One of the toughest things to work through as a maturing American is the notion of “democracy.” In grade school we are given a grade school definition, “… by the people for the people…” and are expected to hold on to that fairy tale notion for the rest of our lives. But life is about moving forward, growing up, and it doesn’t take long to realize that we the people, as we are right now, are no more qualified to rule ourselves than the student council at any American high school. Just like in those schools, our democracy is an illusion fostered by the faculty.
But I don’t hold the notion that others are more qualified to rule. A quick look around shows us what rule by our “betters” yields. They have fucked things up in ways that your average grocery store clerk could not.
I hold an egalitarian view that we are all born within the same range of capability, and develop as our environment encourages us to do so. Grocery store clerks will not be reading this so I can speak freely – those who do that for a living are so dumbed down that they should not be allowed to vote. But it is the environment they are in – highly repetitive and unrewarding work, stupid and petty bosses and supervisors who treat them like children, long hours on their feet listening to canned music, no complicated problems to solve … it is so dreadful and degrading that the end result is a stupid person. Not a person born that way, but a person molded that way by a downward spiral of choices.
And most jobs are like that. Unemployment at least offers time for ourselves. But the workaday world for most people in most jobs is a slow process of shrinking world views. In the office, on the factory floor, out in the sales force, fear of the boss, loss of health benefits (for those who have them), inability to pay student loans or mortgages … it all reduces a person to a cog in a machine. No wonder that football, celebrities and TV fill our minds. They take us to a happier place.
I wrote all of that above just to dispense with the notion that some people are more fit to rule than others. People of wealth have access to better education and are inured to high expectations, and so inevitably develop an attitude of hubris about their own abilities. In an aristocracy like ours, this leads to rule by educated fools. Access to education does not automatically produce wisdom – far from it. Rule by aristocrats is no better than rule by grocery clerks.
What then? I set out here to blockquote some words from famous smart people about democracy, like Churchill, the great screaming arrogant (but witty) asshole, who said that “the best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.” But Churchill never offered much of a better alternative to rule by our Churchill’s, which produced massive human suffering all over the globe. What alternative do I offer? Heady ideals with no chance of implementation?
Pretty much that’s it, for now. The US is done as a republic, and a better system will only come about after some creative destruction as we appear are headed towards. A better Europe was built out of the ashes of World War II. Perhaps a better world will arise out of the ashes of the destruction that the US is inflicting on others, and which inevitably will come home to fall on us, hopefully softly.
So I offer just a few notions of what that world might be as I see it at my ripe age of 63 going on 40:
- Leaders cannot be self-selected. This process gives us too many narcissists, actors, tools and fools. Our leaders must be selected from among those who do not want the job, and who want to quit as soon as they can.
- Psychopath testing. We know now how to identify psychopaths, and a test can be administered that is so well designed that it cannot be beaten – that is, if someone is lying to evade it, the contradictions therein expose the lying. Once identified as a psychopath, an incurable condition, a person should not be punished, but merely made to be a grocery clerk, or some other harmless occupation, and like sex offenders, branded for life with a check in a box on the driver’s license.*
- Education for development. Suppose that I don’t like algebra and fail a course in that subject. Why not just put on my record that I don’t like algebra and move on? Why saddle me with a F for something that does not matter anyway? Education should be about the development of the individual, routing us towards our best aptitudes without the notion of “failing” at others things. Yes, as we mature, grading matters. We must indeed excel and be judged on our efforts as adults. But education should propel us towards things that we like doing. Most people have been grocery-clerked by the testing regime, “success” merely a stamp of approval by other victims of the same system.
- Public debates during campaigns. I don’t mean the stage shows we have now, the painted faces and “journalists” protecting candidates from tough inquiry. Nor do I mean a free-for-all with insults and yelling. The best exchange forum I have ever been part of is a jury – people involuntarily empaneled and forced to listen to well-reasoned arguments from various sides of an issue. So effective is the jury system that people often change their minds. So too should we set aside paid holidays where people attend forums, hear debates, break into groups, regroup, and then later vote for a “party” instead of a person. The party would then within its own confines select leaders to hold office, self-selection not allowed and service for a set period without reappointment. It is not perfect, and scoundrels will occasionally find a way, but since we’ve checked the “psychopath” box on their driver’s licenses, the Bush’s and Obama’s of this world will be mere spectators.
That’s the best I can do. But I’m still young. I pride myself as being smart enough to see that what we do is nothing more than watching a play on a stage, the actors paid idiots. But I also know that whatever system that would take its place is susceptible to Bolshevism, or undoing by the very people we seek to eliminate from power.
The essential key to our future health, wealth and happiness is elimination of psychopaths from positions of power. Fail in that, fail in everything.
*Afterthought: Psychopaths would be ideal for the military reserves, called upon when we are attacked by psychopaths of other countries. It would yield a partial solution to the problem of psychopaths long advocate by others: Let them fight it out among themselves.