Posted by Curt on 19 February, 2018 at 3:43 pm. 5 comments already!


Are watching what’s left of Western civilization drive itself nuts?

Not just Trump, but a whole cast of strange Washington figures daily appear on TV, saying the most astonishing things.  Even the subject matter of public discourse has gone weird.  Shrillness and hysteria are the order of the day.  Every statement is shouted in capital letters.

Nor is there any harbor to be found in social media, only more paranoia — amplified by Russian trolls admired perhaps by fake rental followers from India.  There is even fake music.  The watchers have been contaminated.  Newsweek has been accused of falsifying their audience traffic.  It is now a case of the fake following the fake.

Gone are the days when public policy concerned itself with sober questions like nuclear strategy, containing Communism or stopping fascism.  Today the world’s giant bureaucracies seem busy hunting down people who leave impolite notes on ambulances or use the wrong gender pronounsBlake Hounsell of Politico, covering the Russia collusion investigation,  cannot shake the feeling that despite its superficial sobriety things “don’t quite add up”, that there is a tint of the outré in everything the dramatis personae do; that he’s watching a farce and not a tragedy.

Flynn pleaded guilty only to lying to the FBI, which Bharara surmised suggests might mean Mueller didn’t have much on him. … Then there is Papadopoulos, the hapless campaign volunteer who drunkenly blabbed to the Australian ambassador to London that the Russians were sitting on loads of hacked emails. He, likewise, confessed only to lying to the FBI. …

anyone who has seen Page’s TV interviews or read through his congressional testimony can tell that there’s something not quite right about him. He’s apparently broke, doesn’t have a lawyer, and has issued lengthy, bizarre statements comparing himself to Martin Luther King, Jr. Back in 2013, when a Russian agent tried to recruit Page, he described him as too much of an “idiot” to bother with. This is the mastermind of the Russia scandal?

Perhaps Hounsell’s mistake is to assume things have to add up.  Suppose nothing makes sense any more and hasn’t in a long time?  The world is off — that’s the story.  That’s what we’re missing.

GK Chesterton once observed that one should never argue with a madman because “it is extremely probable that you will get the worst of it; for in many ways his mind moves all the quicker for not being delayed by the things that go with good judgment.”  Today the world is in interminable dialog not just with one madman but many all arguing together and it is sure to have an effect.

Part of the intent is strategic.  The Russians have known for a long time it is more important to attack the mind than the body. That they have not forgotten this principle was brought home by the recent reports of American diplomats in Cuba hearing things that neither the FBI, the CIA or medical doctors could explain. The New York Times reports:

A group of American diplomats stationed in Havana appear to have symptoms of concussion without ever having received blows to their heads, medical experts have found. …

The incidents occurred in 2016, when 18 of the 21 affected diplomats reported they heard strange sounds in their homes or hotel rooms. The noises were loud and sounded like buzzing or grinding metal, or piercing squeals or humming, the diplomats recalled. … All but one reported immediate symptoms: headache, pain in one ear, loss of hearing. Days or weeks later, other symptoms emerged, including memory problems, an inability to concentrate, mood problems, headaches and fatigue. …

Dr. Douglas H. Smith, director of the Center for Brain Injury and Repair at the University of Pennsylvania, emphasized that there is much more to learn. … “We all believe this is a real syndrome,” Dr. Smith added. “This is concussion without blunt head trauma.”

Dr. Smith forgot to note one key thing about the Cuban syndrome: the concussion was caused by a human agency.  It was intentional.  If so Smith might have related the goings-on in Havana to what Andrew Sullivan was witnessing in campuses all over America. The academy has unaccountably gone mad.  What is worse is the academics think it’s good.  Ironically Sullivan misses the same key fact Dr. Smith does.  The madness on campus did not just happen; it was also caused by a human agency.

Those familiar with the Gramscian March Through the Institutions will realize that at least part of the madness we’re experiencing is part of a long standing campaign orchestrated more through the Ivy League rather than via Carter Page. Yet not all of it.  Part of the recent craziness is wholly new and may have taken even Putin by surprise. Technology has divided us in a fundamentally novel ways. We have not yet learned to deal with it; maybe we never will. The great cities of the West are filled with people staring for hours at their virtual universe bound more to their online friends (some of whom may be fake) than to the physical person next to them.

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