An interesting direction may emerge in the way I approach a number of things. This has been an eventful week.
Firstly, I finished a couple of books from Hitchens and given that I don't have anyone to discuss the entire thing with, it's likely that I'm going to internalize a lot of ideas of his without much reflection. He simply extends some things I've considered briefly to interesting lengths and conclusions, and there are certain fresh ideas that are simply too brilliant to ignore.
Probably the most significant thing that I am noticing is the extent to which religious institutions and all institutions of moral value are vulnerable to intellectual hacking. Hitchens, more than anyone I know, is exactly that. A moral hacker of the first order. And he leaves a trail of tools. The one I picked up this past week is to beware of any religious capitalization in the language. So it is a new trigger in my alert system. Whenever I encounter a mystery capitalized, I recognize it as a term of art, a baited hook for fishers of men. Secondly, Hitchens has inserted somewhere into my source code a new intolerance for the coersion of eternal anything. Call it the Hotel California rule. You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave. It doesn't matter how lovely the hotel is, when that one freedom is taken away, it becomes a prison. All utopias are thusly prisons.
There are a number of other tools Hitchens has left in my path, but at this point I'm a bit more interested in figuring out the relative usefulness of evangelistic movements. As I suggested, it might well have been likely for Hitchens to have had some other sort of moral tank leading his path into enemy territory from whose cover he has become an excellent sniper, but he chose International Socialism. From my perspective of the thermodynamics of information theory - aka the amount of energy required to establish and maintain a certain literacy among millions worldwide, International Socialism is Imperial. So is Christianity, and so is Islam and so is the Neoconservative West. It seems, however, that only a certain kind of Islam is properly energized, but I speculate. The point is that you need something that grandiose to hold the attention of the sorts of talented people who would take an opportunity to change the world. There are NGOs and the UN and American all-volunteer Armed Forces (vis a vis Barnett's System Administration Force) as actors in this drama, although it's more difficult to pin down their ideologies.
We are in interregnum and in between wars and collapses as well. This is a time of uncertainty and lack of confidence. We are spinning our wheels and spinning out of control. The problems are clear and present yet we don't quite possess the fortitude to see our way confidently solving them. Who do I mean we? I mean humanity. There is no Napoleon, nobody with any vision and power larger than Steve Jobs or Osama Bin Laden, and neither one of them is setting the world on fire at a Napoleonic scale. So we wait.
What do we wait for? The only two things that work when the hubris of power and moral certitude are in remission. We wait for theft and failure. In 2010 these are the two most reliable forces in the world. They both seem to be indicated by the status quo.
Those of us on the American Right understand this although we don't want to admit it. But the Republican Party is so blinkered and desperate it might welcome either with open arms. Am I being cynical? No. I hate cynicism and I detest (but expect) subversion. But I am coming to accept the probability that America does not at this point in its history possess the will nor the temperament to figure out and then do the right things with regard to immigration, sovereign debt, deficit spending, banking regulation, immigration, energy policy, foreign policy or political correctness. And so I think the prudent thing to do is expect that America will fail in each of these areas over the next ten years.
I only wish I could get my Social Security right now. Somebody give me that vote, please.
With regard to theft, I heard among many sparkling conversations this weekend, the moral case for theft of intellectual property. It goes like this. Imagine that Russia negotiated with Bill Gates to get the source code for Windows 7 so that it might pursue criminals. Or imagine that for Pfizer drug Lipitor, Cuba decided to hack and reverse engineer it. That for whatever purposes, states have negotiated or coerced out of corporations for free what the rest of us pay for and those state actors had morally sound reasons for doing so. That is a way out of an economic deadlock. The right thing gets done by sovereign actors. What are you going to do about it?
Theft and failure represent the breakthroughs that regimes cannot or will not afford. I'm not suggesting that the ends justify the means or that one should advocated the acceleration of failure or encourage theft, but these are ugly ways that good is done. Still, I am not entirely sure how much attention you should pay to the qualifications I just made. Because it is possible that I could see such sclerosis or corruption that I would welcome theft, that I would suborn failure. It would be a new way for me to operate.. I haven't negotiated such waters before.