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The Thaddeus Gazette

2, 4, 6, 8


Titanic events have been stirring, brethren and sistren. A truly historical moment is upon us. Indeed, consider: in their three, count 'em, three short years of existence, the Tea Party has accomplished what the Marxists, Socialists, Nationalists, Liberals, Libertarians, Laborites, Randroids, Hippies, Yippies, Punks and Occupiers couldn't do in a whole stinkin' century of sweat, protest and outright dying: they've brought down the government without firing a shot! YEAAAHHHHH!

Now, lest you construe that I'm becoming overly convivial here with regards to Our Dear Revolutionary Cock-hat Comrades, don't think for a moment that I find the stinkeroos currently lodged in the manger of federal business even remotely sympathetic. Their followers may be plain, wholesome haterz with just as much justification for blind, inchoate rage towards authority as the rest of us, but the teabagger leadership themselves smell like a bunch of infantile cash-and-carry opportunists to me. I needn't bang that particular drum — its head has long since been ruptured by any number of calm, reasonable commentators driven to hysteria by the nyah-nyah troll politics of the crack-pipe right, which appears to be exactly what said nyah-sayers want. Stinky situation, yess preciouss.

But the sad truth of the matter is that this particular set of circumstances didn't exactly pop up after the last rainfall. The Decline And Fall of the American Empire has been an excruciatingly long time coming. Hey, we've been waiting hundreds of years for this! The very fact that the crazy-pants brigade can throw such a crappy little wrench into the gears and muck everything up so badly is what Karl "He Who Shall Not Be Named" Marx would call your Historical Contradiction. Whether or not you buy into his "Late capitalism will eat itself" notions, you gotta admit there's a certain diagnostic utility in a whole modern civilization, replete in arts and culture and tech and shit, paralyzed by competing monetary cadres. Yep rock, we gots ourselves a Constitutional Crisis here, a genuine Gödel Moment where the whole consistency of the law thing keeps chanting "Why are you hitting yourself?" over and over as our noses grow ever bloodier.

Of course, suicidocracy isn't exactly explicative when it comes to saucy li'l theories of causation. Some economics commentators are ready to pin it all on Alexander Hamilton's machinations at the Federalist convention (yay Aaron Burr, go Aaron Burr). Others are quick to take a club to that reliable old straw man John Maynard Keynes, who's conveniently dead and can't fight back. And you have your anti-militarists and anti-entitlementists and somewhere in the back there's probly somebody claiming that if Lincoln had just let the Confederacy go its own way everything would be fine. There's always one of those.

Blame-gaming only puts Walmart band-aids on the gaping wound nobody wants to address, the innate nature of government itself. Ever since, well, ever, I've been hearing the refrain that the government is Evil. Everybody says so. "Everybody knows that the war is over," sings (or rather mutters) Official National Bard™ Leonard Cohen, "Everybody knows that the Bad Guys won." That they may not agree on who the Bad Guys are, exactly, doesn't seem to be a foreswearance to the matter. The whole thing has always seemed a done deal, a rigged game, an unpleasant truth that nobody likes to talk about, because, really, what can you do? There's no balm in Gilead, no joy in Mudville to abrogate the matter. King Kong rules behind the wall, and there's nothing for us islanders but to throw him a virgin now and then and keep the wall shored up as best we can. It's not like we can sail away.

As a result, that there wall has a whole lotta graffiti and handbills plastered on it. Who can forget "Two, four, six, eight, organize to smash the state!"? There's a Top Ten Revolutionary Slogans clickbait listicle just waiting for some feckless blogster to compile. Americans love their treason the way they love their pesticide-laden GMO apple pie, and there's no better way to get Joe Abdomen going than by cranking up his innate resentment at being told what to do. This Time It's Different has been the generic campaign slogan of a whole gallant parade of candidates for offices high and low, stretching back into the mists of faulty memory and forward to their first special interest contribution and the declaration that Well, It's Complicated. Wash, puke, repeat.

The fault lies neither in our stars nor in ourselves, unless you fold universal agency in with universal suffrage and chime that old hymn about getting the government we deserve. The real problem here is one any programmer could identify: there's always another bug. With the corollary, given that the system has a vulnerability, sooner or later a hacker will come along and exploit it.

Back in my salad days in college, I played a complex war game called Empire, Avalon-Hill on steroids if you will. Other players were veterans of such amoral knife-fights as Diplomacy, where the whole point of the show is to form alliances and betray them. Empire, on the other hand, had at least nominally a set of rules. Like many many things invented and maintained by students at a highly competitive and study-intensive school, those rules were inadequately documented and difficult to access. One of the standard ploys in the game was to find an inconsistency in the rules, exploit it for gain, then immediately submit a petition to close the loophole to further exploitation, which petition would pass from sheer self-interest. Brutal, but effective at dealing with regulating the herd of cats.

We can only hope that congress is bright enough to function in this manner, but I've lost enough faith and credit in the whole process to drive me to the viewpoint expressed in a popular Internet illustration of a Guy Fawkes-masked operator with the caption "Yes, this is tech support. Trouble with your government? Have you tried shutting it down and restarting?"

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