Sunday, July 23, 2006

true believing fanatics, who believe that ideology is definitive

* sterling:
"Instead, Bush wanted to change not merely the state, but lo stato as well. And the state, in this sense, is a work of art. It is the creation of a culture which can produce the kinds of people who must run it. Without the halo of people who actually convert the dictums of the powerful, in the actualities of power, there is no state. Someone must break down plans into steps, and lubricate the apparatus of power with logistics. Guns must be procured, schedules drawn up, and orders given.

And this is why there has been, from America's technocrats, meritocrats and ground level intellectuals, such a ferocious and visceral hatred of George Bush and his ism – because Bush intended, deliberately, to replace the meritocratic technocracy – the very class whose rise defines the rise of the West – with true believing fanatics, who believe that ideology is definitive, while reality is frequently inaccurate. It manifested in obvious ways – such as the NASA appointee who edited releases to conform to Creationism. It showed up in the Air Force Academy, where fanatics have driven others out of the hierarchy. It showed up, most importantly, in Iraq, where biblicalist functionaries would rewrite wholesale technical reports to conform with the revealed world of an entire counter universe of counter-fact which has been created to fill the empty minds of the fundamentalist wing of American society.

There has been, in otherwords, the creation of a whole parallel world, filled with parallels to science, popular culture and scholarship. In no small part it has been funded by the loose dollars created by 37 years of reactionary government – give crazy rich people money, and they will start funding other crazy people to create a tapestry that conforms to their tastes of the world. The Medici's built cathedrals and funded the resurrection of the West, along with the beginnings of what we now call "physics", but the work of art of the Bushite state is Left Behind and "Intelligent Design" and biblical literal reading of the history of the Fertile Crescent.

Consider, if you will, that the first veto of Bush's tenure – after having gone longer than any modern President in wielding the veto pen – is of money for stem cell research.
This triumvirate has, as noted, political, economic and cultural ramifications. A culture of cement headed fanatics is no the same as a culture of hard headed businessmen, let alone pointy headed academics. Its shape is different. It is able to function in an environment of suspended rules, because the "rules" mean nothing to them. The cognitive dissonance that people who believe what they observe and intuit does not touch them. They, unlike Wiley Coyote, never look down. They do not see the world, because they do not believe in it. If told to fix the numbers, they feel no guilt or shame, they do not need blue ribbon commissions for cover, they simply turn up the heat and simmer the books a bit longer.
The rattling apart of the Bushite fantasy – that the entire intellectual "reality based" state could be replaced by a "faith based" state – is of no small consequence. This is because Bush has not merely presided over the longest period of undivided government in 40 years, but he has also populated the government, down to low levels, with people who will believe that 2+2=5 if one can find a biblical verse that can be construed to mandate it. The US government is becoming increasingly dysfunctional, because it is populated with political appointees who will not believe a weather map, or an intelligence report, if either conflicts with their preconceived notion of how events "must" play out."


damien said...

Beautifully written and so very true. I'll be quoting Sterling to anyone within earshot. Enough already with these lunatics and religious fascists.

lukery said...

i was gonna write 'read the whole thing' - but it was kinda long.

it really is an incredible piece.