by Evert Cilliers aka Adam Ash
Do I believe that America is a criminal enterprise?
Hell, no. Not totally. Most of our citizens are law-abiding, even if 25% of all the prisoners in the world are American. That's right, with 4% of the world's population, we have 25% of the world's prisoners. So by the lights of our own legal system, we are far and away the most criminal nation on earth, harboring a full quarter of the world's criminals in our jails. However, there is a big difference between having way more crooks on the one hand (or being way more punitive than any other nation) — and on the other hand actually being a dyed-in-the-wool criminal enterprise (Saudi-Arabia, for instance).
But we do seem to suffer from a deficiency of morality. Witness Trump's presidential campaign. There is no morality there, only bigotry and fear and bullying and macho posturing and BS. And many Americans have fallen for this BS.
What I want to do is simply say America is a criminal enterprise and see where it takes us. An argument for-argument's-sake. The Greeks had a word for it: rhetoric. Call it a thought experiment if you like. Like the one that drove Barack Obama to the White House. He called America a place of hope and change — to my mind, a more fanciful construct than calling America a criminal enterprise — which turned out to be a very useful vote-getting thought experiment for him. Some kind of American Dream has always lingered through all our nightmares, like a halo limning a saint's noggin, or a perky maggot on a decaying corpse.
So I want to call America a criminal enterprise and see how intellectually useful that turns out to be. The point is not whether it's true or not: the point is whether it gains us any useful insights or not. And I think it will: what I'm trying to get at is a certain emptiness at the center of the American soul — where only the self reigns, the raw id, the bawling brat, the free-agent individual bent on success and self-actualization at all costs, unconstrained by morality (Donald Trump being our current best example). That's where this thought experiment is headed, in case teleology is your thing.
I'd like to throw out a few numbers to start with. Everybody lies, but these facts and figures don't.