Failure in the Use of Knowledge | Online Library of Law and Liberty

English: René Descartes, the French philosophe...

English: René Descartes, the French philosopher, by the French engraver Balthasar Moncornot. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This is a good article by Theodore Dalrymple on knowledge and its use. Go ahead and read it and I’ll add a bit.

Good sense, said Descartes at the beginning of the Discourse on Method, is the most evenly-distributed thing in the world. However displeased we may be with the distribution of anything else, each of us believes that we have a sufficiency of it (unlike, he might have added, everyone else).

I suppose the question of who are the wise men and who the fools will never be settled once and for all—certainly not in matters that touch on politics. For my own part, though not over-endowed with political perspicacity, I am often surprised by the utter foolishness of the great ones of the world. They seem to me to take the Bourbons, who learnt nothing and forgot nothing, not as a warning but as a model. Over and over they make the same mistakes and fall prey to the same illusions. It is almost as if ineducability were the key to success in a political career. That, or naivety.

When the Iraqi army collapsed before the onslaught of the ISIS bands—not a formidable challenge, one might have thought, for a proper army—some people were shocked. How is it that the Iraqi army, assiduously armed and trained, dressed as an army ought to be dressed, presumably the firm upholder of the Iraqi order, melted away to nothing in only a few days? How is it that such resistance as is being offered comes from the impromptu action of militias rather than from trained forces?

The naivety of the expectation that the Iraqi army would be and would act as a real army once it was trained is to me astonishing, though I suppose it is itself naïve to be astonished at such naivety. To have expected such a thing was grossly to overestimate the role of formal training in the establishment of institutions. The necessary was mistaken for the sufficient. Human beings do not work like clockwork and, perhaps, in the end it is best that this is so.

via Failure in the Use of Knowledge | Online Library of Law and Liberty.

I wasn’t surprised either at the collapse of the Iraqi army. People fight for things to a point. But mostly they fight for their friends, usually their squad, platoon, sometimes in the west the regiment, and to maintain their honor. None of those things come from formal education, they come from sharing good times and bad.

It’s the same in the civilian world, if you don’t forge your people into a team (and most don’t) when things get even a little tough, your bunch will fall apart into a backbiting mob, who couldn’t agree on how to defeat a wet paper bag. I’ve seen it, many times, and I’ve also been privileged to work for people whom we would work 24 hours a day in broiling heat and really, really cold conditions. It’s about leadership, and tradition. Making it work is very hard work, and so very few do it but when it’s done right, it’s a marvel for the ages. It requires tough times, I think, and an ability to sublimate your personal goals (both the leader and the led), if you can build such a thing, you’ll be among the best.

Then, maybe, people will emulate what you did, and that’s how armies get better, and so do other organizations. And building a team.

Here is one way

There are other methods and in any case it is wise to avoid being at the Little Bighorn,

especially without your Gatling guns.


About NEO
Lineman, Electrician, Industrial Control technician, Staking Engineer, Inspector, Quality Assurance Manager, Chief Operations Officer

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