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.

More articles by:

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

Weekend Edition
January 19, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Dr. King’s Long Assassination
David Roediger
A House is Not a Hole: (Not) Caring about What Trump Says
George Burchett
How the CIA Tried to Bribe Wilfred Burchett
Mike Whitney
Trump’s Plan B for Syria: Occupation and Intimidation
Michael Hudson – Charles Goodhart
Could/Should Jubilee Debt Cancellations be Reintroduced Today?
Marshall Auerback – Franklin C. Spinney
Boss Tweet’s Generals Already Run the Show
Andrew Levine
Remember, Democrats are Awful Too
James Bovard
Why Ruby Ridge Still Matters
Wilfred Burchett
The Bug Offensive
Brian Cloughley
Now Trump Menaces Pakistan
Ron Jacobs
Whiteness and Working Folks
Jeffrey St. Clair
The Keeper of Crazy Beats: Charlie Haden and Music as a Force of Liberation
Robert Fantina
Palestine and Israeli Recognition
Jan Oberg
The New US Syria “Strategy”, a Recipe For Continued Disaster
ADRIAN KUZMINSKI
The Return of the Repressed
Mel Gurtov
Dubious Partnership: The US and Saudi Arabia
Robert Fisk
The Next Kurdish War Looms on the Horizon
Lawrence Davidson
Contextualizing Sexual Harassment
Jeff Berg
Approaching Day Zero
Karl Grossman
Disaster Island
Thomas S. Harrington
What Nerve! In Catalonia They are Once Again Trying to Swear in the Coalition that Won the Most Votes
Pepe Escobar
Rome: A Eulogy
Robert Hunziker
Will Aliens Save Humanity?
Jonah Raskin
“Can’t Put the Pot Genie Back in the Bottle”: An Interview with CAL NORML’s Dale Gieringer
Stepan Hobza
Beckett, Ionesco, and Trump
Joseph Natoli
The ‘Worlding’ of the Party-less
Julia Stein
The Myths of Housing Policy
George Ochenski
Zinke’s Purge at Interior
Christopher Brauchli
How Trump Killed the Asterisk
Rosemary Mason - Colin Todhunter
Corporate Monopolies Will Accelerate the Globalisation of Bad Food, Poor Health and Environmental Catastrophe
Michael J. Sainato
U.S Prisons Are Ending In-Person Visits, Cutting Down On Reading Books
Michael Barker
Blame Game: Carillion or Capitalism?
Binoy Kampmark
The War on Plastic
Cindy Sheehan – Rick Sterling
Peace Should Be Integral to the Women’s March
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
No Foreign Bases!
Matthew Stevenson
Into Africa: Across the Boer Heartland to Pretoria
Joe Emersberger
What’s Going On in Ecuador? An Interview With Wladimir Iza
Clark T. Scott
1918, 1968, 2018: From Debs to Trump
Cesar Chelala
Women Pay a Grievous Price in Congo’s Conflict
Michael Welton
Secondly
Robert Koehler
The Wisdom of Mass Salvation
Seth Sandronsky
Misreading Edu-Reform 
Ann Garrison
Full-Spectrum Arrogance: US Bases Span the Globe
Louis Proyect
Morality Tales on the American Malaise: the Films of Rick Alverson
David Yearsley
Winston and Paddington: Marianelli’s Musical Bears
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail