15 July 2015

Unbaked opinions about government

Today I feel like speaking on stuff that I don’t know about. How is that different from any other day? (HINT: It’s not.)

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Dear diary

All of the sages, prophets, apostles, and magi of our world agree that there are exactly two topics which no one should ever discuss: religion and politics. Lately I’ve waxed eloquent on the former, which I know nothing about; so today I thought it would be fun to tackle the latter, which I know even less than nothing about.

Government. Everyone loves to hate government. I think I under­stand why this is: it’s because the individuals who comprise the government tend to become corrupt, and they take advantage of the citizens as well as the system. But there are different types of government, and I think that some are better than others. They’re all just models, after all; like sets of rules to follow, or a game to play; and they’re all made up of people.

My unbaked opinion is that government should be changeable and transparent. Changeable, so that future generations can continue to update the implementations of previous ages; and transparent, so that its inevitable corruption will be easier to detect.

Here’s the tricky matter: How should we go about letting people change the government’s structure and personnel? If the govern­ment is too easy to change, then its actions will resemble a tiny gnat ping-ponging around and bouncing into things like a spaz. But if it is too hard to change, then the government will resemble an army tank heading toward the brink of a cliff with a faulty steering mechanism.

One of the things that people dislike about the state of my country at present is that, although we have a changeable government—in the sense that we vote certain leaders into limited terms of office—our choice of electable leadership lacks variety.

For instance: What if you want to vote against the big banks? This is impossible; because, for presidential candidates, big banks are like Jesus in your heart: you just can’t get rid of ’em. And if an atheist dares to enter into politics, she lasts about as long as those particles that scientists find in atom smashers: the ones that live for a hairsbreadth of a millisecond.

We agreed earlier that our government is an army tank hastening toward a precipice, and its elective system is the steering column. The political parties are the drivers: one claims that it’ll save us by turning the vehicle right; the other says it’ll save us by making a left. The problem is that, as I said, the tank’s steering is shot: so each party can only change our path of travel by a minuscule amount, whereas we need to execute at least a 90-degree turn.

It makes me wonder: Why not just repair the steering mechanism? Our citizenry possesses the finest mechanics; surely someone knows how to fix an old army tank. But here’s what happens:

An engineer steps forward and proposes to make the repair. She begins to work. Immediately, however, she receives a tap on the shoulder. Turning around, she beholds a creepy villain who offers her ninety zillion dollars to botch the repair. And if she refuses to accept the bribe and honor its terms, this creepy villain threatens to cause all the pets of the world to become extinct.

What motivates this villain to want our government to plummet? Here is where I get stuck. Maybe I shouldn’t have made the analogy so drastic; I mean, maybe I shouldn’t have said that the tank was speeding toward a cliff. For, if we’re all passengers when our vehicle falls, then we all die—the creepy villain included. So I assume that the villain will benefit from the tank’s path of travel: perhaps it’s heading toward an oasis of the villain’s ownership.

Or perhaps the villain is both in and out of the tank and watching and wondering at it. As it is written: I AM THAT I AM.


Not even boundless existence can sate the mind: I don’t fancy the thought of spending my present interval redressing the misdeeds of politicians. What we must do to reverse and prevent corruption is a chore as onerous as the life that we’ll be living if the villains succeed.

But I must be wrong about that last sentence—it seems too neat. Surely the villains, whoever they are, will make our lives worse than they would be if we participated, even heavily, in our democracy. So, again, reality presents us with the familiar dilemma of having to choose between evils. That’s what I’m most tired of. I’d like, just once, to choose something genuinely good. Or beyond good and evil.

Allegedly, by remaining aloof from a rotting system, the system becomes fraught with deceit and reaches a corruption level of 100%. OK, what’s next? The villains will try to implement all sorts of rules, in hopes of guaranteeing the continuance of absolute corruption. They will strive to conserve the badness of the system, in the way that the system’s inventors attempted to bolster its integrity.

The bad news is that a system whose aim was to maintain goodness turned out altogether corrupt. The good news is that when this corrupt system endeavors to perpetuate its badness, it will end up wholly righteous.

Again, I don’t think that what I just wrote is correct. It only sounds nice, like “What goes up must come down” (which is equally false). If everyone were to speak nothing but lies henceforward, it could not lure Objective Truth from its grave.


This blog post was boring. I enjoy writing about religion, but writing about government is a tedious drudgery. I will give the last word to William Blake:

I am really sorry to see my Countrymen trouble them­selves about Politics. If Men were Wise, the Most arbitrary Princes could not hurt them. If they are not Wise, the Freest Government is compelld to be a Tyrrany. Princes appear to me to be Fools; Houses of Commons & Houses of Lords appear to me to be fools – they seem to me to be something Else besides Human Life.


Misha said...

They are us. We are them. I don't have much of a clue either Tersh and would even tend to go along with the last W.B. line you quote. They are fools in that they follow a career that won't allow them to err. Respectable governance is no more than projecting an appearance of infallibility on a preoccupied electorate to maintain the status quo. Tax is something like 50% of GDP in most countries, enormous wealth there for the taking if you're on the team. I think for the rest of us in our Western lands a tipping point is fast approaching and drastic upheaval to follow.
Anywayz, a couple weeks ago I wrote a long convoluted response to one of your posts about the bible that vanished into the ether after I pressed a wrong button. It can't have been very important as I would surely then be able to remember it in detail and not just that it was something about the trouble with words. Let's see how this one goes. Salut!

Bryan Ray said...

Ah thanks for taking the time to respond again, Misha—I’m frustrated that this blog commenting interface is so incompetent! (Many people tell me that their replies vanish mysteriously or do not post.) I would have loved to read your other “long convoluted response.” Honestly, there are few things that I enjoy more than responses that are long and convoluted. But I’m just glad that on this occasion your words made it into the annals of history! (My fantasy is that someday authors will be quoting blog comments in college textbooks—I don’t say whether this will be a good or bad thing: I simply enjoy the novelty of the thought.) ...I love what you said here; and I also tend to side with Blake, in this context, reservedly. Usually I side with Blake un-reservedly, but it’s what you mention at the start—the fact that “they are us; we are them”—which causes me to keep questioning my own political aloofness. And I’m also on the fence about that upcoming “tipping point”—a part of me wants it to come unfalteringly, so that we can get it over with and proceed into a better time; but another part of me hopes that the knot can work itself out without upheaval and turmoil. ...Lastly, in case you and I ever happen to meet each other on that day in the future when we have both become politicians, I promise that I’ll accept your bribe if you’ll accept mine.

kinky won said...

Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Waren.Elizabeth needs to stay where she is and Bernie is doing the right thing by elevating the conversation. What are we going to do without Jon Stewart??

kinky won said...

I would be convoluted if i knew how but I hpe that suffices/

Bryan Ray said...

Here are the biblical passages that I happened to be reading when I saw that there were more replies here (Ecclesiastes 9:17-18 and Matthew 6:34)…

The words of wise men are heard in quiet more than the cry of him that ruleth among fools.

Wisdom is better than weapons of war: but one sinner destroyeth much good.

Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.

kinky won said...

I don't know how to read/
and after reading what you just posted, I am glad

Bryan Ray said...

Well if you like what I posted above, then you’ll love the following passage from Saint Luke’s gospel (16:9-10):

“ …the lord commended the unjust steward, because he had done wisely: for the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light. And I say unto you, Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness; that, when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations. ”


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