January 1, 2004

The Condition of Cafe Society

Commenting on Michael Crichton's notable speech to The Commonwealth Club, The Belmont Club notes:

The fictional demon Screwtape once observed that lies become established where men are too lazy to think about the truth. Screwtape and Crichton forgot to add was that this error is more easily committed where people are sheltered from the immediate consequences of their mistakes. Misjudgements are unforgivingly punished in the primitive world, but they may persist unnoticed for years in cafe society, secure within its city, until the accumulated weight of folly, gathering like a dark cloud outside the circle of petty laughter, crashes inward to demand its due. One such moment came on September 11, and the injustice of it is not merely that it happened, but that those most responsible for perpetrating the blindness which made it possible are still exempt from account. The tragedy contained within Michael Crichton's observation that mumbo-jumbo trumps science is not just that it happens, but that it will happen again.

Posted by Vanderleun at January 1, 2004 10:54 AM
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"It is impossible to speak in such a way that you cannot be misunderstood." -- Karl Popper N.B.: Comments are moderated and may not appear immediately. Comments that exceed the obscenity or stupidity limits will be either edited or expunged.

I'm a believer in--if we could get it--the notion of "instant karma": the instantaneous speeding-up of future time where the consequences of our actions (or inactions) in time present, whirl around and bite us in the ass while we're still drawing breath from the expenditure that brought it on. This would be good for everyone, self included.

Not having such an estimable benefit at hand, we are left with projecting future consequences to the Pre-9/11 crowd who have not the experience or the knowledge (and don't care) to understand the true threats this country faces. Laziness is a good part of it: witness the need to interpret those attacks within the tried-and-true categories of left-wing socialist animosity and vengefulness: Islamist fundamentalists attacked us because the USA is a capitalist country that tramples the globe's demands for distributive (and retributive) "social justice." Sure.

We've heard less of that since then, if only by reason of Bin Laden's very useful reiteration of his chaliphatic fantasies. They now know it ain't the anger of the deprived proletariat, though they're not sure what it is. The karma here is, at least to some extent, the consequences of never questioning the conceptual categories in which you put the questions, since it is these categories that determine what will and will not be the cateogories of the answers.

Posted by: Michael McCanles at January 2, 2004 5:36 PM