More Random Reflections of a Distorted Moment

In 1932, millions of Germans — the most educationally “advanced” of peoples at the time — understandably felt betrayed by a corrupt political and financial elite, and hence surmised that even if you disliked his manner and distrusted some of his advisers, this Hitler fellow was making many important points. “At least he loves his country and wants to make Germany great again.” He surely did.

“Too big to fail”? — Athens, the source of so much of what allows us to think of mankind as a civilized species, failed. The Roman Republic failed; so, too, the Roman Empire. Japan failed. Egypt failed. Prussia failed. Russia failed. Constantinople failed. China, one of the most ancient, and certainly the most populous, of civilizations, has endured five thousand years of ever-simmering failure on so many levels. 

What would the failure of Citibank or General Motors — or the Republican or Democratic parties, for that matter — mean compared to any of those previous examples? 

America herself has failed, a loss as significant and portentous as any in the history of civilization. Who cares, in the big picture, what happens to this or that private business or club? Let them fail. The world needs more, not fewer, of what the economists call “corrections.”

Do anything you can to help or save a person you know, and whose life you believe to be worth the helping or saving. Do nothing, by contrast, in the name of helping or saving an abstraction — a species, a planet, “the People,” or what have you. That is my rule of thumb for ensuring that your efforts will be well-spent and, as far as humanly possible, uncorrupted by your own vainglory or other men’s duplicity. It is also, of course, the very opposite of the way we are all taught to define morality today, thanks to Kant and his unending string of increasingly dishonest and self-interested heirs.

I do not love “all mankind.” Nor does anyone else, although many use such phraseology to justify their ego-gratifying power trips or self-important delusions. The moment someone tells me I should do something — or, more typically, consent to his doing something — in the name of “the good of all mankind,” my soul’s innate and well-honed bullcrap detectors light up bright red.

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