Thursday, January 14, 2021

World War Z


Trump is a literal gangster.

Like any gangster he has really only one way of dealing with people.


He sets up a goal and a punishment and then he tells his agent that in order to avoid the punishment he has to carry out the goal. That’s what has been happening since the election. ‘Nice Congress you got there. It would be a shame if anything b.a.a.a.d happened to it.’ This was what Trump tried to pull in his phone call to the Georgia Secretary of State. And this is what Trump tried to pull on the Sixth. All the time that the legislators were hunkered down Trump (and the oily worm Giuliani) were calling legislators trying to get them to change their votes. And, during this time, he was not calling out the National Guard to defend a Congress which he knew was in peril.  But the peril, the danger to life and limb, was the whole point.

The most concerning thing about all this is what did not quite happen. If the rioters had broken into the rooms where legislators were huddled would the republicans have given up the Democrats to the rioters? Think about that for a moment. If anything like that had happened then even after a rescue Congress would have imploded. Could you work with someone who, when the chips were down, would turn you over to thugs? Congress would turn into a cess-pit of vipers. It wouldn’t be able to meet; it would self-destruct.

Americans believe two contradictory things about their government. 1) The government is a tyrannical force that’s taking away my freedoms. And 2) the government is not doing near enough for me in providing for my wants. And I mean that most Americans hold these two contradictory beliefs at the very same time.

What struck me in watching the aftermath was a plain and ordinary respectable-looking white house-wife being interviewed by some news crew. She said that she had participated in the riot because she wouldn’t bow to ‘Oppression’.


What oppression? Is she wearing chains? Have her cities been burnt and her children sold into slavery? Has her political party been outlawed and its leaders jailed? Has her white race been cast into labor camps or extermination factories? Has her religion been stigmatized and persecuted? No. None of those things is true.

It was Krugman who pointed out the all the things that the rioters were fighting for were completely untrue. The election was NOT won by Trump. The election was NOT stolen (as Trump’s extortion call to Georgia makes perfectly clear).

The broad-casting of imaginary grievances on Twitter and other Social Media is a big part of the problem. The problem that the Internet has created is that very stupid people never realized before how powerful and numerous they are. Now they know. And now I understand better why governments constantly work to control the overall narrative

In the novel World War Z there’s a scene where an army unit squares off against the zombies. The unit is equipped with an open communications net that allows anyone to talk. The zombies are a formidable force and at one point part of the army unit is on the edge of being overwhelmed. One panicky soldier gets on the net and screams that they have to retreat.  As a result the whole line of soldiers breaks and runs for it - with predictably unfortunate results.

This dark fable reflects the Internet. The plain fact is that we cannot let just anyone have access to an open communications channel. Any mad-man, any schizophrenic, any criminal, any bad actor at all, can shout his or her hallucinations and grievances into the ether and millions, similarly damaged, will respond. 

 The internet is wolves howling to wolves.

I love the Internet and what it’s made possible but given its structural flaws (not to mention its incurable security problems) there may come a time in the near future when the Internet is closed down or severely curtailed.

I don’t think that we can achieve stability until that happens.

N.B. The incidence of schizophrenia in the United States ranges between one in 400 Americans to one in 156 Americans. That’s more than 2 million schizophrenics in a population that’s heavily armed.  

The novel World War Z was written by Max Brooks.  It was published by Del Rey in 2006.