appointed to a job with a much bigger salary than yours
and no worries about the lack of hot water this winter.
There was some discussion in the comments on Larry’s recent post about whether the rulers of the West could really be as stupid as they appear to be.
The short answer is this – how have things been going in the West since the “unipolar moment”? Are we all happier healthier and richer? Is the Western world better off? Stronger? More peaceful? Longer-lived? Of course it isn’t. Not better and actually worse for most. The conclusion is inescapable – either the West’s rulers have seriously screwed it up or they actually want it to be this way.
We’ll explore the first possible answer. (Maybe we are ruled by lizardoid aliens or a cabal of greedy bankers – given the last three decades you can’t rule it out but, following Hanlan’s Razor, I’ll stick with stupid).
Or whatever word you would apply to someone who believes that the Russian Army needs your dishwasher to make hyper-sonic missiles. And even if she doesn’t believe it but says it anyway, what’s the word for that? Surely some variant of stupid.
Here we are in September 2022 looking down the barrel of the Russian gun, doubling down on support for a corrupt regime in a bankrupt failed state infested with Nazis, running out of weapons, facing economic decline (collapse even – name an industry that doesn’t need energy or a person that doesn’t need food), a cold winter, rising inflation. Does that sound like something designed by smart people? And it didn’t just suddenly happen – it’s been building for years.
Arrogance and stupidity. Our rulers live in a tongue-bath of pleasing illusion. Russia is weak and feeble but we are strong and mighty. Putin is a dictator surrounded by hungry under-bosses but we are democratic leaders of free populations. He kills people but we do humanitarian bombing. The Russian economy desperately needs the money it makes selling energy to Europe but we can easily turn the thermostat down a bit for a month or two and bankrupt it. As a former Austrian water-colorist once said “You only have to kick in the door and the whole rotten structure will come crashing down”.
Crashing Russia will be easy. It doesn’t make anything – gas station masquerading as a country. rapidly aging and shrinking population – Weak Country with a Nuclear Arsenal – Russia’s Weak Strongman – Russia’s Strength Is Its Weakness. And lots more where those came from. As Hitler said, just one kick – stop buying their gas, they’ll hang Putin and come crawling back.
Our rulers have been surrounded for years by people telling them this. Anyone who said that Russia has a big and very self-sufficient economy, that Putin is quite popular and at least half of his critics think he’s too soft, that money from gas sales to Europe are nice but there are lots of other customers, that you can’t be secure unless the other guy feels secure – what happened to them? You know the answer. They never got the chance to tell the bosses this and they never got in the door. And, when they did say these things – on the fringes far away from “trusted sources” and “fact checkers” – they were condemned as Putin apologists and their social media accounts were blocked. After all you can’t give a platform to disinformation when there’s so much real information from real experts like Martin Walker who told us in 2006 “But strategically, Russia’s real weaknesses are getting worse and its non-oil economy is lagging ever further behind its Indian and Chinese rivals.” Stupid or smart, the bosses were only told one thing by everyone who got to them and year after year they ignored all the counter evidence. That’s stupid. But it’s pleasing, especially to mediocre minds, to be told that you’ve got both might and right in your corner and your skillful management and nuanced understanding deserve another pay raise. For years, the same old stuff, over and over amplified and repeated – just one kick.
A couple of days ago stupid became really stupid.
Or, following Einstein, should we start saying insane?