“He taught us to be free.” Although he was an absolutist, not especially reasonable, and anything but a revolutionary, Voltaire fought absolutism, embodies the Age of Reason, and made the Revolution inevitable. He died at the dawn of the industrial age. We are at the dawn of a whole new era. Is a new revolution a foregone conclusion. …
Cornel West:“But it became very clear when I looked at the neoliberal economic team. The first announcement of Summers and Geithner I went ballistic. I said, ‘Oh, my God, I have really been misled at a very deep level.’ And the same is true for Dennis Ross and the other neo-imperial elites. I said, ‘I have been thoroughly misled, all this populist language is just a facade. I was under the impression that he might bring in the voices of brother Joseph Stiglitz and brother Paul Krugman. I figured, OK, given the structure of constraints of the capitalist democratic procedure that’s probably the best he could do. But at least he would have some voices concerned about working people, dealing with issues of jobs and downsizing and banks, some semblance of democratic accountability for Wall Street oligarchs and corporate plutocrats who are just running amuck. I was completely wrong.” Read More:http://www.israeli-occupation.org/2011-05-17/chris-hedges-the-obama-deception-why-cornel-west-went-ballistic/
Voltaire taught three generations that superstition was ridiculous, sentiment absurd, fanaticism unintelligent and oppression infamous. Although his literary taste was questionable, Voltaire’s political and philosophic apothegms changed the thinking habits of the civilized world. He was the inventor of that critical habit of thought which sapped faith in the established system, which deprived the upper class of its self-confidence , and which became one of the causes of the French Revolution. The Bourbon’s had their revenge, pitching his and Rousseau’s bones after exhuming the bodies, into a pit outside Paris, where they were consumed by quicklime.
Voltaire was an expert in exposing shams. Much like today, the whole structure of society at the outset of the eighteenth-century was founded on make-believe, the blast of his irony, the flame of his sarcasm had a withering effect. He was one of the most potent destructive writers that ever lived, though he was not a constructive one. To a large extent, Voltaire today expresses the views of the entrenched establishment: he was hardly a revolutionary. If he had any ideal of human government it was the Platonic creed of the philosopher-king, assisted by an elite cadre of cultivated nobles. Voltaire held no belief that all men were created equal, nor did he possess any real conception of liberty as a balance of rights and duties guaranteed by an impartial and known system of laws.
…Goldman Sachs Group Inc Chief Executive Lloyd Blankfein canceled a planned lecture this week at Barnard College, a liberal arts school in Manhattan, as students prepared to protest his appearance. Goldman has been painted by some lawmakers and activists as the epitome of Wall Street greed following investigations into its actions leading up to the financial crisis. Blankfein, who has headed the firm since 2006, has frequently been the target of populist rage. Last week, an Occupy Wall Street protester marched with a gory image of Blankfein’s head impaled on a stick, according to the financial blog Business Insider. In late-September, an anonymous hacker posted his address and other personal information onto the website pastebin….( Reuters )
Although Voltaire extolled freedom of thought and expression as in England, he felt the central government had every right to prosecute those who openly attacked it. He refused to recognize the distinction between despotism and constitutional monarchy and was an advocate of absolute power in government. All in all, an untenable paradox in his contradictory political thought which has come down to us today in preserved form of practical reforms with only the dim realization that true liberty meant the absolute equality of all citizens under the law. He would have agreed with Goethe that nationalism is the sign of a low standard of culture.
Voltaire’s sense of entitlement and privilege is akin to the much pilloried captains of Wall Street as well: Voltaire would have described himself as a deist, and that the firmament moves and circles with intricate regularity, implying there must exist a supreme geometrician who ordains and orders such things. Certainly, he wrote, ” there exists a difference between the ideas of Newton and the droppings of a mule.” With regards to the supreme geometrician, “all I can do is worship him.. from an all perfect being, evil cannot result.” The Lisbon earthquake shook Voltaire out of his complacency and he drifted into vague agnosticism.
Martin in Candide says, ” you should work and not waste time in speculation: this is the only way to render life endurable.” Candide sighs and accepts this doctrine. The story ends with the famous, ” mais il faut cultiver notre jardin.” of which Voltaire did, amassing a hefty personal fortune. He was reticent about his money making methods, and in Candide asserts that the art of making money consists in “having been born lucky.” It seems however that he speculated on army contracts and prospered as a moneylender, providing cash advances to impoverished nobles at high interest rates, and perhaps the source of his anti-semitic side with competition from Jewish merchants.
Until he purchased the estate of Ferney, he lived most of the time at the expense of other people, accumulating a fortune meanwhile which rendered him, by modern standards, a very rich man. No wonder Diderot in his attic and Rousseau in his hermitage looked on Voltaire as different than themselves.
Matt Taibbi:They weren’t murderers or anything; they had merely stolen more money than most people can rationally conceive of, from their own customers, in a few blinks of an eye. But then they went one step further. They came to Washington, took an oath before Congress, and lied about it.
Thanks to an extraordinary investigative effort by a Senate subcommittee that unilaterally decided to take up the burden the criminal justice system has repeatedly refused to shoulder, we now know exactly what Goldman Sachs executives like Lloyd Blankfein and Daniel Sparks lied about. We know exactly how they and other top Goldman executives, including David Viniar and Thomas Montag, defrauded their clients. America has been waiting for a case to bring against Wall Street. Here it is, and the evidence has been gift-wrapped and left at the doorstep of federal prosecutors, evidence that doesn’t leave much doubt: Goldman Sachs should stand trial. Read More:http://www.zerohedge.com/article/people-vs-goldman-sachs-taibbis-magnum-opus
John B. Judis:Another reason is the centuries-old tendency in American politics to allow moral condemnation to outweigh sober economic analysis. Picturing bankers and Wall Street as a “parasite class” or as “vampires” is an old tradition in American politics. It goes back to Andrew Jackson’s war against the Second Bank of the United States and to Populist Party polemics against “a government of Wall Street, by Wall Street, and for Wall Street.” And currently it is one of the few ideological bonds between the Tea Party and left-wing Democratic activists. But, just as free silver wasn’t the answer to the depression of the 1890s, smashing the banks isn’t the answer to the Great Recession of the 2000s. The answer ultimately lies in the ability of U.S. businesses to produce goods and services that can compete effectively at home and on the world market. Read More:http://www.nationalpost.com/news/Stop+blaming+wall+street/5134827/story.html