Thanks to the therapeutic community, the word ‘enabling’ has taken on a negative connotation. It means you are helping someone do something bad: feeding their addiction perhaps, or else their delusion. The pair of you are ‘co-dependent’ relying on the other to provide cover and encouragement for things you really shouldn’t be doing. They say that Paul Bernardo enabled Karla Homolka to be a psychopath.
But in more common talk, to enable someone if to give them the power to act, to help them help themselves. It is to give someone a hand-up rather than a hand out.
This ultimately is the difference between the welfare state – invented as a prop to capitalism, to, well, enable a bad system to cover up its worst aspects and to continue to exist. Take away the welfare system – as Republicans and conservatives everywhere want to and try to do – and the real nature of unbridled capitalism is revealed. And it is a very ugly visage indeed. Rampant inequality and a denial of anything that challenges its hegemony including climate change, the dangers of class division and the possibilities of a post scarcity economy.
We live in the best of all possible worlds but capitalism has never wanted to allow the best of us to come out. They propagate the myth of ‘claw against claw’ as if human society and civilization hasn’t always been built first and foremost on cooperation. They sabotage any progress towards an economic order where poverty is once and for all eliminated.
Capitalism requires there to be haves and have-nots. What is the point of wealth if not to be able to flaunt it before people who have nothing? What is the point of power if there are no powerless?
It doesn’t have to be that way. We could quite easily re-order the social and economic order to make sure everyone has the basics for survival and self-fulfillment. Countries in Scandinavia have been working toward those goals for two generations.
Okay – it won’t be easy. It will be damned tough. Those who believe – and they do passionately believe – in the capitalism system have been very successful at seizing the levers of government (mostly to pry it apart) and, especially, the media. The dichotomy between Fox News and MNBC is largely a phony one; both are controlled by large corporations owned by rich men and women. Both are staunch defenders of the capitalist system.
It will take more than wishing to make a change. But it won’t take a miracle. This, as Pope Francis knows, is man’s work not God’s. I’d like to enable that.
And that is ten minutes.