Way back in the days when I still blindly and thoughtlessly aped the opinions (apinions?) of my fellow self-perceived ‘humans’, I blithely perceived April 1 or ‘April Fool’s Day’ as simply an opportunity for us all to play allegedly amusing pranks or practical jokes on each other.
But growing political awareness eventually alerted me to the fact that, as I’ve mentioned many times before in Malaysiakini and elsewhere, most of us on Planet Earth are treated like April fools every day of every year by countless governments that, like China’s fake Communist Party, North Korea’s Kim dictatorship and Malaysia’s Umno/BN kleptocracy and countless others, are nothing but jokes at their citizens’ expense.
Even more dire, however, as I have gradually come to realise, all of us humans, whether we’re playing the fool every April 1 or being played for fools every day of every year by bleeders posing as leaders, have been busily fooling both each other and ourselves for the past couple of million years.
Ever since, in fact, our emergence as a new species of chimpanzee evidently equipped with such superior manual, intellectual and linguistic abilities as to enable us to see, define and declare ourselves as superior to not only other chimps, but also the rest of creation.
‘Creation’ being the crucial word in this discussion, as, paradoxically, the superior intellectual powers that enabled us perform and perceive ourselves as champs failed to replace all our instincts to think, feel and act like chimps.
And the complex of confusions and conflicts that this intellectual/instinctive, human/animal duality produced has rendered us uniquely and incurably capable of thinking and behaving like not only champs or chimps, but chumps.
It would take several books to do even the slightest justice to a discussion of humankind’s seemingly limitless capacity for chumpery.
And in case you’re interested, several of the many books I’d recommend on the subject included Jared Diamond’s Guns, Germs and Steel and The Rise and Fall of the Third Chimpanzee; Philippe Gigantès’ Power & Greed: A Short History of the World; and Yuval Noah Harari’s Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind.
Not, I presume, that readers in Malaysia will be able to find the latter volume in bookstores, as its author hails from Israel, a country reviled by the anti-Semitic Umno/BN regime.
But that’s another story, in light of the issue I’d like to focus on in this mercifully brief column, Immanuel Kant’s concept of mankind’s promotion of satiable animal needs with insatiable human greeds.
Kant argues that, while sharing with all other animals basic needs like that can be at least temporarily satisfied, like nutrition, excretion and reproduction, we humans, or, if you prefer, we humanimals, as a result of our conception of the future and capacity for identifying or inventing additional ‘wants’, are insatiable.
Insatiable for the better, perhaps, in our apparently boundless capacity for inventing new, more efficient or otherwise apparently beneficial products, processes and social institutions.
But equally for the worse, as evidenced, for example, by the sordid spectacle of the rich ever-lusting for more, more, more despite the increasingly desperate further impoverishment of the poor, and the rapid depletion of Planet Earth’s resources.
As reprehensible and indefensible as such greed for tangible wealth and its attendant status and power may be, however, to me by far the most destructive human greed is for such entirely imaginary constructs as immortality.
The invention of some invisible and every other way unknowable omniscient, omnipresent and omnipotent entity or group of entities that can be sufficiently entreated, begged, adored or worshipped into to supporting us in this life and granting our allegedly ‘immortal souls’ eternal life in some ‘other world’ has long been, and continues to be, a curse on the human race.
How many billions of lives have been blighted and wasted, not to mention cruelly ‘sacrificed’ since the dawn of human history in the service of ‘gods’ and ‘religions’ allegedly guaranteeing to assuage people’s fear of death by feeding their greed for life without end in some hereafter, while really only serving to empower and enrich their inventors and promoters, is anybody’s guess.
As is why the self-proclaimed ‘faithful’ can so deny their human intelligence by not only believing the loads of irrational, incredible trash presented to them as ‘theology’, but also allowing themselves to be preyed-on by all the professional peddlers of such slop, and oppressed by potentates who cling to power by piously pretending to ‘protect’ their abject subjects from the adherents of rival sects.
Such travesties of human avarice are, as ever, still unfolding virtually everywhere on earth. Most obviously, of course, in those locations where the neediest in this life are preyed-on by Islamic State, Boko Haram, the Taliban and other groups so driven by their greed for power both here and in the ‘next’ life that they’ll happily kill and die for it.
Less overtly vicious, though far more common and thus arguably just as evil, are a great many allegedly ‘religious’ governments, or, like Malaysia’s Umno/BN regime, governments comprising people who claim to be ‘believers’, that are riven with corruption and other forms of criminality behind their veils of piety.
And lest I appear to show a bias against Islam in this regard, I must make the point that, having myself suffered and thankfully recovered from early indoctrination into one of the countless so-called Christian sects, I’m especially cross that so many ‘conservative’ politicians in Australia, the US and elsewhere in the West who claim to be Christians are nothing of the sort.
In fact, as opponents in the social sphere of the Christian virtues of tolerance and compassion, and the supporters of the crassest forms of free-market capitalism in economics, they’re double-Crosstians, or, if you like, Crasstians.
But, thank goodness, it seems to me that, at least in Australia, all the signs are that so many people are so fast losing faith in these fakes that by this time next year when the next election is near, it’ll be them and the hard core of humanoids who ape them and their attitudes who will be feeling like April fools.