BP & Obama As Morlocks And Eloi

Instapundit and Althouse pick up the ‘smart kids working with their hands stories'; spinoffs of the trend that ‘Shop Class As Soulcraft‘ talks about.

Being me, I think there’s something deeper there. I’m watching both the emerging history of the BP disaster and Obama’s reaction to it with a kind of sick feeling. Thinking about it I realize that this situation – the disastrous performance by a major corporation and the equally disastrous performance by a politician neatly sums up a lot of what I think is wrong with our country and begins to align my compass on what we have to do better – something that makes these degreed artisans a hopeful sign..

It’s the simple matter of the growing disconnect between talking about stuff and actually doing stuff. Note that it’s not just ‘talking’ and ‘doing'; the greatness of the post-Enlightenment West is largely attributed to ‘talking about stuff’ effectively – which let us organize larger and larger groups of people to do bigger and bigger things, and also let smaller and smaller groups do cooler and cooler things. But that effectiveness – that ability to tie words to actions and to the stuff acted on – has seemed to be eroding lately.

We’re becoming a kind of cargo cult nation, swept up in the amazing power of words and brands and theoretical icons, and forgetting that at some level, in some place, those have to take root in the world where you can’t talk your way out of problems, and where people with dirty hands have to actually move the stuff of the world.

We’re becoming Eloi and Morlocks, and as the Eloi become more and more powerful, either the Morlocks get shoved aside, or they, themselves give up and try to live in the world of ethereal things where a well-turned phrase is more valuable than the basic engineering skill needed to drill a hole.

Because, at root, we’re somehow forgetting that the basis of our lives is at some level to drill holes in things (and shape things and make things); we’ve been seduced by the power of making things out of words (software) and forgotten how important the ‘stuff’ of our lives really is. I think there’s a discipline there that keeps all the other things in check (the discipline of stuff) and one of the things that happens to the very rich and very powerful is they get shielded from it to a large extent. Maybe that’s why Lady Di didn’t think it was necessary to wear a seatbelt; when you’ve spent your hole life surrounded by people who bend stuff into whatever you want, the fundamental realities get pretty hazy.

As a nation, we’ve let them get pretty hazy. We made crap cars, and destroyed our industrial base. Now it looks like we’ve drilled a crap well – and had crap plans to deal with the inevitable disasters. Maybe in a generation, when we have smart kids who have become mature artisans again, we can recover.
-

6 thoughts on “BP & Obama As Morlocks And Eloi”

  1. Oh, I’ve figured we we’ve been headed for a dark age ever since the 70’s. The schools suck, the universities perhaps more so, and once folks forget how to do real stuff, or even that real stuff matters, we are stuffed. The barbarian invasions of the Left have been taking their toll for several decades.

    Will it get better? It will be a long hard journey. If it takes tools to make tools, and computers to design computers, it also takes good teachers to produce good teachers, and I don’t see that. There is a whole line of dependencies that need to be built up, one by one, and we are starting way down the line. And the heart of fly-over country strikes me as a bit dispirited, as if some motivating idea has blown away on the winds.

  2. We’re becoming a kind of cargo cult nation, swept up in the amazing power of words and brands and theoretical icons, and forgetting that at some level, in some place, those have to take root in the world where you can’t talk your way out of problems, and where people with dirty hands have to actually move the stuff of the world.

    Are we? Granted, anyone who watched Barack Obama tonight can have no doubt that he lives in that world, but outside of his dwindling crew of Pretorians (who must have a Caesar, any Caesar) I see stony skepticism everywhere, even on the left. And his amazing words have been reduced to a string of cliches that don’t even sound like sincere cliches. I’ll never be able to hear someone say “addiction to oil” again without laughing.

    So what is this “we” stuff? Have you seen the polls that show people still want BP to handle the cleanup, and not Obama’s hand-picked team that he put together on “day one”?

    No offense, my friend, but I think you’re being a little slow to wake up and smell the coffee here. It’s freaking Farmer’s Brothers, and it tastes like the Gulf of Mexico.

  3. _Being me, I think there’s something deeper there. I’m watching both the emerging history of the BP disaster and Obama’s reaction to it with a kind of sick feeling._

    The important thing to realize, I think, is that these are symptoms, not causes.

    I used to believe a government hostile to business was the worst thing possible. I was entirely wrong. A government friendly and helpful to business is a thousand times more dangerous.

    BP allowed this to happen because the government allowed BP to allow it to happen, despite reams of regulation and inspection. And ultimately we allowed the government to get cozy with BP making the regulation regime less than worthless- indeed, complicit. THAT should be the scandal we are concerned with.

    Now, as a solution, Obama is pushing the Cap N Tax that BP helped write. See how nicely things come together?

  4. I’m leaning toward toc3 here. But this was bang on, Marc:

    bq. “We’re becoming a kind of cargo cult nation, swept up in the amazing power of words and brands and theoretical icons, and forgetting that at some level, in some place, those have to take root in the world where you can’t talk your way out of problems, and where people with dirty hands have to actually move the stuff of the world.”

    Bingo. And this is so on so many different levels, and in so many areas.

    The world is quick to remind such societies. Often, but not always, fatally.

  5. Actually, it is much worse. The Right has grown as mindless as the Left. The nation has become divided into two classes, the cry babies and the crooks and unfortunately there is moral equivalence here.

    We live in this mishmash of a Nobody can tell me what to do attitude from both left and right, Bleeding heart Liberalism, Neo-Con world domination fantasies Parties devoid of Philosophies and overflowing with agendas, shameless corporatism that, in in some cases borders on traitorous behavior, an ignorance of what makes us Americans, (Do they even bother to teach Civics in High School anymore.)

    We are watching an embracing of anarchy from all sides of the political spectrum.

    *Things fall Apart, the center cannot hold…

    It is long past the era of fixing blame.*

    We are all equally guilty

    *and everywhere
    The ceremony of innocence is drowned*

    It is long past the era of Politics

    *The best lack all conviction, while the worst*

    *Are full of passionate intensity.*

    Is there a politician you respect? I can’t think of one. It seems to me that they are all cut from the same cloth, all serve the same master, their vanity. None seem to give any thought to the talking points they spew, in lieu of deeply held beliefs.

    I have never seen the country in worse shape. The last 10 years has shown a terrible deterioration in normative behavior from all sides.

  6. I agree, Mark. Have you heard coherent statement of political purpose from a politician of any stripe since 1994.

    Clinton would say anything or sell his mother for a vote. The Bush Cheney years we will pay for for decades. I have no idea of what is going on now, the political landscape looks like wonderland now with one Mad Hatter after another popping up as party nominees.

    The Republican Party has rolled over in the face of the Tea Partiers and the doors of the Treaury have been flung wide open for nearly 2 years.

    No one seems top want to take responsibility for anything. This is not a malaise, it is a madness that has settled over the populous.

    Yeats had it nailed.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>