Sunday, October 31, 2010
In the course of the battle, protesters seeking to keep the movie in their country took to the streets, carrying banners proclaiming "New Zealand is Middle-earth" and "We love hobbits." But what if Middle-earth had labor disputes? Would hobbits organize for higher wages? Could collective bargaining help elvish smiths get better working conditions in their ring-forges? And would dwarf builders have a union scale for cavern-delving?
Friday, October 29, 2010
It's so weird you could almost think it is part of some sort of dialectic; not that I think it really is. Nothing is more clear to anybody who has been within a hundred miles of them that nothing and nobody are more cynical, mercenary, devoid of principle, vain, and narcissistic than show business and the people in it. Who knows why. Maybe something to do with it being about the manipulation of illusion by people who are really good at creating it, the amounts of money involved, the saturation with sex. Who knows. Thus perhaps it just figures that Stewart and Colbert would figure out a way to cash in on the widespread disgust with politics. This is like some televangelist figuring out he can really score by selling a revolt against how commercial Christianity has become. Put Christ Back In Christmas stickers, only $9.99!
And the people who go to these events? Presumably you would be somebody who was of course quite aware of the irony of it --this is Stewart and Colbert mocking among other things the cloyingly serious Glenn Beck -- but also presumably not so self aware as to realize that they are the rube extras in a spectacle that is about promoting the weird careers of two highly specialized clowns and their legions of promoters and hangers on. The man figures out there is money to be made in resentment of the man. In a way you have to admire it, the con within the con and I suppose we are entitled to enjoy the irony of those who managed to get conned because of their own irony. But you can hardly blame somebody who sees it all as a sad desecration of a serious place where serious men have done serious things.
Why is it that it is impossible to imagine a conservative Colbert and Stewart? Maybe because comedy or a certain kind of comedy is nihilistic or can affirm any values at best from an ironic distance. Conservatives see the city falling and just don't find it all that funny.
Thursday, October 28, 2010
I agree it's never a good idea to get cocky, but with the odds of a GOP takeover of the US House now sitting at 92 percent on intrade, I think a little blessed relief may be permitted. Also, if I may observe, those darn Framers seem to have saved our butts yet again.
Here is what I mean. For no doubt deep reasons that I do not entirely comprehend, there seems to be a strong internal logic that governments have to get bigger and bigger, to take more and more from their citizens, thereby reducing them more and more to mere worker bees who produce the honey that the state then allocates as it sees fit. This is accompanied by an efflorescence of ideology, a kind of phonily compassionate scientism, that might be tolerable were it not so deeply insulting to one's intelligence because of its nearly entire falsity. This road to serfdom probably ends not so much in Hayek's totalitarian state as Toqueville's smothering nanny regime, but either way, it has been a road trip it sucked to be on. Kind of like being trapped on a rapidly decaying Greyhound bus going somewhere you didn't want to go whilst being lectured the whole time by a sociologist from hell.
And the last two years starting with the election that inspired feelings that in my own little life can only be compared to those of a parent watching a child make a very, very bad choice? It doesn't seem so long ago. It wasn't very long ago. The ginormous stimulus packages. The health care bill. Watching that thing emerge joint by horrible joint from Congress, like that little evil monster in Alien. The crashing financial crisis and that awful little man from Chicago saying it was a crisis not to be wasted as if he had in mind a sort of coup, here, in our country. Which they probably did. All to the ecstatic cheers from our mendacious national media. I honestly thought, this is it. And so, from their glee, did they, apparently. So this is how the whole republican experiment thing, the hope of nations, the future of liberty, would come to a pathetic, ignoble end, mourned by the honest and inarticulate, snarked by hipsters and cheered by fools. I mean, holy shit; that's pretty bad news no matter how you look at it.
But then something quite unexpected, at least by me, happened. Ordinary people, reading the web, sending emails, painting signs, and evidently planning to vote in a week or so, just sort of said -- oh no you don't. It might be the most consequential calling of bullshit in the long history of the concept. This is not just the Tea Party. For every angry grandmother there must be scores of "independents" who simply have realized their folly. And all of it made possible by the implementation of a then new science of politics that a bunch of oddball minor league statesmen cooked up more than two centuries ago. How very remarkable. That it must be absolutely killing the self-proclaimed brightest and deepest thinkers about our politics, Thomas Sowell's "annointed", only makes it that much more to be cherished. A complicated frame of government that makes it very difficult indeed to pull off the crisis cram-down that the gang from Chicago has been rubbing their hands together and chuckling over. A system of government which if now mostly sadly defunct, educated enough virtue into, goodness, one could almost call them the citizens, such that they are able to resist the yapping sheepdogs who would herd them into the coral. So wonderfully, beautifully ungovernable.
I'm probably too optimistic, but I think we really may have passed through or maybe around the best chance ever to turn our country into a European style (except more pompous, corrupt, inefficient and violent) socialist state, or corporatist-socialist (or maybe the ugly neologism hasn't been invented yet), or at least a huge stride down that grim road, and mainly because of the combination of widespread popular resistance to so going and the good luck of having constitutional institutions that make that resistance meaningful. I mean, republican government; what a concept. I absolutely agree that the work has just begun, but damned if I don't see a lightening of the sky on the horizon. I mean, honestly, thank God, who I have not the slightest doubt has something to do with it. And just to be fair, thanks to all you hardworking atheist libertarians out there as well.