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posted on 07 November 2016

Yes, Mr. Gopnik, We May Still Be In Time

by Carmine Gorga, The Somist Institute

Yes, Mr. Gopnik, you - and the establishment media or, better, we - may still be in time to save Lincoln's republic.

What strange effect does the reading at 40,000 feet in the air, and coming back from Varanasi, create? It concentrates the mind on what is truly essential.

Your exhaustive research on whether Mr. Stanton sent Lincoln's soul among the "angels" or the "ages" is safely inconclusive, but in the process it touches upon quite a few striking verities.

The most important of which seems to be this: The reading of history is colored by one's liberal or conservative ideology.

How can that be? Is there anything like a historical truth at all? Or is it all made up by partisan ideologues?

Mr. Gopnik, after carefully reviewing the nuanced hard details, comes down in favor of both: Yes, he concludes, Lincoln belongs to the ages and the angels.

Clever, equanimous, but not satisfactory.

Underneath all the subtle academic disquisitions there is a hard reality. The world as constructed by the ideological right and the ideological left compels our leaders to be tragic personalities. As Mr. Gopnik points out, both Lincoln and President Truman (Truman of Hiroshima and Nagasaki) could ultimately find personal solace in Shakespeare for the horrible acts of war - and peace, one must add - by necessarily highlighting the effects of malnutrition and starvation.

President Lincoln, Mr. Gopnik assures us,

"...was plainly haunted by the imagery of fallen and ruined leaders, and sensed how fine a line separates a king and a usurper, or a Lincoln and a Davis.

"But even stranger and more striking is Lincoln's identification or, at the very least, fascination with the figure of Claudius (in Hamlet). And what is the burden of Claudius's speech? It is about guilt and ambition, and about the fraternal blood-dealing that that produces. His speech runs through to the difference between his conduct as seen on earth and in Heaven, and ends with an image of his soul as a 'limed' bird, caught in a sticky trap, that gets more stuck as it struggles... (Lincoln) had not a guilty sense of remorse but a tragic sense of responsibility. He believed that what he was doing was right; he knew that what he was doing was dealing death to the undeserving."

This recurring tragedy is what the media ought to ponder.

Indeed, you yourself, Mr. Gopnik, suggest the depth of the investigation that must be done:

"Lincoln exemplifies the problem of liberal violence: the disjunction between the purity of our motives (as they appear to the liberal) and the force of our violence (as it is experienced by the victim)."

The charitable truth is brought forth by Jesus' last words: "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing." There is absolutely no valid reason for the acts of cruelty we engage in.

At a very deep level, we do not know. Yet, at a superficial level we do know precisely what we are doing. At best, we believe, as Lincoln believed, that "right makes might." And, of course, we define what is right. At worst, we believe that "might makes right."

This is the danger that, ominously, hovers over this election cycle in America. If Donald Trump wins the election, he will most likely practice what he believes: Might makes right.

And that is the road that leads to Fascism and/or Communism.

If Mr. Trump wins the election, it is because the national media has reduced the election to a circus in which only gossip and titillations are highlighted.

There is another way, the way that must be explored even if Mr. Trump wins. At this stage, he does not really want Fascism, but he will need to deliver on his promises to his voters.

Whether Mr. Trump--or Mrs. Clinton--wins, the other way for our beloved country to win is to follow the dictates of a political paradigm shift that has been in the offing for quite some time now. This shift will occur--peacefully--only if and when the national media embraces it.

This is the paradigm shift that we desire and we utterly need: Love makes right.

One needs to love oneself if one wants to avoid personal psychological depression.

One needs to love others if one wants to avoid economic depression. One needs to love others to grant and to receive economic justice.

One needs to love God--or Nature or Evolution--if one wants to avert ecological disaster; if one wants to treat Mother Earth with justice.

At the head of the list of necessity, one can easily put this one. To grant economic justice to all, the Federal Reserve System and any other central bank will have to issue loans only to create real wealth, such as tables and chairs and services; it has to issue loans at cost; it has to issue loans to benefit everybody, by lending only to individual entrepreneurs, to corporations with ESOPs and CSOPs, to co-operatives, and to governmental units with taxing powers, so loans can be repaid.

A most urgent expression of economic justice is the application of the Jubilee Solution to systematically reduce the number of zeros in our financial accounts to manageable proportions over a reasonable amount of time.

With justice, peace also comes.

These are not empty promises. They are hard-fought discoveries of fifty years of independent research and publication. These are eminently feasible programs of action.

The Digital Age, the Age of Plenty, is upon us. Let us not spoil its fruits, as we spoiled those of the Industrial Revolution, by allowing the few to follow this praxis, in Adam Smith's words (Wealth of Nations, Bk. III, Ch. 4, par. 10):

"All for ourselves and nothing for other people, seems, in every age of the world, to have been the vile maxim of the masters of mankind."

Economists should have learned by now that it is not wishful thinking that moves the goods off the shelves. "Effective" demand does that. It is fervently to be hoped for that economists will now have the wisdom to teach the demands of Effective Demand to the would-be Masters of Mankind.

A version of this article appeared at OpEdNews 01 November 2016.

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