Sunday, July 12, 2009

Plus ça change

The more I read about man and his maniacal ruthlessness and his murderous envious scatological soul, the more I realize that he will never change. Our stupidity is immortal, nothing will change it. The same mistakes, the same prejudices, the same injustice, the same lusts wheel endlessly around the parade ground of the centuries. Immutable and ineluctable. I wish I could believe in a god of some kind but I simply cannot.

— Richard Burton [the actor]

Folly, thou conquerest, and I must yield!
Against stupidity the very gods.
Themselves contend in vain. Exalted reason,
Resplendent daughter of the head divine,
Wise foundress of the system of the world,
Guide of the stars, who art thou then if thou,
Bound to the tail of folly's uncurbed steed,
Must, vainly shrieking with the drunken crowd,
Eyes open, plunge down headlong in the abyss.
Accursed, who striveth after noble ends,
And with deliberate wisdom forms his plans!
To the fool-king belongs the world.

— Friedrich Schiller, The Maid of Orleans (translated by Anna Swanwick)


I started this blog two and a half years ago because (and yes, you may laugh) I wanted to do my bit to save the world.

Lately, I've been reading George Orwell's essays. I'm struck by two impressions: One, is that Orwell is a brilliant, perspicacious, and eloquent writer; his talent of course surpasses my own by many orders of magnitude. More importantly, looking back at the last 60-70 years since he wrote, his writing and thought has had less impact on the world than Ann Coulter's.

The world, I now believe, does not want to be saved. Whether the ordinary people close their eyes to the precipice towards which we are rushing headlong, or whether they see and simply do not care, or believe God or science or truth will magically rescue the chosen few, I do not know.

I'm not discouraged by the vitriol of the religious, of the libertarians, of the laissez-faire capitalists. I am, however, discouraged by the vitriol (and worse, the often blithe dismissal) of atheists, philosophers, progressives, socialists and communists, always (to my eyes) for daring to disagree with some item of cherished dogma. Perhaps I'm equally guilty of my own vitriol, but I have always done my best to at least avoid dogmatism, to substantiate my anger with facts and arguments. I have received no such consideration from my detractors. Perhaps I am wrong; I don't think I'm stupid, but who does?

Perhaps I am myself no better than the ordinary person or my detractors; how can I know what I am blind to? Either way: what use is my work? Even the mostly sensible intelligentsia, from Marx to Myers, attract little more than hordes of ass-kissing sycophants: such is the most I could aspire to. Hell with that. I can make more money as a butcher.

The world cannot be saved, does not deserve to be saved, does not want to be saved. Or the same thing: my meager talents and position are insufficient to alter the course of history by a jot or tittle. I've said what I had to say; words writ on air. I've clarified my own thinking; gone forevermore when soon I am dead.

Before the century is out, humanity may well be reduced to under a billion, perhaps only a few tens of millions, perhaps to zero. I'm powerless to change this outcome. It'll happen or not no matter what I do. Those who survive, if any do, will survive and erect their own society, a socialist utopia or a totalitarian nightmare, regardless of my attempts at guidance, advice or effort.

I intend to enjoy my few remaining years (I'm in no danger of dying early, but no person's span of years is more than the blink of an eye) and arguing with fucktards — on the internet or in real life — is no longer enjoyable.

Goodbye.

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