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Loaves & Fishes and "communitarian liberty"

The blockquote below [in brown text] is from Chris Hedges’ new book The Death of the Liberal Class (2010), pgs 156 & 157, which pretty much explains the political position where we find Loaves & Fishes these days, with its creation and promotion of SafeGround after indoctrination techniques used on [or against, as I would say] homeless people who have come to use L&F’s services. And, it explains where Loaves & Fishes is with respect to its unflagging rootedness in the Catholic Workers Movement. [An area at Loaves & Fishes is named after CW founder Dorothy Day.]

Hedges’ (and L&F’s) values relate to communitarian liberty which necessarily advances a huge and invasive government presence to impose a supposedly-just society. They want to “kindle outrage” to go backward to a system that has proved over and over and over again THAT IT DOESN’T WORK. In the Twentieth Century there was massive experimentation with the idea of an invasive government presence. It did not go well; people under the boot of Big Brother hated their circumstance, the certain evolution of massive corruption and truth twisting, and the deaths of a hundred million [A HUNDRED MILLION PEOPLE DEAD!!] who were not comfortable with giving up all freedom to be meaningless pawns of the Great Leaders.

Hedges’ and Loaves and Fishes’ ideas misplace incentives in a society; disrupt efficiencies in production; put communities in a circumstance where Truth is malleable or arbitrary; and where the end justifies the means.

Hedges wrote,

Capitalism, as Marx understood, when it emasculates government and escapes its regulatory bonds, is a revolutionary force. And this revolutionary force is plunging us into a state of neofeudalism, endless war, and more draconian forms of internal repression. The liberal class lacks the fortitude and the ideas to protect the decaying system. It speaks in a twilight rhetoric that no longer corresponds to our reality. But the fiction of democracy remains useful, not only for corporations, but also for the bankrupt liberal class. If the fiction is exposed as a lie, liberals will be forced to consider actual resistance, which will be neither pleasant nor easy. As long as a democratic facade exists, liberals can engage in a useless moral posturing that requires no sacrifice or commitment. They can be the self-appointed scolds of the Democratic Party, acting as if they are part of the debate, vindicated by their pathetic cries of protest.


The best opportunities for radical social change exist among the poor, the homeless, the working class, and the destitute. As the numbers of disenfranchised dramatically increase, our only hope is to connect ourselves with the daily injustices visited upon the weak and the outcast. Out of this contact we can resurrect, from the ground up, a social ethic, a new movement. We must hand out our bowls of soup. Coax the homeless into a shower. Make sure those who are mentally ill, cruelly abandoned on city sidewalks, take their medication. We must go back into America’s segregated schools and prisons. We must protest, learn to live simply and begin, in an age of material and imperial decline, to speak with a new humility. It is in the tangible, mundane, and difficult work of forming groups and communities to care for others that we will kindle the outrage and the moral vision to fight back , that we will articulate an alternative.

Dorothy Day, who died in 1980, founded the Catholic Worker movement with Peter Maurin in the midst of the Great Depression. … Two Catholic Worker houses of hospitality in the Lower East Side soon followed. Day and Maurin preached a radical ethic that included an unwavering pacifism. They condemned private and state capitalism for its unfair distribution of wealth. They branded the profit motive as immoral. They were fervent supporters of the labor movement, the civil-rights movement, and all antiwar movements. They called on followers to take up lives of voluntary poverty. And when the old Communist Party came under fierce attack in the 1950s during the anticommunist purges, Day, although not a communist, was one of the only activists to denounce the repression and attend communist demonstrations.
If Dorothy Day and her movement had gotten their way in the 1930s, we would all be speaking Japanese and German. [That is, Day and the Catholic Workers Movement opposed America’s entry into World War II.] Every Jew, Black person and gypsy would be long exterminated. With my scoliosis, I would be killed. Living as well as people now do in North Korea would be something people of our day could only dream about.

If Dorothy Day and her movement had gotten governance in this world that they wanted, things would certainly have devolved such that we would all be suffering in a Soviet world where individuals are meaningless, and life is wholly drudgery. And, again, living as well as people now do in North Korea would be something people of our day could only dream about.

I agree that America, today, is offtrack, but it has a long history of doing a great many things right and of finding its way — albeit quite true that the US can be painfully slow at finding its way, oftentimes.

Destroying the country [in the Revolution that Cat Williams fervently promoted] to save it, wouldn't save it; it would just destroy it.


Bill said…
We don't need an insurrection, we just need a hand up. My blog is devoted to the homeless and the post I ran yesterday was in celebration of Rufus Hannah, one of the original homeless guys used in "bum fights". He made it out of the hell of being homeless, as did I, and is working to help us now.

Tom Armstrong said…
Thanks, Bill. Couldn't agree with you more! Here's a link to the post at your blog you mention: "A sick trend, 'Homeless Bashing'"

-- Tom

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