Saturday, March 8, 2014

Is "expert" a new euphemism for "dictatorship"?

Long after finishing the book "Public Opinion", I still have many notes written about it. Another is that progressives use the lofty position as "expert" as a means of shutting down debate and thus getting what they want. I'm sure I've brushed into this many times indirectly, but now is a good time as any to be as direct as possible about it. Starting on page 399:

As a private citizen, as a sovereign voter, no one could attempt to digest these documents. But as one party to a dispute, as a committeeman in a legislature, as an officer in government, business, or a trade union, as a member of an industrial council, reports on the specific matter at issue will be increasingly welcome. The private citizen interested in some cause would belong, as he does now, to voluntary societies which employed a staff to study the documents, and make reports that served as a check on officialdom. There would be some study of this material by newspaper men, and a good deal by experts and by political scientists. But the outsider, and every one of us is an outsider to all but a few aspects of modern life, has neither time, nor attention, nor interest, nor the equipment for specific judgment. It is on the men inside, working under conditions that are sound, that the daily administrations of society must rest.

The general public outside can arrive at judgments about whether these conditions are sound only on the result after the event, and on the procedure before the event. The broad principles on which the action of public opinion can be continuous are essentially principles of procedure. The outsider can ask experts to tell him whether the relevant facts were duly considered; he cannot in most cases decide for himself what is relevant or what is due consideration. The outsider can perhaps judge whether the groups interested in the decision were properly heard, whether the ballot, if there was one, was honestly taken, and perhaps whether the result was honestly accepted. He can watch the procedure when the news indicates that there is something to watch. He can raise a question as to whether the procedure itself is right, if its normal results conflict with his ideal of a good life. (3) But if he tries in every case to substitute himself for the procedure, to bring in Public Opinion like a providential uncle in the crisis of a play, he will confound his own confusion. He will not follow any train of thought consecutively.

For the practice of appealing to the public on all sorts of intricate matters means almost always a desire to escape criticism from those who know by enlisting a large majority which has had no chance to know. The verdict is made to depend on who has the loudest or the most entrancing voice, the most skilful or the most brazen publicity man, the best access to the most space in the newspapers. For even when the editor is scrupulously fair to "the other side," fairness is not enough. There may be several other sides, unmentioned by any of the organized, financed and active partisans.

The private citizen, beset by partisan appeals for the loan of his Public Opinion, will soon see, perhaps, that these appeals are not a compliment to his intelligence, but an imposition on his good nature and an insult to his sense of evidence. As his civic education takes account of the complexity of his environment, he will concern himself about the equity and the sanity of procedure, and even this he will in most cases expect his elected representative to watch for him. He will refuse himself to accept the burden of these decisions, and will turn down his thumbs in most cases on those who, in their hurry to win, rush from the conference table with the first dope for the reporters.

Only by insisting that problems shall not come up to him until they have passed through a procedure, can the busy citizen of a modern state hope to deal with them in a form that is intelligible. For issues, as they are stated by a partisan, almost always consist of an intricate series of facts, as he has observed them, surrounded by a large fatty mass of stereotyped phrases charged with his emotion. According to the fashion of the day, he will emerge from the conference room insisting that what he wants is some soulfilling idea like Justice, Welfare, Americanism, Socialism. On such issues the citizen outside can sometimes be provoked to fear or admiration, but to judgment never. Before he can do anything with the argument, the fat has to be boiled out of it for him.

That can be done by having the representative inside carry on discussion in the presence of some one, chairman or mediator, who forces the discussion to deal with the analyses supplied by experts.

When he says "representative inside", he is talking about a few paragraphs up, where importance is placed upon "insiders" as opposed to "outsiders". In other words, the insiders have all the information, and the outsiders are clueless as to what is going on.

This is important to understand, because of what this structure then does. On the one side, the expert supplies information to the uninformed, while another expert, the much vaunted "insider", sits on the other side of the uninformed and carries on a discussion with him/her.

In this, the progressives really can have it both ways because they control what comes in, and control what goes out. He continues:

The partisan voices should be there, but the partisans should find themselves confronted with men, not personally involved, who control enough facts and have the dialectical skill to sort out what is real perception from what is stereotype, pattern and elaboration.

Is there anybody who dares to challenge this? What are your credentials? Who are you to tell me, him, or anybody else if you have none? Or your credentials are lesser? Well then, you have no authority here, the credentials have spoken.

That's really the bottom line. Authority. That last line really puts the point to all of this. Experts control what comes in, they control what comes out, and even during the debate, the "partisans" get filtered by even more experts so that the uninformed only hear what the progressives want them to hear. Total authority. Total control. Dictatorship.

The next line after that is also very telling:

It is the Socratic dialogue, with all of Socrates's energy for breaking through words to meanings, and something more than that, because the dialectic in modern life must be done by men who have explored the environment as well as the human mind.

That's really what this whole book is about. On the surface, it would seem weird to anybody who picks up the book "Public Opinion" to find out that as they read this book Mr. Lippmann is, on the one hand, held up historically as a paragon of objective journalism, but on the other hand, he spends large portions of this book cataloguing how humanity operates. If you put it together with the real world results of what journalism has become, and even what it had become while Lippmann was still alive and very influential in the world of news, you see that the legend cannot match reality. If objective journalism was the goal, we would have a historical record of Walter Lippmann turning upon his own industry for it's widespread malfeasance and malpractice. But we don't have that, we have the opposite.

His own book "Public Opinion" encourages the use of key words to influence the populace to arrive at a pre-determined conclusion - he himself uses expertise (as a journalist) against the populace like a weapon. And even as some of the articles that I've dug up and displayed from Lippmann's own hand, he encouraged growth in government. So then the only conclusion you can come to by reading the book is that he went through the process of studying the people around him so that he could devise better ways to control them. Walter Lippmann was a man who "explored the environment as well as the human mind", no wonder then, he would write as if it were nothing - about the use of stereotypes in the news as a means for public control. Editorials reinforce.

I recently made a post about the concept of "technocracy", which is basically yet another label for the same bankrupt theory. That experts in their bureaucracies and commissions should be the ones in control of society.

This is what the progressives have set up, doesn't matter if you call it technocracy or something else. Under the guise of "administration", using "regulations" as their laws that they can immediately change, and using "credentials" as a way to suppress and oppress dissenting views. You don't have the credentials that we have, so you should lie down before you hurt yourself. We got this.

"Credentials" have replaced "divinity" - A few hundred years ago the dictators believed they had a divine right to rule and proclaimed themselves monarch. Now the dictators believe they have a credentialed right to rule and proclaim themselves expert.

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