Politics, career & mediocracy

Mediocracy—me loooves this word! It’s what I’m all too often reminded of whenever occasionally venturing into the lowlands of regular German news television.

Seriously, if someone is an intrinsically motivated and knowledgable expert in an area, committed to promote the greater good, would he consider going through all those mind–mills mandatory while climbing the stairs within e.g. a political party? Probably not. Talking without saying anything isn’t exactly fun. Look at the most famous german Schoolboy, Guido Westerwelle—to categorise his delicate case as mediocracy would even be blatantly euphemistic. Welcome to the inferiocracy.

The real experts are elsewhere. Now, where? In the caves of the hermites? In buddhist monasteries? Perhaps.

First of all—probably in conflict with the aforesaid—I utterly dislike the idea of hierarchically categorising humans as ‘superior’, ‘mediocre’ and ‘inferior’; but that is not so much what it is about. It’s more about an intrinsic incentive. Add to this a solid level of expertise and a healthy level of modesty towards ones own knowledge. Not too much of the latter please, extreme forms of the Dunning-Kruger effect appear not to be beneficial to society.

Anything open source, Wikipedia and the like—these are probably appropriate places to find the good people. The collaborative approach lends itself more to intrinsic motivation than competition does. Many university professors are just great, for sure. But the more their job is degraded to mere fundraising by organising the academic sellout to the industry, the more likely the real experts remain on lower academic ranks or go elsewhere, where they can actually do what they enjoy.

No matter how knowledgable someone is in a field—if the incentive is extrinsic, honesty will at some point be sacrificed for to gain a particular position offering some sort of monetary advantage.

Now, is all this a bad thing? Well, we shouldn’t bother too much. Just do what you like, collaborate, be couragous—some good will finally emerge from that. In the ideal case, the good results become commonplace one day, so politicians have no choice but fulfilling what the intrinsically motivated have conjointly puzzled out.

This may sound naïvely optimistic—but hey, the internet has just emerged, Linux is only twenty years old, Wikipedia was founded in 2001, Wikileaks in 2006 and open source hardware is still a baby. There is some reason not to resign.


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