Pra se pensar
Why Most Things Do Not Matter
by J. R. Nyquist
Weekly Column Published: 06.19.2009
Imagine you are on the Titanic, and the ship is sinking after sideswiping an iceberg. Does it matter if you need a haircut? Should you be worrying about your investments? Under life-and-death circumstances, only life seems to matter. The trivia that clogs our existence is swept away by the sudden realization of what is actually at stake. In this sense, true philosophy is found on the deck of the Titanic. It leads us to discover what really matters; that is to say, why most things actually do not matter.
Using the Titanic as an analogy, we all find ourselves on a ship of state. And for Europeans, Russians and Americans – at the least – a figurative iceberg has torn through the underside of our ship. In other words, something cold and dangerous has damaged us from underneath. Of course, this is something we strenuously deny. We say to ourselves, “The ship of state is not fatally damaged.” We therefore continue our vain activities, imagining that the latest rearrangement of the deck chairs constitutes a move in the right direction. People do not consider their actual position, where they are headed or what vessel they have embarked upon. The passengers and crew of many countries have deluded themselves with rhetoric and ideas that are utterly at variance with reality.
Cold bureaucratic words seem harmless enough, like the ocean rolling endlessly along. But sometimes whole icebergs are hidden in such words. The recent meeting of the BRIC countries is a good example. BRIC stands for Brazil, Russia, India and China. Combining these four countries into a new economic powerhouse was the brainchild of a KGB general. In such waters, cold and forbidding, one finds ice in abundance. “We the leaders of the Federative Republic of Brazil, the Russian Federation, the Republic of India and the People’s Republic of China,” etc. What does it mean? The joint statement says: “The emerging and developing economies must have a greater voice and representation in international financial institutions….” Note the sharp edge of the iceberg itself: “We also believe that there is a strong need for a stable, predictable and more diversified international system.” (Dominated by Russia and China.) “The poorest countries have been hit hardest by the financial crisis. The international community needs to step up efforts to provide liquid financial resources for these countries.” (Read “bailout.”) The BRIC statement also proposes to deal with “climate change based on the principle of common differentiated responsibility….” (Read “the Americans pay” to lower global temperatures.) “We underscore our support for a more democratic and just multi-polar world order … and collective decision-making for all states.” (Read, “We support socialism and an international redistribution of wealth, and taking America down a peg or two.”)
In the name of stabilizing the world, Russian President Medvedev encapsulated the destabilizing principle of BRIC when he said, “The idea of fairness is probably one of the key terms that we should use today.” The reader may ask, in this context, what is fairness? It is a codeword for the redistribution of global power from rich to poor countries. It is “communism” writ large, yet disguised behind innocuous language. To make a revolution that will ultimately kill billions of people through starvation, famine and war, you must emphasize “fairness.” There is no better slogan for promoting global catastrophe. Here is a thinly disguised assault on the U.S. dollar, capitalism and the protecting hand of America.
If the United States was the all-power malignant cancer that so many prefer to denounce, then why hasn’t this malignancy devoted its vast treasury to the construction of a successful pro-American mythology? Why are the people of Brazil and India allowing themselves to be used by Moscow and Beijing? To answer simply: The United States does not defend itself rhetorically, and does not have a coherent strategy – failing to recognize its enemy. The Americans believe in freedom, and they believe that the “truth will prevail in the market place of ideas.” They believe that their benevolent intentions will persuade others to adopt the American way. In a speech given to senior Party cadres in 2005, Chinese Defense Minister Chi Haotian once noted, “In Chinese history … the ruthless have always won and the benevolent have always failed.”
What is true for Chinese history, however, has not been true in American history. Only those who appreciate this fact will understand what the elimination of the United States would signify. No country is perfect, of course; but the intentions of the United States are not those of China or Russia. The strategic misdirection of these two countries will ultimately produce the most devastating war that the human race has yet experienced. BRIC is part of that strategic misdirection. Much of the poison that circulates on the internet, entering our political discourse, belongs to that same mode of information warfare once referred to as “active measures.” Consider, in this context, the words of yet another Chinese general, Li Jijin: “Unconsciously accepting an opponent’s strategic misdirection causes a nation to be defeated or collapse, and not know why.”
Is this really possible? Decades of information warfare – through active disinformation – has already had an effect. The process touches on topics as unrelated as religion and art, diplomacy and child-rearing. The subtle poison of certain ideas, the mischief of new disciplines, has sometimes arisen through a generalized nihilistic tendency. But also, there is a positive design at work. For nobody has yet explained civilization’s sudden unwillingness or inability to crush pathological growths that have sabotaged our collective sanity. The serious strategist, looking at society’s gradual surrender to one suicidal idea after another, says to himself: “An enemy could not have devised a better engine for our ultimate destruction.”
I am reminded that society does not automatically promote its own health, or its defense against enemies (foreign and domestic). Somebody has to know what is needed and do something. The problem we face today is best described in the words of Cato the Younger, when he characterized the Roman Senate in the midst of a plot to destroy the state as “each waiting for someone else to act.” That seems to be our position, today. We do not see the danger as it approaches, or maybe we don’t want to see the danger. The evil of our time is not easy to cope with. One might say it is “inconvenient.” As General Chi explained to his Party comrades four years ago, “Death is the engine that moves history forward.” This totalitarian admonition is not put forward as a principle of American foreign policy, but as a hint regarding Chinese and Russian intentions.
That others are promoting conditions leading to your demise should be understood; that language itself is a tool in the promotion of life or death, should also be understood. But we understand next to nothing. We are too busy with things that do not matter. Meanwhile, we ignore something of great importance. We ignore something that is a matter of life and death.
Copyright © 2009 Jeffrey R. Nyquist
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