There is an essential indefinite aspect to what we know. We try to draw boundaries, aiming to become familiar with what’s inside, but the boundaries are so often problematic – too definite.
To my mind, it pays to remain at least mildly receptive to some views with which one disagrees. Otherwise those boundaries weave their insidious way around our thoughts, snipping off important caveats, possibilities and the ability to reach a deeper understanding.
Yet modern politics is representational rather than impressionistic. It hasn’t absorbed the lessons of uncertainty, the idea that concepts may only have a partial utility. Bits work, bits don’t and they aren’t always the same bits. That won’t do for politics.
Political exigencies require answers not uncertainties, weaving those fatal boundaries into law and regulation as if wise heads have identified the limits of our ignorance with unfailing perspicuity.
Unfortunately we are also drifting towards a world where personal responsibility is no longer suited to the requirements of our gigantic bureaucracy. Because of course personal responsibility contributes to social flexibility - a constant tweaking of those pesky boundaries.
Unfortunately it isn’t just our UK bureaucracy we have to contend with these days, but transnational bureaucracies such as the EU and UN.
We seem to be drifting towards a situation where the real world of endless ambiguity is nudged aside in favour of global bureaucratic demands which make no concessions to the complexity of particular situations. In the bureaucratic world, there are no particular situations - so no need to judge them.
Naturally it doesn’t work. These overarching delusions never do, but it seems we now have to trudge through them until multiple failures run out of tick-box solutions.
It could take a while and I don’t see it being pretty.