President-elect Joe Biden, while pontificating about telling the truth to the American people after a speech about the breach of the Capitol by a mob of Trump insurrectionists, told a big lie himself that reflects his dangerous worldview.
Since we now know, as the MSM is repeating ad nauseum, that lies are the root of Trumpism's evil, we have to be willing to call out the 'centrists' and progressives' lies as well.
"When Dresden was bombed, firebombed," Biden extemporized, "there were 250 people that were killed, or was it 2,500? And Goebbels said, 'No, 250,000 were killed. It's the big lie," Biden said.
Biden's number gymnastics attests to the fact that there are a thousand ways to lie, but only one way to tell the truth without reacting to the lies.
To begin with, the firebombing of Dresden killed at least 25,000 people. By absurdly understating the number killed, then correcting it by a factor of 10 before exaggerating it by a factor of 100 in Goebbels' alleged estimation, Biden makes a mockery of the truth. Which is: The firebombing of Dresden was a war crime in the closing weeks of World War II.
The consensus view among historians is that because of pre-knowledge that Dresden, a cultural center of Germany, had swelled with refugees fleeing the advance of the Soviet army, and because Stalin had insisted on bombing the city, and "because all scruples were put aside in the interests of prosecuting a war about to be won," the decision to bomb Dresden is a war crime.
As disturbing as that long ago event is, it is more disturbing that unprompted, Joe Biden would lie about it and use it as an example of "the big lie."
By now we should understand that the mentality behind the firebombing of Dresden was the same mentality behind the atomic bombings six months later of Hiroshima and Nagasaki against a prostrate Japan.
With respect to today, Biden's aside reflects an antiquated worldview, one that maintains the tautology that "America is great because America is good." Biden plans to restore American exceptionalism, and that could prove even more dangerous to the world than Trump's isolationism.
Why is national sovereignty taken as a given? It's like living at the end of city-states and the beginning of nation-states, and insisting on maintaining the sovereignty of city-states!
Except that now sovereignty (which means "supreme principle") belongs not to kings, or cities, or nations, but to humanity itself.
Yet we have no shared philosophy, much less tangible form for the sovereignty of humanity. Why?
Because, caught in the throes of the immense power of the biggest nation-states - the rising power of China, and the declining power of the United States - it's assumed that the sovereignty of nations is a given. It isn't.
What is leadership? Does true leadership have anything to do with power? And can effective, non-power-holding leaders emerge and begin to fill the moral and ethical vacuum in the global society?
During his trial, Socrates said, "It may seem strange that while I go around and give advice privately and interfere in private affairs, I do not venture to go to the assembly and there advise the city. The reason is that I have a divine sign that began when I was a child."
"It is a voice, and whenever it speaks it turns me away from something I am about to do, but it never encourages me to do anything. This is what has prevented me from taking part in public affairs, and I think it was quite right to prevent me. Be sure, gentlemen of the jury, that if I had long ago attempted to take part in politics, I should have died long ago, and benefited neither you nor myself."
Setting aside the question of what Socrates' voice was and where it came from, there's a question I have long grappled with, and which has come to a head in my life.
Fast-forward half millennium, and the language of the Romans, the problem is how to balance "vita contemplativa" with "vita activa" - the contemplative life with the active life, especially where politics is concerned.
Though I was urged to run for Congress when I was living in Silicon Valley in my mid-30's, I stayed out of politics because, as someone said to me then, "it will corrupt you."
In recent years however, I've been working to harmoniously combine the gifts I feel God, loosely defined, gave me: contemplative, inward insight; philosophical, intellectual insight; and political, governance insight. It may be a fool's errand, but I'll see it through.
As unimaginable as it seems at this rusted and corroded hinge of history, what is required is creating and building an inverse Vatican.
The Vatican is ostensibly a spiritual institution with a decidedly political core, whereas a true center of reference for humanity will be an ostensibly political body with a genuinely spiritual core.
I feel it must be created and built now if humankind is to survive and thrive.
Martin LeFevre is a contemplative, and non-academic religious and political philosopher. He welcomes dialogue. firstname.lastname@example.org
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