The Virtue of Selfishness

statue-of-liberty-ruins16

Several trends that started early
in the third millennium
(or
at least had greatly accelerated then)
had brought the world to this point,
and
most of these several trends
could be traced to a single source:
the Free Market Fundamentalist religion
(which,
like all political movement then and after,
was clever enough to clothe its religion
in civilian clothes)
and its High Priestess
(and later, Goddess)
Ayn Rand

[a thing moves from cult to religion
when it continues its existence
after the death of its founder],

whose
sacred writings encompassed several genres
and were all of a piece,
who wrote stirringly in defense of
“America’s Persecuted Minority: Big Business”
and
called for the creation of
“a Civil Liberties Union for businessmen”
(though,
again,
given the concurrent campaign against actual civil liberties
in order to provide a false security,
the organization created for that purpose
was clever enough to go by a different name),
and
this organization successfully set about defending
“that small,
exploited,
denounced,
defenseless
minority
which consists of businessmen”
(yet again
cleverly leaving out the word big from this last
so as to disguise its true aims)

Her followers
had conveniently ignored the many instances
where there was a chasm between
her words and her actions,
and
her acolytes made famous many phrases:

“No human rights can exist without property rights”
because
“there is no such thing as “society” ”
because
the worship of property
“sets man free of the necessity
to adjust himself to his background”
“and
gives him the power to adjust his background to himself”

And thus,
at home no place,
and
with little concern,
or even awareness,
that the effects of the use of one’s property
might extend beyond the boundaries of the property,
such adjustments were made

Mountaintops
were bulldozed and/or blasted off
in search of a source of power to fuel
the ever-growing,
ever-more necessary,
adjustments

And
a similar pattern
of ever-growing,
ever-more necessary
adjustments violated the ocean floor

And
the ground itself was destabilized
when chemicals were injected,
under heavy pressure,
a couple miles down below the surface
to destroy the rock in order to
extract the gas and oil stored there,
and
this adjustment caused earthquakes
where none had happened before,
and
the injection of the waste water used
caused similar earthquakes;
and
some of these earthquakes released
the sealed buried nuclear waste,
freeing
it to contaminate the groundwater

And
with the spread of this practice,
commonly called fracking
(short for hydraulic fracturing),
continents that would have been severed
millions of years in the future
(something
that no human had ever witnessed,
something
that some humans were eager to witness)
were now severed over several decades,
and
the small increase in scientific knowledge
was greatly outweighed by a geometric increase
in global political turmoil,
as boundaries,
including
many that had been fiercely fought for,
were obliterated overnight;
and
the system of classifying humans
at least in part by their continent of origin
couldn’t quite keep up with
the new continents being created

[more fights took place
over the naming of the new continents,
but
that’s a subject for a different poem]

And
state-sized slabs of the icecaps calved off,
raising sea levels and inundating
coastal areas and island nations,
while
paradoxically at the same time
cutting off warming currents to other areas
that had long been dependent on such warmth
for their growth to their present size,
or
even in some cases for their very existence

And
all the climate refugees thus created
were forced to farm more and more places
of ever-more marginal land,
and
this made the world’s deserts
the planet’s greatest imperial power,
claiming
more and more land in more and more countries
and one-time countries,
usually
without even much of a fight

And
there were plenty of actual fights,
even more that usual,
fights
of all different sizes,
though
these many fights were
not for the usual economic reasons,
not for the thrill of conquest,
not to impose a belief system on those
too weak to resist such imposition
(the
traditional prerogatives of nation-states),
but
desperate fights for survival,
fights
that several thousand millions lost
(their stories,
their cultures,
also lost);
and
in these many fights more and more land
was rendered uninhabitable to humans

And
all the leaders in thrall to the Goddess
(and
they wielded power far out of proportion
to their actual numbers),
once
they could no longer deny what was happening
(and
they had been Deniers for far too long),
still did nothing,
believing
another of the Goddess’ commandments,
that
“All public projects are mausoleums”

And so
some of the public projects
were retired to (private) museums,
many others
went into irreversible decline,
becoming
inadequate even for the greatly reduced population,
and
the rest of the projects died in the dream stage

And
what had been a bad metaphor
became an even worse reality—–

 

Michael Ceraolo

 

 

 


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One Response to The Virtue of Selfishness

  1. MARILYN ANN FRANCIS says:

    GREAT POETRY

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