“We run heedlessly into the abyss after
putting something in front of us to stop us from seeing it.”
The consciousless functionary guided by expediency
is the very image of the regulatory and banking bureaucrat of today, from Tim
Geithner to Gary Gensler to Ben Bernanke, and
further, almost every member of the governments of the Western World.
Expedient amorality is de rigeur these days
among the entitled class of power brokers who serve the system, which in
their minds is themselves, as a privileged, ruling class.
And it is that very dryness of human empathy, the lack of vigor in moral
conviction, the willingness to accept great crimes and injustices as the
unfortunate but "necessary outcomes" required by The System, that
makes all the difference between a Franklin D. Roosevelt and a Barack H.
Obama, between a living human being and a whited sepulchre
full of dead men's bones.
After a time it becomes so easy to day, 'I am sorry madam, but the system
requires that your child must die.' And so the ceremony of innocence is
This is not capitalism. Capitalism does not demand that we destroy human lives
for the sake of maximizing profits without reference to the public which it
is intended to serve, using any and all means which that end justifies. The
Market is not an end to itself. The Market is not God. This is beyond
capitalism. This is tyranny.
Careerism. Favoritism and expediency for the sake of the system that rewards
them. It is a pernicious form of selfishness and self-indulgence, a
To paraphrase John Kenneth Galbraith, "The modern economist is engaged
in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for
a superior justification for selfishness.” I am sorry, but it is out of
our hands. The Market demands it.
And this is not a choice of poverty for the sake of truth. It is merely the
choice made between 'enough' and 'more,' where more represents not a
very comfortable living, but the fabulous, ostentatious wealth and power that
seems to have become the god of the scions of the me generation.
And it is a sickness,
By Chris Hedges
Jul 23, 2012
The greatest crimes of human history are made possible by the most colorless
human beings. They are the careerists. The bureaucrats. The cynics. They do
the little chores that make vast, complicated systems of exploitation and
death a reality. They collect and read the personal data gathered on tens of
millions of us by the security and surveillance state. They keep the accounts
of ExxonMobil, BP and Goldman Sachs. They build or pilot aerial drones. They
work in corporate advertising and public relations. They issue the forms.
They process the papers. They deny food stamps to some and unemployment
benefits or medical coverage to others. They enforce the laws and the
regulations. And they do not ask questions.
Good. Evil. These words do not mean anything to them. They are beyond
morality. They are there to make corporate systems function. If insurance
companies abandon tens of millions of sick to suffer and die, so be it. If
banks and sheriff departments toss families out of their homes, so be it. If
financial firms rob citizens of their savings, so be it. If the government
shuts down schools and libraries, so be it. If the military murders children
in Pakistan or Afghanistan, so be it. If commodity speculators drive up the
cost of rice and corn and wheat so that they are unaffordable for hundreds of
millions of poor across the planet, so be it. If Congress and the courts
strip citizens of basic civil liberties, so be it. If the fossil fuel
industry turns the earth into a broiler of greenhouse gases that doom us, so
be it. They serve the system. The god of profit and exploitation. The most
dangerous force in the industrialized world does not come from those who
wield radical creeds, whether Islamic radicalism or Christian fundamentalism,
but from legions of faceless bureaucrats who claw their way up layered
corporate and governmental machines. They serve any system that meets their
pathetic quota of needs.
These systems managers believe nothing. They have no loyalty. They are
rootless. They do not think beyond their tiny, insignificant roles. They are
blind and deaf. They are, at least regarding the great ideas and patterns of
human civilization and history, utterly illiterate. And we churn them out of
universities. Lawyers. Technocrats. Business majors. Financial managers. IT
specialists. Consultants. Petroleum engineers. “Positive
psychologists.” Communications majors. Cadets. Sales representatives.
Computer programmers. Men and women who know no
history, know no ideas. They live and think in an intellectual vacuum, a
world of stultifying minutia. They are T.S. Eliot’s “the hollow
men,” “the stuffed men.” “Shape without form, shade
without colour,” the poet wrote. “Paralysed force, gesture without motion.”
It was the careerists who made possible the genocides, from the extermination
of Native Americans to the Turkish slaughter of the Armenians to the Nazi
Holocaust to Stalin’s liquidations. They were the ones who kept the
trains running. They filled out the forms and presided over the property
confiscations. They rationed the food while children starved. They
manufactured the guns. They ran the prisons. They enforced travel bans,
confiscated passports, seized bank accounts and carried out segregation. They
enforced the law. They did their jobs.
Political and military careerists, backed by war profiteers, have led us into
useless wars, including World War I, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan. And
millions followed them. Duty. Honor. Country. Carnivals of death. They
sacrifice us all. In the futile battles of Verdun and the Somme in World War
I, 1.8 million on both sides were killed, wounded or never found. In July of
1917 British Field Marshal Douglas Haig, despite the seas of dead, doomed
even more in the mud of Passchendaele. By November, when it was clear his
promised breakthrough at Passchendaele had failed, he jettisoned the initial
goal—as we did in Iraq when it turned out there were no weapons of mass
destruction and in Afghanistan when al-Qaida left the country—and opted
for a simple war of attrition. Haig “won” if more Germans than
allied troops died. Death as score card. Passchendaele took 600,000 more
lives on both sides of the line before it ended. It is not a new story.
Generals are almost always buffoons. Soldiers followed John the Blind, who
had lost his eyesight a decade earlier, to resounding defeat at the Battle of
Crécy in 1337 during the Hundred Years War.
We discover that leaders are mediocrities only when it is too late.
David Lloyd George, who was the British prime minister during the
Passchendaele campaign, wrote in his memoirs: “[Before the battle of
Passchendaele] the Tanks Corps Staff prepared maps to show how a bombardment
which obliterated the drainage would inevitably lead to a series of pools,
and they located the exact spots where the waters would gather. The only
reply was a peremptory order that they were to ‘Send no more of these
ridiculous maps.’ Maps must conform to plans and not
plans to maps. Facts that interfered with plans were impertinencies.”
Here you have the explanation of why our ruling elites do nothing about
climate change, refuse to respond rationally to economic meltdown and are
incapable of coping with the collapse of globalization and empire. These are
circumstances that interfere with the very viability and sustainability of
the system. And bureaucrats know only how to serve the system. They know only
the managerial skills they ingested at West Point or Harvard Business School.
They cannot think on their own. They cannot challenge assumptions or
structures. They cannot intellectually or emotionally recognize that the
system might implode. And so they do what Napoleon warned was the worst
mistake a general could make—paint an imaginary picture of a situation
and accept it as real. But we blithely ignore reality along with them. The
mania for a happy ending blinds us. We do not want to believe what we see. It
is too depressing. So we all retreat into collective self-delusion.
In Claude Lanzmann’s monumental documentary
film “Shoah,” on the Holocaust, he
interviews Filip Müller, a Czech Jew who
survived the liquidations in Auschwitz as a member of the “special
detail.” Müller relates this story:
day in 1943 when I was already in Crematorium 5, a train from Bialystok
arrived. A prisoner on the ‘special detail’ saw a woman in the
‘undressing room’ who was the wife of a friend of his. He came
right out and told her: ‘You are going to be exterminated. In three
hours you’ll be ashes.’ The woman believed him because she knew
him. She ran all over and warned to the other women. ‘We’re going
to be killed. We’re going to be gassed.’ Mothers carrying their
children on their shoulders didn’t want to hear that. They decided the
woman was crazy. They chased her away. So she went to the men. To no avail.
Not that they didn’t believe her. They’d heard rumors in the
Bialystok ghetto, or in Grodno, and elsewhere. But who wanted to hear that?
When she saw that no one would listen, she scratched her whole face. Out of
despair. In shock. And she started to scream..."
Read the rest here.
Choose your loyalty wisely, because you may be spending a very long time with
what you serve. And even if it is not a conscious choice of the moment, what
you do, or do not, determines to whom you belong.
you not, that to whom you yield yourselves as
servants to obey, his servants you are; whether of a corruption unto death,
or of a righteousness unto life?"
It is not surprising that people sell
themselves so badly, but rather that they also do it so cheaply.