part two of being dumb (or duped)

It is rather difficult to try to explain in a short and concise way a semi-philosophical concept. When you try to use terminology and even the most rudimentary arsenal of serious writing – it becomes a bore and loses its appeal of fast and easily digested ‘knowledge in a pill’. When you try to employ a simply journalistic approach – it becomes often nothing but a collection of bits and pieces geared toward scratching the surface without any sensible explanation of true meaning. Of course, it could also herald the not so glorious fact of the limitation of an author. Alas, I will attempt.
Few times in the past I have written about greed. Yes, normal, human drive bordering on obsession toward gathering material things. Mainly money, but often enough anything that symbolizes money. Greed could be equated in many cultures with power. The more you posses, the more powerful you are. It is not altogether a modern concept or ‘invention’. We all remember the Greek myth of king Midas and his rather unfortunate affinity toward gold. Of course ‘gold’ was only a poetic term for any material possession. As gold symbolized than (as it does now and therefore is the oldest – next to food and land – cultural symbol of wealth and power) it was used in that old Cretenian story as that – manifestation of wealth. But we should pay very particular attention to the moral of that myth and to the fact what happened to old king Midas when his wish was granted. His tragedy and demise served as an example of not only moral but indeed a very real and existential price we pay when greed overcomes us.
Not so much greed but more precisely pure quest for power is the subject of another ancient tale: of Jason and his Argonauts. Although Jason right to the throne of his father is unquestionable and his deeds to obtain the Golden Fleece are heroic – at the very end he fails too and breaks his solemn promise to be faithful and attentive to Medea. At the end Jason dies not a powerful king but a forgotten half-crazy beggar under the rubble of his once famous ship.
On the other side of the ancient world, in Judea and Samaria the Israelites had some interesting stories in their Old Testament. We find the collapse of the old kings-priests kingdom as a result of their treachery and greed of possessions and power. Thus Yahweh transfers the power to little known cowboy by the name of David. But because David himself employs less than honorary tactics, the biblical stories are not us powerful morally as the Greek mythology. In much purer sense it comes back hundreds of years later in the teachings of their descendants in New Testament: as the story of life and lessons of the founder of new schism in Judaic religion: Jesus from Nazareth. These are much more than moralistic tales and parables: they are actually a short and concise admonitions to not only guard oneself from greed, wealth and power. Piety, being materially poor and sharing with others becomes a virtue, a sign of a true follower. And the reward is extraordinaire – eternal life.
Alas, history likes repeats herself. The new kings-priests in Byzantine and Rome slowly but surely fell into old habits of their ancient predecessors in Judea and Samaria. The symbolic ascendancy of new “David” showed itself in the form of French Revolution. The old kings and priest went under the guillotine. Not all, some survived in the same way as the old Judaism survived its schism 2 thousand years ago. The French Revolution, in turn, gave birth to totally humanistic, void of deity moral code against greed. Socialism. A commune build not on individualistic but communal needs. In its apogeum it become communism. Things went much faster than in old days. From idealistic vision of common good and social justice toward a fully developed and well oiled machinery of bureaucratic terror and total destitution of nations affected.
How it all relates to our theme of ‘Dumb capitalism’ and even recent riots in England (as both relate to each other very strongly and organically) – it will be a subject for next day.

About Bogumil P-G

publisher, essayist, poet lived (and born) in Poland, later England, Italy, presently in Canada
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