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.

July 19, 2018
Rajai R. Masri
The West’s Potential Symbiotic Contributions to Freeing a Closed Muslim Mind
Jennifer Matsui
The Blue Pill Presidency
Ryan LaMothe
The Moral and Spiritual Bankruptcy of White Evangelicals
Paul Tritschler
Negative Capability: a Force for Change?
Patrick Bond
State of the BRICS Class Struggle: ‘Social Dialogue’ Reform Frustrations
Rev. William Alberts
A Well-Kept United Methodist Church Secret
Raouf Halaby
Joseph Harsch, Robert Fisk, Franklin Lamb: Three of the Very Best
George Ochenski
He Speaks From Experience: Max Baucus on “Squandered Leadership”
Ted Rall
Right Now, It Looks Like Trump Will Win in 2020
David Swanson
The Intelligence Community Is Neither
Andrew Moss
Chaos or Community in Immigration Policy
Kim Scipes
Where Do We Go From Here? How Do We Get There?
July 18, 2018
Bruce E. Levine
Politics and Psychiatry: the Cost of the Trauma Cover-Up
Frank Stricker
The Crummy Good Economy and the New Serfdom
Linda Ford
Red Fawn Fallis and the Felony of Being Attacked by Cops
David Mattson
Entrusting Grizzlies to a Basket of Deplorables?
Stephen F. Eisenman
Want Gun Control? Arm the Left (It Worked Before)
CJ Hopkins
Trump’s Treasonous Traitor Summit or: How Liberals Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the New McCarthyism
Patrick Bond
State of the BRICS Class Struggle: Repression, Austerity and Worker Militancy
Dan Corjescu
The USA and Russia: Two Sides of the Same Criminal Corporate Coin
The Hudson Report
How Argentina Got the Biggest Loan in the History of the IMF
Kenn Orphan
You Call This Treason?
Max Parry
Ukraine’s Anti-Roma Pogroms Ignored as Russia is Blamed for Global Far Right Resurgence
Ed Meek
Acts of Resistance
July 17, 2018
Conn Hallinan
Trump & The Big Bad Bugs
Robert Hunziker
Trump Kills Science, Nature Strikes Back
John Grant
The Politics of Cruelty
Kenneth Surin
Calculated Buffoonery: Trump in the UK
Binoy Kampmark
Helsinki Theatrics: Trump Meets Putin
Patrick Bond
BRICS From Above, Seen Critically From Below
Jim Kavanagh
Fighting Fake Stories: The New Yorker, Israel and Obama
Daniel Falcone
Chomsky on the Trump NATO Ruse
W. T. Whitney
Oil Underground in Neuquén, Argentina – and a New US Military Base There
Doug Rawlings
Ken Burns’ “The Vietnam War” was Nominated for an Emmy, Does It Deserve It?
Rajan Menon
The United States of Inequality
Thomas Knapp
Have Mueller and Rosenstein Finally Gone Too Far?
Cesar Chelala
An Insatiable Salesman
Dean Baker
Truth, Trump and the Washington Post
Mel Gurtov
Human Rights Trumped
Binoy Kampmark
Putin’s Football Gambit: How the World Cup Paid Off
July 16, 2018
Sheldon Richman
Trump Turns to Gaza as Middle East Deal of the Century Collapses
Charles Pierson
Kirstjen Nielsen Just Wants to Protect You
Brett Wilkins
The Lydda Death March and the Israeli State of Denial
Patrick Cockburn
Trump Knows That the US Can Exercise More Power in a UK Weakened by Brexit
Robert Fisk
The Fisherman of Sarajevo Told Tales Past Wars and Wars to Come
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail