||[Feb. 13th, 2005|12:59 pm]
Private-Intellectual Debating Society
His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales|
Monday, 14 February 2005
It is a sad fact of our modern lives that statements made, whether privately or publicly, are often taken out of context by others wishing to make a political (or Politically Correct) point, or to gain some perceived advantage through misquotation and misrepresentation. This sad state of affairs has become almost a given for people in public life when commenting on statements made by your Highness who have little real background knowledge of a situation, or who are unwilling to accept that such comments may, given their full context, be warranted. It is also the case with statements made within the political, educational and business sectors; whether such misquotations or purposefully misinterpreted achieve a similar level of publicity or not.
In October and November of last year, your private memorandum on educational and personal abilities was subjected to such a form of misinterpretation by persons who, given their status and position in government, the media and society, should have known better. With your permission, and prior to our private debate on such standards in modern society, I wish to raise a few points on this subject, and hope that your Highness might enhance our forthcoming debate, without going into details which may compromise the continuing judicial process, from personal experience or knowledge.
Our society has moved from the ideal of an Intellectual Culture through educational and political changes into an era of post-intellectualism. The rise of technology and the belief that this technology will eradicate many of the - progressively increasing - problems of society has become almost a watchword for further advances which, to my way of thinking, merely increase cultural, educational and political differences and further exacerbate problems the technology was designed to remove. As each new phase of this technology enters the marketplace, ostensibly to correct problems - real or perceived - arising from previous versions, it creates a myriad more problems which can only be alleviated in the short term through so-called 'stopgap' advances. A massive influx of material provides those with access to media sources in particular with far more information than they are capable of comprehending or, as suggested by social scientists, sift through to gain deeper knowledge and understanding. This wealth of information merely scratches at the surface of events and advances providing a shallow overview from a knowledge base few have the ability to access or understand. Our society is quickly becoming one with no depth of knowledge, but many self-styled experts who have not been capable or willing to expand their basic comprehension from an overview into an in-depth understanding.
In 1996 Donald N Wood, in his work Post-Intellectualism and the Decline of Democracy, commented on the situation [author's italics]:
'The assumption of equality under the law - egalitarianism - is essentially an intellectual concept; all persons should be considered equal and should be treated the same. But individualism and competition are also intellectual concepts; all persons should be allowed to compete freely and rise as far as their talents and abilities will carry them. Some individuals are better equipped to succeed than others (that is, they have more intelligence, perseverance, talent, strength, or resources) and should be allowed to reach their full potential.'
In 1939 Robert Lynd, in his work Knowledge for What? wrote:
'They refused to admit that individuals varied in their capabilities and that many of them inevitably lost out in the 'individual scramble for wealth'.'
Donald N Wood comments further [author's italics]:
'Universal education is an intellectual idea, but when implemented, it has resulted in both distended-intellectual vocational curriculum and a counter-intellectual 'feel-good' emphasis on self-realisation; the intellectual goal of liberal arts has been abandoned. Egalitarianism is an intellectual ideal, but it has been achieved by mandating a post-intellectual politically correct mediocrity; intellectual competition has been thwarted.'
Our modern society, our advanced and advancing culture, produces young people who are destined for a highly specialised role in adult life; who often have no basic conception of the arts, of study, reading and writing, of leisure activities outside of the video games - television - Internet community. It is producing young people lacking in communication skills; lacking in the ability to advance through intellectual - or even intelligent - perseverance; lacking the foundation knowledge our forefathers deemed so integral to achieving not only a place in society, but also a personal worth and, through diligence, self-esteem.
Many of these changes to our culture may be laid at the doors of various educational and societal changes forced through both by advancing technology and the need for specialisation, and the aberration of Political Correctness which, although perhaps acceptable and justified on paper, has no real place in modern society. Political Correctness which merely advances the positions of a minority over other members of society better qualified - educationally and intellectually - to achieve furtherance, and brings a level of dumbing down (defined by Steve Allen in his 1989 publication Dumbth: And 81 Ways to Make Americans Smarter) through a loss of critical thinking.
Steve Allen wrote [author's italics]:
'It is necessary to think about such issues, intelligently speculate about them, reason about them, communicate articulately about them.'
Our ability to think and speculate, to apply the principles of critical thinking, to assimilate and assess information to form knowledge or understanding of various issues are steadfastly played down, if not suppressed completely, through the changes in an educational and political system designed to promote growth through specialisation rather than individual ability or capability. An advance in our culture which is not only detrimental to society but also, on an individual level, leads to a mass of partially educated people impregnated with the belief that they are better than their capabilities would normally allow.
This lowering of the intellectual - educational - capability of the individual, in the understanding that advancement requires a greater breadth of knowledge and personal ability leads, inevitably, to a belief that anyone, regardless of their standard of education, knowledge or experience, is capable of assuming a higher position within society, within business, within politics even, than is the case. Each individual then sees a failure to achieve advancement as the fault of someone else - invariably in a higher position - to appreciate their worth and, through this impregnated belief in possibly non-existent ability, as a personal attack or a racial, religious or other non-Politically Correct motivated assault. The lack of critical thinking capability brings about a lack of personal criticism; a failure or unwillingness to accept the limitations of personal ability.
As a form of individual protection against those individuals who are perceived as being obstacles to personal advancement, the adage 'assault is the best form of defence' often comes to the fore prior to any attempt to understand why a specific position has been taken, or an application for advancement refused. In the mass media a policy of selective quotation, partial reporting of facts within a short time frame or sound bite, furthers this failure for others to appreciate the underlying intention of a statement or explanation and creates a bias which is, often, a basis for further misinterpretations. I believe this is what has occurred in the case of your Highness's private memorandum in the specific case of Ms. Elaine Day.
Leaving aside the specific case of Ms. Day, I would appreciate your Highness's views on these changes to society in general, and your Highness's considered opinion on an appropriate way forward to combat, or eradicate, the progressive loss society is experiencing as a result of this cultural shift into a post-intellectual era.
I have the honour to be, Sir, Your Royal Highness's most humble and obedient servant,
Chmn. Pr.-Int. D. Soc.