Charity as Beside the Point (Part 2)
In the second of two articles on the condescending nature of charity, Andrew Parker claims we should ask not what we can do to for others, but what we can do for ourselves. Those who have been marginalised can already see what we cannot see; how we much are tied into the existing domination system.
You must not get caught up in the wishy-washy liberal view along the lines that as the bourgeois revolution was focused on helping the middle-classes find life in the teeth of some pretty awful oppression so the socialist revolution was focused on helping the proletarian classes and likewise the marginal revolution will be focused on helping the marginals. Such an understanding misrepresents not just the Bible but also the modern class revolutionary battles as well…
For these were not conducted by outside liberal powers helping the underclasses. They were internal movements of people within the underclasses whose aim was to liberate themselves, no reliance being put on outside liberal aid! In fact all this liberal talk of helping people is quite beside the point when it comes either to dealing with reality or dealing with the Bible. For it’s clear that neither reality nor the Bible lays any store in the idea that you can change the world by indulging in charity. In point of cold historical fact, as those who have their eyes open can easily see, the world will not be changed by charity and the Bible never advocates that we try to do anything so silly even though all the churches (including those in Judaism) do so all of the time.
From the very beginning (Abraham’s call) the Bible’s focus is not on helping any section of society but on the contrary with transforming the world by ridding it of its nefarious marginalising tendencies. The Bible says that Yahweh, god of the Hebrew marginals, chose the Hebrews as the tool for this job since obviously they were the only ones blessed with the eyes to see what was going on and hence with the knowledge of what had to be done. His plan was that if these marginals were brave enough to stand up and protest at the iniquities done against them by civilization (the Gentile world), at the same time as putting on a demonstration of what it meant to be a community living together in radical solidarity, he would in time see them right by softening the Gentiles’ hearts.
Jesus, of course, in his own desire to carry out this covenantal strategy was focused on calling on all Israelites to join him in putting on this demonstration which involved him personally in welcoming marginals back into the community and in telling them that as marginals they were closer to the Kingdom than everybody else!!! So you see in this biblical scenario no-one is doing anything for anybody else which means that if you want to join in you must be motivated by a desire to do something for YOURSELF and not by some misplaced gracious condescension to do something for others. In priority this means getting rid of your liberal ‘charity’ spectacles which so falsify your vision and then adopting the eyes of the marginals who already see what you yourself can’t see and so do anything about ... your own collusion in civilization’s privilege- seeking hypocrisy.