“Nell," the Constable continued, indicating through his tone of voice that the lesson was concluding, "the difference between ignorant and educated people is that the latter know more facts. But that has nothing to do with whether they are stupid or intelligent. The difference between stupid and intelligent people—and this is true whether or not they are well-educated—is that intelligent people can handle subtlety. They are not baffled by ambiguous or even contradictory situations—in fact, they expect them and are apt to become suspicious when things seem overly straightforward.” ― Neal Stephenson, The Diamond Age: Or, a Young Lady's Illustrated PrimerThe real issue facing the blogerati is that they are trying desperately to simplify the equation. While this is often acceptable and to be praised in a pre-algebra class, that isn't the type of equation that most folks sitting and pounding on their computers are discussing.
The main problem with us is that we are and the end of an age. I would say that the closest temporal equivalent would have to be the end of the British Empire and the closest structural equivalent would be the ending of the ancien régime. Things have run out on the ad hoc structures that we have put together over the past.
What is going to happen in the upcoming phase change is the same thing that has happened innumerable times in the past, we will develop a new set of ad hoc structures to replace the fallen ones. What is hoped for here in blogoland is a struggle to put ones own favorite hare-brained scheme in the forefront. But your hare brained schemes are usually a focus on single causes attached to a buzzword (freedom, socialism, free markets, welfare state) that allows one to simplify the equation.
This desire to simplify has led us to the current paralysis of government at all levels. Single causes have overtaken large swathes of government at all levels.
This fossilization of political discourse brings to mind a similar train of events in sixteenth century China. Here, the teachings of a scholar Wang Yangming (王陽明) fueled the fire (Kinda reminds me of that douchebag Milton Friedman). Here it was decided that the conscience of the individual was the only thing that mattered. It brought about the ossification of the politics, debates and controversies were framed not as issues for compromise and pragmatism but as black-and-white moral issues.
Simply put, when this happened in the time of the Wanli emperor, Zhu Yijun (萬曆), it preshadowed the fall of the Ming and the rise of the Manchus. The inability of the empire to reach a workable compromise allowed the fall of the empire.
Thus it goes here. We are going into another government shutdown threat over 3-4 billion in disaster relief dollars or around 0.03% of the total budget. Kabuki theatre at its best.
What is really happening in Washington is that our political leaders, or anyone else in the country for that matter, simply do not have the intellectual or experiential background to deal with the problem. It is just too f*&$ing complex. We have a set of priests (the federal reserve and their owner banks) demanding more cargo cult sacrifices. We have a large group of poor who do not and will not ever have a set of marketable skills. We have a middle class that is sinking fast due to the twin pressures of global wage arbitrage and excessive, self-inflicted debt. We have a political class more intent on the kabuki theatre that they hope will allow them to continue feeding high on the hog than than trying to figure out the causes of the problem.
This sorry state of affairs will probably continue for a time now. Phase changes in chemistry are usually quite rapid. Phase changes in politics less so. I figure we have now just left the discovery phase that we are well and truly screwed. We are now entering the wild thrashing around stage where everyone starts grabbing for as much of the pie as they can hold.
Because you see, if you don't really understand what is going on, all you can do is scramble.
Which path do you intend to take, Nell?" said the Constable, sounding very interested. "Conformity or rebellion?"
Neither one. Both ways are simple-minded– they are only for people who cannot cope with contradiction and ambiguity.
― Neal Stephenson, The Diamond Age: Or, a Young Lady's Illustrated Primer