Histomat: Adventures in Historical Materialism

'Historical materialism is the theory of the proletarian revolution.' Georg Luk√°cs

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Standing Tall in History

When Blair recieved his Presidential Medal of Freedom, George W Bush described him as 'a powerful force for freedom' who will 'stand tall in history'. 'Out of office, but still in public life, Tony Blair remains a man of high intelligence and insight and above all a man of faith, idealism and integrity.'

Well, it's one opinion, though personally, where Blair is concerned, I am rather more sympathetic to the opinion that the great American novelist Mark Twain had of the British imperialist Cecil Rhodes:

'He has done everything he could think of to pull himself down to the ground; he has done more than enough to pull sixteen common-run great men down; yet there he stands, to this day, upon his dizzy summit under the dome of the sky, an apparent permanency, the marvel of the time, the mystery of the age, an Archangel with wings to half the world, Satan with a tail to the other half. I admire him, I frankly confess it; and when his time comes I shall buy a piece of the rope for a keepsake.'

If Bush thinks Blair will 'stand tall in history', one can only wish, like Twain wished of Rhodes, that he would instead one day 'hang high' for his historic crimes against humanity. Anyway, I only mention Blair as one wonders what that founding father of the American nation, Thomas Jefferson, would have made of giving a lying war-criminal turned banker with JP Morgan a 'Presidential Medal of Freedom'.

There is a popular quote, attributed to Thomas Jefferson, along the following lines:

I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their currency, first by inflation, then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around [the banks] will deprive the people of all property until their children wake-up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered. The issuing power should be taken from the banks and restored to the people, to whom it properly belongs.

However, I have not managed to find, via a quick google search anyway, hard evidence for that particular quote. However, we do know that Jefferson thought of banking 'that, for the emolument of a small proportion of our society who prefer these demoralizing pursuits to labors useful to the whole, the peace of the whole is endangered and all our present difficulties produced, are evils more easily to be deplored than remedied.' (Thomas Jefferson to Abbe Salimankis, 1810)

To John Taylor in 1816, Jefferson was more forthright (and distinctly prophetic):

'I sincerely believe... that banking establishments are more dangerous than standing armies, and that the principle of spending money to be paid by posterity under the name of funding is but swindling futurity on a large scale...The system of banking [I] have... ever reprobated. I contemplate it as a blot left in all our Constitutions, which, if not covered, will end in their destruction, which is already hit by the gamblers in corruption, and is sweeping away in its progress the fortunes and morals of our citizens.'

Still, while Blair's 'faith, idealism, and integrity' is no doubt appreciated by his fellow bankers, I suppose Blair does deserve some sort of wider recognition for his 'work' towards Middle East Peace. Starting one disastrous war in the region, then restricting Israel to just the two bloody criminal wars while 'peace envoy' to the Middle East takes a rare kind of 'high intelligence and insight' that the rest of us can only marvel at.

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At 11:28 pm, Blogger Doug Nesbitt said...

Interesting quote from Jefferson. It reminded of a discussion of finance capital with a friend over beers. I had been reading up on pre-WW1 Mraxist analyses of finance capital and he had been reading up on the pre-Nazi fascists of the early 1920s and how they associated both the ills of "finance capital" with the Jews as well as communism. It occurred to us simultaneously that it would be worth investigating whether or not anti-semitism was at all an influence on the bourgeois thinkers in the period of monopoly capital who argued that finance capital was separate from industrial capital not simply as a useful way of categorization but as a distinct section of the capitalist class.

At 4:49 pm, Blogger Snowball said...

Well, if I remember rightly there is an issue of antisemitism somewhere regarding the radical liberal JA Hobson, the Guardian economist - I'd have to have a think about how wide and deep this went among other bourgeois thinkers on empire in this period...interesting.


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