Wednesday, 11 May 2016

The very core of life

It seemed to him that the essential element in these men at the top was their faith that their affairs were the very core of life. All other things being equal, self-assurance and opportunism won out over technical knowledge; it was obvious that the more expert work went on near the bottom — so, with appropriate efficiency, the technical experts were kept there.
F. Scott Fitzgerald – The Beautiful and Damned (1922)

I would widen Fitzgerald’s technical experts to include anyone who has acquired any kind of expertise. From a Shakespeare scholar to a designer of silicon chips, expertise is where the social and economic benefits are created but not appropriately rewarded. How could they be if these men at the top are to maintain their superior status and pursue what they see as the very core of life?

Genuine expertise usually has to steer well clear of mainstream media, political prominence and the allure of celebrity status because it here where expertise is exaggerated and corrupted by those who rely on self-assurance and opportunism. 

This is one of my sneaking concerns about Brexit. I see no indication whatever that the British establishment values technical expertise more highly than the EU values it. Apart from the expertise required for money laundering, asset-stripping and tax avoidance of course, but the EU probably values those quite highly too. 


Sackerson said...

Quite right.

Anonymous said...

Experts - on tap but never on top. Sad to say I think I agree, 'experts' have a pretty poor record running things. What is worth serious cash is the ability to draw together money, the influence to push tiresome officials out the way, confidence to instil belief and connections with like minded people who can pull strings. Sad to say professors almost never possess these abilities but oiks like Donald Trump do. Reversing this tendency will require a big change in the way 'experts' think and I don't reckon that change will be encouraged.

Demetrius said...

In general, we tend to admire experts when we agree with them or some benefit is to be had. These often go together. If we do not like what they say or they are bringers of bad news then we dismiss or ignore them.

A K Haart said...

Sackers - it probably is.

Roger - the tiresome officials usually manage to keep oiks like Donald Trump away from their domain though. They prefer revolving door arrangements with the money men.

Demetrius - many seem inclined to bend with the political wind if they catch the public eye.

Sackerson said...

I meant, you are quite right.

A K Haart said...

Sackers - my fault, I was too brief in my reply. I didn't misunderstand you, but merely aimed to add a note of caution about the wider capability of experts - see Roger's comment.