The emperor is still naked



I still remember when we learned about crises of overproduction in history class, all the way back in middle school. The very notion of dumping entire shiploads of oranges into the sea rather than giving them away made no sense to me: what was the real point after all, making a profit or feeding the hungry? But my teachers didn't see a problem with it. Even though it went against Communist principles. Go figure.

Another lesson I distinctly remember was about the boom-and-bust cycle that defines the world's economy, and how the oscillations keep amplifying. Even to my young mind, it seemed obvious that sooner or later those oscillations would grow bigger than the economy could handle, leading to global collapse. But my teachers seemed to assume the economy would just keep growing enough to absorb every new shock. Well, guess what.

Mine is the generation of that kid from the fairy tale who shouts that the emperor is naked. Years have passed; we're now adults, the emperor is still naked, and we can't unsee it. Yet the adults from back then, who are now old, still pretend nothing is amiss, even as the world crumbles around their ears. After all, theirs is the generation that would literally rather die than lose face. Nor will they stop clinging to power, even as their incompetence is increasingly obvious.

By now, the pretense has become so normalized that the naked emperor can afford to drop it for the most part and make rude gestures at everyone with impunity: people will simply refuse to show any reaction. Even though it's increasingly in-their-face.

At which point does cowardice stop making any sort of sense and slide all the way into lunacy?


Tags: politics, society