Home > 2011 Posts > ‘The Planet’ Doesn’t Care and Other Cases of Deflected Attention

‘The Planet’ Doesn’t Care and Other Cases of Deflected Attention

Demagogue: a leader who obtains power by impassioned appeals to emotions and prejudices.     – American Heritage College Dictionary

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Ancient Athenians murdered their own democracy. They surged first behind one demagogue and then another. Each mindless surge trampled the ever-declining voices of reason under the feet of a new ‘reality’ that ‘everyone knew’, for a brief time, was The One True Path.

Sometimes in democratic Athens, realities changed faster than the seasons as new demagogues out-shouted the old ones.

You do know that lots of people shouting things very loud make those things true don’t you? Especially when they shout right in the face of someone who disagrees and call that person disgusting names at the same time. Then, it’s most true.

Given all the history there is from which to learn, it should put us all on gurad each time a new demagogue raises a false issue, selling it with slickery words, base emotions and vile attacks while ruthlessly suppressing facts and logic. But it somehow does not.

In that respect, we are like the Athenians. There is something in human nature that makes our ‘Demagogue Immune System’ very weak. And modern communications technology weakens it further. Today, demagogues can infect hundreds of millions just as easily as the ones in Athens whipped up a few thousand into that week’s bestial Tyranny of the Majority. 

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What about today? I’m thinking that, mayhap, we could be the new Athenians.

Let’s take Earth’s environment for example. ‘The Planet’ doesn’t care, it’s a mindles physical object; but we have big reasons to care a lot about the bioshpere. CO2-driven warming is a lame hoax; but concerns about carbon soot, airborne particulates and clean water are not. The absurd notion of drowning as a polar bear plague are only a worry for permanent city-dwellers with severe Nature Deficit Disorder; but the food chain’s health is vital.

Or, take international affairs. Muammar Ghaddafi is a comic opera fool of a villain; Bashar al-Assad, the dictator of Syria, is not a fool and a much greater villain. Jihadis with nukes will be a big problem; Israeli’s with nukes, not so much. The UN is a corrupt bastards’ club with a vast majority of member states governed by thugs no better than brutes in a medieval pirate’s lair; but carrying a big stick together with the certainty that you will use it is a good defense against their predations. Armed and resolute wickedness veiled in PC-sheep’s clothing and noble words is history’s bane; evil multi-national corporations are a small, ankle-biting annoyance by comparison.

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Or take domestic politics.

Equality of outcome is a suicidal, utopian fantasy that fails abysmally throughout history; but equality of opportunity, rising prosperity for all and decent safety nets are truly noble and workable goals.

Lust for political and religious power is the root of great historical evil; lust for money pales in comparison.

Multiculturalism is an invidious, demeaning ploy to buy votes; respect for all individuals who merit respect is vital to civilization.

So, ask yourself. Are there any demagogues today? Are we on the same path as the Athenians?

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