A Holiday For Fools
once defined a "fool" as a person who keeps responding
to the same situation in the same way, expecting a different result.
Perhaps the best illustration of this infirmity is found, every
two years, in the system known as voting, wherein millions
of people are induced to go the polls and vote for candidates who
keep promising to carry out the unfulfilled promises they made in
the previous election! How many presidents, senators, and
congressmen have been sent to Washington by promising to "get
big government off our backs" or to "lower taxes?"
When these people do not deliver on their promises, and the burdens
and failures of government continue to escalate, the boobeoisie
can nevertheless be counted upon to stumble into voting booths at
the next election to cast their votes for the same charlatans
making the same promises! The principle article of faith of the
electorate comes down to the proposition: "this time for sure!"
One can observe this practice in the biennial fleecing of voters
by members of the government school syndicate. Government schools
have been a remarkable failure when it comes to helping children
learn to think critically, analytically, and creatively. Someone
sent me an e-mail that summarizes the state of learning in our society:
"Fifty years ago, they taught Latin and Greek in high schools.
Today, they teach remedial English in colleges." Who but a
fool – particularly one who had been trained in the government schools
– would think it the essence of socially responsible behavior to
continue funding this obscene racket? Counting upon the collective
simplemindedness of the electorate, school systems throughout the
country are able year after year after year – to induce voters
to approve of yet another proposal to increase government
funding in order to improve the quality of learning! "This
time for sure!"
A number of ancient monarchies had a day of celebration known, in
some societies, as the "feast of fools." It was customary to select
a fool to play the role of king for that day, a ritual that, no
doubt, helped to create the illusion that ordinary people were not
as distant from the fount of power as they otherwise experienced
in their daily lives. The fool "king for a day" could
engage in a number of peripheral royal functions and, as long as
he didn’t try exercising real authority – such as declaring
war on Ruritania, freeing all jailed prisoners, or abolishing taxes
– the charade posed no threat to the established order.
Modern societies employ a variant on the "feast of fools,"
one that takes place not annually, but every two years: the
democratic election. The role of the fool has been
collectivized into that of the "electorate," and on election
day, foolish people like to pretend that, on this one day at least,
they get to make important political decisions; that they
run the state. This is a delusion the statists not only tolerate,
but insist on promoting, for it helps to hide the real
locus of authority in society. This is why Western governments
have such an obsession with promoting "democracy" throughout
the world: not for the purpose of decentralizing political
authority, but to render such power less threatening to men and
women who have been bamboozled into thinking they are the
state! As with their medieval predecessors, as long as the foolish
electorate doesn’t get carried away with their sense of power and
vote for a proposition that is inimical to the interests of the
power structure – an occasional miscarriage of judgment that is
quickly corrected by the courts declaring such a measure "unconstitutional"
– the illusion is happily indulged in by fool and master alike.
I was amused to watch television newscasters reporting on Saddam
Hussein’s re-election in Iraq, observing that he was unopposed for
office. I wonder how many of them have ever entertained the thought
that the two-party system in America provides just as predictable
an outcome – for the power structure – as obtains in one-party systems.
The system offers you two candidates – Tweedledum and Tweedledummer
– along with the illusion that, having such a "choice,"
you are controlling the governmental structure! The fallacy
in such thinking was well-revealed in how quickly virtually all
members of both major parties fell into line in support of George
Bush’s post-9/11 legislative proposals. Foolish people have yet
to discover that, no matter who you vote for, the government
always gets elected!
It has been thirty-four years since I indulged myself in the fantasy
of thinking that any significant change in the nature of politics
could be brought about by voting. Still, the thought has crossed
my mind that, as long as our lives are burdened by political systems,
we might find in the ancient "feast of fools" a more beneficial
way of selecting government officials. Perhaps recourse could be
had to a lottery system – such as is used for jury duty –
in which names are selected, at random, to fill all elective
offices. A hay farmer from Nebraska, or an accountant from Cleveland,
or a convenience store clerk from Baton Rouge, might receive a letter
informing them that their name had been selected, by a computer,
to be President of the United States for the next four years. I
suspect that persons conscripted into the presidency would lack
the ambition for mischief of present or prior holders of that office.
As with their jury duty counterparts, such men and women would likely
be content to count the days remaining in their captivity!
Wouldn’t it be fitting, for a society in which the interests of
technology preempt those of people, to have political leaders
chosen by computers rather than by mere humans with
all of their foibles? I know, however, that my modest proposal will
never generate any enthusiasm on the part of others. Because chance
leads to a great deal of unpredictability, the power structure will
always prefer a massive base of well-trained fools upon which to
rely for the preservation of its rule. It has been the purpose of
the government schools and the media to generate this constituency
of fatuousness by consciously dumbing-down the content of their
services. What politician doesn’t appreciate the efforts of these
entities in having laid the groundwork for popular acceptance of
the most fantastic legislative proposals? Each knows that his or
her political career depends upon the proposition so well expressed
by Mark Twain: "Hain’t we got all the fools in town on our
side? And ain’t that a big enough majority in any town?"
One can witness the continued gulling of the public in so-called
"news reporting." Only the most disingenuous can pretend
that the attacks on the World Trade Center were anything other than
a violent reaction to expansionist American foreign/military practices.
In spite of this fact, the statists – with the aid of their media
flacks persist in nurturing the illusion that increased
military action will promote peace and security at home! Members
of what H.L. Mencken labeled the species homo boobus roll
themselves up in their flags and demand that America get even tougher
with the rest of the world!
When the "sniper" was ambushing people in the Washington,
DC, area, the purveyors of foolishness again trotted out their gun-control
sophistries. The chant was taken up: "privately owned guns
bad/government owned guns good." Forget that
a belief in the "evil" nature of guns is to return to
animistic doctrines that attributed willfulness and soul to inanimate
objects; put aside the evidence that private gun ownership greatly
reduces violent crime; disregard the fact that the "sniper"
– who had been trained by the US military – had chosen to carry
out his murderous actions in the Washington, DC, area, the city
with the toughest gun control laws in the nation. Such reservations
denote intelligence and reflection, and have no place in a "brave
new world" in which thoughtfulness can lead to the questioning
of established practices which, in turn, can foster change.
A few days ago, a teenager in Oklahoma allegedly went on a shooting
rampage, killing at least two people and wounding a number of others.
Apparently his killings began in a disagreement with neighbors about
his driving habits. He then visited a car dealership where he shot
more people, and later began shooting at other cars while driving
on a highway. Nor should we forget that the Washington "sniper"
allegedly conducted his murderous campaign from the rear
of a customized automobile.
While the Oklahoma news story will doubtless provide more fodder
for the gun-control addicts, I suspect that we will hear no proposals
for abolishing the private ownership of automobiles. Tens
of thousands of people are killed by cars every year – far more
than those killed by guns – and, in this case at least, this teenager’s
alleged actions were focused on automobiles. If guns are
too dangerous to be entrusted to individuals, isn’t the case for
restricting car ownership equally compelling?
You will not witness any "car-control" campaigns among
politicians or within the media. While it serves the interests of
the political establishment to further disarm and weaken individuals,
controlling access to automobiles does not. Automobile manufacturers,
oil companies, insurance and banking institutions, would all suffer
financial hardship or ruin by the prohibition of private vehicles
and, consequently, no such campaign of indoctrination will be undertaken
by the political order. Homo boobus will remain free to drive
around in his automobile, altogether convinced that such is the
system’s recognition of his innate "liberty" and "dignity"
as an individual! His opinions in this matter are subject to change,
however, should this same system decide to deprive him of
such ownership – perhaps in the interests of "homeland security"
– and turn the media loose to indoctrinate him in a modified gospel
of social reform.
While a fool is prepared to believe in the proposition that wet
sidewalks cause rain – or in any other doctrine that it would be
useful to the political establishment to have him espouse – he is
unlikely to incorporate such an idea into his thinking until he
has been sufficiently conditioned to accept it as a politically
and socially correct mantra. The fool doesn’t want to look foolish,
as he would if he began asking questions or expressing opinions
that deviated from the collective mindset. To this end, he is subjected
to the same kind of repetitious, rote conditioning as any well-trained
circus animal, until he is able to express the new institutional
catechism with such unerring cadence as to give him the assurance
that he is the originator of the proposition!
Having thus learned to boldly confront and defy reality, to reconcile
contradictions, and to elevate airy hope above the harsh demands
of causation, homo boobus is prepared to participate in that
modern "feast of fools" known as "election day."
Believing in the illusion in which they have been carefully conditioned,
namely, that they are controlling the direction of the state,
they will be seen conducting their biennial pilgrimage to the voting
booth, there to vote for the candidate who promises to restore prosperity,
and end crime, corruption, and the threat of terrorism. "This
time for sure!"
© 2002 LewRockwell.com