In Defense of Assholes Including Myself

Me bandana at desk

IN DEFENSE OF ASSHOLES
BY
DAVID ARTHUR WALTERS


There has been much talk about civility lately, which is not surprising considering that civilization is something which supposedly progresses, hence there must always be some incivility to progress from.

Each stage of progress has its gross incivilities such as the wars that have advanced our civilization, from battles between chivalrous combatants in a field somewhere, to mass murder of general populations anywhere by anyone with a few week’s training. The chivalrous age had its vulgarities, its barbarous, uncivil element who refused to play by the rules: fair maidens were raped and murdered, fields laid waste for provisions; little villages were burned down for the hell of it, the innocent peasants therein roasted alive, perhaps impaled before being barbecued. But thanks to the progress of our civilization, we not only wage wars on a grander, more efficient scale, hopefully from the air, but we do so more equitably: in the final analysis, we murder every man, woman, and child. Still, chivalry did bequeath us a few useful guidelines to develop pending the next holocaust.

For civilization to progress, there must be enough domestic peace to warrant the killing of foreign enemies, hence the need for a war on crime at home. Our punishments today are certainly more civil than a couple of centuries ago when young children were actually sentenced to death in the most civilized nation for picking pockets and stealing shoes. Yet our progress in punishment seems to have cultivated a corresponding contempt for the criminal law; and, since it is no longer lawful for people to take the law into their own hands, a contempt for people themselves, since they need not be feared.

Hence there is a felt need for a war on domestic crime today, especially when the camera focuses in on the most horrendous crimes such as the indiscriminate murder of children by children. A certain lack of civility is obvious in such cases, especially where bullying seems to be the cause of the incivilities. Since bullying is so widespread, hidden under the thin veneer of democratic civility, nobody, least of all the children, seem to know precisely who the enemy is; thus anybody will serve as an appropriate victim in a random outburst.

As for the rules of etiquette, we might note their marked absence or at least a decline in the quality of same over the years, even amongst the upper-crust who are charged with the education of their inferiors in such matters; we observe the deterioration particularly in the nouveau riche who made their money the rough and tumble way rather than inheriting it along with ample leisure time to cultivate good manners on world cruises and Concorde flights. Nonetheless, all good manners have not been lost; for instance, the rule appearing in books of manners during the Middle Ages, that one should not defecate in the corner of the dining room while people are eating, is almost universally observed to this very day.

My very manner of speaking as displayed above has often been criticized by uncivil people who do not want to look up words such as “ordure” and “micturate” and “coprophilia” in the dictionary. One vulgar critic took me to task in crude terms for my affectations, much to my righteous indignation. He had stumbled over my discourse to the effect that profanity is the mental ordure of coprophiliacs who do not have a receptacle to micturate in. I reacted indignantly to his crudities because my way of speaking took not only my lifetime to cultivate, but also that of my noble predecessors; I do not begrudge him his micturation as long as I have my own toilette. I will even defend a person’s right to his gross indecencies providing I have my scatalogical permutations. He can have the universal practicality of his plain English, but I prefer a handkerchief with my distinctively embroidered initials instead of his toilet paper. And yes, I do realize the genetic origin of my culture is vulgar, but I still prefer perfume to the fumes of ordure. Nevertheless, to be polite, I did indulge my critic with a response befitting his general character: He had asked, “Can’t you speak in plain English?” My retort was, “Yes, I can, you asshole!” He replied, “Thank you.”

That brought to mind my visit to Alaska in the early 80’s. The first thing I noticed was the number of assholes up there. I mean, everyone in the crowd I fell into was calling each other an asshole. And almost everyone I met had several guns. So I was alarmed at first; that is, until I realized the term “asshole” was a informal formality used to dispense with the nicer formalities people had acquired in more civilized states, namely the Lower Forty-Eight, the best view of which is in a rear-view mirror.

Despite the number of assholes in Alaska, I confess it is the only state I have ever shed tears over upon departing; but I had to go: Manhattan was calling. But more on that later; for now, I must say that my experience with Alaskan assholes taught me a lesson about civility: that it can be too civil when it conceals and represses the basic animosity, stoking the fires of hostility rather than venting them where they can quickly be extinguished with good humor. I may be a Jew and you may be a Muslim, but one thing we have in common is our assholes, so let’s get that straight before we proceed with our spiritual affairs. I do not deny our respective highnesses, our godlinesses, but a mutual god might also serve us well in the recognition that we are to a measurable extent omnivorous talking worms with anuses.

Indeed! And vulgar people can be civil enough, and sometimes more genuinely so, for they have to bust their ass solving real problems instead sitting around on it all day talking about such “issues” as civility!

The primitive civility rooted in the heart of the backwardsman has been polished into political correctness by the sophisticated power elite who, in order to conserve their gains and to expropriate by more peaceful means the natural resources and votes of those on the fringes of civilization, proclaim themselves defenders of multiculturalism while actually seeking absolute power over the globe. In exchange for the variety of cultures, a much greater variety of standardized products shall be distributed, the civilized version of ephemeral trinkets and tokens, both real and virtual junk.

The sophisticated civility of the wealthy power elite who, incidentally, can hire others to do their killing and other dirty work while keeping their hands and reputations clean, is derived now from the quality of their goods and the quality of their manner of consuming those goods, their refined “table manners”. The art of living was once a matter of formal consumption of rarities, but now designs are replicated by a cheap click of the mouse and crank of the machine; therefore rare materials have regained their ancient dignity in the consumptive theory of beauty. A man with high table manners wants the symbolic utensils of his quest for immortality to last forever, or at least as long as the pyramids of Egypt: fine mansions on manicured land shall do nicely, within which we find fine works of art, silver and crystal on the table, diamonds and gold in the safe; yes, gold, that enduring staple of civility, one of the oldest elements in the Universe: a more prodigious quantity of that sign of a good man’s refinement and excellence shall be found in the vaults of the civilized man’s immortality. Therefore we find the rich man in his palace beholding his original work of art over a glass of fine champagne, and the poor man in his hovel glaring at a cheap print over a mug of beer. It is easy to choose the better, more civilized man. Yet have no fear, for the true king of the cosmos is still the wise man. After being given the grand tour of a nobleman’s palace, Diogenes spit in the nobleman’s face. “Why did you do that?” the prince asked. “There was nowhere else to spit,” replied Diogenes.

Working to produce and consume an ever growing mountain of trash shall be the moral unity of the masses in their all-consuming diversity, supported by the psychic unity of binary digital processing; with the advent of integrated circuits, anthropologists have made the amazing discovery that our psychic unity is adequately represented by the ubiquitous digital switch in a colossal parallel processor; we are binary units aptly symbolized by the twin towers of the World Trade Center. Freeing people for unity in diversity requires moral discipline on a global scale, now made possible by modern technology and its god Typhon. Yet the anal-retentive civil engineer, in his political correctness and attempts to inculcate his overweening technical morality in others, neglects at great risk to everyone the primitive incivility of every man towards strangers who want to steal their property and their souls. The Wooden Shoe virus shall soon sabotage the works of puritan Work with catastrophic consequences. Therefore we must be careful that our technology truly frees rather than condemns future generations to certain incivility.

The future of civilization, whether it rises or declines, depends on the education of the young. The cultivated stupidity of our politically correct youth, who often consider themselves to be the epitome of politeness in comparison to their elders, is astounding. Social animals learn a great deal by imitating, but the political-economic scheme being imitated in the education-factories today leads more to stultification than edification. The antidote to mass stupidity, liberal education predicated on individual liberty, has been forsaken for the illiberal education of mass conformity. The elders complain about the permissiveness and ravages of liberalism while failing to recognize the fact that children are being taught to be told what to do; they do not want to think for themselves. To hell with the foundation of intellectual liberty; let the trivium be damned if anyone still knows what the trivium is; for young people do not want to independently exercise their minds for their own education: they want an easy read. They want to be unaccountable gods served by perfectly obedient computers. The only choice to be made under the politically correct regime, since all other differences including the moral ones have been discarded, is what product to consume, what absurd superficiality to imitate, what clown to accordingly vote for, and so on. As for politics, those who are confused and are still searching for identity outside of themselves can take a test to determine if they are liberals or conservatives.

Yes, civilization and politics go forward hand in hand. We think that, because we have gone ahead in time and space that we are ahead, and that all we need is more politically correct civility to get further ahead. But, as long as we have behinds, we shall never leave our brutishness completely behind. We are assholes. Yet we are disturbed by the obscenities of some children, while forgetting our own youthful protest against the scene, against the very idea that one should not make his own scene. However, we should be more alarmed by the foolish young people who think there are absolute moral differences, for example, between conservative and liberal, between Republican and Democrat, and so on, and that the purpose of life is to go around attacking each other’s absurd arguments, providing one is nice about it; that is, providing one is a politically correct liar or ignoramus.

I overheard a young man talking the other day about how rude the old farts were in the old days, and how “discourse has really improved” in the hands of astute young people such as himself and his audience. He called himself a professional liberal, then defined liberalism in glowing terms, as accepting everybody and freeing them from themselves! I recognized him from elsewhere, as a person who is constantly attacking other people’s views, often behind their backs, perhaps more often so since he confronted me directly. To introduce himself to me, rather than addressing the point I happened to be making on the occasion, he had criticized my “academic” manner of speaking, then went so far as to say I should not even talk about the history of the United States Constitution. I took him aside and called him an asshole. He then complained to those he perceives to be his authorities, that I had used an obscenity–there was nothing his authorities could do about that.

I merely use the above example to illustrate the widespread delusion that being politically correct, being civil, using civil language, complying with the formalities, does not make vicious intentions virtuous. Much of the criticism we hear mouthed by the civil and political critical hacks is founded on fear, resentment, spite, jealously, hate and so forth–the media spews forth rivers of such vomit.

Alright, then, so everybody is an asshole–so what? So why not admit that right up front? or at least keep it in mind before bothering to judge someone else?

Why not? Because morons do not have the slightest idea of what is going on. Morons are unaware they are swinging a two-edged sword likely to cut off their own heads; nor do they know their ass from a hole in the ground. They are like those jerks who say “excuse me” before deliberately running into someone, thinking a perfunctory “excuse me” excuses them; and they are outraged when they are not excused. Morons are those critics who, when their pathetic criticism is criticized for being what it really is, a jealous attempt to put down anything outstanding, say, “You can’t take criticism.” And morons are those bullies who run to mama if someone hits them back. They are moronic assholes.

And what does that make me? I admit it: I am an asshole too. I do not initiate personal attacks, but I will fight back, returning for nice nastiness whatever hell provides. A friend of mine recently flattered me with the epithet “loutish bourgeois intellectual.” Bourgeois? I wish! If only I had a few hundred square feet in the Ivory Tower, I would give up my loutishness and create a tony boutique to market my romantic wares to damsels in distress, for I prefer to make love and not war.

Honolulu 2000

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Notice of Incompetence

 Bass Musuem Frankenstein

NOTICE OF INCOMPETENCE

BY

FREDERICK FORSOOTH N.O.C.

Many anxious people have been asking me for advice about their problems lately. I suppose they have noticed me sitting around pondering all day, so they supposed that I am wise. Yet I am by no means qualified to expertly advise anyone on anything at all. If I am a doctor of anything, it is of incompetence. Therefore I publish this public notice of incompetence in hopes that I shall not have to offend anyone by putting them off personally.

It has been my lot in life to ponder on the meaning of life. I was given a few painful problems to think about at a very young age. I have already dwelled on them at length and I shall continue to do so elsewhere, sparing my present audience the confessional details.

I am a slow thinker, so my problems remain largely unsolved. If I ever wise up it will probably be too late for me to do anything about them, but at least I am hanging around in my own way. Besides, I find some consolation in thinking about my problems instead of losing myself in them, especially when my thoughts lead me to realize that I am not the only one with “my” problems: yes, misery loves company, and even more so at a distance.

Speaking of which, and I should not say this, I think misery loves company because the company is miserable to begin with and always will be. I think people in general are scared to death, and that each personality masks the fear of death in a slightly different way: I mean, the personality is a death mask. I think everybody is suffering and they hate to admit it because nobody wants to hear about it so it is covered up, sometimes so well even the persons suffering are unaware of it. Please excuse me for saying so.

Anyway, part of my basic problem is that I insist on doing things my way: the hard way. I love to painstakingly analyze the complicated complexes I imagine are overwhelming me. The more I struggle with them, the more elaborate they become, the more I think I might be a great novelist if only I could bring other complex characters besides myself into a definite life and death plot.

Someone else’s simple solutions simply will not do unless they serve to confirm what I have already learned for myself after a great deal of agonizing. That is not to say I do not consult other authors about the basic anxiety. Many if not most of them far surpass me in their ability to analyze the problems of human existence and to offer various reasons for living despite life’s predicaments; as if life did not already have reason enough for going on and on until the last gasp! I invariably disagree with their ponderous arguments, and I do so as a matter of habit because, at least in my book, authority is presented as a personal challenge to find an even higher and better authority. Nonetheless, I often wind up concurring with the lesser authorities after beating around the bushes for awhile and flushing out some of the same game they had identified long ago.

Yes, I have bagged a few little truths, but I have no final solution to the population problem in the sense that life itself is a dreadful disease. In fact, it amazes me when someone asks me what they should do in such and such a case. Why ask me? I am not a doer. I prefer the symbolic action of thinking over actual doing any day.

Besides, everything I have done has not been well done at all. Indeed, my life in retrospect is a series of mistakes in comparison to what it should have been. Hence I can only offer advice on what not to do. For instance, do not do drugs including alcohol and nicotine; well, maybe drink two drinks to your health every day, but that’s it. Do not turn on the shower until you put the shower curtain on the inside of the tub; and so on. Of course, many of my negative prohibitions could be converted into positive commandments and marketed as “Just say no to drugs.” and “Always put the shower curtain inside the tub,” and so forth. Still, my advice would be in reference to my errors and omissions and not to successful activities.

If someone has time enough to ask me what they should do, I can only recommend thinking before acting, which they are already doing anyway or they would not be asking. Yes, I can certainly give them more to think about. Whether that helps them or not is debatable; most people who ask for advice are just asking for permission to do what they want to do, or are asking to be told not to do what they do not want to do. All I can do is encourage them to do what they will, or not to do what they do not want to do, and to seek a competent counselor if they are very confused.

Therefore, it should be plain from the foregoing that I am incompetent to advise anyone about their personal problems. For that I do sincerely apologize. I wish I had lived my life better, for then I would be of more use to others.

Note:

Frederick Forsooth, LL.D., is a fictional character who took possession of the author for two hours today. His experiences and views are certainly not those of the author.

David Arthur Walters

A Dark View in General

Me blurry hawaii

FROM SCRAWLINGS FROM LIMBO
A Dark View In General

By David Arthur Walters

MY JOURNEY MAY SEEM somewhat gloomy to an innocent bystander. Someone remarked today that I have developed a dark view in general. Well, a gloomy outlook is normal even in paradise considering the news lately.

Impeachment of the President of the United States; Campaign Contributions from Red China; Transfer of Nuclear Secrets to Red China; Bombing of Iraq Continued; Kosovo Massacres; International Air War on Serbia; Columbine High School Mass Murder-Suicide; Yosemite Serial Killings; Freight Train Serial Murders; Kennedy Tragedy Continued; Atlanta Mass Murder-Suicide; Jewish Nursery Shooting; Turkey Earthquake-Estimated 20,000 Dead.

Reality is even worse than the violent movies nowadays. I’m just another man, but sometimes I think the world is out to get me. In other words, I have been feeling a little paranoid.

Something happened late last evening that shed some light on my paranoia. I had put aside my Scrawlings to take a stroll. I encountered a local woman at the intersection of Walk and Don’t Walk. “Walk” lights are accompanied by a loud clicking sound for the benefit of the blind. She was not paying attention to the lights. When she heard the clicking sound, she mistakenly stepped out into the traffic, not realizing that the clicking was meant for pedestrians going the other way. Fortunately, she saw the cars rapidly accelerating toward her, as if they were drag racing, and hopped back on the curb just in time.

“I’ve made that mistake myself,” I said sympathetically, as she seemed embarrassed. “And sometimes I’ve misread the lights, thinking green for the other way is green for my way.”

“I should watch the lights,” she responded. “We’re lucky we have lights at this intersection. Did you see the news about that old lady killed in the crosswalk? The City said there’s no money for lights.”

“Yeah. They showed that guy crying in his car right after the accident. Do you know he’s the same man who ran over and killed another old lady in a crosswalk? I don’t think he’s been charged with anything in either case. He’s like the Grim Reaper for old pedestrians.”

“No!” she exclaimed. “I’m not really surprised. Pedestrians are almost extinct with all these cars around. People are really going the wrong way everywhere as far as I’m concerned.”

“I saw a woman down on the pavement, right over there.” I pointed down the street. “She was bleeding badly. The ambulance had just pulled up. A boy said she was hurled up in the air over the car, and that she tried to get up and run away on her broken legs.

“You have to be really careful around here,” I continued as we proceeded to cross the street together. We had taken only four or five steps and the light suddenly changed back to “Don’t Walk.”

“You can say that again,” she angrily declared, shaking her head. “People today would rather kill you than look at you. They’re in such a damn hurry to get somewhere or something. They think people are just bugs, if they notice them at all. They’d squash you in a second,”

“Gee, I thought I was paranoid,” I half-joked.

“You’re not. It’s true!”

She presented her view on the “elite” as we strolled along.

“As far as they’re concerned, we’re just a bunch of nobodies. The bottom line of it is they can do what they damn well please, we can’t, and there’s nothing we can do about it.”

“How about the politicians?” I tried to change the object of scorn while reinforcing her general attitude, just to be agreeable. “What about the most popular candidate, who so far has no program at all, except to look presidential. What does that say about the voters?”

“It says they’re nobodies. We don’t really count. As for him: like-father-like-son. They’re all the same. As far as everyone else is concerned, everybody is out to take advantage of everybody else, and if anybody gets in the way they’d soon as kill you if they could get away with it,” she proclaimed. “I’m going in here.” She pointed at the health food store.

“I thought I was paranoid,” I offered a coda to the conversation.

“You’re not. It’s true. Everybody is out to get you, and I kid you not. Nice talking to you. Good evening.”

She disappeared into the store. I continued into the gloom.

# #

Honolulu 1999

Against the Law

PAUL

 

AGAINST THE LAW

BY

DAVID ARTHUR WALTERS

 

It appears that Paul’s letters were edited by conservatives a generation or so after his death; for instance 1 Corinthians and 2 Corinthians. And 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, and Titus were written in his name to propagate the conservative view. Furthermore, authoritarian and sexually chauvinistic passages were interpolated into 1 Corinthians and Romans, and also Acts of the Apostles were tampered with to the same end. Paul is mistakenly believed to be a the foremost Christian advocate of misogyny and oppressive law. He would no doubt appear to be quite conservative in our day, but in his day quite a few conservatives wanted him dead for preaching liberty.

Paul’s famous Letter to the Galatians is considered to be the Magna Carta of Christian liberty. It was considered inauthentic, but modern research has confirmed it authenticity. It expresses a revolutionary spirit, not only against the state but also against the Jewish law as well. We should keep in mind here that the Christian revolution, in contradistinction to the Jewish Revolts, was fomented as a non-violent revolution. Salvation was to be achieved by faith alone and not by works such as circumcision and war. The early Christian pacifism reminds us of the many Jews who chose martyrdom during the Jewish Revolts instead of making war against the Romans.

Paul’s controversial libertarian doctrine has elicited strong opposition and approval since the day he espoused it. It has evoked a great deal of enthusiasm (god-possession) and bizarre behavior on the part of those who interpreted it to mean that Christ had in fact come for good, therefore every Christian had been set absolutely free from the law, the law not only of the emperor, but also the Torah. Augustine, sometimes arrogantly called “the father of modern European intellectual history”, was attracted to Paul’s message, as was Luther, who wrote two volumes on Galatians. Indeed, there would have been no Reformation without Paul, or Christianity for that matter.

Luther is certainly a fascinating propagandist to read – learned humanist authors during his day took to imitating his enthusiastic biblical style. Luther’s bombastic rhetoric is knotted with logical contradictions, which he frequently justifies by reference to “God’s mysteries.” Paul, whom Luther loves dearly, is by far more rational in his expositions.

Luther relied on Paul in his revolt against the Church. His initial intent was reform, not revolution – the revelation of faith he received on the toilet one fateful day was revolutionary in the spiritual sense. Yet Luther erred early on when he came down on the antinomian (against the Mosaic Law) side of Paul’s message. He had to reverse himself – returning to the doctrine that Jesus appeared to fulfill the Law – when the political ramifications of antinomianism threatened the peace. Luther over-reacted in his infamous ‘stab and kill” (the rebellious peasants) letter. His hyperbole in that letter made him appear to be a much worse hypocrite than he really was. The letter was intended to frighten the peasants away from revolt; because of the slow communications in those days, Luther did not know that, when he released his letter, the peasants had in fact already revolted, with pitchforks under the Rainbow Banner. 50,000 or more were stabbed and killed by well-armed professional soldiers.

The overt antinomian behavior of several enthusiastic groups was limited to sexual libertinism. Monogamy, or the sole ownership of a spouse, was said to be a most dreadful sin. Some of the politically oriented sects had communistic leanings while others looked to monarchical order or divinely sanctioned king and court for salvation. Luther’s repudiated peasants flew the Rainbow Banner of the Covenant – they wanted a brotherhood of love on Earth, a Kingdom of God.

A few Marxist-Leninist thinkers adopted the Peasant Rebellion as a precursor to their dream of universal peace on Earth, to be realized by an international uprising of workers to overthrow capitalism. However, it appears that the revolt Paul had in mind was non-violent. If we examine Luther’s doctrine of just war, we discover that he followed the feudal law in respect to revolution: that Christians must not revolt even against evil, ungodly princes. A pre-emptive strike against papal princes plotting to kill Lutherans would of course be an allowed exception to the rule, not condoned but certainly forgiven without a second thought.

2004 Kansas City, Missouri

Paris in Kansas City

Paris in Kansas City
by David Arthur Walters
A Kansas Citian proudly stated to me today that Kansas City is properly hailed as “The Paris of the Plains.” I had not heard that appellation before but I was willing to consider the comparison because I love French Fries and hate Texas Toast. I see very little of Paris in downtown Kansas City, but I suppose Country Club Plaza has French flavors. You see, I have never been to my favorite city, Paris, which I imagine to be quite wonderful to this very day, notwithstanding the rumour that American tourists who cannot speak French are charged double for everything there. In any case, the mention of Paris prompted me to think again about the July Revolution of 1830, and I found these notes in my trusty old plastic briefcase:

“No more chambers, no more journals , no more liberty of the press,” cried a postilion of the events in Paris, I had noted. Charles X had signed the Orders in Council, or “crimes against the Charter” as they were called by the revolutionaries, and they had been duly published in the official organ, the Moniteur, on 26 July, 1830 – I recall they were published after a brief delay due to a certain compunction on the publisher’s part – as if they were a routine royal release. “General stupor” was the public’s initial response to the news. The first sign of consternation came from the bourgeoisie. Journalists assembled “tumultuously” in the office of the National. They observed that “the people made no stir” over the momentous deprivation of crucial rights. A Petition was drafted and signed in protest of the Orders, which were in effect a royal coup d’etat, pleading that the Orders violated the Charter.

The original Charter of 1815 was originally vague and had been modified over the years to include hard-won specific rights, such as liberty of the press, but now the reactionary King wanted the Charter to be strictly construed, hence his order nullified the modifications.

A few stones were hurled at the chief minister’s carriage. Some journals submitted to the Orders, but the Globe, the National, and the Temps did not comply. Louis Blanc, who would play a major role in the Revolution of 1848, had this to say about the reactionary police orders in his The History of Ten Years 1830-1840:

Journalists hurried from manufactory to manufactory, and from shop to shop, to read them aloud and comment on them. Individuals in the dress, and with the manners and appearance of men of fashion, were seen mounting on stone posts, and holding forth as professors of insurrection; whilst students, attracted from their quarter of town by the appetite for emotion natural to youth, paraded the streets, armed with canes, waving their hats, and crying, Vive la Charte!

 

The men of the people, cast in the midst of a movement they could not comprehend, looked on with surprise at all these things; but gradually yielding to the contagion of the hour, they imitated the bourgeoisie, and running about with bewildered looks, they shouted as others did, Vive la Charte!
Kansas City, Missouri 2003

Recollecting the Open Society of George Soros


Recollecting IMG SOROS

RECOLLECTING THE OPEN SOCIETY OF GEORGE SOROS

Recollecting the Open Society of George SoroS

George Soros ardently embraces liberal democracy, or rather the “open society” ideal, as the road to peace. He associates democracy with economic development, and both of the above with national security, stating that, “we ought to fight terrorism by fostering open societies.” His open society instantiated is, generally speaking, a liberal democracy, yet Mr. Soros does not seem to want his idea of an open society to be equated with democracy per se or otherwise exactly defined. He puts a great deal of money where his mouth is, advancing the cause with liberal contributions to grass roots organizations interested in installing open societies in their repressive areas.

In The Age of Fallibility, he insists that the idea of an open society is not a political but an epistemological notion, on knowledge based on what we know about knowing. One thing we can know for sure is that our knowledge is, generally speaking, partial and somewhat erroneous, hence human judgment is fallible. Therefore we should always keep an open mind if we would know the truth – that is not to say that there is no truth or reality to be true to, but implies that what we do know of something, even in the scientific sense, is always, shall we say, an estimate.

Philosophical fallibilism is nothing new. Socrates himself bragged about being the only man in the world who knew he was basically ignorant; that he was the only one aware of it made him the wisest man on Earth. The former soldier and erstwhile star-gazer returned from objects to the subject of subjects and proceeded to plague the aristocratic youth with sophisticated doubting – the young have a natural problem with authority to begin with. The democratic faction thanked him with the death penalty for his skeptical inquiries into the dogma of his day. An attitude given to the critical mode of knowing or experimental truthing is bound to perpetually challenge the power elite and their dogma, hence is, at least hypothetically, compatible with liberal democracy. A democracy may and should freely challenge its own tenets but one, its organizing principle, that of freely expressed, rational self-criticism. Wherefore it might again be said that freedom of opinion and reasonable expression is the linchpin of an open society.

George Soros’ open society is an epistemological attitude, of recognizing that human judgment is fallible hence subject to correction, hence is an antidote to fanaticism. Classically speaking, humility is an antidote to hubris. Nothing is perfect: democracy as we know it now is not good enough for Mr. Soros, because democratically elected governments, for instance that of the United States, can do and actually do a great deal of evil. The democratic majority may even go so far as to destroy the democracy by electing tyrants, who may wage war to make world peace whether the world likes it or not, at the cost of millions of innocent lives. Sometimes the collateral damage done with all good intentions far exceeds the damage done by the repressive regimes for which change is wanted.

Nor is Mr. Soros completely satisfied with the capitalism that provided him with the political-economic environment that fostered his quest for wealth. His perspective is global; he sums up three major “disparities” in the global capitalist system:

First, the disparity between public goods and private goods: Private markets by themselves are not able to meet collective needs nor are they “competent to ensure social justice.” He is an economic determinist inasmuch as his concept of social justice warrants the equitable distribution of presumably scarce goods. He stated that the growing social injustice, evident in the inequality between the rich and poor, arises from the fact that the winners of the globalization game are not “compensating the losers” either within states or between states. What is needed is economic as well as political equality. A redistribution of income by the welfare state outside of the market mechanism is prerequisite to peace.

Second, the disparity between center and periphery: “Whenever the center is threatened,” writes Mr. Soros, “the authorities take decisive action in order to protect the system. As a consequence, the devastation is confined to the periphery.” Since the productive assets of peripheral countries are largely controlled by foreign capitalists, they can repatriate their capital and gut the disadvantaged countries and people at will.

Third, the disparity between good and bad governments: Some countries have good democratic governments while others have corrupt or repressive regimes. The income gap or economic inequality looms large in bad countries, which are plagued by armed conflicts and financial crises. The United States, currently beset with armed conflicts and plagued by a financial crisis, has trended towards bad government for some time; the primary concern of Mr. Soros, elucidated in The Bubble of American Supremacy, is not his usual concern with the excesses of the misguided free-market fundamentalists, but with the “excesses of American supremacists.”

Although Mr. Soros does not believe in the myth of a perfect equilibrium established by the imaginary Invisible Hand, his selection of the term ‘disparity’ gives us cause to believe that he would like to see a better balance between public and private goods, between center and periphery, and between good and bad governments. There is ample room for evil in its parity with good, and a great deal of good will be required to balance the evil on the other end of our teeter-tottering country. It appeared to him that the excesses of American supremacists and free market fundamentalists would be curbed by the presidential candidate he endorsed, Barrack Obama. Mr. Soros’ primary concern has been with bursting bubbles. Given his record for making billions off the pops, the disaffected losers shall no doubt be looking forward to social justice in the form of adequate compensation. Continuous poverty may be tolerated by a people for centuries, but high expectations suddenly let down has motivated many revolts. In any event, Justice was the god of our ancient cultural ancestors, the Hebrews and the Greeks. Only god knows when, but one day justice shall be done. Indeed, in one myth the Greeks had Zeus declare that any person without a sense of justice should be put to death. My inquiry for Mr. Soros’ opinion on this subject and others was responded to by his office in New York: the frustrated philosopher was too busy with his open society organizations to consider it.

War may be waged by one country in response to injustice in another. George Soros would not wage war for economic or irrational reasons simply to exploit another people’s resources, divert attention from domestic problems, or to satisfy the lust for glory and exercise other base passions, but he would intervene to curb abuse of another country’s citizens. To wit, outside interference into the internal affairs of a country is justified if its government is severely abusing its people. The question is: Who has authority to intervene on their behalf? Liberal economic principles as well as the doctrine of state sovereignty dictate against interference.

International institutions such as the United Nations are associations of states who naturally put their interests ahead of the common interest. Still, if the people were sovereign and if all people are basically alike, the sovereign people of any UN member nation would rightfully intervene to prevent people of other nations from being severely abused by their governments. Better yet if the sovereign people of all nations cooperate to curb the abuse. Obviously, the responsibility for aid to abused people should somehow rest with the international community

“The rulers of a sovereign state have a responsibility to protect the citizens,” quoth Mr. Soros. “When they fail to do so, the responsibility should be transferred to the international community. That principle ought to guide the international community in its policies. One of my main objections to the American intervention in Iraq is that it has compromised this principle by substituting American might for international legitimacy.” Furthermore, “There is no better or more appropriate body than the United Nations Security Council to authorize military intervention for human protection purposes. The task is not to find alternatives to the Security Council as a source of authority, but to make the Security Council work better than it has.”

To that end Mr. Soros supports the principles laid out in the UN International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty’s report, ‘The Responsibility to Protect.’ When a population is suffering from what University of Hawaii Professor of Political Science Rudolph Rummel calls democide, the killing of people by their own government, the international community has a duty to protect them with appropriate measures, such as preventative foreign aid, economic sanctions, international prosecution, and, as a last resort, the minimum amount of military intervention needed to curb the abuse.

But as we have seen, the minimum amount of military intervention, whether unilaterally or multilaterally engaged in, might necessitate a shocking and awesome pre-emptive strike followed by hundreds of thousands of troops on the ground, and a decade if not decades of military intervention, with the end result wanted, i.e. a liberal democracy, being uncertain. Indeed, the abused people saved might eventually take up the arms they have been provided with to wage war on their savior. In any case, an international assembly such as the United Nations should be responsible for keep world peace.

Mr. Soros admits that the United Nations is an imperfect institution. It refers to itself in the preamble to its charter as “We The People,” but the charter itself is created by sovereign states whose interests may not coincide. The Security Council may override the sovereignty of the member states, and should do so in cases of democide. Mr. Soros presents a formula for obtaining his just war: The Security Council would have to authorize military intervention beforehand, and the Permanent Five must agree not to apply their veto powers where their vital state interests are not at stake. If the Security Council rejects intervention, an appeal may be made to the General Assembly and regional organizations according to their jurisdiction.

Mr. Soros is not the only person around who promotes open societies. In The Bubble of American Supremacy, he confessed that, “I have no right to call the promotion of open societies the Soros doctrine. The idea was endorsed in a little-known document, the Warsaw Declaration.” That declaration, entitled ‘Toward a Community of Democracies’, was made by the members of the Community of Democracies in Warsaw, Poland, on June 27, 2000. First of all, it expresses the intent of its members to adhere to the principles of the United Nation’s Charter and its Universal Declaration of Human Rights, recognizes the “universality of democratic values” and emphasizes “the interdependence between peace, development, human rights and democracy.” To wit, “The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government, as expressed by exercise of the right and civic duties to choose their representatives through regular, free and fair elections with universal and equal suffrage, open to multiple parties, conducted by secret ballot, monitored by independent electoral authorities, and free of fraud and intimidation.” Various civil rights are listed thereafter, such as the right for everyone to participate in public affairs, to enjoy the equal protection of the laws, freedom of thought, conscience, religion, expression, assembly, the right to equal access to education and to privacy, so on and so forth. The members of the little-known Community of Democracies, including the likes of Bosnia, Haiti, Nepal, Nicaragua, Thailand, and Venezuela, realize there are no ideal democracies in existence, not even their main sponsoring member, the United States of America; they pledge their determination to “work together to promote and strengthen democracy, recognizing that we are at different states in our development.” Furthermore, “We resolve jointly to cooperate to discourage and resist the threat to democracy poses by the overthrow of constitutionally elected governments.”

Democracy as we know it is not good enough for Mr. Soros because democratically elected governments, for instance that of the United States, can and sometimes do a great deal of evil, not the least of which is the destruction of democracy by the democratic majority. As his adopted mentor Sir Karl Popper pointed out in The Open Society and its Enemies, “The acceptance of even a bad policy in a democracy is preferable to the submission to a tyranny, however wise or benevolent. Seen in this light, the theory of democracy is not based upon the principle that the majority should rule…. He who accepts the principle of democracy…is not bound to look upon the result of a democratic vote as an authoritative expression of what is right. Although he will accept a decision of the majority, for the sake of making democratic institutions work, he will feel free to combat it by democratic means, and to work for its revision.”

In any event, most people seem to know in their hearts what the proponents of open society are talking about when they refer to it. Suffice it to say that the open society is anti-authoritarian; hence no authority could impose a sufficient formal definition.

Should not Mr. Soros the philosopher of peace win a Nobel Peace Prize, not only for his books on political philosophy but for putting his money where his mouth is, for supporting grass-roots open society movements all over the world? He said he would rather leave this world as a philosopher than as a hedge fund operator who struck it rich. He has somewhat ruefully commented that academics don’t believe a hedge manager could possibility say anything of great importance on the subject of economics. But 2001 Nobel Economics Prize winner Joseph E. Stiglitz believes George Soros’ perspectives might take center stage if expressed a little differently.

We do not know if Mr. Soros actually craves a Nobel, and if he does, in what field – no doubt in Peace. Martti Ahtisaari, a former Finnish president and a contender for the Nobel, said he wished Mr. Soros would win one because of his promotion of democracy, especially in formerly communistic countries.

A false rumor still circulates on the Web that Mr. Soros was indeed a Nobel nominee – his name does not appear in the nominee database of the Nobel Prize organization. An article penned by Sally Jenkins that appeared in the Washington Post June 29, 2005 in reference to the funding of baseball teams may have been the origin of the rumor: “…It was all right for Schott, the racist collector of Nazi memorabilia, to own a baseball team for years, but it’s not for Soros, the billion-dollar philanthropist and Nobel Prize nominee? That’s exactly what some Republicans on Capitol Hill are suggesting, led by Tom Davis, the Republican from Virginia who is trying to steer the sale of the Nationals and who says Soros is just not the kind of person ‘we need or want in the nation’s capital.’”