God Guilt and Goldwater-Stringfellow

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    God, Guilt and GoldwaterThe doctrine that the senator espouses could be implemented only

    by an extremism which would fertilize totalitarianism in this land.

    WILLIAM STRINGFELLOW

    It hashappened to themaccordingto the true proverb,The dog turns back to his own vomit (II Peter 2:22a).

    + THE CONVENTION in which the forces underthe banner of Barry Goldwater took possession ofthe national machinery of the Republican partyand bestowed a presidential nomination on the Arizona senator seems to have been fundamentally areligious event.

    It was characterized, the commentators report,by "emotional zeal," "evangelical fervor" and "a re

    ligious fanaticism." Despite the arbitrary tactics,intimidating rule and moral confusion evidentthere, a spirit of religious revival pervaded theCow Palace. Well there might have been, because areal religion wasrevived there.

    It is a religion of venerable origins, indigenousto America's past. Though reason may conclude thatit is a religion irrelevant to the realities of thiscountry in this century, though prudence maycounsel that for both individuals and society it issuicidal in its tendencies, common sense argues thatthis religion cannot be dismissed now that it has be

    come vested in one of the two major political parties in the land.

    No Time for Apathy

    I for one think that this is a peculiarly tormented religion, but what makes it most pathetic is notits articles of faith as such but the threat that thenation may be engulfed, subdued and captured byit. Let none of us who are apprehensive over thepower and appeal of this religion surrender to confidence that there are enough dispassionate, in

    formed and sensible citizens in this country toprevent it from prevailing: such confidence merelynourishes defeat.

    Ironically, in the personal religious heritage ofthe man who is installed as apostle and apologist forthis faith there i$ little which is consonant with hispresent role. Goldwater is an Anglican with Jewishancestors. He has revealed nothing of the sophisticated insight into history so characteristic of theJews; he does not appear to remember with eitherlucidity or compassion the persecutions, ancient orrecent, of the Jews. Nor has he displayed anything

    Mr. Stringfellow is a New York attorney and an activeE i l l

    of the Anglican genius for accommodation for tsake of unity, much less any comprehension of thtranscendence of the secular which is an endurivirtue of Anglican sacramentalism. This is not attack Goldwater's sincerity. Let that be taken fgranted. The fact of sincerity is only incidental bside a man's beliefs and the beliefs of tho r . whhave now clothed the Arizona senator in the digniof a candidate for the presidency of the UnitStates.

    The Religion of Goldwater

    The Goldwater credo, enunciated in its mopainstakingly prepared form to date, is expressin the senator's address accepting the nominatioAnd since the senator is constantly complainithat what he says is misunderstood but boasts thhis acceptance speech was a model of plain Englisit is to thatand not to any random, extemporanous or spontaneous utteringsthat one presumbly may look to ascertain the dogmatics of the faiwhich Goldwater espouses and serves. The intro

    of that authoritative declaration of faith: "Frothis moment, united and determined, we will gforward together dedicated to the ultimate and udeniable greatness of the whole man." This is nempty rhetoric, for the nominee sets forth quite spcifically a doctrine of manone, by the way, whit behooves heretics as well as true believers to uderstand, since those who are not dedicated to it aguilty not of "mere political differences or mepolitical mistakes" but of "a fundamentally aabsolutely wrong view of man, his nature and hdestiny."

    What, then, is the anthropological understaning of the Goldwaterites? Who is this "whole manAnd of what does his "greatness" consist?

    According to the candidate, the true man is thacquisitive man: a man is whole if he procurepossesses and profits from property. The greatneof man is dependent upon "the sanctity of propety." Such is the elementary doctrine of this religiothat provides the moral criteria by which both meand societies are judged: "We see in private proerty and in economy based upon and fostering priate property the one way to make government

    durable ally of the whole man rather than his dtermined enemy."

    Generically this doctrine is one of self justific

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    tion. A man who wills to do so if he is not hindered by governmentcan perfect his own salvation by obtaining, holding and using private property. Thus salvation is not universal, nor is itin any sense by God's election; it is competitiveand comes to the man whose worth and worthinessare proved by the property he controls, earns orowns. To have property is evidence of moral ex

    cellence, defines individual dignity and is the divine reward for self-reliance. In such a view, as thesenator himself has so very often repeated, the failure of a man to acquire property not only abortshis personal fulfillment bu t must be counted as sinor as the consequence of the interference of evil.If a man has no property he must be wasteful, self-indulgent, slothful or bereft of initiative, or else heis a victim or a dependent of sinister, ruthless, insatiable, dehumanizing governmental power.

    Pax Americana

    Much worse than such sinners or slaves who,having little or no property of their own, have neither virtue nor humanity, are those who, havingproperty, are not true believers, do not upholdand propagate this religion. It is not, as the senator himself has argued, just a matter of differingopinions which might be moderated or toleratedit is a struggle against sinitself.Sin is to be shunnedand sinners are to be cast out. The only reconciliation for the sinner is in his own repentance. ThusGovernor Scranton, a man of property, had to be rebuffed when he conceded defeat at the conventionand recited the traditional overtures for party unity. Though beaten, he vowed to fight again; meanwhile he would support the ticket. That is arrogance, not repentance. Nor is it, as the candidatehimself declares, a matter of mistaken views whichmust be exposed and opposed; this crusade isagainst the very power of evil. With that there canbe no compromise without contamination: theonly remedy is exorcism.

    Applied specifically to issues of American society, the doctrine of the acquisitive man as the whole

    man regards foreign economic aid as squander; welfare assistance as reward for weakness; Social Security as surrender of self-reliance; public works asrestraints of commerce; medicare as an invasion ofprivacy; product quality, packaging and advertising standards as subversive of a competitive market; the war on poverty as the purchase of votes;fluoridation as a restraint of choice; and taxation asa necessarybut temporaryevil. Goldwatercomplains that the Democratic administration "hastalked and talked and talked and talked the wordsof freedom but has failed and failed and failed in

    the works of freedom." He says that for him "freedom" is not just a ritual word, but in truth it isthat, for in such positions as these what he means

    To propagate freedom, so defined, constitutes according to Goldwater a divinely commissioned national purpose for America in the world. "TheGood Lord raised this mighty Republic to be ahome for the brave and to flourish as the land of thefree." While God is said to be "the author of freedom," Americans are freedom's "models" and"missionaries" on earth because they "have earned

    it." With no less formidable a patron than God, nuclear war can be risked on behalf of this concept offreedom. In the name of God, the American mission is to subdue those in the world who do not conform to this idea of freedom. Let the world be colonized for the sake of this notion of freedom. Andlet not America's manifest destiny in the cause ofthis kind of freedom be any longer compromised orimpeded by membership in the United Nations. Ifthe world longs for peace, let peace meanPax Amer-icana.

    There is nothing novel in what the nomineepreaches in doctrine or in his application of doctrine to concrete issues. There has been in thiscountry a recurrent and fiercely contested conflictbetween the sanctity of property and the dignity ofhuman life, and concerning which of these forcesfurnishes a more enduring and beneficial basis forlife in society. The question of whether qualification for suffrage and public office should be contingent upon property ownership, the whole torturedhistory of American chattel slavery, the Indian warsand the ensuing disposition of "the Indian problem," the conquest and exploitation of the frontier,the shocks of mechanization and industrialization,the decline of free enterprise with the emergence ofmonopoly capitalism, the cycles of expansion anddepression, the retreat into isolationismin theseand many other episodes a profound discord hasburdened the nation's heritage.

    The Revenge of the WASPS

    The same discord still exists, and the vehemencewith which those who believe that property has precedence over persons assert themselves via the Gold-

    water candidacy makes it ominously doubtful thatconciliation, much less consensus, can be had inthe conflict. For them the dispute is not over what isrealistic but over what is ultimately right; it is concerned not with justice but with their own justification; it is not about political philosophy but about religious truth. For them, in such a cause there mustbe no "mistaken humility," the ends authorize anymeans, and there is no vice in extremism. The senator's remarks in this vein provoke alarm in manycitizens who assume that he was speaking politically, whereas Goldwater remains astonished and an

    gry about the fuss because he was really talkingabout his religious commitment.

    Idolatry of property is an old religion. It was

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    colonial empires. It has its American roots in certain forms of Protestantism that developed andflourished among owners of land, holders of slaves,frontier settlers, rural folk and pioneer capitalists.If such religion seems simplistic, remember thatthe world of the private citizen seemed smallerthen. If this faith in the sanctity of private propertyseems antiquated, remember that it was suited to

    some of the realities of the late 18th and the 19thcenturies in this nation. If, in retrospect, Protestantism is to be criticized for its accommodations tothe culture of those times, we must remember thatamong those who profess to be Christians conformity to the world is still commonplace and is alwaystheir most subtle temptation. If times have movedand Americans live now in the 20th centurywhether they find it congenial or not that doesnot in itself sabotage a religion so convenient tomen who see their own initiative as moral justification, and so reassuring to those white Anglo-Saxons who suppose that God gave them this land as areward for their enterprise.

    Idolaters and Dissenters

    The times have changed: the frontier is no longer a wilderness in the west but in the northern urban ghettos; property is no longer so important,but credit is; the machines human ingenuity hasmade compete with men for jobs; the affluence of amajority of the population is secured by the poverty of the remainder; the Negro citizen would assoon die as suffer further assaults upon, his humanity; the push of a button can turn on a light or exterminate mankind; the Republican candidate forPresident of the United States extols self-reliance ina world in which toilet paper is a luxury mostpeople cannot afford.

    The times have changed indeed, but in AmericaProtestantism has preserved the shrine of property,and the doctrine of the acquisitive man as thewhole man is still defiantly preached with but fewallowances for change save those required to maintain property as an idol. How easily did the courage

    of the pioneer become equated with the guile ofthe so-called self-made man! How quickly paper replaced land as the symbol of property! Howshrewdly has the piety of the settler been attributedto the salesman! Whatever the verdict on this faithin its earlier expressions in the previous centuries,it is by mutations such as these that it has managedits survival in this century.

    And while this has been the religion harboredby a good many sectarian Protestants, it cannot bedismissed just because it is espoused by extremists,malcontents and some victims of paranoia. Too

    many pulpits in mainline Protestant churches haveechoed the same idolatry of property and the sameteaching of justification by acquisition. How often

    religion is a business asset because God rewards thman who is determined to get what he wants? Howoften have others preached the same because that iwhat their people wished to hear? Why have smany Protestant churches forsaken the dispossessein the cities? Why is so much of the wealth of thchurches invested in the mere maintenance ochurchly institutions? Why has the acquiring an

    managing of property become the symbol of th"successful" congregation of "respectable" folkHow many Protestants attend to the gospel of visiing prisons, heading the sick, loving outcasts, angiving all that one possesses to the poor in order tfollow Christ?

    Protestantism has not been without voices crying out against perversion of the gospel in the idolzation of property. The social gospel era, the Chritian pacifist movement, the inner city ministries, thecumenical dialogue, the involvement of Christianin direct action in the racial crisis are examples osuch forces and, regardless of whatever valid critcisms can be made of any of these within Protestanism, they are evidence of that compassion for thworld and affirmation of the value of human lifcharacteristic of biblical faith. And though therare a significant number of theologians, clergy anlaity whose words and actions bespeak the biblicfaith, the conclusion now seems inescapable thsuch a faith has not threatened the consciencof the vast multitude of white Anglo-Saxon Protetants in America, either laity or clergy. If anythin

    such voices may have merely aroused a more impetuous allegiance among the idolaters.

    Bent on Triumph

    Thus the way was prepared for a great congregtion of white Anglo-Saxon Protestants to gather the convention in San Francisco to ask, "Where the America we knew and loved?" and to hear vthpromise from the one they had chosen: "We musand we shall, return to proven waysnot becauthey are old, but because they are true."

    Ironically, the one chosen would not have bee

    welcome in the America for which they have sucnostalgia. He is, after all, of Polish immigrastock; his own wealth came by inheritance and mariage; on his paternal side there is Jewish blood; ishort, he is no WASP. Yet sometimes prophets comdisguised, and anyway this one says what these people have yearned to hear not just in sanctuaries oin secret meetings but from the very centerstage othe nation.

    Let no one despise these people as "kooks" "nuts" or "Neanderthals," though evidently thsupport of such is welcomed by the candidate an

    approved by those who nominated him. Most othem cannot be so described and dismissed, for moof them are solid, honorable, well intentioned an

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    seem pathetically uninformed and fearfully frustrated, if their views are archaic and even nonsensical, if they are tempted into ruthless expediency, itis not because they are sinister or sick or mentallyunstable but because the ultimate vindication oftheir religious belief is at stake. If they do not prevail in this test, so long besought of God, then itwould mean either that God has abandoned them

    to his own enemies

    in which event there must beno God at allor that he has been displeased allalong with their supplications and burnt offeringsin which case their religion is false and theirfaith in vain. If they do not triumph in this trial,they will no longer have the solace of being rightthough rejected a solace which has nourishedthem and their candidate through the long years ofwaiting for this day. If they do not win this election,it will mean that the very things to which theyare dedicated are significantly responsible for thethings which they fear and loathe. In other words

    the chief motivation of the Goldwaterites is notmalice, though some among them are malevolent,but a profound guilt arising from a fear that theirworship of acquisitiveness is somehow the proximate cause of poverty, a provocation of crime onthe streets, an incitement of racial violence, a reason for other nations' resentment of American power.What is at issue for the Goldwaterites in this campaign is that most traumatic question: whether thedoctrine of the Fall applies to them as well as toeverybody else in the world.

    If an appreciable number of citizens see this asthe issue of this campaign and I submit they dothen, of course, any extremity can be justified, andabstinence from extremism is morally reprehensible, precisely as the nominee proclaimed.

    An American Totalitarianism?

    Already there are ominous signs of links betweenthe senator and his adherents and an array of extremists, both political and religious, in this country as well as elsewhere. Major General EdwinWalker appeared ecstatic that his fellow Episcopa

    lian was nominated. Both ideological and financialbacking for Governor Wallace of Alabama was dramatically switched to support for Senator Goldwater. A man who managed the Robert Welch candidacy for public office in Massachusetts has becomechief of Goldwater operations in New England.Gestures of sympathy have been extended to fascistremnants in Germany. The candidate admits hisawe of military authority. Radical and long-discredited malcontents among the Protestant sects are encouraged. Some who work openly for Goldwater byday mask in Klan costumes at night. Even Negroes

    considered "Uncle Toms" by their people are excluded from political recognition. Opponents suffer vilification and threats of bodily harm. The

    media. The most recent Republican President istreated with mock deference approaching ridicule.Inquisitions begin to purge the Republican party.All of this has been publicly reported and is common knowledge: what more may have happenedone fears to conjecture.

    Meanwhile both the ideas and the tactics whichthe candidate advocates are notoriously congenial to

    the totalitarian mentality. That military discretionis more effective than civilian direction is one example. That maintaining law and order requiresquashing organized social protest is another. Theway to peace traverses the brink of war. Scapegoatsexplain whatever is amiss and popularize whateveris to be changed. Simple answers to perplexingquestions are what the people want and all thatthey deserve. If the senator's views are not applauded it is because they have been distorted. The"moderates" want harmony so much that they willsurrender their moderation. Falsehoods unstinting-

    ly repeated will be believed. The way to win is toinduce opponents to defeat each other.

    American history reveals no more cynical instanceof such ethics than is seen in the Goldwater camp'sexploitation of the racial crisis. While boasting ofa pure heart, the senator invokes the Constitutionagainst itself in opposing the civil rights act, andsimultaneously calculates that appealing for cloture on political debate on civil rights will endearhis candidacy to all those white citizens who wishthat the Negro revolution had never happened and

    would now just somehow go away, knowing all thewhile, as he must knowunless he be knave or foolor fakerthat such an appeal is certain to inciteamong Negro citizens a despair that has no outletbut violence.

    Will such traffic in racism make Goldwater President of the United States? Will such wickednessor recklessness be the advent of an American totalitarianism? How much do these days in the 1960s inAmerica resemble the 1930s in Germany? The fraternization between Goldwater and totalitarians,both foreign and American, may have serious im

    plications. The ideas the man utters summon memories of both demagogues and dictators. The tacticsemployed abuse the democratic process by suppressing dissent. The Cow Palace at times rang withechoes from the Munich beer hall.

    Analogies mislead at least as much as they instruct. And while ominous comparisons are invitedby the events that took place at San Francisco, important distinctions are apparent as well.

    Goldwater would feign to rule the nation, but hehas exhibited no dark genius such as possessed Hitler. Indeed he himself would surely admit that he

    has exhibited no genius of any sort. There is alsoample evidence, in his own admissions beforeand since his nomination, that he does not par

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    be more content to remain in the privileged sanctuary of the Senate where he could carp at and criticize whoever is President.

    But if Goldwater be no Hitler, that still does notmake the nation safe from totalitarianism. Heattracts totalitarian, and his candidacy has alreadygiven them a home in a major political party. And

    + RECENT and rapid technological change hasshaken our society to its roots. In 1940 the total sumspent in the United States on research and development"R & D," in the argot of such journals as

    Business Week was $500 million; in i960 it wasestimated at $13 billion, 26 times as much. In thepast decade, it is claimed, the United States hasspent as much money on new processes, new products and new technologies as in all our previous history combined.

    The speed of change is indicated by the remarkable development of the new "light fantastic," thelaser, whose name is drawn from the initial lettersof its description, "light amplification by stimulatedemission of radiation." The ruby laser, which applies the quantum theory to the harnessing of random light waves by making them form a coherentmarching order of concentrated waves, was firstdemonstrated only in i960. Yet its development hasalready progressed to the stage where coherentlight is produced by direct conversion from electricity passed through a semiconductor crystal. Lightbeams have drilled holes in diamonds, spot-weldeddetached retinas and been bounced off the moon.In their new form they promise a communicationsrevolution. By 1961 laser development was alreadya $20 million business; in 1962 it moved to $50 million and in 1963 reached $100 million.

    I

    No longer do we have the simple age describedin Great Industries of the United States,a. fascinating volume published in 1872. One chapter tells ofa machine invented in 1859 for the automatic production of horseshoe nails, a northern invention

    which aided Civil War cavalry operations immense-

    M C k i l i l ti i t t t S t V H tk

    the doctrine he recites could be implemented onby an extremism which would fertilize totalitariaism in this land. The danger is that Goldwater mabe the precursor of an American totalitarianism

    The governor of Mississippi warned the othday that 1964 may see America's last free electioFor once he is right.

    ly. The account describes the marvel of this mchine:

    In making a horseshoe nail by hand, the blacksmith givsome twenty blows with the hammer in order to form same into shape, and can make but from ten to twelpounds as a day's work; but with the Putnam machine tnail receives some sixty blows from the hammer, leavthe iron much more compacted in the fibre, and monearly perfect than is possible to be done by hand, whone hundred to one hundred and fifty pounds are madaily by a machine.

    We could cope with a machine that moved tmaking of horseshoe nails from smithcraft to ftory. But today, according to a congressional sucommittee estimate, changing technology results the job displacement of 1.25 million persons annally, while we need in addition 1.3 million new joeach year just for those newly entering the labforce.

    Rapid development is accompanied by increascomplexity. Thirty years ago we were being taugthat the smallest possible division of matter, tatom, contained a positive nucleus and negatelectrons, though their existence had not be

    proved. Now we have broken down the atom itsand identified within it all sorts of neutrons, msons, protons and gamma particles, besides a "nclear zoo" to the number of at least 26 differbits.

    A dozen years ago the word "automation" wnot even in our vocabulary. Now we have not onlasers but masers, semiconductors, transistors, scone wafers, IBM 7090 computers the list cobe extended on and on. And the baffling completies of research put their mark on everyday liviNo longer can a teen-ager disassemble a Model

    and put it together again with fairly simple toonow he must consult a manual even to do a grejob.

    Technology's Impact on ReligionDirectly and indirectly the churches have been marked

    by the technical revolutions of the past two decades.

    CLAIR M. COOK

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