Let me set the stage for this essay by revealing my worldview when it comes to dealing with bad-faith actors: The exercise of power with the intent of total annihilation of the antagonist in a ruthless fashion.
Now, and I acknowledge this could be seen as a subjective view, in that scenario I'm assuming that there is a conflict between good and evil, and in my worldview, the total annihilation with ruthlessness would be against "evil" actors in the name of justice (in the largest possible context).
Having stated that view, let me share with you what I consider to be one of the most impactful quotes in recent history:
The aide said that guys like me were "in what we call the reality-based community," which he defined as people who "believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality." ... "That's not the way the world really works anymore," he continued. "We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality—judiciously, as you will—we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors…and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do."
The emphasis is mine
-- Ron Suskind quoting Karl Rove / The New York Times Magazine Oct. 17, 2004
I have referenced that quote before because I find it fascinating as it perfectly encapsulates the dynamics between an empowered and emboldened Right Wing and their puppet masters in the form of a group of billionaires (and their front groups) now engaged in dismantling the remnants of our democratic system of government, and an enfeebled, demoralized, beaten down and sometimes complicit Left Wing, the Democratic party establishment and the liberal elite.
Now, before I proceed, let me make a distinction between what I see as a compromised Left Wing (i.e., co-opted by moneyed interests and the power elite) and the type of radical and fully committed social justice activists who have been marginalized by the system... In this piece, I'm talking about the former.
Let me get back to the need of ruthless destruction (figuratively speaking) of the bad-faith actor by referencing this quote from the book "The 48 Laws of Power" by Robert Greene:
Law 15: Crush your Enemy Totally
The emphasis is mine
All great leaders since Moses have known that a feared enemy must be crushed completely. (Sometimes they have learned this the hard way.) If one ember is left alight, no matter how dimly it smolders, a fire will eventually break out. More is lost through stopping halfway than through total annihilation: The enemy will recover, and will seek revenge. Crush him, not only in body but in spirit.
Now, at the micro level, anecdotally speaking, I've come to the conclusion that this "law" is in fact accurate. When it comes to bad-faith actors, or sociopaths, there is something inherently evil in them which makes them incapable of acting in a moral and ethical manner, instead choosing to cause mayhem, pain and destruction as the move up the totem pole of power.
And so I've always understood that (at least in my mind) when someone is identified as a bad-faith actor (immoral, unethical, sadistic, exploitative), then that person must be crushed and defeated--totally. And one must make sure that not one single "ember is left alight, no matter how dimly it smolders."
That's when I usually mention the concept of ruthlessness, since once one has gained the power to crush the bad-faith actor (enemy), one must proceed with ruthlessness.
I argue that when the times call for that kind of approach, history will clearly those leaders who took it as great, and those who demurred, in a different light.
President Obama has had opportunities to crush bad-faith actors, on several occasions, starting with the Wall Street racketeering criminal cartel, and the Bush crimes family, including the person credited with that memorable quote at the top of this essay.
Obama, and the Left in general, could have chosen to be "history's actors" instead of just being observers (and students) of what those who understand how to wield power do. But the timidity of the centrist approach precludes one from being that bold, and because of it, because that timidity does not permit the extinguishing of the last ember, we are now seeing the consequences.
And there is no doubt we are indeed talking about an enemy, a bad-faith actor.
Shutdown shows the Civil War never ended
SALON - Monday, Oct 7, 2013 01:29 PM PST
By Stephan Richter
One of the biggest hoaxes of American history is that the Civil War ended back in 1865. Unfortunately, it has not ended yet. What was achieved back then was an armistice, similar to the situation between the two Koreas.
As the current logjam in the U.S. Congress makes plain, the Civil War is still very present in today’s America – and with virulence that most other civilized nations find as breathtaking as it is irresponsible.
Getting back to the concept of power, one could argue that there is no more concentrated power in the world greater than the office of the presidency of the United States. And that is notwithstanding the check and balances built in our system of government.
I think that at this point it is reasonable to argue that we are in the middle of a constitutional crisis. And I think that those responsible for the crisis can be safely identified as bad-faith actors, as the enemy within, as forces colluding to take nullify, to take down the remnants of our democratic system of government.
It is precisely during these historic times that call for great leaders who are not afraid to flex their muscles and exercise the maximum amount of power at their disposal.
For example, when it comes to the debt ceiling, many scholars have argued that the president has not only the authority, but the duty to abide by the 14th Amendment, as argued by Princeton University professor of history Sean Wilentz in an oped in the New York Times: "Obama and the Debt".
THE Republicans in the House of Representatives who declare that they may refuse to raise the debt limit threaten to do more than plunge the government into default. They are proposing a blatant violation of the 14th Amendment, which states that “the validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law” is sacrosanct and “shall not be questioned.”
The emphasis is mine
Yet the Obama administration has repeatedly suppressed any talk of invoking the Constitution in this emergency. Last Thursday Jay Carney, the White House press secretary, said, “We do not believe that the 14th Amendment provides that authority to the president” to end the crisis. Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew reiterated the point on Sunday and added that the president would have “no option” to prevent a default on his own.
In defense of the administration’s position, the legal scholar Laurence H. Tribe, who taught President Obama at Harvard Law School, has insisted, as he put it two years ago, that “only political courage and compromise” can avert disaster.
These assertions, however, have no basis in the history of the 14th Amendment; indeed, they distort that history, and in doing so shackle the president. In fact, that record clearly shows that Congress intended the amendment to prevent precisely the abuses that the current House Republicans blithely condone.
We'll have to wait and see what develops, how the president will act each step of the way with these enemies, with these bad faith actors. One would hope that the gloves would come off and that he would wield the power he has to the maximum, and let the chips fall where they may. I will hold judgement and will not look back at past performance, as this clearly is an unprecedented situation. Will he choose greatness in the face of these unprecedented challenges brought about by the conduct of sociopaths?
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