"Everybody understands the obvious meaning of the world struggle in which we are engaged. We are defending freedom against tyranny and are trying to preserve justice against a system which has, demonically, distilled injustice and cruelty out of its original promise of a higher justice."
That's an excerpt from chapter one of Reinhold Niebuhr's "The Irony of American History", which sports, on the back jacket an interesting quote: “[Niebuhr] is one of my favorite philosophers. I take away [from his works] the compelling idea that there’s serious evil in the world, and hardship and pain. And we should be humble and modest in our belief we can eliminate those things. But we shouldn’t use that as an excuse for cynicism and inaction. I take away … the sense we have to make these efforts knowing they are hard”, made by our President's doppelganger, Senator Barack Obama.
When I read that at the beginning of his first term, but after he'd named both Larry Sunmmers and Tim Geithner, and it became clear that the policy of diplomacy-by-assassination was to remain a fixture of foreign policy, I wondered, what's the use of electing an erudite Senator to replace the smirking chimp if he follows the same policies, spews the same language and excuses for Empire, and shows not the least inkling to alter the path down which we're heading?
Well, I have to admit, there is a difference. Watching the line-up of the Republican Party candidates during the debates and listening to their embarrassing rhetoric, in line with what they actually were, more a bunch of hacks shilling sales of their books than serious contenders for the throne, made me realize that, despite the lack of any hope for change, at the least we get a little more respect from the international community.
Niebuhr then wonders whether, "the non-communist world would be in danger of destroying itself as a moral culture in the process of defending itself physically". From what it was purportedly defending itself, he failed to mention. We all know he means communism, of course, but just as the Communists were more of an enemy to their own citizens than to anyone else, the Capitalists are proving far more dangerous, heartless, and rapaciously destructive to the well-being of their countrymen, and especially, to the rest of the world. So although he was referring to the atomic bomb, his musings prove the huge error in his assuming that, "though confident in its virtue, the victors would also face the “imperial” problem of using power in global terms but from one particular center of authority, so preponderant and unchallenged that its world rule would almost certainly violate basic standards of justice."
He need not have worried. The USAryans side-stepped that dilemma by simply applying a double-standard of justice. The imperial president not only has no foreign power to stay his hand, but the Congressional representatives of the people are simply sitting on theirs. Not that the USAryans that elected those reps don't approve, having convinced themselves of their own virtue, by relegating all morality to the province of sexual infidelities, and removing any moral obligation from the accumulation and disbursement of Money, referring only to its redistribution via taxation as evil. Thus, enabling itself, once the imagined threat of a communistic hegemony was dissolved, to remove all restraints from its behavior and then proceeding to destroy itself, without the need of outsiders, as a moral culture.
Because, as the title of this post suggests, once money rules are discarded, Money rules absolutely and no power is able to stand against its dictates. But, of course, a la Milton Friedman and Friedrich Hayek, that was the plan all along, the details of which Naomi Klein documents in "The Shock Doctrine", which could have been subtitled: "Jeffrey Sachs Russia while Goldman Sachs America."
In describing the difference between irony and tragedy, Niebuhr suggests, "that Irony prompts some laughter and a nod of comprehension beyond the laughter; for irony involves comic absurdities which cease to be altogether absurd when fully understood", and yet he can, presumably with a straight face, state that our desired goal is peace and justice, arguing that "the communist doctrine is more explicit and therefore more dangerous. It ascribes the origin of evil to the institution of property. The abolition of this institution by communism therefore prompts the ridiculous claim of innocency for one of the vastest concentrations of power in human history."
Likewise, however, the USAryans ascribe the origin of evil to the institution of communism. The abolition of this institution by capitalism therefore prompts the same ridiculous claim of innocency, now brandished with all the trappings of an arrogant Triumphalism, for the vastest concentration of power in human history. But, unlike communism, capitalism demands that no restraint be placed upon either its overarching supremacy nor the Ironman's grip it maintains around the throat of Democracy.
As an example of this irony of history, we need only look at the cover of the same May-June 2006 issue of Harvard Magazine in which the Title "Money Rules" (the irony of its double entendre lost on its publishers) graced the last page. There, right under a banner that declared "Summers Resigns Governing Harvard", was a picture of blackened smokestacks spewing filth into the skies, while the title qualmed our climate-change fears with the reassurance that we were "conquering carbon" (whatever that means).
The irony of this juxtaposition is clarified by today's article in Bloomberg that reports how, in China, which the World Bank estimates has 16 of the world’s 20 most-polluted cities and is the largest emitter of greenhouse gases, “The number of people coming into our emergency room suffering heart attacks has roughly doubled since Friday when the air pollution became really severe”.
Now, prior to his stint at Harvard, when he was at the World Bank, Larry Summers suggested that, "The measurements of the costs of health-impairing pollution depends on the foregone earnings from increased morbidity and mortality. From this point of view a given amount of health-impairing pollution should be done in the country with the lowest cost, which will be the country with the lowest wages. I think the economic logic behind dumping a load of toxic waste in the lowest wage country is impeccable and we should face up to that."
What we haven't faced up to however, is that it is only one globe, so moving those soot-intensive industries to an economy where industrialists need have no fear of an upstart bourgeoisie scrabbling for the right to breathe air that won't kill them, only brings the dangers all that much faster back to our own shores, as we read, on the same Monday morning, that Global warming is already changing America from sea to rising sea. It "has affected and will continue to affect human health, water supply, agriculture, transportation, energy, and many other aspects of society." The report uses the word "threat" or variations of it 198 times and versions of the word "disrupt" another 120 times, claiming that, "If someone were to list every aspect of life changed or likely to be altered from global warming, it would easily be more than 100."
The rapidity which theses changes are occurring are never blamed on the collapse of the Soviet Union nor the industrialization of Communist China. However, given the words of Summers, and the complete lack of money rules, brings on a positive feedback loop as powerful and unrelenting as that caused by the loss of the albedo effect in the Arctic. Because, although we can move our polluting- industries to China and let them befoul their atmosphere to make our Toys4Tots, it is still, as pointed out in the Ward's seminal book by the same title, Only one Earth. So "it is only a rough equilibrium of power, a precarious 'balance of terror', that underlies the organized, systematic killing of our own kind".
And, in the ultimate of ironies, with the collapse of the terror of communism, money rules were first ignored, then done away with altogether, resulting in the situation we have now where Money Rules via Terror by waging a War on Terror.
"Our cherished values of individualism are real enough; and we are right in preferring death to their annulment", so long as the death to which Niebuhr refers, is that of everyone else. He then asserts, "we cannot make individual liberty as unqualifiedly the end of life as our ideology", unless, again, it's literally the end of everyone else's life, in which case, we're fine with it. Because it is no accident that Niebuhr never mentions the word 'money' in the whole discussion whereas that's the crux of the matter, that's the basis of the 'cherished individualism' of which he speaks, and the fulcrum on which the materialistic standards of well-being are leveraged and their success or failure measured.
So much so that, by supplanting the most cherished of values with its means-to-an-end equating of money and terror, which now rule the world hand in hand, it is now not communism, which is Neibuhr's claim, but capitalism, which threatens to, if it has not already, become, "a foe who has transmuted ideals and hopes, which we most deeply cherish, into cruel realities which we most fervently abhor." And it has done so by the ideological insanity insisted on by Neo-liberals and Neo-conservatives alike, that restraints be put upon neither its accumulation nor the manner in which it is wielded, because to do so would constrain the liberty of those few who have it, which is intolerable, no matter how much the lack of the same makes a mockery of the very word liberty, to those who don't.