Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Sanity of Madness

Madness is so misunderstood. What appears to be self-destructive, erratic, contradictory, antisocial or even criminal on the surface isn’t always. At a superficial level, madness is, indeed, madness, and this is what you commonly find on an individual level.

However, if untreated, madness grows and condenses; it becomes more and more compressed and internalized until it is a black pellet that embeds itself in the soul. It is then that personal madness transitions into institutional madness in which the insane organize and create corporations and governments and take on all of the characteristics associated with sanity so their madness is barely noticed, and all of their actions, no matter how insane or destructive or antisocial or contradictory or even criminal are treated as normal.

This is the insanity the public is unable to comprehend because it is so nuanced. There are no madmen talking to themselves or standing on a street corner raving and ranting incoherently. Rather institutional madness speaks in measured tones, it justifies itself with policies or with arcane mathematical formulas. It smiles and reassures; it speaks in soaring rhetoric or marshals facts and data and numbers to explain why its madness isn’t madness but is a sublime expression of sanity. The most striking characteristic of institutional madness is that it always claims that either God, destiny, or history is on its side.

It is a madness best understood by CEOs and stoners, both of whom are arrested adolescents. (Though I must admit that the introduction of Viagra could easily upset everything. You see effective corporate and government leadership traditionally gets its nastiness from hormonal displacement. This is a phenomenon in which the erection passes from the pecker to the soul. As a man’s prowess wanes he figures that if he can’t fuck a chick, he’ll fuck a country. However, if he can continue to fuck a chick will he be as eager to fuck a country? The jury’s still out on that one. The only hope is that greed will trump libido and the public will continue to be reamed.)

But, I digress…

What’s appears self destructive on the surface isn’t. For it is only by plumbing the depths of madness that its sanity becomes clear. The mad aren’t mad when the public thinks their sane.

Let me give you an example of this. Boeing is trying its damndest to build a giant cargo plane, the C-17. The planes cost a cool $330 million each and the program has sucked $65 billion out of the public treasury. Congress, in its wisdom, budgeted an additional $2.5 billion for the program that the Pentagon never even asked for. That’s to buy ten more planes the military doesn’t even want. However that means nothing. Boeing wants them. And we know whose pulling the strings in Congress. (The bleeding hearts complain that that $2.5 billion could provide 141,681 children and adults with free health care for a year. Right! They want us to compromise our national security for a healthy public. Won’t happen!)

This money is being thrown at Boeing at a time when the country’s states and municipalities are facing economic hard time. Forty-eight states are facing budget gaps of $180 billion and were forced to cut their 2010 budgets by 28%, and Congress is throwing $2.5 billion at an unwanted white elephant. And let’s not forget that the Pentagon is shelling out $400 a gallon for all the gasoline needed to keep the tires and treads of its Afghan enterprise rolling.

Mad isn’t it? Maybe on the surface it is; but plumb its depths and you find a serene sanity at work. You see, according to Ray Scheppach, executive director of the National Governors Association, the states are in such desperate straits that they may have to sell off their roads and physical plants to private investors.

Can anyone spell S-H-O-C-K D-O-C-T-R-I-N-E? Traditionally we the shock doctrine as a situation in which a gaggle of feral corporatists descend on a country after it has experienced some sort of natural disaster and exploit the shit out of it while its citizens are dazed and confused.

However, here we have a much more sophisticated version of it. Instead of a natural disaster, we have a pair giant vacuums cleaner installed in the Beltway and on Wall Street. For decades these machines have been sucking revenue out of the states while demanding fiscal responsibility and balanced budgets from them, even as Washington plunges itself into a state of indebted penury. Now our corporations face the prospect of being able to pick up state-owned assets for pennies on the dollar. It’s called privatization on steroids.

Yes, it’s madness, but it’s madness that is perfect sanity for our corporatists whose only concern is to beef up the bottom line. Were corporations truly people they would have been institutionalized long ago. But because they aren’t people they are normal because institutions, our leaders assure us, can never go crazy.


  1. well said. it is indeed a world gone mad in which we live.

    thanks for this commentary.

  2. Belaqua,

    My lighter ran out of butane while smoking my way through this post. I find that interesting. It's a sign of times to come... I am quite sure that our once proud, yet now outsorced Boeing will burn through all it's butane (funding) long before they finish cooking thier C-17 brand of meth. Nobody wants bunk dope these days! So puzzling. A few addicts on the Beltway lost thier connections, and now they're just trying to use the empty, giant Boeing warehouses as laboratories for a new batch. They would do better just taking a few Sudafed.


  3. Madness is rare in individuals - but in groups, parties, nations, and ages it is the rule.
    - Friedrich Nietzsche

    America has entered one of its periods of historic madness, but this is the worst I can remember.
    - John Le Carre