Friday, February 03, 2006

There is so much more...

Derrick Jensen – The Culture of Make Believe

J.P. Morgan was an investment banker who would manage private and corporate fortunes.  Morgan would invest huge sums of money in corporations on the stipulation that he would be given control of the corporation for a short period of time to ensure the “safety” of the money he invested.  At this point the corporation would undergo a process called “Morganization” in which he would “reduce its debt to avoid bankruptcy in the near future, and place men loyal to him in control.” (Encarta on-line) Wherever he went his game was corporate mergers to reduce competition and increase profit.  (A fact I find hilarious considering I got it from an msn website).  

Jensen makes the case that JP Morgan was the banker who organized the American financing of the allies during WWI.  Jensen claims that America didn’t enter the war until it looked like the allies would lose and the result would be that the local economy would fail because of all the debt the allies had to American firms.  Jensen gives a list of strategic government positions that were awarded to Morgan’s partners.  The result was that profits soared for Morgan and all the companies he controlled directly or indirectly.  There were a billion dollars of munitions that were paid for but never delivered.  

This got me thinking, why don’t we just institute a poor tax, we could decrease income tax by 5% and just have transfer payments from all the non-millionaires to the millionaires.  Call it corporate welfare.  Maybe then America wouldn’t have had to go to war.  Maybe it will save us in the future.  Not that I’m suggesting that they started the war, but they sure made a lot of money off of it.  And maybe that is why those people who went into the war did it.  They do it for economic growth.  They do it for an ideology.  

When I started the last paragraph I was just trying to be funny, but corporate welfare is a term that came to mind and it is a term that I have heard before.  For an example close to home, the Canadian government pays for the infrastructure for companies to extract our resources.  It is something that doesn’t make sense to me, to be graphic it is like not only asking to be raped, but paying the cab fare for the rapist to get across town.  They do it for economic growth.  They do it for an ideology.  

In this chapter Jensen describes the hatred that went on in the United States, good moral christian lynchings of the non-white population.  Jensen develops the idea of non-white as those who don’t agree with the ideology, making the distinction that a white person has to do something bad to be excluded, like protest against capital and for worker’s rights, while non-whites have to do a lot just to not be persecuted, a place that is far from camaraderie.  

A bit of a side note, as a Christian I am seeing some pretty horrific relationships that just don’t make sense to me (KKK, business conservatives, the inquisitions, the crusades) and am wondering about the usefulness of the term.  I would like to think that it is incompatible to be a Christian racist only concerned with profit, no it goes beyond profit, it gets to the roots of hatred that Jensen talks about.  As a Christian I worry about the souls of conservative evangelicals and I don’t say that as a tongue in cheek comment.

Jensen is trying to get at the roots of hatred of our civilization that seem to flare up whenever something goes wrong.  Well, here is the question, why do decent people stand beside a hanging corpse smiling with pride at saving the neighbourhood?  The KKK did it, the Nazis did it, the Native population of the Americas witnessed white appreciation for their hospitality, what about Iraq and Afghanistan, is N. Korea and Iran next?  Perkins said it was empire, Wallerstein says it is just endless accumulation.  The USA is getting bigger and consuming other nations because it has to have economic growth.  That is the drug of western civilization.  

All of these things remind me of Berman.  Berman said that there was no way of interacting with terrorists because we are a liberal rationalists and we want to talk and find a medium, but there just isn’t any reason to their thought pattern, they can’t be talked to.  They are ready to die to save the neighbourhood.  Hmm, I just wrote that same thing a couple sentences ago in reference to moral Christian lynchings.  

Jensen says it is a hate that comes alive whenever there is something that goes wrong.  This hate takes the guise of religion, but it has nothing to do with Christianity or Islam.  It is about preserving an ideal way of life, or forwarding an ideal way of life.  They have given up on talking and feel alienated or threatened.  It is control through fear.  

The 1950s syndrome, things were so good back then and contemporary people have become sick, so we need to fight. - American Christian Fundamentalist
They will kill us in our beds and steal our women, we just have to protect ourselves
- KKK member,
Etc. etc.

It is never enough to be the majority (The American Christian Right, etc.), because they are founded on the idea that they are the threatened minority, and any subversive element can bring corruption and the end of the way of life as it is known.  

It is a worldview that views homogeneity as the ideal and creativity and diversity as dangerous or something to be repressed, unless it can be conformed into the homogeneity of the ideal.

Back to my rant, they do it for ideology.  But what is ideology really; it is just another way of saying the things that they believe in.  I don’t think the conclusion to be taken from this is that believing is a bad thing; it is just what we believe in, what informs those beliefs.  This is beginning to sound like the educator’s rant, it is about consciousness, to be conscious of why we do the things we do is to be able to get free of them.  Maybe that is the distinction between Chekhov’s Banker and Lawyer in the bet, one believed blindly (in wealth and capitalism), and the other believed in humanity with his eyes wide open.  

I guess the question is do we believe in systems to save humanity or in humanity’s own ability to save itself?  Will humanity be able to get past protecting an ideal and live it?

There is a slogan, if you aren’t willing to die for something than what are you living for?  I guess it sounds like what I am saying is that if everyone stopped believing in something then the world’s problems would be solved.  That isn’t what I am saying.  I am saying that if everyone had the chance to find respect internally and get past external dependence on other people (what they think of me) maybe the world would be a whole lot better.  At any rate there wouldn’t be the mob mentality, there would be a lot more creativity and individuality and diversity would be celebrated instead of homogenized which makes people feel like crap.  It is when people feel like crap that they do things that aren’t healthy (spend money they don’t have, eat food that they don’t need, etc.).  

That is just part of the life the lawyer found, there is so much more…  

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