interviewed Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick twice since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. Patrick, a , wants the American people to understand a simple fact: that the economy is far more important than human life. He has affirmed once again his unequivocal belief: “There are more important things than living.”News’ Tucker has
Here is today’s 3D definition:
An unnecessary and egotistical habit acquired by both intelligent and unintelligent organisms that explains their irresponsible inertia as they persist in occupying space on earth with no other purpose than to grow, adapt and interact with their environment, instead of accepting to disintegrate quietly into their basic chemical components.
In Patrick’s evolved extension of Darwinian theory, the purpose of human life is to ensure the survival not of the fittest organisms, but of the fittest political and economic system (of which there is only one). His highly original contribution to biological science merits everyone’s attention.
The evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins invented the meme of “The Selfish Gene” (the title of his best-selling book). In a kind of microbiological version of Arthur Schopenhauer’s “The World as Will,” Dawkins defined the gene as the ultimate intelligence of the universe and of humanity. Dawkins sees this tiny sequence of nucleotides as responsible for all the fundamental decisions we living organisms make in our lives. Although he admits that humans have the capacity to “override biology with free will,” he sees the notion of free will as something of an illusion. In his view, our genes are doing most of the heavy lifting when it comes to decision-making. (By the way, Dawkins also invented the idea of the “meme,” which has since become a part of our standard vocabulary.)
Patrick’s dismissal of living as a legitimate objective for people may sound a bit mad or at least antisocial. But the lieutenant governor isn’t a lunatic or a potential serial killer, at least not in the classic sense (since he is in favor of provoking a series of people being killed, but not by his direct agency).
No, Patrick is a theoretician who is extending our understanding of human existence by tackling at the macro level the same problem Dawkins addressed at the micro-level. What both thinkers have in common is their conviction that humanity is an accident of evolutionary history. For Dawkins, it’s the story of genes progressively leading the way to increasingly sophisticated organisms. For Patrick, it’s about the progress of economic systems that have led to an exceptionally perfected state of economic evolution that has been momentarily interrupted by the arrival of COVID-19 on the North American continent.
Patrick has a point. Once we agree that the deity’s purpose in creating the world some 5,000 years ago (according to the best sources) was to put in place the conditions that would evolve into the perfection we now call the consumer society, we can begin to understand that the divine will is now focused on preserving that society. The apple that Eve plucked from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the Garden of Eden gave us the first clue. Had she understood the rules, the young lady — the mother of mankind — should have asked her maker the price of the item and duly completed the transaction before removing the merchandise and taking the first bite.
Patrick realizes that the economic and political system we live under — governed as it is by Adam Smith’s (divine) invisible hand — imposes the laws that should govern our decision-making concerning life and death. A lockdown means stifling the freedom to compete, on which our sense of morality is based. Accepting a lockdown means denying the fundamental reality that people live and die for one purpose alone: to compete with each other as consumers, sometimes to the point of battling one another. The purpose is clearly competing, not living. To bring the lesson home, he mentions the things more important than living: “saving this country for my children and my grandchildren.” Families compete too.
Tucker, the News interviewer, doesn’t seem quite as philosophically, scientifically and theologically evolved as . ’s focus is less on the ethical underpinnings of decision-making in the current crisis than on the historical significance of the policies applied today.
At one point, Patrick directs his criticism toward Democrats who, in his eyes, fail to respect the US Constitution. He refers to a recent interview with Phil Murphy, the governor of New Jersey, in which complained that arresting worshippers who had gathered together in a synagogue violated their constitutional rights. In that interview, made this assertion: “The Bill of Rights, as you well know, protects Americans, enshrines their right to practice their religion as they see fit and to congregate together to assemble peacefully.”
Citing that incident, Patrick’s pitch of indignation rises as he explains: “You put your hand on the Bible when you take office … to protect the Constitution of this United States.” For the first time in the conversation,appears not just to agree with Patrick but jumps in to offer his own original condemnation of the New Jersey governor: “And now he’s arresting people who criticize him.”
As so often happens inNews interviews, the narrative veers toward the tragic tale of Democrats betraying the ethical substance of American history. Patrick nonsensically asserts: “If the Democrats ever had total control they would put people like you and me in jail and throw away the key … They now have total control.” agrees with him, though they both would certainly acknowledge that the currently control the White House and the Senate and also govern a majority of states. They also know that there is no precedent in history to justify such ravings. Historically speaking, McCarthyism has been a monopoly.
Concerning’s interview with the New Jersey governor, happens to be wrong when he claims that the Bill of Rights “enshrines [Americans’] right to practice their religion as they see fit and to congregate together to assemble peacefully.” It literally does no more than prevent Congress — the federal government — from imposing restrictions on the practice of religion.
The main point of the founders was to prevent the federal government from establishing a specific religion, as the English monarchs had done by making the Church of England the “established” religion. “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” theAmendment states. As drafted, the Constitution doesn’t specifically prevent states from enacting and enforcing laws that may impinge on religious practice.
Historians of the future will note a curious trend in Americans’ interpretation of the US Constitution, as an element in the construction of an ideology. Both politicians and the media who have echoed since the late 20th century have tended to impose principles designed specifically to justify the highly individualistic consumer society that the American society has become. For example, these three fanciful ideas are now current: “money is speech” (Citizens United); individual purchasers of military assault weapons are identical to the “well-regulated militia” mentioned in the Second Amendment; and the violation of laws concerning public safety in the practice of religion is a constitutional right.
All such ideas define a civilization that confounds respect for the law with a unique form of hyperreality in which texts meant to provide a framework for regulating complex human behavior are reduced to slogans that exclude nuance and reject any form of criticism.
That radical shift in the meaning of ideas — and the words that express them — helps to explain why the culture may believe that there are now “more important things than living.”
*[In the age of Oscar Wilde and Mark Twain, another American wit, the journalist Ambrose Bierce, produced a series of satirical definitions of commonly used terms, throwing light on their hidden meanings in real discourse. Bierce eventually collected and published them as a book, The Devil’s Dictionary, in 1911. We have shamelessly appropriated his title in the interest of continuing his wholesome pedagogical effort to enlighten generations of readers of the news. UPDATED: April 28, 2020.]
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Fair Observer’s editorial policy.
For more than 10 years, Fair Observer has been free, fair and independent. No billionaire owns us, no advertisers control us. We are a reader-supported nonprofit. Unlike many other publications, we keep our content free for readers regardless of where they live or whether they can afford to pay. We have no paywalls and no ads.
In the post-truth era of fake news, echo chambers and filter bubbles, we publish a plurality of perspectives from around the world. Anyone can publish with us, but everyone goes through a rigorous editorial process. So, you get fact-checked, well-reasoned content instead of noise.
We publish 2,500+ voices from 90+ countries. We also conduct education and training programs on subjects ranging from digital media and journalism to writing and critical thinking. This doesn’t come cheap. Servers, editors, trainers and web developers cost money.
Please consider supporting us on a regular basis as a recurring donor or a sustaining member.
Support Fair Observer
We rely on your support for our independence, diversity and quality.
Will you support FO’s journalism?
We rely on your support for our independence, diversity and quality.