ISIS is Israeli Secret Intelligence Service

Thursday, May 31, 2012

The Allegory of the Optimist and the Realist

A Cautionary Tale

By Charles Sullivan
Information Clearing House
Thursday, May 31, 2012

Imagine entering a room in which the electrical wiring is defective.
You turn the switch on. Nothing happens. Someone replaces the
bulb but the room remains dark. The circuit breaker is deemed

Most people, after a few attempts at flipping the switch, come to
the realization that the circuit is broken. They accurately conclude
that the light is not going to come on.

This is a rational and intelligent response to the reality of the
situation; one that weds cause and effect to results.

A few of the people in the room, however, have resolute faith
in the defective circuit. They are confident that the light will
eventually come on.

Among them, the belief persists that if one continues to flip
the switch enough times, eventually it will start working.

Convinced that the problem is a defective bulb, they replace
one light bulb with another every few minutes. As with political
elections, one dim bulb follows another into the socket.

Case after case of new bulbs is exhausted. And yet, despite the
best of intentions of the optimists, the room remains as dark as
a sarcophagus.

Suffering from cognitive dissonance, the eternal optimist, like Joe
Hill’s fictitious character Mr. Block, ignores the fact that the wiring
is broken and the circuit can never be operational without a major
overhaul, regardless of how many times the switch is turned on.

They contend that changing the bulb is easier and safer than
rewiring the circuit. The optimists insist that when the right
bulb is found light will dispel darkness and everything will
become clear.

This is what they have always done. It has never worked.

Nevertheless, despite decades of contrary results, the positivity
and faith of the optimists cannot be blunted. In darkness, they
busy themselves trying the switch again and again. Ignoring the
enduring darkness, some outsiders admire the optimist’s diligence
and determination.

Light, they insist, like change one can believe in, is a matter
of faith.

Others, seeing the absurdity of these actions, scoff at the
optimist’s foolishness. Having forged a Faustian alliance
with the building’s landlords, the corporate media lauds the
optimist’s determination as a civic duty that is bound to bring
enlightenment, if only they will persist indefinitely in their

Both the realists and the optimists want to shine light into the
darkness; however, there is fierce disagreement about their
methodology. Like the reformer and the revolutionary, their
differences are irreconcilable.

Eventually an exulted priest, Reverend Friedman, is consulted,
who advises everyone to ignore the darkness and to obey the
proprietors of the building.

“There will be light for everyone in the afterlife,” he advises
the crowd. “One must have faith in the system and the people
it attracts to serve. Do not be deceived by the lack of results
in the present. God will see that we are not wanting when we
are dead. The free market, the divine oracle of capitalism, will
provide a solution to all of our problems.”

'The good Reverend admonishes the realists for their lack of faith
and departs for the Big Top, where barkers are attracting a crowd
and organ grinders ply their trade.

The darkened house sits on the corner of Egalitarian Avenue and
Democracy Boulevard in a town called Plutocratville. Thievery
Corporation and Fascism Incorporated, now headquartered in
Capitalist China, were once the primary businesses.

The landlords of the house, The Big “O” and Capito, propose to
keep the occupants in the dark, where they conspire to do their
work, each deflecting criticism from the other.

The landlords cynically use the optimist’s faith and their naiveté
to keep them from making the circuit function as intended by its
designers. Among historians, there is intense debate about what
their real intentions were.

Darkness prevents some of the tenants from seeing the dilapidated
condition of the house as it falls down around them.

This permits the unscrupulous landlords to continue collecting rent
while covertly looting the building of its contents, including its
copper wiring. The optimist’s preoccupation with the switch and
their unstinting faith prevents them from noticing the pilferage.

Meanwhile, the optimists have become contemptuous of the
realists, who have abandoned the switch and propose to bring
in an electrician to replace the defective wiring with a
functioning circuit.

They label the realists as doomsayers, pessimists, negativists,
and conspiracy theorists. Invoking the language of fear, the
most optimistic believers refer to the realists as socialists,
communists, or Marxists.

From the optimist’s perspective, the problem is not the broken
circuit; it is lack of faith in the system on the part of the realists.

Beset with delusion, the most extreme optimists have convinced
themselves that the light is actually shining by refusing to
acknowledge the darkness around them.

They create inspirational euphemisms that substitutes light for
dark and dark for light. Thus, hate becomes love and war, peace.

The euphoric optimists are delighted by the system; however,
they falsely perceive themselves as enlightened.

Reality and powerlessness terrifies them, so they retreat into
catacombs of fantasy. Their time-worn strategies are predicated
upon false premises.

Equipped with only vestigial eyes and terrified about the
implications of existing in utter darkness, the optimists
refuse to adopt the more revolutionary strategy of the
realists as too radical and too dangerous.

They contend that the people are not ready for directly
confronting the underlying causes of the failed circuitry.

Much like reformers during America’s era of chattel slavery, the
optimists reason that directly confronting cause and effect must
be postponed until after the November elections and the mid-terms

The reformers hypothesize that The Big “O” and Capito must be
reelected to a second term as landlords of the tenement, when
they will reveal their humanitarian intentions and make things

To accept the darkness as the absence of light would be so
psychologically disorienting that it would cause the optimist’s
mental circuits to shut down, much like the events of 9-11 has
suspended critical thinking and scientific analysis in the USA.

Karl Marx called this state of mind false consciousness.

Although fictionalized, the Allegory of the Optimist and the Realist
raises important questions about human nature, irrational faith in
dysfunctional systems of power, and reality.

For instance, if one continually confounds false consciousness
for true consciousness and illusion for reality, how can one
make progress?

One must begin by acknowledging reality and accepting it for
what it is, regardless of how painful or undesirable its truth.

Faith does not always serve human need; it often undermines
progress and promotes oppression of the working class, despite
its occasional good intentions.

Broken systems of power do not promote justice.

Ultimately, we can only begin our respective journeys to true
consciousness and thus revolution from wherever are. But we
must have the courage to acknowledge where that is.

False hope and wishful thinking can prevent us from doing what
must be done. It can perpetuate the very inequality we are trying
to eradicate.

Reality, no matter how disturbing, provides a solid base from
which to move forward. Take it for what it is.

Charles Sullivan is a naturalist, an educator and freelance writer
residing in the Ridge and Valley Province of geopolitical West
Virginia. He does not vote or lend the appearance of legitimacy
to corrupt systems of power by participating in them.

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