Ok Charles, You’re Up!

May 2nd, 2023 No comments

link:  https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2023/5/2/another-era-as-king-charles-iii-takes-crown-canada-shrugs

In a few days’ time, arguably the biggest social event of the past half century will be celebrated in Britain, if not worldwide.  For the first time since 1953, The United Kingdom will coronate a new monarch, with the title of King Charles lll.  Charles of course, is the son of the now deceased Queen Elizabeth ll.

Charles has literally been waiting for this job since he was born, having not prepared for any other vocation.  All he had to do was wait.  And wait he did, for virtually the entirety of his adult life.  His mother, Queen Elizabeth decided not to relinquish her position as notional head of state for reasons only she knew. While she was only 27 at her coronation, her son Charles will be 75 upon his.  That he was so long in the on-deck circle kind of tells you that the Queen didn’t have a lot of confidence in her son.

As it happens, Elizabeth was quite beloved by her subjects and always exuded the epitome of Royal dignity and decorum. Her patented rotating arm wave was the subject of many comic emulators as was her formal British accent during speeches.  She was an anachronism and an iconic standard for British society even as her society changed dramatically during her reign.  It’s hard to dispute the popularity of the notion of a royal society given the wild popularity of the Downton Abbey television series.  People, especially Brits, love their traditions.

And speaking of anachronism, it may be amusing to look at the history of the Royal Family to give some perspective to their role in modern society.  It’s hard to believe in our modern times of rapid change in all things, but the Royal Family’s roots began with King Alfred the Great, the effective first King of England in 871 AD. Thus Charles lll is the 33rd great grandson of the first King, known simply as “The Great” to his close friends.

Back in the day, you don’t get to be King of a realm unless you are able to marshall a bunch of men to conquer other men, so Alfred’s moniker of “The Great” was probably due to his prowess in the war business. Luckily for him, once he got ensconced in the leadership role, he was able to keep it unless someone else was able to beat him.

Thus for many generations leading up to modern times, the lineage of children continued to enjoy their privileged roles as scions of a Royal bloodline.  This is pretty remarkable when you consider that through the ages, people were constantly fighting over this issue or that piece of land. There was always a war to be fought with someone.  That one family could retain their power through the centuries is quite amazing.  The Windsors are the longest continuous line of ruling families in the world.  It’s a pretty good gig if you can get it.  To be conferred wealth, respect and power simply because of your parents is pretty much a life lottery win.  Also, pretty cool to have images of your family on the coin of the realm.

Of course, in modern times, the role of the British Monarchy, or for that matter, any Monarchy, is largely ceremonial.  No one expects these Monarchs to be hoisting broadswords into battle.  So if that’s not the case, how does any Monarchy retain their privileged positions atop a society?  The constituency of the British Empire has changed dramatically since the days of Alfred, but most significantly over the past 30 years.  People whom were once part of the far flung colonies now make up a significant portion of the native British population.

Will they continue to respect the throne and the traditions attached thereto?  When Kings or Queens wielded power, it was through their implied control of armies.  Such is not the case today as all governments are essentially some form of functional bureaucracies.  Policy is often made by these bureaucracies and not really by the elected representatives of citizens….much less than by ceremonial heads of state.

Access to information was also a former purview of Royal Families.  Not anymore. Information and intelligence is widely available to the masses and no one depends on the opinions of those who happen to be of Royal bloodlines.  In the case of Charles, his life under the microscope has revealed that he is as vulnerable to human foibles as any of us.  He comes in at time when the population is much less forgiving of such foibles.  In addition, his cause celebre is Climate Change.  Good luck on convincing those with actual facts.  It will be ‘amusing’ to see the direction in which the new King Charles takes the Monarchy and what becomes of the House of Windsor.

We’ll Tell You What You Need To Know

April 4th, 2023 No comments

I’ve spilt plenty of virtual ink discussing the evolution of the accessibility of information to the masses over the course of history.

There have always been those in any given society who had preferential access to knowledge, or at least information, that they used to great advantage over those less in the know.  For the longest time and even up to present day, religious practitioners were the arbiters of information and truth.   Entire civilizations were founded and run by those with the power conferred upon them by a religious hierarchy and this continues to this day.  Thus, access to information and knowledge was the key to population control.

This model works pretty well since being the ultimate authority on information and truth means that it wasn’t necessary to actually prove anything.  To paraphrase the utterance of Al Gore, the truth is like gravity….it just is.  Of course we know what happened over time.  Some of the great thinkers of humanity decided to take more objective measures on truth and reality.  Men of great intelligence and bravery dared to challenge the established truths of their time and thus their revelations laid the foundation for modern education. Men such as Da Vinci, Copernicus and Galileo showed that knowledge can be empirically achieved and not just by taking someone’s word for it.

Most of everything which we consume and from which we benefit in our daily lives depends on empirical science.  Observations are made about our environment, they are measured, there are experiments and then there are conclusions which become universal truths.  Notwithstanding that in modern times, the notion that 2 plus 2 equals 4 is a racist construct to some, this does not change the fact that 4 is always the answer when 2 plus 2 is the question.

The entire point of education is to spread the ability to think and act rationally via legitimate processes of thought.  It is therefore of the greatest irony that despite mankind having the greatest access to information ever in human history, that populations are as clueless as those who used to depend on the town gossip for their truths.  The modern purveyors of ‘truth’ are often the most vapid.

Part of this paradox lies with what actually constitutes an education.  Whereas once rational processes were taught at schools, now we see more and more squishiness on topics of knowledge.  Relativism is as important in education as are the lenses through which education is transmitted.   At the end of the process, we get people who are pretty sure that 2 plus 2 equals 4, but we also have those who think that this result has an asterisk.  Both of these constituencies have the same nominal degree, but both operate under quite different realities.  Thus, entire populations emerge, notionally ‘educated’ populations, who can never agree on a plainly evident logical construct.   You cannot easily make good policy decisions if there are those who think 2 plus 2 contributes to Global warming.

Unfortunately, in a free society, such people can, and often do, rise to positions of political influence which detrimentally affects everyone.  Anyone who was perhaps a drama teacher or part time snowboard instructor, could impress their version of 2 plus 2 upon a population vastly more educated and qualified than them to make big picture decisions.

So it appears as if we’ve come full circle on the distribution of information and knowledge.  The only difference is that this time people actually know the truth and are able to verify thus for themselves….should they choose.  Oddly, large numbers don’t.  They instead rely on the utterances of those unable to give an answer to a simple 2 plus 2 question.  Entire societies have been run like this for the better part of two generations.  They have allowed the least qualified to make policy. Given the tack taken by governments of many nations on numerous favored woke issues,  we can easily see the day when we don’t even need schools, the government will just tell you all you need to know in official pamphlets….or they could employ a national broadcasting corporation.  As is already true in nations such as China, we can see the circumstance when disagreeing with the official narrative is made illegal; but at least they help to ‘re-educate’ you if you so stray.  Or Canada, where they close your bank accounts down if you don’t agree with their positions.

I mentioned some of the great thinkers of history above as being foundational for rational thinking and education which led to the creation of great civilizations.  But it’s also thanks to authors such as George Orwell and Ayn Rand to remind us that the natural inclination of man to control others by information or misinformation is always at work.  Julian Assange has proved this. There may be the equivalents of Da Vinci and Galileo somewhere today, great thinkers who may yet lead civilization again, but in the meantime, the mental midgets…er, little people,  are running the show.