Thursday, January 18, 2007

"The truth is a useless commodity that will hang around your neck like an albatross"

Jeb Bush, speaking to retired Naval Intelligence Officer Al Martin:

“The truth is useless. You have to understand this right now. You can't deposit the truth in a bank. You can't buy groceries with the truth. You can't pay rent with the truth. The truth is a useless commodity that will hang around your neck like an albatross -- all the way to the homeless shelter. And if you think that the million or so people in this country that are really interested in the truth about their government can support people who would tell them the truth, you got another think coming. Because the million or so people in this country that are truly interested in the truth don't have any money.” - (cited by Uri Dowbenko in Bushwhacked, Sept. 2002).

Fascinating. Governor of Florida, brother of the President, Project for the New American Century member, thinks truth is a useless commodity and that there are only a million or so people in this country who care about the truth about their government. His comments are so self-revealing and so concentrate what is wrong in America today.

First, he thinks that truth's an albatross around the neck. Truth isn't something to be discovered, sought after, disclosed when found, and spread. Truth isn't something that sets you free. It's something to avoid and something that will interfere with what the government wants to do (and get away with). So this is both a statement about epistemology and about what he believes government to be. Government operates best when it shields the people from the truth. Weber, who said so much about bureaucracy, put it this way: "Bureaucracy naturally welcomes a poorly informed and hence a powerless parliament - at least in so far as ignorance somehow agrees with the bureaucracy's interests."

How contemptuous of the American people that only a million or so in his mind think truth is worth anything. I wonder what the people who vote GOP would think of this? Have they all been herded into the "faith-based community?" As Jason and Randy on ESPN's Cheap Seats would perhaps say to them: "Do you care?"

No wonder Jeb can sleep at night knowing that he was instrumental in rigging vote totals in Florida in 2000 and 2004- after all, who cares about the truth? But then, again, from his warped and privileged perspective, the only people who care about the truth are losers and impoverished. "Winners" like him treat truth as an obstacle. Truth doesn't matter. Creating something that looks real to people, a useful fiction, that allows people like him to do what they want - now that's for the winners of the world. "We are the champions of the world. And we'll keep on lying till the end."

Second, and this is possibly even more fundamental in what is wrong with Jeb and his ilk, is that he weighs everything in terms of commodities - if you can't sell it, can't buy it, then it's not worth anything. Marx put it this way in the Manifesto: "The bourgeoisie ... has pitilessly torn asunder the motley feudal ties that bound man to his 'natural superiors,' and has left remaining no other nexus between man and man than naked self-interest, than callous 'cash payment'... It has resolved personal worth into exchange value, and in place of the numberless indefeasible chartered freedoms, has set up that single, unconscionable freedom - Free Trade. In one word, for exploitation, veiled by religious and political illusions, it has substituted naked, shameless, direct, brutal exploitation."

Truth isn't an albatross around the neck except for those who seek to mislead and plunder the people. Truth as an albatross does deserve to ring the neck of people like Bush.

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