever can use pretty words and the promise of making it better. And what will become of them? Win or Lose, they may change the face of the game, but they won’t change the reality

        You speak of moonbeams and paranoid fantasies, but tell me, what is the OWS but more of that? Oh look, the 1% run everything, they make the world terrible, oh we must remove their power, changed the system, etc etc etc.

        There will always be a 1%. The faces change, the game doesn’t. Deal!

        Us, as a group getting involved? Bad idea. Individuals may do as they want. But that doesn’t mean they should do things that will harm the rest of us. And you can call me paranoid, but I’ve taken my taste of this world. The Christians hate us, the Muslims hate us, and at best the Atheists think we’re a bunch of loonies that need to be medicated and de-brainwashed.

        We tie with the OWS, guess what, we’ve just given the Right Wing Christians physical proof as far as they’re concerned, that We are out to Destroy them! It won’t be the ravings of madmen who don’t understand our ways, we will have chosen a clear side in a battle, the side which they hate! And you think your liberal friends will thank you? You’re a delusional polytheist who thinks the rocks have souls and that there’s a world full of spirits and gods. Oh, they’ll take your vote and be happy for your flesh and blood, but when push comes to shove and they no longer have a use for you, or the price of having you around isn’t worth the cost of keeping you when they could get someone better?

        Here’s a fact for you, most Hispanics are Catholic. Here’s another, they’re mostly voting democrat. How long do you think it is before their Catholic voice will sway the party against Paganism, especially with the Pope’s new hardline on Paganism?

        We stay Neutral, however, and we at the least don’t give them any more ammo.

        Now, you can make all the derisive and personal insults you want to. Clearly, that’s not going to be stopped. Just as clearly, we don’t live in the world of our ancestors, where you could be taken to personal task for your words. But that doesn’t matter to me, I seek no vendetta against you. I don’t need to, not because I’m the better man, but because you’re just not worth it.

        There are your facts, Ryan

        • http://paosirdjhutmosu.wordpress.com Djhutmosu Si-Hathor

          This Hispanic Kemetic (and ex-Catholic) would like to point out that from his vantage point at least, the government, both major political parties, and most, if not all politicians, are seen to be little more than tools of bankers, lobbyists, etc. I remember watching the live feed of Zucotti Park, and saw one person who had manned one of the information desks being given a bag of Obama pins to distribute, who wound up using it as a paperweight, and another time, a woman speaking who was wearing a t-shirt with the “No” sign over Obama’s face.
          Of course, it’s rather difficult to categorize the viewpoint of a movement comprised of so many different kinds of people and political persuasion. Also, I’m doubtful your scenario with the Hispanic Catholic Democrats would happen the way you imagine it, admittedly, based on my own impression. Not that I give a damn about the Democratic party. (for the reasons stated above)

          • http://heathenfaith.blogspot.com Norse Alchemist

            I’m with you, Si-Hathor, both parties are scum. The problem is that most who support the OWS (here or otherwise) don’t seem to care about that. They see “Right” as evil, “left” as some sort of good, and WallStreet as responsible for the whole darn mess.

            And I can understand your doubts to the Catholic Hispanics changing the viewpoint of the Democratic party. However, I would council you to remember that before the 60′s, the Democratic party was the most racist party there was. It was only during the 60′s era that they started embracing the “minorities” and the civil rights movement. And they did it not because they believed in the equality of others, but because they realized here was a market of untapped votes they could not only get, but get for decades upon decades if they played their cards right. Heck, there was that democratic senator who died not to long ago, who was hailed as this wonderful democrat, who voted against the Civil Rights Act. And they still loved the guy. The fact is that political parties play for votes. And if the democrats think they can get more votes by embracing more “catholic” ideas, even at the expense of other groups, as long as the “catholic Hispanic” vote out numbers the votes they’d lose from other groups, they will probably go for it. I mean, look at how the Democratic party interacts with Islam, a religion that is on average far more right wing than even most of right wing Christianity, and who’s beliefs one would think were the very antithesis of what the Democratic party’s stance is on the issues of homosexual and women’s rights. It’s not something nice to hear, but it really is all about the numbers. Republicans play the game they play for their numbers, and the Democrats play for their numbers, and if any of the top leadership actually believes what they sell, well, that would be a miracle.

            I believe it’s the Catholics who said it best. The closer the man is to the top of the church, the further he is from god.

            It’s all about the power.

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=574896155 Ryan Smith

            And you fail facts FOREVER. All the Occupy camps and participants are pretty pissed at both political parties and are interested in ideas based on their merit, not their political alignment. Funny how someone who does that a lot (namely you) is accusing a group of doing something he does on a regular basis with no basis in fact whatsoever!

            But hey that’s your norm isn’t it? Make stuff up, fling it at the wall, and hope it sticks?

        • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=574896155 Ryan Smith

          I see more of your usual smoke and moonbeams NA. How about something resembling a link, not something pulled from your posterior. Last I checked every single “fact” you pull out of thin air is pretty quickly and easily debunked so let’s see something resembling evidence, not your BS unsupported fantastic opinion. But hey since you’ve asked for it I’m going to pick apart your cowardly, paranoid ramblings:

          “The OWS doesn’t have any solutions. It is nothing but a bunch of people claiming to be the 99% and vilifying the so called 1%.”

          Only if you listen to Rush Limbaugh, read Drudge, and watch Faux News at the exclusion of all other sources of information. Try again, this time without a strawman.

          “We tie with the OWS, guess what, we’ve just given the Right Wing Christians physical proof as far as they’re concerned, that We are out to Destroy them!”

          They already are convinced we are, anyone who has been paying attention to the Wild Hunt since, well ever, could tell you that. Working directly with Occupy will not change that and assumes they wouldn’t lie and say that anyway.

          “Here’s a fact for you, most Hispanics are Catholic. Here’s another, they’re mostly voting democrat. How long do you think it is before their Catholic voice will sway the party against Paganism, especially with the Pope’s new hardline on Paganism?”

          And half of all Catholics currently are in favor of birth control and are pro-choice in spite of the Pope’s hardline stance. To say the entire Catholic community is some giant collective that does the will of the Pope when he snaps his fingers would be a gross oversimplification and is pretty insulting to a huge range of people.

          But hey it’s not like that’s ever stopped you before!

          “Now, you can make all the derisive and personal insults you want to. ”

          When you sound like someone out of touch with reality I’m calling you on it. If you can’t take it then piss off, you’ve already said that’s what you plan on doing anyway so how about putting your money where your mouth is?

  • Mike

    to quote Bob Dylan, “you don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.”

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=548883612 Flame Bridesdottir

    *wild applause*

  • http://aquakerwitch.blogspot.com/ Staśa

    Go, Jason. And thank you.

  • Iona

    Yes yes YES!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1362174498 Lillitu Shahar Kunning

    Yes. I have commented on Occupy in my blog as well- from the moment of the first day of Occupation. I have been waiting for this most of my life- a vibrant, diverse class driven movement that affects us all. I enthusiastically support Occupy and have been so proud to see the actions of my hometown, Occipy Oakland. They are all doing amazing work.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=574896155 Ryan Smith

      Awesome! I’m across the bay in San Francisco and have been involved as soon as I heard OSF existed (about the beginning of Octoberish). As a Heathen it fills my heart with pride to see the courage in spite of ridicule, media blackout and blockout, physical attacks, and arrest.

      Good luck in Oakland! Solidarity!

  • Debra L

    Thanks Jason — well said!

  • http://twitter.com/MorsvirSyphin Matthew Shea

    I will preface my post with this: I’m really disappointed. I come to this blog because you tend to keep things unbiased and politics free. Imagine my disappointment when I come and read this.

    Beyond that, there are several factual, economic, and ideological errors on this post. It seems that you really don’t know what libertarians are after if you think the current healthcare system is “the wild, wild West that some libertarians dream of….” The current system is riddled with government control and protections that cause most of the problems. Malpractice case law has been inflated to beyond what malpractice actually is, causing a spike in healthcare costs. Medicare and Medicaid provide a government set price for procedures rather than letting the free market handle it. Adding more government regulation will only hurt the situation, especially regulation so convoluted as what Congress produces.

    Economically, giving the government control over a system always reduces the quality of the system. This can be seen in almost any example, so I’ll let you look for yourself.

    A government, especially the size of ours, CANNOT represent our collective will. The fact that the nation is nearly split down the middle between highly competitive ideas represents this fact. Either way, half of our population is not part of the collective will. If we instead minimize the government and use private charities, those charities would then be the collective will of the donors. Private charities are also much more efficient in management than the government will ever be.

    It’s silly to invest our money in a government that has shown for a very long time that it is incapable of making good decisions. I’d rather decide for myself where my money goes to help people rather than a politician who works only for himself.

    • http://www.wildhunt.org/blog/ Jason Pitzl-Waters

      “I’m really disappointed.”

      Sorry you feel that way, but every journalist gets to write an editorial now and then. This was mine. I’m not going to apologize for deciding to take one day out of the 365 days per year I devote to writing largely non-partisan Pagan news, a service you pay nothing for, to make my personal voice heard.

      As for the medical industry, if you think it is over-regulated then I don’t know what to tell you. I can only speak from the direct experience of talking to doctors, midwives, nurses, and a large number of health care “consumers” who disagree. If you think letting the “free market” handle Medicare and Medicaid would solve the problem, you are sorely misinformed, and obviously haven’t had much experience with what the “free market” has done to the rest of our health system, especially for those who can’t afford decent insurance. The “invisible hand” is killing people.

      • http://twitter.com/MorsvirSyphin Matthew Shea

        I don’t begrudge you your editorial, I just figured it’d be kept separate like I’ve seen you do in the past, that’s all.

        I agree that the healthcare system is far from perfect and could use some reform. I disagree that throwing more regulation on top of what we already have will solve the issue. Things need completely reformed and re-adjusted.

        The invisible hand has both a government induced-side and an insurance-induced side. Medicare and Medicaid are setting artificially high prices that get passed on to the consumer. By telling a hospital “We will pay up to 300 dollars for this treatment” it creates incentive for doctors to charge exactly 300 dollars for the treatment, even if it is worth less. People on private insurance can afford that, but that artificially high price then gets passed onto uninsured people who bear the full cost. I don’t see how medicare and medicaid dictating prices helps anyone.

        Insurance companies are little more than collective bargaining with hospitals to get lower rates. That removes competition from the healthcare market and thus creates higher costs and worse service.

        The problem with the industry is that it is no longer on the free market at all. No competition between hospitals and doctors, and effectively fixed prices. Combine that with excessive lawsuits and its bad for everyone.

        I go to school at one of the leading medical universities in the United States and have spoken to a large number of doctors and nurses along with aspiring doctors and nurses. The consistent things I hear about are insurance, malpractice costs, and over-regulation. That along with economics is what I base my analyses on.

        Side Note: Do you have a donation button somewhere on the site?

        • http://www.peacockfairy.com Ruadhán J McElroy

          The invisible hand has both a government induced-side and an insurance-induced side. Medicare and Medicaid are setting artificially high prices that get passed on to the consumer.

          This is a crock, and anybody who knows more than what the Libertarian think-tanks tell you to parrot back on the Internet will know that.

      • http://paosirdjhutmosu.wordpress.com Djhutmosu Si-Hathor

        I know more than a few people, myself included, who have dreaded going to the doctor out of fear of being unable to be covered or of being unable to pay the bills.

  • Kilmrnock

    In responce to N.A. and a general statment.i don’t believe this is a war , but the current economic disparity and the policies that allow it are wrong . This needs to change , be more balanced.Our current politicaly polarised government is broken. I am a 99%er …………my 2nd generation small family business is failing , my mortgage is under water . In general the lower and middle class wages are stagnent or going down as the so called 1% just gets richer .In real numbers , most folks these days work harder for less. I am not lazy i work too damned hard / w not much to show for it . The American dream isn’t working any longer . The policies of deregulation and corporate greed has caused this mess . If regulation is whats needed so be it . We need to reel in corparate greed and one sided regulatios that only help the rich. This economic disparity is intolerable . Our government won’t or can’t help us . So we the people need to make our voices heard, by protest and how we act , what we do . If a revolution is what it takes , we must correct this mess . Things can’t go on like they are . We won’t survive . Kilm

  • http://www.walkofthefallen.com Labrys

    Well said. And as for the comments claiming you should not have a political opinion? Well, they should wake up and realize that the Religious Right has not only an opinion, but a stranglehold on certain aspects of American life. For me, one goal of spirituality is the informing and linkage of all other elements of life…yes, pagans must “occupy” instead of standing on the sidelines watching the Fall from grace of America.

  • http://profiles.google.com/scarletmenace Ian Horst

    Really extraordinary editorial. Thanks! Occupy…together!

  • Kate

    A very thoughtful and thought-provoking blog, Jason. And from the comments section, I note that this subject has struck a nerve within our community, as well as the larger communities of which we are part. Within this discussion, however, I have noticed that there seem to be few functioning models offered for what we might see as a more humane, diverse, and inclusive society. May I offer the Transition Movement as a pattern that may hold hope and a template for real communities, as it is a thriving, valid force in today’s world. Founded by Rob Hopkins in 2005, out of a class he taught on the principles of permaculture, this concept has spread literally around the world in just a few years. Using the premise that it is more efficient to use a carrot rather than a stick to achieve true, radical and sustainable change, the Transition Movement offers concrete advice and templates for individuals and communities to disengage from government injustice and gridlock, and move to the creation of lives that are meaningful, productive and fair. This pattern has been repeated successfully in towns around the world and gives a hands-on method of achieving many of the goals that the Occupy Movement seems to have as core values.
    Here’s the Wiki entry:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transition_Towns
    If you visit any of the Transition websites, you will be introduced to a larger community of like-minded folks. And there’s even a DVD out, “In Transition”, as well as The Transition Handbook, by Rob Hopkins. Hope is more powerful than despair.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=574896155 Ryan Smith

    Beautifully said Jason! This is a conversation we haven’t had as a community and has been a long time coming. We must face the question of what we must do for the least among us and answer it first and foremost as Pagans. Too many, I think, ignore the tribalism, collective responsibility, and social duties that were integral to ancient practice and instead argue for a very modern and Libertarian understanding of our place in society.

    Rights and freedoms have a central place in modern Paganism but we must remember the ancients did not focus exclusively on one aspect of life at the expense of all others. We, as a community, have let ideas in without challenge that are wholly out of step with what our traditions teach simply because they agree with what we already think. If we are to be truly Pagan, not just a modern syncretism dressing up in old odds and ends to rebel for rebellion’s sake, we need to ask ourselves these hard questions.

    In the modern world, where monotheism has been the norm for 1500 years, practicing what we do is an act of rebellion against established powers. We are, in every sense of the word, spiritual revolutionaries. To turn one’s back on monotheism is all well and good but for that to have meaning we cannot just abandon that dichotomous system of spiritual oppression; we must dismantle all other forms of oppression that system has bred to perpetuate its existence. Our ancestors wouldn’t have done any less.

  • http://www.magickal-media.com Alice C. “A.C.” Fisher Aldag

    I’ve heard a lot of people within the Occupy movements state some larger goals, such as health care reform, creating jobs, equalizing wealth, and so forth.

    The Civil Rights movement was cited — that movement’s larger goal was racial equality, yet they had smaller goals in mind to help realize the larger goals: equality at the lunch counter, equality in transportation, in hiring, in being allowed to reside wherever one could afford. There were some very clear-cut methods of actualizing these goals — for example “occupying” lunch counters and busses to gain that smaller goal of equality in service or transportation.

    I’ve not heard much about smaller goals and methods of actualization in the current Occupy movement. It all seems rather vague. Yes, we all want more jobs. How will that come about? What steps need to be taken to realize that larger goal?

    How are methods of protest directly connected to the goals? That’s another thing that seems rather vague, to me — not seeing how camping in parks and protesting with signs is directly tied to achieving the goals of, say, more employment. Not trying to be rude, I really do wish to know. For example, sitting at a lunch counter both focused public attention on the fact there was inequality in certain business, and the inequality was enforced by unfair laws; the protest also prevented that business from serving customers, so it made it economically unfavorable for the business to discriminate.

    One more question: I’ve mentioned before that I don’t feel that many Occupy protestors fully understand economics and business. Many people of my generation have invested their life savings in stocks, both supporting business and gaining a return on their investment for retirement. They’re concerned that they’ll not be indemnified as stock holders, and that their investments will be “socialized”, in other words, divided up and given away (trying to use language that isn’t gonna offend) rather than paying on the investment to ensure that the money they saved and invested pays for their needs during their last years. How is this type of concern being addressed?

    • Baruch Dreamstalker

      AC, although I am one of several here who have drawn parallels between Occupy and the Civil Rights Movement, I think there is no point to using the CRM as a yardstick by which to measure Occuy. It will evolve in its own way. (Whether one likes the outcome is another matter.) One difference is that, while both movements condensed out of people who knew what was wrong in their lives, there’s no simple, repealable Jim Crow-type law behind what’s wrong in the Occupiers’ lives. The process of selecting goals will thus be different.

      No, they don’t all fully understand economics. Nor did CRM marchers all fully understand racial identity theory. Being an optimist, if anyone suggested emptying your piggy bank that way I believe cooler heads would prevail.

      • http://www.magickal-media.com Alice C. “A.C.” Fisher Aldag

        Thank you for your reply. You’re more optimistic than me, so I hope you are right!

    • kenneth

      To your last point, your investments ARE and will be divided up and given away by the present system. In many cases it’s being stolen and lost by the billions. And the people doing that are not government workers or guys with AK-47s in Mao suits or hippies who never took an econ class.

      The protest methods are a work in progress, to be sure. Occupy camps alone will not be enough to effect the kind of change we need. What they can do is create a visible and undeniable statement that the current situation is unacceptable. They can make politicians and CEOs nervous, and that is an absolute prerequisite to change.

      Human behavior works on inertia in much the same way as any other system. Without some force (like Occupy) opposing the current system, the people in charge have no motivation to change the way they’re doing things. They’d be fools to do so. They have a license to print money. If the Occupy movement, and the rest of us, make the current system untenable for them, then, and only then, will anything improve.

      • http://www.magickal-media.com Alice C. “A.C.” Fisher Aldag

        Thank you. I don’t agree with everything yet appreciate your response.

  • Macha

    Huzzah, Jason!

  • Kelley

    I would like to ask a question, if anyone is still around to answer it.

    As someone who holds many of the same values dear as those here, why is it that when one speaks of “doing something”, the first conclusion is that government must be involved somehow, usually by regulating something or someone? How is it that “we” and “society” now mean government?

    • kenneth

      There is no realistic way it can NOT involve government. Whether or not anyone agrees that we should have big government, that horse left the stable with the Roosevelt years and WW II. That’s not to say government will be the only solution or the best solution to any of our problems.

      • http://heathenfaith.blogspot.com Norse Alchemist

        But it (government) is likely to be in the solution mucking it up.

        • http://sarenth.wordpress.com/ Sarenth

          Certainly, just like it did when the banks plunged us into the Depression and The New Deal made the U.S. able to put itself back to work. Just like when industries in the U.S. during the Industrial Revolution were staved off of child labor and exploiting their workers till they dropped dead or were amputated by unsafe business practices. Just like when the FDA was formed to protect us from snake oil salespeople and frauds.

          These efforts have echoed from the past and still shape our present and future because people in and out of the government pushed it to protect them. OSHA provides safety guidelines for companies, USDA provides standards of health and quality for Agriculture and meat among other things, and the FDA provides consumer protection for food and drugs. They don’t operate as ideally as we would like, but considering where we came from before all of these government standards and solutions, we were a lot worse off in a predatory company’s pocket or a snake oil salesperson’s cure.

          • Kelley

            The New Deal did more to prolong the depression than help it:
            http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123353276749137485.html

            By the time the government got around to dealing with child labor, it was largely already on the way out, due to increased education and increasing wages for adults. New Zealand, to this day, has no child labor laws and I see no epidemic of exploitation, there.

            The FDA has done more to hamper the efforts of safe treatments reaching the market than it has to prevent medical fraud.

            I could go on, but all this is besides the point. Are you saying the answer to my question is that “Because the government protects people.”?

          • http://sarenth.wordpress.com/ Sarenth

            …You seriously linked to a Wall Street Journal article? It’s an opinion piece, and says so right at the top. This isn’t a report, this is the opinion of two economists from a pro-business journal owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation.

            I am not sure what your point about New Zealand is here. They didn’t go through the Industrial Revolution like we did. We developed many of the Administrations I mentioned above in reaction to the conditions I’ve already mentioned here and elsewhere. So yes, they are here to protect us. Unfortunately, they have been coopted by many of the people they are supposed to be regulating. This can be fixed, but it will take time to clean house, and it may even require we rethink how we appoint people to these positions.

            As to your questions above,
            “why is it that when one speaks of “doing something”, the first conclusion is that government must be involved somehow, usually by regulating something or someone?”

            It is not my first conclusion, first off, but it is one of many that I feel should be considered. Even if it was it is no less an option than other ones we could follow. We have less protection and are more open to predation when we do not have the legal frameworks that are effective as stopping fraud, theft, misrepresentation of data and so on. I cannot rely on another’s ethics if they are to act unethically toward me. I would not trust Merck, for instance, to tell me the truth after its many flagrant deadly lies have come to the surface. Nor would I trust Dow Chemical that they are working to improve the environment, given how they treat our rivers.

            “How is it that “we” and “society” now mean government?”

            …Have you heard of We the People? In our Constitution? We are the government. They represent us, and if they do so poorly we can make strides to correct those errors. Is this a perfect system? No. I can’t believe you would even ask this question if you read the first page of the Constitution. Our society rests on this document. Our society is part of

          • Kelley

            In reply to Sarenth:

            I _did_ link to a Wall Street Journal article and it _was_ an editorial. :-D The opinion presented was about how a “New New Deal” would be a bad idea, based on the facts that show that the old one wasn’t so hot. Care to speak to the info presented, rather than attack the medium?

            One more time, in slow motion, please: “fraud, theft, misrepresentation of data” would not be allowed in a libertarian’s dream world; they would be criminally punishable.

            You speak of “the legal frameworks that are effective as stopping fraud, theft, misrepresentation of data and so on” but then list two instances where no such thing happened: Merck’s “many flagrant deadly lies” and Dow Chemical and “how they treat our rivers”. The truth is that government regulation allows actual crimes, such as fraud leading to death and property damage to go unpunished (or punished with a slap on the wrist fine), while actions that hurt no one but go against the business interests of the authoritarians and their friends, or are put in place to protect us from ourselves, are punished with draconian prison sentences.

            There is a “we” _beyond_ the government; there is society in which government should not be involved. It was nominally “We the People” who _established_ the US government, as a tool. It does not mean government _is_ us.

            We have more in common than you think, I suspect. We seem to share many of the same goals. Where we differ, perhaps, is that I strongly believe that others should be allowed to pursue their own goals, even if those goals should conflict with mine, provided they initiate no aggression.

      • Kelley

        I think I get what you mean: The government is in so many pies, that whatever it is you do must include the government, even if that just means trying to remove the hand from the pie.

        I wouldn’t say that horse has left the stable with no possibility of return, however. There are plenty of instances of increases in liberty over history; we need not consign ourselves to ever increasing authoritarianism.

        That doesn’t quite answer my question, however. Consider this example: If I say that there is too much or too little of X and that we ought to do something about it, nearly everyone will assume that I mean that there ought to be some sort of law or regulation that addresses that problem. Why is that?

        • http://sarenth.wordpress.com/ Sarenth

          We’re a society based on laws and many companies will not voluntarily go to more secure systems unless prompted by law. Our government is upheld by a legal system, and to change it we have to enact laws and regulations because of how it is built from the ground up.

    • http://egregores.blogspot.com Apuleius Platonicus

      ” … why is it that when one speaks of ‘doing something’, the first conclusion is that government must be involved somehow … “

      An interesting development is the “Occupy Our Homes” movement, which does not so much ask the government to “do something” as it does demand that the government STOP doing something: evicting people from their homes.

      Another example is the movement against legislation that hobbles (or simply abolishes) public workers’ unions. In this case (such as the recent victory in Ohio) public workers’ unions are not demanding that the government “do something”, but rather that the state legislatures butt out and allow collective bargaining to run its natural course.

      Demands on the government to do something are reasonable in many cases, though. I think most of us agree that thieves, burglars, and bank robbers should be prosecuted and imprisoned. And if the government simply refused to do that, then there would be a justifiable outcry. But what about the crooks in the financial sector? Why is it so terrible to demand that the government “do something” about those criminals?

      • Kelley

        Yet, in all of those cases the government is involved, almost by definition; your examples involved police evictions and government employees. What about when it doesn’t have to be?

        For instance, if someone says, “We should help the homeless,” and I agree that is a good thing, people often believe that we have just agreed that the government should be involved. Why is that?

        By the way, I fully support the free and unprivileged ability of people to form into labor unions for collective bargaining and the free and unfettered ability of employers to refuse to deal with them.

        I also strongly agree that corporations have been given special privileges (through government force) to commit fraud and theft with impunity. I mentioned this above, but libertarians are often more strict about prosecuting cases of actual harm and violations of property rights than authoritarians.

      • http://www.peacockfairy.com Ruadhán J McElroy

        Why is it so terrible to demand that the government “do something” about those criminals?

        Word on the street is “the free market will take care of it”, in spite of the fact that reality gives a different story entirely.

    • http://www.tigerseyetemple.org Dan Miller

      That is a hugely broad and foggy comment to say Occupy expects the government to do something. To narrow it down a few notches into something that people can wrap their heads around, how about this? Occupy expects representatives of the people to stop voting and legislating against the general good of the people? Don’t think anyone in the Occupy realistically expects for the nebulous ‘government’ to wave it’s magic wand to make all the ills better. Please go to the OWS website (trust you can use Google to find it) and look at exactly what ‘doing something’ means.

      • Kelley

        Actually, I am not talking about OWS, specifically.

        Rather, I was asking about a larger, pervasive mindset I have seen: mainly, that when one discusses things which need attention, most will almost automatically assume that the avenue for progress is government. Why is that?

        • http://www.tigerseyetemple.org Dan Miller

          You statement assumes much which I believe not to be accurate.

        • Baruch Dreamstalker

          Kelley, I think it’s because a lot of people are citizens of the world these days in the sense that they are aware of what government had done anywhere, not just in the United States. They can see that in some places democratic government has addressed exactly the problem they have. Trying some other, untested solution would be re-inventing the wheel.

          • Kelley

            Thank you for this well-reasoned, practical argument. This makes a lot of sense and I can see how it would appeal to some. I also appreciate the truth in the idea that many libertarian ideas have not been tested, no large or lengthy truly free-market minarchy ever having existed.

            In the past, I haven’t found these examples compelling, however, both for idealistic reasons and because I am too familiar with the unexpected consequences of government action to believe that such examples are being looked at fairly, for the most part.

        • http://www.peacockfairy.com Ruadhán J McElroy

          Because, frankly, if you can step outside your sheltered existence for a mo’, you’d see that sometimes, in some places, the government works for the people rather than against them.

  • Kilmrnock

    Well , Goverment deregulation of the financial markets is what made our current dilemma possible . The laws and push to offer bad mortgages etc are the governments doing . Reasonable laws need to be reenacted or put in place to make fair financial policy real again , not lopsided laws that favor the rich at the middle and lower classes expense. This is why the government needs to be invoved . Unfortunatly only strong government regulations will be able to reel these greedy fools in . Remember what some of those clowns did , after the bailout , gave thier upper management bonuses with the bailout money, and saw nothing wrong with doing something like that. OWS and potests like it will hopefully let our politicians know we are pissed off , and Demand change . The kind of Government policy and laws that allow this kind of economic disparity must be changed or our society won’t survive .Kilm

    • Baruch Dreamstalker

      “The laws and push to offer bad mortgages etc are the governments doing .”

      Kilm, I’ve asked Norse Alchemist to justify the oft-repeated (on the right) factoid that government coerced banks into making bad loans. I think it’s a canard, intended to deflect blame from where it belongs. Now that you have repeated it I politely ask you the same thing: Can you back up this claim with sources other than know conservative megaphone media?

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=574896155 Ryan Smith

      You’re leaving aside, Kilmrnock, there were once regulations that would have prevented all the behaviors that led to the housing bubble. Those regulations were repealed, one inch at a time, by Congress at the advice and with the support of the financial industry lobbyists who were often former staffers and members of Congress themselves. This is best illustrated by the revolving door between Congress and K Street where former staffers and Congressmembers go to work for firms that lobby for industries they used to regulate. It’s no coincidence that Chris Dodd, a former Senator for Connecticut who pushed for decreasing regulation and oversight of the financial sector, received a top-paying job at Goldman Sachs not even weeks after his retirement was official. The issue isn’t that government itself is the problem, the issue is government has been bought and sold by a small group of people who have zero concern for what happens to the rest of society as long as they get the biggest slice they can.

  • Kilmrnock

    I agree with everything you stated Ryan . All was saying is we need to reinstate all the old laws and maybe a few new ones to reel in these fools in the financial sector . To realign , relevel a more fair financial market , to one that doesn’t just favor a small yet influentual sector of our populaion . Namely the 1 %ers , the rich , while the rest of us suffer. I was trying to illistrate why government needs to be involved and more than likely the only factor that can be truely effective . i wished it would , but i don’t think this mess will self correct b/f too much damage is done . Way too much damage to our economy and citizens has already occured . Kilm

  • Kilmrnock

    From what i’ve read and been told from more than one sourse , the concept of sub prime mortgages came from the Clinton Adminstration , a way to get lower income people into homes of thier own . But my understansing is the mortgages were offered to people that really couldn’t afford them and also the flexable mortgage mess , i’m not sure who is responcible for that one . But altimately Fanny mea and Fanny Mac are at fault for the housing bubble . Our screwed up economy now is partly caused by the housing bubble and wall street greed. Unfair and deceptive leanding practices are the banks fault tho.Kilm

    • http://www.magickal-media.com Alice C. “A.C.” Fisher Aldag

      What’s really killing people is that the subprime mortgages’ interest rates are way above the prime rate, and the real estate values have been reduced as much as 25% percent in some places. So when people get downsized, or income reduced, they are stuck with houses that cost more than they’re worth. Can’t sell ‘em. Can’t afford to keep paying for ‘em.

      One of Mr. Obama’s plans was for banks taking bailouts to reduce interest rates, and if people fell behind, the banks were supposed to tack on the missed payments at the end of the mortgages, presumably for when times are better. The banks took the bailouts cheerfully then reneged on the deal.

      • http://sarenth.wordpress.com/ Sarenth

        Agreed with everything you’ve said here, and there are also credit default swaps that were able to be made that underpinned a lot of banks’ willingness to ‘invest’ in people they knew were going to fail. Banks were able to essentially make millions if not billions betting on whether this person, that company, etc. would default or go under or not, and so, the subprime loans simply grew in the rate they were given. When all the hens came to roost they took a good chunk of liquidity and borrowing power with them. Sure, it gave us the 2008 housing bubble, but it also wreaked havoc in other markets, especially investment, and a whole lot of capital went down the drain.

        There’s also rampant unemployment. In terms of ‘real statistics’ (I use quotes because there’s consistent debate on what that means in regards to unemployment) the rate of unemployment could be marked at about 15-16%. When people quote the 8-9% that’s displayed that way because the government statistics tend to drop people who have stopped taking in unemployment insurance, and also tends to drop people who have been looking for years for a job, but have stopped.

        It’s a disgusting situation, and I wholly agree that the government needs some damned teeth for fixes to stick.

  • Daniel SnowKestral

    I would also like to mention various aspects of the Gaelic idea of Virtue, too, with this link regaring the Testament of Morann:

    http://www.maryjones.us/ctexts/morann.html

    I also thought these quotes were of particular interest, too:

    “Tell him (the ruler) to let not rich gifts or great treasures or profits blind him to the weak in their sufferings.” And:

    “54. Darkness yields to light
    Sorrow yields to joy
    An oaf yields to a sage
    A fool yields to a wise man
    A serf yeilds to a free man
    Inhospitality yields to hospitality
    Stinginess yields to generosity
    Meanness yields to liberality
    Impetuosity yields to composure
    Turbulence yields to submission
    A usurper yields to a true lord
    Conflict yields to peace
    Falsehood yields to truth.

    55. Tell him, let him be merciful, just, impartial, conscientious, firm, generous, hospitable, honourable, stable, beneficient, capable, honest, well-spoken, steady, true-judging.”

  • Erynn Rowan Laurie

    Thank you, Jason. This was an excellent editorial, IMO. I’ve been quietly active with both Occupy Seattle and Occupy Everett when I’ve been able. Sadly, that hasn’t been nearly as often as I’d like, due to both health and time issues. I’ve done things as diverse as donating candles to the Occupy Seattle Sanctuary (a multifaith chaplaincy for the Occupy Seattle encampment and protesters) and donations of warm things from my closet that I could spare, to helping erect a community tent with Occupy Everett in the pouring rain. I’ve marched with the Occupiers at an anti-war march and spent the next three days unable to walk. I’ve sat in on meetings on unlawful foreclosures, talked with clergy from several religions, and agreed to work as part of the publicity team for Occupy Everett in drafting press releases and informational text. I’ve joined with Occupy Writers in solidarity, and given Occupiers rides from time to time. It’s not big or flashy, but it fits in with what I can do to support the movement locally.

    I’m impressed by how many veterans are a part of this movement and by the involvement of Veterans For Peace and the Iraq Veterans Against the War — we are deeply impacted by the inequities in our society, which always feels rather more appalling after we’ve put our bodies and our lives on the line to protect and defend the ideals of our constitution, only to see them violated and ripped away time and again by the government at the behest of corporate interests. The military has done an incredible number of appalling things, but it has done so at the direction of those same corporate interests, and individual servicemembers are nothing more than literal cannonfodder for their battles. People are dying for corporate interests. Those who survive come home to find unemployment rampant at a much higher rate among veterans than among most segments of the civilian populace, promised veterans benefits are difficult to get and must be actively fought for rather than having them simply granted as they should be, and reintegration into civilian society can be nightmarish. The number of homeless veterans is unconscionable, and I have been among them in the past.

    I think there is a distinct and important place for Pagans within the Occupy movement, for those who want to accept it. As has so often been said, history is made by those who show up. The Occupy movement is showing up, in greater and greater numbers. The movement is changing but the change it has already brought to the discourse in our society has been profound, and it extends far beyond the borders of our country — it is a global uprising, and we have support from people all over the world who are honestly starting to see what many Americans are struggling with, beyond the glitz of Hollywood illusions and the corporate mass media.

    I am seeing, constantly, what a difference social media is making in the way people are able to communicate and coordinate, in bypassing the gatekeepers of corporate media, and in showing, live and direct, what is really happening that so many politicians and their various monetary masters do not want broadcast. Police directed media blackouts and livestreams by protesters and citizen journalists are a disturbing contrast between the movement as lived and the movement as corporate media wants it perceived.

    I see clear messages in the Occupy movement, and they are often (though not always) in deep accord with the changes I believe we need to see in our society.

    This is a moment and a movement whose time has arrived. Whether or not it becomes coopted by “mainstream” politics of any party remains to be seen, but the changes it is already generating in the way political discourse in the streets is conducted and the raising of consciousness regarding justice and class and civility and poverty are important and will have significance and repurcussions for a long time to come. Occupy is trying to get to the root of the problems rather than simply deal with cosmetic changes in the system. I believe it is taking a longer view of necessary change; it is one that has been missing for decades.

  • http://twitter.com/lysana Brenda Daverin

    As a side note, I’d suggest you look longer at the health care reform package Obama signed into law before you accept the common wisdom that it’s weak and watered down. It’s already saving lives and money and will continue to do so more and more as time passes. If you really think single-payer or even a public option could’ve passed that Congress, you’re not paying an ounce of attention. I will also note that the section of it that requires insurance companies to spend 80% of its income on patient care is what we call a bomb that will blow up a lot of for-profit insurance and make it far easier to get a public option in the future. We weren’t going to turn that ship all the way around overnight. What we got is stronger than anything we’ve seen in decades and it will do a lot if it is not overturned because the Left failed to recognize the fight is between continuing what we started three years ago and allowing the GOP to take over. There is no third road here.

    • Erynn Rowan Laurie

      While I agree that there isn’t a third party option at the moment, I still know a lot of people who cannot afford health care at all, regardless of what got passed. Yes, it certainly helps some folks out, and I’m grateful for that, but there are many people who are still falling through the cracks.

    • http://www.wildhunt.org/blog/ Jason Pitzl-Waters

      Don’t get me wrong, I’m very pleased that health care reform has been passed, and there is some good stuff in there, but I still think its a small step forward towards actually getting health care (not just health insurance) to those who need it most. I was paying more than an “ounce” of attention to the wrangling over health care, as it is an issue I’m passionate about, and I do think the public option could have happened had the Democrats held together. In any case, until America has single payer, or the equivalent, people will continue to fall through the cracks of our system.

  • Kilmrnock

    This i understand completly, from personal experience . My Mortgage is underwater as they say . due to falling home prices. My townhouse is worth less than it’s mortgaged for . My own wages have been stagnent …….the 60 yr old small family business i work in is failing , actually my pay is 2 months behind .The biggest part of the problem is , i’m not alone . Most people in the middle and lower class , share my situation to varying degrees , and our government doesn’t seem to care . All of this needs to change , if i doesn’t i believe our economy will collapes , tis inevitable. Kilm