Sunday, January 11, 2009

The Southern Strategy

The term "Southern Strategy" has become well used and known in American politics. It refers to the Republican theory that the best way to win national political electionsis to win the southern states. But less widely known it is also a mantra of many catholic commenters. In this case it refers to the increasing emphasis on South America and Africa as the true repository of catholic values on the grounds that in these areas "family values" are still highly significant. So "family values" needs to be looked at closely, not just the euphemistic term, but its background and meaning as the church uses it today.

It must be noted that these "southern", "family values" countries are almost all countries that are basically pre modern, pre-industrial, countries with a very low economic development with its component of very low education standards. In almost all of these South American and African countries the role of women is very primitive compared to the more "developed" countries of the world. Women have virtually no place in the political, social or economic lives of these countries. The formal education of women is quite limited, and women are basically dependent on men for their very survival. Some catholic apolotists like to point to the high divorce rate in the more modern countries as a decline in moral,family vales, for example. As is obvious to all serious observers, the high divorce rate, bad as it may be, is to a great extend due to the ability of women to 'survive'--themselves and their children--and not be totally dependent on a dominant husband and father.

The low education level of these countries is also an open invitation to superstitious levels found in many religions, especially catholicism. As a catholic, I am aware, as I have written earlier, that the basic catholic teaching is no more fallacious than other Christian religions. However, throughout history, for reasons I will not touch on here, the catholic church, for good or bad, sanctions or lives with a vibrant tradition of pre-modern beliefs. Bleeding statues, stigmata, marian apparitions, being in two places at once, dancing suns----no catholic is required to accept these pre-modern, unproven, highly improbable anti-scientific 'happenings', but still the church does little to discourage, indeed encourages, to an extent, such beliefs.

What the church believes as family values finds a fertile field in these "Southern" countries. Male dominance, the subjugation of women, beliefs that are already there. And the women's role as subservient to the male and as primarily a mother and the sexual satisfier of men has a long history in catholicism, with such still left to a high degree although some small improvements have been made. As the Catholic Encyclopedia says: Men are the glory of God; women are the glory of man. A catholic cleric interviewed by John Allen has added :We let the natives keep some of their pre-christian beliefs.

Another blog I visited recently has as its 'moto' John Paul II's quote: The family is called...the domestic church. And how appropriate. The position of women in the church is to have no say; to be totally subservient to males , males with no physical bond to women (or children). Thus the "Southern Strategy," and its appeal to the catholic hierarchy.

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