Thursday, May 02, 2019


It's been obvious for a long time that the way to govern a peaceful country depends upon the character that the education of its citizens produces.  One of the defenses of the current rogue legislators is that Trump is not doing anything different from the shortcuts George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, et al, have done.  They even praise the effectiveness of rebel generals and want to honor them.  And they lick the boots of tyrants.  These signs mean they are not educated.

The piece that is missing is that today's nervous but oblivious criminals are doing bad things for their own good, not anyone else's, and the only good they recognize is greedy control.  They want to impose rules and suppression on everyone else, but not themselves.  This is a moral fault.  It makes governance of the United States simply an impossibility, because it is a moral compass that guides and persuades us.

That's gone.  Where we are now is roughly the same place as Venezuela: survival.  There is not enough food, there are not enough places to live, there are not enough jobs, there is not enough education to do the jobs that exist so they must stand empty.  Our educational goals and paradigms are empty, dependent on prestige and reproduction rather than exploration and the terrifying new vision our science perceives.  The suppression of the humanities has cut one eye out of our heads.

How can a little out-of-date and discarded man in Harry Potter glasses grimace and lie his way to twisting the Mueller report?  Only protocol and respect for historical values keeps someone -- maybe a low level clerk or techie -- from simply putting the entire report, complete with the authors' introduction, condensations, and evidence right online.  Already female readers have made the whole text of the report (redacted) available as read out loud, because audible is harder to mess with and easier to hear while doing habitual tasks instead of sitting up all night.  No Repubs have read the whole report anyway, not even Barr.

Even teenagers know that Lindsey Graham has reversed his character, taking the off ramp head-on, ensuring that his bad health puts him in danger.  Kids are not impressed by night life, but they recognize alcoholism and they know what it does to a mind and face.  These desperate men with their Fifties-era vices will never get a new job.  Their careers are ended.  However much money they've hoarded, their status is gone.  Once leaders sell out, we all know the price is negotiable.

Some of the best commentary on politics turns up in Sci-fi.  More than that, publishes excellent commentary in formal essays, like the one I quote below.  "The Cold Equations" addresses the same issue as the Greek drama called "Antigone" that educated people used to know. It presents the recurring choice between what is right versus what is comfortable.


"Science fiction celebrates all manner of things; one of them is what some people might call “making hard decisions” and other people call “needless cruelty driven by contrived and arbitrary worldbuilding chosen to facilitate facile philosophical positions.” Tomato, tomato.

"Few works exemplify this as perfectly as Tom Godwin’s classic tale “The Cold Equations.” The story is perfectly spherical nonsense, absurd from any direction one looks at it. Because it provides an apparent justification for doing terrible things in the name of necessity, a lot of fans and editors love it. 

But of course, the point of the story, as determined by the author and his editor, John W. Campbell, Jr., is to underline a moral: the universe doesn’t care about human feelings. Natural law dictates that hard men must make hard choices.

"What the story actually says is that lousy procedures kill.
Just another instance of humans looking for justifications to be beastly to each other."

More recent sci-fi has deserted philosophy in order to exploit scary stuff.  When we're all tired of grotesque superheroes and spectacular explosions, these movie-type plots will be boring.  Instead we might think about Oedipus in a time when sperm donors pay their way through college on their jism.  Those of us who think about the genome might ask questions about Eric and why Trump has had to go outside his family for an heir because he has a taboo on women holding power.

We are repulsed by orgies of beheading, but don't mind removing people's babies -- infants still nursing.  Most of all, we don't know how to resist this madness.  Some say it's because we are not "hard."  I think it's because we are moral and this is a slow strength but a durable one.  The planet is just a very big spaceship.  Time to design procedures for truly evil politicians who collaborate between nations for their own fortunes.

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