Forgive me, Gentle Reader. Yesterday was delivered to my doorstep specially ultra-rush-express / cash-on-delivery straight from Hell, which is why I posted nothing. And forgive me, as well, for delaying the upcoming segments of "He and She" and "The Nature Of Money And Currency," both of which apparently have significant numbers of fans. Today's tirade will concern itself with an old quandary:
As an information technologist and habitual thinker on abstract matters, I'm aware of the Von Neumann / Morgenstern Law of Requisite Variety, which would appear to trumpet NO!! to the above question in a voice that brooks no contradiction. In that view, a system cannot exhibit protracted stability if its dominant element has fewer available states and responses than some other element. And indeed, it is so...for systems that have attained stability. However, an ongoing conflict of any sort is not static but dynamic. The flux of conflict will sometimes nullify the advantages that accrue from having more weapons to choose from than do one's opponents.
Just now, such a scenario might be playing out in these United States.
Political conflict that falls short of open violence has its own unique characteristics. In particular, "who's winning" is a determination that can be made several ways, not all of which are simultaneously relevant. Indeed, in a political system that uses elections to determine who shall wield the powers of the State, there are periods in which other means of determination must all bow to the verdict of the ballot box. However, in the intervals between elections, other means acquire power that can not only affect future electoral verdicts but also constrain and shape the actions of already seated power-wielders.
In today's political combat, the Right has a vast array of weapons, while the Left has only one. Yet the Left triumphs all too frequently -- seemingly, more often than not -- under circumstances that continue to baffle us in the Right. The answer might lie in the nature of the Left's weapon, and in its utter ruthlessness of use: control over the dissemination of information.
If we assume -- remember that word -- that the average American is sufficiently intelligent and responsible to vote according to the evidence of whether a family of related policies is "working" -- remember that word, too -- then whether the voter has access to the evidence becomes the critical consideration. Who controls the channels of dissemination will determine whether that is so. Today, despite the alternate media that have arisen to challenge the traditional media's dominance of that function, the Left still holds a large advantage in that sector. A great deal of information never reaches the typical voter, and much other information is distorted or effaced, specifically because the Left deems it disadvantageous to its position. This leaves a great many Americans, persons generally of good will, in essential ignorance about what the prevailing family of policies is doing to the country...perhaps even to his own, highly personal interests.
Distortions are often even worse than outright suppression. Consider how many Americans sincerely believe that "evil corporations" are responsible for "inflation," by which they mean price increases. Consider how many Americans sincerely believe in the old fable of "planned obsolescence," as if competitive influences would have no effect on so counterproductive a policy. And consider how many Americans are willing to accept government expenditures as valid components of the Gross Domestic Product.
In aggregate, the information that reaches ordinary American news consumers might not be even ten percent veridical, in the sense of being conveyed openly and readily, without distortion, and in the proper context for a layman's interpretation. If that is the case -- and from endless years of news-watching, I believe that it is -- the failure of intelligent and responsible voters to expel the Left from power completely and finally is largely explained.
Concerning the considerable mass of non-intelligent, non-responsible Americans who can (and sometimes do) vote, ponder well the following transcripts:
There are millions of persons whose mentalities parallel those depicted in those brief videos. Information about the state of the country is irrelevant to them. Indeed, whether they ever bother to watch a news program or read a paper is open to question. They're tightly focused on a degree of self-interest so intense and so narrow that the regime could be beheading random passers-by on public streets, and they would not care. Needless to say, the regime is well pleased by such persons and labors to create more of them in every possible way.
As a Catholic, I'm supposed to maintain that no one is beyond salvation as long as he lives. As a rational human being and a longtime observer of human behavior, in both the small and the large, I have my doubts.
To assure itself that no unexpected upheaval will disturb its grip on the dissemination of information, the Left has exerted itself greatly to capture and utterly control the education of American youth. The idea here is not to produce more pseudo-citizens like the ones in the videos above -- not necessarily, at least -- but rather to armor young minds against the unanticipated discovery of facts and reasoning that might disturb their carefully inculcated Leftist world view.
We have a new set of AP American history standards and it’s only the first out of 33 AP course standards to be written. We can give thanks to the Architect of Common Core and College Board president, David Coleman. He has taken the five page outline currently given to teachers and has turned it into a 98 page Framework.
The new standards interpret American History for us.
Jane Robbins describes a few problems:“The new Framework inculcates a consistently negative view of American culture. For example, the units on colonial America stress the development of a “rigid racial hierarchy” and a “strong belief in British racial and cultural superiority.” The Framework ignores the United States’ founding principles and their influence in inspiring the spread of democracy and galvanizing the movement to abolish slavery. The Framework continues this theme by reinterpreting Manifest Destiny—rather than a belief that America has a mission to spread democracy and new technologies across the continent, the Framework teaches that it “was built on a belief in white racial superiority and a sense of American cultural superiority....
“A particularly troubling failure of the Framework is its dismissal of the Declaration of Independence and the principles so eloquently expressed there. The Framework’s entire discussion of this seminal document consists of just one phrase in one sentence: “The colonists’ belief in the superiority of republican self-government based on the natural rights of the people found its clearest American expression in Thomas Paine’s Common Sense and in the Declaration of Independence.” The Framework thus ignores the philosophical underpinnings of the Declaration and the willingness of the signers to pledge “our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor” to the cause of freedom.”
If such influences are not countervailed -- and make no mistake; the Common Core curriculum only departs from what has gone before in being more organized and concentrated -- the young American will come to maturity believing that constitutional federal governance is merely a conspiracy of "the rich" against the rest of us. Should he proceed to "higher education," his impressions will be reinforced by authoritative faculty and the society of other miseducated young people. It can take decades for the abrasions of reality to make even modest inroads against such notions, whence comes the old saying that "If you're not a liberal at twenty you have no heart; if you're not a conservative at forty, you have no head."
It should be unnecessary to expound further on this subject. Suffice it to say that at this time and for some years now, the Left has wielded its information-control weapon so skillfully that all the facts and reasoning available to the Right have proved largely impotent. Even during the Reagan Administration, all the major markers of political pathology continued to expand. Reagan, despite his strong convictions and powerful will, was unable to restrain the tide of rule-by-regulation and degradation-by-debt. When he departed from office, we suffered a level of annual federal spending nearly twice what he campaigned against, and a "permanent government" 13% larger than the one he inherited.
The motives of federal bureaucrats need not concern us here, being entirely too well established. It's the response of ordinary Americans that should concern us -- and not merely at the polls. The Left gets an unholy degree of sustenance from uninformed citizens, misinformed citizens, and citizens wholly uninterested in facts larger than their own wallets. TEA Party rallies fail to concern the Left because of its conviction -- largely a correct one -- that a sufficient number of Americans will not respond to such things.
In discussing Social Security in his essay "The Revolution Was" about the evils of the New Deal, Garet Garrett provides an insight of great power:
If you put a ten dollar bill under the rug instead of spending it, that is capital formation. It represents ten dollars' worth of something that might have been immediately consumed, but wasn't. If you put the ten dollar bill in the bank, that is better. Hundreds doing likewise make a community pool of savings, and that is capital formation. Then thousands of community pools, like springs, feed larger pools in the cities and financial centers. If a corporation invests a part of its profit in new equipment or puts it into the bank as a reserve fund, that is in either case capital formation. In a good year before the war the total savings of the country would be ten or twelve billions. That was the national power of capital formation. These saved billions, held largely in the custody of the banking system, represented the credit reservoir. Anybody with proper security to pledge could borrow from the reservoir to extend his plant, start a new enterprise, build a house, or what not. Thus the private capital system works when it works freely.
Now regard the credit reservoir as a lake fed by thousands of little community springs, and at the same time assume the point of view of a government hostile to the capitalistic system of free private enterprise. You see at once that the lake is your frustration. Why? Because so long as the people have the lake and control their own capital and can do with it as they please the government's power of enterprise will be limited, and limited either for want of capital or by the fact that private enterprise can compete with it.
So you will want to get rid of the lake. But will you attack the lake itself? No; because even if you should pump it dry, even if you should break down the retaining hills and spill it empty, still it would appear again, either there or in another place, provided the springs continued to flow. But if you can divert the water of the springs—if you can divert it from the lake controlled by the people to one controlled by the government, then the people's lake will dry up and the power of enterprise will pass to government.
The "springs" Garrett described in the above arose from individuals' inclinations to save, which automatically made them investors in the expansion of American commerce: the target of the architects of Social Security. Today I have a different set of "springs" in mind: the channels of information dissemination, including our schools, which have steadily pumped out what we derisively, and not entirely accurately, describe as "low information voters." The streams of willing supporters of the Left that emerge from those "springs" keeps the "lake" of unlimited American government fed to bursting.
With that one weapon, the Left is drawing near to the absolute and permanent extinction of all freedom and all property rights remaining to Americans.
Sometimes, one weapon is sufficient.