Wednesday, December 17, 2008

 

Madoff and the Mob

It turns out that Bernard Madoff has probably been running his criminal "Ponzi scheme" for at least ten years. He is in trouble now because he defrauded other crooks who extracted their wealth from the poor and working people 'honestly'. I'm not talking here about petit bourgeois professionals like doctors and accountants. I'm talking those big capitalists who get rich off other people's sweat, resources, and/or by figuring how to sell them crap.

In his intro to a story about Madoff one talk show host opened with a line from G. K. Chesteron's Heretics that I thought was worth quoting here at greater length. Here it is:
The weak point in the whole of Carlyle's case for aristocracy lies, indeed, in his most celebrated phrase. Carlyle said that men were mostly fools. Christianity, with a surer and more reverent realism, says that they are all fools. This doctrine is sometimes called the doctrine of original sin. It may also be described as the doctrine of the equality of men. But the essential point of it is merely this, that whatever primary and far-reaching moral dangers affect any man, affect all men. All men can be criminals, if tempted; all men can be heroes, if inspired. And this doctrine does away altogether with Carlyle's pathetic belief (or any one else's pathetic belief) in "the wise few." There are no wise few. Every aristocracy that has ever existed has behaved, in all essential points, exactly like a small mob. Every oligarchy is merely a knot of men in the street ... And no oligarchies in the world's history have ever come off so badly in practical affairs as the very proud oligarchies ...

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