Sunday, 15 September 2013

On the Origin of ideas

Where do new ideas come from? For some people the origin of all ideas is so remote
that it is assigned to mythical entities, which passes to humanity some time as a sign of their beneficence and some time as a sign of rebellion against other entities. In other cases humanity steals them from the gods, these come with warnings as with Pandora's box.
Something a little more prosaic would be nice but for some members of the population it seems that they don't understand that things have been invented , that at various times since humanity climbed down from the trees the amount of knowledge available to mankind has increased. It is not that some people or group of people who have either known everything or have had access to a document with the complete catalogue of human knowledge.
To a large number of these people the actual process of conceiving an idea would be considered just making it up and dismissed. No new knowledge can come into the world and definitely not from anyone they know, one of the true statements from the bible is "a prophet is without honour in his own land".
There is a bit more to it than just making it up, that is followed by periods of thinking and consideration of the new idea and the area in which it exists. That is of course if the person just making it up actually realises, at time what will seem the most natural thing in the world, the most obvious will intact by new and revolutionary.
The most demoralising thing to hear in the world is "I've never heard anyone say that" when used to dismiss an idea as the speakers lack of knowledge of something is in some way indicative of the idea being wrong and being fanciful. It also implies that the person who has never "heard the idea" is in fact so knowledgeable of the situation that they can dismiss ideas, the very idea that they do not know something implies that the idea is wrong.
This level of passive arrogance is what dominated society, it is what crushes new ideas, whether they are novel to all of humanity of just to the local situation. Not just genuinely new to the world ideas but also ones that they arbitrators of the mediocre and banal have not heard of are consigned to the bin. They don't replace them with better ideas they don't challenge them with an argument they ridicule them in the same way their racists and xenophobic fellow travellers ridicule other races and cultures. As far as I can tell racism etc. are all watered down branches of ideophobia for those who have specialised in particular source of new ideas to hate.

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

The Dignified rush to war, Syria and the talking Cure.

For the first time, I can remember, the BBC had some footage from inside the French National Assembly covering the vote on Frances participation in any US attack on Syria, the US had a committee meeting today, which will recommend a motion to the US Congress on Monday.
Various people have used this to claim it demonstrates that Britain still has influence other than the use of military power. I'm not going to disagree but it is more a show of the power and influence of debate and reasoned argument.
Through the medium of televised debate pressure is brought to bear on Assad as no one is defending him or his actions. However the pressure will only last as long as the debates continue but it must continue in public with the constant gravity given by lives being in the balance and the sound of arms being readied in the background.
While it is unlikely that it will be headed by Assad it will be heard by his backers, the anonymous men behind the throne who will decide when Assad has become a liability.
Peer pressure is not just something that works at schools or for bad ends, the constant talk is what has moved Putin to raise the possibility of Russian involvement. The Chinese are motivated by the need not to lose face but if and when the arguments are made consistently and well the position will come when face is best saved by realising the facts on the ground have changed and there is no dishonour in changing position.
Of course Assad's regime will realise this and work very hard to steer clear of crossing any lines but that assumes that the public and political face of Syria is the face of those pulling the trigger. Eventually either the international community will act and Assad will fall or the hidden powers in Syria will pre-empt any action by removing Assad.
In either event those truly responsible not the just the public faces must be taken to task otherwise they will still be pulling the strings.
Syria was created by the west in the wake of the collapse of the Ottoman empire the west can therefore also undo it and allow the locals to remake the territory in a way that reflects the communities, this will be even harder to sell to some than an attack would but Syria is no more natural self determined union than the Soviet Union was. It is full of ethnic tension and conflict and is at the root of the problems.
The same is true for several other states in the region who will see their days as numbered with the de merger of Syria they can be expected to fight tooth and nail to stop it but it is a requirement for long term peace. The same talking cure we are now experiencing must lead the solution.