Archive for January 5th, 2023

Big Lebowski Nihilists

Free men are aware of the imperfection inherent in human affairs, and they are willing to fight and die for that which is not perfect. They know that basic human problems can have no final solutions, that our freedom, justice, equality, etc. are far from absolute, and that the good life is compounded of half measures, compromises, lesser evils, and gropings toward the perfect. The rejection of approximations and the insistence on absolutes are the manifestation of a nihilism that loathes freedom, tolerance, and equity.

–Eric Hoffer, The Temper of Our Time (1967)

Eric Hoffer died in 1983, before some of the current GOP members in our House of Representatives were even born. But he knew of them already. He knew the type, those people who refuse all compromises and accept only absolutism and control. Those people who would rather burn down the whole shooting match unless all their demands are met.

Those kinds of folks are in every time and place.

Freaking Nihilists.

Fortunately, they seldom coalesce and gain power. And when they do, their reign seldom lasts long unless they transfer their power to a system that totally discards all democratic norms to become an authoritarian regime. In a democratic system, once the Freaking Nihilists take control, they can no longer hide their total lack of knowledge, ideas, policies, or the will to govern. In fact, those are all things for which they hold nothing but total disdain.

Oh, if they somehow take power, they will hold on for a short while, subsisting on a diet of grievance and contrived cultural battles. But after a while people want the boring stability that even an imperfect true democracy offers in its governance.

They want their government to assist them when they have problems, to provide necessary services, to make sure laws and regulations are upheld and that the benefits due to them arrive. They just want the government to work for them. That includes their elected officials, something the Freaking Nihilists oppose on principle.

At that point, when their true aims and lack of expertise become evident, they usually get voted out, leaving nothing but damage behind for the next administration to clean up.

I bet Eric Hoffer, the Longshoreman Philosopher, would be having a field day taking potshots at the current crop of Freaking Nihilists. I have been a fan of his for some time now, having featured him here a few times in blogposts over the years. Hoffer (1902-1983) was a self-taught philosopher/ social commentator/ activist/ thinker with a knack for seeing the tides and patterns that swirl beneath the surface of history. He was a total working-class guy with a natural distrust of bosses and those who wield power over others. My kind of guy.

Like I said, he would have recognized those weasels among us, those Freaking Nihilists. Their corrupted weakness has been around forever. You can’t negotiate with people who believe in nothing but chaos and destruction of norms. And once you allow them into your midst, as the Republican Party did, thinking that you can somehow use and control them, you are forever tied to them. You can’t get rid of them because in doing so they will turn their fire on you. We are seeing that now as the 10% of that party who are Freaking Nihilists wreak havoc in the battle for the Speaker of the House.

I have little doubt that the leaders of the party will give in to their demands. Their own quest for power makes that a likelihood. It might well result in a nightmare for this country and the world because one of the main things these Freaking Nihilists want is to prevent the raising of our debt ceiling and allowing a default on our national debt. This would be beyond terrible, crippling the world economy in a way that would make the worldwide economic problems caused by Covid in 2020 look like the Good Old Days.

It could create pure chaos.

And that is all they desire.

Buckle up, folks. The next couple of years could be a very bumpy ride…

Power corrupts the few, while weakness corrupts the many.  Hatred, malice, rudeness, intolerance and suspicion are the fruits of weakness.

Eric Hoffer, The Ordeal of Courage, 1963

Big Lebowski Nihilists 2This image and the image at the top is, of course, of the German Nihilists from The Big Lebowski. Nihilist #2 was played by Flea, the bassist from the Red Hot Chili Peppers. I am not going to play any RHCP today. Instead, let’s go with something from The Big Lebowski. Here’s Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In) from Kenny Rogers and the First Edition. I think the song and video kind of fits this post pretty well.

But what do I know?

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