Monday, October 31, 2011


Jose Saramago

JOSE SARAMAGO: September 18 - George W. Bush,
or the Age of Lies

I wonder why it is that the United States, a country so great in all things, has so often had such small presidents. George W. Bush is perhaps the smallest of them all. This man, with his mediocre intelligence, abysmal ignorance, confused communication skills, and constant succumbing to the irresistible temptation of pure nonsense, has presented himself to humanity in the grotesque pose of a cowboy, who has inherited the world and mistaken it for a herd of cattle. We don't know what he really thinks, we don't even know if he does think (in the noble sense of the word), we don't know whether he might not be just a badly programmed robot that constantly confuses and switches around the messages it carries around inside it. But to give the man some credit for once in his life, there is one program in the robot George Bush, president of the United States, that works to perfection: lying. He knows he's lying, he knows we know he's lying, but being a compulsive liar, he will keep on lying even when he has the most naked truth right there before his eyes — he will keep on lying even after the truth has exploded in his face. He lied to justify waging war in Iraq just as he lied about his stormy and questionable past, and with just the same shamelessness. With Bush, the lies come from very deep down; they are in his blood. A liar emeritus, he is the high priest of all the other liars who have surrounded him, applauded him, and served him over the past few years.

George Bush expelled truth from the world, establishing the age of lies that now flourishes in its place. Human society today is contaminated by lies, the worst sort of moral contamination, and he is among those chiefly responsible. The lie circulates everywhere with impunity, and has already turned into a kind of other truth. When a few years ago a Portuguese prime minister — whose name for charity's sake I will not mention here — stated that "politics is the art of not telling the truth," he could never have imagined that some time later George W. Bush would transform this shocking statement into a naive trick of fringe politics, with no real awareness of the value or the significance of words. For Bush, politics is simply one of the levers of business, and perhaps the best one of all — the lie as a weapon, the lie as the advance guard of tanks and cannons, the lie told over the ruins, over the corpses, over humanity's wretched and perpetually frustrated hopes. We cannot be sure that today's world is more secure, but we can have no doubt that it would be much cleaner without the imperial and colonial politics of the president of the United States, George Walker Bush, and of the many — quite aware of the fraud they were perpetrating — who allowed him into the White House. History will hold them to account.

JOSE SARAMAGO: February 4 - Bankers

What can be done about the bankers? They tell us that the founders of the banking system, back in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, at least in Central Europe, were in general Calvinists, folk with an exigent moral code who, at least for a while, had the laudable scruple to labor honestly at their profession. That period must have been short, given the infinite power of money to corrupt. Gradually, the banks changed a great deal, and always for the worse. Now, in the midst of an economic crisis affecting financial systems around the world, we are beginning to experience the uncomfortable sensation that those who are going to come off best from the financial storms are precisely our Senhores Bankers. Everywhere governments, following the logic of the absurd, rushed to rescue the banks from losses for which, for the most part,those self-same bankers were responsible. Millions of millions left state coffers (or the accounts of the bankers' clients) in order to keep hundreds of major banks afloat and to allow them to resume one of their principal functions, that of providing credit. It would seem there are serious signs that bankers had their wits about them, abusively assuming that the money was theirs simply because it happened to be in their grasp and, as if all this weren't already more than enough, reacting coldheartedly to pressure from their governments to put the cash rapidly into circulation, the one way to save thousands of businesses from failure and millions of workers from unemployment. It is now clear that the bankers are not men to be trusted, the proof being the disdain with which they bite the hand that feeds them. (2009)

young Saramago

Born in Portugal to landless peasants 16 November 1922, and passing away in Spain 18 June 2010 at age 87, Jose Saramago won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1998. The above is taken from The Notebook, a year (2008-2009) in the life of a terrific blogger, published by Verso in 2010.