Posted by: rogermitchell | December 14, 2010

why the radicals haven’t changed the world yet

Sorry to all you regular clickers that I haven’t blogged for a week! For any who want quick updates but haven’t discovered twitter yet I recommend it. It’s a great way to keep in touch and has serious potential to encourage kenarchic change. Just takes the effort to get going and the humility to accept that may be only a few people want to follow you anywhere at the moment. That’s going to change. Just click on the big ‘t’ button on my site. Anyway I’ve been busy writing up the evidence of why the substrata of western radicalism have brought such little change to the system in the long run. This despite attempts to imagine and inititiate some exciting political innovations. I’ve particularly been looking at Joachim of Fiore and Francis of Assisi in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, Gerard Winstanley and William Penn in the seventeenth and the early Pentecostals in the twentieth. Despite attempts to completely reconceive time and consign empire to ancient history [Joachim], reconnect with Jesus’ embrace of the poor [Francis], repossess the land and overthrow hierarchy [Winstanley], forge a radical new sovereignty in unity with native Americans [Penn] and reconfigure the ecclesia around the racial, gender and class equality of the Pentecostal outpourings [William Seymour et alia], the deep structure of imperial power remained unchanged. It may be that only now the unravelling of the western economic and political system is exposing its dependence on the misconceived choice by the church that produced it and is presenting the ecclesia with a genuine opportunity to acieve radical change. Even so, the record of history is not encouraging and the onus on the ecclesia and its allies for peace is huge. As I see it the big issue is whether we can completely reconfigure our understanding of transcendence from selfish hierarchy to kenotic love. And then put it into practice in our everyday behaviour in and through all the spheres of society and our relationship with the creation. For sure this is what my work and this blog aims to achieve.



  1. Well, I’ll be using this overview when I do my course on empire, Roger! Love those references to Francis et al…lol.

  2. Okay, well, I’ve had this question before. What should we be doing and how, especially in light of past failures? So if I read you right – it was the timing that caused past failures to provoke change and the times may be right now. Si? I still wonder what works and what is better – small day to day actions of resistance or larger more political and organized actions. We need both? Both are effective or not?

    Resistance itself is very difficult on either basis in what amounts to a totalitarian system. The system tends to take anything that happens and incorporate it within itself. A humourous example of this was on the Daily Show (Jon Stewart) the other night. 2 of the comedians on staff took the London riots of the other day and used them to make money by producing commemorative plates as a spoof on the way the market system works. But that is exactly how it works. Protests, rebellions, tragedies, whatever, all get incorporated into the system. Think of all the small organic food producers out there when organic food began. Now many are owned by the same large food companies that produce all the other food products. It is simply another form of branding for them. That in turn compresses and makes smaller the space for any alternative food production system.

    So I don’t know Roger. I am perplexed. I am 53 years old with limited time left on earth. I want to make it count. How do I do that? I think an analysis of the failures of the folks you mentioned would be really helpful. Can we learn from that? Or is it a matter of simply obedience and then trust that despite the appearance of failure God is somehow capable of resurrection anyway?

  3. This is one of those posts that I read with anticipation that you’re about to say something really exciting and then you leave me hanging! Why *haven’t* the radicals changed the world yet?

    Arguably all of the precursors you mention involved a (re-)discovery of kenosis in some way but I guess fewer of them could so radically see the church/christendom as being so instrumentally part of the problem. This, among other things, is a not insignificant development in our favour!

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