Monday, March 17, 2008


I saw Zeitgeist last night. It's kind of good, especially the argument (which I found persuasive) that Christianity is mostly warmed-over astrology, but the last two thirds was too heavy on conspiracy theory.

The movie makes way too much of the idea that 9/11 was supposedly an inside job, which is just bullshit. It's especially stupid because it's irrelevant. All the Bush Administration had to do — and what it's been uncontroversially proven to have done — is turn off all the alarms, leave the front door unlocked and publicly taunt the burglars. Surprise, surprise, surprise, the house got robbed.

It's really not all that important how 9/11 was arranged/allowed to happen (likewise the sinking of the Lusitania, Pearl Harbor, the Gulf of Tonkin incident and the Reichstag fire, to which the movie compares 9/11). What seems vastly more important are the massive propaganda campaigns that accompanied all of these incidents. The documentary Leading to War [h/t to Democratic Underground] sounds much more on point (I'm going to watch it later today).

But the basic point is straightforward: According to the movie, a small group of amoral, sociopathic people (mostly men) arranges and exploits crises to enslave and exploit the general population.

Well duh.

I figured that out when I was twelve. What took me a few decades more to figure out is that this arrangement is precisely what the general population wants.

The problem with this sort of tendentious and factually compromised pseudo-documentary is that the "truth" (or even the actual truth) will not set you free; the truth is pretty much irrelevant to most people's lives. The people want to believe that their leaders are intelligent, wise and benevolent; that everything is going to turn out well if they keep their heads down and get to work on time; and that the people who are oppressed and exploited by the system deserve to be oppressed and exploited.

The world has been running on lies and bullshit since the beginning of recorded history. You don't have to like it, you don't have to believe that it's inexorable, but it's stupidly naive to think that just pointing out the lies and bullshit is going to dramatically change everything.

1 comment:

  1. Dear Bum, even a penguin can tell you that a troop of hairless plains apes will follow their leaders pretty much everywhere. It isn't a matter of "choice", it's biology. That's how plains apes are wired -- to follow an alpha male, to throw feces at members of other troops of hairless plains apes (or spears, or .237 rifle rounds, or bombs, it's all feces in the end being thrown at "other", where the plains ape is wired to believe that any who are part of "other" are enemy and thus deserve to have feces thrown at them), etc.

    Some plains apes figured out a way to manipulate that biological instinct to enrich themselves? Well, duh. We're talking monkeys, after all. Jumped up monkeys with big brains and delusions of grandeur, but it's monkeys all the way down, in the end. And the occasional penguin, but penguins have little influence upon monkeys. The truth may set you free, but lies, ah, cool soothing lies, the lies of patriotism and religion and so forth, what glorious lies, why would a monkey believe the cold harsh truth of his monkey nature when he has such glorious lies to believe? That would expecting rather much of a monkey, this penguin thinks...

    -- Badtux the Penguin in a Time of Monkeys


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