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Mediocratisation

Entry 1939, on 2018-10-01 at 19:22:06 (Rating 4, News)

It's difficult to say whether "mediocratisation" is really a word. It doesn't appear in several dictionaries I checked, but it does appear on the internet in various informal and semi-formal contexts. But even if it isn't a word it should be one. I think the meaning is fairly clear: the root is mediocre, meaning "just average" or "not very good", so mediocritise would mean to make mediocre, and mediocratisation would be the process of making something mediocre.

So what I am talking about here is a process which makes things not very good. Note that being mediocre doesn't mean being bad, in fact the whole concept sort of eliminates true badness, but it also eliminates all hope of superiority as well.

So having got the concepts out of the way, what is my point? Well it seems to me that in our modern society, which is so risk averse, we have tried so hard to eliminate any possible bad outcomes that we have also eliminated most of the opportunities for anything outstanding as well. We have dragged both the really bad and the really good back to an average.

How? Well, mainly by rules and regulations and a horde of enforcers who ensure the rules are followed. A lot of this arises from processes with the best of intentions. As I said, rules are created to eliminate the worst possible events, but these also eliminate all the best possible outcomes as well. I often think that I would be prepared to put up with some really bad things happening as long as some really good things happened to balance them. Instead we have a dreary and unremarkable featureless swamp of mediocrity.

Most truly outstanding results come from the work of truly outstanding men. That might be a controversial opinion in itself, but I cannot think of a single example of a truly outstanding woman (I make no apologies for this blog being controversial). There is plenty of evidence in the psychological literature to show that most examples of extreme humans (the most intelligent, the most depraved, the most original, the most corrupt, etc) are men. So maybe feminism must hold some of the blame for our lack of exceptionalism. Maybe the "feminisation" (that is a real word) of society has also lead to mediocritisation.

Let me give you an example (and I know anecdotes don't prove anything, but this is a blog, not a social science academic paper). A well known New Zealand political commentator recently wrote an opinion piece on Elon Musk. This person is a woman by the name of Kate Hawkesby. I have commented on her in the past and my thoughts vacillated from outright condemnation to lukewarm agreement. So I'm not a big fan to begin with, but let's continue anyway.

Here's what she said about the recent issues with Elon Musk's conflict with the US Securities and Exchange Commission: "Elon Musk crosses [the] fine line between genius and crazy. He's been fined $US20 million and been forced to quit as Tesla chairman after he was accused of posting misleading information to Twitter about taking his company private. He claimed he'd secured funding and only needed a shareholder vote to proceed. When you have people in positions of power, who can't be boxed in, who're a law unto themselves, who won't take advice, should those around them just take Twitter off them? I can't help wondering if Tesla, and Trump's America for that matter, wouldn't be better off, if we had less of the crazy on display - and we just took Twitter away from them."

So she seems to think that Musk should be silenced because his opinions don't fit in with what everyone else thinks is OK. She thinks the most utterly mundane elements of humanity should be controlling what we hear form the most exceptional. Does this begin to sound like a dystopian mediocriticity (yes, that's definitely a word I made up) to you?

If an investor takes anything seen on an informal medium like Twitter seriously then they really need to get a life. Twitter is not generally used to make formal announcements on important matters. So anything seen there shouldn't be taken too seriously, whether it comes from me, Elon Musk, or even Donald Trump.

In the previous post discussing Kate Hawkesby's views ("Rein Them In!" from 2018-06-28) I criticised her plea for the prime minister to "rein in" a wayward member of her government. I suggested that, instead of trying to force everyone to toe the party line, she should welcome dissenting views and give them a fair amount of thought.

So considering this history, I was not surprised to see the following in her latest article: "The personality and eccentricity of Elon, which the company surely traded on in the early days given it drew them a lot of attention, has now pinged back in his face. But should more than just Elon shoulder the blame? How has the Tesla board never managed to rein him in?"

Again the wish for faceless bureaucrats (the Tesla board) to "rein in" an exceptional person. Does she really think that a world where everyone thinks the same way, no one tries new and innovative approaches, and everyone blends in with the bland background of compliance is a good thing? Well maybe she does, because she's a woman.

Of course, I am being deliberately provocative in blaming all of this on feminism, or on the increasing power of women, because there are plenty of men who are just as bureaucratic, mediocre, and mindless as any woman could be. And whatever differences there are between any two groups of humans (based on race, sex, age, etc) there are far more similarities and the overlap between the groups is always substantial.

But I still do think there might be some merit in the idea that feminism is a significant part of the problem. Another recognised difference between men and women is in their degree of risk taking. I know that taking unnecessary risks should be discouraged, but it seems to have gone far beyond that, and today everyone seems to be expected to fit into a standard "safe" pattern.

Look back at the past and tell me how many people who were the greatest inventors, discoverers, and pioneers got that way through complying with the standard rules and conventions of the time. Not many. And how many were controversial because of their original way of thinking and convictions? Yeah, most of them.

It seems to me that, unless you are in trouble with the current establishment in some way you probably aren't really trying hard enough. Instead of reining these people in, we should be giving them free rein!

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Comment 1 (4954) by Anonymous on 2018-10-29 at 21:53:49:

What a horrible attitude you have. Women shouldn't make their opinions public - they just have to stay quiet, right? And maybe Musk is "successful" because he is part of the old boys network. Feminism is just giving women a fair deal, then you will see them succeed. Your attitude of male superiority doesn't belong in this century.

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Comment 2 (4955) by OJB on 2018-10-30 at 10:12:37:

I think all opinions should be treated on their merit more than who makes them. It just happened in this case that a rather mediocre and little known woman commentator was criticising one of the most influential and innovative men on the planet. Maybe this is an unfair example to take, but looking at the bigger picture, I don't think so.

Musk part of the "old boys" network? Really? I would have thought that considering how he doesn't fit in with the "system", yet the commentator who criticised him does, that it would be more the female critic who is part of that system!

I have an attitude of male superiority based on facts. I said above that males tend to be at the extremes of both good and bad. So you could equally say I have an attitude of make inferiority. Or maybe, I have neither, because I just follow the facts.

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