Read the whole thing, it’s a very important point to understand. The motive is always power. If casting Rightists as Nazis will help them obtain power, they will do it. If casting them as people who like cats will do likewise, they will do that too. The point is to find a lever which moves you; to find something that that will get under your skin and force you to obey them. Francis references this point in a quote from the book:
‘You are ruling over us for our own good,’ he said feebly. ’You believe that human beings are not fit to govern themselves, and therefore-’
He started and almost cried out. A pang of pain had shot through his body. O’Brien had pushed the lever of the dial up to thirty-five.
‘That was stupid, Winston, stupid!’ he said. ‘You should know better than to say a thing like that.’
He pulled the lever back and continued:
‘Now I will tell you the answer to my question. It is this. The Party seeks power entirely for its own sake. We are not interested in the good of others ; we are interested solely in power. Not wealth or luxury or long life or happiness: only power, pure power.
O’Brien has the virtue of honesty in this scene, at least. But then, he is in a position where the truth will actually serve better than the lie, at least for that one moment. He will lie as readily, if not more so, if the lie will serve his purpose. We are currently in a time when tyrants wish to justify their rule over us in terms of our own good. We are not wise enough, you see, to govern ourselves. More and more functions and decisions must be made by the Party.
But the time will come when the O’Briens of the world will be more truthful about it. It is about power, no more, no less. Trouble is, this will only be admitted when the usefulness of the existing weapon has expired. When saying that we are governed by our supposed betters, for our own good, no longer produces a benefit, the claim will be discarded. By the time this truth is admitted, it will likely be too late to do anything about it.
When SJWs discuss oppressive power systems, they are really lamenting the fact that they have not been able to fully impose such systems of power themselves. If and when they do, the mask will come off readily.
There have, however, been a few radical Leftists who have admitted these things semi-openly when it suited their purposes. Saul Alinsky is a great example. Reading his Rules for Radicals exposes a man for whom causes are merely weapons in the pursuit of power, not articles of genuine belief. Now, true believers do exist, of course. And one difficulty a Rightist has today is separating the true believers from the power seekers. One is to be pitied, perhaps. Not the other.
As Francis points out, however, this pity of the true believer can actually be a weapon, too. Our desire to be nice to such people is used against us by the power seekers behind them. Useful idiots form a sort of ideological human shield to protect tyrants. The practice has a long history in physical warfare. Place innocents in a target likely to be bombed, and then accuse your enemy of killing civilians. This helps a tyrant gain a moral high ground position in the eyes of the mass media. We should not be surprised that in politics, a similar tactic is used.
But it is important to understand who you are dealing with, regardless. A deceiver, or the deceived? Some folks may have noticed the arrival of new Leftist detractor in the comments section of The Declination, and might be wondering why I am permitting him to air his inconsistent spew. They come from time-to-time of course. And I continue to maintain that if you do not have enemies, you’re doing something terribly wrong. But it is interesting practice in spotting the difference between the deceiver and the deceived. It is tough to say with certainty yet, but I lean toward the former in his case.
The difference is in directing your own attacks. Don’t waste time on the deceived, that is a mistake. Find and neutralize the deceiver instead. Behind every batch of gender-confused, rainbow haired crazies ranting about the oppressiveness of eating Chinese takeout is an Alinsky-like figure (or perhaps more than one) using such idiots for his own personal gain.
I don’t even have much commentary for you. Just go read the article and watch the video contained therein. This SJW delivers a terrible, B-movie hate crime performance trying to make out a bunch of store clerks to be racist scum because, God forbid, an item somewhere in the store has a Confederate flag on it.
Folks, we’ve gone beyond mere doublethink into the Twilight Zone of Social Justice insanity. There is nothing too stupid, too bereft of meaning, to become an SJW headline. It’s getting to the point that a random chat bot could compose headlines that made more objective sense. Turing’s test must now be applied in reverse: when does a human being become so stupid as to approximate an AOL chat bot?
For our first example, I present Exhibit A:
There is narcissism, there is solipsism, and then there’s whatever the hell this is. The ability of SJWs to coin irrelevant, bizarre jargon for their nigh-incomprehensible word salad is impressive, in its own way. Although, this headline begs the question: did this woman swear an oath to lie only with herself?
I can only presume that this woman conducted a sort of false ceremony in an effort to convince others that she was happy with her miserable life. More attention-seeking devices from the same species that invented the selfie stick and duckface, because damnit, it all has to be about me. Why go through all this effort to convince others of your satisfaction in your choice to remain single? If Social Justice remains true to form, we will soon be told that “sologamy” is morally superior to mere monogamy, because all sex is rape, or all men are evil (#YesAllMen). But hey, it’s all about equal rights for women, right?
Let’s move along to Exhibit B:
Affinity Magazine is one of the few SJW rags to approach Gawker levels of Social Justice virtue signalling. I actually skimmed this pile of drivel, and I feel dumber for having read it. One quote stood out as especially idiotic:
The surplus of women seeking higher education at universities has created less power for women in relationships they develop. This has caused women to compromise their Christian values and have sex in order to attract and keep a male partner. Women have to compete with one another for a male’s attention. Because of the ratio, women are both pressured into being promiscuous and being slut-shamed by the Christian influenced American society.
Here we see the SJW ranting about the “surplus of women seeking higher education.” Presumably, she is bothered by the fact that more women than men are attending and graduating colleges these days? I thought education was all about empowering women? Make up your damned mind, please. Now, she explains, colleges are promiscuous because they are not Christian enough? And this is, somehow, Christianity’s fault because America is mostly Christian.
Even a superficial reading of the article is sufficient to expose the author as a drooling idiot.
On to Exhibit C:
Family is a concept Marxism has been at war with for a very long time. A strong nuclear family tends to resistance collectivization because of the simple truth that a parent generally wants the best for his children. Bread lines, riots in the streets, and the other sorts of things common in Communist countries just aren’t seen as wonderful and great for the children. Certainly Venezuela’s infant mortality rate didn’t so so well recently.
And so for SJWs, anything to promote the image of families as divisive, oppressing, and outmoded is quite welcome, even when presented in the passive-aggressive form of “how not to hate your husband.” The very premise is ridiculous. You don’t need a guide to tell you not to hate your husband. If you hate him, why are you married in the first place? And why would having a child with someone you love cause you to suddenly do a complete 180 and hate his guts?
Okay, it’s not a news headline. But it is a spectacular example of just how far the Leftist will go in his quest to make everything political. A mother who died 25 years ago is dragged into a political tweet about Trump on Mothers Day. This rationalization is like a final boss in the game of word salad. The pretzel-like intellectual hoops Joss must jump through to associate his dead mother with Donald Trump are truly staggering to observe.
What is this? What is he even trying to say? Is he saying he’s glad his mother is dead, because if she were alive, Donald Trump’s existence would somehow ruin her day? Is he saying that, if his mother wasn’t dead, he’d “give her the gift” of death, because Donald Trump is president?
Our final exhibit today exceeds even the idiocy and pettiness of Joss Wheedon:
Yes, my friends, this is true. Trump sometimes eats more ice cream than other people at the dinner table. CNN thinks they are delivering a funny when the reporter says “and CNN got the scoop… literally!” Bad puns aside, the pettiness of talking about dessert choices at the White House is low even for the very same media that fell for the 4chan Russian hotel prostitutes hoax.
When I saw this graphic floating around Social Media, I was convinced it was a photoshop job, just because I couldn’t believe even CNN would stoop quite that low. But I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised, after all the media told us that Trump’s habit of ordering his steak well done was some kind of apocalyptic omen.
Oh, whatever will you do, if you are eating dinner at the White House, and the server brings you one scoop of ice cream, and gives Trump two!
The lengths the media has gone to in order to discredit Trump is unlike anything I’ve ever seen in America. The vitriol, the passive-aggression, attacking him for even the most minor and petty of perceived transgressions against the gods of ice cream scoops has convinced me that this is only one step removed from all-out open warfare. Nothing is off limits. Not even the most minor of things, one’s taste in food, is off the table.
The attack is 24/7, never letting up for even a moment, with the entire media, most of the government, and most of the entertainment industry engaged in constant battle against Trump’s administration.
There is a type of person in this world who will grate on my nerves long before he ever speaks, and will only exacerbate the problem when he does open his mouth. Over time, I’ve come to recognize this almost visceral reaction to some people as a some kind of basic human instinct. Now, I’m not one to speak on my personal feelings very often. Truly, most of the time folks would be understandably bored by such. And if SJWs are lurking about, ready to pounce on admissions of racism/sexism/whatever, you are likely to be disappointed, as most (but not all) of such individuals are actually white guys.
Yeah. Put that in your pipe and smoke it, SJWs.
If I can describe the feeling with a metaphor, it would be like that moment you walk into a car dealership, and the salesmen lurking near entrance are circling, like a pack of vultures waiting to pounce upon hapless, vulnerable prey should it show any sign of fatigue or weakness. They have lemons, and you’re a mark. You get a feeling in the pit of your stomach, your gut telling you that these people are wrong, somehow. That they are not to be trusted, and indeed, their every action much be carefully watched and calculated against.
Over the years, I’ve recognized that some folks engender this automatic response outside of car dealerships. You don’t want to deal with them in any way, but circumstances may be such that you feel the need. Perhaps that are gatekeepers, and you must get through the gate. Or perhaps they control personal fiefs that intrude on yours in some fashion. Whatever. The point is, you have to deal with them.
I’m sure most people have felt this one way or another. What I’m about to explain is why. Many of my readers, often wiser folks than I, may already know this. But for some, this may be new.
The type of person I’m talking about is the one who thinks he is better than you. No, not better in some specific capacity. The pilot may justly say “I’m a better pilot than you.” Sure. I don’t know how to fly, at least not outside of a simulator, anyway. The pilot flies better than I do, because I do not fly at all. Nor am I talking about the person who has a higher IQ, or can bench press more weight, or is a better basketball player. Again, folks in each circumstance can justly say they are better than me at those things. Whatever. The specifics are immaterial here.
I’m talking about the man who thinks he is better than you in general.
The reason this is so insidious, is that every action by such an individual is designed to elevate himself above you in general. Your opinions are irrelevant to him, because he considers himself better in all things. So if you talk to him, the response invariably becomes an exercise in establishing his authority over you. After all, if you are better than another, should you not rule over him? This has been the excuse of tyrants since the dawn of time.
Folks may remember an old troll here named Merkur. And while I don’t want to delve too much into him, since he is no longer here to defend himself, he did demonstrate this sort of air. At one point, he explained that I should read a book called You Are Not So Smart. Now, normally a book recommendation wouldn’t be untoward. But this “recommendation” occurred during a debate in which Merkur was attempting to convince me that I was biased (something I never denied — all humans are biased, I am human, QED), while taking a position of authority on the matter of cognitive biases.
In simple terms, rather than address the central point of my arguments about Islam and Weaponized Empathy, he would nitpick minor points, then accuse me of being biased, more biased, in fact, than him. Then he chose to recommend said book. Do you see it? His implication was I am smarter than you. Not “I know more about psychology than you” which I would have likely accepted. Not even “I know more about specific cognitive biases than you,” which again would have specificity and plausibility. It’s not my field of education, for sure.
The implication was you are biased, I am smarter than you, therefore I can disregard your conclusions. It’s a slippery form of Ad Hominem, because it distracts from the original conclusions. At that point, we were no longer talking about Weaponized Empathy, or the role of Islam in terror attacks. We were, instead, talking about how biased one Dystopic was (hint: I’m sure I’m pretty damned biased – whether I’m wrong, however, is a different matter altogether).
Of course, when pressed, Merkur denied this. He just wanted to educate me about specific cognitive biases, you see. It wasn’t a personal attack. He just happened to do this in a thread about Islam, and it just happened to derail the original topic, and he just happened to avoid the original point, except to call attention to minor nitpicks.
Folks may wonder why I brought up Merkur again, since he has kept to his word and not returned. The reason is that I encountered the same behavior from Tom Nichols today. He posted a link to the following article: Working-class whites can’t handle their status as ‘the new minority’. The article is full of some rather pointed dreck about Trump supporters, blue collar white folks, and racism. Nothing we haven’t seen before from a dozen other outlets since Trump became a political force.
Now, Tom has spent a lot of time since beginning the writing and promoting of his book The Death of Expertise: The Campaign Against Established Knowledge and Why it Matters more or less insulting common folks. In our last Twitter flame war, he indicated that most Americans shouldn’t be informed by the government about the non-classified details surrounding terrorist attacks, even after the fact, because he thought most Americans were too stupid to read maps.
He then compared trust in the alphabet agencies to trusting pilots who fly airliners. Why, he thought, if people trust airline pilots do they not trust government intelligence agencies? This was evidence that the common man was an idiot. The fallacy in this line of thinking should be pretty obvious to most of my readers. It is rather easy for a man to know whether or not airline pilots are generally reliable. Despite big crashes hitting the airwaves, from time-to-time, you are generally safer in an airliner, than in your own car. The general reliability of airline pilots is data that is readily available to us. Not so much with the alphabet agencies. Indeed, we catch them in egregious lies and screw ups with frightening regularity. Consequences from their geopolitical screw ups can certainly dwarf a mere airline accident.
But my beef with Tom wasn’t just over this issue. It’s an issue that folks might reasonably sit down and chat about, because God knows there are some dumb voters out there (just look at all this Antifa business right now). What bothered me was the original tweet to him was respectful and reasoned, and his response was basically you and everyone like you is stupid, and I’m smart! This is a variation of I’m better than you. No, not “I’m more educated than most on foreign policy matters”. It was I’m better than a sizable fraction of America.
At the time, this attitude was mildly irritating, but I ignored it. We got into it again, and then again today. Now, today, I was definitely not respectful and gracious to him. My patience with him has worn thin. I was downright hostile, and that came through well enough in my tweet to him. I was fully expecting another I’m smarter than everybody else tactic from him. What I got was arguably worse. Instead, he accused me of not reading the article I was responding to, or even knowing who the author was.
This is about as dishonest and cowardly a tactic as a man might use. On the internet, his statement was unfalsifiable. There was no way I could prove to him that his statement was wrong. But we also both knew it was a total lie, invented for precisely this purpose. He debates exactly like a Progressive would. This I recognized immediately as an Ad Hominem, similar to what Merkur did, but without the modicum of decency that Merkur at least attempted to display. He didn’t want to talk about the article in question, he wanted to shift the argument away from it. And meanwhile, he chose to use an exceptionally ridiculous version of I’m better than you. The implication being that other people don’t read articles, or understand them, and so he doesn’t have to defend his posting of this drivel on his own Twitter feed.
Then, when challenged on that, he explained that it wasn’t an Ad Hominem, because he was just innocently trying to teach me about the importance of reading articles. Cue a back and forth discussion with some of his followers about the definition of Ad Hominem, and why I should have posted links to the definition in my reply to Tom (does anybody on Twitter even do that?).
Yeah, pull the other one.
This is a form of passive-aggressive behavior, hidden behind airs of self-righteousness and some kind of superiority complex. Tom is invested in himself as the smartest guy in the room, but his argument essentially boils down to I’m smarter than everybody else, so I’m automatically right. No defense of his positions are necessary, unless you prove yourself worthy (and nobody is worthy, unless they agree with him).
And what I’ve come to realize, is that these individuals produce a natural desire in most humans to punch the smug asshole in the face. Perhaps this is nature’s way of informing the individual that, like Merkur’s book recommendation, You Are Not So Smart. A punch in the face can do that well enough sometimes. Maybe the book is good (and I may very well read it – I am morbidly curious), but cold, hard reality is often better. God knows it’s happened to me more than once.
That feeling you get in the pit of your stomach when these folks are around? That’s your body saying “this guy is an ass, and it might be better if you just punched him in the face, but if that isn’t an option for whatever, well just be careful.” After all, he could be a salesman trying to sell you a lemon, or Tom Nichols trying to establish himself as the wisest technocrat in the universe. As far as we have come from the elementary playground, the argument still essentially boils down to the same thing a pair of first graders might say to one another: I’m better than you! Neener Neener!
Socrates would know him for the fool.
As an aside, I’d really like to see a debate between Nicholas Taleb and Tom Nichols. For Taleb has warned us repeatedly about intellectual idiocy, and Tom is a proponent of why the intellectuals must be trusted. The two positions are diametrically opposed. Of course, there might be a worldwide shortage of popcorn should such an event come to pass.
In the meantime, Merkur might say it’s bias, and he’s really not wrong, but sometimes, biased or not, your gut knows exactly what kind of person you’re dealing with. God, and countless generations of natural selection, have granted us a finely-honed sense for people who are trying to bullshit us. Often times, it’s worth listening to.
Here’s another blatant case of Weaponized Empathy:
Keith brings up the case of Fatemeh, an infant who needed open heart surgery. Like most cases of Weaponized Empathy, the story is a sad one, and it plays on the heartstrings. To be fair, the circumstance surrounding the case, if Keith’s presentation of the facts is true, does sound like something that might be accounted an exception to the rule, at least as long as the parents and the child had no intention of staying in the country after the surgery was performed. Supposedly, their sole reason for coming was to obtain the surgery, which was being paid for entirely by the family, and then they would return home.
But notice where Keith goes with it at the end. He ties this in to the “60,000 others” denied entry into the United States as a result of the ban. Here’s where it diverts from being a sad story, and a victim of happenstance, to its ultimate weaponized form.
Lift the ban, he is telling you, or else you want more little babies to die. Where, of course, this sympathy for babies is when they discuss late-term abortions, I cannot say. But instead of arguing for occasional exceptions to the ban for very specific business, in this case open heart surgery, he argues for admitting everybody.
Do you see the fallacy here?
And then he makes sure we know that it’s a travesty, and that it’s our fault, and being done in our name, because we voted for Donald Trump.
This is a classic bait-and-switch. We are sold on poor babies who need heart surgery. What we get, upon doing what they ask, is something entirely different. Observe:
The fascinating statistic from this little infographic can be found on the lower right hand corner. Note the overabundance of men. And note, also, that many children are actually military age menclaiming to be children. So depending on whether or not the statistics account for that, the percentage of children may be even lower.
We are sold on poor children and families escaping a war-torn country. We get the bait-and-switch: here’s your invasion force of military-age men, some of whom may have even been participants in the conflict. You’re importing a war, not saving children.
Weaponized Empathy in the form that Keith Olbermann is employing is nothing more than an amateur sales tactic seen frequently at used car dealerships. Don’t fall for it.
Rant warning. This is going to be bad. You’ve been warned.
You know, I see a lot of stupid shit on the Internet. I consider it a service to scour the bottom of the intellectual barrel in search of prime examples of Social Justice idiocy. And so I have a relatively high tolerance for stupidity, borne out of necessity. But there are times even I recoil from the eldritch horrors I find in the festering, wretched hives of Social Justice.
Reality is racist. Seriously. That’s the argument this captain of idiocy is spewing from her mouth-hole. I’ve taken dumps from which more intellectual truths could be divined.
Yes, the horror from the elder days of Marxist assholery has manifested anew in the form of Miss (I’m sure she’s not a Mrs., who the hell would put a ring on a finger attached to a creature this stupid?) Emily Crockett, Social Justice Warrior and minion of the land of Vox.com. Let’s fisk this sewage and learn what we may.
“Warning: Pokémon Go is a death sentence if you’re a black man,” Omari Akil argued in an essay at Medium over the weekend.
You know, I’m not exactly a fan of this Pokemon Go shit. I’ve seen full grown men (at least in body, anyway) wandering around like drooling idiots from a B-rate zombie movie, looking for Pikachu, or whatever. “Braaaaaaaains.” No, no brains to be found here, I’m afraid. But to call it a death sentence for black men? What do you even say to that sort of stupidity? Do black men spontaneously combust upon loading the app onto their phones? I found Jigglypuff! *BLAM*.
It’s an idiocy that has exceeded the dumbassery of lesser beings. It is the sort of intellectual diarrhea that could only be spawned from the mind of someone who thinks themselves educated and enlightened, for no lesser form of ignorance is sufficient to produce it. No, the sky isn’t blue, says the intellectual. Because blue is racist, since cops wear blue sometimes. If my ass had an ass, and that ass expelled a load of fecal matter which, itself, was able to take a dump, only then would you reach the level of mental sewage this creature has, somehow, managed to expel from her mouth, distill into typed form, and display on the Internet.
Does she take pictures of her turds swirling in the bowl too, I wonder? And does Vox.com post that, also? It would be a step up from this.
It’s a startling, even extreme-sounding claim. How could a virally popular smartphone game featuring adorable Japanese cartoon characters possibly endanger the lives of black men?
It doesn’t, at least no more so than it endangers the lives of other idiots wandering around like drunken zombies looking for Jigglypuff in between the legs of an Atlanta stripper at 2 in the morning.
But Akil’s explanation makes a lot of sense, and it is incredibly sobering. Akil says he rushed to download the game and try it out but quickly realized that its “augmented reality” interface also replicates the systemic racial inequalities of our regular, un-augmented reality:
Yes. I want you, dear reader, to let this one sink in. Pardon the shit analogies, both literally and figuratively, but I know of nothing more appropriate for this bile. This is a special sort of turd, the sort that, despite its foulness, and the gut-wrenching pain that led to its expulsion, must be grudgingly admired for its level of fecal perfection. What disgustingly unhealthy excuse for nourishment produced it? How, indeed, did something so flawlessly vile and nasty come out of a human being? What birthing pains were labored in its creation?
How, indeed, can any human being come to the conclusion that reality itself is racist? Let it sink in. Admire the perfect idiocy of this thing. Take it in. And then wonder how this human being can manage to put on pants in the morning, much less tie her own shoes.
Akil’s logic is simple: Black men are stopped more often by police for unusual or suspicious behavior. More police stops means a greater risk of violent interactions, and black men are disproportionately killed by police. Pokémon Go causes people to do unusual things in public spaces. Therefore, Pokémon Go poses a real risk to black men in America.
Why, I’m sure that police will be mortified to see an idiot staring into his cellphone, looking at stupid shit. Indeed, this could not possibly have ever happened before someone dumped this game onto the market, right?
Anyway, what does this tentacled, eldritch vagina want to do about it? If you’re black, no Pokemon for you?
A lot of people are making jokes about how the National Security Agency probably created Pokémon Go as a spy tool. Others are genuinely concerned about the potential ramifications for privacy and civil liberties:
Well, privacy concerns have some legitimacy here. I don’t want to install this crap on my phone either. But what the hell does this have to do with her premise that reality is racist, therefore no Pokemon for black people?
Another Pokémon Go user had a story about police and racial profiling in a viral post on Imgur. He said he’s a white man in his 40s who started bonding over Pokémon Go in a public park with two young black men — and was promptly questioned by police who thought they might be conducting a drug deal.
It ended happily, with the cop downloading the app himself. But it’s unsettling to think about how easily it could have gone the other way.
So an unconfirmed personal account of a police officer questioning people, who then decides to be interested in the game. THE TERROR. THE HORROR! JIM CROW! SLAVERY! POLICE BRUTALITY! How in the hell do these sorts of people manage to go anywhere, or do anything? Does Emily Crockett shiver in her boots when a policeman says “good morning”? Does she quake with fear if somebody talks to a black person in the park? Does tying her shoelaces fill her with dread and fears of racist oppression? Why, the shoelaces might be white!
But I suppose this is par for the course from people who consider “nice dress” to be rape, or who think that carting mattresses around campus, upon which you later decide to do a porn shoot, is somehow showing the eeeeevil patriarchy what’s what.
The level of stupidity these people call upon goes beyond the merely slow, or uneducated. It is a special brand of willful, knowing ignorance. And in the normal course of human affairs, this might be called a contradiction. A paradox of stupidity, as it were. And yet, there it is, before our very eyes, crawling up from the deep crevices of Karl Marx’s anus. Pokemon is racist. Reality is racist. Everything is racism, sexism, and homophobia. All of creation, the universe, and space-time itself has turned against black people. And for proof, we are supplied with a personal account of a cop asking about a crappy game from a couple of guys in the park.
I’ve seen more convincing fake-outs and exaggerations in soccer games.
I am reminded of the idiot who said calling a singularity a “black hole” is evidence of systemic racism in the academic community. Say what? No, the only singularity here is the hole inside your skull, which has sucked all possible intelligence into a parallel universe, and left nothing in its wake.
I took a breath this morning. Racist. My friend has a black car. Racist. Somebody right now is trying to find Pikachu in his toilet, and only succeeded in finding the floating relatives of one Miss Emily Crockett. Social Justice is an example of what one man termed a “Shit Midas”, a being which turns whatever it touches into excrement.
Miss Emily Crocket, congratulations on your achievement as Idiot of the Week, and Official Shit Midas of Vox.com. I proudly present to you four Golden Turds in recognition of this supreme achievement of cosmic stupidity.
I'm a DJ, developer, amateur historian, would-be pundit, and general pain in the ass. I still cannot decide on the wisdom of the Oxford Comma. These are my observations on a civilization in decline, a political system on the verge of collapse, and a people asleep at the wheel as the car turns toward the jersey barrier.