Wednesday, February 15, 2023

Paradox of Prophesy

Paradox of Prophesy


          Consider this tale: some outsider rants that the establishment is making some catastrophic blunder; the insiders (if they acknowledge the outsider at all) deny this. Lo and behold, the catastrophe comes, the outsider is vindicated and the insiders refuted. What’s more, the blunder was, in retrospect, an obvious one that any fool could have seen. How could this be? How was the outsider so brilliantly prophetic, and those in the know so clueless?

          My diagnosis; prophesy is actually fairly common, for it is less a matter of brains than of spine.
I define “spinal prophesy” as “prophesy requiring more spine than brains”, i.e. “startling but accurate description and prediction of society whose enunciator is exceptional in courage but not intelligence”. A spinal prophet has the spine to say out loud what everyone else (except the powers that be) whispers.

          The spinal prophet’s bold roars are usually met with indignant surprise by the powers that be; everyone else says they knew that all along, but now that the topic is open, let’s discuss it some more.

           The puzzle is not how the spinal prophet’s so smart, but how the powers that be are so stupid. The prophet has spine, but not more than average brains; are we to conclude that the insiders are below average? He is ten times smarter than they are, but he has only IQ 100; have they, then, IQ 10?

          Again, how could this be? Well, there’s groupthink and the Peter Principle. Also there’s Acton’s Axiom; power corrupts. Power corrupts not only morality, but also intelligence; for accurate information cannot cross a power gap. Elites in power are always lied to by the underlings; so their intelligence is based upon comforting illusion, a.k.a. stupidity.

          It takes skill to become or remain an insider; but part of the skill-set needed is Orwellian: doublethink, duckspeak, and crimestop. That last Orwellian skill, crimestop, is protective stupidity; the intuitive aversion to thought trending towards heresy.

           Crimestop, like hypocrisy, is a universal vice. You cannot persuade a man to make a conclusion that he is paid not to make; that is ordinary personal crimestop. Orwell foresaw the collectivization of crimestop; its organized use for political oppression.

           The spinal prophet turns the Party’s own crimestop against it. Since there are truths that Big Brother cannot understand, and these truths are ordinary truths, accessible to those of average wit, it follows that most people can outwit Big Brother himself!

           The Party not only does not know, it cannot know. That is the humiliating revelation that the Party cannot forgive the spinal prophet; and that in turn is why you need spine more than brains to become a spinal prophet.

           Nonetheless the spinal prophet is smarter than the Party, for he turns its own protective stupidity against it. Spinal prophesy is crimestop jujitsu.

           The only solution, in the long run, is the circulation of aristocracies. In that sense revolution is not a threat to social stability but its only hope. Throw the idiots out!

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