Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Of Technocrats and Independent Thought

Big problems require big solutions. Big solutions require a high-level of buy in from the people involved. All this to say that the big problems facing the world today will only be solved by a high level of international solidarity. Given the fragmented nature of our world it will take a world crisis to get everyone in line.
Some of the problems we face are terrorism, economic inequality, environmental issues, and finding renewable/sustainable energy sources. On terrorism, Wahhabist Islam must be put in check, first by the wider Islamic faith, and secondarily by the international community. On economic inequality, we must find a new market structure that addresses the failings of capitalism while avoiding the pitfalls of communism. On environmental issues we must limit pollution without handicapping industry and business and avoiding alarmism. On energy we must move on from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources that will last us long into the future.
A crisis is brewing, and will come, and each of these problems will be addressed- and not entirely satisfactorily. The solution will come to be as result of post-crisis politics as much as necessity.
The intractable human condition of intolerance never changes. Unity and intolerance are not mutually exclusive. As a matter of fact, the highest degrees of intolerance are often found in a state of unity. If you think the level of intolerance in the world today is problematic, just wait until the post-crisis period. Mankind's intolerance will gel into a international consensus commensurate with the ignorant passivity of the majority of the world's population.
Today you compete in a world of ideas. Tomorrow, there will be no competing, only the commission of the crime of independent thought.
On the one hand, many erstwhile "free-thinkers" and "progressives" will be shown for the agenda-driven ideologues they are. They will settle in nicely with the group think.

In response to an anti-global-warming article at American Thinker, "madeline11" writes:
"I find it sad that there are people who still think that we can blow off mountain tops and dry up aquifers and put holes in the ozone layer and yet somehow NOT affect the earth in a negative way. There is absolutely no question among the educated scientific community around the world, and your credentials aren't even mentioned. The earth is warming, has been warming rapidly since the beginning of the 20th century, before which it was on its way to cooling."

My position on global warming is that while human activity can contribute and must be controlled, I reject the multiple-alarm fire panic of many advocates. But note what madeline11 says: "There is absolutely no question among the educated scientific community around the world, and your credentials aren't even mentioned."
This statement tears the mask off of the modern concept of science, and speaks strongly to the issue of authority. I accept the scientific method, per se. But then when confronted, they hide behind credentials and the consensus of other credentialed individuals.
Today's understanding of the term "credentialed" is "authoritative by means of achievement or position." What a contrast to the scientific ideal of "authoritative by virtue of being provable, reproducible, falsifiable, etc." It is this latter commendable principle that threw down the pronouncements of religion and monarchy, ignited the modernist-fundamentalist wars, and resulted in today's apologetic-heavy evangelicalism and creation science.
I do not say that evangelical apologetics and creation science have proven anything- they well may have- but my point here is that they began to engage the secular scientific/free-thinking community on its own principles. In response, we have seen a surge in post-modernism, and a general retreat by the secular scientific community behind their "credentials," "associations," and "journals."
Having come from a very right-wing fundamentalist background, I detest the anti-intellectualism and naivete that so often characterize American conservative Christianity. I have no problem with credentials, associations, and journals. What I have a problem with is when you put an asterisk by the scientific method leading to a footnote requiring these things to play the game.
And so we see the end-game of modernism- the credentialed authority that was vested in God and the church for a millennium has now come to be vested in the scientific community.
If the scientific method has given way to the authoritative pronouncements of credentialed men, I'd rather go back to the old fundamentalism, thank you. You can't step out of your ivory tower just long enough to make your case and then retreat back into it when challenged.

Rarely are things so black and white, however, and I am NOT going back to the "old fundamentalism." I am an individual with my own mind. I choose to take everyone seriously, and give no one undue benefit. People like me will not fare well in the world to come; the concentration of authority will only accelerate as the adaptation of technocracy by proxy increases.

Perhaps full-on technocracy will be the post-crisis solution.

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