31 October 2010

A noble character

"The first consequence of [imperial] power export was that the state's instruments of violence, the police and the army, which in the framework of the nation existed beside, and were controlled by, other, national institutions, were separated from this body and promoted to the position of national representatives in uncivilized or weak countries. Here, in backward regions without industries and political organization, where violence was given more latitude than in any Western country, the so-called laws of capitalism were actually allowed to create realities. The bourgeoisie's empty desire to have money beget money as men beget men had remained an ugly dream so long as money had to go the long way of investment in production; not money had begotten money, but men had made things and money. The secret of the new happy fulfillment was precisely that economic laws no longer stood in the way of the greed of the owning classes. Money could finally beget money because power, with complete disregard for all laws -- economic as well as ethical -- could appropriate wealth. Only when exported money succeeded in stimulating the export of power could it accomplish its owners' designs. Only the unlimited accumulation of power could bring about the unlimited accumulation of capital." (The Origins of Totalitarianism, Hannah Arendt, 1994; page 136). 
To put it into the terms of the biblical regime, the extension of the power of the nation-state to the unprotected, weak, colonial populations without the concomittant extension to those territories of the rule of God meant the mitigating institutions that gave the exercise of power an interior, a depth, and a noble character were not put into place. 

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