/* Added by TWP, 10/12/2012 */ /* End of addition */

One of the live oaks that bless my home

Friday, June 2, 2017

Is It Just Idiocracy?

OK, I am furious, so furious that words can't pass through my throat that dried up from anger. You'd expect me to take an easy path and lash out at President Trump. But this would too self-serving and wrong.

Let's rewind a little. Idiocracy is a 2006 American science fiction comedy film that tells the story of two perfectly average people who take part in a top-secret military hibernation experiment, only to awaken 500 years later in a dystopian society where centuries of negative genetic selection combined with advertising, pornography, commercialism and cultural anti-intellectualism.  The stunning outcome is the really, really dumb people with lifestyles that are devoid of common human attitudes we take for granted today.

Today, we think that one should be educated, develop independent judgement, and be able to reach conclusions that are based on facts and logic.  One should know something practical, like how to water plants or hold a wrench.  One should understand the difference between good and evil.  One should hold political leaders responsible for their actions and not be willingly duped into dumb submission.

Fast forward 10 years to 2016, and an Idiocracy-style regime took root in Washington DC, in my dream country, the United States of America. It took a short brilliant election campaign with a little help from the Russian friends to dupe those without to vote for Mr. Trump who has it all, except for education and moral compass.

President Dwayne Elizondo Mountain Dew Herbert Camacho (left), sorry, I meant President Donald John Trump (right), is a TV star. He governs by slick TV appearances building up those tense expectations in us, the lesser idiots, and then releasing them like Starbucks 500 years hence (please see the movie) by telling us how he values America.

Here is a quote, call it a tweet, from President Camacho:
Shit. I know shit's bad right now, with all that starving bullshit, and the dust storms, and we are running out of french fries and burrito coverings. But I got a solution.
Does this tweet ring a bell?  If not, please see this.

Idiocracy is derived from two Greek words, idiotes and demokratia. Idiot is a word derived from the Greek ἰδιώτης, idiōtēs ("person lacking professional skill", "a private citizen", "individual"). In Latin the word idiota ("ordinary person, layman") preceded the Late Latin meaning "uneducated or ignorant person." Democracy comes from the Greek word δημοκρατία, dēmokratia, and means the "rule of the people" a system of government by the whole population or all the eligible members of a state, typically through elected representatives. Democracy requires active participation, not just sleep-walking with a smart phone in hand and earphones that shout out the wind and those pesky birds.

The fascinating book Demography of Roman Egypt, reports the results of Roman censuses of the Egyptian population carried out every 14 years or so for tax purposes. The surviving meager samples were taken between the early first century and late third century A.D. These censuses identified atechnos (men with no skills), idiotes (men incapable of independent judgement) or argos (the bright, shining men). Thus identified citizens of mostly two municipalities were few in numbers, and likely were not indigent unemployed but rather were men of leisure, living off accumulated wealth, just like the Trump family.  I leave it to you to pick a Roman census category you'd assign to the Trumps. In summary, being an atechnical idiot, common nowadays in the U.S. because of the disappearing education at all levels may be new, but being identified as one has a long history.

But I digressed.  It would be improper to call Trump the king of fools, because he is not. Two other bad things happened before the time of Trump.

First, inequality has dramatically increased in the U.S. Since I travel a lot, I can assure you that the ever bigger swaths of my shiny country resemble poor, neglected and hopeless undeveloped countries. This abject poverty and lack of hope have been growing over the last thirty years, ever since Reagan unleashed the "market forces" on the unsuspecting, naive Americans. But Reagan's lies were just the beginning. The American elites then went on a rampage of lies and into self-denial to cover up the ever-deepening injustice and alienation of the millions of fellow citizens. The world was flat then, as Thomas Friedman would explain to his feel-good liberal readers. It is injustice, not general poverty, that fires up revolutions.  In the good old times, the working class would raise up violently, but today workers are atomized, alienated and impotent.

And then the second bad thing happened. There came an amoral, unscrupulous conman and hustler, brutish and boorish, but good with 75 crude words and violent images. He knew how to play on desperation like a virtuoso plays a violin. And thus the conman got elected by the desperate, abandoned and angry people, who bestowed all their hopes on a walking lie.

But Mr. Trump the liar remembers that he needs to keep alive an illusion of truthfulness so that "his" people continue to believe in him. He also understands all too well that the rest of the political and financial world is as corrupt and lying as he is. Only they never speak openly about how morally bankrupt they are and cover up their misdeeds in beautiful literate words. Our brutal liar tears into them like a hungry wolf into a lamb, and exposes the hypocrisy and cynicism of the civilized and cultured, but otherwise corrupt politicians around the world, and especially in Europe.

To believe that the Paris climate agreement will change the world you need to live in San Francisco. I don't. People change the world, not the worthless reams of bureaucratize. The Paris agreement is a little more than the heart-felt declarations of an alcoholics anonymous focus group. What happened in Paris in 2015 was as useless as all the previous such agreements, starting from the Earth Summit in Rio deJaneiro in 1992. Quoting the United Nations:
The parties to the convention have met annually from 1995 in Conferences of the Parties (COP) to assess progress in dealing with climate change. In 1997, the Kyoto Protocol was concluded and established legally binding obligations for developed countries to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions in the period 2008-2012. The 2010 Cancún agreements state that future global warming should be limited to below 2.0 °C (3.6 °F) relative to the pre-industrial level. The Protocol was amended in 2012 to encompass the period 2013-2020 in the Doha Amendment, which - as of December 2015 - had not entered into force. In 2015 the Paris Agreement was adopted, governing emission reductions from 2020 on through commitments of countries in ambitious Nationally Determined Contributions. The Paris Agreement entered into force on November 4th, 2016.
The sad truth is the global capitalist amoeba must continue to devour the planet for as long as it can. China cannot anymore, because they ran our of breathable air, drinkable water and non-poisoned soil. So they are cutting down emissions over the motherland, while invading the rest of the world to export their pollution and environmental destruction to far away places, like Africa, and South and Central America. China is following in our footsteps, for the Europeans and Americans have had an intricate system of exporting our shit to the unseen and helpless victim countries for the last 600 years.

Because of Trump, some of our shit will now stick at home and soil it rather badly. I and many other liberals will be very unhappy, but for once we will pay directly for our lifestyles. Also because of natural gas and more efficient cars, the U.S. has lost some of its zeal to pollute and coal is not coming back. At least not anytime soon.

In the long run, when our zeal to pollute does come back, we will have already been a Mordor-like mining planet and I will be happily dead.

P.S. (06/04/2017) I stand corrected. I thought that the Paris agreement was merely garbage and a cynical smoke screen to do as little as possible, and preferably nothing. But people believed in it and now people make emission reductions happen regardless of the cynical politicians. What a wonderful development! The Hegelian dialectic impact of Trump may be that he will finally get the atomized Americans to organize. I can even see my old Solidarity emerging in my new country.

P.S.P.S.  (6/10/2014) It occurred to me that many readers may not know that the Paris agreement is just that, a voluntary agreement to do not more but preferably less environmental damage. Each country tries to be on their best behavior, and the only sanctions available are to shame the countries that don't do what they say they do. Yes, you got that right, we have agreed to shame the offenders. And meet in five years.  Therefore the power of this agreement is not in what is written, but what came into being outside of the governments. It is the power of the people who now say they want to inflict less damage on the Earth.

P.S.^3 (6/12/2017)  A fuller story on idiots as they were recognized by ancient Greeks.

P.S.^4 (6/24/2017) A complete list of lies by President Trump.