Sunday, November 02, 2008

Monks and Knaves

Election 2008 is important like every piece of history is, because the next piece is built on the last.

This one will be important for a major reason: it divided the monks from the knaves.

Imagine a small medieval valley with a small town in it -- maybe 2,000 people.

In this town, the movers and shakers are two groups: monks and knaves.


  • Monks

    Monks have seen enough of life to realize that nothing in itself is all that important -- it's how you put material to use, and the resulting life you can lead, that matters, not whether you like it or not or whether it's all that exciting.

    Monks are serious but playful, have a firm grip on reality, and work hard to produce results that others had not seen the value in. Monks work in scholarship, defense, religion and trade.


  • Knaves

    Knaves are newer to life and want to enjoy life. They are more interested in comparing the shiny new things they own, talking about how much fun they had at the pub, and getting ahead in status with their friend group.

    They know they will always be knaves or something like it, so they have social advancement to fall back on, and as a result they spend their time on entertainment. Knaves are ironic but not playful -- it endangers social standing to be too flippant.

    They don't care much about reality because it doesn't impact their social standing, and work when compelled, but spend most of their time enjoying life. Knaves work as advertisers, marketers, salespeople, writers and artists.



In the same way, America is divided. We have public leaders, but these are often more like figureheads.

However, in every community, there are leaders who are distinguished by actually getting things done, or using their powers to change situations into better ones. These people are CEOs, small business owners, religious leaders, scholars and military personnel. They lead by the principle of doing what others cannot: focusing on the reality of a situation and doing what is necessary to make it better.

Around them there are the opinion workers and support staff. These people create nothing but fulfill roles necessary for things to happen; however, they have never held leadership positions and know nothing about it. They are paralegals, administrative assistants, salespeople, tech support reps, waiters, journalists, art directors and frequently have artistic projects in the evening.

The first group get a lot of scorn. When something is going wrong, like the economy falling apart, they get blamed. Why? They are the sitting leaders. Even more, we like to make fun of them because they're so boring, with their monkish devotion to work and physical outcome. They don't care what we intended, or what our feelings were. They're all about the bottom line. Heartless, cold, soulless abandonment!

The second group, among themselves and the people who sell them products, get almost no scorn. They're progressive: finding new ways to be society. They're creative, ironic and unique. They're hip and in touch with the new, and they're very socially advanced and know trendy phrases and media memes. Anyone else in comparison looks old, boring, slavish. On the other hand, while these people pursue their knavish desire for personal pleasure, they tend to be useless when disaster arises and frequently waste their income on trivial pleasures and then need subsidies from the rest.

The division between these two groups -- both servants of society, although the monks take on a leadership role -- is apparent. The first wants a political system that works. The second wants a political system that mimicks their social system, because that will make them feel empowered. The two needs are incompatible.

With election 2008, we're seeing a fundamental truth of reality: more than by race, people vote by demographic. If they're knaves, they vote for a knave -- a candidate who promises entitlement, makes bad florid speeches filled with uplifting imagery, and suggests he will keep the peace so socialization can continue. If they're monks, they want someone with a proven track record, even if boring and uncreative, because they know that life itself doesn't care what our intentions or emotions were -- it responds to cold, hard logic.

Unfortunately for the monks, they're outnumbered by the knaves. And so the monks are now looking at ways to disenfranchise those knaves, because otherwise we will be stuck in the cycle of the last four elections -- progressive wonderboy who makes promises he cannot fulfill, versus a hard working ugly-truth-facer who will fix problems but get blamed for the economic cycles he inherits from his wonderboy predecessor -- until the nation collapses.

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