Sunday, 1 August 2021

Your fantastic world will grow pale

Your fantastic world will grow pale, your dreams will fade and die and will fall like the yellow leaves from the trees....

Fyodor Dostoevsky - White Nights (1848)

As we all must know, there are various ways to explain government coronavirus excesses and as voters we do need to find a reasonable explanation.

The colossal cost, locking up healthy, low risk people, closing schools when children are virtually immune, obsessively detailed social contact rules, pointless mask wearing, badly damaged economy and businesses, wildly exaggerated risks, constant confusing rule and policy changes, constant megaphone propaganda and to top it all there is no good evidence that any of it was worthwhile.

Now we have the climate change narrative being pumped up to lunatic levels of scary nonsense based on comic-book fantasies about our supposed effect on the global climate. It has been an extremely sobering reminder of just how necessary it is to explain political lunacy.

Yet it is possible that these things do not have simple explanations other than the basic human need to avoid personal harm blended with a wealthy and highly supportive culture such as ours. In these circumstances, perceptions of personal harm become extremely confused. We see harm in a wildly exaggerated manner, but more importantly we are easily persuaded to accept the exaggerations and that is where the insanity lurks.

Lunatic exaggerations are promoted by senior political actors, senior bureaucrats and leading media pundits. From the outside it can seem like insanity, but at their level it is not self-destructive insanity. It does no harm to those pushing it but is likely to inflict enormous harm on voters who could do something about it but don’t.

At the visceral level of personal survival, one way to avoid harm is to harm others and thereby nullify their ability to harm you. We see that in senior political actors where we ordinary voters are the ones they harm. Why would that be? Our numbers, there are too many of us. It’s Malthus over and over again. It sounds primitive but the coronavirus debacle and climate narrative are inflicting harm on ordinary people for no good reason and it is blatantly obvious that this is the case. Nobody could possibly miss it.

In other words, perhaps we ordinary voters should bring the insanity down to a personal level, to those senior political individuals making and supporting insane decisions. Senior actors in politics, bureaucracies and the media are highly attuned to their personal interests. It is a major reason why they are where they are. They are making business for themselves and protecting what they see as their future - not our future. When it goes sour they move on. Social contacts secure, fresh career moves in place, revolving doors revolving.  

Big tech and various wealthy global actors also play their part, but their influence would be resisted by a rationally altruistic governing class. Unfortunately we don’t have that, don’t vote for it and are bound to pay a high price for not doing so.

Your fantastic world will grow pale, your dreams will fade and die and will fall like the yellow leaves from the trees.... That’s our fantastic world of course, the one where democracy keeps government activity within sane boundaries. Until it doesn’t.


Scrobs. said...

Excellent post, AK.

Please add the disgraceful waste of the charities to that toxic mix!

DiscoveredJoys said...

There's not a lot one can do at a personal level - except disengage.

Don't pay for any media, and distrust what you read or hear. Do not respond to requests for surveys unless you have a complaint to voice. Support only local charities that are well managed, deliver, and are not 'political'. Do not engage with conspiracy theorists, or people that knock your door to sell you stuff or religion.

Politicians, actors, conspiracy theorists, evangelicals and the media are desperate for 'recognition' as it secures their place on the greasy pole for another day.

Be the person that starves them of recognition.

A K Haart said...

Scrobs - thanks and yes, charities should be in there, particularly many of the big ones.

DJ - good advice. We never engage with anyone who knocks on the door. If they are prepared to be that intrusive we aren't interested.