The New Pamphleteer

Neatness is the Enemy of Progress

Jun 3

Outside the Box

One of the difficulties about the Eurozone crisis is that the political and economic elites that govern us are each stuck in their ways of thinking. I guess it’s like the observation that “Generals always fight the last war.” The received wisdom of orthodox thinking has stopped working…

In Greece and Spain, and even in Germany, the policy decisions of the elite have brought about exactly the conditions they were trying to avoid! It’s rather impressive when things go this spectacularly wrong.

You can’t really expect old people (aged 40 and above) to change their thinking. That’s especially the case in politics; where a change of thinking is inevitably reported as a weakness, not as a sign of intelligence. That’s why we can expect our politicians to continue to the bitter end. 

Since all of our elites are very highly educated, it’s worth asking - what is education and what is intelligence?

Well the simple answer is that education is a bureaucratic system of training. Even the idea of intelligence is just really a way of describing a form of intellectual or emotional consistency that’s drummed into people. That’s why the ideas of discipline, consistency and intelligence are always associated in terms of psychology and behaviour.

The trouble is that when we need fresh thinking and new ideas, it’s not always easy to find. Also, some of the new ideas are just mad!

Thomas Kuhn has written about “The Structure of Scientific Revolutions” and described the way that, about once every 100 years, there is a paradigm shifting insight that changes the underling theoretical assumptions that underpin all the practical work.

Lots of claims are made about “game changing significance” and “paradigm shifts; but the truth is that these insights are pretty rare…nevertheless, we need something and we need it fast!

Obviously, we can’t go backwards. Things have changed, so that even if we try and engineer things as they were, they wouldn’t work. So we must move forward.

I’ve noticed that, as the crisis has gone on, anyone who deviates from the established orthodoxy is described as “radical.” Outside the box is pretty scary for the dependent elites. It’s a place that is usually described in terms of chaos, anarchy and uncertainty.


  1. paulrennie posted this