Saturday, February 21, 2004

The Simulated President
Part One: The Revolution of Lowered Expectations



In deference to the Fanatical Right, I will no longer compare George W. Bush to Adolph Hitler, Benito Mussolini, Pol Pot or any of the more colorful and flamboyant dictators of the twentieth Century. However dramatic (and tentatively accurate) these comparisons may be, they fall short of their point. Once the statement, "Bush is like Hitler" is made, you can almost hear minds closing and making any sort of rational argument from that point forward is a Sisyphean task, to say the least. Not only do we have to contend with the quibbling over what "is" Nazism or Fascism as a sociopolitical movement, we have to deal with ontological categories as a whole; are these ideas two branches of the same thing, or are they Left or Right of the political seesaw? Ultimately such questions are pure sophism, or worse philosphistry, which is the creative act of dressing up half baked arguments as philosophical discourse on the level of what did Nietzsche really mean by "the Abyss" and can one get a decent bowl of pad tai noodles when you get there?

So, to avoid pissing in anyone's porridge, I will instead take the safe route and compare George W. Bush to only fictional presidents. By their nature of being fictional, there's no real emotional investment in these "people" and so the accuracy of their political positions are of a symbolic nature only. (We could argue that Bush's policies are equally symbolic in that they have no bearing on his actions but that's a different essay altogether).

The first fictional president we will look at is Furbish Lousewart V. from the Schrodingerís Cat Trilogy by Robert Anton Wilson.

By his own admission, Wilson made President Lousewart a parody of Ralph Nader at his most dogmatic. He is thus, politically speaking an Extreme Lefty, but only superficially. Lousewart has a supreme blind spot when it comes to his ideological purity (his party in fact is called the Purity of Ecology Party) and cannot admit that there is an authority higher than his own moral compass. GWB, on the other hand is bound by his own pseudo-religious hierarchy and thus must, as an Evangelical Christian, at least keep up the pretense that there is a higher moral authority than himself, i.e. God. But it is merely a pretense. If we were to believe for even a moment that the President of the United States, Leader of the Free World genuinely believed that his power and authority was bestowed upon him by the invisible King of the Angels, who lives in Cloud Cuckoo Land, waited upon by flitting Cherubim as He sips nectar from the teet of a virgin, we would effectively and collectively admit that the president is certifiably out of his frickiní mind. Then weíd really be in trouble.

So we take it as axiomatic that Bushís religiosity is merely a pretense, a sham to keep the frothing religious yahoos who comprise his voting base happy. In reality, Bush is merely an egomaniac, like Lousewart who is incapable of admitting that his notions about how the world works might be a little out of sync with consensual reality. Likewise, in Wilsonís novel, Lousewart is only ostensibly a Lefty. His dogmatic infallibility complex takes him round the bend into the realm of authoritarian Leftism, which is identical to Authoritarian Rightism (hence the confusion in some peopleís minds concerning the political orientation of the Nazis. After all, theyíre National Socialists, arenít they? And Socialists, as we all know, are Big Fat Liberals, arenít they?) Lousewart famously staffs his cabinet with yogis and gurus, and initiates measures to indoctrinate schoolchildren with Hatha Yoga and Vegitarianism. Bush fills Circuit Court appointments with fellow Evangelicals, starts faith based initiatives, school voucher programs that encourage the wealthy to pull their children out of Public schools and ship them off to Private religious schools and he has no problems with the Ten Commandments being displayed in school rooms and courtrooms. Yoga or prayer. Whatís the difference, really?

The overall ideology of the Lousewart Administration is based on the Revolution of Lowered Expectations, which Wilson elaborates on further in this essay [scroll down to third item]:

...For perspective, it should be remembered that the ideology of Lowered Expectations arrived on the historical scene immediately after the upsurge of Rising Expectations. That is, after the Utopian hopes of the American Declaration of Independence and the French Declaration of the Rights of Man, almost as if in reaction, an employee of the British East India Company, Thomas Malthus, created the first "scientific" argument that the ideals of those documents could never be achieved. Malthus had discovered that at his time world population was growing faster than known resources, and he assumed that this would always be true, and that misery would always be the fate of the majority of humanity.

Taking Malthusian bitterness as gospel, Lousewart outlaws all Non Ecological Science, underfunds Ecological Science to the point of starvation and generally guts the Social Services, in order to provide that feeling of third world suffering that is spiritually gratifying.

Change a few details and that might as well be Bushís current Economic Stimulus Package. Unless of course, you think working at McDonaldís is a manufacturing job. (Under Lousewart, the eating of meat was eventually outlawed, creating a black market cousin of the prohibition Speakeasy, the ìSteakeasyî where one could get a Big Mac for $7).

In Part two we will examine a parallel universe dangerously close to our own, in which President Farris F. Freemont, a paranoid incompetent, has managed to scheme his way into office through assassination and voter fraud. Did I mention he wears a cowboy hat?

_________
Thanks to the gang over at the Liberal Coalition for their helpful suggestions.

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