A Dialog About Anti Semitism And The Fate Of The State Of Israel
Rabid anti-Semitism, coupled with inane and outlandish conspiracy theories of world dominion, is easy to counter and dispel. It is the more "reasoned", subtle, and stealthy variety that it pernicious. "No smoke without fire," - say people - "there must be something to it!".
In this dialog I try to deconstruct a "mild" anti-Semitic text. I myself wrote the text - not an easy task considering my ancestry (a Jew) and my citizenship (an Israeli). But to penetrate the pertinent layers - historical, psychological, semantic, and semiotic - I had to "enter the skin" of "rational", classic anti-Semites, to grasp what makes them click and tick, and to think and reason like them.
I dedicated the last few months to ploughing through reams of anti-Semitic tracts and texts. Steeped in more or less nauseating verbal insanity and sheer paranoia, I emerged to compose the following.
The rising tide of anti-Semitism the world over is universally decried. The proponents of ant-Semitism are cast as ignorant, prejudiced, lawless, and atavistic. Their arguments are dismissed off-handedly.
But it takes one Jew to really know another. Conditioned by millennia of persecution, Jews are paranoid, defensive, and obsessively secretive. It is impossible for a gentile - whom they hold to be inferior and reflexively hostile - to penetrate their counsels.
Let us examine anti-Semitic arguments more closely and in an unbiased manner:
Argument number one - Being Jewish is a racial distinction - not only a religious one
If race is defined in terms of genetic purity, then Jews are as much a race as the remotest and most isolated of the tribes of the Amazon. Genetic studies revealed that Jews throughout the world - largely due to centuries of in-breeding - share the same genetic makeup. Hereditary diseases which afflict only the Jews attest to the veracity of this discovery.
Judaism is founded on shared biology as much as shared history and customs. As a religion, it proscribes a conjugal union with non-Jews. Jews are not even allowed to partake the food and wine of gentiles and have kept their distance from the communities which they inhabited - maintaining tenaciously, through countless generations, their language, habits, creed, dress, and national ethos. Only Jews become automatic citizens of Israel (the infamous Law of Return).
The Jewish Response:
Race has been invariably used as an argument against the Jews. It is ironic that racial purists have always been the most fervent anti-Semites. Jews are not so much a race as a community, united in age-old traditions and beliefs, lore and myths, history and language. Anyone can become a Jew by following a set of clear (though, admittedly, demanding) rules. There is absolutely no biological test or restriction on joining the collective that is known as the Jewish people or the religion that is Judaism.
It is true that some Jews are differentiated from their gentile environments. But this distinction has largely been imposed on us by countless generations of hostile hosts and neighbors. The yellow Star of David was only the latest in a series of measures to isolate the Jews, clearly mark them, restrict their economic and intellectual activities, and limit their social interactions. The only way to survive was to stick together. Can you blame us for responding to what you yourselves have so enthusiastically instigated?
Argument number two - The Jews regard themselves as Chosen, Superior, or Pure
Vehement protestations to the contrary notwithstanding - this is largely true. Orthodox Jews and secular Jews differ, of course, in their perception of this supremacy. The religious attribute it to divine will, intellectuals to the outstanding achievements of Jewish scientists and scholars, the modern Israeli is proud of his invincible army and thriving economy. But they all share a sense of privilege and commensurate obligation to civilize their inferiors and to spread progress and enlightenment wherever they are. This is a pernicious rendition of the colonial White Man's Burden and it is coupled with disdain and contempt for the lowly and the great unwashed (namely, the gentiles).
The Jewish Response:
There were precious few Jews among the great colonizers and ideologues of imperialism (Disraeli being the exception). Moreover, to compare the dissemination of knowledge and enlightenment to colonialism is, indeed, a travesty.
We, the Jews, are proud of our achievements. Show me one group of people (including the anti-Semites) who isn't? But there is an abyss between being justly proud of one's true accomplishments and feeling superior as a result. Granted, there are narcissists and megalomaniacs everywhere and among the members of any human collective. Hitler and his Aryan superiority is a good example.
Argument number three - Jews have divided loyalties
It is false to say that Jews are first and foremost Jews and only then are they the loyal citizens of their respective countries. Jews have unreservedly fought and sacrificed in the service of their homelands, often killing their coreligionists in the process. But it is true that Jews believe that what is good for the Jews is good for the country they reside in. By aligning the interests of their adopted habitat with their narrower and selfish agenda, Jews feel justified to promote their own interests to the exclusion of all else and all others.
Moreover, the rebirth of the Jewish State presented the Jews with countless ethical dilemmas which they typically resolved by adhering uncritically to Tel-Aviv's official line. This often brought them into direct conflict with their governments and non-Jewish compatriots and enhanced their reputation as untrustworthy and treacherous.
Hence the Jewish propensity to infiltrate decision-making centers, such as politics and the media. Their aim is to minimize conflicts of interests by transforming their peculiar concerns and preferences into official, if not always consensual, policy. This viral hijacking of the host country's agenda is particularly evident in the United States where the interest of Jewry and of the only superpower have become inextricable.
It is a fact - not a rant - that Jews are over-represented in certain, influential, professions (in banking, finance, the media, politics, the film industry, publishing, science, the humanities, etc.). This is partly the result of their emphases on education and social upward mobility. But it is also due to the tendency of well-placed Jews to promote their brethren and provide them with privileged access to opportunities, funding, and jobs.
The Jewish Response:
Most modern polities are multi-ethnic and multi-cultural (an anathema to anti-Semites, I know). Every ethnic, religious, cultural, political, intellectual, and economic or business group tries to influence policy-making by various means. This is both legitimate and desirable. Lobbying has been an integral and essential part of democracy since it was invented in Athens 2500 years ago. The Jews and Israelis are no exception.
Jews are, indeed, over-represented in certain professions in the United States. But they are under-represented in other, equally important, vocations (for instance, among company CEOs, politicians, diplomats, managers of higher education institutions, and senior bankers). Globally, Jews are severely under-represented or not-existent in virtually all professions due to their demography (aging population, low birth-rates, unnatural deaths in wars and slaughters).
Argument number four - Jews act as a cabal or mafia
There is no organized, hierarchical, and centralized worldwide Jewish conspiracy. Rather the Jews act in a manner similar to al-Qaida: they freelance and self-assemble ad hoc in cross-border networks to tackle specific issues. Jewish organizations - many in cahoots with the Israeli government - serve as administrative backup, same as some Islamic charities do for militant Islam. The Jews' ability and readiness to mobilize and act to further their plans is a matter of record and the source of the inordinate influence of their lobby organizations in Washington, for instance.
When two Jews meet, even randomly, and regardless of the disparities in their background, they immediately endeavor to see how they can further each other's interests, even and often at the expense of everyone else's.
Still, the Jewish diaspora, now two millennia old, is the first truly global phenomenon in world affairs. Bound by a common history, a common set of languages, a common ethos, a common religion, common defenses and ubiquitous enemies - Jews learned to closely cooperate in order to survive.
No wonder that all modern global networks - from Rothschild to Reuters - were established by Jews. Jews also featured prominently in all the revolutionary movements of the past three centuries. Individual Jews - though rarely the Jewish community as a whole - seem to benefit no matter what.
When Czarist Russia collapsed, Jews occupied 7 out of 10 prominent positions in both the Kerensky (a Jew himself) government and in the Lenin and early Stalin administrations. When the Soviet Union crumbled, Jews again benefited mightily. Three quarters of the famous "oligarchs" (robber barons) that absconded with the bulk of the defunct empire's assets were - you guessed it - Jews.
The Jewish Response:
Ignoring the purposefully inflammatory language for a minute, what group does not behave this way? Harvard alumni, the British Commonwealth, the European Union, the Irish or the Italians in the United States, political parties the world over … As long as people co-operate legally and for legal ends, without breaching ethics and without discriminating against deserving non-members - what is wrong with that?
Argument number five - The Jews are planning to take over the world and establish a world government
This is the kind of nonsense that discredits a serious study of the Jews and their role in history, past and present. Endless lists of prominent people of Jewish descent are produced in support of the above contention. Yet, governments are not the mere sum of their constituent individuals. The dynamics of power subsist on more than the religious affiliation of office-holders, kingmakers, and string-pullers.
Granted, Jews are well introduced in the echelons of power almost everywhere. But this is still a very far cry from a world government. Neither were Jews prominent in any of the recent moves - mostly by the Europeans - to strengthen the role of international law and attendant supranational organizations.
The Jewish Response:
What can I say? I agree with you. I would only like to set the record straight by pointing out the fact that Jews are actually under-represented in the echelons of power everywhere (including in the United States). Only in Israel - where they constitute an overwhelming majority - do Jews run things.
Argument number six - Jews are selfish, narcissistic, haughty, double-faced, dissemblers. Zionism is an extension of this pathological narcissism as a colonial movement
Judaism is not missionary. It is elitist. But Zionism has always regarded itself as both a (19th century) national movement and a (colonial) civilizing force. Nationalist narcissism transformed Zionism into a mission of acculturation ("White Man's Burden").
In "Altneuland" (translated to Hebrew as "Tel Aviv"), the feverish tome composed by Theodore Herzl, Judaism's improbable visionary - Herzl refers to the Arabs as pliant and compliant butlers, replete with gloves and tarbushes. In the book, a German Jewish family prophetically lands at Jaffa, the only port in erstwhile Palestine. They are welcomed and escorted by "Briticized" Arab gentlemen's gentlemen who are only too happy to assist their future masters and colonizers to disembark.
This age-old narcissistic defence - the Jewish superiority complex - was only exacerbated by the Holocaust.
Nazism posed as a rebellion against the "old ways" - against the hegemonic culture, the upper classes, the established religions, the superpowers, the European order. The Nazis borrowed the Leninist vocabulary and assimilated it effectively. Hitler and the Nazis were an adolescent movement, a reaction to narcissistic injuries inflicted upon a narcissistic (and rather psychopathic) toddler nation-state. Hitler himself was a malignant narcissist, as Fromm correctly noted.
The Jews constituted a perfect, easily identifiable, embodiment of all that was "wrong" with Europe. They were an old nation, they were eerily disembodied (without a territory), they were cosmopolitan, they were part of the establishment, they were "decadent", they were hated on religious and socio-economic grounds (see Goldhagen's "Hitler's Willing Executioners"), they were different, they were narcissistic (felt and acted as morally superior), they were everywhere, they were defenseless, they were credulous, they were adaptable (and thus could be co-opted to collaborate in their own destruction). They were the perfect hated father figure and parricide was in fashion.
The Holocaust was a massive trauma not because of its dimensions - but because Germans, the epitome of Western civilization, have turned on the Jews, the self-proclaimed missionaries of Western civilization in the Levant and Arabia. It was the betrayal that mattered. Rejected by East (as colonial stooges) and West (as agents of racial contamination) alike - the Jews resorted to a series of narcissistic responses reified by the State of Israel.
The long term occupation of territories (metaphorical or physical) is a classic narcissistic behavior (of "annexation" of the other). The Six Days War was a war of self defence - but the swift victory only exacerbated the grandiose fantasies of the Jews. Mastery over the Palestinians became an important component in the psychological makeup of the nation (especially the more rightwing and religious elements) because it constitutes "Narcissistic Supply".
The Jewish Response:
Happily, sooner or later most anti-Semitic arguments descend into incoherent diatribe. This dialog is no exception.
Zionism was not conceived out of time. It was born in an age of colonialism, Kipling's "white man's burden", and Western narcissism. Regrettably, Herzl did not transcend the political discourse of his period. But Zionism is far more than Altneuland. Herzl died in 1904, having actually been deposed by Zionists from Russia who espoused ideals of equality for all, Jews and non-Jews alike.
The Holocaust was an enormous trauma and a clarion call. It taught the Jews that they cannot continue with their historically abnormal existence and that all the formulas for accommodation and co-existence failed. There remained only one viable solution: a Jewish state as a member of the international community of nations.
The Six Days War was, indeed, a classic example of preemptive self-defense. Its outcomes, however, deeply divide Jewish communities everywhere, especially in Israel. Many of us believe that occupation corrupts and reject the Messianic and millennial delusions of some Jews as dangerous and nefarious.
Perhaps this is the most important thing to remember:
Like every other group of humans, though molded by common experience, Jews are not a monolith. There are liberal Jews and orthodox Jews, narcissists and altruists, unscrupulous and moral, educated and ignorant, criminals and law-abiding citizens. Jews, in other words, are like everyone else. Can we say the same about anti-Semites? I wonder.
The State of Israel is likely to end as did the seven previous stabs at Jewish statehood - in total annihilation. And for the same reasons: conflicts between secular and religious Jews and a racist-colonialist pattern of deplorable behavior. The UN has noted this recidivist misconduct in numerous resolutions and when it justly compared Zionism to racism.
The Jewish Response:
Zionism is undoubtedly a typical 19th century national movement, promoting the interests of an ethnically-homogeneous nation. But it is not and never has been a racist movement. Zionists of all stripes never believed in the inherent inferiority or malevolence or impurity of any group of people (however arbitrarily defined or capriciously delimited) just because of their common origin or habitation. The State of Israel is not exclusionary. There are a million Israelis who are Arabs, both Christians and Muslims.
It is true, though, that Jews have a special standing in Israel. The Law of Return grants them immediate citizenship. Because of obvious conflicts of interest, Arabs cannot serve in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). Consequently, they don't enjoy the special benefits conferred on war veterans and ex-soldiers.
Regrettably, it is also true that Arabs are discriminated against and hated by many Israelis, though rarely as a matter of official policy. These are the bitter fruits of the ongoing conflict. Budget priorities are also heavily skewed in favor of schools and infrastructure in Jewish municipalities. A lot remains to be done.
Zionism started off as a counter-revolution. It presented itself as an alternative to both orthodox religion and to assimilation in the age of European "Enlightenment". But it was soon hijacked by East European Jews who espoused a pernicious type of Stalinism and virulent anti-Arab racism.
The Jewish Response:
East European Jews were no doubt more nationalistic and etatist than the West European visionaries who gave birth to Zionism. But, again, they were not racist. On the very contrary. Their socialist roots called for close collaboration and integration of all the ethnicities and nationalities in Israel/Palestine.
The "Status Quo" promulgated by Israel's first Prime Minister, David Ben-Gurion, confined institutionalized religion to matters of civil law and to communal issues. All affairs of state became the exclusive domain of the secular-leftist nomenclature and its attendant bureaucratic apparatus.
All this changed after the Six Days War in 1967 and, even more so, after the Yom Kippur War. Militant Messianic Jews with radical fundamentalist religious ideologies sought to eradicate the distinction between state and synagogue. They propounded a political agenda, thus invading the traditionally secular turf, to the great consternation of their compatriots.
This schism is unlikely to heal and will be further exacerbated by the inevitable need to confront harsh demographic and geopolitical realities. No matter how much occupied territory Israel gives up and how many ersatz Jews it imports from East Europe, the Palestinians are likely to become a majority within the next 50 years.
Israel will sooner or later face the need to choose whether to institute a policy of strict and racist apartheid - or shrink into an indefensible (though majority Jewish) enclave. The fanatics of the religious right are likely to enthusiastically opt for the first alternative. All the rest of the Jews in Israel are bound to recoil. Civil war will then become unavoidable and with it the demise of yet another short-lived Jewish polity.
The Jewish Response:
Israel is, indeed, faced with the unpalatable choice and demographic realities described above. But don't bet on civil war and total annihilation just yet. There are numerous other political solutions - for instance, a confederacy of two national states, or one state with two nations. But, I agree, this is a serious problem further compounded by Palestinian demands for the right to return to their ancestral territories, now firmly within the Jewish State, even in its pre-1967 borders.
With regards to the hijacking of the national agenda by right-wing, religious fundamentalist Jewish militants - as the recent pullout from Gaza and some of the West Bank proves conclusively, Israelis are pragmatists. The influence of Messianic groups on Israeli decision-making is blown out of proportion. They are an increasingly isolated - though vocal and sometimes violent - minority.
Israel could, perhaps, have survived, had it not committed a second mortal sin by transforming itself into an outpost and beacon of Western (first British-French, then American) neo-colonialism. As the representative of the oppressors, it was forced to resort to an official policy of unceasing war crimes and repeated grave violations of human and civil rights.
The Jewish Response:
Israel aligned itself with successive colonial powers in the region because it felt it had no choice, surrounded and outnumbered as it was by hostile, trigger-happy, and heavily armed neighbors. Israel did miss, though, quite a few chances to make peace, however intermittent and hesitant, with its erstwhile enemies. It is also true that it committed itself to a policy of settlements and oppression within the occupied territories which inevitably gave rise to grave and repeated violations on international law. Overlording another people had a corrosive corrupting influence on Israeli society.
The Arabs, who first welcomed the Jewish settlers and the economic opportunities they represented, turned against the new emigrants when they learned of their agenda of occupation, displacement, and ethnic cleansing. Israel became a pivot of destabilization in the Middle East, embroiled in conflicts and wars too numerous to count. Unscrupulous and corrupt Arab rulers used its existence and the menace it reified as a pretext to avoid democratization, transparency, and accountability.
The Jewish Response:
With the exception of the 1919 Faisal-Weitzman declaration, Arabs never really welcomed the Jews. Attacks on Jewish outposts and settlers started as early as 1921 and never ceased. The wars in 1948 and in 1967 were initiated or provoked by the Arab states. It is true, though, that Israel unwisely leveraged its victories to oppress the Palestinians and for territorial gains, sometimes in cahoots with much despised colonial powers, such as Britain and France in 1956.
This volatile mixture of ideological racism, Messianic empire-building, malignant theocracy much resented by the vast majority of secular Jews, and alignment with all entities anti-Arab and anti-Muslim will doom the Jewish country. In the long run, the real inheritors and proprietors of the Middle East are its long-term inhabitants, the Arabs. A strong army is not a guarantee of longevity - see the examples of the USSR and Yugoslavia.
Even now, it is not too late. Israel can transform itself into an important and benevolent regional player by embracing its Arab neighbors and by championing the causes of economic and scientific development, integration, and opposition to outside interference in the region's internal affairs. The Arabs, exhausted by decades of conflict and backwardness, are likely to heave a collective sigh of relief and embrace Israel - reluctantly at first and more warmly as it proves itself a reliable ally and friend.
Israel's demographic problem is more difficult to resolve. It requires Israel to renounce its exclusive racist and theocratic nature. Israel must suppress, by force if need be, the lunatic fringe of militant religious fanatics that has been haunting its politics in the last three decades. And it must extend a welcoming hand to its Arab citizens by legislating and enforcing a set of Civil Rights Laws.
The Jewish Response:
Whether this Jewish state is doomed or not, time will tell. Peace with our Arab neighbors and equal treatment of our Arab citizens should be our two over-riding strategic priorities. The Jewish State cannot continue to live by the sword, lest it perishes by it.
If the will is there it can be done. The alternative is too horrible to contemplate.
The Caveman And The Alien
When Chancellor Kohl's party and Edith Cresson are suspected of gross corruption - these are labelled "aberrations" in an otherwise honest West. When NASA in collaboration with its UK counterpart blow a 130 million US dollars spacecraft to smithereens having confused the metric system for its pound/feet archaic predecessor - people nod their head in disapproval: "accidents happen". When President Clinton appoints his wife to suggest an overhaul of the multi-hundred billion dollars US health system - no one thinks it odd. And when the (talented) son of the police investigated, rumoured to be hyper-corrupt Minister of Interior Affairs of Israel becomes a Minister himself, no one bats an eyelash. Yet, when identical events happen in the decrepit countries of Eastern, Central, or Southern Europe - they are subjected to heaps of excoriating scorn, to vitriolic diatribes, to condescending preaching, or to sanctions. It is, indeed, a double standard, a hypocrisy and a travesty the magnitude of which is rarely to be encountered in the annals of human pretensions to morality.
The West has grossly and thoroughly violated Thompson's edict. In its oft-interrupted intercourse with these forsaken regions of the globe, it has acted, alternately, as a Peeping Tom, a cynic and a know it all. It has invariably behaved as if it were holier-than-thou. In an unmitigated and fantastic succession of blunders, miscalculations, vain promises, unkept threats and unkempt diplomats - it has driven Europe to the verge of war and the region it "adopted" to the verge of economic and social upheaval.
Enamoured with the new ideology of free marketry cum democracy, the West first assumed the role of the omniscient. It designed ingenious models, devised foolproof laws, imposed fail-safe institutions and strongly "recommended" measures. Its representatives, the tribunes of the West, ruled the phlebeian East with determination rarely equalled by skill or knowledge. Velvet hands couched in iron gloves, ignorance disguised by economic newspeak, geostrategic interests masquerading as forms of government characterized their dealings with the natives. Preaching and beseeching from ever higher pulpits, they poured opprobrium and sweet delusions on the eagerly deluded, naive, bewildered masses. The deceit was evident to the indigenous cynics - but it was the failure that dissuaded them and all else. The West lost Eastern and Southeast Europe not when it lied egregiously, not when it pretended to know for sure when it surely did not know, not when it manipulated and coaxed and coerced - but when it failed. To the peoples of these regions, the king was fully dressed. It was not a little child but an enormous debacle that exposed his nudity. In its presumptuousness and pretentiousness, feigned surety and vain clich
America The Narcissist
The majority of worldwide respondents to the last two global Pew enter surveys (in 2002 and 2006) regarded the United States as the greatest menace to world peace - far greater than the likes of Iraq or China. Thinkers and scholars as diverse as Christopher Lasch in "The Cultural Narcissist" and Theodore Millon in "Personality Disorders of Everyday Life" have singled out the United States as the quintessential narcissistic society.
This pathology can be traced back and attributed to a confluence of historical events and processes, the equivalents of trauma and abuse in an individual's early childhood.
The United States of America started out as a series of loosely connected, remote, savage, and negligible colonial outposts. The denizens of these settlements were former victims of religious persecution, indentured servants, lapsed nobility, and other refugees. Their Declaration of Independence reads like a maudlin list of grievances coupled with desperate protestations of love and loyalty to their abuser, the King of Britain.
The inhabitants of the colonies defended against their perceived helplessness and very real inferiority with compensatory, imagined, and feigned superiority and fantasies of omnipotence. Hence the rough, immutable kernel of American narcissism.
The United States was (until the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s) and still is, in some important respects, a pre-Enlightenment, white supremacist society. It is rife with superstition, prejudice, conspicuous religiosity, intolerance, philistinism, and lack of social solidarity. Its religiosity is overt, aggressive, virulent and ubiquitous. It is replete with an eschatology, which involves a changing cast of demonized "enemies", both political and cultural.
Americans' religion is a manifestation of their "Chosen People Syndrome". They are missionary, messianic, zealous, fanatical, and nauseatingly self-righteous, bigoted, and hypocritical. This is especially discernible in the double-speak and double-standard that underlies American foreign policy.
American altruism is misanthropic and compulsive. They often give merely in order to control, manipulate, and sadistically humiliate the recipients.
Narcissism is frequently comorbid with paranoia. Americans cultivate and nurture a siege mentality which leads to violent acting out and unbridled jingoism. Their persecutory delusions sit well with their adherence to social Darwinism (natural selection of the fittest, let the weaker fall by the wayside, might is right, etc.).
Consequently, the United states always finds itself in company with the least palatable regimes in the world: together with Nazi Germany it had a working eugenics program, together with the likes of Saudi Arabia it executes its prisoners, it was the last developed nation to abolish slavery, alone with South Africa it had instituted official apartheid in a vast swathe of its territory.
Add to this volatile mix an ethos of malignant individualism, racism both latent and overt, a trampling, "no holds barred" ambitiousness, competitiveness, frontier violence-based morality, and proud simple-mindedness - and an ominous portrait of the United States as a deeply disturbed polity emerges.
Politics And The Internet
According to a recent poll conducted by ComputerWorld, about forty percent of the population believes that people can increase their political power by going online. Hence, many academics believe that people in western societies are becoming more technologically educated in order to gain more influence in the political sector. For example, Mr. Jeffrey Cole, a director at the University of Southern California states, "This year, 6% of regular Internet users said they have their own blogs, 16% said they post pictures on the Web, and more than 10% maintain their own web sites. In 2003, 3% of Internet users said they blogged, 11% posted photos, and less than 9% maintained web sites."(ComputerWorld, 2005: 1) Thus, the question raised by many is, "Is the Internet providing a more democratic and participatory human society for the future?"
Mr. Cole agrees that the Internet plays a pivotal role in providing a more equitable society that encourages participatory development. He argues that due to the younger generation having the ability to effectively communicate through Internet forums, they are more willing to express their political opinions online. The younger generation also has the opportunity to engage in academic discussions with people who are older and have more experience, such as university lecturers, or people who specialize in the area of discussion. Hence, the Internet has clearly demonstrated its use in terms of educating the younger generation for the future. However, the positive benefits that can be gained through the use of the Internet not only extends to young citizens, but has also created an impact for those who are in the workforce and are keen to learn more about their nation's political system.
Research has shown that many Americans are 'surfing' on the Internet before a Federal Election to increase their knowledge about political parties and their policies. Mr. Cole states, "The Internet is no longer a marginal force in American politics - it is quickly becoming the central force in empowering voters."(ComputerWorld, 2005:1). For example, the success of the election of former Vermont Governor Howard Dean was mainly due to the Internet, where online fundraising and lobbying was used to ensure that people were adequately informed of the parties' policies.
Hence, due to the power of the Internet, although many would argue that a person needs a certain level of knowledge and expertise before they are able to master the Internet and its search engines effectively, these people also agree that new software and computer technicians are slowly changing technological discourse in order to accommodate for people who may not be as technically inclined. Although it is generally agreed that the environment of cyberspace and the purpose of using the Internet is constantly changing to suit the needs of contemporary society, gaining information about political parties and their policies still remains a top priority for Internet users, especially those living in Western society.
Gross Grant, 2005 'Survey: Internet can help people gain political power.' (ComputerWorld) [Online] http://www.computerworld.com/developmenttopics/websitemgmt/story/0,10801,106909,00.html
Frith Holden, 2005 'Letter reveals US role in web power struggle.' (Times Online - Technology) [Online] http://business.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,9075-1915821,00.html
Politics The Corruption Curve
"Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men." (Lord Acton)
We all like to think of ourselves as kind, honest, and benevolent. In our hearts, we are convinced that should we ever attain personal power, whether through building our own business, rising to the corporate executive office, becoming extraordinarily influential in our area of expertise, or in winning public office, we will continue to be honest and ethical, incorruptible to the end.
The action of wielding power varies greatly with the individual involved and the extent of power obtained. We are all familiar with the petty tyrant at work who rules a tiny business empire with greed and self-indulgence, bullying underlings without any sense of fairness or mercy. We have seen the research scientists who have forged a reputation over a lifetime fall into disgrace through subverting results to support their theories and their sponsors.
As the extent of power increases, we see the Enron and Lincoln Savings brand of tableaux unfold. Not only does that same greed and self-indulgence hold sway, but the concept of being above the law arises and accountability and trust are jettisoned from the boardroom. The more esoteric the lifestyle becomes, the greater the disconnect between the powerful and the rest of the world. Those who lack power are to be cheated, manipulated, and drained of their possessions - surely only just desserts for their failure to rise to the top.
In a world where hereditary monarchies are an anachronism, the most absolute power lies in the political sphere whether wielded by a military-backed dictator or by those who have been so repeatedly elected to office that they no longer see themselves as public representatives but as entitled oligarchs of a system they control.
The presumptuous ambition of one man, Julius Caesar, led to the destruction of a republic that had guided Rome to the heights of civilization. The empire he created held the seeds of its own destruction in its descent into the unrestrained autocracies of a string of less than illustrious rulers who wielded their absolute power with caprice and personal whim.
The framers of the Constitution had a vision of a government where no such unconstrained power could arise because of the checks and balances inherent in the system they devised. No one could be above the law because the rule of law was paramount. The advise and consent required from different branches of government ensured that a multitude of voices and philosophical ideas were involved in any major decision.
But those who drove the development of our constitutional law were giants in their own right. Washington's refusal to accept the title of king, advocated by several of his supporters, signaled his rejection of too much power concentrated in one individual. His peers - Jefferson, Adams, Franklin, Madison, and many more - followed the same course: divide power to ensure that the needs of the many can be met through a myriad of representative voices.
Over the centuries, the checks and balances they built have kept the ship of state afloat. Occasionally listing to port or starboard, the sheer multiplicity of participants in the political process have been repetitively able to pull it back to an upright middle course. Certainly, there have been many dark periods of corruption and incompetence. We face such a darkness now: individuals in office for too long, with too much power within their grasping fingers; too many officials who have forgotten that they are public servants, developing a mindset of entitlement and the conviction that they know, better than anyone else, what is good for the public who, after all, elected them.
Only the rule of law, so carefully crafted more than 200 years ago, can keep them in check. The lawful prosecution of a congressman accepting millions of dollars in bribes, of a congressional leader who used election money as he saw fit rather than as the law required, and administration officials who destroyed a woman's career and jeopardized the lives of covert operatives all over the world, restores balance in a world rife with corruption, greed, and overweening pride.
Ongoing investigations into the honesty of leaders in evoking the need for military intervention and the rising voice of dissent against financial favors for the rich and powerful at the cost of cutting services to the powerless poor, offer a glimmer of hope that the corruption will be curbed and the hubris of our leaders punctured and exposed.
The embattled defendants cry foul, claiming that the only transgression is the political ambition of their critics. They have moved so far beyond the pale of the common citizen that their own corruption and misdeeds seem entirely ordinary and acceptable to them.
Happily, unlike the impotent rubber-stamp Roman senators, we can face our would-be Caesars without threat of bodily harm and we can cast them out of their cozy nest with the most powerful weapon ever devised: the ballot box.
America S Second Civil War
Reprinted with permission from:
"The Second Civil War in the USA and its Aftermath" by Sam Vaknin (second, revised impression, 2029)
Summary of Chapter 83
"The polities of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries swung between extremes of nationalism and polyethnic multiculturalism. Following the Great War (1914-8), the disintegration of most of the continental empires - notably the Habsburg and Ottoman - led to a resurgence of a particularly virulent strain of the former, dressed as Fascism, Nazism, and Stalinism.
The aftermath of the Second World War brought on a predictable backlash in the West against all manner of nationalism and racism. The USSR, Yugoslavia, the Czech Republic, the EU (European Union, then European Community), the Commonwealth led by the United Kingdom, and the prominent USA epitomized the eventual triumph of multiculturalism, multi-ethnic states, and, in the Western democracies, pluralism.
Africa and Asia, just emerging from a phase of brutal colonialism, were out of synch with these developments in Europe and North America and began to espouse their own brands of jingoistic patriotisms. Attempts to impose liberal-democratic, multi-cultural, tolerant, pluralistic, and multi-ethnic principles on these emergent entities was largely perceived and vehemently rejected by them as disguised neo-colonialism.
The disintegration, during the second half of the twentieth century, of the organizing principles of international affairs - most crucially Empire in the 1960s and Communism in the 1980s - led to the re-eruption of exclusionary, intolerant, and militant nationalism. The Balkan secession wars of the 1990s served as a stark reminder than historical forces and ideologies never vanish - they merely lie dormant.
Polyethnic multiculturalism came under attack elsewhere and everywhere - from Canada to Belgium. Straining to contain this worrisome throwback to its tainted history, Europeans implemented various models. In the United Kingdom, regions, such as Scotland and Northern Ireland were granted greater autonomy. The EU's "ever closer union", reified by its unfortunate draft constitution, was intermittently rejected and resented by increasingly xenophobic and alienated constituencies.
This time around, between 1980 and 2020, nationalism copulated with militant religiosity to produce particularly nasty offspring in Muslim terrorism, Christian fundamentalist (American) thuggish unilateralism, Hindu supremacy, and Jewish messianism. Scholars, such as Huntington, spoke of a "clash of civilizations".
Ironically, the much-heralded conflict took place not between the USA and its enemies without - but within the United States, in a second and devastating Civil War.
Americans long mistook the institutional stability of their political system, guaranteed by the Constitution, for a national consensus. They actually believed that the former guarantees the latter - that institutional firmness and durability ARE the national consensus. The reverse, as we know, is true: it takes a national consensus to yield stable institutions. No social structure - no matter how venerable and veteran - can resist the winds of change in public sentiment.
In hindsight, the watershed obtained during the Bush-Cheney presidency (2001-2009). The social and political concord frayed and then disintegrated with each successive blow: the war in Iraq (2003-7), the botched evacuation and rescue efforts in the wake of hurricane Katrina (2005), the failed assassination attempt on the President's life (2006), the further restrictions placed on civil and human rights in Patriot Acts III and IV (2008), and, finally, the nuclear terrorist attack on Houston in the closing days of this divisive reign.
From there, it went only downhill.
As opposed to the first Civil War (1860-5), the Second Civil War (2021-26) was fought within communities and across state boundaries. It was not territorial and classic - but total and guerilla-like. It cut across the country's geography and pitted one ideological camp against another.
It may be too soon to objectively analyze and evaluate this gargantuan conflict. It was preceded by a decade of violent demonstrations, home-grown urban terrorism, and numerous skirmishes involving the National Guard and even, in violation of the Constitution, the armed forces.
Some historians cast the whole period as a battle of the religious vs. the secular. It clearly was not. By 2021, most Americans professed to being deeply religious, in one manner or fashion. No one seriously disputed the importance of the Church - but many insisted on its separation from the state.
Hence the protracted (and heated) confrontation between pro-life and pro-choice advocates when Wade vs. Roe was overturned by a politicized and weakened Supreme Court in 2007. Hence the drawn out (and violent) debates about the teaching of evolution theory in schools or the use of embryonic stem cells in medical research.
Nor was the Civil War fought between isolationists and interventionists. An ever more brazen brand of post-September 11 global terrorism and a growing dependence on international trade inexorably drove most Americans to accept their new role as an Empire. They actually learned to enjoy it, both emotionally and economically.
Thus, even erstwhile Jacksonian isolationists reluctantly acquiesced in their country's foreign exploits. But they insisted on blatant unilateralism and the projection of American might merely and only to protect American interests. They abhorred the missionary ideology of the neo-conservatives. Spreading values, such as democracy, should better be left to NGOs and charities - they thundered.
The Civil War was not about the preservation of East Coast liberalism, as some self-serving scholars would have it. America was never less racist and homophobic than in the years immediately preceding the conflagration. The debate, again, revolved around institutions. Should changing mores be enshrined in legislation and case law? Should the national ethos itself be rewritten? Should the very definition and quiddity of being an American (white, male, straight) be revisited?
Neo-Marxist chroniclers attribute the causes of the Second Civil War to the growing disparities of wealth between the haves and the haves not. Presidents Bush and Cheney surely reversed L.B. Johnson's Great Society. They and their successors erased the numerous entitlements and aid programs that many of the economically disenfranchised came to depend upon and to regard as a birth right and as a cornerstone of the social contract.
Turning the clock back on affirmative action and food stamps, for instance, indeed provoked widespread violence. But such outbursts can hardly be construed to have been the precursors of the gigantic flame that consumed the USA a few years hence.
Finally, the Civil War was not about free trade (beneficial to the service and manufacturing based economies of some states) versus protectionism (helpful to the agricultural belts and bowls of the hinterland and to the recovering Gulf Coast). America's economy was far too dependent on the outside world to reverse course. Its national debt was being financed by Asians, its products were being sold all over, its commodities and foods were coming from Africa and Latin America. The USA was in hock to a globalized and merciless economy. Protectionism was campaign posturing - not a cogent and coherent trade policy.
So, what were the roots and causes of the Second Civil War?
None of the above in isolation - and all of the above in confluence. For decades, the citizenry's trust in a packed and rigged Supreme Court declined. Politicians came to be regarded as a detached and heartless plutocracy. Americans felt orphaned, cheated, and robbed. The national consensus - the implicit agreement that together is better than alone - has thus evaporated. The outcome was the shots and explosions that rocked the United States (and the world in tow) on January 20, 2021."
John Edwards Should Be President
Populism. John Edwards' campaign is considered by many to have populist themes; lifting up the working class, fighting for the middle class, healthcare for everyone and eliminating poverty. These are concepts that we should embrace. We should help those who can't help themselves. John Edwards tells every American that he will fight for them.
The defining attribute that makes Edwards appealing may be the reason why he won't win the nomination. He won't take money from corporations, lobbyists, or special interest groups. He is being outspent by Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton by a ratio of 5 to 1. Obama and Clinton have been taking money from lobbyists and corporations. Edwards believes you have to fight the corporations and moneyed interests that have a stranglehold on America. He wants to take back America and make the government work for the people.
Bipartisanship is great, but look what has happened over the last 8 years with the Republicans in power. Scorched earth politics by the Neocons have run this country into the ground. We were lied into a war that should have never been started. There have been so many scandals from the outing of CIA agent Valerie Plame to the partisan firing of the U.S. Attorneys to the Jack Abramoff lobbyist scam to no bid contracts to Halliburton to unchecked executive orders by Bush. And the list goes on and on. The Democrats had a big win in November of 2006. The result has been the failure of Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid to hold the Bush Administration accountable for abuse of power. The Congress and Senate have folded on votes to stop funding the Iraq War and failed on votes to amend the Federal Intelligence Surveillance Act. The housing crisis has been a national tragedy with millions of people losing their homes. The economy is tanking and the country seems to be heading into a recession. Another mission accomplished by George Bush. The Democrats have kowtowed to the Republicans and it has been a bipartisanship disaster.
It seems that some Democrats are afraid to speak truth to power and vote their conscience. They would rather vote to preserve their political futures. I want someone to fight for our rights, someone who will fight for the average American. John Edwards seems like the only candidate who is pushing this issue and driving the Democratic Party in the right direction. It's time for the Democrats to start acting like Democrats. This populist message works. It worked with Franklin Delano Roosevelt. When you stand up for what you believe in and do the right thing, not only for yourself, but for your country, people will follow. Edwards is campaigning based on what he believes is right. He is not pandering based on studies by focus groups to run toward the middle to convince Independents and Republicans to vote for him. He is running toward the base of his party. That happens to be the direction of the left. That is the direction where all Americans should be heading.
The great conservative revolution started when Ronald Reagan took office where greed was considered a virtue and lying was a tool to push policy. Conservative doctrine spiraled out of control as the Neocons of George W. Bush's administration have taken this nation to a dark place where only the rich get richer, the middle class gets squeezed and the population at the poverty level increases. Greed doesn't work. It's time for a Liberal revolution.
I couldn't write it in any better, so I'll have to quote from the movie "It's a Wonderful Life." This is an excerpt from a monologue by the character George Bailey. George's father, Peter Bailey has just died. In this scene George Bailey is standing up to the antagonist, Henry F. Potter, so he can save his father's Building and Loan business.
"...He didn't save enough money to send Harry to school, let alone me. But he did help a few people get out of your slums, Mr. Potter. And what's wrong with that? Why . . . Here, you're all businessmen here. Doesn't it make them better citizens? Doesn't it make them better customers? You . . . you said . . . What'd you say just a minute ago? . . . They had to wait and save their money before they even ought to think of a decent home. Wait! Wait for what? Until their children grow up and leave them? Until they're so old and broken-down that they . . . Do you know how long it takes a working man to save five thousand dollars? Just remember this, Mr. Potter, that this rabble you're talking about . . . they do most of the working and paying and living and dying in this community. Well, is it too much to have them work and pay and live and die in a couple of decent rooms and a bath? Anyway, my father didn't think so. People were human beings to him, but to you, a warped, frustrated old man, they're cattle. Well, in my book he died a much richer man than you'll ever be!"
Except for the top five percent who benefited the most from George Bush's tax cuts, the rest of us are the "rabble" George Bailey said Mr. Potter was talking about. One can say that Henry Potter symbolizes present day corporate America and our government. In the real world we do most of the working and paying and living and dying in this country. Don't we, the rabble, deserve a government that represents us and not corporations and special interest groups? Don't we deserve universal healthcare? Don't we deserve at least a $10.00 hour minimum wage? Don't we deserve civil rights under the Constitution and not a President who grants overreaching power to himself? Don't we deserve to have our voices heard when the majority of us believe we should bring our troops home from Iraq? At the very least we deserve all of these things. We are not being heard.
We watch the news that is reported by millionaires talking about the millionaires running for President who will look out for the interests of millionaires who donated to their campaigns. It's true that John Edwards is rich, but he came from a working class family. He spent almost 20 years of his life fighting the rich and powerful as a trial lawyer representing plaintiffs who were victims of corporate and medical malpractice. His money came from the large settlements he won on behalf of his clients malpractice suits. He's a proven winner when in comes to representing the underdog against those with wealth and power.
When I see John Edwards speak I believe that he will fight for us. He is leading by example by not taking corporate money. When I see Hillary Clinton I see the finely tuned Clinton machine going after power and a presidency she somehow believes she is owed. When I see Barack Obama I see a candidate who has only revealed the part of himself that has been safely tested by his handlers and advisors. I hope to see the real Obama soon. John Edwards might not win the nomination because of lack of funds and because of his tough message. If he doesn't win it will be partly because the corporate run media doesn't like his anti-corporate platform.
As the country is enamored with the historical significance of both a woman and African-American running for President with the two candidates slinging mud at each other on a daily basis, John Edwards' populist message doesn't get the coverage it deserves. He is saying all the right things at a time in history when these issues need to be addressed. The citizens of this country need to be allowed to progress and break the bonds of corporate greed. We need to get out of Iraq and bring about change to an ineffective government. We need someone who will fight for that change. I will vote for John Edwards on February 5th in my state's primary. I hope you will too.
Containing The United States
European intellectuals yearned for the mutually exclusive: an America contained and a regime-changed Iraq. The Chinese are more pragmatic - though, bound by what is left of their Marxism, they still ascribe American behavior to the irreconcilable contradictions inherent in capitalism.
The United States is impelled by its economy and values to world dominion, claimed in March 2003 an analysis titled "American Empire Steps Up Fourth Expansion" in the communist party's mouthpiece People's Daily. Expansionism is an "eternal theme" in American history and a "main line" running through its foreign policy.
The contemporary USA is actually a land-based empire, comprising the territorial fruits of previous armed conflicts with its neighbors and foes, often one and the same. The global spread of American influence through its culture, political alliances, science and multinationals is merely an extrapolation of a trend two centuries in the making.
How did a small country succeed to thus transform itself?
The paper attributes America's success to its political stability, neglecting to mention its pluralism and multi-party system, the sources of said endurance. But then, in an interesting departure from the official party line, it praises US "scientific and technological innovations and new achievements in economic development". Somewhat tautologically, it also credits America's status as an empire to its "external expansions".
The rest of the article is, alas, no better reasoned, nor better informed. American pilgrims were forced westward because "they found there was neither tile over their heads nor a speck of land under their feet (in the East Coast)". But it is the emphases that are of interest, not the shoddy workmanship.
The article clearly identifies America's (capitalistic) economy and its (liberal, pluralistic, religious and democratic) values as its competitive mainstays and founts of strength. "US unique commercial expansion spirit (combined with the) the puritan's 'concept of mission' (are its fortes)", gushes the anonymous author.
The paper distinguishes four phases of distension: "First, continental expansion stage; second, overseas expansion stage; third, the stage of global contention for hegemony; and fourth, the stage of world domination." The second, third and fourth are mainly economic, cultural and military.
In an echo of defunct Soviet and Euro-left conspiracy theories, the paper insists that expansion was "triggered by commercial capital". This capital - better known in the West as the military-industrial complex - also determines US foreign policy. Thus, the American Empire is closer to the commercially driven British Empire than to the militarily propelled Roman one.
Actually, the author thinks aloud, isn't America's reign merely the successor of Britain's? Wasn't it John Locke, a British philosopher, who said that expansion - a "natural right" - responds to domestic needs? Wasn't it Benjamin Franklin who claimed that the United States must "constantly acquire new land to open up living space" (the forerunner of the infamous German "Lebensraum")?
The author quotes James Jerome Hill, the American railway magnet, as exclaiming, during the US-Spanish War, that "If you review the commercial history, you will discover anyone who controls oriental trade will get hold of global wealth". Thus, US expansion was concerned mainly with "protecting American commercial monopoly or advantageous position". America entered the first world war only when "its free trade position was challenged", opines the red-top.
American moral values are designed to "serve commercial capital". This blending of the spiritual with the pecuniary is very disorienting. "Even the Americans themselves find it hard to distinguish which matter is expanding national interests under the banner of 'enforcing justice on behalf of Heaven' and which is propagating their ideology and concept of value on the plea of national interests."
The paper mentions the conviction, held by most Americans, that their system and values are the "best things in human society". Moreover, Americans are missionaries with a "manifest destiny" and "the duty and obligation to help other countries and nations" and to serve as the "the beacon lighting up the way for the development of other countries and nations". If all else fails, it feels justified to "force its best things on other countries by the method of Crusades".
This is a patently non-Orthodox, non-Marxist interpretation of history and of the role of the United States - the prime specimen of capitalism - in it. Economy, admits the author, plays only one part in America's ascendance. Tribute must be given to its values as well. This view of the United States - at the height of an international crisis pitting China against it - is nothing if not revolutionary.
American history is re-cast as an inevitable progression of concentric circles. At first, the United States acted as a classic colonial power, vying for real estate first with Spain in Latin America and later with the Soviet Union all over the world. The Marshall Plan was a ploy to make Europe dependent on US largesse. The Old Continent, sneers the paper, is nothing more than "US little partner".
Now, with the demise of the USSR, bemoans the columnist, the United States exhibits "rising hegemonic airs" and does "whatever it pleased", concurrently twisting economic, cultural and military arms. Inevitably and especially after September 11, calls for an American "new empire" are on the rise. Iraq "was chosen as the first target for this new round of expansion".
But the expansionist drive has become self-defeating: "Only when the United States refrains from taking the road of pursuing global empire, can it avoid terrorists' bombs or other forms of attacks befalling on its own territory", concludes the opinion piece.
What is China up to? Were this - and similar - articles a signal encrypted in the best Cold War tradition?
Another commentary published a few days later may contain the public key. It is titled "The Paradox of American Power". The author quotes at length from "The Paradox of American Power - Why the World's Only Superpower Can't Go It Alone" written by Joseph Nye, the Dean of the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard and a former Assistant Secretary of Defense:
"Hard power works through coercion, using military sticks and economic carrots to get others to do our will. Soft power works through attraction ... Our attractiveness rests on our culture, our political values and our policies by taking into account the interests of others."
As it summarizes Nye's teachings, the tone of the piece is avuncular and conciliatory, not enraged or patronizing:
"In today's world, the United States is no doubt in an advantageous position with its hard power. But ... power politics always invite resentment and the paradox of American power is that the stronger the nation grows, the weaker its influence becomes. As the saying goes, a danger to oneself results from an excess of power and an accumulation of misfortunes stems from lavish of praises and favors. He, whose power grows to such a swelling state that he strikes anybody he wants to and turns a deaf ear to others' advice, will unavoidably put himself in a straitened circumstance someday. When one indulges oneself in wars of aggression under the pretext of 'self security' will possibly get, in return, more factors of insecurity ... Military forces cannot fundamentally solve problems and war benefits no one including the war starter."
Nor are these views the preserve of the arthritic upper echelons of the precariously balanced Chinese Communist party.
In the same month, in an interview he granted to Xinhua, the Chinese news agency, Shen Jiru, chief of the Division of International Strategy of the Institute of World Economics and Politics, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, reiterated his conviction that "the United States aims to create a unipolar world through the Iraq issue".
Mirroring the People's Daily, he did not think that the looming Iraq war can be entirely explained as a "dispute on oil or economic interests". It was, he thought, about "the future model of international order: a multipolar and democratic one, or the US strategic goal of a unipolar world". China has been encouraged by dissent in the West. It shows that the "multipolar international community" is an "inevitable" momentum of history.
Why this sudden flurry of historiosophic ruminations?
According to Stratfor, the strategic forecasting consultancy, "for Beijing, the only way to stymie the fourth phase is through promoting multilateralism; barring that, China must be prepared to confront the United States in the future, and U.S. history can give some guidance ... Thus, Beijing continues to focus on the concept of multilateralism and the legitimacy of the United Nations as the best ways to slow or even disrupt U.S. expansionism. At the same time, Beijing is preparing to face a future confrontation with the United States if necessary."
When its economy matures, China wants to become another United States. It has started emulating America two decades ago - and never ceased. Recent steps include painful privatization, restructuring of the banking system, clamping down on corruption and bad governance, paring down the central bureaucracy, revamping the military and security apparatus and creating mechanisms for smooth political transitions.
China sent a man to the moon. It invests heavily in basic science and research and development. It is moving gradually up the manufacturing food chain to higher value added industries. It is the quintessential leapfrogger, much of its cadre moving straight from the rustic to the plastic - computers, cellular phones, wireless and the like.
Ironically, it could never have made it even this far without its ostensible foe. Thousands of bright Chinese students train in the United states. American technologies, management, knowledge, capital and marketing permeate Beijing's economic fabric. Bilateral trade is flourishing. China enjoys the biggest share of the world's - in large part American - foreign direct investment flows. Should the United states disintegrate tomorrow - China would assuredly follow.
The Failure Is Sundered Within
The failure is sundered within each of us, it festers as blame to others, a manifestation of the shame that belongs not to ourselves but of the participants of a deadlier game. Yet innately the affectation begins with our own visceral manumission of guilt, and sadly, empirically lies buried in our own personal failings.
We ponder all that which seems inherently wrong. We awaken to ourselves each morning and gaze at the soul that stares back at us, and ask, "What do I know of such things?" Politically we are involved in a myriad of wars; our own political system has become moribund and incapable of decisive and thoughtful long-term beneficial actions. At the same time we have managed to cause a global warming process that may not be reversible, with unfathomably catastrophic consequences. Yet we no longer trust our scientific community, as we undermine their ability to help them help us make informed decisions. Corporations are now the new soulless leaders of the same communities that we raise our children in: our children, pain and agony none withstanding, are but fodder for their institutionalized thought and labor. Lobbyists are but jackals, which obfuscate and enable the lack of clear and forward thinking that would be required to navigate through these complicated times.
Woe be to the participants: the excoriated politicians, the confused and parsed scientists, the unfeeling and automatonic corporations, the jack-booted lobbyists with their narrow-minded obfuscations, and still there are bureaucrats, the ever-plodding stewards of the status quo. All are to blame. It becomes utterly confusing and so we consequently throw up our hands and hope that serendipity might take us all to the promised land of Biblical and Koranic paradises of no responsibility and perfect harmony for all eternity. When we each awaken in the morning and look in the mirror, the failure should be obvious. Our visage stares back at us in mute mirth smirking at our lack of insight. How convenient that they should all provide themselves as cannon fodder for our obvious shortcomings.
Chaos complexity theory applies here in its truest sense. Things are not so simple, and become ever more complicated and require ever more attention then before. The problems today are more complicated; any pandering to a simple explanation is an abject definition of ignorance. There are no backwoods colloquialisms that fit a particular situation, present day analogies aside. The query remains, what we know as a collective, intrinsically defined by what we know individually, and how we apply this knowledge so we can make informed decisions in our lives as well as a people. Requiring less dooms us to failure as the founders of democracy failed in old Greece.
Guilt is a primordial emotion we all feel, and all are too familiar with its cold narcissistic touch. We wrap ourselves in a comforting cocoon of justification, but as the feeling is primordial it is useless to try and escape its darkening touch. It declares us to be unfit fathers and mothers, a chronic waster of valuable time, its ball peen steeliness pounding into us the failures that we truly are. But what an enlightened group we have become, and let us pat ourselves on the back as congratulations are due, as the self-help nation is within its goal of declaring victory on its war on guilt, puncturing its effectiveness and regulating it to some type of psychosis. Perhaps there might be a reason for guilt for it to be a primordial emotion, as is it possible that the survival of our species requires this most irritating and pervasive type of thought. Does complete victory deign us capable of justifying anything?
The fault is our own, in each and every one of us. Ask yourself what you know of history? Middle eastern history might be of value at this point, but what pray tell do you know of any of the underlying political issues of the day? Have you researched them, or are you listening to the ever-shortening descriptions provided by someone else you may know, or perhaps the 15 second sound bite doled out by our media? What do you know of the education system we currently use? What do you know of stem cell research? Are any of the short synopses you've heard something that you would be satisfied with if you or your loved one's life depended upon it? What is string theory? For that matter, what is quantum physics? It has been around for 75 years, and is it really too complicated, or are you really so lazy you just couldn't spare the time? When was the last time you picked up a book, a real book, not a piece of tripe? I know you suffer from the guilt, I do and I read fifty or odd tomes a year, we all suffer, and should.
Guilt is defined as the punishment one can receive when guilty of a moral wrong. Our punishment is as aforementioned and fully justified for the innate failure within each of us not to take the time to be overly educated and informed, to never reach for what we do not know, to not search and forever fulfill the emptiness of our knowledge. Guilt has judged us and is providing the punishment as we speak.
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