commentary, philosophy, and outright rants

Archive for June, 2006

Reclaiming Monopods

"She caught the old man napping, that little girl did," said the Chief Monopod. "We’ve beaten him this time."

"Just what we were going to say ourselves," chimed the chorus. "You’re going stronger than ever to-day, Chief. Keep it up, keep it up."

"But do they dare to talk about you like that?" said Lucy. "They seemed to be so afraid of you yesterday. Don’t they know you might be listening."

"That’s one of the funny things about the Duffers," said the Magician. "One minute they talk as if I ran everything and overheard everything and was extremely dangerous. The next moment they think they can take me in by tricks that a baby would see through — bless them!"

C.S. Lewis, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

Something I run into on activist-oriented lists is the Duffer attitude. At one moment people are calling for action against some perceived villain or ill; and then at the next moment the same people are writing as if the action wouldn’t really make any difference, because a vast (industrialist, capitalist, take-your-pick) conspiracy is controlling everything, from modern-day Washington to 1941 Pearl Harbor.

If the conspiracy is so vast and so powerful — as the Duffers sometimes feel about the Magician — there’s no use trying to oppose it. Chances are, in opposing it, one is only playing a part in the conspiracy, unawares. If, on the other hand, there’s no absolute conspiracy, then perhaps people need to think about intersecting desires, fears, and needs of different people, and how they come together to form a polity.

But it’s so much easier to blame everything that goes wrong on the Vast All-Controlling Conspiracy.