Note: The weekly Taki post is up. It ties in with the post this week. Sunday Thoughts, the weekly podcast for the elect, is up behind the green door. If for some reason you did not notice it, I was on with RamZPaul Saturday and you can listen that here.
A truth learned from the study of economics is that competition between suppliers tends to create better products and services. Better in the economic context does not always mean more innovative or better quality. Sometimes the better product is simply more cost effective than the alternatives. The Wintel computer was never the technologically superior option, but it was the most cost effective. Competition often arrives at the solution that is merely good enough.
On the other hand, when companies or industries are able to shield themselves from competition they tend to decline in quality. The prices creep up as the quality and selection declines. The domestic car makers in America experienced this in the middle of the last century. By the 1970’s, their cars were silly and unreliable. Competition from overseas forced them to compete and that made for better cars. Competition is the economic equivalent of accountability.
The time traveler in the H. G. Wells novel The Time Machine observed that “It is a law of nature we overlook, that intellectual versatility is the compensation for change, danger, and trouble.” A corollary is that responsibility and a sense of duty is the compensation for accountability. A natural consequence of accountability is a duty and obligation to the rules under which you operate. When you are held accountable for your actions, you act in private as if the world is watching.
We see this in the whole “go woke, go broke” meme. The fact that none of these woke firms go broke is the important piece. That is the reason corporate America is rushing to embrace the most absurd things. They know they will never be held accountable for their actions, so they have no duty to the rest of us. The people who made the perverted Twix commercial did it because it costs them nothing. Mars is a massive global enterprise immune from the marketplace.
The tech sector is the most obvious example. They have spent decades colluding with one another to suppress wages and deny people their civil rights because they never have to worry about consequences. They may compete with one another at the fringes, but in essence they are a cartel with monopoly power. It is not as if you are going to build your own internet. The market forces we think should exits to hold these firms accountable no longer exists, so they do as they please.
This has been true of politics for a long time. The CIA put out a report in the late 1980’s claiming that the Soviet Union is getting stronger due to the massive success of the Gorbachev reforms. A few months later the Soviet empire collapsed. No one was ever held accountable. In fact, it is fair to say that the power of the Soviets had been overstated for generations. No one was ever held to account, so this was pushed aside with the other lies and blunders.
More recently, many of the same characters were involved in selling the world on the great Muslim threat. The West was turned into a police state because the Muslims wanted to impose Islam-o-fascisms on us. Trillions of dollars and tens of thousands of lives were spent on a problem that never existed. Since no one would ever be held accountable for the result, not one felt a duty to be right. They just made up whatever would benefit them at the moment.
Even closer to home, there was a local election last week that got national attention as a referendum on the parties. The Virginia governor race was a big success for the Republicans, who immediately used their new political capital to fink on their voters and support the other side. They did it because they know they will never be held accountable for it. Politics is now entirely immune from the marketplace of ideas, so there is no accountability and therefore no responsibility.
We see the same thing in the media. For half a decade they sold the Russian conspiracy hoax to the public. The recent indictments shows that they knew it was a lie when they were selling it. Everyone involved knew it was fake. No one will resign in disgrace or offer a tearful apology. They simply laugh and move onto the next hoax they are told to peddle. There is no shame because there is no accountability. What are you going to do, build your own mass media?
The lack of shame is perhaps the final stage. A reckless disregard for duty can still elicit shame, even if the person knows they will never be held accountable. Once this lack of accountability is normalized, morality collapses. Without morality, there can be no shame, which is what we see with the media. They are shameless because the people in the media no longer possess the normal moral coding. If they have a moral code at all, it is based in a disdain for the rest of us.
The central question posed by The Time Machine is whether life can go on without struggle and if so, should it? The two halves of future humanity, the Elois and Morlocks were scarcely human. They had reached a point where they had conquered the necessary conditions of human civilization. Once struggle had been eliminated, the skills to win the struggle atrophied. What the time traveler observed was not the apex of humanity, but the end of it.
A similar question can be asked about the collapse of accountability. Can a society survive when the people in charge of it are no longer responsible for it? The climax of the Enlightenment project appears to be a world in which the people at the top have finally been insulated from all accountabilities. Oddly, they are the Eloi ruling over the Morlocks, feckless children oppressing what they view as the lesser beasts. Is this the apex of Western civilization or the end of it?
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