Thursday, December 14, 2006

The New Sabbatarianism -- Part II

"And it came to pass, that he went through the corn fields on the sabbath day; and his disciples began, as they went, to pluck the ears of corn.
And the Pharisees said unto him, Behold. Why do they on the sabbath day that which is not lawful?
And he said unto them, Have ye never read what David did, when he had need and was an hungered, he, and they that were with him?How he went into the house of God in the days of Abiathar the high priest, and did eat the shew-bread which is not lawful to eat but for the priests, and gave also to them which were with him?
And he said unto them, The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath.Therefore the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath."Mark 2: 23-28

"The unseen moral syntax" of the New World Order is the subject of John McMurtry’s astonishingly important book, Value Wars: The Global Market Versus the Life Economy,published in 2002 by Pluto Press of London and Sterling, Va.

If there is one book which readers of this site are urged to read, it is this, because it connects the dots of the globalization movement in terms of its values, presuppositions and preferences - rather than its presumed goals and ideals. This distinction is important, for values and assumptions occur both above and below the normal registers of awareness and perception. Analysis at the level of nearly pre-conscious or emotional adherence is infrequently recognized, much less attempted. Such analysis brings up issues such as zeitgeist, group-mind or collective consciousness -- which are difficult for modern people, steeped in the culture of the psychological 'Unconscious' even when they don't believe it. For some reason, taking responsibility for, or even acknowledging the existence of, a group-mind is, for many, a trespass against the sacred concept of individualism.McMurtry eschews both ‘conspiracy theory’ and ‘power politics’ as models of explanation for globalist-New World Order agenda thinking. He rejects the presumed ‘value neutral’ or ‘ethical neutrality’ stance of modern philosophical, scientific and economic thinking.

In fact, he states, "lines of force follow lines of value," (his emphasis) and it is the deep structure of values, choices and consequences in which are to be sought the causes of our increasingly dysfunctional economic thinking. Only an acute value-system analysis is capable of penetrating the sludge of lies, evasions, deceptions, and rationalizations which now form the standard operating procedure of the "Infotainment State."

What is repressed from view in the jigsaw-puzzle cascade of "news and events" is precisely the "absolutist value-set" and the "a priori prescriptions" which drive the transnational money-sequencing that increasingly rules the world. These hidden values and presuppositions have not been considered to be matters of philosophical importance, thus by stealthy means "economic laws" slide into the slot occupied by "laws of nature"-- the human factor of choice and decision of the former meanwhile overlooked entirely. The human will, now occupying a position more arbitrary and less appeasable than the gods of old, escapes the scrutiny of people who might be sensitive to issues like fate, determinism, or superstition. Ideological global oligopoly is both deterministic and superstitious, but by avoiding the traditional carriers of these intellectual poisons, it appears both "modern" and "progressive."

McMurtry argues that the evidence of shocking ecological and economic disasters, corporate swindles like Enron, tax invasions of poor countries and their mounting "endebtification" are all the results of an essentially emotional and pre-conscious value set which, in the last two decades, has become ever more fanatical. It is locked into a repetitive self-identification and self-affirmation of itself as the ‘Good,’ which is also, simultaneously, ‘historically necessary’ and even ‘historically inevitable.’ McMurtry's analysis penetrates this new variant of economic-historic determinism to uncover what are actually its human and political decision-points, choices, and preferences.

It is important to recall, for example, that prior to 9/11 there was a rising global movement of disquiet at the disastrous results of the globalization movement on the world’s ecosystems and peoples. The popular movements of resistance are a matter of documented record – not only Seattle, but also Genoa in the summer before 9/11, in which more than 350,000 people protested the unaccountable actions and decisions of transnational corporate bodies. As McMurtry puts it, "The attempts to portray young and socially conscientious citizens in protest as worthy of mass gassings and cagings had failed." Something more was needed to justify the systematic prescriptions for economic restructuring, deregulation and privatization of public wealth. The ongoing march of secretive economic bodies to override accountable controls by governments needed a new charter – or shall we say carte blanche or cause célèbre?

The events of 9/11 imposed a convenient and timely "global amnesia" upon public perceptions about how the system for corporate rule was losing public legitimacy. [1]It is important to review some of the facts regarding the "new freedom" ushered in by neoliberal (sometimes called neoclassical; see note 2) economic practices.

Since the Reaganite 1980’s, the top 10% of the U.S. population saw their incomes double within five years.
By 2000, the top 1% in the U.S. had more wealth than 95% of the U.S. population.
Poverty in Eastern Europe increased sevenfold from 1988 ‘under Soviet domination’ to 1994 with ascension to the ‘Free World.’
More than 100 developing nations "suffered disastrous failures in growth and more prolonged cuts in living standards than industrial countries in the Great Depression." (UN Development Report, 1997)

These ‘structural adjustments' and 'painful sacrifices' demanded by economic doctrine are the costs of the ‘Free Market,’ which in fact is not free at all but consists of a global oligopoly system in which "over 60% of international trade is between offices of the same firms or interlocked partners," not to mention the considerable assistance from government tax policies and subsidies as well. Hardly ever in the mass media from 1985-2002 was the global market experiment raised as an issue of concern. Instead, evangelical certitudes plastered over the evidence of the senses and quashed contrary perceptions. The repetitions involved torturously contradictory assertions claiming that "oligopoly is free competition," "leveraged money demand with no production of real goods means moral justification, i.e., market success"; "catastrophic ecological and social results mean necessary economic reforms," and "bombing poor civilians and destroying their life infrastructure means humanitarian interventions."

As a corollary to this iron-clad rule by fist economy and fiat money, it is sadly instructive to note how Western intellectual elites abandoned their former commitments to "free inquiry," "free will" or "freedom of choice," "rule of law," etc – such as existed in the most longstanding critiques of Soviet-style socialist systems. Academic postmodernism was a frivolous intellectual movement unmoored from real life, but fostered an attitude of devaluation and mockery in the belief of the value of truth. In the past few years we have seen increasingly shrill and indeed fanatic attacks on religion and ethics from media and NWO-favored intellectuals like Dennett, Dawkins, and Singer and their followers in the Darwinian and "bioethics" camps. "Evolutionary psychology" becomes the new breeding-ground for intellectuals who have lost their religion, like John Derbyshire, and the scientistic establishment and their impacted constituencies in universities, government, pharmaceutical and agricultural laboratories are wedded to the proposition of changing whatever is natural into a saleable commodity.

All of these capitulations of what was once an independent sphere of intellectual life represent the marriage of the unthinkable with the unstoppable – epitomized by the remarks of the Tony Blair, the boy ruler of Britain – "These forces of change driving the future don’t stop at national boundaries. Don’t respect tradition. They wait for no one and no nation. They are universal."

The net effect of these accumulating determinisms is to drive barriers between perception and reality, action and responsibility, thought and life, not to mention further eroding the institutions of society that provide accountability. The deepest and most interior cause of this continuing moral brutalization is the severance of intellect from life. But this spiritual "cause" goes deep into history and indeed it initiates that history from the very first pages of the Creation story in Genesis, when the Tree of Knowledge is separated from the Tree of Life. In the Genesis story, the Tree of Life is guarded by the Cherubim with the flaming sword, because it was recognized that if man with unspiritualized intellect invades the sphere of life, universal destruction would result.

The New World Order could be called an accelerated program for breaking and entering the realm of the Cherubim – that is, subverting what has hitherto provided a ring of protection around the Tree of Life. This is why Henry Makow, the Canadian author of "Save the Males" website, writes that the NWO program functions to strip citizens of their identity in race, tribe, nationality, culture, tradition, law, sexuality, religion – leaving them utterly pliable and ductile in the hands of the transnational money regime. Whether to "strip" people of these attributes or to distort their consciousness of such attributes through multiculturalist exaggerations is equally useful, for in either case a tradition or state of being that might have provided a barrier to the commodification of life is rendered null and impotent, and all sense for mutual common interests in society is destroyed.

As McMurtry puts it, "… the ineluctable destiny of all peoples on earth to compete to succeed in serving transnational investors is the ultimate given of social value… What peoples had long set their souls against – an order imposed on them by wheels of a higher, inexorable power – is now prescribed as every society’s final meaning."

McMurtry’s analysis of the causes for the wars on Yugoslavia and Iraq is the most compelling that I have read. Quite simply, Yugoslavia and Iraq had to be converted to "corporate feeding cycles" because by 1991 they were "the last resource-rich functioning socialist resource economies in the world."

Indeed, "...What is not ‘open to the free market’ is any society, however peaceful,with developed social sectors and publicly owned resources closed to foreigncorporate expansion and exploitation… The Yugoslav and Iraqi societies were nottargeted in spite of their regionally advanced social systems, but because ofthem."

For bear in mind, that it is the preeminent goal for the system of global determinism that there should be no alternative. Neither Iraq nor Yugoslavia wished to re-travel the route of re-colonization, and in both societies there was a high level of worker income security, health care and education and public ownership of key resources. In other words, both nations had a successfully functioning life-economy – in contrast to the USA, where neither libraries nor public transit can be assured of funding, in fact suffer continual funding cuts, where health care is a spoils system of gargantuan inefficiency, and where the phrase ‘public good’ carries an antiquarian flavor, along with all the others like good manners, clear thinking, honest debate, checks and balances, life and liberty, rule of law, balanced reporting, a decent respect for the opinions of mankind, etc. etc. ad infinitum. Even lower on the scale of meaningful content are slogans with "democracy, "freedom," "compassion," "equality," etc. – such phrases and slogans are never employed with limiting or relational concepts, or in any meaningful historical context. They may thus be taken as signposts of continuing assault on the ability to think coherently - not exactly a prized quality for citizens who are being programmed into consumers.

For it is ultimately the colonization and occupation of the mind that feeds the money sequence regime. The results are particularly apparent in the American mass media, which has totally abandoned its mandate to provide a fair account of world events. The mass media outlets are merely sluices for advertising, through which disjunct, atomized, and uncontexted bits of "news" occasionally pass. It is true that this has not escaped the more discerning members of the population. But still the deeper concepts are lacking. The transition from a productive to a predatory economy has been occurring in the USA at an uneven pace, but in the last few years it has accelerated to the point of garishness.

The "new Sabbatarianism" of the modern economic machine seems the precise opposite of that pharisaical obsession with "keeping the Sabbath" mentioned at the head of this post, yet opposites merge after all. In the old Sabbath, nothing was to be done; in the new, nothing is to be left undone. Cessation has been replaced by incessancy, but both doctrines claim an unshakable authority and a fanatical adherence. The new, modernized, and streamlined economic doctrine that has come to rule the world is a sort of secularized Darwinian theocracy, where the "losers" are the economically unfit (or the theologically out of grace). Stability is derided, traditions are destroyed, and neither borders nor laws possess any restraining action to the ‘free flow of capital.’

The dragons have returned from the abyss of time in the form of a fanatical economic determinism. A society without accountability, without countervailing authorities of restraint and decision-making, is a society on the way to barbarism. The advocates of the global money regime enjoy what civilized life has made possible while betraying or subverting civilized standards at every turn. A system of thought so estranged from life and sustainability comes to resemble a reptilian fate. But the question in the end is whether the reptilian fate is to be that of the corporation or of mankind itself.

As a final note, the last half of McMurtry’s book explores the entirely feasible ways in which society may move towards restoring life-economy goals. I will not undertake to review these here, except to note that, despite many reasons to be pessimistic, there are always grounds for hope. Once the deterministic trance is broken and values, decisions and preferences are exposed, real thinking will be possible again – that is, the connecting of thought with life that is the necessary condition of being human.

[1] The author does not explore the 9/11 event in this book. Later reflections on this event can be found in his "9/11 & the 9/11 Wars: Understanding the Supreme Crimes," printed in the compendium of essays edited by David Ray Griffin and Peter Dale Scott, 9/11 and the American Empire: Intellectuals Speak Out (Vol. I) Olive Branch Press, @2006.
[2] See "What we learn when we learn economics," Christopher Hayes, In These Times: "Neoclassical economics, as the Chicago School of thought is now called, has become an international elite consensus, one that provides the foundation for the entire global political economy." Article here .

No comments: