It's from H.G. Wells' War of the Worlds. After all the efforts of human beings, with their sophisticated technology, to defeat the Martian invaders, it turns out to be the bacteria --something altogether different, at a completely different level-- that save the world.
What keeps evoking that image for me is the way the Bushites are beginning to collapse, but not so much for the reason that has preoccupied me this past year and a half but for what seems to be an altogether different reason.
My preoccupation, of course, has been the darkness --yes, the evil-- of the forces that so palpably have been animating this regime. (I won't expand on this here-- suffice it to say that "The Concept of Evil" --which can be found here at www.opednews.com/articles/opedne_andrew_b_051114_the_concept_of_evil.htm -- goes through a littany to flesh out some of the salient dimensions of how the patterns of evil are manifested by these Bushite powers.)
But, now that the support in the country for this regime has dipped down to about one-third of the population, what seems to be draining away the Bushites support seems to have a lot less to do with this pattern of evil than with their pattern of incompetence and failure.
As has been widely reported, the most recent polling by Pew found that when Americans are asked to choose a single word to describe the president, the word "incompetent" was the one most frequently chosen.
But as I wrote more than half a year ago, in a piece called "Not Reassured Yet," "there 's nothing new or reassuring --about the American people not liking failure...it 's not failure that I want the American people to repudiate. Not even, ultimately, this particular set of players. Rather, what I wish for the American people to repudiate are those dark aspects of the American spirit that these rulers have embodied and have so skillfully exploited in their drive to power."
I mean, a more skillfully and intelligently crafted drive to extend American imperial power into the Middle East would not have been any more moral, but if the "Mission Accomplished" had really been an accomplished mission, Bush's standing in the polls would certainly not be down where they are now.
Well, as in The War of the Worlds, I'm glad for this alien invasion of malignant forces to be brought down by whatever means will save what's precious about our world. "Incompetence" --the bacteria of the present story-- will do.
But then, perhaps the two characteristics --the evil and the incompetence-- may not be so distinct from one another as bacteria and human weaponry in Wells' saga. The profound arrogance of the Bushites seems to be common to both elements in the pipcture.
Arrogance leads the Bushites to trample on everything in their way. Arrogance closes their mind to the kind of information and counsel that could enable them to understand what they're doing well enough to do it successfully.
Watching the Bushites has led me to wonder: is evil always accompanied by a kind of stupidity? I continue to wonder.
Sutdying history, the connection has never struck me before. It always seemed to me that plenty of evil power systems have been able to function well and effectively for long periods-- from the Pharaohs to the Mafia. But maybe I was missing some of the telling finer points of how things unfolded. I do know that Hitler's evil and craziness led to some very bad decisions --that people around him were powerless to challenge effectively-- that contributed to his undoing.
It does seem possible that the spiritual errors, the psychological disconnects, the absence of understanding of one's true place in the scheme of things, that are involved in the fashioning of the human being into a channel for evil are also sources of dysfunction and incompetence in the design and execution of one's actions in the world.
It seems that mythologies around the world suggest a kind of karmic connection between a person's misdeeds and his empire-building undertakings coming to disaster.
So, I continue to wonder: how much connection is there between human evil, on the one hand, and failure and incompetence in one's endeavors on the other?