May 152012
 
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Paul C tells us that socialists are daft to suggest Greece is better out than in the euro.  Paul E suggests that copyleft activists don’t get copyright at all.  In the meantime, I am beginning to wonder if the world is getting too complex for anyone to understand.

Before, we had experts.  Specialised folk who could boil down from a vast understanding of the ins and outs of a subject the essence an audience in particular might require.  But as life became more complex, such specialisms began to acquire an encysted relationship to each other: crossover skills are now the exception, not the norm.  Niches are what everyone strives to establish.

For a magpie mind such as mine, there is no place in the modern world of business and social interaction.

So when Paul C, from his undoubted ability to understand the self-fulfilling, tells us that the rest of us are speaking bollocks, and when Paul E, from his undoubted ability to disentangle the self-interested, tells us that the rest of us simply do not get it, there is little left for the rest of us to do but shake our heads in confused shame.

Only the real problem is that the Paul C and Es of this world are few and far between.  And whilst with the latter I would find myself on slightly firmer ground if pursuing my instincts to disagree, and whilst with the former I could not react without emotional bloodshed, with most of those often self-proclaimed experts out there we are now gaining an absolute right to totally distrust their judgements.

As the Sunday Times list of the top UK thousand demonstrates, those who have a lot and get it utterly wrong are rewarded with further power and wealth:

Top 1,000 on ST RichList increased their wealth by £155bn in 3yrs: enough to pay off Nat Debt: Many of the 1,000 caused crash to begin with.

It’s only the poor sods at the bottom of the pile who will get the poor pickings they most definitely do not deserve.

There is nothing unusual in what I am saying, of course: you know all of this; we all do.

But I do wonder if what has afflicted us isn’t a question of personal and evil greed, after all.  Rather, it may have a lot more to do with the fact that no one, whether at the bottom or the top of the pile, really has those magpie-mind skills I mentioned earlier on: we only know how to do well what our apportioned role in life allows us to.  None of us can manage, however, for reasons of training, education and upbringing, to bring to a world careering out of simplicity a broad and comprehensive understanding of its weaknesses.

No one at the top, no one at the bottom, no one anywhere can comprehend any more this world we survive in.

We are lost because the relationships between our component parts have become too complicated to appreciate their extent.  A single glance, whilst still enough to lead us to love at first sight, is no longer enough to allow us to understand the socioeconomic implications of our civic and political acts.

Democracy is a simple idea whose time has come and gone.

The world has become a tangled ball of wool whose complexity can only continue to multiply.

Paul C and E, if only there were more of your type.  Unfortunately, there aren’t.  We are doomed.


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  3 Responses to “What can you do to understand a world careering out of simplicity?”

  1. Modesty forbids me from endorsing this view, but so does my long-held position on this.

    We don’t need to understand things. We need to be able to collaborate to describe the problem. Then we need to come up with a democratic system that fills parliament with the kind of people who can bring a distributed moral wisdom to bear on complex problems.

  2. The status and pyramid problem is a separate one.

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