Plato's Problem and Orwell's Problem : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

My former professor Noam Chomsky (MIT) used to define 2 kinds of problems. The y2k community has independently rediscovered what Noam called "Orwell's Problem".

Plato's Problem:

"how, when there is so little evidence, can people know so much ?".

This refers to language acquisition, meaning that babies and kids aren't really systematically taught all the language grammar and 'right' way to talk, but by age 5 they can use infinitely complex and subtle grammar to express their ideas about infinitely complex situations.

Orwell's Problem:

"how, when there is so much evidence, can people know so little?

This means why D they GI! In the larger sense, I mean, not just DGI about y2k, but the whole fragile and mendacious media-political complex.

-- runway cat (, January 21, 1999


As PNG said about the banking crisis in Japan

My question is why are they asking the bank executives? Banks don't have any money. Towa Real Estate borrowed the depositors' money and promised to repay it with interest.

The government doesn't have any money to give to the banks to offset these bad loans. The taxpayers' money is being given to the banks to offset the depositors' money mishandled by the banks and Towa Real Estate.

And like I said in response, When people begin to understand this, that banks and fund managers have irretrievably "sold" the retirement earnings they have accumulated over decades, that is when the y2k trouble will begin.

-- a (a@a.a), January 21, 1999.

Noam, eh? Hmmmm.

This sure ain't profound, but the super-specialization of the entire world system has fractured individual confidence in GI-ing it about just about anything. "Well, I don't know, that's not really my field. The experts understand it."

It = the markets, technology, politics, farming ......

There is a radical disconnect between me (the self) and the world (what can be known). "The Great Chain of Being" (to borrow and re-apply that meme) has been broken. So, "a", I'm not sure the people are going to GI about the financial system. I mean, why haven't they GI long ago already?

There is lot of "evidence" but no hermeneutic, no viable yardstick, that just-folks have for interpreting that evidence coherently. And the damn *experts* are always there (cf Y2K) to beat them about the head when their (amazingly sometimes still) sound instincts tell them what's what. I make fun about the sheeple with the best of them, but we're running with the herd most of the time, guys.

I maintain that TEOTWAWKI for the Western World happened in 1914 with the Titanic disaster as its mythic precursor. This isn't that far-fetched. Tens of millions of people at the time DID experience WW1 as TEOTWAWKI and not because it was a war (that certainly wasn't new) but because it blew away a common universe of experience and expectation: "what we knew".

Technologism replaced that ("what works") but working and knowing aren't clones.

Sadly, though Y2K does offer some authentic positive possibilities on the other side, I think its initial impact will be to cause the "individual" to feel the disconnect even more intensely. When the "black box" breaks (don't work), it won't give the ordinary joe more confidence about knowing but even less than they have now.

-- BigDog (, January 21, 1999.

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