The Intellectual Revolt (p.999)
Early 20th century economic and political turbulence created a wave of intellectual skepticism for the future of effective government. Individual-based production and commerce had revealed how corrupt the individual quest for power, property and production at the cost of "lesser" subjects could be, and planned governments like the varying flavors of Socialism and Communism revealed how centralization of production was no less corrupt than an individual-driven system.
To boil this down, a solution was needed, which is still a hotly debated topic to this day: How to balance power (which entails justice, order, and laws) with the proportionally-variant compulsions of conformity and individualism existent within the populous. Governments institute power differently based on their beliefs and premises regarding this triad (power, conformity, individualism). Whether they formally acknowledge it or not, the effectiveness of modern government is determined by how well they toe the line between the general populous' willingness to conform and their compulsion to act individually. It is a contingent of incentives, but it is also a contingent of abstract human nature. Economists study incentives, but they do not specialize in the latter. (Politicians merely specialize in marketing law.)
It serves to note that some individuals will never conform--the philosophers, whose nature it is to be autonomous--and as such, are the individuals who see society the clearest because they are unaffected by its power mechanisms. The opposite side of this coin is that they are hunted and dismissed by modern society because they can see the linkage and innards (read : weaknesses) of these modern power mechanisms. Think I am making this up? When is the last time you saw a philosopher on the cover of a magazine, or asked to give interviews, or kids wanting to be a philosopher one day? Not a public intellect, or a brilliant-but-approachable scientist, but a creative, intellectually innovative, unpredictable genius with a penchant for objective truth rather than subjective, social platitudes.
Philosophers specialize in understanding human nature. Thus, there is probably a connection between our perennial ignorance to effective modern economics and politics with the lack of philosophers. Economics and politics are abstract concepts, and philosophers are natural masters of abstract concepts, clearing existent categories and creating new ones, if necessary. I find it strange that you can track philosophers throughout history as having created useful things like math, astronomy, theories of time, types of knowledge, physics, philosophical disciplines which order the reality we take for granted, yet in modern day we do not acknowledge their value. I am not saying we need to like them, yet that we are at a point of marginalizing the very men and women who have historically bucked the throat-clearing power-machine for the sake of humankind's progress, not for the sake of anarchism. Thus, the current prejudice that philosophers are impractical is a bad omen for our future.
I am left with making one simple premise: If we change our minds as to who and what we respect--to now include philosophers--we may find that these marginalized geniuses will come out of hiding and explain the modern mysteries that perennially stupefy us. Philosophers are naturally creative and innovative. Let us allow them to create without demanding them conform to the mutated, short-sighted, impractical mechanisms and institutions of power.
Click the RSS FEED button below to receive notification of new Orwell 365 posts.