It used to be that you had to fly all the way to Africa to get the perfect selfie. Some time in the near future (and in the present within many cities throughout the Western world) there’ll be no reason to travel terribly far at all to get the right portrait partner.
Where we should be concerned is that there might not be much of a home country to be able to support that kind of short distance humanitarian tourism.
When you select for an administrative, bureaucratic elite based on how maudlin their essays are about their trips to Africa and South America — along with how crowded their extracurricular schedules were, and how well they filled in bubbles on exams with no. 2 pencils — you may discover that you’ve selected for a group of feckless and sentimental morons who are nonetheless disproportionately good at lacrosse and cheating on take-home exams.
This group will be completely immune to persuasion that it might be a bad thing for all the nice people who posed so nicely in those photos when you were on your international community service trip might be less than compatible with the countries that you have been charged with ruling. When the only pilgrimage you recognize as valid is the one taken for community service hours to buffer your application to Harvard, it’s going to be hard to empathize or understand cultures that take things like pilgrimages to Mecca seriously.
It’s hard to impress upon people not familiar with religious trends in the temples of high progress as to how different the march of the global south must look to them as it does to people with less elevated affinities. To the undereducated, it looks like an invasion. To the enlightened, it appears like the deserving poor on the threshold of attaining justice. These two worldviews are irreconcilable.
If, your whole life, you have been raised to believe that your highest and most sacred mission is to shower money, attention, and resources on the third world, it’s not terribly likely that it’ll be possible to persuade you out of it. This is more frightening than the conspiratorial vision of elite behavior, which tends to interpret self-destruction as part of a hidden plot instead of dreamlike self-annihilation. Rational evil can be dealt with in rational terms, through argument and persuasion. Holy insanity can only be opposed directly or survived by hunkering down.
Ezra Pound's Ghost says
“This is more frightening than the conspiratorial vision of elite behavior” – Yes, but where did all of these pathological beliefs about the righteousness of the benighted come from? Our contemporary mandarins did not just come to these beliefs spontaneously or arbitrarily. These beliefs are the result of a rigorous, top-down multi-decade propaganda onslaught. The idea that pathological altruism is an outgrowth of ‘Christianity’ is superficially plausible until we dig into the difference between the Faith that controlled Europe for 1,500 years and later iterations of the anti-Faith like Puritanism and the sects. I’m not meaning to arrogate to Catholicism the exclusive mantle of ‘Christianity’ but I think it is important to not ignore the objective differences between the Faith and the sects. That said, there is no question that the religious sentiments of ‘Christians’ are manipulated and feed into the pathology. But it is not intellectually honest to take a modern revision of something and then make the revision the retroactive standard for what came before.
I don’t think we necessarily have to verge into tin foil territory consider the possibility that what we are dealing with, at least partially, is a hostile minority that uses its elite access to opinion- and policy-making spheres to cynically manipulate humanistic altruism for the purposes of weakening, subverting and controlling an inherently superior (even if only in numbers) body. Henry, do you consider the propaganda of the enlightenment to be above reproach, or do you think that at least some of these tropes about liberty, equality, fraternity and reason were cynical instruments of political and economic manipulation? I’m not at all meaning to endorse Marx here. I think Pareto had it most correct in saying that the causal relations between interests and ideologies runs both ways and that both are mutually interdependent (though with interest usually preponderating). In a nutshell: it’s not either/or; there are vast armies of true believers but they have been actuated by cynical manipulators. It sometimes happens that the true believers unconsciously break the bonds of their manipulators, but that doesn’t the historical fact of the manipulation.
No it was not spontaneous, but the development took centuries rather than decades.
>Henry, do you consider the propaganda of the enlightenment to be above reproach, or do you think that at least some of these tropes about liberty, equality, fraternity and reason were cynical instruments of political and economic manipulation?
I think that people who tend to believe them are genuine, but that the doctrines themselves are at fault. In the course of taking and holding onto power, ideologues often become cynical by necessity. That’s less important than the faults in the underlying ideas.
Some number of people are cynical manipulators — quite a lot of them, actually — but they would be useless without the ideological conditioning.
So, for example, McCarthy underestimated the threat of domestic communist subversion. But those subversives would not have been able to survive for long without their ability to take shelter under rights-of-man rhetoric and the general chaos of democracy. It’s focusing too much on a particular infection instead of the larger problem of a compromised political immune system.
In the near future….The moment a town in southern France is taken over by Muslim refugees, sharia law is set up and French citizens are lined up and shot with weapons smuggled in from North Africa is the day you will see real change in the west….
Judging from South Africa, it would just lead to think pieces from the survivors about how they deserved it. After all, that’s not too far from what happened to the French colonists in those regions, and the reaction was one of resignation and self-flagellation.
I like the terms “rational evil” and “holy insanity”(possibly “irrational evil” and “unholy insanity” could be family members). In the last paragraph, does “holy insanity” go with the first sentence beginning–“If, your whole life…” and does “rational evil” go with the third sentence beginning–“This is more frightening…”.
If so, would RaEv and HoIn fit as possible descriptives for either/or both of our two major political parties?
The parties? They’re mostly just stupid and irrational.