FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Hey Idiot

by ELLIOT SPERBER

It is interesting to observe that the word idiot derives from the Greek idiotes, which refers to a “private person” – as distinct from a public person, or one who is involved in determining public life. That is, an idiot follows the rules and laws that others draft and sign – irrespective of whether or not it is in the idiot’s interest. Some people in society determine how society will be organized – how its economic surpluses are distributed, how its resources are employed, how its energies are directed, how its cities are designed, its transportation systems are routed, etc. – and others simply follow (or are determined by) these rules. Many of these followers (the idiots) don’t even seem to mind this state of affairs. Still others live under the delusional understanding that they are, in fact, somehow in charge of determining the course of social life – through their duly elected representatives, of course, or through their reputed “consumer power.”

What is of especial interest to those observing political idiocy is how thoroughly inconsistent and incoherent its ideologies can be. Indeed, many idiots justify the status quo (in which they are consigned to the position of idiot) by appealing to the founding documents of the United States, seemingly oblivious to the fact that the Declaration of Independence’s main argument is that the only legitimate form of political organization is one in which people govern themselves. It does not take much critical acumen to recognize that self-government – or autonomy – is irreconcilable with the heteronomy that the idiot is subjected to – irrespective of the degree to which the idiot is aware of his or her particular political impotence.

In other words, we are idiots whether we are aware of our political impotence or not. All that it takes to be a political idiot is to be excluded from the actual processes that determine how the world we live in is organized. And how many of us are in any meaningful way able to determine how things are governed? Because public interest polls consistently show majorities of people supporting social policies (such as universal health care, increased environmental protections, access to free education, an end to the wars of aggression committed by the US, etc.) that are not pursued, it does not seem to be much of a stretch to conclude that most people in this country are idiots. In this respect I am a total idiot. And I suspect that I am not alone in being aware of the fact that I suffer from this regrettable condition. Moreover, I suspect that I am not alone in wanting to change this harmful situation. As with other collective problems, however, our collective political and economic idiocy requires a collective solution; the first step of which is recognizing that most of us are these alienated political idiots in the first place.

Elliot Sperber is a writer, attorney, and contributor to hygiecracy.blogspot.com He lives in New York City and can be reached at elliot.sperber@gmail.com.

Elliot Sperber is a writer, attorney, and adjunct professor. He lives in New York City and can be reached at elliot.sperber@gmail.com and on twitter @elliot_sperber

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

Weekend Edition
August 26, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Paul Buhle
In the Shadow of the CIA: Liberalism’s Big Embarrassing Moment
Andrew Levine
How Donald Trump Can Still be a Hero: Force the Guardians of the Duopoly to Open Up the Debates
Rob Urie
Crisis and Opportunity
Louisa Willcox
The Unbearable Killing of Yellowstone’s Grizzlies: 2015 Shatters Records for Bear Deaths
Charles Pierson
Wedding Crashers Who Kill
Richard Moser
What is the Inside/Outside Strategy?
Dirk Bezemer – Michael Hudson
Finance is Not the Economy
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Bernie’s Used Cars
Margaret Kimberley
Hillary and Colin: the War Criminal Charade
Patrick Cockburn
Turkey’s Foray into Syria: a Gamble in a Very Dangerous Game
Ishmael Reed
Birther Tries to Flim Flam Blacks  
Brian Terrell
What Makes a Hate Group?
Howard Lisnoff
Trouble in Political Paradise
Terry Tempest Williams
Will Our National Parks Survive the Next 100 Years?
Ben Debney
The Swimsuit that Overthrew the State
Ashley Smith
Anti-imperialism and the Syrian Revolution
Andrew Stewart
Did Gore Throw the 2000 Election?
Vincent Navarro
Is the Nation State and Its Welfare State Dead? a Critique of Varoufakis
John Wight
Syria’s Kurds and the Wages of Treachery
Lawrence Davidson
The New Anti-Semitism: the Case of Joy Karega
Mateo Pimentel
The Affordable Care Act: A Litmus Test for American Capitalism?
Roger Annis
In Northern Syria, Turkey Opens New Front in its War Against the Kurds
David Swanson
ABC Shifts Blame from US Wars to Doctors Without Borders
Norman Pollack
American Exceptionalism: A Pernicious Doctrine
Ralph Nader
Readers Think, Thinkers Read
Julia Morris
The Mythologies of the Nauruan Refugee Nation
George Wuerthner
Caving to Ranchers: the Misguided Decision to Kill the Profanity Wolf Pack
Ann Garrison
Unworthy Victims: Houthis and Hutus
Julian Vigo
Britain’s Slavery Legacy
John Stanton
Brzezinski Vision for a Power Sharing World Stymied by Ignorant Americans Leaders, Citizens
Philip Doe
Colorado: 300 Days of Sunshine Annually, Yet There’s No Sunny Side of the Street
Joseph White
Homage to EP Thompson
Dan Bacher
The Big Corporate Money Behind Jerry Brown
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
DNC Playing Dirty Tricks on WikiLeaks
Ron Jacobs
Education for Liberation
Jim Smith
Socialism Revived: In Spite of Bernie, Donald and Hillary
David Macaray
Organized Labor’s Inferiority Complex
David Cortright
Alternatives to Military Intervention in Syria
Binoy Kampmark
The Terrors of Free Speech: Australia’s Racial Discrimination Act
Cesar Chelala
Guantánamo’s Quagmire
Nyla Ali Khan
Hoping Against Hope in Kashmir
William Hughes
From Sam Spade to the Red Scare: Dashiell Hammett’s War Against Rightwing Creeps
Raouf Halaby
Dear Barack Obama, Please Keep it at 3 for 3
Charles R. Larson
Review: Paulina Chiziane’s “The First Wife: a Tale of Polygamy”
David Yearsley
The Widow Bach: Anna Magdalena Rediscovered
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail