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What is Wrong with the World? Part 1

November 3, 2014

What is Wrong with the World? Part 1

When writer and journalist G K Chesterton was initially asked to contribute to Project Gutenberg on the question of “What is Wrong with the World” he simply replied, “I am.”

His answer may seem, on the surface, unhelpful but on deeper examination, it does reflect an element of truth. The world as we see it cannot be separated from the people who have helped construct its institutions, cultures, politics and even popular causes. Where are we now as a planet? Where are we going? Who makes those decisions? All this affects the way we perceive what the ideal world should be and what kind of people contribute to this vision. Thus we are suddenly confronted with the perplexing problem that perhaps it is not the world that is wrong but rather our own ideas of the world that are wrong. Chesterton later reconsidered his invitation and wrote his essay for Project Gutenberg.

I make this brief note, not to trivialise the quest to find out what is wrong with the world, but to highlight that something can only be considered wrong if we have a correct model to compare it with. Is the world broken and damaged? If so then there must be an ideal world to use as the yardstick for what a fixed world should look like. In searching for this answer I am left with little more than the collection of utopias that were never completed and will never be. Each one sits on the ruins of their own inertia or under the rubble of another half built utopia that was destined to be incomplete.

What is wrong with the world? Or should I say why the world does not make sense to me? The whole world cannot be broken or I would have no world to stand on. In fact, there is much in this world that I think is wonderful. So what is my disconnect from my current point in history? Is it the future or is it the past? What ideal did I expect when looking out to conclude that something must be wrong with the world that I know?

Here I will pinpoint what I think should be fixed.

Step one: Thinking is hard.

Thinking may be hard but a harder concept is letting everyone think for themselves.

Our world may be divided into two main schools of thought when it comes to intelligence. One is that smart people should do all the thinking because they know what is good for us. The other is that all thoughts are equal regardless of how stupid they are. In the first the elites have already decided to educate us to obey their direction, therefore our own personal ideas on important matters are null and void. In the second, we are left with the most dreadful of all conclusions, that all effort at thinking is a total waste. Why, because there is no objective measure to test out ideas against another. All thinking is a waste because all decisions that come from that thinking are no better than any other.

Elitism does not have to be a financial or class division but can be nothing more than a smug sense of superior knowledge, intelligence or experience. We can find elitism anywhere from the local café to the university to a news editorial. Elitism of the intellect is perhaps the most oppressive of all the elitisms that exist. Not only does it seek to dominate and control but it wants to control that which it could never control: the personal thoughts of others. It is also one of the saddest forms of oppression as it alienates itself from those that are deemed not worthy of its intellectual magnitude. We see examples of this whenever you have people refusing to discuss a policy that they would enforce. We see this in universities and schools when classes become indoctrination sessions. We see this when we are told that the matter has been settled by the experts, the scientists and wise ones of society. Elitists may also express the belief that the ordinary people of society are ignorant and stupid to ever understand what they are doing to help them and thus treat any inquiry with contempt.

The opposite extreme to elitism is the current version of postmodernism, where all opinions are equal. Circumstance, culture and subjective emotion are used to determine what is true. This becomes even more muddled where one brutal act may be condemned if perfumed by one person but praised if performed by another. In this fog of existence everything has been negotiated away in a big compromise of situational management. Even murder is not murder if it can be subjectively justified. Unlike the elitists the extreme inclusionists can attack and retreat at will regardless of contradiction or logic. Like sand their arguments can fall through your fingers and blend back into the beach. Yet when it suits them they suddenly appear to raise objections on behalf of some other clump of lose sand. It is not the vagueness of their argument that motivates these people but a desire to hide their true ambitions behind a cloud of pious sentiments and slogans. What is missing is any sense of consequence for making bad decisions. Meaning well, is exchange for doing well. The final result is that your opinion may be valid but it will be ignored.

Conclusion

Before we determine what is wrong with the world we must first understand it is people who run the world. People you and me. Also, we are not going to make much headway in our own mind if we do not face up to the attitudes that you encounter. Elitism is real and can reinvent itself to match any new environment. Unfortunately to take the approach that all opinions are the same ultimately provide no answers. With elitism, most people are considered too stupid to listen to but believe that everyone equally stupid is madness.

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