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Reprinted from caitlinjohnstone.com
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A policeman sees a drunk man crawling around on his hands and knees at night and asks what the problem is. The drunk man says he's trying to find his keys, so the officer gets down and starts searching with him. For a few minutes they crawl around hunting for the missing key ring by the light of the street lamp before the policeman stands up frustrated.
"Are you sure this is where you lost them?" he asks.
"This isn't where I lost them," replies the drunk.
"Then why are we searching here??"
"It's where the light is."
This old joke is the source of the name for the streetlight effect, one of the many, many glitches in human cognition which cause us to tend toward misperception of our world and the way it's happening. This one describes our tendency to only look for things where it's easy to look for them, and it distorts our understanding of subjects from science to big data analysis to history to spirituality.
It's like the scene from the children's animated movie The Land Before Time where one of the young dinosaurs knows the way to the Great Valley but the others vote to travel a different direction to search for it, not because they have any reason to believe it's the right way, but because it is easier. One dinosaur says "I'm going the easy way!" while the other yells out in exasperation "But it's the wrong way!"
It's also like the way people keep trying to fight oppressive political systems by working within those systems, arguing that it will be much easier to defeat the oppression machine using the tools the machine gave them.
We're seeing this highlighted today in the controversy over Biden and Company's nomination of Center for American Progress president and virulent left-puncher Neera Tanden to direct the next administration's Office of Management and Budget. Tanden has spent years doing nothing but advancing the most toxic elements of the Democratic establishment and attacking the party's progressive base at every opportunity, and her nomination is probably the biggest middle finger BidenCorp could possibly have given to the Sanders supporters who elected him.
After months of lying to themselves that lifelong warmongering corporatist Joe Biden could be somehow "pushed to the left" by progressives in order to make voting for him seem more palatable, the incoming administration has been seemingly going out of its way to prove them wrong in as spectacular a fashion as you could possibly imagine with its nominees and transition team of war whores, corporate sociopaths, free speech opponents and austerity enthusiasts. Tanden is just the diarrhea icing on the giant steaming sh*t cake.
But this was always how it was going to be. Believing anyone could move Joe Biden to the left was as foolish as believing anyone could move a mountain or a skyscraper or any other immovable object. If Biden were the sort of person who could be pressured into ending wars, reversing US military expansionism, ending austerity policies and redistributing wealth, he never would have been permitted anywhere near the White House. He would have been replaced with a Kamala Harris or a Pete Butigieg or one of the other endless army of stalwart establishment loyalists.
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