At the End of the Day

A little philosophy tonight. And I warn all readers before we start, any self-important destructive comment will be automatically trashed. As I often say, let’s have contributions from those who have something to contribute, not from those who know everything and contribute nothing – except clues as to the dimension of their ego. I don’t mind those who disagree: I just grow increasingly tired of the disagreeable.

Here’s a thesis to think about….

In the beginning of Homo sapiens was Bigbrain the pack-animal.

He/she related to a limited pack size, and took for granted the idea that hierarchies and Alphas were the way of existence.

But then the Human being learned language, developed skills and began to flex one of  the new muscles in the brain: that of introspection….leading to ideas about everything from art and religion to laws and society. And being a quick learner, post-Erectus man/woman developed skills, methods, efficiencies – but particularly, two key facts about diet: hunted protein and planted crops gave the best balance.

While this led to a longer life with more time to think, the desire to have a trail of information came with our awareness of death’s inevitability. At first, the elders of the tribe/pack were used to transmit that information through the power of speech. Then came writing, plus tablets, papyrus and other methods of information preservation. The tribe grew into regions and then cities with a commonality of recorded culture.

Half a millennium ago, Caxton’s printing press changed everything: our species had the ability to not only record, but also to broadcast learnings on a mass basis. So the city/town/village culture was able to meld and become the Nation State. In Europe at least, the development of such States flowered as never before: gradually during the 1500-1900 period, Spain, Great Britain, Italy, the Netherlands, Germany, France, Russia and the United States developed, by having the capacity of remote media, into nationalities.

The conclusion in this, today’s era of global satellite communication, is that a United Planet of supranationality is on the cards. But nothing could be further from the Truth. This is a misinterpretation leaving out one factor.

That factor is this: broad, think-for-yourself education leads to doubt.

This doubt eradicated, in tandem, the religious madness of the 14th-17th century periods: and with that came the rejection of Sovereign monarchs with some kind of Divine Right.

Once the blind loyalty to a Man-God had been removed, the unquestioning admiration and obedience went with it. Hitler and Stalin tried to replace it with the leader-cult, but failed for the same reason kingship had: it was based on nothing beyond the increasingly obvious megalomania of the leader.

Once King & Country had gone, there came the rise and rise of the post Second World War generation unwilling to die for bigoted ideology. And inevitably, it followed that idealistic notions such as The American Dream, the USSR’s socialist Utopia, and the European Union’s infinite pax bruxellesica must also come under critical scrutiny.

Guilt must be proved beyond a scintilla of doubt. But one iota of doubt can find an entire project guilty.

The healthy doubt of the broadly educated mind – a mind that demands the earning of respect rather than undiscerning admiration – cannot possibly lead to the development of the supra-national tribe. On the contrary, it can only lead to the sort of at first healthy but then destructive cynicism now felt towards all those apparatchiks whose privilege and continuance depend upon an unquestioning obedience that died long ago.

This is why we find fanatics like Michael Gove determined to crush individualist thought. Why we see Spain censoring all contrary opinion. Why the EU wants to erase all evidence of past misdemeanours. And why the Conservative Party is busy removing all its previous pottiness from the various websites it controls.

There is only one basic social unit and aspiration which makes sense to the sane: a community wherein the greatest enlightenment can be available to the greatest number. I’m not talking here about some sort of unhealthy rationalism, but rather one where the developed human brain has the capacity to ensure that databased reality triumphs over unsubstantiated belief – and the human pack instinct to care for other members triumphs over the Mr Hyde in all of us.

Globalist supranationalism not the conclusion of our destiny: indeed, we are witnessing doubts about the unit that preceded it. This is entirely natural: for more open and educated minds can see no reason to worship false gods.

On the contrary, they would much rather confirm the mutuality of individuals and the community with which they feel a genuine kinship. For that relationship requires an equal respect on both sides. And from that shared regard comes the freedom that, ultimately, all human beings crave.

 Earlier at The Slog: Slaughtering the Truth in Spain







41 thoughts on “At the End of the Day

  1. Because of the nature of my work I am fortunate enough to meet many people from all walks of life. From salt-of-the-earth minimum wage earners to stupidly overpaid senior managers, directors and civil servants of one sort or another. There is one attribute which knows no boundaries, however – and I am always slightly perturbed when I see or hear it – and that is the total certainty with which they view the world. No matter what the the subject, their opinions are solid, immovable, entrenched and any self-doubt is entirely absent. If a tentative question or remark is voiced proposing an alternative viewpoint, their automatic response is one of denial, and sometimes quite exasperated vehemence. It seems almost to be a point of pride that they have reached a position of considered thought and conclusion … and they are buggered if they are going to move from it.

    I can honestly say that, in my experience, the number of people who will admit to doubt and a willingness to investigate alternative propositions is depressingly small. Which is not to say that I do not enjoy their company, of course I do and also enjoy the merry badinage that will often ensue when I try to engage them in debate … I’m just pointing out my own observations; I’m also aware that my own temperament and character will have their own influences too. Perhaps they see me as someone of doubt and unfixed opinions which need firming up a bit.

    It is a sobering thought that the education of the masses may well have been ordered to preclude any coherent ability to question information. Which is why I am not filled with confidence when the clarion call goes up for a referendum on EU membership; the supporters of UKIP – and I am one – would do well to observe a little more closely the ability of many people to question information they are fed by various parties with an axe to grind.

    Eee lad – t’was ever thus :-)


  2. I second Caratacus. I tried to get a forum together recently – including some fringe people – and the one who proved most illiberal, refusing dialogue with others, was the ex-government lawyer. Democracy worked when the participants were educated, informed, willing to consider and debate alternatives and prepared to pay the price of their decisions. That is, it worked in ancient Athens and Iceland. Here, for many reasons including the way the mass media have developed and been subverted, no. Is democracy only possible for a well-educated elite?


  3. Caratacus wrote:
    “total certainty with which they view the world. No matter what the subject, their opinions are solid, immovable, entrenched and any self-doubt is entirely absent. If a tentative question or remark is voiced proposing an alternative viewpoint, their automatic response is one of denial, and sometimes quite exasperated vehemence.”

    I would be more inclined to regard such self-professed certainty as being indicative of a deep-seated insecurity.
    Never underestimate the power of denial.


  4. A well educated elite, with a well developed sense of integrity and engagement with their fellow humans, is certainly a requirement for a healthy democracy.


  5. Slightly off topic, but got me thinking with your reference to Caxton and printing press, the advancement of technology and communication – have you read “Writing on The Wall – The first 2,000 years of social media” by Tom Standage. An excellent read – highly recommend.


  6. “one where the developed human brain has the capacity to ensure that databased reality triumphs over unsubstantiated belief – and the human pack instinct to care for other members triumphs over the Mr Hyde in all of us.”

    My thoughts, which I could not put into words….thank you.


  7. Isn’t JW’s argument the very reason Blair did what he did to education in this country? To discourage free thinkers? If his govt. had spent as much on education as they spent on the Iraq war, we most probably wouldn’t be where we are today but, I suspect they know that and that wasn’t on their agenda. Their agenda in this case was to abolish free thinking for that would expose the govt. for the snake oil salesman they all are.


  8. JW sounds like the South African Broadcasting Corp here in ANC can say whatever you like as long as it sucks up to the ANC/Zuma


  9. I’ve probably got the wrong end of the stick as I am prone to do, LOL

    The potted history of the growth of the state & belief in social evolution?

    Tribes do still exist. Just about. Bless ’em. They tend to have leaders, not rulers.

    Their ‘alphas’ are warriors who know the first enemy to be defeated, before earning the right to *protect* others, is always themselves.

    Psychopaths do tend to stand out rather obviously in small communities.


  10. For much of my lecturing career, I felt that whether the students got great jobs or not, at least a University Education taught them to think and question and debate. I’d sometimes have great fun slipping some outrageous premise into a lecture, just to get them to argue back ! Something changed in UK Higher Education in the past 10 years, certainly in my small corner, as lectures became far more about what students should believe and dissertations that questioned this ‘ correct thinking ‘ were marked down. I put this down to a serious attempt by Universities to exercise more control on students and reduce complaints and dissent (while vastly reducing teaching and facilities). A degree student now is lucky to get 2-3 30min to 60min tutorials a term and are encouraged to conforming to achieve a pass rather than anything outstanding is the normal….step out of line and you may not get a pass at ll.

    Folks like me in our 60’s were very lucky that we had an education where tutors encouraged us to argue back, right or wrong….it was about the journey…the argument itself…What we seem to be walking into now is large swathes of our “educated young people” unquestioning everything that they are told.or read….and sadly a diminishing number of real free thinkers in the 20-40 age group.


  11. I am not an educated man, got no letters after my name; but I always knows when ‘am ‘ungy and I always knows when ‘am cold.


  12. “and the human pack instinct to care for other members triumphs over the Mr Hyde in all of us.”
    Great line Mr Ward.


  13. Couldn’t agree more Caractacus. The Dunning-Kruger effect is everywhere. Although I would argue with the “fundamental” bit, Bertram Russell believed that the “… fundamental cause of the trouble is that in the modern world the stupid are cocksure while the intelligent are full of doubt.”


  14. “Be with those who help your being.
    Don’t sit with indifferent people, whose breath comes cold out of their mouths.”
    My favourite poet and teacher Desmond :-)


  15. Whatever form authority has taken during recorded history it has been detrimental to the majority and highly beneficial to a minority. Democracy, even the versions practised by the Icelanders and the Swiss, still comes down as mob rule for want of a better phrase. There will always be people who do not want anything to do with democracy but if they live in a geographic area where democracy is practised they will be expected to fully comply with the rules those claiming democratic authority impose.

    John sums up where I find myself these days.
    “On the contrary, they would much rather confirm the mutuality of individuals and the community with which they feel a genuine kinship. For that relationship requires an equal respect on both sides.”


  16. Doubt is a wonderful thing, societies are judged by it whether they are great or poor,for to allow questioning is to have confidence in what you are doing,changing when new ideas emerge,yet History shows that so often with mankind denial suppression & censorship become the norm when they realise they are wrong,but unable to admit it,because they fear losing their privilege more than anything in the world,yet the more they try to uphold a falsehood the quicker doubt manifests itself into the psych of people


  17. We are plagued by people of certainty just look at the opposite sides in global warming. That is a question that I’m very certain indeed about, I don’t know. The debate has been hijacked by vested interests and this makes it impossible to judge who is telling me what and why. Politicians are plonked straight into ministries they clearly haven’t the first clue about and become self professed experts in defence, health ettc in 5 minutes flat. Madness.


  18. An interesting analysis from Aristotle. Unfortunately it doesn’t lead to democracy, at least at is commonly perceived today


  19. Interesting article JW
    In the beginning of Homo sapiens was Bigbrain the pack-animal.

    The Dunning-Kruger effect is everywhere?
    #Unskilled individuals suffer from illusory superiority, mistakenly rating their ability much higher than is accurate. This bias is attributed to a metacognitive inability of the unskilled to recognize their ineptitude.
    #Those persons to whom a skill or set of skills come easily may find themselves with weak self-confidence, as they may falsely assume that others have an equivalent understanding.
    Which of the above categories do we and our leaders fit?

    And finally – Computers by Dr Seuss. [Last article JW]


  20. Dear Mr Hitler
    Poland is once again ripe for invasion. Fell free, but do try to form an orderly queue. xx


  21. No I haven’t, but oddly enough you’re the third person in a month to suggest I should. So I will. Thnx for the tip. JW


  22. In the future the human brain will be surpassed by artificial intelligence, singularity if you will. Computers will attempt to explain to the limited human mind the details of quantum mechanics, something like trying to teaching a dog to sing. What exactly is the plan for the 3.5 billion people on this planet with a IQ below 100? Thinking is so over rated.


  23. Good One Ghost! I salute you…
    Hey ghost…it is like this “I can only ever change myself’ …..I many not be able to change the system or a man/woman…however I will work for ‘me’ becoming a ‘kinder, wiser person to my friends, neighbours,and family(that one is hard) Raaa!
    Family is not easy in my opinion…so I would not uphold a falsehood, as you say…’These’ people are us…we do not want to change because it is painful….it is not so much the ‘privileges’ as you say…..Me’thinks we do not want to face our smallness.. our total insignificance……in the grand scheme of things………..
    To become more honest means you have to want to see your own lies…not nice and understandably that means a lot of people continue to suffer until they die….rather than come to an ‘acceptance’ You my friend would call it ‘grace’ sad innit :-)


  24. If a politician tells you that globe is warming and you need to pay more tax…. Hmmm I’m thinking he/she is a liar.
    … and if a few broke scientists are desperate to get their name in print why not tell the masses the sky is falling and it’s all their fault. oh did somebody just sneeze? it must be a ‘pandemic’ quick lets buy billions of pounds worth of useless drugs…*yawns*

    The carpet baggers have got more savvy over the millennium. But some still believe in that ole,’ cure all- snake oil’ gran pappy used all day long..


  25. And whatever you do, don’t paint the Big Bwana with his well-used tackle flapping in the breeze. Just don’t.


  26. And while free speech is an article of faith, don’t draw any cartoons that offend anyone at any time, don’t make any jokes that might offend anyone at any time. Don’t tweet or retweet or e-mail hilarious jokes that might offend anyone at any time. Bite your tongue until it bleeds or end up in the clutches of a lawyer, with your life savings trickling into his pocket. All the fun is being squeezed out of public life by this ridiculous notion that we can live our lives without offending anyone. Pfft!


  27. The down side to artificial intelligence by way of Computers is… them pesky things need a human to input the data… ah but then you knew that right?
    Many people with an IQ less than 100 live very happy, stress- free lives-others die young by trying to push a moving lorry off a motorway…


  28. IP i think i would have preferred your waffle,i personally believe this is down to doubt & they fear upsetting a God & they fear coming from snakes because they can not resolve why they are so different to all other animals & feel unworthy of the responsibility of being so,however that came about,why & what do we do with such responsibility


  29. Hey Ghost,
    “Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing, there is a field, I’ll meet you there.” :-)


  30. Miss Behaving …… actually computers can collect the information for themselves just like you do, no human input required. They can learn on their own. They can and will surpass human understanding in the future. It’s just a matter of time.


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