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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 4/8/18

Are our leaders competent?

By       (Page 1 of 1 pages)   15 comments

In "Russia Madness on the Eve of Destruction: Hegemony Trumps Survival"

Paul Street implicitly poses what is really the most crucial question: are those framing foreign policy capable of making good decisions? Not are they capable of being decent, humane, empathic toward others. Are they capable of being Machiavellian, successfully ruthless, basically rational bastards? This is the question deep in everyone's mind. Even in the mind of the most empathic white liberal or progressive. Because in the final analysis, if the answer is yes then there's a good chance that s/he will survive nicely enough whatever comes down. And deep in his/her mind, perhaps unconsciously, this fact is not irrelevant.

On the other hand, if the answer is no, everything changes unconsciously. Awareness of threat replaces the assumption of safeness, and people respond to the question "Why do you care what happens to foreign victims of your leaders' horrific actions?" differently than in the past. In the past they said "Because it's not right! It's immoral and unethical and just wrong!" Now they say, "Because those stupid bastards are going to get me killed!"

This constitutes a far more powerful motivation for citizens to engage with others in addressing how our leaders wield power than did their former answer. So I really appreciate it when journalists raise the kind of question that Noam Chomsky has been posing for a long time (Street duly credits him): Do our leaders' strategies promise a terrible kind of social stability based on the planned demise of many millions of inconvenient others -- those Teddy Roosevelt called Trash People? Or will they likely open the gates of hell and usher in an age of chaos magnitudes more devastating than the horrors created by collapsing empires in the past.

Much evidence suggests that the second answer is the more rational now, but most of this evidence has not been made nearly public enough. As it filters down, and it will, most people able to accept the consequences of the first answer probably will not be able passively to accept the consequences of the second. Many, hopefully most, hopefully virtually all, will get in touch with their denial and opt actively for survival. A journalism that more aggressively than heretore explores this question, and these answers, could contribute immeasurably to the emergence of the kind of activism required now. This has not happened yet.

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David Weiner received his doctorate in sociology from the University of Texas at Austin in 1964 and subsequently taught at SUNY/Buffalo and The University of Houston, where he received a Teaching Award. He currently teaches community college (more...)

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