SPEAKING FREELY No direction home for Capitol Hill
By Mahboob A Khawaja
Speaking Freely is an Asia Times Online feature that allows guest writers to have their say.Please click hereif you are interested in contributing.
The United States of America have exhibited, perhaps, the first example of governments erected on the simple principles of nature; and if men are now sufficiently enlightened to disabuse themselves of artifice, imposture, hypocrisy, and superstition, they will consider this event as an era in their history. It will never be pretended that any persons employed in that service [forming the US government] had interviews with the gods, or were in any degree under the influence of Heaven, more than those at work
upon ships or houses, or laboring in merchandise or agriculture; it will forever be acknowledged that these governments were contrived merely by the use of reason and the senses. Thirteen governments [of the original states] thus founded on the natural authority of the people alone, without a pretence of miracle or mystery are a great point gained in favor of the rights of mankind.
- John Adams, A Defense of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America, 1787-88
The United States is fraught with political perversion, a government shutdown, allegations of torture and killings of the innocent across the globe, violence in streets and sharp betrayal to the interests of its people. Politicians always offer delusional explanation when the facts of life warrant nothing but the truth and responsible answers. It is business as usual in the American politics of the few as the people's representatives seek escape from the challenges of the real politic.
History reveals that when people and nations obsessed with power go to far-fetched lands to kill the innocents, they meet their own end by natural order. America stands at that critical juncture in history. There are plenty of staunch daily reminders to the thinking people as the divine books (The Torah, The Bible and The Koran) outline the basic sequence of catastrophic developments now taking shape in America: floods of Biblical proportion have devastated the life and habitats of people; wild fires raging in nine or more states destroying all that was vital to life and natural environment; continuous unseasoned tornadoes, snowfalls, lightings and untold destructions of life by designs of human ignorance and greed - perpetuated violence making America's every day as a killing day for the innocent people.
A 21st century knowledge-based advanced society in which politicians of small wisdom and big mouth has taken free rein to employ spy networks, fear, bogus wars on terrorism, drone warfare against innocent civilians in Pakistan, and violence against their own consciousness. They mark guns as killers. But guns do not kill by themselves, but are triggered by ignorance, political insanity and the mentally sick. These are critical warnings to those capable of thinking for a navigational change. Most nations through history that claimed to be powerful were victims of their own cruel plans and destroyed by natural causes. Politicians are just spectators, not moral and responsible beings doing more practical things than arguing for the supremacy of their own agendas.
There is no political or a natural sense of equilibrium about what America is or what it should be. In every age, people of knowledge and conscience try to co-exist with the Nature of Things. But America faces challenges of co-existing on many fronts, some are visible, others unknown to intelligent and sophisticated minds. In all ages of global affairs, there are challenges and opportunities for the mankind to deal with and to articulate a better future. Man (human being) is the only creation of God enriched with power of rational thinking and actions for all the other creations within the Universe.
American history, perceptions and working policies are all overwhelmingly influenced and managed by the political minds, not necessarily connected to Hans Morganthaus's realism to futuristic politics (Politics Among Nations: The Struggle for Power and Peace, 1978): "Realism, believing as it does in the objectivity of the laws of politics", points out Morganthau, the legendary theorists of the US political realism in the 20th century that "a theory of politics must be subjected to the dual test of reason and experience ... for realism, theory consists in ascertaining facts and giving them meaning through reason."
At the beginning of the 21st century, America appears to have lost the moral and intellectual capacity necessary to visualize the vision and phenomenon of Morganthau's realism in politics. The ruthlessness and lack of imagination of politicians who are universally hated and feared have incapacitated the succeeding generations leading to obvious chaos, degeneration and political mismanagement. The current shutdown of the US government is the net outcome of such a prevalent political behavior. The masses are fearful and feel a terrible sense of helplessness consequent to political triviality and viciousness of the few. There is nothing that people can do to change the imposed political insanity except having shouting matches in the secluded corridors of power.
Politicians are not the people to produce tangible products and services to solve the challenging interests of the people, but are self-ordained to maintain the houses of specific interests and the home of the ruling elite. The Occupy movement has projected the revulsion of the masses - across the US and worldwide - to the old oligarch thinking, the 99% challenging the illegitimate governance of the 1% in so-called liberal democracy. The protest movement could reemerge if and when human conscience is reawakened by broken promises.
In his dialogue of the "Six Principles of Realism", Hans Morganthau notes that "If we want to know the moral and political qualities of his [a politician's] actions, we must know them, not his motives." But the contemporary politician is a stage actor who pretends to offer something (and most often they themselves do not know what it is) for the good of the people. If they knew, both houses of the government would agree to pass the budget and serve the interests of the people who elected them. Immanuel Kant (in Perpetual Peace, 1795), the German philosopher was proactive and intelligent to propose few centuries earlier that intellectuals must be seated in chosen assemblies and a system of public governance to overt individualistic insanity against the people.
"Realism assumes that its key concept of interest defined as power is an objective category which is universally valid," Morganthau states, adding that "identity of interests is the surest of bonds whether between states or individuals". The unity of bonds between the interest of people and politics is realism, and thus this political indoctrination was incorporated into the system of governance by George Washington:
A small knowledge of human nature will convince us, that, with far the greatest part of mankind, interest is the governing principle; and that almost every man is more or less, under its influence. Motives of public virtue may for a time, or in particular instances, actuate men to the observance of a conduct purely disinterested; but they are not of themselves sufficient to produce persevering conformity to the refined dictates and obligations of social duty. Few men are capable of making a continual sacrifice of all views of private interest, or advantage, to the common good. It is vain to exclaim against the depravity of human nature on this account; the fact is so, the experience of every age and nation has proved it and we must in a great measure, change the constitution of man, before we can make it otherwise. No institution, not built on the presumptive truth of these maxims can succeed.
Abraham Lincoln echoed the same spirit of politics: "I do the very best I know how, the very best I can, and I mean to keep doing so until the end. If the end brings me out all right, what is said against me won't amount to anything. If the end brings me out wrong, ten angels swearing I was right would make no difference."
Is the American dream of triumph and glory still in tact?
Thomas Paine (The Age of Reason, 1794) made it known that "all national institutions of Churches appear to me no other than human inventions, set up to terrify and enslave mankind, and to monopolize power and profit. Now some will say are we to have no word of God, no revelation? I answer, yes, there is a word of God, there is a revelation, the word of God is in the creation we behold, and it is in this word, which no human invention can counterfeit or alter, that God, speaketh, universally to man."
Professor P L Thomas puts the politicians in one nutshell:
Forget the politicians. They are irrelevant. The politicians are put there to give you the idea that you have freedom of choice. You don't. You have no choice! You have owners! They own you. They own everything. They own all the important land. They own and control the corporations. They've long since bought, and paid for the Senate, the Congress, the state houses, the city halls, they got the judges in their back pockets and they own all the big media companies, so they control just about all of the news and information you get to hear. ... They want more for themselves and less for everybody else, but I'll tell you what they don't want. They don't want a population of citizens capable of critical thinking. They don't want well informed, well educated people capable of critical thinking. They're not interested in that. That doesn't help them. That's against their interests. (Emphasis mine)
America claims to be a global superpower, and the world is keenly interested to know how American future will unfold in relations to peace-making and to end the confrontational ideology. If Immanuel Kant's Perpetual Peace was taken seriously, today's America and Europe would have been at peace, not war, with themselves and with the global community. The crush for war is instinctively part of human ignorance and arrogance. Wars contradict human nature and the nature of the living Universe. It is co-existence and peace that brings people and nations together and helps life to flourish and relationships befitting the nature of planet Earth and the larger living Universe.
Civilizations grow out of peace, not conflict. Yet civilized values are not part of the US official policy behavior. If there were any global moral, spiritual and intellectual powerhouses, they should have taken initiatives to find peaceful ways to end the authoritarian hostilities and massacres of innocent civilians. History speaks loud and clear that a few powerful rulers with individualistic absolutism and most often, mentally sick persons have always driven the mankind to large-scale slaughters, victimization, deprivation and long-term scars.
Throughout history, nations claiming to be most powerful were source of ambiguity and self-geared conflicts that led to self-destruction. America is no exception in this cycle. The so-called war on terrorism, or global terrorism of war, has dismantled the American image of freedom and human dignity and capacity to cope with the future.
Today, America is operating from a position of weakness, not strength. Its powerful individuality and obsessed absolute rulers show no sign of change and redirection in their evil mongering against the large segments of innocent humanity. Evil is deprivation of good. While goodness is precious value ingrained in the minds and hearts of the American people, but political leaders flourish in moral and intellectual decadence erecting conflicting time zones between the masses who aspire for change and the leaders imposing their egoistic agenda on the working of the governance.
There are numerous political and psychological factors operating in the systematic politics that does not allow change and adaptability to the world of reason and reality as envisaged by Thomas Paine, Jefferson, Morganthau and others - the forefathers of American realism and responsible people-oriented governance. American politics is shrinking to a place of self-interest, financial temptation and compulsion devoid of rational thinking and absolute truth. Is there a cure to political cruelty? The American masses are anxious to know: Can America return to its originality of thinking values and people's interests-based system of political governance?
With US$17 trillion in national debt, millions of civilians killed in US-led wars on terrorism in Iraq and Afghanistan, continued daily drone attacks on innocent Pakistani civilians, 18-25 of their own war veterans daily committing suicide, and insane US politicians capable of shutting down government, there are pointers that more dreadful things are to come to America and it could soon be replaced by another morally and economically competent nation or group of small nations in global politics. Strangely enough in a knowledge-based age, American politicians are not mindful of this historical and unstoppable phenomenon of change.
The living Universe and American politics appear set on a direct collision course. In situations of adversity and crises, competent leaders represent hope and optimism for navigational change, not egoistic political agenda, shutdown of the government and irrational behaviors to the interests of the people. Paul Craig Roberts offers a penetrating insight to the contemporary political tragedies facing the American people:
We, as Americans, need to ask ourselves what all this is about? Why is our government so provocative toward Islam, Russia, China, Iran? What purpose, whose purpose is being served? Certainly not ours. ... Where do we go from here? If not to nuclear destruction, Americans must wake up. Football games, porn, and shopping malls are one thing. Survival of human life is another. Washington, that is, "representative government", consists only of a few powerful vested interests. These private interests, not the American people, control the US government. That is why nothing that the US government does benefits the American people.
Was Alexander Pope (1688-1744), an English poet, more intelligent and proactive than the 21st century American or European political leaders to think of our future? In his remarkable literary contribution An Essay on Man, Pope reminds all for all the time to come:
Know then thyself, presume not God to scan;
The proper study of Mankind is Man.
Plac'd on this isthmus of a middle state,
A being darkly wise, and rudely great:
With too much knowledge for the Sceptic side,
With too much weakness for the Stoic's pride,
He hangs between; in doubt to act, or rest,
In doubt to deem himself a God, or Beast;
In doubt his Mind or Body to prefer,
Born but to die, and reas'ning but to err;
Alike in ignorance, his reason such,
Whether he thinks too little, or too much:
Chaos of Thought and Passion, all confus'd;
Still by himself abus'd, or disabus'd;
Created half to rise, and half to fall;
Great lord of all things, yet a prey to all;
Sole judge of Truth, in endless Error hurl'd:
The glory, jest, and riddle of the world!
Speaking Freely is an Asia Times Online feature that allows guest writers to have their say.Please click hereif you are interested in contributing. Articles submitted for this section allow our readers to express their opinions and do not necessarily meet the same editorial standards of Asia Times Online's regular contributors.
Dr Mahboob A Khawaja specializes in global security, peace and conflict resolution with keen interests in Islamic-Western comparative cultures and civilizations, and author of several publications including the latest: Global Peace and Conflict Management: Man and Humanity in Search of New Thinking Lambert Publishing Germany, May 2012).