PHOTOS & ILLUSTRATIONS: Early opponents of the War on Shopping fight back at Christmastime (Photo: Chicago History Museum). Today consumerism is the state religion of both the United States and Canada, helping to put the marks back in the market. Below: Sol Invictus. Any resemblance to the Statue of Liberty is purely coincidental. Is it time to put Sol back in the Solstice? (Photo: Wikipedia Commons.) The nativity of Jesus, as imagined by Gerrit van Honthorst, a painter of the Dutch Golden Age, in 1622. (Photo: Ditto.) Jesus was probably born either in the spring or the fall, close to an equinox. You know, when shepherds watched their flocks by night instead of putting them up in a barn. So there’s very little point putting Christ back in Christmas since he wasn’t there in the first place. But we could ask him to put some equity in the equinox, just the same. Merry Christmas!
I suppose that if literal sun worship were the predominant religion of our era we’d most of us have a cranky and put upon relative who habitually demanded we “put Sol back in the Solstice.”
Perhaps over time this cry would have been taken up by conservative politicians with totalitarian inclinations as a way to activate their justifiably distrustful and alienated voting base until they could figure out how to completely eliminate the inconvenience of democracy and blame it on their opponents.
That would be a better informed demand than the one we so often hear about putting the fellow in the name of the official holiday associated with this season back into the celebration, in defiance of its historical roots. (I have worded this cautiously not out of “political correctness,” which is in fact an eminently Christian notion of good manners to strangers who might turn out to be angels, but from discomfort with the appearance of irreverence, an inevitable product of my upbringing.)
This is not what we hear from the misinformed warrior-victims of the so-called War on Christmas, of course. In reality, virtually no one is opposed to saying Merry Christmas at Christmastime. It is not illegal to speak this phrase anywhere on the planet except in a few vicious feudal theocracies we prop up with our tax dollars and union-made armoured vehicles. This conflict, therefore, should really be called “the War of Christmas Domination.”
The War of Christmas Domination has as its public goal making it illegal – or at least socially unacceptable – to politely say “Happy Holidays” or some anodyne equivalent to our non-Christian neighbours. The aim of the claim is to encourage identity politics that divide us one against the other and thereby strengthen the grip of the ruling classes over us all.
Well, who knows what the future holds? Perhaps some day we will see ads on TV saying “Thank you, President Sanders, for making it legal to say ‘Happy Holidays’ again!” This would have merit compared with the current versions of this sentiment perpetrated by the likes of U.S. Caudillo Donald Trump and his Canadian imitators (Jason Kenney, c’mon down!) since it would actually have a grain of truth to it.
The principal objective of alleging there is a “War on Christmas,” of course, is to distract us from the real war this lot is prosecuting, especially at this time of year, which is the war for the continued domination by the dominant class, or, as it used to be called in a simpler and more honest time, the Class War.
This seems to be going swimmingly for them.
As for those few poor souls who actually believe we ought to put Christ back in Christmas, I can’t imagine Mr. Trump, the supposedly devoutly Catholic Mr. Kenney even, or any of the rest of their fellow class warriors, would be very happy with this. Jesus was practically a socialist, after all, judging from what he had to say for himself! That said, I am sure they are all grateful to Jesus for his oft-quoted view that the poor will always be with us and the inevitable convenient corollary that we therefore ought not to try to do anything that would actually improve their condition.
After all, if we were to figure out what the War on Christmas is actually about it might spark a War on Shopping, which would defy the true predominant religion of our age, worship of the Almighty Market.
This new state religion may be nothing more than an economic superstition, but it’s a convenient superstition for those determined to keep the marks in the market and thereby the dominant class in the dominant classification.
To do that, it’s necessary to keep us all devoutly praying that we may soon own plenty of cheap new Chinese-made electronic trinkets – which is why, as an aside, I think the risk of President Trump starting a war with China over North Korea or even the eventual dominance of the petro-yuan is an exceedingly small one, his irritating bluster notwithstanding.
It is worth remembering, of course, that just as not all Christians are crude Christian fundamentalists or blatant hypocrites who mouth fundamentalist Christian pieties as if they were, not all believers in the market are crude market fundamentalists either.
As a result, even our more liberal and secular politicians, those more inclined to allow us to say Happy Holidays if we wish, are practitioners of the market religion. This is true of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Alberta Premier Rachel Notley, former U.S. presidential candidate Bernie Sanders and federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, all of them raised to be monotheists, if not exactly in the same brand of monotheism, and all of them now at least nominal believers in the Almighty Market. Nothing less would be tolerated!
Nevertheless, if you are one of those who actually believe (or claims to believe) there is a War on Christmas, beware that the chief priests of the Market may suddenly revise their official dogma and you too could find yourself accused of right deviationism, even heresy. So take care. As in Russia in 1937 and 1938, a certain caution when dealing with rulers who are ideological perfectionists may be in order.
In the mean time, Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!