June 28, 2012

Choosing Blindness and Stupidity, and About Helping "Some" People

The self-satisfied smugness and self-congratulation now exhibited by many liberals and progressives is abhorrent and nauseating. In addition to the general argument I made earlier today, I want to address two further issues.

In a brief article, John Stauber captures the essence of the Supreme Court ruling with full accuracy:
It was a brilliant move by far Right (but oh so likable) Chief Justice Roberts to side with the Dem-appointed Justices and uphold ObamaCare. After all, this is a massive victory for corporate power, forcing citizens to buy an expensive insurance product that won’t serve our needs very well but will profit industry, in lieu of receiving real health care. ...

He and his Dem-appointed colleagues have given huge new powers to corporations, and further reduced the rights of citizens. ...

Any real reform — call it single payer, or medicare for all — is doomed in bipartisan fashion. The “pragmatists” who are for Obamacare are duped if they think it is going to be expanded to single payer. From this point on, it will only be picked over and further reinvented to empower the insurance and drug industries.
In my post from December 2009 -- "How Bad Is The Fuck You Act?" -- I closely analyzed some of the extraordinary mental contortions and distortions engaged in by Digby. I began by noting the following:
First, and this merits strong emphasis, the "health care reform" legislation will fatally undercut all the goals set forth by Democrats and progressives themselves. To restate the point: if the Democrats and progressives are sincere and genuinely committed to what they say their goals are, they should be working day and night to defeat this abomination. That most of them are doing the opposite is deeply revealing. And they are doing the opposite for the most transparent and pathetic of reasons: they are desperate for something they can call a "win" as an alleged demonstration of perceived political power."
After examining Digby's "argument," which is fully representative of "the Horror Hall of Mirrors of the fatally corrupted world now inhabited by the 'leading' progressives" (and not only with regard to this subject, but in connection with every issue of significance), I said:
And the people who won't be helped are precisely those people these same Democrats and progressives endlessly told us they so desperately wanted to help when this wretched, abysmal process began.

This is the very definition of moral and intellectual bankruptcy. In certain respects, it is not possible to go any lower. If you're willing to give up this much -- and as far as "health care reform" is concerned, they've given up everything that matters -- is there anything at all you won't give up? This is the inevitable result of engaging in this manner with a fundamentally corrupt system:
Thus, the lesson: when you choose to be a critical part of a system that has become this corrupt -- and the endless corruptions of our corporatist-authoritarian-militarist system have been documented at great length here and in other places -- you will not ameliorate or "save" it. The system will necessarily and inevitably corrupt you.
That last point is absolutely critical, and it must never be forgotten.

I want to stress that it is a huge error to believe that liberals and progressives who are happy about the Supreme Court "victory," and who generally support Obama and view his reelection as vitally important -- despite the fact (among other similar facts) that Obama asserts that he can murder anyone he wishes, anywhere in the world, for any reason he chooses or invents -- will somehow recognize the truth and come to their senses. I'm not referring here to those Americans who barely follow politics and who vote automatically and without any measurable degree of analysis and consideration beforehand, if they vote at all -- but to those liberals and progressives who follow politics even somewhat closely. And I'm especially referring to liberals and progressives who are active in politics, including writers and bloggers.

It must be understood that they cannot and will not grasp the actual meaning of the Supreme Court ruling, just as they will not grasp the meaning of Obama's other numerous, heinous acts. I explained some of the reasons for this phenomenon in a post from almost five years ago: "Blinded by the Story." I noted the self-proclaimed inability of leading progressive bloggers (including Atrios, and Digby once again) to understand why the Democrats acted as they did, and then wrote:
I suggest we take these leading lights of the progressive blogs at their word: they most certainly do not get it, and they absolutely cannot "for the life of [them] figure out why the congress is doing this."

I also note that, following the Senate cave-in, Atrios has dubbed Harry Reid the "Wanker of the Day." Will all this diminish in even the smallest degree Atrios's, or Digby's, or any other leading progressive blogger's efforts to ensure a huge Democratic victory in 2008? Of course not.

The reason for that is very simple, and it goes to the progressives' central articles of religious faith: The Democrats aren't really like this, not in their heart of hearts. The Democrats don't actually favor a repressive, authoritarian state. The Democrats are good, and they want liberty and peace for everyone, everywhere, for eternity, hallelujah and amen.

People who continue to believe this have evicted themselves from serious political debate, and they have willingly made themselves slaves to their enthusiastically embraced self-delusions. They confess a comprehensive ignorance of history, a stunning inability to understand the political developments of the last century, and a desire to place the story they have chosen, primarily because it flatters their own false sense of vanity and self-worth, above every relevant fact.
None of this has changed in the five years since I wrote it; to the contrary, developments have proven the truth of these observations repeatedly.

But one derivative aspect of this sickening business has changed, and I also described that aspect in the earlier entry:
Whenever a preexisting and preselected narrative assumes primary importance in this way, the longer one clings to the preferred story, the stupider one becomes. This is why the truth or falsity of the stories we tell is so critical, and why our methodology matters so much. If a story that is central to our view of ourselves fails to comport with the facts, and if we refuse to give up or even question the story, this necessitates that we block ourselves off from more and more information that might "undermine" that story ... Rather than eagerly seeking out further facts and trying to find out if a given story remains accurate or needs to be significantly revised (and sometimes even jettisoned altogether), we will lower our heads, narrow the scope of our inquiry, and progressively restrict the kind of data we permit ourselves to examine and even acknowledge. As time goes on, our intellectual curiosity steadily decreases. We won't want certain facts and information, because we might have to wonder whether particular cherished beliefs are correct.
With regard to these issues, people do not stay the same. The intellectual framework within which they operate either increases or decreases; to put it informally, they become smarter or dumber.

In those cases where the preexisting and preferred narrative is crucial to a person's self of self-worth (and often, when it is critical to their livelihood), it is close to impossible that a fundamental reassessment of that narrative will be permitted or seriously considered. The only direction psychologically is steadily downward: the frame of reference constantly diminishes, and the person becomes less and less able to address any issue accurately and truthfully. Neither "side" has a monopoly on this fundamental failure -- and even though both conservatives and liberals furiously deny that they act in this manner, their own commentary and behavior reveals the truth on a daily basis.

The other issue I want to discuss is a contention that was frequently offered during the debate over the health "care" bill, and I'm certain it will put in another appearance in the wake of the Supreme Court ruling. A certain kind of commentator would ruefully note the bill's numerous shortcomings (including the fact that it was bought and paid for, and sometimes written, by the major insurance and pharmaceutical interests), but go on to support the bill anyway -- because, they claimed, it would help "some" people.

This is one of the most awful arguments imaginable. I discussed it in detail here: "Concerning Those Who Manufacture and Eat Shit." My particular target was Paul Krugman, but many others proceed in the same manner. So I will simply offer my analysis again:
I would not argue and, in fact, I haven't argued that this bill won't help anyone. I've seen lots of analyses that force me to conclude that the bill will help far less people than its supporters claim, but time will tell as they say. I think it's going to be very ugly, and I also think partisans like Krugman will never acknowledge just how ugly it is.

But the fact that this bill will help some people is a ridiculous, completely asinine standard. It is utterly illegitimate as a matter of analysis, as well as being vile in moral terms, to use the fact that it will help some people as justification for its passage. Think about it for a moment. Any bill in any political system will help some people. This is true even in a dictatorship, and even under totalitarian rule. As I feel compelled to remind people when they appeal to the "sanctity" of "the law" (which I noted only yesterday I myself shit on insofar as what most people mean by such vacuous blather is concerned), even dictatorships have laws. Hey, I'll make it easy for you to ignore this argument by violating a singularly idiotic prohibition. They had laws in Nazi Germany. And guess what? All of those laws helped some people. In some instances, perhaps it was only sadists who enjoyed torturing and murdering other human beings -- but some of Germany's laws certainly helped them do that.

Or to pick a less confrontational example: many laws in Nazi Germany or Soviet Russia indisputably helped those who were members of the ruling clique or well-connected to same accumulate wealth and/or power, or benefited them in any number of other ways. So the laws helped some people. Take a more obvious aspect of the same issue: in any corporatist system (such as ours), legislators receive all sorts of payoffs for enacting legislation that benefits certain interested parties. When the legislation is passed, it's passed because it helps those interested parties. That's true of any major piece of legislation you care to name (and almost all minor ones as well). You need only trace back the effects of the legislation far enough, and you'll find an interested party that sought to have it passed. And the payoffs help the legislators themselves. So some people are always helped.

That cannot ever be the standard for judgment. The standard must focus on the primary or major effect of the legislation: on what lies at the heart of the bill. What lies at the heart of the health "reform" bill is a massive transfer of wealth from "ordinary" Americans to an already hugely wealthy and powerful insurance industry via the mandate system, which is made still worse by being a subsidized mandate system (which means that taxpayers are robbed at gunpoint twice). As a result, the legislation in its totality is, right, a piece of shit.
And that's all I have to say about that.

For the moment.