Was it Abe Lincoln or some other able-bodied leaders and thinkers in a brand new age in a brave new world who said that you can fool some of the people all of the time… and all of the people some of the time… but you can’t fool all of the people all of the time?
Seems to me that the maxim has been improved upon since the last time it was trotted out to describe, if not defend, the state of play in a certain island nation (which shall remain nameless) that some manipulators call their home country.
For the reality today, to say nothing of the status quo for some time now – thanks to the modus operandi of certain major-league players (in Greek, ‘manipulators’) in our polity – is that you can fool all of the people all of the time… yourself included.
Take the recent closure of a handful of websites that allegedly transgressed an as yet unwritten code of conduct. The five portals to which the public were denied access spanned the gamut from legitimate sounding concerns (one had the name ‘guardian’ in it) to spurious operators whose very nomenclature (‘paparazzi’, ‘gossip’) is suspect. But it was the rationale of the powers that be which ended up sending off a dubious pong. Speculative content, scurrilous content providers, an antisocial ethic that has pervaded other media – all of which are in need of reform, regulation, rehabilitation. Etc, etc.
But all of this fails to define the norm of social acceptability for web content providers. It ignores the existence of codes of conduct and codes of ethics in related media. And it comes across rather clumsily in its avowed effort to safeguard a plethora of individuals in society, when it is plain as pikestaff that only an elite few were being targeted for critique and calumny. Methinks the gentlemen doth protest too much? They appear far to keen to call censorship regulation, save face as well as their good name (as if), and have their cake only to eat it!
Then there is the much discussed and mostly maligned chimera snapping its teeth at the macro economy. The so-called acquisition bill, which insists it is only underperforming enterprises or underutilized assets that will be expropriated. The logic that defines what these entities are defies logic, for it is an arbitrary list with no conditions or criteria to satisfy – other than that they have been listed on a schedule. By God knows who. With God knows what motive. And God knows that there are plenty of other institutions out there that should have made the cut, if the proposal per se were a bona fide one. Only God knows where it will all end, and what other assets will be appropriated.
Last but not least there is the case of the boom town south of the border down megalopolis way that will still be developed – although the late great effort to secure it a major international event crashed and burned just this week. First we were told that all the developmental efforts to this burgeoning port, airport, and international stadium and other paraphernalia-panoplied city were in aid of the much anticipated event. But now that the games have fallen through, there’s still no stopping the mass-scale migration of political capital south – in every sense of the term ‘political capital’; and to the detriment of Growth, Development, and Progress (GDP, dears) elsewhere.
Let us not even mention the arresting court order to detain and question a high-profile suspect in a shooting incident – but only after the bird has flown the coup… er, coop. We are the kind of society that can’t catch a big-time crook when he’s under our noses, but will make a grand show of hunting high and low for gun-runners, drug-smugglers, and other evasive criminals – when the top dogs give the top cops leave to do so.
All of this I call ‘cheating’. A friend of mine, who is a keen observer of society and its ills, calls it ‘chutzpah’. The Jews had a name for it, and this name was that name. “Chutzpah”: the audacious insolence with which a person, group, or institution oversteps the boundaries of politically and socially acceptable behaviour – and defends, or fails to defend, their actions… with impunity, spiced with tongue in cheek and foot in mouth.
If old Abe was around, he may well have coined another aphorism to cover this case, too. Something to the effect that the chutzpah that is practised today is government of the people, by the people, and for the people – with the exception that it is not. Tell us another one, Mr. Lincoln! There’s no fooling all but some of us this time…
We have taken the game so far up to the next level that it is not the same game at all. We’re at our wit’s end, because we now believe our own propaganda so ardently that it has taken on an inner life of its own. We think it is the truth, and that those who don’t believe us are part of a vast international conspiracy to discredit our dreams, visions, and other hallucinations. Only patriots like us play patriot games. All other players are traitors.