Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Runaway Capitalism

Sample Post

It was this tradition of colonial genocide that prepared the ground for the greatest western crime of all the industrial extermination of 6m Jews whom the Nazis looked upon as an inferior, nonwestern and semitic intrusion in the Aryan West. " - Dalrymple

Editorial Comment

I used to think that the American Civilization is resting on a three legged stool. After reading Dalrymple, the penny has dropped that it is actually a four legged stool. The legs of this stool are the four pillars of this civlizations and they are as follows:


The arrogance reflects itself in the racism that is still on display with the treatment of the blacks. It could be argued that arrogance is a by product of power, which it is, but it is also a by product of secularism. Perhaps it would be better, after all to call this a three legged stool. How ever Secularism is also a by product of Capitalism.

Taken individually we have much to learn from Democracy and Capitalism. Put all four in the mix and you may be asking for trouble. If America was a vehicle, Capitalism would be the wheel that it turned on. All the other wheels followed where ever Capitalism took it.
The problem is when the vehicle is going downhill, capitalism will take it down faster if there was no balancing by Democracy. Democracy would be unable to apply the breaks if arrogance had already eaten away its lining.

The situation we have today is what I call run away Capitalism, what Naomi Klien calls dDsaster Capitalism and what Robert Reich calls Super Capitalism. Reich asks the obvious question, "Why has capitalism become so triumphant and democracy so enfeebled? Are these two trends connected? What, if anything, can be done to strengthen democracy?"

"Supercapitalism" is his term for heightened competition, innovation and global integration. He pays tribute to its awesome productivity, calling it a triumph for consumers and investors. But as "citizens seeking the common good", he argues, Americans have fared less well. Dominant firms have retreated; unions have withered; regulators have been emasculated; economic insecurity reigns. Worse, money and market forces have spilled into politics, corrupting it. "Thus did supercapitalism replace democratic capitalism."

Naomi Klien in her book Disaster Capitalism says "the central myth of our time that democracy and capitalism go hand in hand is known to be a lie by the very people who are advancing it, and they will admit it on the record."

Runaway Capitalism has become the tail that wags the dog. It has proved that greed is a powerful motivator when it comes to hard work and productivity. It has also shown that greed has no scruples. In fact a person or Corporation with scruples is not greedy enough. To the Capitalist greed is a virtue to aspire to.

The quality of greed is that it is all consuming. The true Capitalist like an alchoholic becomes the slave of Capitalism. Eventually Capitalism and not the Capitalist dictates how to live your life. Capitalism becomes a religion, as it has in America and influences all aspects of life. The role of Democracy and Secularism is then to serve the interests of Capitalism. Money dictates who will be elected President or represent the people. The rich sit in Congress and serve the interests of Corporations and Lobbiests and of course Capitalism. War becomes a business and quality of life the highest American ideal.

With the demise of Communism, America should have become the leader of the world but it did not. Capitalism did not train it to be a leader. Capitalism is best at exploiting and that is what the worlds sole super power did. As a Seculat state, it looked out for it's own interest rather than those of Humanity. It refused to sign any treaty which would have asked it to help out with Global Warming. It refused to be bound by International law. It ignored the UN when ever it could and formed a minority Coalition of the Willing. It lost an opportunity when the world looked up to it, which may never be given to any other nation.

While pursuing riches, the Capitalist blames poverty on the poor and refuses to help people who to them are poor because they are lazy. Every good system has down sides, so why beat up on Capitalism. In any case what is the alternative?

The alternative is to do what is right then to do what is expedient. Amazingly in the US there are examples of such people. All is not lost for America if such people can succeed in this environment. The idea is to take Democracy back to where it belongs, with the people. The idea is to take money out of politics and bring back Community into politics. Just taking two examples from the internet will give you an idea of the concept. Wikepedia and Craigslist are two companies on the internet whose motive is not to make money. Craigs List, which is run by 25 people gets 8.6 billion page runs a month. It has been around for only 12 years. Wikepedia which has been around fot 3 years is amongst the top ten most popular sites in the world. It can be accessed in 150 languages. It is a not for profit.
If these companies wished to make money, their owners could become billionaires. The magic is that the purpose of these companies is to serve communities ( for free). Thet are not gimmicks, where you build up a volume and then start charging membership. They are do it yourself companies out to make the world a better place all around.

A new world is around the corner where countries could be run like this.


For a review of Robert Reich's Book visit the link below.

The Times (UK) : A lesson in humility for the smug West

By William Dalrymple

A lesson in humility for the smug WestMany of the western values we think of as superior came from the East and our blind arrogance hurts our standing in the world10.14.2007 The Times (UK) By William DalrympleAbout 100 miles south of Delhi, where I live, lie the ruins of the Mughal capital, Fateh-pur Sikri. This was built by the Emperor Akbar at the end of the 16th century. Here Akbar would listen carefully as philosophers, mystics and holy men of different faiths debated the merits of their different beliefs in what is the earliest known experiment in formal inter-religious dialogue. Representatives of Muslims (Sunni and Shi'ite as well as Sufi), Hindus (followers of Shiva and Vishnu as well as Hindu atheists), Christians, Jains, Jews, Buddhists and Zoroastrians came together to discuss where they differed and how they could live together. Muslim rulers are not usually thought of in the West as standard-bearers of freedom of thought; but Akbar was obsessed with exploring the issues of religious truth, and with as open a mind as possible, declaring: "No man should be interfered with on account of religion, and anyone is to be allowed to go over to any religion that pleases him." He also argued for what he called "the pursuit of reason" rather than "reliance on the marshy land of tradition".

All this took place when in London, Jesuits were being hung, drawn and quartered outside Tyburn, in Spain and Portu-gal the Inquisition was torturing anyone who defied the dogmas of the Catholic church, and in Rome Giordano Bruno was being burnt at the stake in Campo de'Fiori. It is worth emphasising Akbar, for he – the greatest ruler of the most populous of all Muslim states – represented in one man so many of the values that we in the West are often apt to claim for ourselves. I am thinking here especially of Douglas Murray, a young neocon pup, who wrote in The Spectator last week that he "was not afraid to say the West's values are better", and in which he accused anyone who said to the contrary of moral confusion: "Decades of intense cultural rela-tivism and designer tribalism have made us terrified of passing judgment," he wrote. The article was a curtain-opener for an Intelligence Squared debate in which he and I faced each other, along with David Aaronovitch, Charlie Glass, Ibn Warraq and Tariq Ramadan, over the motion: "We should not be reluctant to assert the superiority of western values". (The motion was eventually carried, I regret to say.) Murray named western values as follows: the rule of law, parliamentary democracy, equality, and freedom of expression and conscience. He also argued that the Judeo-Christian tradition is the ethical source of these values. Yet where do these ideas actually come from?

Both Judaism and Christianity were not born in Washington or London, however much the Victorians liked to think of God as an Englishman. Instead they were born in Pales-tine, while Christianity received its intellectual superstructure in cities such as Antioch, Constanti-nople and Alexandria. At the Council of Nicea, where the words of the Creed were thrashed out in 325, there were more bishops from Persia and India than from western Europe. Judaism and Christianity are every bit as much eastern religions as Islam or Buddhism. So much that we today value – universities, paper, the book, printing – were transmitted from East to West via the Islamic world, in most cases entering western Europe in the Middle Ages via Islamic Spain.

And where was the first law code drawn up? In Athens or London? Actually, no – it was the invention of Hammurabi, in ancient Iraq. Who was the first ruler to emphasise the importance of the equality of his subjects? The Buddhist Indian Emperor Ashoka in the third century BC, set down in stone basic freedoms for all his people, and did not exclude women and slaves, as Aristotle had done. In the real world, East and West do not have separate and compartmentalised sets of values. Does a Midwestern Baptist have the same values as an urbane Richard Dawkins-read-ing atheist? Do Aung San Suu Kyi and the Dalai Lama belong to the same ethical tradition as Osama Bin Laden? In the East as in the West there is a huge variety of ethical systems, but surprisingly similar ideals, and ideas of good and evil. To cherry-pick your favourite universal humanistic ideals, and call them western, then to imply that their opposites are somehow eastern values is simply bigoted and silly, as well as unhistorical.

The great historian of the Crusades, Sir Steven Runciman, knew better. As he wrote at the end of his three-volume history: "Our civilisation has grown . . . out of the long sequence of interaction and fusion between Orient and Occident." He is right. The best in both eastern and western civilisation come not from asserting your own superiority, but instead from having the humility to learn from what is good in others, as well as to recognise your own past mistakes. Ramming your ideas down the throats of others is rarely a productive tactic. There are lessons here from our own past.

European history is full of monarchies, dictatorships and tyrannies, some of which – such as those of Salazar, Tito and Franco – survived into the 1970s and 1980s. The relatively recent triumph of democracy across Europe has less to do with some biologically inherent western love of freedom, than with an ability to learn humbly from the mistakes of the past – notably the millions of deaths that took place due to western ideologies such as Marxism, fas-cism and Nazism. These movements were not freak departures from form, so much as terrible expressions of the darker side of western civilisation, including our long traditions of antisemitism at home.

Alongside this we also have history of exporting genocide abroad in the worst excesses of western colonialism – which, like the Holocaust, comes from treating the nonwestern other as untermenschen, as savage and somehow subhuman. For though we like to ignore it, and like to think of ourselves as paragons of peace and freedom, the West has a strong militaristic tradition of attacking and invading the countries of those we think of as savages, and of wiping out the less-developed peoples of four continents as part of our civilising mission.

The list of western genocides that preceded and set the scene for the Holocaust is a terrible one. The Tasmanian Aborigines were wiped out by British hunting parties who were given licences to exterminate this "inferior race" whom the colonial authorities said should be "hunted down like wild beasts and destroyed". Many were caught in traps, before being tortured or burnt alive. The same fate saw us exterminate the Caribs of the Caribbean, the Guanches of the Canary Islands, as well as tribe after tribe of Native Americans. The European slave trade forcibly abducted 15m Africans and killed as many more. It was this tradition of colonial genocide that prepared the ground for the greatest western crime of all – the industrial extermination of 6m Jews whom the Nazis looked upon as an inferior, nonwestern and semitic intrusion in the Aryan West.

For all our achievements in and emancipating women and slaves, in giving social freedoms and human rights to the individual; for all that is remarkable and beautiful in our art, literature and science, our continuing tradition of arrogantly asserting this perceived superiority has led to all that is most shameful and self-de-feating in western history. The complaints change – a hundred years ago our Victorian ancestors accused the Islamic world of being sensuous and decadent, with an overdeveloped penchant for sodomy; now Martin Amis attacks it for what he believes is its mass sexual frustration and homophobia. Only the sense of superiority remains the same.

If the East does not share our particular sensibility at any given moment of history it is invariably told that it is wrong and we are right. Tragically, this western tradition of failing to respect other cultures and treating the other as untermenschen has not completely died. We might now recognise that genocide is wrong, yet 30 years after the debacle of Vietnam and Cambodia and My Lai, the cadaver of western colonialism has yet again emerged shuddering from its shallow grave. One only has to think of the massacres of Iraqi civilians in in Falluja or the disgusting treatment meted out to the prisoners of Abu Ghraib to see how the cultural assertiveness of the neocons has brought these traditions of treating Arabs as subhuman back from the dead. Yet the briefest look at the foreign policy of the Bush administration surely gives a textbook example of the futility of trying to impose your values and ideas – even one so noble as democracy – on another people down the barrel of a gun, rather than through example and dialogue.

In Iraq itself, we have succeeded in destroying a formerly prosperous and secular country, and creating the largest refugee problem in the modern Middle East: 4m Iraqis have now been forced abroad. Elsewhere in the Middle East, the US attempt to push democracy in the region has succeeded in turning Muslim opinion against its old client proxies – by and large corrupt, decadent monarchies and decaying nationalist parties. But rather than turning to liberal secular parties, as the neocons assumed they would, Muslims have everywhere lined up behind those parties that have most clearly been seen to stand up against aggressive US intervention in the region, namely the religious parties of political Islam.

Last week, the Islamic world showed us the sort of gesture that is needed at this time. In a letter addressed to Pope Benedict and other Christian leaders, 138 prominent Muslim scholars from every sect of Islam urged Christian leaders "to come together with us on the common essentials of our two religions." It will be interesting to see if any western leaders now reciprocate.We have much to be proud of in the West; but it is in the arrogant and forceful assertion of the superiority of western values that we have consistently undermined not only all that is most precious in our civilisation, but also our own foreign policies and standing in the world. Another value, much admired in both East and West, might be a simple solution here: a little old-fashioned humility.

William Dalrymple's new book, The Last Mughal: The Fall of a Dynasty, Delhi 1857, published by Bloomsbury, has just been awarded the Duff Cooper Prize for history


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