January 16, 2010

Blague, Fr.: trick, joke or blunder

I wonder if the French are influenced by the homonymic referent. That they find it difficult to take blogs seriously as a result.

My sense is that blogs are reaching the outer limits of their utility at this point. They've driven print journalism almost out of business, and since bloggers always relied upon print journalism for the actual content of blogging, to the extent that blogging has ever had any content, this is a somewhat ironic development.

The other effect of all these blagues is that they have served to diffuse the dissident impulse. Dissent now has an omni-directional and onanistic quality - just a million isolated voices complaining to the electronic void, which is why it has no effect on the Establishment.

The Establishment, as you'll recall, is a very big, powerful central federal government in Washington, D.C., which has arrogated unto itself far more power than the Framers ever intended it to have over the Several States (now grown to 50), and which those Wise Men attempted to restrain by the all-important (now become all-impotent) Tenth Amendment. Alas. No restraint in sight.

Paul Krugman's latest column compared the social democracies of Europe to the pure, naked capitalism of America, and seemed to favor the former. What's curious about such comparisons is that writers such as Krugman never seem to remember that "Europe" is not actually a country. It's a continent, and there are many separate countries on that continent. There is a lot of variation among them, but conversely, within a given country there is more homogeneity and a stronger sense of national identity than here in the States. That's why it's so easy for the feds to roll the general populace here - there is no organized opposition to the central government. More like 300 million separate interest groups.

Not so in Europe. The countries are too small, and their citizenry too active, for the central governments to be immune to the dissatisfactions of the populace. So their safety nets, and social cohesion (including health care, of course) are based on an organic cohesion which is completely lacking here. We're in the same boat at this point as the People's Republic of China and India, the only two countries with populations larger than ours. Our central government is primarily interested only in two things: the maintenance of power for the 545 people actually in charge (Congress, the President, the nine justices on the Supreme Court), and the care and feeding of the military-industrial complex (which is related to, and essential for, the first point). So there will be much talk in our straitened circumstances of "curtailing" so-called entitlements, but no policy maker in Washington with any power is going to talk about reducing military spending, closing all the foreign bases and forts, or cutting back on the Wars in Progress. And once you eliminate all the practical changes that could be made to ameliorate our situation, it's pointless to talk about "reform." It was ruled out in advance.

That's just the way it is now, and I do think we've gone over an Event Horizon so that organized dissent to the "direction the country is heading" (always the headline poll question) is meaningless and ineffective, whereas Reality remains the essential nemesis of this arrangement. So we have to wait on Reality to call the shots in the long run, while the blogging world looks on and snarks about it, tricking and joking but mostly just blundering our way toward stochastic destiny.

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