The philosophical orientation of other cultures

The article by Vaughn Davis Bornet in the Dec. 6 edition of Ashland Daily Tidings is very well-informed and balanced, in spite of what might seem to a superficial reader to be a stuffy chauvinistic sentiment. Bornet's alarm is fueled by the relative youth and lack of sophistication of most of today's activists.

Bornet himself makes clear that it would be a mistake, and it historically has been a mistake, to try to impose our system of government on other societies. The philosophical orientation of other cultures, such as the Confucian/Buddhist moral and political tradition of most Asian societies is certainly not inferior in any way to the predominantly competitive and Judeo/Christian foundations of the U.S. In fact, for these other people, their philosophical orientation may be vastly superior.

But for most Americans born here, Bornet's advice is wise. Most of us cherish our individual freedoms; most critically, freedom of expression. Our American system of government, at least in principle, preserves these freedoms systematically, better than any other government in the world. There is a long history of the care and long fight to preserve them. I agree with Bornet that it would be a mistake to compromise this heritage in any way.

But note the caveat "in principle." Because, as Bornet himself several times notes, our political system at present is terribly sick. We not only do not, in reality, presently live in a democracy, but very destructive forces have totally usurped both our economic infrastructure, and our defense establishment. Corporations have progressively become more irresponsible, given that their "bottom line" is solely profit. This means that the welfare of society and the environment may seldom, if ever, even be considered. The banking system, starting with the Federal Reserve, is even worse.

The usurpation of our military is truly scary, and has pirated our foreign policy. After engineering the attack of Sept. 11, 2001, this has led us finally into an illegal war of aggression against Iraq, killing around 1.3 million innocent people. If this had been authorized through an imposed draft, they could never have gotten away with it. It is unremittingly shameful that they have managed to get away with this anyway. It is the most signal demonstration of how terribly sick our society is.

This sickness is also revealed in the present level of surveillance and invasion of privacy, unprecedented in the 235-year history of this nation. As but one program, there is something called the "Total Information Awareness Project" which was cited as illegal by the ACLU and other watchdog groups. This merely resulted in its being shunted somewhere else under a different name — as has happened with all the other spying programs. By this time, information on every citizen in this country is stored in a government computer somewhere, including a lot of material most people would rather keep private.

This is exactly concomitant with the increase in the level of censorship in the mainstream media. Any article honestly addressing the core problems of the sickness of this nation will never see the light of day. A national mindset of denial is presumed, and thus far, justified. Up to this level of critical analysis, of course we do have a "free press."

Our Congress, as a whole, is totally ignorant and incompetent to deal with any of these matters.

Of course all these things are hallmarks of a totalitarian society, if people faced the facts. Totalitarian societies are the bailiwicks of psychopaths. They go hand in hand.

"What has allowed so many psychopaths to rise so high in corporations, and now in government, is that they are so decisive. They are going to do something every ... day and they are not afraid. Unlike normal people, they are never filled with doubts ... they might have thought taking our country into an endless war was simply something decisive to do." — Kurt Vonnegut.

Mercifully, Barack Obama, his cabinet, General Petraeus, Eric Holder, etc., are none of them psychopaths. So we have advanced greatly over the last administration. Unfortunately, neither is Obama a great leader; of the caliber of, say, F.D.R. And what we need now is such an extraordinary president: one willing to face the moral rot that has set in at the very top of our government, and be willing to obtain true justice in rooting it out. No more exceptions for the likes of Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, Richard Cheney, Hugh Shelton or fellow travelers. We do not need "patriotic" platitudes. We need a revolutionary moral restructuring of this nation. Known in other societies as perestroika, jihad (which is totally nonviolent in the Koran), or libun (Torah). If we do not have this sort of revolution, there will be no "Union" left to preserve.

Aaron Corbet