Recreating (and advancing) pk’s censored domains: Macroinformation.org & Knatz.com / Teaching / Society / NoHier / Politics /
“Pick a card, any card.”
When civilized man is offered a choice, how much choice does he really have? It’s true that I can vote Democrat or Republican, but how can I get nature back? Sometimes I can even vote Libertarian, Independent, the Purple Party … But how can I reforest the land? unpollute the air, the water? restore the coral reefs?
How much of the idea of choice is mere fraud?
The monte dealer shows you three cards, a queen and two others. Now, find the queen. Hard to do when the queen goes up the dealer’s sleeve the moment your money is down.
Illich pointed out that it hardly matters that you can buy either Chevy or Ford if civilization has made walking impractical, dangerous, illegal. Once the highway separates me from the river, why should I care whether my jeans identify me as the property of Calvin Klein or of Guess? Neither the Chevy nor the Ford will take me where I want to go, how I want to go: to the river: to fish, to swim, to bathe, to wash; not along the river, with the AC on, “sightseeing.”
In the ’60s, then the ’70s, the choice should have been “should we be dropping napalm on the Vietnamese people or not?” But the monte dealers palmed the real choice, substituted a false one: should we stop napalming the Vietnamese people by election time 1970 or by election time 1972? Or should we send more diplomats to waste more time and money in Paris?
America is founded in the belief that people should have a choice. I certainly agree: within limits: I don’t know how to choose to breath deliberately like a whale instead of automatically like most land creatures. Even if I want to fly I don’t know how to grow wings. Neither would growing them mean that I would then know how to fly: have the right muscles, bone arches … But something else has been slipped in: the idea that choice is a gift from the government, the owners; not a condition of nature, a gift from the Way.
Here’s a harder question: if all choices offered by the government are false choices, masking the real choice that’s already been palmed to us, how honest are the choices offered by nature or by god? Is it really a fair shake that men are stronger in the upper body than women? Is it fair that they bear the children? Is it decent that a human can oppose his thumb while an avian has no thumb?
Any of these points could develop into something important. I’ll return as I can to do justice to the Choice theme: especially the false choice substitution part.