Bread and Circuses: Largesse Favors the Timid

Bread and Circuses: Largesse Favors the Timid

Greenman House
Greenman House

If Fortune favors the bold, largess favors the timid. Largesse allows people to settle for less to avoid work, inhibits risk-taking, and dampens the drive to grow and to thrive. The bread and circuses approach to governance distracts a people of low virtue into a stupor where they are subdued by memes that inhibit critical thinking and assessment.

For one thing, as the state expands, it fosters the most antisocial aspects of man’s nature, particularly his urge to attain his goals with the least possible exertion. And it is much easier to acquire wealth by means of forcible redistribution by the state than by exerting oneself in the service of one’s fellow man. The character of the people thus begins to change; they expect as a matter of entitlement what they once hesitated to ask for as charity. Woods, Thomas E. Back on the Road to Serfdom: The Resurgence of Statism. Intercollegiate Studies Institute (ORD). Kindle Edition.

As the introductory figure shows, there are four dimensions to this issue:

Dimension Largesse Effects
  • Government vs. Individual responsibility
  • Suppress non-approved speech
  • Participation awards and anti-competition
  • DIE programs reduce the drive for excellence
  • Surface diversity programs can weaken self-reliance
  • Lower initiative and risk-taking
  • Lower work ethic
Government Program
  • Government bailouts
  • Regulatory capture
  • Welfare programs
  • Strong and independent bureaucracy
  • Government replaces private investment and charity
  • People look to the government to solve their problems
  • Addictive internet sites and social media
  • Addictive games
  • Social engineering/just memes
  • People seek entertainment rather than work
  • Memes in entertainment change culture
  • Bread and circus mentality
  • Reinventing history
  • Teaching white privilege, BLM, 1619, and CRT
  • Lowered standards
  • People forget the Republic’s founding tenets
  • The founders are held in low regard to discredit their ideas
  • Ethnic groups are set against each other

Bread and circuses - PreparingYou All progress requires change. All change requires opportunities. Exploiting opportunities requires risk taking. The four dimensions above suppress or inhibit risk taking. Therefore, they inhibit progress.

A culture of largesse sets the conditions to inhibit innovation unless the culture also embraces virtue. Virtue has no tolerance for bread and circuses, but indolence and pleasure seeking does. Search for virtue for more information.

“The point of modern propaganda isn’t only to misinform or push an agenda. It is to exhaust your critical thinking, to annihilate truth.” ― Garry Kasparov

Kasparov puts an interesting spin on this situation. Critical thinking is the key to understand the problems that overreliance on government and entertainment blood and circuses can cause.

The entertainment industry provides the circuses. The “news” has always had an entertainment component since it is a for profit endeavor and needs to attract viewers. However, today there is far more entertainment and socially engineered memes to distract, divert, and fool viewers. The entertainment industry, through social media, movies, TV, and “news” propagates the memes that serve as the modern propaganda. The other victim of the process is trust. We do not trust news sources, the government, and industry. Without critical thinking, which is frowned on, we simply do not trust the sources and starve for the facts, which are the corn for critical thinking’s grist mills.

The education industry hides the founding of the Republic and its core tenets and sets the conditions for dependency on blood and circuses. If my experience is relevant across the board, the education industry only focuses on biases when they discuss critical thinking. While understanding bias and how it affects decision-making is important, it is only half the story. Really, the way we teach it is less than a quarter of the story. The education industry focuses on how bias engenders racism through micro-aggressions, white privilege, white fragility, institutionalized racism, etc. It does not focus on how biases skew our interpretation of facts required for critical thinking. It does not focus on asking the deep penetrating questions to get beyond symptoms and into root causes and motives. This is worse than not teaching critical thinking at all. It makes students think they are learning critical thinking and employing it when they are not. This sets the conditions for government expansion.

The government provides the “bread” in bread and circuses. As several other blog posts discuss (search for “bureaucracy”, “Great Society”, “New Deal”, “inflection points”) the bureaucracy grew tremendously under the New Deal and the Great Society. However, the trillions spent do not seem to have a significant effect and may even make the situation worse. Yet a large (and perhaps growing) part of the electorate does not care since they get their “bread”, and the meme masters paper over the problems. We need to engage in critical thinking to assess these programs and make informed decisions at the ballot box. But increasingly we are timid because we do not understand the issues and leave them to the experts.

Government, entertainment, and educations rewrite culture to make government control acceptable and desirable and to strip away self-reliance and self-sufficiency. Culture shapes our thought processes and determines what is acceptable and what is not acceptable. Our culture celebrates “vulnerability”, social justice, and an active form of sanctioned racism.

Low critical thinking creates a timid electorate that accepts largesse and does not look to see how these programs affect society and our ability to sustain prosperity. Even the word “sustainable” has been coopted to convince the timid that social programs are good and effective. We are a nation of sheep addicted to bread and circuses and without courage and critical thinking, unable to break the shackles of the meme masters.

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