Summon the moral and intellectual resources to overcome the crisis
by Lyndon H. LaRouche, Jr.
July 27, 1997
Part I: A tough, but hopeful, message
This speech was given by Lyndon LaRouche to a meeting of the Schiller Institute at Riverside Church in New York City on July 27. Subheads have been added.
... I want to give you a message--it's a tough one--but also, hope. Not hope in the sense that maybe something will happen, but hope that we might succeed in causing it to happen. As you should know, and everybody but the suckers knows--and the suckers are the people who have money invested in the stock market or in mutual funds--that every capital of the world, financial capital of the world today, will agree with me, as they didn't a year ago, that the international financial system is in the process of disintegrating.
What most people will say in various centers, and in their press--except in the United States--they will tell you that we can expect, sometime in the near future, between August of this year, and the first of the year, perhaps, a 20% or 30% collapse in the New York Stock Exchange, for example. That could happen next month, it could happen in October, it could happen a bit later.
We now have, at present, the disintegration, in progress, of not only the currencies, but the banking systems of South Korea, Thailand, and adjoining countries--what were called a few years ago the Asian Tigers are now disintegrating financially. A chain reaction of that disintegration, which will be a banking crisis, among other things, will hit Europe. It will hit the United States. If you look, in fact, at the cross-liabilities of banks, there probably is not a leading bank on this planet, at least outside of China, which is not bankrupt, if you knew all the liabilities, in terms of its cross-obligations. You have, at this point, the ratio of debt to value of physical assests is such, that virtually every government, every nation of this planet is bankrupt. It has been bankrupt; we have been bankrupt for a number of years. If you look at things in terms of physical values, as opposed to monetary, or financial values, you will find that since 1970, the U.S. economy, in terms of per capita, has been contracting, in physical economic terms, at a rate in excess of 2% per year, every year. There has been no growth, net growth, in the United States, in the past 25-odd years.
Similar conditions exist in most of the world. In most of the developing sector, as in South America, or in sub-Saharan Africa, the overall growth has been negative since 1967, the time when U Thant, who was then Secretary General of the United Nations, issued a proclamation called the Second Development Decade Resolution, which was never put into effect. In the same year, Pope Paul VI issued a papal encyclical, called Populorum Progressio, On the Progress of the Peoples--that program has never been put into effect. From the middle of the 1960s onward, for the past 30 years, the world has overall been going downhill. Civilization has been disintegrating.
Some of you people here are of my generation, or near to it. You can recall that back in the 1960s, a typical American skilled operative would generally, at 40 years of age, approximately, would probably support an entire family on his income, or perhaps with a partial income from some other member of the family. And on this income these families would assist in putting their children through school, and into universities. They would maintain a decent standard of living.
That is no longer the case. The same families today, the children of those families, would require three incomes, or more in a household--not to achieve the same standard of living they had 30 years ago. Most people have debt, credit card debt, and other forms of debt, which are piling up through the breaking point, to the point of the highest rate of personal bankruptcies in this country. They are using debt in place of the income they haven't had. And the standard of living is not good.
In Europe: similar conditions.
Look for example at hospitals; take this city of New York City. Those of you who lived here, say in 1970 to 1975, or 1965 to 1975: Think of the hospitals that existed in New York City then. Think of what happened if someone fell in the street, stricken of some disorder, and a neighbor called the police department. What would happen? That person would generally be picked up soon and receive medical attention someplace, and then later after the medical attention had been delivered, in the emergency case, someone would come poking around and try to figure out how this service was going to be paid.
Is that the case anymore? It's not. The hospitals have been shut down. New York City, for example, had the finest hospital system in the world, which was built up under the influence of Hill-Burton. It's gone.
A decaying civilization
Look at the services of this city, which was in sense, for a long time, the commercial and business capital of the United States. What's happened to the city? High rises. What kind of incomes, what kind of life, what kind of security? Look at the homelessness on the streets. Look at the other signs. What is the condition of life of people? What is the condition of life of families? Of individual members of families? What about neighborhoods that are no longer safe? What about the drug problem? All these other things that afflict us? We are living, and have been living, for a period of about 30 years, in a decaying civilization.
Very soon, one way or the other, and before the end of this century, the existing international financial and monetary system will have gone! It will have disintegrated. It will go in one way or the other. Either governments act, including the government of the United States, to put a bankrupt financial and monetary system into bankruptcy reorganization, under governments, and doing so in order to keep order, social stability, and security, and to lay the foundations for building a new financial and monetary system, to keep the society going, and to build things up again. Either the governments do that, or by their failure to do so, this country, and most of the countries around the world, will simply begin to disintegrate.
What you see in Africa today, in sub-Saharan Africa, is an unstoppable wave of deliberate genocide. Before this time, before these recent developments, you've seen the life expectancy of Africa drop, the life expectancy of the male, in particular. AIDS/HIV is a factor, but so is famine and epidemic--the most efficient way to kill people is with famine and epidemic disease, as Bertrand Russell prescribed and recommended many years ago, and his friends are now carrying this out, his admirers, today.
You see a similar process going on in South America. Peru is on the verge of being destroyed. Colombia is half-destroyed--it's been taken over by the drug lobby. It's going into hell. Brazil is on the target list for either a coup or a major destabilization. No parts of the Americas below our borders are safe today. Argentina is almost destroyed, and so forth and so on.
The great "successes": Korea is bankrupt, South Korea is bankrupt. You're going to hear more stories about bankruptcies in Korea. The entire system of east Asia, outside of China, the yen system, Philippines, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia: They're all in the process of disintegrating.
Europe: Conditions in Germany are collapsing more rapidly than they're collapsing in the United States. France: distintegration. Italy has a government in name, but the structure of government and politics has been destroyed.
In the area of the former Soviet system, Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union, the conditions of life are unbelievable, in terms of the collapse of the conditions of life. Unless there's a reversal of that policy, you're going to see hell itself coming out of the area that was once the Soviet system, the Warsaw Pact, the Comecon, and the Soviet Union. It's at the breaking point now.
What you're looking at is not merely an economic crisis, it's not a cyclical crisis, it's not a boom-bust cycle. There'll be booms, there'll be busts. The boom or the bust. It's coming now. The collapse cannot be prevented; it can only be dealt with.
But it's more than an economic crisis. What we're faced with is a crisis of civilization. We're faced with the kind of crisis, globally, what you would think of as the fall of the Persian Empire, or the Babylonian Empire, or some might compare it to what happened to Sodom and Gomorrah. We're faced with the kind of catastrophe in which an entire civilization, which has lost the moral fitness to survive, goes under, by its own hand.
The Fourteenth-Century Black Death
Now let's look at the history of this situation, review what lessons we might learn, particularly from the history of the United States, and its prehistory, going back to the last great crisis of European civilization, the great crisis in the middle of the Fourteenth Century. That is over the period from the year about 1250, to the middle of the Fourteenth Century, the population of Europe collapsed by half. This was a period in which the Black Death hit Europe on the wave of a collapse of the banking systems of Europe, in the middle of the Fourteenth Century. This was a period of madness, a period of the so-called Flagellants, hordes of angry, crazy people, with wild religious beliefs, beating themselves and each other, marching from city to city, like a pestilence. Like locust plagues, human locust plagues on the land.
In the following century, there was a rebirth of European civilization, this is called the Golden Renaissance. And it was more than just a rebirth, it was a new form of society that was established on this planet, at least in a beginning form. Prior to the Fifteenth Century in Europe, every culture of this planet was degenerate. Why? Here we are, we're human beings; what was the condition of human beings, overall, in every part of civilization, so-called, in every part of human existence, up until the Fifteenth Century in Europe? Over 95% of the population of every culture, in every part of the world, lived in all prior human existance, either in the condition of slaves, or serfs, or worse.
There's a famous story, which is the last story in a book written by Jonathan Swift, called Gulliver's Travels. The last story is the story of the visit to the land of the Houyhnhnms. Now actually I'll tell you a secret, which is no secret at all. The land of the Houyhnhnms was England under George|I, in which Swift depicted this problem: that England was ruled by a lordly bunch of horses, or rear-ends of horses perhaps, who were called the Houyhnhnms, to simulate the whinny (which I won't perform for you), of the horse. And the horses were attended by humanoid-looking creatures who were rutting in the ditches and doing all kinds of foul things, but did all the work for these horses, who took care of the horses, carried them to their burial places, curried them, and all these other favors, but when they were not taking orders from the horses, or performing services for the horses, they were off in the ditches or fields rutting away. They were incapable of ideas, or human speech--which is a fair description of the ordinary people of England during the time of George|I.
So this is Swift, in his satirical reference to the conditions of England in the early Eighteenth Century. But these are conditions which were the normal conditions of humanity, in every part of humanity, up until the Fifteenth Century.
The forms of society were generally what were called the imperial form of law. You would have scattered kinds of cultures--what was called barbarism. And, you would have an emperor, or something that might be called an emperor, and this was a person, who might be assassinated tomorrow, but as long as he was there, he was the maker of law. His will was arbitrary rule. Nobody else could make law. Under the chief, you would have people who were lesser chiefs, who could not make law, but they could administer, they could even kill, capriciously, but they could not make law. There was in fact no law. There was only custom: that those who ruled found it expedient to take into account the customs of the various groups of people whom they dominated. So, they would legitimize the religion, and legitimize the social habits, marital customs, and so forth, and language of the people who were their subjects. And they would create Pantheons. The emperor would declare himself the highest authority in religion, virtually a god in himself. And he would be what they called in Latin, the Pontifex Maximus, the man who was the boss of all the religions. And he would maintain a Pantheon, and all legalized religions would be collected together. And the ruler would agree, by virtue of a covenant, to show due respect for those aspects of these religious beliefs, which they had chosen under their imperial law, to legalize. And sometimes emperors were overthrown because they violated customs of legalized cultures and religions.
But there was no law; there was only custom.
There were some people called Romantics in the Nineteenth Century, like a fellow in Germany called Savigny, who proposed going back to this kind of law. It's called Romantic law, or Roman law, or Volksgeist, things like that. There was no law. There was no principle of law; there was only arbitary power and custom, but no principle.
A principle of law
Then you come along with the Mosaic tradition: Genesis I: 26-28. And you say that man and woman are each made in the image of God, and given by this gift the assignment to exert dominion in nature, and over nature. Now that's a principle! Are men and women different than beasts, such as they may not be kept as cattle, but must be recognized in their individuality, and all persons, each, man and women, made in the image of God, a quality that endows them with the power and responsibility to exert dominion, as mankind, over all other things? That's a principle. That's a principle of law, or should be--isn't it? Therefore, society must be designed, under law, to conform to that principle.
Now, along comes Christianity, and a couple of Apostles go a bit further in developing this principle, the Mosaic principle, which is recorded in Genesis I: 26-28. The Apostle John, on the relationship of God's love toward man. The Apostle Paul, on the nature of man and society and law. In which they based themselves on study, because they were literate people in their time, and the culture of the eastern Mediterranean at that time was Greek culture, Classical Greek culture. Platonic Greek was the highest level of culture in the eastern Mediterranean from the time, approximately, of Alexander the Great, and the development of the Greek Hellenic culture in the eastern Mediterranean. And John and Paul were people who were very literate, and presented Christian principle in the Gospel of St. John and in the Epistles of Paul, etc., as a form of law. Law derived from principle, not arbitrary precept, or shibboleth.
But nonetheless, despite the power of Christianity, as a religious belief, from that time, in the Fifteenth Century, there was no form of society on this planet which satisfied the requirements of Christian principle, that is, a state based on the assumption, a form of law based on the assumption, that every person, each person, is made in the image of God, man and woman, and that this quality gives that person, and mankind, the obligation and power to exert dominion in the universe, over all other things. No! Ninety-five percent of humanity was kept as cattle, as slave, serfs, or worse. Like the tens of thousands of Indians in the late Fifteenth Century, in the place now called Mexico City, who were marched, one after the other, up the four sides of a heathen temple. At the top, each of them, in a matter of seconds, had the living heart cut out of them, and the dying body thrown down the steps. This went on for two days. That's worse than slavery. That is the most abominable kind of culture imaginable. And the evangelization of Mexico came as a great blessing to those Indians who didn't have their hearts cut out, and their bodies thrown down the stairs, simply to celebrate the coronation of some Aztec potentate.
That was the condition of mankind. Someone comes along and says, no, we have to have a different kind of society. The purpose of society is to fulfill the nature of man. Now, what do we know about the nature of man? Is this simply something that's in the Bible, in Genesis, or is this a principle that we can know, by reason? Even if Genesis had never been written, would the principle be true?
Yes, it's true. How do we know it's true? Well if you educate a child, you may begin to discover what it is that's different between a child and any beast. Then, you look back and take an image of the existence of man. Well, man has probably existed as a human species, on this planet, for about 2 million years. We have traces that indicate that, and there's an example recently uncovered in Germany, under a mineshaft in the the Hartz Mountains part of Germany, not too far from Go@auttingen and Hanover. And there, at a site which is 600,000 years old, they dug out throwing spears which are perfectly balanced and well designed. And the very nature of these throwing spears, indicates, relatively speaking, a fairly high level of cognitive development and craftsmanship among the people who made these spears. So, therefore you have a pretty high quality of intellect in human beings running around in that part of Germany, 600,000 years ago. Probably better than you'd find in that part of Germany today.
The traces of man go back about 2 million years, and the reason we date it so, to the best of our knowledge, is because the northern part of this planet has been dominated by an ice age for 2 million years. And these ice ages run in about 100,000-year cycles, with 10 or 20,000-year intraglacial cycles, in which these glaciers melt. We reached the warmest point of an intraglacial cycle about a thousand years ago, and, contrary to warnings of global warming, we're now in a global cooling cycle. We're headed toward the Ice Cube Age again. You'll get free ice cubes in Manhattan, but you won't be able to live here to enjoy them. Because, the seas will go up and down; the seas will vary up to 400 feet in depth, level, as the glaciers melt, or they accumulate. We're now in the process of going toward a new glaciation. Don't worry about global warming: It won't happen. Global cooling is what's in the cards, that's what we have to worry about. And that's coming naturally from the solar system, not from any gases or anything else on Earth. The only danger is from the gas of some politicians, which may be a problem for us.
So, in this period, man existed.
Man is not an ape
Now, we know from that same period, we know of the existence of apes, or ape-like creatures--not to be confused with Prince Philip--even though he claims to be an ape. Being an egoist, he claims to be a Great Ape. But the ape population of this planet could never have exceeded several million individual apes all put together--chimpanzees, gorillas, orangutans, baboons, whatever--they couldn't make it. But man, if you look at man physiologically, man does have, as Prince Philip says--Philip looks in the mirror and says, "I look like an ape." It's true, he does. And his intellectual potential is not much greater than an ape. But the point is, some of us are different. If we were merely apes, as aboriginal creatures, we could never have achieved the human population on this plant at anytime, during the past 2 million years' conditions on this planet, exceeding several million individuals. The life expectancy of the adult would not have exceeded much over 18-20 years of age. Infant mortality would probably been 80-90%. Not a very good culture.
But, we don't have that, we've progressed. How did we progress? How did we get above the level of monkeys, apes, or Prince Philip? How did we get to that stage? Did we evolve? The evidence is we didn't. There's no significant evidence of any biological change in man that accounts for this progress that man has made. It's in the mind. In the mind.
We invented language. Language was developed. The languages we use have a long history. We know something about that history; a lot we don't know. But we know about the development of language. Monkeys don't have languages; apes don't have languages; man does. How was it done? How did man make language, develop language? And, there are certain principle involved which can be adduced. We made language. We made inventions. When you look at the archeological evidence, what you find is inventions. And you look carefully at the inventions from the standpoint of an experimental physicist. You say, no, man did not simply hit upon the discovery. The mind of man discovered a principle of nature, and learned how to do something based on the mastery of that principle. That principle was passed on, as knowledge, to another generation, and the history of man is a history of accumulation of these discoveries, discoveries of principle, which children can reenact. They can reenact the act of discovery of somebody hundreds of years earlier, or thousands of years earlier, as they do. A child who actually studies geometry, in a decent school, is actually thinking the thoughts that Pythagoras thought, almost 3,000 years ago, or the thoughts that passed through the mind of Plato 2,500 years ago. That most of the things we know, we know because somebody discovered them. And, we teach children in school, or in families, how it worked: Think about it. And the child reenacts that discovery. We send people to more advanced education, they're still doing the same thing: reenacting scientific discoveries in their own mind, so they didn't merely learn them, they know them. And some of these people who reenact these discoveries, learn from reenacting discoveries, how to make discoveries. And they go on and they make new discoveries, which enrich mankind, with new knowledge.
The universe obeys man
So, what is man's power over the universe? Man's power over the universe, is the ability to make discoveries of principle, and to be guided by those discoveries to change the way we behave, so that our changes in behavior enable us to increase our power. We can command the universe, as long as we make valid discoveries. The universe will always obey man, every time man makes valid discoveries, and uses them properly.
So, we are a creature of ideas. Now, how do we do this? How do we see this? We live this all the time, if we're treating children properly. How do you teach a child? You take a child, a child believes something. If you know the child believes it, how are you going to show the child that the child is mistaken? Not by thwacking them on the side of the head, which is a method some people use. Not by threatening them, not by sending them to bed without their supper. How do you get a child to correct its mistake? You can't always do it; sometimes you say to the child, "Look, trust me on this one, you're not ready to solve the problem. I'm your parent, I'm pulling rank." The basic relationship in child nurture is not that; the basic thing is the moments in which you actually are able to assist the child in correcting its own mistake, its own opinion. How? Well you confront the child with some evidence which shows the child that there is an error in what they believe. And, you nurture the child so that the child's mind itself begins to work out that problem.
When you send the child to school, the child presumably is going to have that same kind of experience, in whatever they study in school, step by step. And they will come back. What did you learn in school today? Well they say, "We learned certain words." That's no good! But when a child comes back, beaming, trying to explain to a parent or a sibling, what the problem is, how they solved it, and the new idea they got as a result of the experience of accepting the problem and solving the problem. And the child comes back happy. The child expresses this by looking at a parent at a certain stage, and saying, "Why? Why?" You say, it works this way; he says, "Why?" Well, it works because-- "Why?" The natural potential of the child is expressed. What you're seeing in the child, is you're seeing that in the child's mind, which corresponds to Genesis I: 26-28.
Did you ever see a dog say, "Why?" A monkey say, "Why?" Only a human child--and every child has this--every child that's born has this quality. It sets them apart from the animals. A quality which is manifest best in a good education. With a happy child and a good education. Happy, why? Because they are discovering there's something good in them. A child who's able to come up and solve problems, gets what is called in Greek, an emotion called agape@am: an inflation of joy about being alive. Because they discovered their mind can create valid solutions to problems which seemed impossible. This is what makes a child happy.
In the old days, for example, when people still worked--they didn't slave, they worked. They would go to a factory someplace, or build things, and do things. And the social relations among people who were, say, trade union members, or something, when they would meet for social occasions, they would often get into the thing, where their wives would start yelling at them, because what they were engaged in was shop talk. What they were talking about was about the things that made people happy, when they worked in factories, or at some craft. The thing that made them happy, was they faced a problem on the job, such as mastering a new technology, and they produced a better product or something, and they were so excited about that, that was what they identified their workaday life with: these moments, moments when something good happened. "Something good happened on the job today. We made a better product. This machine is making things better. We're learning how to do this. We solved this problem." The father would take his young boy by the hand, down to a construction site: "See, we're building that, and we're solving problems."
These little things, which we sometimes took for granted, years ago, are the things which are beautiful about the individual human being, and are expressions of that quality unique to the human individual. Which proves, yes, the human individual is made in the image of God. Man and woman. How? Because the human individual is able to command the universe to obey. How? Every time that you discover a principle, you have an increased power over the universe, and the universe shows its respect for that by obeying you, when you use that legitimate principle.