February 4, 2004
Wednesday
vol 15, no. 35

Leaping into the Hand-basket Bound for Hell

    The Wall Street Spin is going up in smoke, or make that down because Our Lord's warning in Mark 8: 36, "For what shall it profit a man, if he gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?" has been totally lost on the agnostic anal authors who worship at the capitalism-at-any-price altar.

by Father Lawrence Smith
      Editor's Note: The following piece was written so eloquently by Father Lawrence Smith who assists Father Patrick Perez at Our Lady Help of Christians Latin Mass community in Garden Grove, California, and is a frequent contributor to the excellent Traditional publication The Remnant. Father had sent this piece originally to The New York Times as a letter to the editor several weeks ago in response to the insanity of Adam Liptak's article "The Making and Taking of AOL-Time Warner" on January 18, 2004. Naturally, the Times would never print such an honest rebuttal as Father provides below.

"For if the truth is that there is no meaning, no purpose, no God, and no afterlife, one should not hold one's breath seeking virtue in the boardroom. There is a quaint old idea among us moralists that truth is a virtue. The reporter in The New York Times story tells us that truth has no place in the boardroom, or, to put it quaintly, that virtue has no place in the boardroom. It would be foolhardy, then, to think that a room full of people lacking virtue, disdaining truth, are going to be champions of fair play, the little guy, or, indeed, honesty."

         [Gerald M.] Levin, who provided plenty of access to the authors of all three of the books on the [AOL-Time Warner] merger, does not come off well in any of them, but he reserved his flakiest comments for Munk. ''It's absolutely true that I plotted the departure of Nick Nicholas after working with him for 20 years,'' Levin told her about the palace coup that got him the top job at Time Warner in 1992. ''And I don't have justifications for it other than that I'm a strange person.'' He did cite Albert Camus by way of explanation. As he explained to Munk in another context, his own philosophy was rooted in what he learned from Camus: ''That we impute meaning and purpose to things that are totally adventitious or accidental; that there is no God; that there just is; that there's no life after death.'' Fine for grad school, and probably true, but not exactly suited to the boardroom.

        - Adam Liptak, "The Making and Taking of AOL-Time Warner",
        The New York Times, 18 January 2004

   Where and how does one begin when everything around him is ending?

   The above quote is a sign of the times, a portent of the dissolution of all things. It is not necessary to go into detail about the substance of the article whence the quote came. The writer is waxing indignant that there are greedy people operating in corporate America - imagine that!

   None but the delusional believed that the "wealth" with which AOL "purchased" Time Warner existed anywhere but in the dreams of stock options dancing in the heads of the major players. Of course, in 2000 and 2001, much of Wall Street and Main Street were delusional, caught in the grip of what the primary inmate guarding the insane asylum known as capitalism, Alan Greenspan, called "irrational exuberance". A media goliath was formed worth dozens of billions of dollars, only to be brought down (in stock price, that is) by the David of reality rearing its ugly head, namely, that businesses are expected to post profits at some point, and actually producing a product is not a bad idea, either. AOL was (is) so woefully inadequate at profits and production that its very name is now expunged from the Time Warner corporate identity. It is perhaps only a matter of time before Time Warner sells its purchaser to one of its competitors - for a sizeable quantity of stock options and a business plan to be named later.

   But the best story involved in this story is the reporting thereof. Read the quote again. I'll wait a few minutes to give you a chance…

   Do you see the problem? If not, you, too, can be a part of the parade to perdition. For those of you who caught the absurdity, please be patient with your slower fellows as I attempt to illustrate what is contributing to the destruction of mankind in our day.

   "Fine for grad school, and probably true, but not exactly suited for the boardroom." That might as well be the epitaph of modernity. The barons of capitalism run this country (into the ground). They do so without reference to God or to Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, or to His Body, the Catholic Church. Their willing minions, sometimes known as wage slaves, blithely play along and sell themselves to the bidder who is least likely to fire them before they get a chance to refinance their mortgages. What's good for GM is good for America, or maybe the new summum bonum is Wal-Mart, or perhaps Microsoft.

   At any rate, the writer in the offending article says that the boardroom, the habitat of the captains of industry, the masters of our destiny, is not a place suited for the expression of what he considers to be "probably true". This probable truth, that there is no meaning, purpose, God, or afterlife, just an amorphous "is", evidently can satisfy graduate students, treacherous friends, and newspaper reporters, but is to be disdained by men responsible for trillions of dollars and billions of people.

   It does not seem to occur to many people that if there is no meaning, no purpose, no God, and no afterlife, then there is also no such thing as good or evil. There just is. Whatever is is. Bill Clinton, eat your heart out!

   Which leads one to wonder why, then, must anyone get upset over a few billion dollars changing hands among our corporate keepers? If there is no right or wrong, no God, no meaning, and no purpose, just an is happily being whatever an is can be, then none needs complain, none needs attempt to correct, none needs to hesitate to rip off stock holders whenever one lacks justifications beyond being "a strange person". It should surprise no one that a self-described strange person, capable of betraying a business associate of twenty years' standing, would feel few if any qualms about gambling with billions of dollars of other people's money, playing fast and loose with thousands of people's livelihoods, and walking away after it all satisfied that his ego has been gratified.

   For if the truth is that there is no meaning, no purpose, no God, and no afterlife, one should not hold one's breath seeking virtue in the boardroom. There is a quaint old idea among us moralists that truth is a virtue. The reporter in The New York Times story tells us that truth has no place in the boardroom, or, to put it quaintly, that virtue has no place in the boardroom. It would be foolhardy, then, to think that a room full of people lacking virtue, disdaining truth, are going to be champions of fair play, the little guy, or, indeed, honesty.

   It could be my mistake, however. Perhaps the writer is saying that there is no place in the boardroom for such grievous relativism and nihilism. Could it be that he is suggesting that a better truth to be employed in the boardroom would be God and His greater glory in all things? It would be amusing to believe so, but one would need to be delusional to the point of looking for wealth in stock markets and non-productive "industries". Delusional people are rarely amused or amusing, for which reason they are called in better English, mad.

   Minds should be boggled at the challenge of explaining how a reporter goes from averring that eternal life, meaning, purpose, and God are expendable realities for the boardroom, to then asserting that the tycoons inhabiting said boardrooms should respond to a sense of responsibility to someone beyond themselves. Why should they? Lacking judgement, meaning, purpose, and an all-powerful God, one is left with only the court system and federal prisons for ultimate protection. Anyone with a modicum of consciousness is aware that hard time is rarely done by "white-collar" criminals. And on top of that, what was done to and at AOL-Time Warner broke no human laws and, given the premise at hand, there being no God, no divine laws were broken, either.

   What is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. Corporate America has convinced Americans that a business approach to all things - government, families, even the Church - is the most efficient, reasonable, and mutually agreeable means to maintaining social order. The loss of meaning, purpose, God, and the afterlife from the boardroom, it would seem, would result in a concomitant and parallel denial of such in the business savvy politics exercised in Washington, DC, and in statehouses around the country; in the personal economies of individuals and families throughout the land; and among those congregations fond of the modernist aphorism, "No margin, no mission."

   Partisan gridlock, divorce, and the plummeting of numbers of people attending any kind of religious activity on a regular basis strongly suggest that meaninglessness, purposelessness, Godlessness, and hopelessness are endemic among us. This writer is at a loss as to how one keeps a "truth" of the magnitude that God, meaning, purpose, and the afterlife do not exist from invading simply every aspect of one's life. Admitting that "truth" is not seen as problematic by the modern mind. Acting on that truth seems to have become something of a reflex in the modern person. If indeed one can expunge that "truth" from the boardroom, and, presumably, from government, the home, and religious entities, one would think that some kind of improvement would result.

   Two questions come to mind, then. First, do Americans indeed believe that God gives purpose and meaning to man, and can be trusted to provide for him after this life is over? And, second, if they do indeed believe that He is provident, loving, and involved, what sign can modern Americans offer that they are acting on that belief.

   AOL-Time Warner, the war in Iraq, abortion, divorce, sodomy, and blind consumerism seem to indicate that American conviction lies more along the lines of Camus, Levin, and the Times reporter, than in keeping with Christ and Him Crucified. How does one convince a culture so far gone to go back the other way? What can one do to convince his fellows of the peril of their ends when they do not think there is any end beyond "there just is"?

Father Lawrence Smith
18 January 2004: The Feast of the Chair of St. Peter at Rome



For past articles in FOCUS, see FOCUS ARCHIVES


    February 4, 2004
    vol 15, no. 35
    FOCUS