All those guys down there yelling at the Guatemalan immigrant kids, I have no doubt whatsoever that logic and rationality lead them to that. I mean, look at this passion:
Look at their absolute rational commitment to our economic abstractions and the concept of law and order. It is a vast tower of logic that they are screaming from the top of.
But it’s perception that should tell them, hey, I’m screaming at children. This is wrong. It doesn’t matter why this seemed like a good idea, any time you’re an adult screaming at children you’re pretty much in the wrong.
Here is a story that’s illustrative of how science can prove that a moral horror is occurring without being able to be too specific about what that horror may be.
At the time of the Belgian Congo, the Belgians, of course, had absolutely no idea what’s going on. All they knew was everything was great. Their country was fabulously wealthy, everybody thought Africa was this amazing fairyland that sent them wonderful things. They loved Africa! The entire country was Africa-mad. They were building fake African huts on the hills over Charleroi.
But they didn’t know anything about Africa.
How could they? It was far away, the corporation that managed the place didn’t say anything about it, there were no newspapers there. There were rumors, and there were veterans that came back sad and crazy, but that’s all. Belgium was rich and nobody was complaining and that’s all anybody besides King Leopold knew.
There was no investigative journalism then. Although nobody knew it in Belgium at the time, a major naissance in the history of investigative journalism was happening at that very moment — in the Belgian Congo! Down in Africa, a sailor who was horrified by what he’d seen and frustrated by his inability to get it published in newspapers wrote a thinly fictionalized account of what was going on in the Congo. It was called “Heart of Darkness.” Unfortunately, this is not his story.
This is a story about Belgium. Back in Belgium, nobody knew what was going on, everything was just hunky dory. But there was a guy who worked in the shipyard. He was an accountant. And he saw that the boats came in every day full of money. But when they went out, they were empty.
Every day, day after day, boats coming in full of all the treasures of Africa, including a truly mindboggling amount of rubber. But they went out empty, or full of guns and soldiers.
So he did some calculations, and he said, wait a minute.
If the Congo is sending us $x every day, and we are sending them $0, that means that….somebody isn’t getting paid! And if they aren’t getting paid, that means….the Belgian government is running a slave state in the Congo!
So he got out a notebook and proved, with basic accounting, that something really bad was going on here.
And then the newspapers didn’t have any choice but to print it.
The implications of that story for our current relationship with China notwithstanding, the reason I wrote it out is to show why I think constant perception of the environment is essential, and that rationality can be used to prove that a different rational path is literally, figuratively, and in all important senses of the word absolutely wrong.
Rationality combined with perception is essential. It’s how I attempt to arrive at all my decisions.