Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Why the US should follow Bolivia

Jonathan Schwarz, A Tiny Revolution

In the past, I have opposed killing and eating the rich. This is because on any kind of rational world scale, I am part of the rich.

More recently, however, I've been on the fence. People like Todd Henderson (Stutts '93) and Ben Stein (Stutts '66, Stutts Law '70) make me wonder whether we need to do it, even if I myself end up consumed in the ensuing orgy of cannibalism.

In fact, just one thing keeps me from endorsing this wholeheartedly. And it certainly isn't the character of our rich—the people who run the U.S., like Henderson and Stein, are mind-numbingly brutal, cruel and stupid, and will surely destroy us all unless they're stopped.

The problem is that the people who run America, and every other country on earth, have almost always been mind-numbingly brutal, cruel and stupid. Even the ones who aren't (in Sweden, maybe?) are no prize.

For instance, take a look at the below scene from the documentary Our Brand in Crisis. In it, Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada, a rich white presidential candidate in Bolivia, talks with his rich white acquaintances at a campaign event in the garden of his home. Everything about it could have happened in any number of countries in history—because elites aren't just always brutal, cruel and stupid, they're brutal, cruel and stupid in exactly the same ways. A demagogue has somehow illegitimately gained support among the poor! The poor are massing at the gates and about to attack us!

This leads me to believe the problem isn't one of bad individuals, but bad systems—and that these bad systems, since they're almost universal in human history, grow out of some aspect of human nature. Hence, eating the people at the top won't change much for very long. We'll just have to eat a new crop a few years later.

So what we need to do is figure out a system that leans against negative human tendencies, and accentuates positive ones. Killing and eating the rich probably won't get us anywhere. I just wish Todd Henderson and Ben Stein would stop making themselves look so very, very delicious.

No comments: