Thursday, January 12, 2017

Have the Brutes Won?

Back on February 22, 2015, this site wanted that "political discourse" had become as much of an oxymoron as "central intelligence" (the punch line to an article entitled "Dignifying Stupidity with a Response"). If I had a time machine, I would probably use it to revisit myself on that date for the pleasure to delivering that old line, "You ain't seen nuttin' yet!" One capable of detaching enough to view this whole situation from a sober distance can probably conclude that, where voters are concerned (not only in the United States but in just about any country in which elections are held), powerful rhetoric as reduced the strength of logic to less than zero (negative because there are now sufficiently large blocs among the electorate who see logic as a sign of a path to be avoided, hence Michael Gove's declaration that voters "have had enough of experts").

In this context, an Opinion piece by Jeff Sparrow posted this morning on the Al Jazeera Web site is a depressing sign of just how bad things have become. Taking Keith Olbermann as a case in point, Sparrow makes the case that the left is now resorting to the same pandering techniques that worked so well for Donald Trump. (He calls this technique "anti-Trump Trumpism.") As might be expected, he does not approve of this phenomenon, recalling the old adage that fighting fire with fire just gets more things burnt. Unfortunately, Sparrow never tried to take on Gove's claim or its implications, the most important of which is that rationality no longer has any currency.

Can rationality be restored? Barack Obama believe that this can be achieved at a grass-roots level. Start with small like-minded communities; and eventually they will grow. I would like to embrace his optimism. Perhaps I have to, because irrationality has become such a global phenomenon that seeking refuge is no longer an option.

Nevertheless, I still seem to be able to turn to cynicism when no other refuge is available. In that vein I need to share my reflection on the photograph that headed Sparrow's article:





This is an anti-Trump protest held in front of the Massachusetts State House in Boston. The enlarged image on Al Jazeera will show that the concrete stela behind the letter "C" has the name "Bulfinch." That is there to commemorate Charles Bulfinch, the architect who designed the State House. Today Bullfinch is much less known than his son Thomas, whose last name became closely associated with the collection of myths of different cultures. The cynic in me is tempted to give this photograph the caption "Bulfinch's Mythology!"

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