“About a Secret Crocodile”, by R.A. Lafferty, is a clever conspiracy theory story. In this tale, Lafferty writes of a secret society called the Crocodile that controls “the attitudes and dispositions of the world.” He goes on to note that the Crocodile has various parts and that “…Powerful among these is a society of 399 persons that manufactures all the catchwords and slogans of the world. This subsociety is not completely secret since several members are mouthy: The code name of this apparatus is the Crocodile’s Mouth.”
In one of those wonderful coincidences, I happened to re-read this classic science fiction story shortly before watching various political pundits tossing out their talking points (“nuclear option”, “ramming it down America‘s throat”, “delay is our enemy”). Seeing them, I had to say “damn, look at those little crocodiles!”
While I am not a conspiracy theorist, it is certainly interesting to survey the various opinion makers, pundits, talking point parrots and others and see the incredible uniformity of ideas and phrases. In the case of politics, there is no need to seek out secret societies shaping attitudes and dispositions. It is largely done right out in the open, our Donkey and our Elephant (with his little buddy, Fox).
Naturally, it can be argued that this is just what political parties do: they use all the means at their disposal to shape the attitudes and dispositions of folks so as to acquire and keep power. “Nothing wrong with this, business as usual”, one might say.
Of course, it does seem reasonable to be concerned about such machinery that exists to shape the attitudes and dispositions of people. After all, while they cannot (as of yet) practice true mind control, they can shape public opinion in ways quite contrary to what is best for the public. This can be said of both the Democrats and the Republicans. While folks do like to think that the fact that there two parties gives us a choice, this is not really much of a choice. True, the Donkey and the Elephant do battle it out, but they do so in a very limited way. At the end of the day,one might say, the same basic sort of politician is always elected. There is, unfortunately, no real opposition to the overall Crocodile, the beast that defines how politics as a whole is conducted. In fact, there can be no real opposition: a new group would just be another organ of the Crocodile. Right?