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
September 23, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
The Meaning of the Trump Surge
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: More Pricks Than Kicks
Mike Whitney
Oh, Say Can You See the Carnage? Why Stand for a Country That Can Gun You Down in Cold Blood?
Chris Welzenbach
The Diminution of Chris Hayes
Vincent Emanuele
The Riots Will Continue
Rob Urie
A Scam Too Far
Pepe Escobar
Les Deplorables
Patrick Cockburn
Airstrikes, Obfuscation and Propaganda in Syria
Timothy Braatz
The Quarterback and the Propaganda
Sheldon Richman
Obama Rewards Israel’s Bad Behavior
Libby Lunstrum - Patrick Bond
Militarizing Game Parks and Marketing Wildlife are Unsustainable Strategies
Andy Thayer
More Cops Will Worsen, Not Help, Chicago’s Violence Problem
Louis Yako
Can Westerners Help Refugees from War-torn Countries?
David Rosen
Rudy Giuliani & Trump’s Possible Cabinet
Joyce Nelson
TISA and the Privatization of Public Services
Pete Dolack
Global Warming Will Accelerate as Oceans Reach Limits of Remediation
Franklin Lamb
34 Years After the Sabra-Shatila Massacre
Cesar Chelala
How One Man Held off Nuclear War
Norman Pollack
Sovereign Immunity, War Crimes, and Compensation to 9/11 Families
Lamont Lilly
Standing Rock Stakes Claim for Sovereignty: Eyewitness Report From North Dakota
Barbara G. Ellis
A Sandernista Priority: Push Bernie’s Planks!
Hiroyuki Hamada
How Do We Dream the Dream of Peace Together?
Russell Mokhiber
From Rags and Robes to Speedos and Thongs: Why Trump is Crushing Clinton in WV
Julian Vigo
Living La Vida Loca
Aidan O'Brien
Where is Europe’s Duterte? 
Abel Cohen
Russia’s Improbable Role in Everything
Ron Jacobs
A Change Has Gotta’ Come
Uri Avnery
Shimon Peres and the Saga of Sisyphus
Graham Peebles
Ethiopian’s Crying out for Freedom and Justice
Robert Koehler
Stop the Killing
Thomas Knapp
Election 2016: Of Dog Legs and “Debates”
Yves Engler
The Media’s Biased Perspective
Victor Grossman
Omens From Berlin
Christopher Brauchli
Wells Fargo as Metaphor for the Trump Campaign
Nyla Ali Khan
War of Words Between India and Pakistan at the United Nations
Tom Barnard
Block the Bunker! Historic Victory Against Police Boondoggle in Seattle
James Rothenberg
Bullshit Recognition as Survival Tactic
Ed Rampell
A Tale of Billionaires & Ballot Bandits
Kristine Mattis
Persnickety Publishing Pet-Peeves
Charles R. Larson
Review: Helen Dewitt’s “The Last Samurai”
David Yearsley
Torture Chamber Music
September 22, 2016
Dave Lindorff
Wells Fargo’s Stumpf Leads the Way
Stan Cox
If There’s a World War II-Style Climate Mobilization, It has to Go All the Way—and Then Some
Binoy Kampmark
Source Betrayed: the Washington Post and Edward Snowden
John W. Whitehead
Wards of the Nanny State
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail