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Vol. 22, No. 4, 2023
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Robert J. Lewis
  Senior Editor
Jason McDonald
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Louis René Beres
David Solway
Nick Catalano
Don Dewey
Chris Barry
Howard Richler
Jordan Adler
Andrew Hlavacek
Daniel Charchuk
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Lydia Schrufer
Mady Bourdage
Jerry Prindle
Chantal Levesque
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Evelyn Lau
Stephen Lewis
Robert Fisk
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Michael Moore
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Irshad Manji
Richard Rodriguez
Ernesto Zedillo
Pico Iyer
Edward Said
Jean Baudrillard
Bill Moyers
Barbara Ehrenreich
Leon Wieseltier
Nayan Chanda
Charles Lewis
John Lavery
Tariq Ali
Michael Albert
Rochelle Gurstein
Alex Waterhouse-Hayward

unseen limits of american politics



Louis René Beres is Emeritus Professor of Political Science and International Law (Purdue University). He has written twelve books and several hundred scholarly articles and monographs. He also lectures widely on matters of terrorism, strategy and international law. As an expert on nuclear war and nuclear terrorism, he is closely involved with Israeli security issues at the highest levels. He was Chair of "Project Daniel," a group advising Israel's Prime Minister on existential nuclear questions. This article was first published in Jewish Business News.

Conscious of his emptiness,
a man tries to make a faith for himself in the political realm.
In vain.
Karl Jaspers

Karl Jaspers, in his work Reason and Anti-Reason in our Time (1952), captured this sentiment. Nowadays, amidst a perpetual cycle of scandals, both Democrats and Republicans face criticism for their inability to mend a beleaguered country. Yet, the core problems that afflict America cannot be fixed through politics alone. No matter how well-intentioned or informed, no president, congress, or flurry of transformative legislation can stem the corrosive erosion of heart, body, mind, and spirit that poses the gravest threat to these United States.

While some progress may arise from specific statutes and institutions, they merely scratch the surface of what truly matters. Our system of governance, driven by taxation, commerce, and consumption, has fostered a bitter amalgamation of plutocracy and mob rule. It is no wonder that our hoped-for national salvation lies far beyond the confines of government, law, and economics.

The “crowd,” as Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard warned, is untruth. In our present American “crowd” — what Freud might call a “horde,” Nietzsche a “herd,” and Jung a “mass” — the proclaimed differences between Democrats and Republicans, Liberals and Conservatives, are essentially reflective. Before America can truly mend, a profound transformation of its citizenry, of the microcosm, must take place.

Our problems are stark, but not insurmountable. We inhabit a society that is cravenly numb and openly false, where even our deepest melancholy feels contrived. There is no call here for whispered prescriptions. In a society teetering on the fringes of history — quintessentially America — emptiness is not a complicated or secretive concept. It permeates our individual lives and resonates within the collective, an unbroken cycle.

Our society wallows in a twilight of conformism, displaying infinite patience for shallow thinking and degrading amusements. With misplaced resentments, we hide from the fundamental affirmations of personal intellect. We have unwittingly cultivated a collective posture of anti-reason, an unphilosophical spirit that disregards matters of true importance and seeks to remain ignorant of anything significant. In time, this spirit becomes profoundly destructive.

Who reads serious books these days? Let us be honest. Very few of our national leaders can answer “yes” to this question, and their intellectual incapacity often becomes a political asset. Americans, by and large, despise intellectual pursuits, preferring their elected representatives to share in this disdain. Moreover, even the wealthiest among us may find themselves deprived, resigned to a future of banalities and unsatisfying work. Erudition becomes burdensome, and cultivated animosity becomes an acceptable substitute.

Ironically, some truths remain evident. The “life of the mind” in our distracted country has become a mere fiction, a thin text that no longer embodies Ralph Waldo Emerson’s vision of “plain living and high thinking.” Even our esteemed universities have transformed into expensive training grounds, devoid of any tangible pursuit of higher learning.

Despite calls for diversity, our national landscape remains homogeneous in its disregard for enduring human values. Equanimity and balance are overshadowed by the pursuit of narrow imitations, empty pleasures, and chemical diversions. Tens of millions succumb to alcohol and drugs, suffocating any lingering wisdom and drowning whole oceans of sacred poetry.

Amidst it all, there are subtle nuances to our predicament. We can be lonely in the world and lonely for the world. Somehow, these sentiments are mutually reinforcing.

by Louis René Beres:
King Charles III: Sovereignty as Immortality
Glorifying Riches
Unspeakable Lies
An Unphilosophical Spirit
America Around the World
Behind All Speeches Are Unspeakable Lies
The Worst Does Sometimes Happen
Martyrdom & Hunger for Immortality
The Trump Presidency: An Informed Perspective
Looking Beyond the News
Politics, Law and Triumph of Chaos
An Illustrious War Against Death
Insurrection and the American Horde
Post Mortem: Trump Presidency
Presidential Crimes and Pardons
Pandemic as Opportunity
Understanding a Lethal American Presidency
A Nation's Bitter Despair
The President as Monster
Lessons from Covid-19
The Overriding Threat: Trump, the Mass & Nuclear War
Fragmentation or Unity
A More Thoughtful Nuclear Policy
Are Terrorists Abnormal?
War, Politics and the Planet Earth
Intellect & Politics: Trumpian Opposites
Emptiness & Consciousness: Unseen Limits of American Mind
Trump and the Destruction of the American Mind
Empathy & Intelligence
The Crowd Is Untruth
In Praise of Folly: Trump Presidency
Repairing the World at Its Source
Emptiness and Consciousness
Nuclear Deterrence Conflict
Trump's Anti-Intellectualism
Lawless Retreat
Trump - Triumph of Anti-Reason
In the Absence of Wise Councel
Futile Goal of Winning Wars
Money & Politics: A Look Behind the News
Trump's War Against the Intellect
America Becomes What Its Founding Fathers Feared
Victory as Vanishing Point in the Age of Terror
Against a Nuclear-Free World
The Politics of Pre-emption
Crowds, Belonging and Victory Over Death
The Tip of the Jihadist Iceberg
Fixing the World
When Science May Not Be Enough
Facing future Wars
America's Senseless Wars
Is There a Genocide Gene?
Slow Death of America
To Fix a Broken Planet
Our Fractured Union
Affirming Life in the Age of Atrocity
War, Truth and the Shadows of Meaning
Occupy Wall Street
What Is Important?
Social Network Anxiety
Disappearance of the Philosopher Kings


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