Oh, good heavens, some people are on the BBC just now trying to employ the evolutionary model to ideas. "The good ideas survive, and the bad ones do not," the speaker says, only to be interrupted by a literary critic who says that the "good book" is not the one that sells and that culture doesn't work this way, and then another speaker wants to apply infant analogies. Whee!
"It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent; it is the one that is most adaptable to change." - Charles Darwin
So, "survival of the fittest" <--> "fitness is health" <--> "health is strength" <--> "fitness is the strength" :: "Survival of the strongest is evolution." Thus does "evolution" mean the opposite of what Darwin said it meant, mean more what Hitler said it meant.
What a bunch of galloops. The book or idea that flourishes is the one that most nearly satisfies its cultural moment. On this, the Darwinian and Marxist and Hegelian analysts would agree. Thus, the idea that flourishes is the one that responds most nearly to what the cultural vaccuum is.
I didn't want to write about that, though. No. I have a dearth of e-mail and friends right now, in my time of need, and so I convulsed about what I heard on the radio instead of any matter of genuine concern.
My last got no readers at all, so my blog is definitely heading in the right direction. If the trend continues, this will actually get some unreaders, and that's what I want to ask about.
I grew up in the Watergate generation. This is an important thing. While, since then, there have been other opportunities (the Iran-Contra generation, for example, or the Alberto Gonzales generation), the Watergate generation is that time when aware and yet gullible young people, say ten to fifteen years of age, could watch television all together and see the President lying, stealing, and pilfering for the slightest political advantage. It was a moment that marked all of the intelligent and aware of my generation with either superior cynicism or furious faith.
I was, therefore, one of millions who learned early on the philosophy of realpolitik. Knowing that states act always on matters of gain and interest, rather than belief and philosophy, has served me very, very well. It helped me realize, for example, that Edward Teller's funding pipedream of the x-ray laser (aka the Strategic Defense Initiative, aka "Star Wars") upset the Soviets because the thing absolutely sucked as a missile defense but was an absolute beauty when it came to vaporizing people from outerspace. It helped me see that Iran-Contra was itself a burp, where philosophy dominated interests and thereby screwed up both the philosophy and the interests. It helped me realize how the invasion of Panama might well be more in line with The Panama Deception than the saving of a Navy captain's wife from harassment.
It has failed me, though. My cynicism and my analysis have failed me entirely, however, with the invasion of Iraq.
What I want from the Obama administration is an explanation of why we did it. I'm serious. I have been waiting for six years for an explanation that could survive a third grader's analysis.
What has infuriated me is how outrageously flimsy the explanations have been. It's not that they're lies: we expect lies when it comes to a causus belli, but it's that they're so obviously lies that they beg us to supply our own reasons, and no one has been able to supply one. Panama deception? No. Misdirection? No. Oil? No. To sneak up on Russia or Iran? No.
What is infuriating about the invasion of Iraq to me is not that it was foolish, disgraceful, immoral, and disasterous, but that the proferred reasons don't make sense, and even the most cynical and sinister conspiracy theories don't make sense, either. In fact, what I want to know is why we invaded, because there actually is no reason at all for it. Tell me that we wanted an outpost for Aramco, and I'll feel better. Tell me that it was to enrich Dick Cheney, and I'll feel better. Tell me even that it was a plot to kill poor people the world over, and I'll feel better.
Please, President Obama, don't leave it as it is, where there is no reason at all for this sacrifice, this disaster, this atrocity, this corrosion of all that we hold dear about ourselves and all we want to protect in our collective soul. Even a paranoid reason would be better than lies and nonsense.