In the Name Of God

[Published in the "Civic Voice" (Wilmington NC) Spring 2005, Vol.5, No.1]

"As democracy is perfected, the office of president represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron."  H.L. Mencken (The Baltimore Evening Sun, July 26, 1920)

The results of the last elections apparently reflect more the social convictions and biases of Americans than political cognition and insight. Probably the best way to acquire a good understanding of such a social phenomenon is through books of fiction that intensely focus on certain aspects of society. The two books that helped me better understand the current state of mind of the voters were Philip Roth’s The Plot Against America, and Tom Wolfe’s I Am Charlotte Simmons. The first can be conceived as a social and political mirror projecting slightly forward towards a possible future, and the second deals with the current state of education that helps make attainment of such a future possible

Democracy Demoded

July, 2004

Towards a new political theory

In 1945 America was a super power par excellence. Together with Britain and Russia it had just won the Second World War over Germany, Italy and Japan. Unlike them, it did not suffer any substantial damage on its own turf. While Britain was bankrupt American economy thrived. So much so, that it could affect the disintegration of the British Empire and extend its own economic and political interests throughout the Middle East and other parts of the disbanded empire. The war also brought to America a trove of first class scholars and scientists, from Albert Einstein to Leo Strauss. Together with the G.I. Bill, this import facilitated a massive advance in the level of intellectual thought, scientific research and education. In many respects America flourished. Even so, already in the early fifties Hanna Arendt felt the need to write a long essay on the crisis in American education[1].

“The American Way” – Which Way?

July 2004

What is the "American way"? We take it more or less for granted that our way of life and values represent the highest level of social and political progress, and that our system of government is constructed according to the "laws of nature and of nature’s God, " as the Declaration of Independence puts it. Put differently – we assume that our way is the end to which all social and political systems should strive. As a result it is our moral duty to extend this system and help all people achieve "their" natural aspirations and goals–even if they are still so primitive that they are unaware of this themselves. There is no question in our minds that eventually all humanity will, or at least should, thank us for being so generous and so bound by moral and ethical dictates that, exercising our goodwill, we work and even sacrifice to make them follow our way of life.

Bush, Bushism And Lessons From History

December 16, 2003

At a time when politicians and their catchphrases are being marketed the way Madison Avenue markets soup or a diuretic, it is not a simple thing to disinter the real image behind the umpteen veils that envelop a president. George W Bush is no exception. Considering the secrecy that typifies his White House he may even epitomize the charade more than any other president in history. What we know about him is that he was born with a silver spoon in his mouth, (thanks, in part, to a grandfather who enriched himself by safeguarding Nazi money in a NY bank while American soldiers were dying fighting the Germans). The son of a man who became a mediocre president and a strong willed mother, the younger man for many years found solace in sucking from a bottle – alcohol, not milk. He was designated president by Supreme Court judges, most likely because they owed a favor to his father who nominated them. (A son of one of those judges, Scalia, holds a very influential position in Bush’s current administration, so that the chain of favoritism seems to continue with no shame attached).

Terrorism, Globalization And A New World Order

October 2002

At a time when any group of dissenters, small and diffused as it may be, can lay hands on weapons of mass destruction, either atomic, biological or chemical, the rules of warfare must be reconsidered. We must reexamine and rethink every facet in both our political and military thinking with some urgency. We can no longer even consider old modes of warfare. It calls for a complete overhaul of the very nature of the combatants.