Monday, January 7, 2008

A Few Dumb Brains and a Bunch of Warped Pinkies

"Nothing appears more surprising to those who consider human affairs with a philosophical eye, than the ease with which the many are governed by the few."

David Hume

I don't watch much TV anymore. I think it was a combination of West Wing and Ally McBeal that did me in. What little I do watch tends to be cartoons.

There's a lot of wisdom hidden in cartoons. One archetype that exists in them is what I call the "would-be world conqueror." This is someone like the Brain, from, Pinky and the Brain.

This archetype wouldn't exist unless there was truth to it. The Brain illustrates one of the main sources of evil in the world -- power-mad humans who want who want political power so they can rule. In religion, this lust for power and the and desire to rule is illustrated by the story of Satan.

This combination of love of power and the desire for political power is particularly nasty. These power-mad people are always narcissistic, i.e., they are grandiose people who reduce others to the status of things.

Dr. Sam Vaknin, author of Malignant Self Love: Narcissism Revisited, writes this: "the narcissist's grandiose self-delusions and fantasies of omnipotence and omniscience are exacerbated by real life authority." But those grandiose self-delusions co-exist with a fragile sense of self-worth, often masking deep insecurities. About this Dr. Vaknin writes, "the narcissist's personality is so precariously balanced that he cannot tolerate even a hint of criticism and disagreement."

The above is why someone like the Brain wants to conquer the world -- and why he can't tolerate criticism.

In real life, there have only been a handful of Brains -- Hitler, Stalin, Mao Tse-Tung, Pol Pot. Yet the havoc they have wreaked has been catastrophic. How could such a small amount of people be responsible for such horrors?

Because, as the wisdom of cartoons teaches us, there is another archetype. This one is the "amiable but stupid" helper. This would be Pinky.

In real life Pinky would be Mass Man -- the huge mass of people who go along with what the rulers say, even though they stumble to their deaths. The power-mad warped Brains want to conquer, and the stupid but lovable Pinkys are all too willing them follow them. "We have met the enemy," said Pogo years ago, "and they is us."

Aesop, for one, saw through the folly of the human race thousands of years ago, when he wrote about wolves and sheep in his fables.

Why is Pinky so stupid? One reason might be that the average IQ is 100. The more people who get together, the more the IQ tends toward 100. If Pinky is Mass Man, then he certainly can't be that bright.

I think there is more to the problem, though. Pinky might not be that bright, but why does he almost adore The Brain and follow him everywhere? He actually seems to think The Brain is smarter than he is, and he should listen to what he says, and follow him.

Obviously, there is some sort of desire in people to look up to their leaders and trust them. This is appalling, since the history of the world has shown that most "leaders" turn out to be cartoon Brains.

I suspect this desire in people to look up to their leaders is based on their hope that someone really does know what's going on, and can take care of them and give them security. This sounds more like children looking up to parents than adults standing on their own two feet. Pinky may be an innocent child, but the Brain is not an admirable adult.

Pinky and the Brain points to the fact that societies are always going to be ruled by a very small minority of people. If Pinky is Mass Man, then democracy certainly won't work. I'm not familiar with any first-class thinker in the history of the world who ever supported democracy. The Founding Fathers took a very dim view of it.

Pinky and the Brain also informs us the people that must be watched out for, and always denied political power, are those who want it. Apparently this means those who don't want political power -- those who have no desire to rule over others -- are exactly the kind of people who should rule.

Who needs Ph.D.s in Political Science and Psychology? To get one of the finest educations available, all you have to do is watch cartoons. They entertain and educate. And the lesson they teach us is that ultimately we are responsible for our leaders.

And what cartoons teach us is that every time we look at politicians, we should superimpose a picture of The Brain over them. And every time we start to believe anything a politician says, we should realize it's our Inner Pinky talking to us.

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