Wednesday, May 16, 2007

It ain't rocket science

In concluding a bit of a history lesson on the confluence of influences (uniquely American strains of Protestantism, the Progressive movement of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the drive toward expansion that led to an increasingly interventionist foreign policy, and the prohibitionists) that continue to affect our current sorry decade Arthur Silber lays it all out in very basic terms:
Utilizing the power of the state to constrain or forbid individual action, when the targeted individuals and behavior harm no one else, is wrong. The effects are always significantly worse than the alleged problem the state action was proposed to solve.

Using the power of the state to conquer foreign lands and to coerce other governments and peoples into acting in accordance with our dictates is wrong. The effects are uniformly terrible, and evil: large-scale death and suffering, and an endless number of bodies and souls that are destroyed, crippled and damaged forever.

Forging an alliance between the power of the state and one particular set of moral beliefs, either religious in nature or in a secular variant, is wrong. If your personal beliefs are so important to you, then live your life in the manner they require. Unless they demonstrably harm someone else, what other people do is none of your damned business. That you might convince certain members of the ruling class to use the power of the state to coerce your fellow citizens into living their lives as you demand multiplies the evil involved a thousandfold.

The United States does not have a monopoly on virtue or on an "ideal" political system, and it never did. No country whose origins include the slaughter of the native population and the enslavement of millions of human beings ever could. The United States is "the last, best hope" of precisely nothing. Even today, and in many critical ways especially today, we desperately need to set our own house in order. Until and unless that monumental task is achieved in large part, morality and the practical realities demand that we leave the rest of the world the hell alone. Genuinely free trade and travel are good in themselves and very positive in their effects, and should be encouraged. Embargoes, sanctions and all similar restrictions are always extraordinarily damaging, and aggressive, non-defensive war is a loathsome evil; such acts are profoundly damaging not only to the countries that are the targets, but to the country that initiates them.

The drive to world hegemony and Empire is evil, in its motives and in all its effects.
Not too surprisingly, the elites who occupy the government and dominate the board rooms will refuse to listen. Just check out the recent Presidential nomination debates of both the Democrats and GOP: the front-runners for the GOP seem to envision a continuation of Bu$hCo's brand of warmongering; the front-runners for the Democrats want a return the "kinder and gentler" warmongering favored by the Clintonistas. Both of these two parties do have their own candidates who are to varying degrees less committed to the current imperial project. Needless to say, one will find next to no coverage of them in the corporate media. There has been some talk of a "centrist" third party, but its potential front runners (such as NYC's Mayor Bloomberg & politician turned actor Fred Thompson) seem just as steeped in the sort of American Exceptionalism that has poisoned our political discourse for far too long. As for Congress, let's say actions speak louder than words, and that thus far the actions of this year's Congress is every bit as committed to the "drive to world hegemony" as the previous year's. The tactics might change (albeit superficially), but the vibe is the same.

For too long we've witnessed the power of Big Bad Government (sometimes in collaboration with Big Bad Religion, sometimes not) to coerce individuals at home and whole civilizations abroad. Whether we're talking about the "war on drugs" or the "war on terra" we've seen way too many lives lost or ruined for absolutely nothing.

The end result will be fairly predictable: as long as the ruling elites continue on their present course, they'll run the US (along with much of the rest of the planet) into the ground. In spite of all the high and mighty religious talk, the truth is that the US is generally a morally bankrupt nation and has been so for quite some time. We're not that far away from a financial bankruptcy that will rival the collapse of the former Soviet Union. Like Silber I'm not particularly optimistic that there is anything near the critical mass needed to reverse course (too much inertia to overcome). It's more a matter of just how hard the nation collapses (economically and militarily), and to what extent the collapse ends up resembling a murder-suicide on a global scale.

No comments:

Post a Comment