The International Writers
The collective self-analysis
generated by that war might go down in history as one of our nations
finest moments, wherein we actually tried to analyze our actions and correct
them. Books, plays, movies and debate led to protest, political action,
and impeachment and criminal trials.
Are We in Iraq?
Forty years ago
Norman Mailer wrote Why Are We In Vietnam?, a
book in which he seemed to imply that we had engaged in that war
out of a neurotic, predatory god complex. Given the nature of the
times and the prevalent quality of leadership (Johnson, Nixon, Hoover,
etc.), that analysis had the ring of reality to it.
No kind of soul searching seems to be accompanying our latest current
adventure in Iraq. Certainly, the nature of an empire leads it to believe
that it is always under threat at its periphery. That is the motivation
that drove the British Empire to battle the Russian Empire for control
of Afghanistan in the nineteenth century and that motivated the Romans
to build Hadrians Wall so far from Rome.
No matter how rich you are its never enough, and the more you have
the harder it is to keep it. Like a shark you have to keep moving forward
to survive, and sharks are not known for their reflective nature.
Empires always function best when their brightest minds keep focused on
the acquisition of wealth, and excessive philosophical meditation has
led to the derailment of many great powers like Britain and France, who
arguably began to stumble when their educated classes forsake the ledger
books for literary fiction and criticism.
Too much thinking is definitely bad for business. So maybe its a
positive thing for America that the biggest controversy in the public
forum is whether Dan Rather was being sexist when he criticized Katie
Courics vapid presentation of The CBS Evening News, and that the
runaway literary hit of the best seller list is Tina Browns latest
reheat of Princess Diana, who was stale copy even before she passed on
to that great runway show in the sky.
Im not knocking it. Intellectual life can be pedantic and stultifying,
and I am just as happy with a joint and a bottle of tequila, dreaming
away my life while grooving to Chicago blues. Thinking isnt everything.
As the Mayan priests were fond of pointing put when they werent
ripping some poor guys still-beating heart out of his chest, time
is not linear - its cyclical. Life is repetitive. This is old news
to anybody who grew up reading science fiction epics like Foundation,
which dramatizes the rise and fall of galactic empires, but it puts the
lie to Churchills axiom that those who do not learn from
the lessons of history are doomed to repeat them. According
to the Mayan syllabus, even if you learn the lessons, youre still
doomed to repeat them. The Mayan texts are lost, burned by the Spanish,
but its a sure bet that in the 7,000 years they inhabited the lowlands
and highlands of Central America they witnessed the rise and fall of empires,
the ethnic cleansing of whole races, charismatic leaders, the clash and
crash of civilizations. Do we need to relearn those lessons?
Whats the point? So it ever was, and so it is and so it will ever
be. Maybe Ronald Reagan had a point with his Morning in America.
Forget all that past history and go forward. The wheel of history is going
to turn whether youre aware of it or not. In the meantime, lets
make hay while the sun shines.
This sunny American exclusivity cant be exclusive to America: theres
nothing new under the sun. The fact that it seems original probably illustrates
its hopeless futility as an approach to social organization. Its
likely that past societies that ever took our la-di-da attitude were either
exterminated as a result, or eventually survived by transforming themselves
into realistic cultures of fatalism, given the realities of human nature
and the dynamics of the physical world.
Reaganism is doubly insidious as a doctrine of social organization since
it virtually precludes any intellectual activity as superfluous and subversive.
This begs the question of the sharp American decline relative to the rest
of the world since the end of World War II, at which time we controlled
50% of global wealth and manufacturing capacity. Since that time our standing
has declined by half and predictions are that our share will continue
to decline, though at a slower rate.
How much of this decline is due to the normal advance of the rest of the
world and how much to structural deficiencies inherent in our own system
are proportional calculations open to debate. Less open to debate are
miscalculations and false assumptions arrived at as a result of this sunny
Morning in America philosophy, which disdains planning and
calculated marshalling of resources to achieve rational goals. Its
as if nobody is flying the plane and everybody is depending on automatic
pilot to achieve a soft landing.
If the hieroglyphics engraved into the Mayan ruins could talk to us, how
many stories would they tell of states destroyed by the unwise or illogical
decisions of corrupted or conceited rulers, of tragic military expeditions
based upon false assumptions, or squandered or lost resources resulting
in misery, discontent and the revolt of subjugated populations? Just as
wise and preservative rule can preserve and enhance nations states, so
can unwise leadership accelerate their decline.
That is what seems to happening here. Harmful decisions concerning vast
amounts of invaluable resources are being taken in an almost defiant manner,
as if to coarsely reinforce in the most reckless mode who is charge. Alliances
of state are shoved aside insouciantly and friendships abrogated for unclear
reasons. Its as though the players are caught up in a diabolical
cycle of plagues and disasters and manipulated against their conscious
will like stringed marionettes by infernal demons from hell. The Mayan
texts on astrology were explicit on the effects of the stars on human
behavior. Could our descent into chaos and madness, hurricanes and mass
destruction, war and insane rule have been foreordained and predicted
in ancient times?
© Dean Borok June 18th 2007
Nobody ever said that transforming this former fiefdom of Standard Oil
into a freestanding socialist model economy was going to be easy...
all rights reserved - all comments are the writers' own responsibiltiy
- no liability accepted by hackwriters.com or affiliates.