Punchinello’s Chronicles

February 13, 2009

Fantasy, Politicians and Opportunism

Filed under: Foolish Rants — Punchinello @ 3:06 pm
Tags: , , ,

I was having a conversation the other day about the collapse of the United States due to politicians and accountants. In the course of the discussion, we came to a common proposition that politicians are living in a fantasy world. Politicians don’t understand reality, and therefore are insane. That’s not true, when you examine what’s really going on.

It’s true that we have more ignorant people today than we had in the past, and that’s part of the problem. Modern education has ruined the minds of more children (who grow to be adults) than in the past. That makes people ignorant and uneducated, but it doesn’t make them stupid. We probably have as many stupid people today as were around 100 years ago or more.

One difference today is that stupid people tend to survive their stupidity more than in the past. With so many technical protections, government agencies, and other systems in place, people don’t as much suffer the consequences of their own stupidity as easily as in the past. But at the moment, I’m more interested in fantasy and ignorance.

Are politicians insane? Do they truly live in a fantasy? What, besides delusion, would more properly explain today’s politicians and their behavior? I think a combination of narcissism and opportunism.

Someone is an opportunist when they continually look for opportunities to advance their own personal agenda. They seek out opportunities to gain power, wealth, popularity, success — all the things each of us hopes to achieve in life. But what produces the negative connotation to “opportunist” is that the opportunities often include moral or ethical issues.

An opportunist considers an opportunity for advancement that also produces a problem for competitors. On a regular basis, the opportunist seeks advantage at the expense of others. The opportunist isn’t interested in, and doesn’t care about the consequences of his or her actions. The opportunity for advancement is more important than the ensuing consequences.

Competition may include honor and ethics, or it may be the brutal process of natural selection. We, as human beings, have the option of choosing how we will compete. It’s our choice whether or not to wipe out the competitor or to limit our actions within a moral boundary. We can choose to compete on the behalf of a surrounding society, or ignore everyone else and compete only for ourselves.

Narcissism is a psychological borderline personality disorder. It means that the narcissist has failed to define a separation between his or her personality, and the surrounding world. A common perception of the problem is that the narcissist can’t perceive the separate, individual existence of surrounding people, animals or things. Everything is a part of the narcissist’s own, personal existence. If the narcissist can’t see it, it doesn’t exist.

Taken together we have a simpler and more logical explanation of today’s politicians, journalists, entertainers, academics, environmentalist fanatics, and profiteers. Generally speaking. Of course there are many exceptions, and many people actually do have some empathy for the surrounding world. But they’re the exception, not the rule where it comes to public office and management.

We have an economy in serious trouble. Much of the trouble is founded on failed economic theory, failed government intervention, immoral accounting practices, and a philosophy of debt spending. Additional factors include personal greed, political greed, corporate greed, and the moral premise of opportunism.

We also have a terrible threat of terrorism, where Islamic fundamentalists fully intend to destroy America and kill as many Westerners as possible. An increasing number of people seem to think this isn’t true, and the time, money, and effort we’re putting into counter-terrorism is either a waste, a sham, or a plot to take control of the world.

Do politicians truly believe that there’s no economic problem and no terrorist threat? No, I don’t think that’s true.

Instead, politicians place the economy and terrorism below their own personal ambition. Instead of actually providing help to the citizens, politicians use the economic anxiety and fear of terrorism to advance their “face time,” public reputation, personal income, and their re-election budget.

The result is they don’t care about the long-term consequences of their actions. They’re not interested in what “might” happen in the future. They’re only interested in how each, momentary event will advance their own personal success. As opportunists, they don’t care about the consequences. They only care about the immediate benefits, and only to themselves as individuals.

California has term limits to the amount of time a politician may stay in office on a state level. The result is one of the most vicious, destructive and near-criminal environments possible. As politicians approach the end of their terms, the degree to which they’ll fight to stay in “power” becomes incredible.

So too, watching the way politicians in Washington act, it’s clear that their lust for power and career longevity is far and away more important than what they’re doing to the country.

Add in narcissism, and those politicians actually don’t understand that “people” exist in the rest of the country. They call us “voters” or they assign us to groups (special-interest lobbies), thereby making us faceless ciphers in the calculations for political benefit.

It’s not that politicians are deluded, or living in a fantasy world of Utopian bliss. It’s that they see everything in terms of the next election. They see only the immediate, short-term poll results. They’re “up” or “down” in the polls, and haven’t any real concept of the underlying country or society that creates those polls.

It’s not that politicians willfully intend to destroy the entire country. It’s that they don’t believe their actions have consequences. They see “the country” or “the economy” or “tax revenues” as a naturally occurring phenomenon, much like they cycle of evaporation and rain. Money and votes will “always” exist and repeat. It’s been that way all their lives, and therefore will continue to be that way forever into the future. Regardless of what they do today!

Conservatives hope to build and sustain the underlying country and society. Liberals hold that the country and society are an automatic (axiomatic) “given,” and seek to control as much of it as possible. Opportunists don’t care about meaningless things like country or society, they only want immediate career advancement. Narcissists don’t even see a wider context of a country or society, they only understand their own personal existence in the moment.

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