A system for assholes

Caitlin Johnstone is a (mostly political) writer over at Medium.
Now I don’t agree with everything she has to say…..in fact, I don’t agree with half of everything she has to say.

When I do agree, she writes with such articulate acumen it sets my opinions in a molasses of confirmation. And when I don’t agree, she makes such a good case that my issues are tested for cracks, biases, and weak spots. Like some of her opinions on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. They are……challenging.

Sometimes I haven’t even really thought about the topics she writes about….so then there is the thinking.

Here is an example that I do agree with. Its all about the assholes (or arseholes if you prefer).

Whilst I can name plenty of exceptional people in government and places of power who I like to believe are not assholes, I also believe those very holes are so crowded out with ass that good folk are prone to a slow and unpleasant suffocation.
This I have seen.

People have a fairly easy time accepting that things are fucked because we are ruled by corrupt assholes. They have a much harder time accepting that we are ruled by corrupt assholes because our corrupt asshole systems will always necessarily elevate corrupt assholes to the top.

It’s easier to blame our problems on oligarchs or the Deep State or a cabal of satanic pedophiles than it is to blame them on systems that we ourselves participate in and have lived our entire lives intertwined with and which have been continuously normalized within our culture. If the problem is just a few corrupt assholes then it’s not a very daunting problem, because all you have to do is remove those corrupt assholes and everything’s golden. If the problem is the systems around which our entire civilization is structured, it’s far more daunting.

It’s easy to imagine a future without corrupt assholes. It’s almost impossible to imagine a future where human behavior is not driven by profit for its own sake, where we have moved from competition-based systems to collaboration-based ones where we all work together for the common good.

In competition-based systems the most powerful governments will always be those who are willing to do whatever it takes to stay on top, the most powerful people will be those who are willing to do whatever it takes to get power, and everyone else gets crushed in the mad scramble. The fact is we’ll always be ruled by corrupt assholes as long as we have competition-based systems, because the best competitors will always be the most ruthless individuals who will do anything to get to the top. Get rid the current assholes and our asshole systems will necessarily elevate new assholes to take their place.

It’s easy to say “Those assholes at the top need to go.” It’s much harder to say “Everything I’m familiar with needs to go.” It’s a giant leap into the dark of the unknown. But that’s the only way we’ll ever move toward health, and it’s the only way our species will avoid being driven to its doom.

Caitlin Johnstone

You can go and check out more of Caitlin’s writing here and subscribe to her RSS feed if you want to regularly challenge yourself.

One response to “A system for assholes”

  1. It’s an interesting thing to demonise the other — particularly if the other is powerful. I hold the view that those who seek power are precisely the ones who oughtn’t have it. Still. Why is it the other holds the views they have and why don’t they see/understand/grok mine?

    One answer is Thomas Sowell’s theory of Constrained and Unconstrained visions in human nature. I am quoting here from https://sites.psu.edu/academy/2017/10/29/thomas-sowells-constrainedunconstrained-visions/:

    “In essence, if you are of the constrained viewpoint, you believe human nature is inherently flawed which prevents society from being perfect. If you take an unconstrained viewpoint, you believe that humans are inherently good and any flawed behaviors [sic] can only be attributed to societal conditioning. Under the unconstrained viewpoint, society has the potential to become perfect through constant restructuring. Under the constrained viewpoint, compromises in society must be made to account for flawed human nature.”

    In essence, it is the foundational view of ones, and others, natures that shapes our beliefs and actions. As Nathan Smith, the author above, says: “Conversely, it is possible to understand [the] other’s reasoning if we can discern their views on human nature.”

    So while Caitlin might see our nature is to put assholes in power, I would go further and say whomever is in power will be perceived as an asshole by those whom don’t hold to their views as driven by their natures.

    Mind you, I’m reminded of Winston Smith’s interrogator in 1984, who said:

    “We know that no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it. Power is not a means; it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power.”


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