George Orwell saw emerging in the late 1940s the appropriation of language by corporations and corporatist Western democratic states that has now come to maturity in the globalised construction of an authoritarian fusion of the free market and faux democratic governmentality. Under the pretence of security, while keeping the public thinking about terrorism, freedom in the name of preserving ‘freedom’ has been limited, and the healthy operation of inclusive and informed democracy has been undermined. Peace too has been the subject of a deliberate meaning change. No longer is it a sense of social harmony maintained through the pursuit of peace on the national and international stages, but the control of populations by law and order within walls beyond which perpetual war is waged.
Neoliberalism, which is the merger of these massive corporate interests and their puppet states, has used this bastardised lexicon aggressively for decades to loosen the bonds of social cohesion throughout the world to atomise individuals, thereby transforming people into more profitable units of labour. Employing notions of ‘personal responsibility’ and ‘aspiration,’ the engineers of this economic model, labelled “disaster capitalism” by Naomi Klein in 2007, increased their share of the wealth by dismantling the structures of social welfare – housing, education, health care, pensions, and social security ; simultaneously saving the corporatist state money and resources, and making human beings – as mere units of labour – vulnerable and disposable.
Grassroots community, in all its forms, has been the subject of special attention under this system. Clubs, associations, churches, community political activism, and such like pose a fundamental threat to the ideology of radical individualism. They provide alternative voices and networks of communication able to propagate social interests, build local and national solidarity, and formulate strategies of survival and resistance. It was no coincidence that the National Socialists in 1930s Germany (the Nazis), who were the first to implement the neoliberal policy of privatisation (or Reprivatisierung), banned all social and cultural youth organisations that were not explicitly under the directorship of the state.
The defence of community and its reconstruction and growth then, together with the reclaiming or reframing of language, is the primary location of resistance, and ultimately the position from which an assault on this system can be launched. No politico-economic system of greed can thrive where strong communities exist in which the language of authentic freedom and solidarity is the native tongue. Faith communities, which in their institutional structures do have serious problems, must play a part in this process of liberation. Modern, ideologically driven discourse has successfully blamed all war on religion, but no international conflict has been fought over theological difference. Modern warfare is inextricably linked to the capitalist-imperialist lust for resources and wealth. Religious communities are among the last communities with the fabric and social connections with which to build new communities of resistance. Failure to take up this task will be the final mistake of religion in the West.