FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Technological Titans, Moral Midgets

Somehow it seemed only fitting that Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn should breathe his last just as the celebration of technical wizardry was to reach its crescendo in Beijing; if the 21st century has any unifying allegiance, it is to the Diocese of Technology, and indirectly, to its Major Sponsor, the Church of Globalization. Both command a degree of reverence and blind worship amongst the elites of the world rivaled, if at all, only by the religious fanaticism of sanscullotes up and down the Hindu Kush.

Solzhenitsyn left not a moment too soon. Quite apart from his age, he was a moral misfit in the New World Order. He reposed his faith in Man and God, not Consumer and Conglomerate. If other men like Arther Koestler were disillusioned by what befell their Brave New World of the 1920’s, Solzhenitsyn, to mix metaphors this Olympic season, was destined to win a Triple Crown in Heartbreak: disgusted by the Soviet Union, disappointed by the West, and dismayed by what replaced Communist rule: the Reign of Fool and Knave, aka the Gorbachev-Yeltsin Kleptofest. An Olympic Games with the theme One World, One Dream — an apt coup de grace for one whose most famous speech was titled, A World Split Apart.

I should begin by confessing not having read a single one of Solzhenitsyn’s books. It was quite by accident last year that I came across his Harvard Speech, and was struck by its scorching prescience. Delivered in 1978, it could still harpoon the conscience even as yesterday’s opening ceremonies in Beijing riveted the eye.

If all else is forgotten about Solzhenitsyn, two things will be remembered. First, that he went to jail (concentration camp, actually) for professing his beliefs, a fate practically unknown amongst intellectuals in our day. Then there is his aphoristic message to the Russian people as he was being thrown out of Russia. “Live Not By Lies”. The deadly truth of his words was to become evident to the Soviet Union in a few short years.

Others in our own time, like Cindy Sheehan and Kathy Kelly, have tried to give a similar message to America — with their words falling on equally deaf ears. True, unlike Solzhenitsyn, they and her ilk have not been consigned to some faraway gulag, but what does it say about us and our free press that they doesn’t need to be (see Silence of the Lambs)?

We live in a world of knitted brows, besotted with technology and wedded to fear; hopeful, if not wholly convinced, that the one can obviate the other. The few with smiles are those who have known all along that marrying fear to technology is the philosopher’s stone of our times. They are the proverbial ones laughing all the way to the bank.

It is of this imminent future that Naomi Klein has written a chilling piece (China’s All Seeing Eye) in Rolling Stone Magazine: how the Beijing Olympics are really the first test case for the technology underlying National Security State 2.0, cameras everywhere with every face photographed and matched in real time. Shorter but entirely brilliant is Fred Reed’s one page “Don’t Sweat the TSA” in the current issue of American Conservative on the enormous erosion of privacy in our time, and the complete equanimity with which we have countenanced it.

At the Opening Ceremony, you saw Bush, launcher of two foreign wars, chatting pleasantly with Putin, who had just that day launched his first! Both sat enjoying an Olympics gala whose theme, remember, was…. “One World, One Dream”. Elsewhere the Anthrax Lie was already being covered up even as it was being exposed, and Edward(s) the Confessor sat for a bare-all interview seeking to mitigate past two-timing with current good timing: to be aired while the world was still being dazzled by the Olympic extravaganza.

Live not by lies, said Solzhenitsyn.

There is an old RK Laxman cartoon: The day after an Indian election, when every wall has been plastered with posters several times over, a conscientious party worker returns to scrape them off. Strangely, the landlord rushes out…not to scold him for sticking posters without permission, but to stop him taking them down. “Don’t, don’t, don’t” he yells anxiously, “without the posters the building will fall”.

Live not by lies? And face the moral choices that would result? Not for us, thanks. Time to Sprint.

NIRANJAN RAMAKRISHNAN is a writer living on the West Coast. He can be reached at njn_2003@yahoo.com.

 

 

 

Your Ad Here
 

 

 

 

More articles by:

/>Niranjan Ramakrishnan is a writer living on the West Coast.  His book, “Reading Gandhi In the Twenty-First Century” was published last year by Palgrave.  He may be reached at njn_2003@yahoo.com.

September 19, 2018
Bruce E. Levine
When Bernie Sold Out His Hero, Anti-Authoritarians Paid
Lawrence Davidson
Political Fragmentation on the Homefront
George Ochenski
How’s That “Chinese Hoax” Treating You, Mr. President?
Cesar Chelala
The Afghan Morass
Chris Wright
Three Cheers for the Decline of the Middle Class
Howard Lisnoff
The Beat Goes On Against Protest in Saudi Arabia
Nomi Prins 
The Donald in Wonderland: Down the Financial Rabbit Hole With Trump
Jack Rasmus
On the 10th Anniversary of Lehman Brothers 2008: Can ‘IT’ Happen Again?
Richard Schuberth
Make Them Suffer Too
Geoff Beckman
Kavanaugh in Extremis
Jonathan Engel
Rather Than Mining in Irreplaceable Wilderness, Why Can’t We Mine Landfills?
Binoy Kampmark
Needled Strawberries: Food Terrorism Down Under
Michael McCaffrey
A Curious Case of Mysterious Attacks, Microwave Weapons and Media Manipulation
Elliot Sperber
Eating the Constitution
September 18, 2018
Conn Hallinan
Britain: the Anti-Semitism Debate
Tamara Pearson
Why Mexico’s Next President is No Friend of Migrants
Richard Moser
Both the Commune and Revolution
Nick Pemberton
Serena 15, Tennis Love
Binoy Kampmark
Inconvenient Realities: Climate Change and the South Pacific
Martin Billheimer
La Grand’Route: Waiting for the Bus
John Kendall Hawkins
Seymour Hersh: a Life of Adversarial Democracy at Work
Faisal Khan
Is Israel a Democracy?
John Feffer
The GOP Wants Trumpism…Without Trump
Kim Ives
The Roots of Haiti’s Movement for PetroCaribe Transparency
Dave Lindorff
We Already Have a Fake Billionaire President; Why Would We want a Real One Running in 2020?
Gerry Brown
Is China Springing Debt Traps or Throwing a Lifeline to Countries in Distress?
Pete Tucker
The Washington Post Really Wants to Stop Ben Jealous
Dean Baker
Getting It Wrong Again: Consumer Spending and the Great Recession
September 17, 2018
Melvin Goodman
What is to be Done?
Rob Urie
American Fascism
Patrick Cockburn
The Adults in the White House Trying to Save the US From Trump Are Just as Dangerous as He Is
Jeffrey St. Clair - Alexander Cockburn
The Long Fall of Bob Woodward: From Nixon’s Nemesis to Cheney’s Savior
Mairead Maguire
Demonization of Russia in a New Cold War Era
Dean Baker
The Bank Bailout of 2008 was Unnecessary
Wim Laven
Hurricane Trump, Season 2
Yves Engler
Smearing Dimitri Lascaris
Ron Jacobs
From ROTC to Revolution and Beyond
Clark T. Scott
The Cannibals of Horsepower
Binoy Kampmark
A Traditional Right: Jimmie Åkesson and the Sweden Democrats
Laura Flanders
History Markers
Weekend Edition
September 14, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Carl Boggs
Obama’s Imperial Presidency
Joshua Frank
From CO2 to Methane, Trump’s Hurricane of Destruction
Jeffrey St. Clair
Maria’s Missing Dead
Andrew Levine
A Bulwark Against the Idiocy of Conservatives Like Brett Kavanaugh
T.J. Coles
Neil deGrasse Tyson: A Celebrity Salesman for the Military-Industrial-Complex
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail