Friday, 11 January 2013

How reasonable argument, based on false premises, aids the enemy - because the enemy are not human

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I am becoming increasingly disenchanted with reasonable argument based on false premises, which has the counter-productive effect of reassuring the servants of evil of their own reasonableness

Here is a typical example:

Yesterday I read an article critical of the way in which scientometric measurements are being applied by management to individual faculty in a particular London college as a job evaluation mechanism - so that academics of such-and-such a rank are required (over four years) to publish X papers per year, in journals with an impact factor of Y, and to obtain Z hundred thousand pounds of 'research funding'. Supposedly, those faculty who hit the targets keep their jobs, those who miss them will be sacked.

(The policy example is merely a routine and everyday example of utterly typical, mainstream modern management behaviour, or of political behaviour at any scale from the local to national and international.)

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Now, this policy is wrong in so many ways I could write a book about it - in fact I have published numerous papers and commentaries on this subject over the years, pointing out that this is a misunderstanding of scientometric data, which is of narrow and short-term applicability, that there are undesirable (and measured) medium and consequences from this strategy - and so on.

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So the policy is ineffective and inefficient, and indeed counter-productive in terms of its avowed intentions.

But that is obviously not the problem.

That would only be the problem if it could be assumed that the management were in any sense at all actually trying to solve the problem to which this policy is supposed to be a solution. But of course they are not.

Of course not!

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I am not talking about the fact that management do what benefits management; that is a perennial fact of human affairs, but in the past it did not lead to the proliferation and avalanche of expensive, intrusive, inefficient and destructive policies at every level.

This is not just bureaucrats feathering their nest at the expense of others.   

The problem is that the management, the people who implement such schemes of evaluation, and who cooperate with such schemes, are evil - and to argue with them as if they were well-meaning folks who were making a slip-up they would be anxious to correct, is simply to collude in covering-up the reality of the situation.

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When I say they are evil, I am not saying this in a vague or subjective way; they are evil in the exact sense that they are engaged in the active destruction of good - insofar as there is good research in a university, this kind of scheme will destroy it.

That is not a matter of opinion, it is known insofar as such things ever can be known - if you reward people for doing the wrong things in the wrong way and for the wrong reasons, and punish people for doing the best work of which they are capable in the best way they know - then you are engaged in the active destruction of good, which is the definition of evil.

A portion of these management actions are explicable in terms of incompetence rather than evil; but not most nor all, since management are indifferent and indeed wilfully blind to the evil consequences of their actions - which is itself evil.

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Of course, this type of management evil is an exemplar of the banality of evil taken to ludicrous extremes. We are not talking here about brutal-faced concentration camp guards, nor ice-hearted and sadistic officials with rimless glasses; these servants of evil are mostly nice, middle aged, middle class ladies.

People, that is, who are the very epitome of 'well meaning' - but the problem is of course that they are not well meaning, they are ill-meaning.

It is so tempting to excuse them on the basis of incompetence, because of course they are grossly incompetent - but they are ineducable and uncorrectable, so to engage is merely to flatter and disguise their intractable ignorance.

It is tempting to engage with them in a way which assumes their concern. And they do feel concern, they love to feel concern. Feeling concern is precisely what enables them to serve evil with such unwavering devotion.

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My point is that to engage with  people that have evil motivations as if their motivations were good is not just futile, but actively harmful, actively abetting of evil.

On the other hand, it is likely counter-productive - at least as a strategy - to be openly hostile and aggressive - unless you really are likely to win.

No, the only valid option is to refuse engagement, to say nothing, do nothing, shut up, decline to cooperate, decline to cooperate, decline to cooperate.

Make them do everything, don't give them any excuses, don't make it easy for them to represent themselves to themselves as reasonable or rational or concerned or compassionate; reveal them as using power and coercion nakedly in their unrelenting mission of destruction.

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We must recognize that we are not up against bumbling incompetence, we are not dealing with people who want the same things as us - in a sense we are not really up against people at all.

We are up against wraiths.

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Tom Shippey pointed out in The Road to Middle Earth that turning into a wraith - the process of wraithing - was a very modern and managerial form of evil - to lose one's self and to become insubstantial in the service of evil.

That's what modern management, media and politicians essentially are - ringwraiths. To recognize this is to know what to do.

When Frodo asked Gildor for more information on the black riders, so he could know the danger that pursued him, the elf replied: 

Is it not enough to know that they are servants of the Enemy?... Flee them! Speak no words to them! They are deadly. 

And, Strider later added:

You fear them, but you do not fear them enough...


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