Intelligence and Flexibility

Intelligence and Flexibility

I used to think intelligence was linked to knowledge.  I think most people make this mistake. The two things have some connection, in the form of memory and capacity to learn new topics, but I can honestly say I never heard people say ‘I don’t know’ as often as I did at university, amongst very learned colleagues and academics.


There is nothing wrong with saying ‘I don’t know.’  It certainly beats pretending you know, or assuming that you know.  As the human quest for knowledge has developed, we have attempted to remove cultural and time related barriers to learning by opening everything up for debate.  It does not matter what field you are in, or how advanced you are, debate is welcomed by those with knowledge, in an effort to actually further the field.


What we are seeing now in UK politics seems to me to be an attempt to feign knowledge and discourage interest by maintaining tradition that does not exist. Labour and Conservatives are concentrating hard on killing off their most popular candidates, in favour of forcing us to vote for an increasingly vague ideology, led by rather authoritarian and not-particularly-appealing figures whom we are encouraged to dismiss and dislike.


If you have a look around, politics now is rather bland compared with the days before we joined the Common Market.  Scenes of people being removed from debates and hustings style appearances were once commonplace.  People were highly engaged, and political representatives actually allowed some influence from the people they purported to represent.  When did we decide that accurate representation and the interests of the public were subordinate to a bland version of the original ideology?  When did people like my Conservative neighbour decide that it was OK and not terribly important that thousands of people die after being sanctioned or starved by Conservative policy? When did people stop feeling?


Perhaps this is the secret of of figures like Jeremy Corbyn or Boris Johnson.  Both have a liberal mass appeal, from the opposing sides of an age-old argument that more philosophical thinkers recognise.  Stronger meat, and yet street-friendly interpretations of a system that has become stale, self serving and that fails to engage people, even as thousands of disabled people fall victim to strokes of a policy pen.


Perhaps this is the reason that such figures must be removed.  If people are too engaged in what our governments are doing, then we will actually notice that it is not OK for people to starve to death, or be blamed for poor social management and inhumane policy. Perhaps we will notice that government is serving masters other than the voters they claim to represent.


In both cases, the parties are killing a golden opportunity for positive change, and we are supposed to eat our cereal and watch it happen, knowing full well that they will be replaced by less interesting, less engaged and more Machiavellian forces in the form of rather tedious career politicians, who care a lot more about the number of gnomes in their garden than they do about actual events or progress.  If we are not interested, they are more likely to get away with policies that we do not find desirable or necessary. Whoever is pulling the strings on the crucifixions, they know full well that an engaged, optimistic population is the last thing they want or need.


The civic sense of community has, of course, been eroded by the massive changes in our behaviour in the last two or three decades by the internet.  Now, instead of street by street hivemind disagreement and/or collective action, we have old versus young, fat versus thin, right versus left on a far wider basis.  We dispose of people quite readily on the grounds of a photograph, or a sentence that may not suit us.  We are encouraged to be childlike and yet inflexible. Instead of admiring the capacity for change, we accuse people of flip-flopping or being inconsistent.


It has been amusing, watching the heartfelt anti-democratic protest and accusations of the last week.  Amusing because these same people see no merit in liberalism with walls, amusing because the government did not get the result they wanted or expected, amusing because the public, whether they did it wittingly or not, voted for what they believed was best for them and their future opportunities.


As I said in my previous post, it may be a good accident, and if we are patient, we may reap great benefits.  It does not matter how things happen, it matters how flexible we can be in our approach to solving problems.  That is what intelligence really is.  It is not fear of the unknown, complacency about past achievements, or a reliance on conforming to a status quo that does not work.  It is picking up the pieces and creating something new.  It is making order out of chaos.  It is seeing the diamonds in the dust.


As someone who stands outside traditional political boundaries, I am forced to assimilate information on an individual basis.  It is rare that I commit myself to one ideology, because some arguments continue for centuries, and much politics is just theatre.  It became apparent during my political and religious studies, that many arguments are designed purely to appeal to the ego.  You should not regard anything as being ‘true’ or false, because our reality is shaped by the frictional warzone between extremes.  All you can do is make your best guess, and then make sure you do the work to produce a desirable outcome. Unwillingness to do this is unwillingness for positive change, and the moronic desire to remain in your comfortable shell.



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