The Talking Dog

November 19, 2011, Perspective

What Michael Berube said. Michael, of course, as the Paterno Family Chair holder in English at Penn State, has a unique perspective on the unfolding tragedy.

Perhaps the gravest crisis we as members of a society are now in is the utter collapse of trust in just about everything, particularly because of the integrity-failure of otherwise long-trusted institutions, be they things like faith in the integrity of the commodities/futures industry, now probably forever shattered by loathsome scumbag Jon Corzine and the MF Global fiasco, the breakdown of trust in virtually all other financial and governmental institutions now energizing the "Occupy" movements (around the world), or now, even a breakdown in trust of the most venerated institution in American sport (until this month, that is), Joe Paterno, the winningest football coach in college football history, an icon of academic integrity, and all that is right with American college sport... and, alas, evidently, a facilitator for a serial pederast.

I would quickly juxtapose all of this with some brilliant observations by Charles Hugh Smith on how endless official lies to hide just how bad things economic/financial are... make them worse and inevitably, disastrous, and by Dmitry Orlov, noting similar tricks to keep the game going. Given the predilections of the powerful to "make our own reality"... none of this is terribly surprising anymore.

A lot of this is some fascinating "meta-engineering" going on: we have been "trained" to doubt things of which we should be certain (such as, oh, that tax cuts will decrease government revenue and increase deficits and probably ultimately be bad for everyone not themselves receiving most of the tax cuts, or that industrial civilization has led directly to global warming and climate change with dangerous consequences, or even that cigarette smoking causes cancer), but nonetheless, are trained to believe in nonsense (such as the justness of our nation's military adventures, the virtuousness of our super-rich predator class or that it is sensible to acquire six figures of non-dischargeable educational debt to obtain a managerial class career in a society no longer capable of generating such positions). Still... we had bedrock faith in some things. We did.

Like Joe Paterno, of course. And so, the unbelievably horrible revelations coming out of that direction, coming as they do in a seemingly "revolutionary" moment (my classmate Barack after all promised to be a "change" agent... not necessarily by implementing more draconian policies than his Republican counterparts)... just magnifies the point: there is simply no reason to have blind faith in ANY of the underlying "foundation" institutions underlying our (apparent) social order.

Maybe we'll come out of this with a healthier, more grounded sense of "reality"... based on the sort of demonstrable facts that I, as a lawyer, am obliged to come up with to "prove my point" in a courtroom... maybe, for a change, that's not such a terrible paradigm for everything... "trust but verify"... every belief will be, as it should, in some sense, "provisional"... kind of like "what Michael Berube said"... back when I interviewed him on this blog.

As Candace always reminds me... "hope dies last."