Saturday 15 May 2021

Pragmatic appeasement in 2021

Pragmatic appeasement is a 'managerial' or bureaucratic mode of thinking that has spread into mass interpersonal discourse. 

It accepts an evaluation of the 'realities' of the current situation as 'the facts'; and then tries to behave pragmatically. This is the bread-and-butter reasoning of 'sensible dissent', which is the only permissible mainstream analysis and discussion of major policies.  

At root, pragmatic appeasement is always is about managing people. It affects agnosticism about reality and real-causes; and focuses on attempting to make the best of things 'given that ' people's attitudes and behaviours are what they (apparently) are. 

So, when the birdemic came - pragmatic appeasement argued that - whether or not it really was dangerous, clearly people were afraid; and therefore it would be 'sensible' to lock-down-etc. Now, it argues that the peck is 'sensible' because (whether or not it 'really' works) the world is locked-down and we need to offer the (even more-) afraid people a way to justify a return to normal. 

Thus people are seen as needing appeasement, and appeasement is seen as being effective.

This is what is very striking about pragmatic appeasement - it is 'agnostic' (or just wrong) about real science, the facts, and implications; but it is absolutely dogmatic about soft assertions concerning what 'people' think, and how policies can shape what people think. 

Bureaucrats thus treat physics, biology and medicine like social policy - and social policy as if it were applied mathematics.  

Trying to discuss matters of physics, or medicine with such people, one is confronted with the fact that such knowledge is explained-away to merely social institutions and consensus. And when confronting ridiculously over-confident cause-and-effect assertions of how this policy will affect that human behaviour - one is confronted with immoveable dogmatism.  

What all this represents is the surface manifestation of deep, metaphysical assumptions concerning the reality of this world. 

Because it operates at the deep and invisible level of assumptions, pragmatic appeasement is robust against anything and everything that might happen at the observable level. It requires only vaguest hand-waving kind of proof (e.g. it was on The News, some Spokesperson, said so...); and is disproof-proof.

Perhaps the largest scale examples are atheism and leftism. The entire world is governed on the basis of atheism and leftism; yet it might appear that these have an utterly appalling track record through the twentieth century, when they began to dominate. 

To name the totalitarian atheist leftist regimes would be to dictate a who's who of the worst in human cruelty and dishonesty. Yet none of this makes any difference At All; and the world continues to be more and more atheist in its functioning (including the churches), and more and more leftist in its aims.    

Pragmatic appeasement assumes an accidental and humanly-indifferent universe in which human lives are brief and finite; and therefore there is no higher purpose than making the best of things, for the time being. Within this framework - all dissent must be sensible, and all action short-termist, pragmatic, realistic and focused on the proximate world of people rather than 'things'. 

The vague hope is that somewhere, somebody is looking at the Big Picture; and taking account of the the fact, the long term, and the whole community; and shaping society in a Good direction... 

But for the little-people like 'us' - our highest hope is to get-through as much of our pointless lives as possible, with the least amount and severity of suffering; and perhaps tentatively aspire to get some sporadic amusement, and even excitement, before we are inevitably crippled by disease or age and annihilated by death.

In the meantime - people make the best of things, and do not go looking for trouble. 


PhilR said...

This is spot on as a diagnosis/analysis. I see it everywhere, at work where managers have to balance the gung-ho against the bedwetters and at church where safetyism is ultimately dominant. Sigh.

captOBV said...

At this point though it seems the only alternative for the individual is either voluntary retreat from society, or to be booted out for not engaging in pragmatic appeasement.

Bruce Charlton said...

@capt - Yes, that's it. But it makes all the difference to know.