|A Greek lesson: what The Magus can tell us about the contemporary U.S.A. In John Fowles’ The Magus, the German S.S. Colonel Wilhelm Dietrich Wimmel, the Nazi monster whose henchmen are torturing Greek freedom fighters, says to Conchis, the mayor of the Greek island, Phraxos: “You will remember that like every other officer I have one supreme purpose in my life, the German historical purpose – to do my duty, which is to bring order into the chaos of Europe. Nothing – nothing! – stands between me and that duty.” And Conchis, who although he is shot by the Nazis, survives to relate the incident:“I cannot tell you how, but I knew he (Wimmel) was lying. One of the great fallacies of our time is that the Nazis rose to power because they imposed order on chaos. Precisely the opposite is true – they were successful because they imposed chaos on order. They tore up the commandments, they denied the super-ego, what you will. They said, ‘You may persecute the minority, you may kill, you may torture, you may couple and breed without love.’ They offered humanity all its great temptations. Nothing is true, everything is permitted. Wimmel gives Conchis the choice of saving the lives, if not the freedom, of 80 hostages if he will club to death the captured, tortured Greek freedom fighter, the guerilla leader, who has had his tongue burned off to the root already by Wimmel’s henchmen. Conchis prepares to club the tortured man to death in order to save his people, but just before he is about to do so, Conchis hears incoherent syllables from the tortured man that are recognizable only because the man had previously shouted the same syllables out when he still had a tongue, the one Greek word, eleutheria, which means freedom.And Conchis goes on to relate these thoughts about the tortured man:What did Christ say on the cross? Why hast thou forsaken me? What this man said was something far less sympathetic, far less pitiful, even far less human, but far profounder. He spoke out of a world the very opposite of mine. In mine life had no price. It was so valuable that it was literally priceless. In his, only one thing had that quality of pricelessness. It was eleutheria: freedom. He was the immalleable, the essence, the beyond reason, beyond logic, beyond civilization, beyond history. He was not God, because there is no God we can know. But he was a proof that there is a God that we can never know. He was the final right to deny. To be free to choose. Americans forget that the patriot, Patrick Henry, in the spirit of the guerilla leader mentioned above, said, Give me liberty or give me death. Instead our elected leaders engage in supporting the water-board torturing of prisoners in Guantanamo that have been denied habeus corpus for years. Instead our leaders institute the use of drones to indiscriminately murder civilians. Instead our leaders support foreign dictators the world over so that we can try to maintain the standard of living that we have become accustomed to through the exploitation of subject peoples and resources. Instead our leaders launch pre-emptive wars and/or counter-intelligence operations against countries whose resources we would like to capture, or keep control of when that control is threatened. We enact into law almost unanimously an extremely unpatriotic Patriot Act, which advances the cause of stamping out freedom both at home and abroad. Like the Nazi Germans, we tell ourselves that we are trying to maintain world order, but instead, we are really destroying the possibility of order, bringing chaos to the world.
The Pentagon is now engaged in funding social science research to quash the rebelliousness of the world’s peoples, internally and externally. This rebelliousness, which has been brought about to a very significant degree by the anti-freedom policies of the United States since World War II, is regarded by our leaders as a chaos that threatens our world order, our hegemony.
The Guardian, in an article by Nafeez Ahmed published on June 13 and 14, 2014 about the Pentagon, concluded:
“As the instability of global capitalism accelerates, the ‘war on terror’ is increasingly transforming into a war on dissent – a war on everyone who either opposes global capitalism in its current form, or is marginalised by it. In a world where 85 people are collectively worth $1 trillion – equal to the entire wealth of the bottom half of the world’s population – it’s fair to say that makes most of us.”
A future novelist, if not future historians, will write:
One of the great fallacies of our time is that the U.S.A. maintained its power because it imposed order on chaos. Precisely the opposite is true – it was successful because it imposed chaos on order. The leaders tore up the commandments, they denied the super-ego, what you will. They said, ‘You may persecute minorities, you may kill, you may torture, you may couple and breed without love.’ They offered humanity all its great temptations. Nothing is true, everything is permitted.
A suitable gravestone for Dick Cheney, George W. Bush, and other Americans who instituted widespread torture and human experimentation would read:
NOTHING IS TRUE. EVERYTHING IS PERMITTED.