Michael, I do hope that you will expand these
comments into a response to the "call for papers".
You have addressed the critical issue in pointing
up the contrast between Knowledge Construct and Cultural Heritage. And the
defects you have pointed to in the concept of knowledge as presented by
Wojciechowski are of course the ones that appeared strange to me on first
encountering them, which is why I emphasize them in the exposition. I grew
up believing that knowledge is something benign; there can hardly be too
much of it and one should aspire to embracing as much of it as possible.
But as some American sage is reputed to have said, "It isn't ignorance that
hurts so much as knowing so durned much that ain't so!" Knowledge is
unfortunately not limited to concepts that are truthful, beautiful and virtuous.
Sorting the wheat from the chaff is a problem of constantly increasing
magnitude. That is a reality, according to JAW, and I have never
encountered an effective refutation. A proudly devout and loyal Roman
Catholic, JAW anchored his thinking about knowledge in the motifs of Eden
and the Tower of Babel--that the aspiration to knowledge was an affront in the
eyes of God, a sin for which humankind would suffer for having
In observing that problems created by knowledge
call for government action to mitigate them, neither JAW nor I are making a prescriptive statement. It is rather
an assessment of the way things are and as such is subject to truth tests.
You say that Social Credit seeks to avoid these problems. Yes, I have
understood that, as an aspiration. But where is the persuasive
rationale? It is nice to think of Cultural Inheritance as benign and
beautiful, but can you deny that negative elements in the KC are
inevitably part of what each generation inherits? I suspect that you have
misrepresented me in asserting that the JAW
concept excludes considerations of "truthfulness, efficacy, or
moral and aesthetic value" from "knowledge", but I haven't
checked the text to confirm. If I have said
that, I repent and affirm instead that knowledge is not confined to
concepts that are truthful, effective, virtuous or beautiful. If the Social
Credit concept of knowledge is so confined, then I submit that it is
utopian in the pejorative sense of hopelessly
Much of the discussion of Social Credit gives the
impression that inheritors of the Douglas contribution are fighting the last
war. Martin Hattersley summed up the position recently in observing
that the SC stance is that the problem of production has been solved. The
usual extension inferred from that opener is that the remaining problem is
distribution. It was a reasonble inference for the 1930s, but where have
Social Credit thinkers been for the last half century? Distribution is not
the only remaining problem. There is also the growing challenge of
cleaning up after production (and distribution) and the especially daunting task
of organizing the "leisure society". These are the problems, characterized
collectively as ecological, that have concerned a growing number of
thinkers since World War II. Wojciechowski extended the concept by noting
that we humans not only need to recognize that we are an integral part of
Nature, not its supreme masters, but also that in our efforts to engineer Nature
to our liking we have created an equivalently ecological relationship, socially,
as an inevitable consequence.
"Deep" ecologists and their ilk are both distressed
by and contemptuous of "economics". Justifiably. Does Social
Credit provide a more satisfactory approach? These are the big problems of
our time, much more acute compared to the thirties than is income
distribution. If Social Crediters are truly interested in engaging
contemporary issues (e.g. Al Gore's movie) then this call for papers is a good
opportunity to test their ideas with some potential allies and careful
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Monday, June 05, 2006 10:14
Subject: [socialcredit] ecology of
I had a look at Keith's coauthored article on the ecology of
knowledge. It describes the Cultural Heritage under the term Knowledge
Construct (KC). And its thesis is that the KC is a vicious circle:
"It can and does create problems for which it cannot develop solutions. . . .
The only way a formal system can solve the incommensurable problems that it
inevitably creates is to develop a more complex system. How can the
global KC, that includes all human knowledge, create a system of greater
complexity that includes itself in a more complex system." For example,
in Pictograph 11: "The growing ability of individuals and groups to take
effective actions calls forth a demand for governments to control them."
This sort of direct approach of creating more and more legislation to
fix more and more problems is just what Social Credit opposes. Instead,
we want to undercut all this and act indirectly from the root. This is a
way out of the vicious circle.
Wojciechowski appears to regard
ever-increasing complexity as futile but at the same time inevitable.
telling comment is that on Pictographs 3 and 5 the authors find it necessary
to EXCLUDE "truthfulness, efficacy, or moral and aesthetic value of knowledge"
from "knowledge." In other words, no distinction is made between
knowledge and pseudo-knowledge, between the true Cultural Heritage of useful
knowledge and the proliferation of academic chatter.
It is obvious why
he would want to eliminate these elements from consideration, but it seems to
me that in doing so, he has stripped "knowledge" of all meaningful
The authors do ask the question at the end, "Is there
such a thing as 'sufficient knowledge'." It is just those omitted
criteria of "truthfulness, efficacy, or moral and aesthetic value" that would
establish what is sufficient in any particular case. And of course,
knowledge that fails of these is not merely insufficient, its proliferation is
actively destructive and generates the very vicious cycle that W.
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