Thursday, October 19, 2006

David Brin on The Manchurian President

I used to joke that Bush was either a deep KGB plant or the pawn of an extraterrestrial civilization seeking to destroy the US. David Brin, a scientist and science fiction writer, appears to take this theory a bit more seriously:
Contrary Brin: The Past Shines Light on the Future

... It is simply impossible to do this much harm to a mighty nation, and have that effect be inadvertent...

... This simply could not have taken place simply as a matter of incompetence. Not even if you throw in ruthless, kleptocratic venality (through crony contracts, for example). That explanation fails because, three layers down from the political appointees, there exists a vast sea of civilian and military civil servants. The most amazing collection of human competence that has ever been assembled!

I never cease to be amazed by how little attention is paid to this level, the vastly knowledgeable and professional US Officer Corps and the collected experts and diplomats and scientists and other skilled workers who fill the vast federal pyramid. For they are key! Under normal circumstances, they would be able to keep things going, at least at a competent-simmering level, even in the face of dingbat idiocy from above!

That is, if it were merely dingbat idiocy!

Oh, but is ANYBODY looking into the possibility that it isn't? We have paid professional paranoids whose JOB it is to look into such possibilities.

I wonder if they are...
Ok. for the record, I don't think GWB is the Manchurian President with a controller rig beneath his jacket, and I don't think David Brin has gone mad. I think David was just a bit excited and overstated his case.

My take is that America was never as robust as many of us had thought, and that we really were more dependent on good governance than we realized. Truly abysmal government has exposed our underlying issues. It didn't really take a vast conspiracy, just persistent incompetence and a flat learning curve.

This is, however, an illuminating example of the state of the American intelligentsia. We're going bonkers watching one of the worst governments in American history dismantle the nation ...

2 comments:

pidgas said...

"It is simply impossible to do this much harm to a mighty nation, and have that effect be inadvertent..."

Isn't that basically the logic used by "intelligent design" folks?

John said...

That's good! Yes, ascribing intent to processes that are complex and emergent is characteristic of ID. I think David fell into the same trap.