Friday, July 01, 2016

Money! Money! Money!

The old Soviet system couldn't care a shit about gods; after all, they were implementing the ideas of a thinker who declared that religion was the opium of the masses.  Commies were godless and were anti-market.

The pro-market America was all about god and bible-thumping politicians.  "God bless America" became a mantra that if not faithfully rendered made one a dirty commie.  Can you imagine an American President not concluding a serious address to the nation with a "God bless America"?  It is like how beauty pageant contestants wish for world peace ;)

In that lies an interesting irony. The faith in god requires many beliefs, including that there is a higher purpose to life, with the path leading to god.  The market, on the other hand, is built on the exact opposite idea--there is no purpose to any damn thing.  If you want to sell and if there are buyers for it, the transaction happens.  If you can't sell, you lose.  If you make money out of it, so be it.  The market simply is.  The commies, on the other hand, firmly believed in a political economic system that served a higher purpose.  They were, ahem, religious about it.

Perhaps it would be more consistent if the god-believing "non-commies" designed their political economy in order to serve a higher purpose, while the godless "commies" lives in the anything-goes system.  But, inconsistency is what life is, I guess.

Apparently god likes the purpose-less free market of anything, and cursed the godless "higher purpose" commies to collapse ;)

The sudden death of the command and control Soviet economy features a lot in Svetlana Alexievich's Secondhand Time.  One of the people, who talks to the author dropped out of the university after his second year, says "the market became our university ... Maybe it's going too far to call it a university, but an elementary school for life, definitely."
I feel sorry for my parents because they were told flat out that they were pathetic sovoks whose lives had been wasted for less than a sniff of tobacco, that everything was their fault, beginning with Noah's Ark, and that now, no one needed them anymore.  Imagine working that hard, your whole life, only to end up with nothing.  All of it took the ground out from underneath them, their world was shattered; they still haven't recovered, they couldn't assimilate into the drastically new reality.  My younger brother would wash cars after class, sell chewing gum and other junk in the subway, and he made more money than our father--our father was a scientist. A PhD! ... This was how capitalism came into our lives ...
Whether or not we believe in gods and religions, every one of us--consciously or subconsciously--attempt to create a meaning for the insanely short times that we have in this cosmos.  When that meaning is shattered, the existential crisis becomes unbearable.  When people here in the US suddenly lose their jobs for no fault of theirs, the existential struggle is as real as the Russian PhD who was not needed anymore.  The tragedy is that the pro-market but god-believing people, who vastly outnumber us infidels, rarely want to spare a dime and help ease that existential struggle of the "losers."  But then that's what the "free market" is all about, I suppose.

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