I’ve written before on this site about the Battle Between Good and Evil; and I will do so again. It’s here, it’s now, we’re in the midst of it.
This sounds melodramatic; but it’s TRUE.
I don’t mean global warming, though that’s part of it. I don’t mean the war in Iraq, though that’s a major part of it. I don’t at all mean the threat from terrorism – because I honestly believe that for all the flaws of our Western society, Al Qaeda are a bunch of shallow charlatans who have no worthy cause to promote. They’re our enemies; but we’re not the bad guys in that particular conflict.
But we are the bad guys so much of the time. Or rather, the countries in which we live are implicated in such terrible, wicked, dishonest stuff, and there’s nothing we can do to stop it.
It’s all lies; that’s the heart of my argument. We’re lied to, all the time. And duped, and deceived, and defrauded.
Now I sound like a lunatic. A conspiracy theorist. Worst still, I sound like a Marxist.
When I was at University I knew a lot of Marxists. I had tutorials with a legendary Marxist, Terry Eagleton, a witty, funny guy who used to play the Rolling Stones in tutorials, instead of teaching us. I liked him hugely, and I liked my fellow students in that module – Marxist to a man! But I never bought in to that whole conspiracy theory capitalism-is-evil way of seeing the world.
Sigh. Now I do. I’m still not a Marxist. But look at the stuff that’s happening out there! We all know the stories, we all rage and rant as the bankers give themselves more vast bonuses, as entire countries are looted, and as profitable companies are subjected to leveraged takeovers (meaning, they’re bought with debt, and so then get saddled with that debt, and hence become less profitable, and hence have to employ fewer people.) We know about profiteering in Iraq, led by US companies like Halliburton. We know about greedy ******** like Fred Goodwin, who feathered his own nest as his company teetered on the verge of catastrophic collapse.
And I was shocked to see John McCain on the TV news accusing Barrack Obama of ‘Business as Usual’ as if he’d caught the President out in some major fraud. Obama is attempting to reform health care, improve the lives of Americans, end corporate fraud, and extricate the American nation from a ghastly expansionist war; it’s the Republicans who stand for Business as Usual. But the pork-barrel politicans have learned a new trick; accuse your enemies of your own sins. It sounds ridiculous; but it works!
This is what I mean by Good versus Evil. We’re fighting our own political systems, our own leaders; and the entire system is rigged so that people who do not create wealth, and serve no useful function, cream off all the cream.
It shouldn’t be like this. We’re supposed to live in a liberal venture capitalist democracy, in which there’s a balance between state control and bold private enterprise. I don’t want to live in a Marxist country. When Stalin collectivised agriculture in Russian in the late 1920s, early 1930s, it’s estimated that between four and ten million peasants died of starvation – that shows the peril of excessive state control.
But the idea in our Western culture is meant to be that entrepreneurs who take risks – and who work long hours, under the constant threat of bankruptcy to make their business work – can become very rich indeed when things go well. The pay-off is in proportion to the risk. I’m happy with that; it takes risk-taking brave people to create anything new, and they should be rewarded for their courage, and cleverness.
But now we live in the period of ‘heads I win, tails the government bails me out’ economics. That’s wrong – it’s evil. Not as evil as Stalin, but evil nonetheless. Health care companies in America whipped up a storm of protest against a moderate reform that would help millions of Americans enjoy better health, and more stable lives; that’s evil. Sarah Palin lied by saying that Obama wanted to establish death panels – evil.
When I was growing up, I read history books about times of great evil and thanked my lucky stars that I was living in such a peace-loving, liberal period in history. But that’s changed; or maybe it hasn’t changed, maybe I was just too dumb to spot the lies back then.
How can you fight this kind of evil? The kind that depends on lies, sophistry, distortions, and acts of fraud that don’t appear to be against the law? I only know one way, which is to keep snarling.
But that’s not much of a solution. The solution is to change the system; make it fairer; punish the bad guys when they break the law, or even when they break the rules.
All my science fiction novels feature baroquely exaggerated battles between good and evil, often involving acts of genocide and brutal mass murder. Now things in our world really aren’t as bad as that. But the stories in my books are a metaphor for our actual lives; there are bad guys, and they are winning.
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