Never smile at a crocodile

Me2 pastorcroc

Hard to know where to start on this one, but I shall try: it represents the triumph of delusional self-confidence over the known modus operandi of a carnivorous psychopath.

There is the old line about, “But he was a game guy – he got up and finished fourth”; however, this bloke wasn’t game to anyone except the croc. There are three reasons why the dead Man of God was – let’s not beat about about the bush here – a bit of a knob. One, it is Jesus who walked on water: this was no time for the cleric to have delusions of deity. Two, if you’re going to walk on water, it’s a cool idea to ask the locals what’s in there first: research shows that 93 rivers out of a 100 are not home to crocodiles. Maybe the bloke did ask, and thought “Even better”. We’ve all met the type.

And finally, history should’ve told this wannabe miracle man that crocodiles have no respect. Your hungry croc doesn’t give two hoots whether the person gliding across the water is the Son of God or a silly sod. He is not impressed that some idiot thinks he’s a skimming stone, he just wants a meal for later. In this case he got pastor pasta, but that’s not really germain: tuck is tuck, and Crocodylus niloticus has never had a reputation for being picky. He’s not a gastronome, he’s just a very hungry boy.

It’s not as if the world’s most efficient river-based serial killer doesn’t have form. Twenty or more years ago on the Daintree River in Strilia, some goon (probably an Archbishop) decided it’d be a good idea to clear the banks of a vigorous bush. It just so happened that one species upon which crocodiles feed is in turn dependent on the bush for food. So when their three squares a day suddenly disappeared, the crocodylinae in residence crept quietly into the local town and began eating the residents there. It was, as they say in the decorating trade, a statement.

“Some notions are so ridiculous,” Mark Twain wrote, ” only the highly intelligent would ever entertain them”. If that’s true, then our ex-Pastor must have been a MENSA. But as a species, we have do an inexhaustible thirst for belief in the profoundly daft.

Most belief, in the end, gets overturned by the evidence. That’s not just a near-universal truth, it is part of what the Universe itself teaches us – through the medium of experential science, as well as via the “what if?” leaps that truly great thinkers make. But what truly marks us out as a species is this dogged unwillingness to learn from experience. Far too many of us are exactly like the silly person in the dog collar who thinks he (through his God) can triumph over three-dimensional cognition. Indeed, the dog collar is almost symbolic: he is no better than an obedient hound answering his master’s instructions….however barmy they might be.

The ‘useful dogs’ who trot out the busted flush of neocon/liberal economic and social ideas seem oblivious to the Andean mountain range of evidence showing that the whole idea starts with a flawed view of human nature, and ends with the system eating itself. The same is true of the Corbynite dinosaurs and their derisory “belief” in a collectivist and liberal forced economic equality that always winds up in the Zil Lane. In an econo-political sense, all ideologies suffer the same fate: they start from a systemic structure, force-fitting human beings into it as if they might be some kind of unimportant afterthought.

Those who crave power – the bankers, the dictators, the soldiers, the snoopers and the truth-benders – instinctively exploit the human weakness for belief in a supreme being or theory, because that bestows power upon them. The tragically dangerous nature of such people – the Stalins, Murdochs, Cromwells, Soroses, Khomeinis and so forth – is such that one day they could easily end all life on this one fragile planet we have for the sake of a descredited idea.

I’ve just finished reading Julian Barnes’s latest book The noise of Time. It traces the personal history of the Russian composer Shostakovich under the Soviet system in general, but more particularly the madness of Stalin’s purges. Purges about formalism, revisionism, counterrevolutionism, individualism and any other fantasy ism that Iyesef Djugashvilli the Great Helmsman could dream up. Today we have equally invented free-speech purges that see racism, misogyny, prejudice, fascism and the oxymoronic non-violent extremism where others simply see questioning philosophy and the interrogation of fitness for purpose.

There is no real “political” bias to this, because it represents merely the distaste every ambitious politician feels for empiricism. Diane Abbott is clearly unfit to be Home Secretary, but then so was Theresa May. David Cameron and George Osborne together weaved a “long term economic policy” whose mathematics were every bit as risible a those displayed by Diane Abacus in recent days. Jean-Claude Juncker makes palpably inaccurate comments about the importance of English in Europe. Mario Draghi issues bulletins about the euro and its zone that not a single grown-up sector analyst believes for one second…but every leader in ‘mainstream’ continental Europe salutes.

So although our eye is caught by the potty priest using crocodile heads as stepping stones to prove he can walk on water, he is no different to a Macron who promises everyone everything, a Trump who vows to build a Mexican wall, a Merkel who abandons nuclear power in favour of existing alternatives, a Yellen who clings to the wreckage of monetarism, a Dijesslebleom who paints a Greek recovery based on minute surpluses, and (I’m afraid) a Corbyn who attracts ever-bigger crowds of the desperate, but is himself clearly clueless on finance, bourse economics, defence, people judgement and the 21st century realities of energy geopolitics.

Put together, it represents a surreal unwillingness to accept the impossible by trying to do it. On a more daily level if you like, it’s an infantile inability to admit having made a mistake. I understand perfectly well that real power lies in banking, business, the media, the military and surveillance these days, but the politicians fawning all over the powerful are no different to their overseers: they are incapable of learning, because they will not admit their mistakes. Mistakes that beget learning are the inseparable wheels of real progress.

A huge antediluvian mouth full of razor blades probably did raise the question in the unfortunate pastor’s mind, “I wonder….have I made an error of judgement here?” but by then it was far too late: his late hunch couldn’t stop him from becoming an early lunch. For all their sociopathic cunning and cynicism, it looks increasingly likely that Macron, Trump, May, Rajoy and yes even Merkel will be eaten alive by cold-blooded reptilian reality in the end.

This post reflects my deep suspicion of all ideology, and strong preference for tested philosophy. To read more about this, please go here.