Friday, July 01, 2011

The Wise Men

I've been reading one of the novels in Isaac Asimov's Foundation series. Great literature-- the Foundation saga is great literature-- gives one insights about how to view one's world. I'm struck by Asimov's tops-down viewpoint, which assumes hierarchies and competing intelligent rulers who run those hierarches.

There's no question that this is the viewpoint of those who run the American empire. It has been the prevailing operating philosophy since World War II, when the nation was led-- some would say taken over-- by several of the most intelligent Americans who ever lived. George Marshall, Dwight Eisenhower, and George Kennan were among their number. Above them all sat the master manipulator, Franklin Delano Roosevelt. As in an Asimovian universe, these wise men, in order to keep our planet from evil and chaos, the violence, madness, and destruction everywhere around them, constructed the American machine which for over sixty years has been the planet's dominant force.

Who runs the machine now?

Thinking of today's figures as characters from an Asimov novel, our Presidents, be they Obama or the younger Bush, are a tad too young, energetic, and callow to be much more than dynamic front men. True decisions are not made by any one man or woman, but through a consensus of men and women who follow the outlines of the plan which the Seldon-like FDR put into place. Surface power is granted to a First Foundation, which is then closely watched by a Second Foundation. If the plan gets too far off course, they then move to put it back in line. (1963? 1974?)

When one understands the immense importance of monetary policy and the financial system, then it's easy to think that America runs with a dual leadership. The Chairman of the Federal Reserve is at least as influential as the President in what the future of our civilization looks like, because he provides the life-sustaining blood-- the lubricant of money without which nothing will work.

I thought of this while hearing about Alan Greenspan's strong criticisms of current Fed Chair Ben Bernancke. Bernancke has foolishly pumped too much money into the system-- the consequences have only begun to be played out. Whatever one thinks of Greenspan, he kept the American imperial system operating in one piece through many crises over two decades. Strangely enough, Greenspan was once a protege of Ayn Rand, an Asimov-like novelist.


Anonymous said...

This is the most bizarre post I have read on this blog.

King Wenclas said...

Really? That's saying a lot, considering the many unorthodox ideas I've posted here.
In some sense you're right.
In this conformist time, stating imaginative premises based on different ways of viewing the world are considered bizarre.
On the other hand, making snarky anonymous posts of no substance, with no detail, scampering away hit and run style, no risk or commitment to them, is par for the course!
This is an age of insubstantial people, no backbone, no character, near-ghosts of nothingness. How would Asimov portray them? I've called them the demi-puppets.