History As A Cure For Unreality

I’ve become fascinated with history. Specifically the long view and moments of unreality. How did society start with cavemen who lived in reality or died if the game migrated when they weren’t paying attention, and wind up with modern man who is supernaturally good at ignoring the obvious? That arc is spelled out in history.

Randomly picking one social insanity among millions, consider Rotherdam’s shameful cover up of massive sex trafficking. Who deliberately let that continue? Apparently everyone! Would Og the caveman have seen what his eyes told him in Rotherdam? Could he see what British social workers didn’t? Or wouldn’t? Or had learned to not see? Would he have solved it right quick with his trusty hunting stick? Or would he have invented a story about how it wasn’t what he was seeing? Somehow I doubt Og would have been paralysed with self doubt. Shouldn’t we, presumably sane modern folks with advantages like books and microscopes, exceed Og’s facilities?

Furthermore, how unaware of history does one need to be before it’s just plain embarrassing? If earnest looking politicians can stand in front of television cameras and tell me a bank is “too big to fail“, what the hell am I to make of the Holy Roman Empire? It was big. It failed.

There has to be more to the story than “single point in time” stupidity. History hints at it. Perhaps I was optimistically inspired to consider history by a book? Maybe I was pessimistically inspired to seek wisdom as my nation snuffed Volvos? But history means something.

About the Volvos; regardless of fuel efficiency, sane people don’t go on pogroms against machines. Yet America killed them. For what; for existing? Did we just see the vehicular version of the Spanish Inquisition? Suppose your job is to burn heretical cars. That’s fruitbat quality weird! Does it seem logical only if you carefully avoid thinking it over? How many beers do you need on a Friday evening to relax after a hard week of acting like a lunatic?

More recently, by what logic is a disturbing outbreak of hemorragic fever unworthy of screwing up air travel? Haven’t I been told that the safety of the travelling public merits an army of uniformed tools who grope my balls looking for a pocket knife? Is Ebola similar to another hemmoragic fever? I suppose that one is just ancient history; like the Roman Empire (which, having failed, must have been dwarfed by JP Morgan). How did death by disease become an issue addressed by states while school lunches are an urgent Federal responsibility? Do we need to revisit school lunches on a 30 year cycle? Do we need to revisit “plague” based on histories from 1346, or 1775, or 1918, or are we to pretend that this is all new?

I think it’s age. I’m getting old. (I ‘aint dead yet so shut up.) You hit an age where you’ve seen stupidity ebb and flow. You see the echoes of the past.

In 2009 heat death was to be averted by throwing money at Solyndra’s solar panels? This came 34 years after the impending ice age (Newsweek, 1975- PDF). None of this reminds us of Vikings bailing on Greenland 500 years ago? The Vikings, in my humble opinion, were not pussies, did they perish for lack of solar panels or because they were smaller than JP Morgan?

Soviets waited in line to buy toilet paper and it sucked. Now it’s Venezuelans. It still sucks. Toilet paper isn’t particularly complex. We all crap. Is it truly necessary to relive the loop tape of shortages? Venezuela followed an almost mathematically precise course. We’ve seen the course before. Someone must have been surprised by it.

I’d like to find such a person. I’d like to ask what they saw at Rotherdam and what one does with sinful Volvos and if they’ve ever gotten the flu and what temperature they think it ought to be and how many solar panels it would take to fix it. I’d compliment them on their spiffy Che Guevara t-shirt (made in China, sold at an American University, bought on credit). Will they see it coming when I kick them in the balls? Running out of toilet paper sucks.

Someone has to take a stand.

By now you’re wondering what made me write this and who put it in my cereal. I was inspired by Strange Seeds on Distant Shores at Popehat. You won’t regret clicking over to read it. Seriously, go… now!

Back so soon? Liar, you didn’t read it. I can tell. Anyway Strange Seeds on Distant Shores starts by discussing unreality. It’s described from the eyes of someone who experienced the Soviets back when they were beyond the initial killing of people in droves and had settled into decades of rationed toilet paper:

“Growing up under communism, things didn’t make perfect sense. Facts didn’t quite fit together. But because everything – schools, newspapers, radio – was all from the same people, you never knew what was wrong…but you could tell that something wasn’t right. It was like boxing while you’re blind folded. You keep getting hit in the face, but you don’t know why. Only after I got out did I see how the real world really was, and how everything we’d been told was lies and distortions.”

Holy shit! Nail on the head! Tell me you haven’t felt that way? Something isn’t right and it’s hard to say why. Exactly! I just spewed 600 words about stupidity that hits me in the face. Everything from Volvo pogroms to pretending microscopic Ebola will magically fail to cross American borders that don’t stop full grown people. It’s lies and distortion and it gets under your skin.

Then he relates last week’s election (the decisive sweep of the stupid party over the evil party) to history. He points out a dichotomy in the Declaration of Independence that I never considered:

“On the one hand, the king meddled in the freedoms of the common people by having too many laws and too much taxation (you can find all of these complaints in any Republican party platform of the last fifty years):

  • “He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance. “
  • “For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent”
  • “For abolishing the free System of English Laws”
  • “He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death” (black helicopters! NAFTA highway!)

Yet on the other hand, the king meddled – not in the freedoms of the common people – but in the freedoms of the Harvard elites to rule the common people:

  • “He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.”
  • “He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance”
  • “He has refused to pass other Laws”
  • “He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws “
  • “For suspending our own Legislatures”

The first is a list of red state complaints: “the government is too big!”. The second is a list of blue state complaints: “the government is too small!”.”

Damn, he’s right! The more government/less government thing goes way back. He traces it to the Magna Carta in 1215. One can argue about the details but his general outline has some good ideas. More to the point, history is a way to analyse the stupid that surrounds us and seek a little perspective. As Pope points out:

“Having an accurate view of the world is rewarding in its own right, but it’s especially nice when the alternative is being blindfolded and punched in the face.”

History is on to something. It’s worth paying attention.

About Adaptive Curmudgeon

I will neither confirm nor deny that I actually exist.
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8 Responses to History As A Cure For Unreality

  1. Papa Pig says:

    No “d”. Rotherham. And they ignored it because the perps were atop the Preferred Species ladder. The bottom rung of that ladder belongs to Hispanics in the US. They can do whatever they want to those with no standing on the ladder – Whites and Asians – with impunity, but had better not look up at those above them. Standing one rung above the Hispanics are the Blacks. They can do as they will to all below, but dare not look up at the Homosexuals standing above them. And atop the ladder are adherents to the Religion of Peace. Now the UK ain’t got many Hispanics, so I’m not sure whether they only have a three rung ladder, or if they have some other Preferred Species standing there. But the raghead at the top is universal.

  2. Dougla says:

    No-one actually came out and said that the goal of “cash for clunkers” was to take taxpayer money and give it to people who were rich enough to be buying or financing a brand-new car. The goal was supposedly to get older low-efficiency cars off the road, and have newer more efficient cars in their place.
    What in face happened was a vast distortion of the supply of good used cars, and post-hoc analysis has shown that the trajectory of the average age of cars registered on the road has not changed. Poorer people are driving cars even older than they would have been without the program, and many have been priced out of car-driving altogether, with the accompanying difficulty in getting/keeping employment.
    One of the many government programs that can be easily explained as a conspiracy to keep poor people poor.

    • Cash for clunkers, regardless of purpose, was an abomination before God and man. To deliberately destroy anything of value en masse, be it a car or a cornfield, is abhorrent. It’s a sign of a society that’s gone off the rails. Frugal and thoughful people don’t nuke lots full of cars in the name of theory. Once you’re pouring silica in a functioning engine you might as well be dancing around a fire sacrificing goats to Paul Krugman.

      In my life, cash for clunkers (also regardless of anyone’s egghead theorizing) was a kill shot on the used parts supply for the kind and age of vehicles I preferred. Later the cool little super efficient diesel Mahindra truck was kept from America’s market. Finally I said fuck it and went big. My current truck is the size of a battleship. I could get by some of the time with a smaller gasser half ton truck but I often haul big stuff and the dual axle is a luxury I never thought I’d have and now greatly appreciate. My next truck (which I hope won’t be needed for many years) may very well be a used Kenworth. Market planners distorted the market until lifetime cost of ownership of a dumptruck and a Prius grow closer. A pox on their box; I shall think outside it. They can kiss my ass.

  3. RogerC says:

    That’s pretty much it, PP. That and the only organisations which could investigate the abuse were the police and social workers. Both are so allergic to a charge of racism that they dropped investigations rather than report the finding that the gangs involved were primarily pakistani and muslim.

    Social workers have always been that way, since a sociology degree is basically an education in Marxist critical theory. The police are terrified of the charge of “institutional racism” that was levelled at them after the MacPherson Inquiry in 1999. In both cases, being accused of racism is a career ender. Failing to protect the people they’re tasked with protecting, isn’t.

    Think about that for a while. The people who could have protected these children dropped investigations in order to protect their own careers. They were apparently more scared of having to find another job than they were of rape gangs systematically grooming the young children they were supposed to be protecting.

    • This is why I discount people in America who mutter about bloody revolution (on both sides of the spectrum). “Someday they’ll push us too far and then…” And then what? We’ve got ample proof that police, social workers, clergy, politicians, etc… have and will continue to tolerate and even perpetuate atrocity just for a paycheck. We can safely say they’ll do the unthinkable should they be really pressed. That’s not to say all people are weak, heroes exist, it’s just that they’re rare. And institutions have managed to pack their ranks sufficiently with the weak that Rotherham happened. That’s just one example, there are others.

      I’d like to think I would never ever tolerate something so evil simply for a job. I’m delighted that I’ve never had to face the choice though.

  4. PJ says:

    First, this is all about point of view. Stuff that makes no sense to peons, makes tons of sense to the ruling class and the cronies. Government is not supposed to make sense to the peons. The only reason it seemed to, sorta, years ago, is that there simply was not that much government to get in our way.

    As to social workers, their response to this problem made sense TO THEM. Like everyone, they look out for number one. It’s not so much that they are evil or silly, it’s that the peons are silly to believe the social workers are working for the peons’ benefit. If anything we should expect less of social workers than we expect of the random peon, since every one of them gets paid via theft and every one employs violence as a matter of course.

    Keep in mind Pournelle’s Iron Law of Bureaucracy:
    Pournelle’s Iron Law of Bureaucracy states that in any bureaucratic organization there will be two kinds of people:

    First, there will be those who are devoted to the goals of the organization. Examples are dedicated classroom teachers in an educational bureaucracy, many of the engineers and launch technicians and scientists at NASA, even some agricultural scientists and advisors in the former Soviet Union collective farming administration.

    Secondly, there will be those dedicated to the organization itself. Examples are many of the administrators in the education system, many professors of education, many teachers union officials, much of the NASA headquarters staff, etc.

    The Iron Law states that in every case the second group will gain and keep control of the organization. It will write the rules, and control promotions within the organization.

    Needless to say, the mission goes by the board.

  5. MSgt B says:

    You hit it out of the park with this post, Bwana.

    And then you follow up with the “sacrificing goats to Paul Krugman” comment.

  6. MSgt B says:

    I want to be like you when I grow up.

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