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Thoughts Online Magazine
Collected Articles on Culture & Politics
19th-Jan-2007 08:42 am
Happens all the time: people miss obvious things, preferring more complicated things that might suit them better.

t is expedient to find a matter intractably complex if its simple elucidation is not to your liking. If, for instance, a simple solution to a simple problem presents itself, but that solution sits well with the views of your political enemies, then you should deny the simplicity of the problem and even the possiblity of a solution. Not only does this wrest the problem back to your own side, where a crack gaggle of obfuscators and theorists can find a complex and refractory expression of it that is both politically favourable and profitably intractable, but it also affords the opportunity of characterising your political enemies as simple-minded fools. In this way, the sensible but simple view is eschewed in favour of the propitious and abstruse view. Some obfuscators and theorists, in a repose of complacency, have even been so open about this trick as to coin a word: “problematise”.

An example: premarital sex. The real rule set is simple. But people don't want it, so they problematize their way into things that don't work, and then wonder what went wrong.
19th-Jan-2007 05:20 pm (UTC)
Yes. Quite.


I like it.
20th-Jan-2007 11:25 am (UTC)
On the other hand, it is an equally simple and dishonest strategy to pretend that something is simple if your opponents have failed to solve it. For instance (to think of an altogether impossible and fictitious problem), let us imagine that a number of countries have problems with a large and ancient religion whose primary mandate is to conquer all unbelievers and terrify them. Let us suppose that the the governing party tries to move the situation along by forcing a certain part of that religion to experience our own ways and values. And let us suppose that the situation becomes exceedingly tangled. Obviously, the opposition party only has to start saying that the situation is simple: stop forcing our ways and values on them and they will cease being our enemies. They deliberately forget (or perhaps some of them never learned, since they are very mediocrely educated) that the starting point of everything is the in-built hostility of this completely fictitious religion against the rest of the world. Indeed, they would be themselves guilty of what they charge the Government with - namely, the simple-minded assumption that everyone is like us and that everyone would behave like us if only they were given a chance.
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