Accepting the Wisdom of Our Errors
by Matt Stoller, Sun Feb 04, 2007 at 06:53:27 AM EST
George Soros said the following at Davos, and he's correct.
After asserting that the United States is recognizing the error it made in Iraq, Soros said, "To what extent it recognizes the mistake will determine its future."
He went on to say that Turkey and Japan are still hurt by a reluctance to admit to dark parts of their history, and contrasted that reluctance to Germany's rejection of its Nazi-era past.
"America needs to follow the policies it has introduced in Germany," Soros said. "We have to go through a certain de-Nazification process."
Until we admit our errors, we will continue on a downward spiral towards oblivion. I was driving into Boston when the lite-brite ridiculousness went on, the marketing ploy that Mayor Menino used to scare the city. A mayor and police department shutting down a city based on fear, incompetence, and arrogance is a serious abridgment of freedom. That he has paid no price for his smearing of two men suggests just how tightly this country is wrapped in a blanket of nationalism and fear.
The smears against Soros are coming from a specific AIPAC-dominated corner of DC, from those who promote fear-mongering and murder. I was struck by this revealing fact about Marty Peretz, who never hesitates to imply that other Jews are antisemitic in a third-rate McCarthyist retread performance. Here's Steve Clemons:
Martin Peretz, to my knowledge, has engaged in little to no self-scrutiny about the role that his own influential commentary had on the buildup to the Iraq War. He, to my knowledge, has not exposed his close personal relationship with Ahmed Chalabi -- whom I met at The New Republic at a meeting organized by Peretz for editors of the magazine. I emphasize to my knowledge.
Peretz helped sell Chalabi -- and helped sell the Iraqi National Congress -- to official Washington. Chalabi, whose intelligence chief later defected to Iran, and Chalabi who himself allegedly passed on information he was getting from his American contacts to Iranian sources.
Peretz and those who worked at The New Republic have blood on their hands. Soros is making the simple point that accountability to the past is essential to prevent future error, and using the denazification process as an example of how to do this correctly.
We need to grapple with the tremendous arrogance and errors of our ruling class, and as the American public, we need to grapple with our own willingness to tolerate it. Of the candidates I saw over the past few days, only Bill Richardson pointed out that Iraq is the symptom, but the disease is arrogance. As citizens, we need to figure out how to move beyond notions of electability, strategy, positioning, and partisanship, and move to the larger issues that Soros discusses. What is our America? How do we deal with a fundamentally illegitimate Republican Party in a two party system? How do we correct a money-driven lack of democratic process and an increasingly militarized state? How do we correct the irresponsible actions of our corporate ruling class, and impose accountability on this increasingly global and unaccountable elite? How do we deal with politicians who will not admit error?
These are not easy questions, and for us, it's much more fun to slip into a rank partisanship and sniping about 2008. But we ought to forget about the candidates we're boosting once in awhile, and remember that we are citizens whose actions have moral consequence. Each of us can make choices about our America, and it's our actions that suggest where our values lie. If you can't admit error, if you can't handle the words that Soros is holding as a moral mirror to our guilty faces, then you need to look within yourself, and work to bring yourself to a position where you can eventually come to recognize wisdom.