This Ruthless World

Adventures in absurdity

Archive for the category “Myths and Illusions”

Run It Like A Business, Part 2: The Myth Of The For-Profit Democracy

Mikhail Kostin, "In Stalin's Factory" (1949)Part 1

One of the justifications that Trump supporters invariably offer for putting a bunch of business executives in charge of the country is that the US needs to be operated like a for-profit business.  Who wouldn’t like America’s governance to resemble the Trump Organization?  I suppose your average well-to-do Trumper dreams of the days when this whole land will be a Trump golf course, and assumes he’ll be among those who tee off in goofy outfits, and not one of the grossly underpaid, ill-treated staff.

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Run It Like A Business, Part 1: The Myth of Valuable “Business Experience”

Louis Alexandre Eustache Loursay, "Les Incroyables" (1975)My sincerest hope for the eventual aftermath of the Trumpist era is that we can finally put to bed the ludicrous notion that career businessmen make good statesmen for no other reason than  their business experience.

I imagine far-off future students of history chuckling at our era, when a big chunk of the country lost its goddamned mind and came to believe that wealth and self-serving dealing alone were the most desirable traits in a political leader; when people who were knowledgeable about their jobs were scoffed at; when the prior President’s experience in public service was invoked as a slur, as if being an actual public servant is a character flaw that should irreparably disqualify one from the Presidency.

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The Myth Of Parties Of Ideas

Louis-Léopold Boilly, "Les Hommes se disputent" (1818)Trump’s surprising win in 2016 led to a wide proliferation of myths about why the Democrats lost.  As I’ve been saying since Day 1, most of those pithy analyses are ludicrous, and I am glad that at least now, six months in, some professional commentators are waking up to the reality that there is no point in courting the elusive Trump Voter.  Still, many of these myths persist.  Today’s entry into the Trump Era Hot Takes Hall of Fame is the myth of progressives having “no ideas”.

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On Fidel Castro’s Death; Or, When My Fellow Liberals Insist On Losing Credibility

Berlin, Fidel Castro an der Grenze

I was waiting to calm down and process the election before I wrote anything — and then Fidel Castro died.

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Myths and Illusions: The Myth of Warrior Wisdom

800px-0NevrevNV_Oprichniki_BISHI’ve been taking a hiatus from blogging to a large extent because I’m going through one of those times when I’m Disgusted With Everything. You know; it’s an election year.  And so, it is perhaps from that feeling of general disgust that I am going to kiss the third rail of modern American culture, the adulation of the military to the point of assigning its members superior experience in matters that have nothing to do with warfare.

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Myths And Illusions: The Myth of Paracelsus’ Scientific Contributions

A page from "Rosarium Philosophorum", an anonymous 16-century alchemical treatiseI want to begin this post beating up on Philippus Aureolus Theophrastus Bombast von Hohenheim, better known as Paracelsus, with a brief digression. As a student of the Middle Ages and Renaissance during my undergraduate days (as well as an Ancient History buff), I noticed an interesting phenomenon. When we talk about the store of knowledge humanity has acquired over the course of its existence, something is deemed to have been “discovered” only when (1) it’s explicitly attested to in writing (2) by a man (3) who has a name. Knowledge possessed and applied by women, or by illiterate societies, or by anonymous people is deemed to not exist; and women themselves, as well as “natives”, are matter-of-factly treated as passive objects of study, rather than human beings capable of possessing and using information. Thus, you might hear Hippocrates credited with “discovering” the early symptoms of pregnancy – even though midwifery existed as a recognized profession for at least 1,500 years before him, and papyri with instructions on how to calculate gestational age date to about that far back. (Sometimes the credit is given to Imhotep, instead.) Read more…

Myths and Illusions: The Myth of Religion Preventing Violence

Rembrandt, "Moses Smashing the Tablets" (1659)Today’s entry into the pantheon of modern Myths and Illusions: the myth that religion prevents violence and makes people act all nice to each other. Read more…

Myths and Illusions: The Myth of True Genius

Ivan Aivazovsky, "Pushkin's Farewell to Sea" (1877)Today’s entry into the pantheon of modern Myths and Illusions: True Genius.

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