Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Happy New Year!

I've long had a problem with those misguided souls who go on about the world's "overpopulation problem." Mostly, this is a not-so-subtle way of saying that poor people really should stop breeding. Even more misanthropic critics will say, behind closed doors, after a few drinks, that AIDS will sort things out in Africa. Most would cringe at this sentiment, and rightly so, but they would likely not have a solution beyond a mixture of more education and/or liberalization of the Third World. If only we could teach them to become like us!

Unfortunately, the reality on the ground doesn't support this general assumption. In fact, if anything, the reality on the ground exposes the outright flaws both in the assumption and the perspective that came up with it in the first place. First, the assumption that everybody should be like us; and second, the self-perception that our way of life is the prize everybody's eyes should be on.

The fact is, the American dream isn't even a nightmare. No, there's too much that is tangible to it even to sustain that particular metaphor. It is, rather, a bordello fantasy straight out of Ben Franklin's Parisian nightlife. Ah, but here's the thing -- we're convinced that a) the role-play is real, and that the jizz jar bent before us / rancid piece of pulled pork dangling over us really speak in love when they say, "You fuck me better than the rest," and b) that those pox marks on our genitals will heal themselves (and if not, why not, spread the love!). Our national myth of prosperity is a role-play that never stops. We will, we're assured, figure out ways for it to continue -- be it, blindfolds, Viagra, novelty costumes, clowns, ponies and and rubber balls. Oh, and yes, extending the invitation that others can play along!

So, we present the Third World with the Third Way, an illusion of our own illusion, that is, the means to consume as much as we do, if they but embrace democracy and its open markets, and then snicker mightily at the tragedy that the Earth cannot even sustain our own present levels of consumption. To embrace our illusion, and even to openly propogate it, is one thing; but to believe in it is another thing entirely. Such is the damnable offense of religion and marriage and education and liberalism, etc.

So, you're right, Jared Diamond. No, the problem isn't them. The problem isn't the real sex and overpopulation of others -- as patriarchal and problematic as their sex often is. The problem is our wet dream turned real: an erection that never stops at an orgy that never ends. The American way of life, at its finest.