Tuesday, March 18, 2014

We Are (Not) All Experts

People are equal—opinions are not. This is a truth democracy apologists ignore often. While it is true that there is no individual in a ‘meta-position’ who can proffer the rest of us an absolute solution, the problem is that a disavowal of any ‘higher view’ functions as its opposite, that is—a leveling of the playing field of opinions makes the herd (uninformed) ‘experts’ participating in a feedback loop which reinforces the ruling ideology.

We see this play out in real time everyday—climate change is a good example here. Climate scientists are disparaged so that ‘news’ personalities, politicians and others (who know nothing of climate science) can imbue their viewers, constituencies, etc. with anti-science propaganda. For if professionals in a given field ‘don’t know anything’ about that particular field (or at minimum can’t be trusted), the result is not that we all ‘don’t know anything’ (about said field), but much more radically: we all know everything (about said field)—not in ‘reality’ of course, but in function, i.e. when all opinions are equal, all opinions are thus equally legitimate.

To be certain, I am not arguing for a universal acceptance of every argument from authority, but rather against the false argument from (the) authority of the herd, simply because—the ruling ideas of each age have ever been the ideas of its ruling class. {Marx/Engels] 

In other words, the opinions of the herd are the opinions of the powers that be

Authority is ‘challenged’ not to challenge power, but to reinforce a power greater than what is being challenged. Power, under the guise of ‘democracy’, demands we seek the opinions of all so that in the end we are stuck with the ruling ideology, and thus the status quo. (This is precisely how real equality, i.e. the Idea of radical justice, gets mocked as horribly ‘undemocratic’.)

Paradoxically, a level playing field of opinions is intrinsically hierarchic. 


  1. Hi,

    My theory is that expertise isn't needed.

    Every Individual gets the product of their individual work for themselves. This is then their Private Property.

    Their Private Property affects other person's Private Property. In order to mitigate this interaction, every Individual gets a Private Vote, within a Democracy.

    An Individual's Opinion related to their Private Vote, is a Private Opinion that exists under the Individual's control only, (whatever its Source).

    Therefore, Expertise and Hierarchy are Subjectivity replacing Objectivity, and anti-Private Property. Therefore, arbitrary Expertise and Hierarchy, (even for the purpose of radical justice), can never over-ride individualistic democracy or access to methods of influencing the opinions of all individuals.

    1. Thanks for the comment, but this only reinforces my point above. The notion that *every individual actually gets* the product of their work is ludicrous.

      Each gets a 'private vote'? -- for what? for whom?

      Belief in actually existing democracy here and now mocks the very principle of it. Capital licks its finger and turns the page...