Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?

Jewish Business News

The A-List

Emptiness and Consciousness: Still unseen limits of American Politics

by Prof. Louis Rene Beres

“Conscious of his emptiness, a man tries to make a faith for himself in the political realm. In vain.”

Karl Jaspers, “Reason and Anti-Reason in our Time” (1952)

Please help us out :
Will you offer us a hand? Every gift, regardless of size, fuels our future.
Your critical contribution enables us to maintain our independence from shareholders or wealthy owners, allowing us to keep up reporting without bias. It means we can continue to make Jewish Business News available to everyone.
You can support us for as little as $1 via PayPal at
Thank you.

Conscious of his emptiness, a man tries to make a faith for himself in the political realm. In vain.

Karl Jaspers, in his work “Reason and Anti-Reason in our Time” (1952), captured this sentiment. Nowadays, amidst a perpetual cycle of scandals, both Democrats and Republicans face criticism for their inability to mend a beleaguered country. Yet, the core problems that afflict America cannot be fixed through politics alone. No matter how well-intentioned or informed, no president, congress, or flurry of transformative legislation can stem the corrosive erosion of heart, body, mind, and spirit that poses the gravest threat to these United States.

While some progress may arise from specific statutes and institutions, they merely scratch the surface of what truly matters. Our system of governance, driven by taxation, commerce, and consumption, has fostered a bitter amalgamation of plutocracy and mob rule. It is no wonder that our hoped-for national salvation lies far beyond the confines of government, law, and economics.

The “crowd,” as Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard warned, is untruth. In our present American “crowd” — what Freud might call a “horde,” Nietzsche a “herd,” and Jung a “mass” — the proclaimed differences between Democrats and Republicans, Liberals and Conservatives, are essentially​ reflective.​ ​   Before America can truly mend, a profound transformation of its citizenry, of the microcosm, must take place.

Our problems are stark, but not insurmountable. We inhabit a society that is cravenly numb and openly false, where even our deepest melancholy feels contrived. There is no call here for whispered prescriptions. In a society teetering on the fringes of history — quintessentially America — emptiness is not a complicated or secretive concept. It permeates our individual lives and resonates within the collective, an unbroken cycle.

Our society wallows in a twilight of conformism, displaying infinite patience for shallow thinking and degrading amusements. With misplaced resentments, we hide from the fundamental affirmations of personal intellect. We have unwittingly cultivated a collective posture of anti-reason, an unphilosophical spirit that disregards matters of true importance and seeks to remain ignorant of anything significant. In time, this spirit becomes profoundly destructive.

Who reads serious books these days? Let us be honest. Very few of our national leaders can answer “yes” to this question, and their intellectual incapacity often becomes a political asset. Americans, by and large, despise intellectual pursuits, preferring their elected representatives to share in this disdain. Moreover, even the wealthiest among us may find themselves deprived, resigned to a future of banalities and unsatisfying work. Erudition becomes burdensome, and cultivated animosity becomes an acceptable substitute.

Ironically, some truths remain evident. The “life of the mind” in our distracted country has become a mere fiction, a thin text that no longer embodies Ralph Waldo Emerson’s vision of “plain living and high thinking.” Even our esteemed universities have transformed into expensive training grounds, devoid of any tangible pursuit of higher learning.

Despite calls for diversity, our national landscape remains homogeneous in its disregard for enduring human values. Equanimity and balance are overshadowed by the pursuit of narrow imitations, empty pleasures, and chemical diversions. Tens of millions succumb to alcohol and drugs, suffocating any lingering wisdom and drowning whole oceans of sacred poetry.

Amidst it all, there are subtle nuances to our predicament. We can be lonely in the world and lonely for the world. Somehow, these sentiments are mutually reinforcing.

Louis Rene Beres was educated at Princeton (Ph.D., 1971) and is the author of many books and articles dealing with nuclear strategy and world order reform. Dr. Beres, Professor Emeritus of International Law at Purdue, publishes at The New York Times; The Atlantic; Jewish Business News; Harvard National Security Journal (Harvard Law School); JURIST; Bulletin of the Atomic ScientistsYale Global Online (Yale University); World Politics (Princeton); International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence; Infinity Journal (Tel Aviv); BESA Perspectives (Israel); INSS Strategic Assessment (Tel Aviv); Modern War Institute (West Point); The War Room (Pentagon); Parameters: Journal of the US Army War College (Pentagon); Armed Forces and Societyglobal-e (University of California); Special Warfare (Pentagon); Horasis (Switzerland); Modern DiplomacyJURISTBrown Journal of World Affairs (Brown University); International Security (Harvard); Air-Space Operations Review (USAF); American Political Science Review; American Journal of International Law; Strategy Bridge; Strategic Review; and Middle East Review of International Affairs.

This article was first published in Modern Diplomacy.



You May Also Like

World News

In the 15th Nov 2015 edition of Israel’s good news, the highlights include:   ·         A new Israeli treatment brings hope to relapsed leukemia...


The Movie The Professional is what made Natalie Portman a Lolita.


After two decades without a rating system in Israel, at the end of 2012 an international tender for hotel rating was published.  Invited to place bids...

VC, Investments

You may not become a millionaire, but there is a lot to learn from George Soros.