Saturday, December 28, 2013

Autarky, Illusion Of

People fall increasingly under the illusion of autarky as information becomes more readily available. These days, anyone with access to a search engine thinks he's an expert. And these beglamoured folk then spread the cloud of unknowing further and farther.

This is why in the past you could accept 'mechanical failure' as a reason for a tragic accident but now many are pundits on the topic of how mechanical failure need never happen. And those who aren't pundits are pundit-echoers. And if not, they are pundits on how mechanical failure is an erosion of civil liberties, or on how the state is covering it up, or on how shocking it is that we aren't shown the proton-emission tomographic scans of the failed parts under discussion.

Not that many could interpret the latter even if they existed. It is all an illusion, this informational autarky. Almost nobody is informationally self-sufficient. There is still a role for the expert, or the well-educated generalist, or the amateurs who have taken time to know their stuff.

But the public sphere, the so-called marketplace of ideas, the whole 'civil society' construct? These are now polluted by people who have no ideas to market, who think the public sphere is a constraining box, who have no concept of civility (let alone civitas), or who think society lives to serve individuals rather than serves to keep individuals alive.

It is as the Good Book says; men have become lovers of themselves more than anything else. Professing wisdom, they have become fools.

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