Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Olmert – The Proud and Foolish face of a Sick Israeli Society

There has been some talk in the past days about Israel’s leadership crisis, and how bad Olmert was and is for Israel. The most forceful argument for change was made several times by Ari Shavit from Haaretz. So in that context I’m presenting a few gems, concerning the relationship between philosophy, politics, and the truth. I came across these while doing some research for my next post (about applying the scientific method to tikkun). I found the original document here in Hebrew, and the translation is mine. It is from a short treatise by Prof. of history and philosophy of science Zev Bechler from TAU discussing the execution of Socrates. Usually I have an intense dislike for philosophers who tend to raise silly questions like “ did I eat dinner? And if I did, was it actually me who ate that dinner?” As far as I am concerned, the answer is – don’t eat dinner or anything else until you are hungry enough to stop thinking, and start living.
But Prof. Bechler is very direct, articulate and sharp. Here a few choice quotes from a paper :

...The mission of the philosopher is to expose the lie of relative truth, but in doing so, he undermines one of the principal mechanisms that the authorities use to maintain their power…”
“…Philosophy is in essence reclusive. The politician, whose essence is public appearance, cannot be a philosopher and the philosopher cannot be a politician…
..every time a philosopher becomes a politician, he declares that he is no longer interested in the truth, and that he is, from now on, a pseudo-philosopher, a philosopher dealing in lies.”

(Writing this down I suddenly realize that we actually do have such a case in the Knesset: Prof. of Philosophy turned politician MK Yuval Stienitz from the Likud party, and also a supporter of disengagement. A coincidence? Me thinks not…)

“The life of a politician is a public life since his fate is determined by the public. The life of a philosopher is a cloistered, secluded life because his fate is determined solely by the truth. The life of the people is an economic life, production of goods and money intended to improve their life and sustain the politicians and philosophers. Since the people are in touch only with the politicians, they do not have access to the truth. The people are fed bullshit all the time and they know it perfectly well, but since the philosopher is afraid of both the people and the politicians, the people have no chance to get to the truth….”

Well they do now – thanks to the internet!!

So what did we learn? For one thing – Olmert in all likelihood, is not a philosopher, which is probably a good thing, at least for philosophy.
Also, if we accept that the people are aware, at least on some level, that they are being conned, then it follows that the problem is not, essentially, Olmert, but the people, you, me them – everybody.
So changing the heads without popular demand will not solve the basic problems, especially if the head will be Bibbi’s vacillating one. In fact, I do not see in Israeli politics a leader that is fit to heal this people and direct them to their next challenge. Nor do I see a leader that understands reality in terms that are spiritual and not only political.
So for the time being Olmert is the weak, inept, selfish, and corrupt leader that Israel chose and mostly likely deserves – until we chose differently.
So i think we can just sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride ( and pray that we survive it).

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