Auriga or Speer

Humanity has had some wonderful members, artist, thinkers, inventors, statespeople… People who have amazing ideas, and the people who help them to bring those ideas into fruition. Then there are the other ones… The people who come up with the really, really, stupid ideas. There was an infamous company called Ronco who were noted for repeatedly putting out utterly useless inventions, vinyl record cleaners that would cause more scratches the second one bit of dust got in them, sanding blocks that stank of rotten eggs, spray on hair… They did the occasional thing that worked and are still going but people remember the bad things they put in the world. The interesting thing is the amount of people and companies who start with a great idea, maybe two… then they come up with an absolute howler, Clive Sinclair brought home computing to millions of households in the form of the zx81 and the Spectrum only to inflict the ridiculous and potentially lethal c5 electric transport on the world. Prime minister Neville Chamberlain and his attempt to appease Adolf Hitler, Microsoft and some of their awful operating systems, Atari and their holes in the desert full of awful game cartridges Micheal Jackson’s Moonwalker film… How do these awful things get brought into being? Hubris on the part of the person with the idea, vanity, narcissism sometimes sheer lunacy, but all the above mentioned and many more require teams of people, huge investments in money and time to be brought into the world. Why, for example, did no one turn around to George Lucas and say, “that Jar Jar Binks character… What on earth are you thinking?” It can be partly put down to either fear of, or adulation of, power. Where people become unwilling to disagree with someone who is powerful or held in high regard for fear of the negative consequences, the classic Emporer’s new clothes scenario. It used to be that powerful people and the societies that they inhabited were aware of this phenomenon, as far back as the Roman Empire it was the job of someone called an Auriga to stand behind the Emporer at grand occasions and whisper “remember, you are just a man.” in their ear to help the rulers keep their feet on the ground, although this clearly didn’t work on Nero or Caligula. Kings used to employ jesters and fools for much the same reason, knowing that having only people who tell you what you want to hear never leads to anything good. 
History has taught us that behind every historical balls up there is at least one dangerously organised and willing person ready to aid those dumb ideas into being, Adolf Hitler would have just been just another ranting loony without the likes of Albert Speer to orchestrate and stage manage him or someone like Reinhart Heydrich to bring his most evil schemes into fruition and yet such names are already slipping into relative obscurity. It is arguable that British involvement in the Iraq war wouldn’t have happened without Blair’s boorish and bullying press secretary, Alistair Campbell, intimidating desenters into submission or the political wasteland. 
What motivates such people? The enablers, the henchpersons, the greasers of wheels, the dotters of ies and the crossers of tees? Is it belief in the person or cause that they are following? Is it that they are the extremest of people pleasers, seeking meaning and validation by being useful to someone, no matter the consequences? Or is it that need for power and influence without the fame or infamy of coming up with the actual plan? But really, what does it matter? That sad truth is that any of history’s enablers would have left the world far better off if they hadn’t aided and abetted other people’s stupid ideas and sat on the beach and read a book instead. Sometimes things are too stupid, awful or pointless to carry on or indeed happen in the first place and the best thing that can happen is… Well, that they don’t. 


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