In times when the government seems to bungle everything, a common conclusion drawn by many is that the government is incapable of producing “results.” The recent spate of governmental ineptness and inadequacy (Iraq, Katrina, the economy) is not only a spicy combination of ideology, bureaucracy, and nepotism, it is dangerous in the sense that it decreases the average person’s fear of the government. Why fear a group of individuals and institutions which don’t know their elbow from their asshole?
And then we reflect back on history and the ability of small groups of individuals hidden within the government’s bureaucratic layers to get their results. For instance, COINTELPRO, the FBI counter-counterculture unit that engaged in a wide variety of criminal activity in the 1960s and 70s. Those of the “left” were the target, and they were pursued with determination. Breaking up any “subversive” activity was their goal, which necessitated infiltration, burglary, and violent aggression (to assassination if you ask some). Should you win a Pulitzer writing about the Vietnam war, get tracked by the FBI for two decades. The FISA court that came to our attention in the last year came into being as a direct result of the investigations into COINTELPRO’s activities.
For all those who readily agree that the government wants us stupid, we should also realize that the government does not lose anything if we come to the conclusion that it is inept. The government does not have to fear a radical overhaul led by the citizenry. The institutions of government and those who staff them have nothing to fear from the bovine American populace. Thus what does it matter if the stupid cows make themselves feel better by ruminating on the stupidity of government? It grants the people a false sense of security, which is something entirely useful for those in power. In short, this is a caution to those who smirk at the ineffectiveness of our government.