Wednesday, March 25, 2009

just me and a couple of old friends

I'm not sure why exactly the theological attribute of omniscience holds so much fascination for me. Maybe it's that like so many of my countrymen, I can't resist puzzling over a paradox that seems to split everything right down the middle. Why does it matter if God knows everything in advance? Would it change who I love today? Would it make any difference in what I do tomorrow? Would it solve one single problem that matters to me (like getting my verbatim done, which I'm procrastinating right now.) Yet my mind always wanders back to this game, this score settling. Who was right about what, and when?

I haven't written anything about the financial crisis these past five months in part because I haven't needed to - the world, it seems, has finally caught up to where Plato was 2,400 years ago. For my money, the questions being debated today were already settled then by Plato's thought experiment called The Republic, which proved decisively that a pure economy of desire could not and would not suffice as the basis of a sustainable human civilization. Plato's critique of capitalism ultimately inspired Marx, and it is that reviled genius who has been most vindicated by recent events.

The truth of this extremely obvious statement has finally been revealed to the most deluded people in history: wealth only has meaning in relation to work, i.e., material production. A system designed to reward people for not working is an absurdity, and a system such as ours, in which the greatest rewards are reserved for people whose expertise lies in creating the illusion of productivity on a grand scale, richly deserves whatever fate it receives.

I do take exception to one apparently unquestioned truth about the financial collapse, which is that it was brought on by the greedy actions of a few. This is simply not true. On the contrary, without the greedy actions of these few, our social model would have collapsed a long time ago. We ran out of wealth in about the year I was born. At least the conjurers in charge managed to sustain the illusion of prosperity for another thirty years. Even with a desperately gullible audience, that's a pretty good trick.

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