In a world where reciprocity is not a two-way street, trust is mentioned, trust-worthiness is not. But, a man who observes the world with his pure, uncorrupted eyes will find it obvious that people cannot be trusted. You hear about trust from a particular kind of girl that is not trust-worthy, and is unaware of the law of causality. Trust is often demanded as a gift, as an ultimatum. There are economists who want to believe that distrust imposes a heavy tax on the society. But, it is possible for everyone to trust each other, even if trust-worthiness is not the norm. It is only that people who cheerfully default on agreements will find this very convenient.
When people lock their cars parked in the inner city, when they hire watch-men, and when women hesitate to walk through the streets at midnight, no one complains that what the society suffers from is “a break-down of trust”.
But, I do not see this as a naïve view. This is a dishonest view. Mistakes of this scale are never an accident. It is immensely popular only because people are so much in sync with this fraudulent society, and are oblivious to fraud. When a decent man hears about the importance of trust, he feels nothing but contempt, nothing but disgust. He knows that the world is not a wonderful place where he only needs to trust other people because he was always their victim. People believe in such nonsense because they have such a shallow understanding of morality. They need such delusions. They truly have such low personal standards. This is an important concept with much wider implications.
People do not realize how central this is to our culture because they are emotionally and intellectually blank-cartridges.
It is everywhere. Why do people everywhere in the world want intellectuals to have their “hearts in the right place”? Is that the greatest flaw they see in intellectuals—that they do not have their “hearts in the right place”? It is a commonplace virtue, and was never in short supply. What a sensible man can’t miss is that they lack creativity and erudition. What they do not have is intellectual honesty and clarity of thought. But, people do not notice. They find it hard to understand these concepts except in poetic terms because they lack these traits themselves, and do not really know what it means.
It is believed that much of journalistic content is worthless because they have all sold their souls to Mammon. When a sharp, well-read man reads the newspapers and magazines, are the advertisements the first thing he notices? No. What bores him is that they are all dunder-heads, that there is no quality analysis. They do not know how to write a decent sentence. All the facts unearthed by social scientists lie flatly against what they say. Nothing of value can come from a mind that is not fertile. But then, why do people expect semi-literates to have deeply held values? Such elusive concepts belong only to more talented and informed men.
It won’t take a decent man long to notice that personal standards at least as rare as genius. There will never be a culture of decency. People who speak as if indecency is an aberration have never known what decency means.
Tavleen Singh once said that most of our NGOs are frauds, and that 99 per cent of the environmental NGOs that she came across were frauds. They are involved in issues that they do not understand. Now, how would a normal reader respond to this claim? They would claim that it is unfair to tar everyone with the same brush. They might ask for empirical proof, and claim that the fact that someone had bad experiences with them is no proof that all NGOs are all bad. People are such weak-hearted rogues. But, someone with even a rudimentary understanding of environmental economics will not find this claim surprising. Virtually no decent economist or environmental scientist believes that the environment is becoming worse, or that the market is an enemy of the environment. If these NGOs have no understanding of the basic concepts, and do not care, it is a fraud, by default. This is obvious, and not open to argument. People miss it because they truly have low intellectual standards.
Consider the claim that school teaches you valuable skills. No one would have taken school very seriously if a question that H L Mencken once asked had ever occurred to them: “How can morons teach anything?” How would an ordinary person respond to this? They might claim that not all teachers are bad, and that they had this wonderful teacher. Rubbish. A person who knows that the learning process is such a maddening, life-long struggle will never entertain the claim that college teaches you anything of value because the workload in colleges is minimal. It is not even worth mentioning.
Is this new? When Mother’s Day was established in the United States, the great H. L. Mencken was its biggest critic. He wrote, “Why not a day for wearing little tin bathtubs to prove that one bathes, in the patriotic American manner, once a week? Why not white hatbands for gentlemen who are true to their wives? It is precisely the mark of the cad that he makes a public boast of what is inseparable from decency. He is the fellow who insults his mother by making a spectacle of the fact that he is on good terms with her.” I am not into this business, but Mencken was making an obvious point here. When the average man advertises common decency, it is because the concept is beyond his grasp.