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Commentary & Opinion
Wed July 11, 2012
Herbert London: The Second Law of Thermodynamics and The Body Politic
The Second Law of Thermodynamics, which suggests that physical forces are gravitating to entropy, is a perfect metaphor for the moment. European economies are cascading into the netherworld of insolvency even as governments deny the reality. President Obama seemingly defies the rule of law by issuing executive orders that bypass the Congress. Unemployment in the U.S. remains over eight percent for the 42nd straight month. And unemployment in Spain for those under 25 is at 50 percent.
That isn’t all. Iran, China and Russia have agreed to joint military maneuvers off the coast of Syria in an effort to bolster the Assad regime. And the U.S. is on the sidelines issuing empty platitudes about the ongoing butchery dictated to from Damascus. Iran is moving closer to refined fissile material for several nuclear weapons as futile talks continue on the disarmament front.
Missiles are being fired from Gaza into Israel on a regular basis with more than 300 launched in the last two weeks. Evidence has been unearthed that Chavez, the president of Venezuela, has been underwriting the activities of narco-terrorists in Colombia and throughout the South American continent.
Extremist parties are gaining traction in Europe, a scenario reminiscent of the 1930’s. The neo-Nazi party garnered 7 percent of the recent Greek vote. The Communist party is gaining adherents in France. Radical Islamists have safe houses all over western Europe from Malmo in Sweden to Hamburg in Germany and Antwerp in Belgium. To the astonishment of those who adhere to Christian traditions, sharia has been gaining ground as a legal defense in many quarters including the office of the Archbishop of Canterbury.
Educational attainment has been plummeting throughout the western world, a form of international dumbing down, despite a widespread belief in self esteem. Notwithstanding the economic miracle in China, that nation remains a police state capable of violating human rights routinely and when the government considers it necessary, brutalizing is own people. But since the U.S. position is compromised by the assumption of debt in China, not a cross word about human rights violations is uttered.
The world is afloat in sovereign debt. Accumulated debt in the U.S. alone is more than 100 percent of the gross domestic product and climbing. A similar situation can be recorded in Japan and throughout the western world. An entitlement psychology has brought financial markets to their knees, but few have the political will to tell electorates the truth.
A belief in the Judeo-Christian virtues is waning. Relativism has reared its head as a prevailing philosophical view leaving its admirers subservient to those committed with a belief system. “Anything goes” is not merely a once popular song, but a commitment to a way of life that rejects regulation, limits and tradition. The boundaries that defined normative behavior have been shattered by the relativist orthodoxy.
A Wall Street Journal editorial refers to a leaderless globe. Alas this is true as the U.S. withdraws from its role as the international “balance wheel” and there isn’t an alternative anywhere in the G-20. A world without leaders is a world on the brink of anarchy.
As Evelyn Waugh once noted, “Once the prisons of the mind have been opened, the orgy is on… .” Well those cell doors have been opened and unleashed is a moral tsunami whose full effect we cannot yet detect. However surrender to the forces of despair is at least partially evident. I often hear people say, “what can you do?” as they shrug in acquiescence. Perhaps it would be useful to recall that Charles Peguy argued “Surrender is essentially an operation by means of which we set about explaining instead of acting.” Indeed it is words we hear, more words from talking heads on television and Washington leaders, but action is conspicuously avoided. The words are soothing as an astringent on a humid day, but ultimately they are delusional. The beast in the body politic has not been defeated and he is restless.
Herbert London is president emeritus of Hudson Institute and author of the book The Transformational Decade (University Press of America).
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