The Wine of Infinity

As I have said before, a career and life in international affairs generally consists of three stages. First, there is one’s background and one’s student life. After this first stage, the course or trajectory of one’s career and life in international affairs can go one of either two ways, in the sense that one can either be lodged into the corporate and government sector after the student life, or one can continue in academia or perhaps enter the world of journalism when one is done with being a student. In some cases, a life in academia and journalism follows a stint in the corporate and government sector. In sum – and in no specific order – a life in international affairs consists of three stages, namely, background and student life as the initial stage, corporate and government work, and academia and journalism.

As has been argued by many folks in both the past and the present, the basic discourse behind corporate and government life in the United States is a “colonial” or “imperialistic” or even “hegemonic” discourse. In turn, the psychological drivers and philosophical underpinnings of such a discourse is essentially unbridled accumulation, expansion, gambling, speculation, and transfer of private capital wielded by a handful of feudal families, without any democratic accountability or any focus on domestic productivity. As Hannah Arendt wrote: 

“What imperialists actually wanted was expansion of political power without the foundation of a body politic. Imperialist expansion had been touched off by a curious kind of economic crisis, the overproduction of capital and the emergence of ‘superfluous’ money, the result of oversaving, which could no longer find productive investment within the national borders. For the first time, investment of power did not pave the way for investment of money, but export of power followed meekly in the train of exported money, since uncontrollable investments in distant countries threatened to transform large strata of society into gamblers, to change the whole capitalist economy from a system of production into a system of financial speculation, and to replace the profits of production with profits in commissions.”

One can rightly argue that the same discourse which underpins corporate and government work in America has also pervaded the realm of academia and journalism in America. If anything, academia and higher education in America is now designed to facilitate a direct route into the corporate and government sector, while the mainstream media is tasked with glorifying and assigning ‘prestige’ to those occupying key positions in the corporate and government sector. In turn, there is an “old upper class” of high finance which fosters the “new upper class” that is then situated in key corporate and government positions. Thus, the “old upper class” couples itself with the “new upper class” with the aim of mutual benefit and mutual exchange, as was argued by the 20th century American sociologist C. Wright Mills. In turn, the role of the American mainstream media is essentially two-fold. For one, the role of the mainstream media is to glorify and foster ‘prestige’ around this “new upper class.” Second, the role of the American mainstream media also consists of transmitting the propaganda of the “old upper class” to the broader world. 

And as the 20th century American historian Carroll Quigley wrote, this “old upper class” in America “has been able to conceal its existence quite successfully, and many of its most influential members, satisfied to possess the reality rather than the appearance of power, are unknown even to close students of [Anglo-American] history.” Any sort of interconnection or interplay between the “old upper class” and the “new upper class” is based on “tenuous links of friendship, personal association, and common ideals” which are “so indefinite in their outlines…that it is not always possible to say who is a member and who is not.” Quigley added: “Indeed, there is no sharp line of demarcation between those who are members and those who are not, since ‘membership’ is possessed in various degrees, and the degree changes at different times.” 

Whereas modern and contemporary business, governance, academia, and journalism are all designed to decorate and shroud this “old upper class” of financiers, traditional discourse and traditional learning, on the other hand, strives for the truth. In turn, the ‘truth’ is a matter of spirit and universal essence and intoxication more than anything else. As Rumi wrote in a poem titled “The Spirit-Lion in a Human Being”:

You are the soul of the soul of the soul, the door. 

Open us into existence.

When separation makes us angry, you strike its neck with a sword.

When union becomes vague, you nourish it.

You feed everything for nothing. 

Ancient civilizations begin to flourish again. 

The March sun warms the world like singing, 

like tambourine and harp.

When branches are covered in buds, 

who is sober enough to take a message to the king?

No one. All right.

Do you remember how a gnat once got drunk

and walked into the ear of a tyrant,

then into his brain, and killed him?

If grape-wine can do that to a gnat,

what will the wine of infinity do to you and me?

A cave dog watched over the sleepers. 

If a dog can become a shepherd,

what can the spirit-lion in a human being become?

Sparks from a fire lift into the sky and turn to stars. 

Shams is now a depth of awareness

that rises every morning in the east. 

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