The Intellectual

Two undergraduate philosophy majors, SOREN and THOMAS, sit at a table in some upscale Mid-western cafe, sipping coffee. They are discussing opposing political ideals when their waiter interrupts them. 

SOREN: … the varying results of which indicate that we must strongly consider-
WAITER: Hey, guys. All done with those coffees?
SOREN: Could I get another Americano?
THOMAS: And an espresso for me.
WAITER: Sure thing.

WAITER leaves after spending an inordinate amount of time clinking glasses and generally being highly disruptive to the two boys’ very important discussion.

SOREN: Anyway, as I was saying: we come to the inevitable conclusion that a capitalistic, representative democracy is the best form of government that exists. The future doesn’t lie in the discovery of new schools of thought, but in improving a system that, though admittedly flawed, possesses the potential to create realistic amounts of good in each individual’s life.

THOMAS: Unfortunately, Soren, your thought appears to be marred by the age-old adage of “it’s the best we’ve got, and so we’ll make do”, even though it is clear that the promises of capitalistic democracy are crumbling around us as we speak. Capitalism assumes a near-inexhaustible amount of natural resources, and a working democracy assumes an intelligently individualistic population. The future of humanity must exist within the improvement of humankind from the inside so that we may work under a superior form of government.

SOREN: What, are you proposing a communist revolution?
THOMAS: I try not to eliminate valid options.
SOREN: What?
THOMAS: Communism hasn’t been proved wrong yet.
SOREN: You’re insane.
THOMAS: What insanity is is remaining stagnant and somehow still expecting things to get better.
SOREN: Thomas, nothing about communism makes any sense.
THOMAS: That is a statement that cannot be qualified. It’s never been properly done before.
SOREN: It’s been “done” by half the third world. And look at how that turned out.
THOMAS: Under the leadership of corrupt governments.
SOREN: Yes, because communism inevitably leads to corruption.

THOMAS: Only when those in power become corrupt.
SOREN: Were you not just in Neirin’s lecture with me? Did you not just hear a 120-minute shouting match about how power and corruption are literally the same thing?
THOMAS: Yes, I did. And what I got from it is that our goal should not be to improve a flawed system but to improve ourselves so that we can adopt a superior system of governance.

The WAITER comes into the scene, bearing steaming mugs. 

WAITER: Here you go. An espresso and an Americano, right?

THOMAS: Thank you.

They both sip at their drinks. Repositioning for battle.

SOREN: But regardless of efficiency, what you’re suggesting is undeniably autocracy. You can’t honestly imagine that an autocracy is better than a government of the people?

THOMAS: Why not?
SOREN: Because it takes away the people’s right to make decisions about their own lives. It makes a farce of free will. Clockwork Orange stuff.
THOMAS: Not if they willingly accept the change. Besides, the people as a general unit are incapable of making intelligent decisions for themselves.

Throughout the conversation, people have been giving SOREN and THOMAS eye rolls, which they’ve failed, utterly, to notice. 

…why should they possess the power to change the world? Knowledge, not simple numbers, should be the key to power. In addition to that, can you honestly claim that that our American model of democracy is still a government of the people? The private sector has claimed too much ground and the last bastion of variability, the Internet, is this close to privatization.

SOREN broods.

SOREN: Granted. Perhaps our modern democracy isn’t what it proclaims itself to be. But let’s look at economics. I don’t think anybody can deny that a stable economy is the basis for any kind of civilization.
THOMAS: Of course.
SOREN: And free market capitalism is the most efficient system of creating relative economic equality that exists to us. Though it may be brutal at times, it works. The market is an impartial judge. And interfering with that market creates macroeconomic disruptions.
THOMAS: I agree.
SOREN: Then you will also agree, I imagine, that because autocratic governments have a very strong tendency towards intervention within the market to further political ends, said governments possess a tendency to be crippled by poor economies.

THOMAS thinks for a while.

THOMAS: Granted. But what about labor? You cannot deny that-

The waiter returns.

WAITER: Anything else you need?
SOREN: Check, please.
WAITER: You got it.

The waiter leaves.

THOMAS: I believe the working class should have more power. They’re more important than we give them credit for.
SOREN: I actually agree. Raising minimum wage is a fantastic way to attack current financial imbalances.

The waiter returns with the check.

WAITER: Here you go.

THOMAS and SOREN check their wallets and look up, panicked.

THOMAS: Its thirty bucks. I only have…ten. Can you spot me?
SOREN: I only have five.
THOMAS: Shit! How the hell are four coffees thirty bucks?
SOREN: Economy’s fucked, dude. God, why the hell is everything so expensive?
SOREN: You have your phone on you?
THOMAS: I left it back in the dorm. It’s charging.
SOREN: I lost mine at that Alpha Pi party last week.
THOMAS: Dammit!

A frantic silence as SOREN and THOMAS dig through their pockets for change. The waiter stands awkwardly between the two, looking back and forth at them.

WAITER: You know, you guys might want to consider law school.



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