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Sociopathy Is Running the US – Part Two

Stupidity

You may be thinking: Sure, I can see that Obama or Hillary or Cheney may be evil. But how about Bush or Vice President Biden or Prime Minister Cameron of the UK? It’s sometimes hard to tell whether one is dealing with a knave or a fool. The fool does destructive things that may make him seem knavish. And the knave can do stupid things that make him seem like a fool. Isn’t it a mistake to accuse someone of malevolence when Occam’s Razor might indicate stupidity as a more likely answer? They seem more like fools than knaves. Pity the poor fools.

Stupidity certainly can account for many of the world’s problems. As Einstein said, after hydrogen, stupidity is the most common thing in the universe. Unfortunately, the word “stupidity” is thrown about too carelessly, usually as a pejorative, and then often by stupid people. Let’s define the word. It’s important to be precise in the use of words, because if you’re not, then how can you possibly say you know what you’re talking about? A failure to define words properly invites sloppy thinking.

Most of the time people use “stupidity” to mean low intelligence. That’s accurate, but it’s a synonym, not an explanation. So it’s not terribly helpful, because it doesn’t really tell us anything we don’t already know. Just look at how stupid the average person is (they’re thick underfoot on Jay Leno’s many “Jay Walking” segments) and then figure that, by definition, half of the electorate are lower than average.

It’s helpful to use an example, and since we’re talking about politics, let’s pick a well-known political figure. George W. Bush was president recently enough that everyone can still remember him clearly. I’ve always said that the Baby Bush was stupid. Technically speaking, I believe he’s actually a borderline moron. You may or may not know that a moron, an imbecile and an idiot are not at all the same thing – even though in common usage, the words are more or less interchangeable. In fact, these terms have clinical definitions.

Briefly, an idiot is so dim that he may have to be institutionalized. An imbecile functions at a higher level; he can get by in normal life, given some assistance. A moron does even better. He can conduct himself quite well in day-to-day society and even be liked and respected – a little bit like the character Chauncey Gardiner (who, as it turned out, was being groomed to become the president) in Peter Sellers’ movie Being There.

A moron can carry on a conversation about the weather, the state of the roads, sports, TV sitcoms or even, with a bit of coaching – as Bush proved – the economy or a war. Bush seemed more or less normal, even though I suspect he only has an IQ of around 90. I’m not saying that just to be offensive to Bush fans. I believe I can back up that assertion, even if Bush could actually score above 100 on a standard test, by showing you some more practical definitions of stupidity.

Let me give you two of them. One is: an unwitting tendency to self-destruction. Another is: an inability to correlate cause and effect and thereby anticipate the consequences of an act. I would suggest to you that almost everything Bush has done, it seems his entire life, but absolutely while he was the president, would fit those definitions of stupidity precisely.

A moron can see the immediate and direct consequences of actions, even though the indirect and delayed consequences escape his understanding. At least to a cynic, that would seem to indicate that not only Bush but the average American voter is likely not just a moron but an imbecile. Such a deficit of intelligence almost guarantees that we’ll see controls of all types – absolutely including foreign exchange controls – imposed as the Greater Depression unfolds. In fact, when the next 9/11-style incident, real or imagined, occurs, they’re going to lock the US down like one of their numerous new federal prisons. It’s going to be, as I’ve gotten in the habit of saying, worse than even I think it’s going to be.

But stupidity is clearly only a partial explanation of Bush’s character, just as it was only a partial explanation of Hitler’s. Please don’t misapprehend me on this. Bush wasn’t in the same class as Hitler. Hitler was a criminal genius. But criminals, even so-called criminal geniuses, are basically stupid, according to our definitions – they show an unwitting tendency toward self-destruction. How stupid was it of Hitler to attack Russia, especially while he still had a front open with Britain? How stupid was it to declare war against the US shortly after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor? How stupid was it to murder six million innocents in concentration camps? How stupid was it to throw the Wehrmacht’s Sixth Army into Stalingrad? It’s a long list.

Stalin provides another example. How stupid was Stalin to murder several million of the most productive farmers when Russians already lacked enough to eat? How stupid was it to liquidate half of the Red Army’s most experienced officers and higher NCOs just before WW2? Or Roosevelt. How stupid was it of him to pour milk into the gutter and slaughter livestock in order to drive up prices while millions were hungry? How stupid was it to burden the US, in the middle of the last depression, with huge taxes and a score of new regulatory agencies?

A catalog of stupidities of these and most other famous political leaders fills libraries. As Gibbon said, history is little more than a chronicle of the crimes, follies and misfortunes of mankind.

There are different types of intelligence – emotional, athletic, mathematical and literary intelligence, for instance. A person can be a genius in one and an idiot in the others. The same is true of stupidity; it comes in flavors. I think a case can be made that liberty cultivates intelligence, because it rewards seeing the distant and indirect consequences of actions.

Conversely, statism and collectivism, by restricting liberty, tend to reward stupidity. Remember that political leaders are oriented toward controlling other people; they’re clever about it, but they’re basically stupid about the rest of reality. Nonetheless, their animal shrewdness is enough for them to gain and keep power over others. The immediate and direct consequences of that political power are gratifying for those who have it; the indirect and delayed consequences, however, are disastrous for everyone.

But wait. It sounds like stupidity is related to evil. Which it is. Stupidity is a signpost of evil. It’s why it often takes a while, when things are going badly, to determine whether you’re dealing with a knave or just a fool.

In that regard, Robert S. McNamara offers something of a counterpoint to Bush. When you look at the disasters he caused throughout his life – almost destroying Ford, then almost destroying the US with the Vietnam war, then doing immense damage to the world at large with the World Bank – one might say he was stupid. In fact, he had an extremely high IQ. McNamara underlines the often fine distinction between stupidity and evil. He was clearly a sociopath, but he’s held in high regard among the ruling class. Henry Kissinger is a similar case.

Evil

I would like to suggest that what really distinguishes political elites from normal people is not just a predilection for stupidity but a real capacity for evil. Evil might best be defined as the intentional and usually gratuitous commission of acts that are cruel or unjust. A person who commits many evil acts is a sociopath. The sociopaths who are naturally drawn to government eventually come to dominate it. They’re very dangerous people. They reset the social mores of the country they control. After a certain point, a critical mass is reached, and it’s GAME OVER. I suspect we’re approaching that point.

[The US – and many other countries – face severe problems. However, for the prepared contrarian investor, those problems mean great opportunities. There has never been a better time to become one of the prepared – but you must act today or tomorrow.]

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