An excellent and laconic, and honed essay by Justin Raimondo at Anti-War, describing and seeking to explain a phenomenon which I have trouble getting my head around: the self-defeating and self-deluding behaviour of the elites in western countries.
[G]ood ol’ Robert Heinlein saw what was coming in his “Future History” series: he may have gotten the timeline wrong, but the era he dubbed “The Crazy Years” should certainly ring a bell:
“Considerable technical advance during this period, accompanied by a gradual deterioration of mores, orientation, and social institutions, terminating in mass psychoses in the sixth decade, and the Interregnum.” …
There’s a pattern to this craziness, as there is to most psychoses, and in this instance I would diagnose it as election year insanity. Because Donald Trump has made not only immigration but also our vulnerability to terrorism a big issue, both de Blasio and Cuomo felt obligated to downplay the clear reality of what was happening before our very eyes and try to convince us that what we were seeing wasn’t what was actually happening. This is the essence of what it means to be crazy: living in an alternate reality.
“Things fall apart, the center cannot hold” – well, yes, and what is falling apart is the central canon of statist mythology: the idea that the government will protect us, and can protect us from the kind of craziness that is infecting our world and spreading like a plague from the deserts of Syria to a nightclub in Miami and beyond.
One aspect of this plague is quite interesting, and gives us a clue not only to the source of the contagion but also to a possible cure: it seems to be spreading in a top down manner. That is, it seems to have been incubated in the upper echelons of the social scale, and is now steadily percolating downward, where the resistance to it is greatest.
The evidence for this is all over the place, but to take just one recent example: while the US is literally besieged by an escalating series of terrorist attacks on the home front, presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has identified the main enemy as … Russia! Likening Russian President Vladimir Putin to Hitler, she and her supporters have gone on to accuse Trump of being a “Kremlin pawn.” Indeed, their most recent project is a web site, putintrump.org, which features “analysis” of the alleged Russian conspiracy to subvert our electoral process and elect her opponent. And yes, that is a hammer-and-sickle in between photos of Trump and Putin: apparently they want us to forget that the Communists were overthrown in 1989 – temporal displacement being a common delusion shared by many psychotics, e.g. someone who thinks they are Napoleon.
Seeing the words ‘crazy’, ‘loony’, ‘insane’, ‘delusional’ etc are warning signs for me that the person expressing them doesn’t understand the thought processes of the person/group to whom they are attaching the label. The nature of rationality means that, to a person, unless completely involuntary, their actions are necessarily rational at the time they implement them, otherwise they wouldn’t implement them. Actions which appear ‘crazy’ to an observer makes perfect sense, and likely can be explained, by the actor. It doesn’t matter if neither the actions nor the explanation survive later scrutiny: what matters is that they appeared as a rational response to a situation at the time they were implemented.
However, Stebbing-Heuer readers being the enlightened souls that we are, we will interpret Raimondo’s observations of ‘craziness’ as indicating that he has identified non-rational behaviour among the leaders of the most important nation in the world, which is a significant and important claim. And the basis for his claim is what we would call the questionable epistemic rationality of the people in question:
This is the essence of what it means to be crazy: living in an alternate reality.
In my course, I explain epistemic rationality using these slides:
The idea is that, to be rational, one needs there to be a strong correspondence between one’s beliefs and how the world actually is. Raimondo is stating that this is not the case for many of the elite in US society, and I can’t help but agree with him.
I don’t agree with him that this lack of knowledge rationality can be attributed to ‘election year insanity’. It runs much, much deeper than that. But he is right I think to say that its source is in the minds of the elites, and that it is filtering down to the rest of society.
That this is possible in the societies that only 25 years ago won the Cold War is difficult for me to accept and comprehend. That such societies are not only powerless in the face of an existential threat from islam, but are actually welcoming islam into them, bombs, guns and all, is alarming in the extreme. But it is a fact, it is happening, and it is a reality with which we have to deal.
And the first step is coming to an honest appreciation of what is happening. That is, of sharpening one’s knowledge rationality. Which is partly what this blog is intended to help people to do.