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It's Not the Speed, It's the Stupidity

Imre von Soos
Copyright©1987,1995,2001,2004,2006

        Change, the process by which the past becomes future, is a state of Nature. Its rate and complexity are the products and stimuli of the individual intellect, which's growth widens consciousness and perception, affects all relations, and affects all ideas and values. Logically, the individual does not have to adapt to that, which his own intellect has produced, or readily understands. The rate of acceleration of evolution being the function of the intellect, and consequently a personal quality, it cannot be regulated or controlled to an average, for even a median speed is for half of the public too fast, while the other half suffers from under-stimulation. On the contrary: the very idea of individual freedom requires that everybody lives on his own intellectual level, under his own speed, within his own limits and privacy. To voluntarily live below that level is self-degradation; wanting to live above it is imposition on others: parasitism.

        Here enters my metaphor of the wave, demonstrating that any artificial, rigid structure, made to induce the uniform movement of the particles possessing various energies of vibration, produces only a cacophonous turbulence, but never a harmonious order. Under harmonious conditions nobody has to adapt, nobody is weighed down, nobody is supported, and nobody suffers of Alvin Toffler's "disease of change".

        Obviously, if nobody insists on creating an artificial structure built on unnatural propositions, nobody will have to worry how to adapt people to it, that is, how to force them from the present unnatural condition into a future unnatural one. A change towards the natural, motivated by a natural mentality, would need no induction, no politicians and no psychologists. If, however, a person insists to live at the level and according to the relations, ideas and values of a higher intellect, he will experience a much disturbed inner equilibrium, a negatively altered view on life, and much more difficult conditions of survival, for which he can only blame himself (remember my Cartesian parastatement).

        There is no such thing as a "human scale": every individual has his own scale, his own intelligence and potentials, to which he has to measure his own activities and demands. It logically follows that each individual has to define his own pace and his own position within each institutional system he actively participates in, accordingly, for nobody else can - and should - do that for him with justice. The structure of each institution must be so light and so elastic as to quasi nothing more than the cohesion of its members who associated themselves with the purpose to form it, and should allow - or rather adapt itself to - all possible natural differences between them, remaining but a convenience, and never a super-ordinated concept.

        William Ogburn's "cultural lag" is a natural phenomenon, arising out of the intellectual and consequently cultural differences of individuals, clustering accordingly into social classes with various rates of change. Social stresses do not result out of the differential velocity, that is natural, but out of the jealousies and parasitism, that is unnatural. There is no doubt that the present social stratification based on material possessions - and most emphatically not on intellect and culture - is in itself an unnatural one, and that under natural mentality - while a natural stratification will always exist - jealousies and parasitism will not, regardless how much that lag will increase.

        I suggest that the presently growing neurosis does not arise from the superimposition of a new culture on an old one, because a new one does not exist yet by far, and whatever exists is the consequence and expression of that neurosis; nor is it the product of a greatly accelerated rate of progress, for that progress corresponds only with the evolutionary state of those who have conceived and elaborated it and who have the intellectual talent to resolve related difficulties. Millions of human beings are increasingly disoriented and progressively incompetent to deal rationally with their environments, because their environments are becoming progressively irrational to them; they are terrified of the future, because they are terrified of the present they are incompetent to handle. Their "future shock" is in fact a "present shock". All those who cannot cope with the complexity or the pace of the environment they live in, are simply living beyond their own intellectual environment, and are in fact at the "level of their incompetence" (Peter), which they have reached on the strength of unnatural means. In their evolutionary state there is no progress, only a degradation from bad to worse, where the unnatural causes and remedies only help to increase the disease. "I have noticed that, with few exceptions, men bungle their affairs. Everywhere I see incompetence rampant, incompetence triumphant. . . (It) knows no barriers or time or place . . . an ever-present pestiferous nuisance . . . the reason why schools do not bestow wisdom, why governments cannot maintain order, why courts do not dispense justice, why prosperity fails to produce happiness, why utopian plans never generate utopias." (Raymond Hull)

        The scientific technologists have accelerated the rate of change in scientific technology according to the level of their own intellect. The incompetent can only blame himself if he irrationally introduces into his own environment something he cannot understand nor control, and breaks down under its pressure both mentally and emotionally, for nobody has forced him to do so, but his own greed, jealousies and conceit. This is why masses of incompetents in these societies already feel themselves harried, futile, incapable of working out their own future, or make sensible, competent decisions about their own destiny. In short: it's not the speed, it's the stupidity.

        One wide-spread response of the incompetent to innovation is the flat refusal to accept new information from his intellectually superior (and hierarchically inferior), for whom this innovation is life-blood. Beside being in overwhelming majority, the incompetents are the pampered "unfortunates" of all societies - which form in fact a giant "incompetents anonymous" - putting both technology and the competents in the role of the villain. To provide an "easier going environment" would be a logical suggestion only if the hope existed that the same people would not automatically step forward, into their new level of incompetence, and re-establish with it the good old status quo. The right environment for each could be found, and a general competence reached, if each incompetent would step back unto his own level of competence, the levels where the competents have stayed in fact. But this is hopeless, for it would mean loosing face, pseudo-respect and, of course, financial and social advantages. Besides, it would break the 'System'.

        The incompetent is also irresponsible for undertaking a task above his intellectual means, and who, finally, cannot answer for something he was ab ovo incompetent to do. Thus, incompetence breeds corruption; incompetence is, in fact, corruption.

        Against the suggestion that the psychosis, called "future shock", derives out of the fast pace of technological progress, I will formulate my proposition, starting with the confirmation that the psychosis exists, and that its effects are as described by Alvin Toffler.

        Pace is only one of the parameters: complexity is the other. Their product defines the specific rate of change, or rather the rate at which a stimulus has to be dealt with, a problem has to be resolved. This correlates specific rate of change with individual stimulus response time, referring, in this context, to rational problem-solving processes.

        If every process of solving a certain problem produces an incorrect answer or gets into a cul-de-sac, the pressure produced by frustration appears as if it would be produced by "time running away". Hence the impression of accelerating pace. Accelerating, because the problem itself grows as time passes.

        Most people finding themselves at the level of their incompetence - reaching this point either by being promoted to a position beyond their competence as described in "The Peter Principle", or by not being able to keep up intellectually with the advancement of the knowledge required by their position - get confused, frustrated and psychotic, trying to resolve their problem and saving their face and position with aggression, with brawn instead of brain.

        Thus the cause of the actual general psychosis is not the fast rhythm, but the general cacophony produced by incompetence just as general; and the problem is not technology: the problem is the dinosaurian explosion of the somatotonic way of thinking. The epithet emphasizes both the quantities and masses involved, and the corresponding dull-witted brain that can be put into a nutshell in every sense of the word. Muscles approach problems only by growing more muscles, never by rational means; eating themselves literally out of their environment, intensifying their problems with every bite - hence the impression of the "runaway forces of change" -; and, because of not finding results in unnatural approaches, getting more and more confused, out of control, psychotic.

        And in the meantime some insignificant, marginalized upper IQ relatives grow even more brains, and start on the way to originate a new order by becoming a new species. Ecce Homo planetaris.


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