The following first appeared in the private email list IVy-subscribers,
which was available to all those who subscribed to the
printed magazine, International Viewpoints.
Please don't read this
by Phil Spickler
2 Dec 00
Due to the overwhelming demands of my listening audience (both of
them), I have consented, against my better judgment, to drop one or two
levels below idiocy (foolishness and stupidity), and in the vibratory
wavelength of this echelon of existence speak on the subject of politics here
in the somewhat-United States of America.
In order to do this, I've had to throw out every vestige of self that
has ever existed and reduce even the little that was left to what might best
be called a fragment of an agon (sp?). (I can only say that a fragment of an
agon is really not very much -- it has the mass of a photon, zero, the speed
of light traveling through steel, and the awareness characteristic that
results from a mixture of lead and granite. Let me apologize at this point
for insulting lead and granite in such a cavalier fashion.)
What follows is not pleasant or true, but with a bit of luck may be
entertaining. I don't think that I would be exaggerating if I say that the
hallmark of "Western" civilization is competition. Competition, per se, has
gotten a bad name, since it is the essence of real games, and as we know and
have observed for ourselves, games are aberrative, even though they are
sometimes, in fact frequently, lots of fun, especially for those poor souls
who seem to win.
Competition is such a strong theme in Western civilization, and as far
as I'm concerned Eastern civilization, that it strongly, if not completely,
influences all of our institutions. Even a modest reading of Charles
Darwin's theories, or a casual look at our systems of education, justice,
sporting events of course, commerce, and politics, as well as the great
"games" that occurred in Roman history, would quickly yield the conclusion
that we operate on "let the best person or group win." And in fact, even a
casual look at the "lower" order of animals from which we have "descended"
will surely reveal, whether it's the AIDS virus or the fine quality of
caribou, who have as their omnipresent predator the wolf, that the best do
indeed survive, earn the right to breed, and thus multiply the best
characteristics of said species or race.
It is a self-evident truth that mankind, in spite of his/her highest
yearnings toward the spiritual, remains, without criticism, a survival
species, and this of course constitutes the underlying and overlying reason
why successful competition is the strongest force in most of our activities.
We sometimes attempt to clothe it in lower tones, in an effort to make it
sound what we've come to call "civilized," but in truth, the bottom line is
Survival of the Fittest.
Yes, yes, it is true, there are many exceptions to such a law, in
which people, for better or for worse, sacrifice that very native urge to win
at all costs, and throw themselves on the exploding hand grenade to save
their friends or give up their fortunes to rescue the world or do all kinds
of things that are contrary to the fundamental laws of survival. We usually
sanctify such people, as well as draping their coffins with very attractive
flags and medals. But in practice, they are not our real heroes and
heroines, and we do not seek to emulate them.
And now to American politics. At this point, we're very, very late on
the chain, and for those of you that understand Dianetics, "late on the
chain" is very solid, very serious, very highly charged, very filled with
drama and dramatics, and most of all, very restimulative, both individually
and collectively, of past competitions in which to lose is to die, or at the
very least be enslaved, tortured, and degraded. So by the time you get to
the year 2000 and a presidential election in which, at the very least,
several billions of dollars have been spent, and the very fervor of the
election has gotten many people into the feeling that there is indeed a great
deal to be won or lost, we now find a country in which the extremists at both
ends of the spectrum would have us believe that the people of this country
have been so completely re-polarized that we have re-achieved the level of
civil war, without guns and bombs but filled with the sense of enemy versus
And so we're in the midst of what outsiders might see as a real game in
which each team (political party) will do anything it takes, up to the last
breath of possibility, to put the president of their choice in the White
House. If we go earlier in just American history (wouldn't want to go as far
back as the assassination of Julius Caesar -- that would take too much charge
out of what's going on now), if we went back just a little way, we would see
that there have been other competitions in our elective history that have
temporarily polarized the country, since politics, like any sport, derives
its living by convincing various people to divide up and attack one another
through the offices of appointed "teams" or political parties.
I'm reminded of soccer, a rather popular sport in England and
elsewhere, and how soccer fans from different countries thrown into the same
stadium become so spirited about kicking a ball around on a field that the
fans try to kill one another in large numbers. Indeed, the countries of El
Salvador and Honduras once went to war over the outcome of a soccer match.
But anyhow, I guess you catch my drift.
Reasonableness has nothing to do with the playing of the game until
after the game is over, and sometimes, with good fortune, the opposing forces
get keyed out enough to remember that we are one another's friends and
neighbors. And so, to one and all, the people of the United States and other
countries, just let it be known that the game that is being played out at
this time between those human beings who are silly enough to call themselves
Republicans and Democrats in order to have a game, a very high-stakes game, a
very expensive game, in which it seems as though the winner *will* take all,
but in fact really won't, that this game will continue until, in one form or
another, its winner and loser are clearly delineated.
Good things may come out of this process, such as better and clearer
rules for play, a better understanding of how to determine who wins and who
loses, and a clearer and cleaner method of determining how to count votes.
Here and there, as we approach the conclusion of this presentation, we
should note that a few people have talked or mentioned the notion of fair
play and the idea of concession to an opponent, or the notion of "Let's be
gentlemen about this, what say?" Well, about that we can say during
Victorian England and some time thereafter, there occurred the notion that it
wasn't so much winning the game as how you played it, and whether you showed
good sportsmanship whether in defeat or in winning. This may have been
noticeable in England, in games like tennis or cricket, possibly even a touch
of rugby, but even England in her larger games was never troubled by such
notions of pan-determininsm, and I don't think, given the imagined stakes of
the current presidential election in the United States, that we should even
in our wildest dreams expect, from contestants who if it weren't for a few
legalistic restraints would be fighting it out with large clubs that had
nails protruding from them, that the combatants would really be good sports
about this thing until it's all over, and perhaps not even then.
One should also take note that when games are very close and it's hard
to say who's going to be the winner, the underdog will fight harder as the
conclusion of the game nears; the team with just a hair separating it from
victory will certainly not concede. In American football, although if a team
is losing by a wide margin it may spend the last few seconds of the game not
really playing, a team that is losing by 1 or 2 points will play fiercely up
to the very last second.
In the meantime, it's quite a game, and whether you're in it at the
level of spectator or fan, or player, or as some folks choose just to enjoy
the whole spectacle as an entertainment, let me close by saying, like most
everything, it's only serious by consideration; and given our tradition of
producing entertainment spectaculars on this planet, let's look forward to
Santa Claus arriving this year in a jet-propelled Mercedes sports utility
vehicle, with not just a grin on his plump face but perhaps even a leer.