Thursday, December 1, 2011

Ideology And Vaclav Havel

"Why bother with a ceaseless and in fact hopeless search for truth when truth can be had readily, all at once, in the form of an ideology or doctrine?  Suddenly it is all so simple.  So many difficult questions are answered in advance!  So many laborious existential tasks from which our minds are freed once and for all!"
- Vaclav Havel

Havel is notable for being the last president of Czechoslovakia and the first president of the Czech Republic; and I find this quote from the noted essayist, poet, and politician occasionally poking out its ugly head as I watch both the political left and the right participating in Washington's 'business as usual'.   

The endless puppet show of the Republican debates goes on, as the mainstream media continues to tell us that Mitt Romney is the presumptive candidate; ignoring anyone else in the field, unless it's to speculate on when that current challenger will implode certainly seems to fit the bill.  Perhaps they feel that by the power of repetitive suggestion that non-Democrats will stop paying attention, accept their shrill and dismissive rhetoric as gospel, and stop questioning those seeking the highest office in the land on the Republican side. 

Meanwhile, any candidate questioning the pre-existing national party doctrines as defined by political pundits is marginalized to the point of non-existence.  Caught up in what Thomas Sowell would call 'Stage One Thinking', and ignoring the potential risks of sound-bite solutions that candidates are forced to give in the debate format they are handed, they refuse to accept anyone and anything beyond per-established political doctrine.  If this is what party politics and the electoral process has come to, maybe it's time to leave the party.  

The President continues a speaking tour that's little more than campaign to swing states at taxpayer expense to promote a plan that has already turned into a carcass picked more cleanly than last week's Thanksgiving turkey.  Some less cynical than I, might even find it strange that he feels he can do more good promoting it in stump speeches than working in Washington with legislators already caught up in their own ideologies.  Perhaps this is what leadership has come to mean (though I highly doubt it); though one cannot help but question how the oft heralded spirit of compromise is supposed to work when what we're handed is little more than strictly adhered to ideology from the bully pulpit of the White House.  

This however, is how the current resident of the White House got to reach that exalted position (as did many of those before him), and it's no doubt the way he intends to maintain 'the last job he will ever have'. This too is a well-known doctrine of politics.

Meanwhile the 'dance of the dead' (well, brain dead at least) goes on in Washington, where 535 legislators can't agree on the what a budget is or how to pass one, don't seem to know what constitutes a spending cut and can't agree on when such a cut will happen even when they agree that in fact it must, and attempts to operate the nation's economy on a principle of 'Wimpy Economics' that says we can pay for spending cuts tomorrow with tax increases today.

And while most agree that closing some of the loopholes in the tax code that Congress itself created is a good idea, ideology (and the 2012 elections) prevent them from doing so.  While most likewise agree that we cannot continue to spend and increase our national debt at current rates, ideology again prohibits them from doing anything to address this problem as well.

They ignore common sense and the basic principles of math including addition, subtraction, and the calculation of percentages; all the while telling us that they do so in the name of an ideology that's either inconsistent, contradictory, or both.  And while both parties attempt to tell us that this debate is all about holding firmly to such ideology, we all know that it's more about political expediency and not throwing away a gig that pays in excess of $165k in tough economic times.  Even those as apparently ignorant as those we hired as 'public servants' know better than to do anything that might lead them to having to look for a new job in this economy.

Adding insult to injury, we watch in stunned silence as information is released that the Federal Reserve lent over $7 trillion dollars to banks around the world (and plans to lend more).  Of course why we would expect a group of unelected bureaucrats who are nothing more than independent bankers to do otherwise is a mystery to me.  After all, who better than the financial experts who either participated in or blithely sat by and watched as the world's economy went to hell should we trust to act in our best interests rather than their own (or that of their brother bankers)?  

And while we prop up the world's financial system with electronically printed money that our grandchildren's grandchildren will be paying for, we have the comfort of knowing that those running the banks will continue to receive the exorbitant bonuses promised to them by contract, as those in charge simply play the game by the rules that they created, following the time honored ideology that got us where we are today.

I wonder if Mr. Havel chuckles or cries as he recognizes the terrible truth he has taught us?


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