Posted by: Harold Knight | 06/13/2010

He’s Back! (thanks to Diane Rehm)

The uncontrollable urge to write is a bizarre affliction. One might think, because it has been so long since I published here, I was cured. You can ask my students about that. The copious notes I make when I grade their papers are evidence more that I can’t NOT write than that I want to help them write. And I have this essay going that’s been in progress for weeks now. It’s now 50 pages long—a simple little statement about water rights in Palestine/Israel. It’s so long it’s useless for this blog or my other one, or for anything else. And it’s not scholarly enough to try to get it published in a real academic journal. So, you see, I’m not cured. Just cured of having to post here. For awhile. But now I’m back.

I heard on the Diane Rehm show a couple of weeks ago her interview with a writer who had had an abortion because she knew her baby was going to be somehow deformed. She, of course, wrote a book about it. I listen to Diane Rehm to try to keep up with at least a fraction of what’s going on in the world, not because I think what most people think about the show—that it’s balanced and fair and real discussion.  It’s like every other media thing in this country; that is, weighted and biased so far to the right that Diane doesn’t even know it. Anyone who invites to her show people who work for the National War College or Georgetown University’s International Relations Department or its Anti-Terrorism Think Tank is a right-winger and doesn’t know it. These are folks who masquerade as scholars but are really propagandists for the most unthinking militaristic beliefs in this country.

But I digress.

The writer woman who had had the abortion (you see, many people think Diane is terribly liberal because she gives air time to a woman who has had an abortion; the fact is this woman has only exercised our right to be free from “an establishment of religion” in this country because the belief that life begins at conception or some such nonsense is a religious belief promulgated by the Catholic Church and swallowed by lots of right-wing christians) was also “mildly bipolar.” That’s somewhat like saying she was just a little bit pregnant when she had her abortion. My guess is she’s about exactly as bipolar as the rest of us who are. You either is or you ain’t.

She did have an interesting take on personal blogging, though. She said that all of this confessional personal writing that our country is smothered in was begun by us bipolar folks. We are the ones who can’t shut up and think everything we think is worth putting out there for anyone and everyone to read. You see, it’s manic. Yes, when you tell the world that you’re at Target buying shoes or that you had sex three times yesterday or that you hate undocumented immigrants or that you’re a big Celtics fan or that you’re so dumb you think the health care reform is going to destroy the country, you are really participating in manic behavior that was begun by those of us who are bipolar and/or temporal lobe epileptic and can’t help ourselves and MUST write, and your jumping on the Twitter and Facebook bandwagons is  nothing more than your belief that your narcissism is interesting.

My narcissism is more interesting than yours. Don’t get me started on BP (how’s that for a non sequitur?).

Well, why not? What this oil catastrophe (it really isn’t a “catastrophe;” the root of that word is the Greek kata which means “down,” added to strephein which means “turning;” so a catastrophe is a “downturning;” in tragic theater, it’s that point in the play when the hero discovers that he’s made a huge mistake that probably will kill him and everyone else) should be teaching us is that no one corporation should be so big that it can flout all of the laws about and all common decency concerning making money because so much depends on its profits—retirement funds, the tax base of the United Kingdom, the ability of the United States to fuel the tanks in Afghanistan, and all of you who think playing the stock market and getting rich is somehow living out your destiny as a human being. This is not an “overturning, a sudden end,” as the Greeks meant when they made up the word “downturning.” This is, in fact, what anyone who does not believe God invented capitalism could have seen coming.

Eventually, our greed, our inability to care for this fragile planet—no, worse than that, our inability to understand that we are part of a universe in which birth and life and death are the facts—will win the day. We will despoil every inch of this planet in order to chase the illusion that having a lot of money is the meaning of life.  Everyone knows about Adam Smith’s “invisible hand.” Well, it’s not invisible. Just look at British Petroleum and see how visible it is. BP exists for one reason—to satisfy the greed of everyone who owns stock in it. Forty percent of those people are Americans, not British, so don’t go pointing your finger at the Brits.

A friend of mine, in discussing (that is, railing ignorantly on about) the problem of illegal immigration, wrote on my Facebook Wall (yes, I have to do that—my narcissism is more interesting than yours) that illegal immigrants take jobs away from real Americans and, thus, bring down wages for everyone else. The “intellectual” background for this idiocy is the LAW [sic] of supply and demand.

That’s bullshit. Supply and demand is not a LAW. It’s a theory proposed to make everyone think that God invented capitalism, that it exists in nature, and that we have to believe in it because it’s the only way to organize society. Adam Smith—I love the irony that Smith wrote The Wealth of Nations, which has enslaved Western thought for over 200 years, in the same year Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence—put this all down in the Bible of the Cox School of Business at SMU, and I suppose Harvard Business, too. Smith didn’t invent the theory. In the thirteenth century, the Muslim philosopher Taqi ad-Din Ahmad ibn Taymiyyah (d.1255) wrote, “If desire for goods increases while its availability decreases, its price rises. On the other hand, if availability of the good increases and the desire for it decreases, the price comes down.” Of course, as a Muslim he believed that charging interest on a loan is a sin, so I’m not sure how he thought we should submit to “supply and demand.”

So we have swallowed the LAW [sic] of supply and demand. Greed is the watchword of our civilization. And we’re surprised at a “catastrophe” that could possibly destroy the ability of thousands (millions) of Americans to earn enough money to eat? The HAND is not INVISIBLE.  BP is simply greedy. That’s all. And because you, too, are greedy, you have let this giant (and a few more like it) run roughshod over civilization. Stop complaining. You caused this catastrophe yourself.


%d bloggers like this: