Wednesday, 15 December 2010

The Culture of Doublethink

At an Institute of Directors lunch yesterday Senator Terry Le Sueur said: "Sadly, at the present time we have a culture within the States in which nobody wants to make a decision. Doing nothing, or passing the responsibility to a higher authority, means that one cannot get blamed" (1)

Doing nothing: so this is the man who would not hold have any committee of enquiry into the suspension of Graham Power, until his hand was forced by Deputy Bob Hill bringing a proposition. Then he finally took the decision to have Brian Napier compile a report (his preferred option), and then just sat on that report when it came back (citing "possible legal implications"" which never in fact emerged) until his hand was finally forced by Deputy Bob Hill.

Doing nothing: Senator Terry Le Main was told that he would need "training and education" after Senator Le Sueur admitted that the Minister should not have written to the Courts. When did this happen? Has Senator Le Main said that he now understands why he should not have taken that action?

Doing nothing: Senator Le Sueur tells the States that Bill Ogley has been "disciplined" but refuses to say what the nature of the discipline was. Given the "proven track record", it's probably very little. But citing confidentiality ("passing the responsibility to a higher authority") means he doesn't have to say.

Passing the responsibility to a higher authority? Does that mean that signing the contract for the incinerator without looking at hedging against price changes in the Euro is something he will now take responsibility for rather than heaping all the blame for it on the head of States Treasurer Ian Black?

I could go one, but as usual, Senator Le Sueur has a knack of saying one thing, and doing exactly the opposite, and hoping that if he bumbles along, no one will ever notice. And no one will blame him. After all, doing nothing, or passing the responsibility to a higher authority, means that one cannot get blamed.

The power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one's mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them....To tell deliberate lies while genuinely believing in them, to forget any fact that has become inconvenient, and then, when it becomes necessary again, to draw it back from oblivion for just so long as it is needed, to deny the existence of objective reality and all the while to take account of the reality which one denies - all this is indispensably necessary. Even in using the word doublethink it is necessary to exercise doublethink. For by using the word one admits that one is tampering with reality; by a fresh act of doublethink one erases this knowledge; and so on indefinitely, with the lie always one leap ahead of the truth. (2)

(2) Orwell, George (1949). Nineteen Eighty-Four. Martin Secker & Warburg Ltd, London, part 1, chapter 3, pp 32


Anonymous said...

A most appropriate observation!

TLS is not a stupid man - ie he does not lack intelligence - indeed, far from it. But, for whatever reason, he appears to have become detached from reality. That is to say, the reality which the rest of us mere mortals can see so clearly but which he either cannot or will not see for himself.

My guess is that TLS has succumbed to the stresses of his position and now genuinely does not know the difference between his "reality" and that of the rest of us. The other option, of course, is that he understands the situation perfectly and that he is supremely clever and devious - playing on the plain fact that the vast majority of people in Jersey do not care enough to question his actions or motives.

In either scenario, his conscience will ultimately strike back at him with considerable violence. This, of course, is of no benefit at all to those like Graham Power and many others who have suffered terribly as a consequence.

rico sorda said...

Hi Tony

I have been exposing this bungling bozo for so long now it's getting beyond a 0/10 joke.

I have said on evidence based facts, is he misleading the house, plain lying or just stupid or all 3.

He is not stupid. But he is a puppet.

Tony why do you think the Chief Minister is loosing all sense of perspective.

You have seen what I have done on my Blog why do you think it has all gone wrong with TLS and his Executives

Plus lets chuck in a magistrate and a former magistrate

What is going on


TonyTheProf said...

I tend to think that he is not some clever Machievellian character, but simply can't see what even Ben Querre writing in the JEP can see, that his words and actions don't match up, time and time again.

But then how many people do any kind of critical introspection? Very few politicians, I would imagine. Most of them rewrite their personal histories to cover up their mistakes, and they don't even realise they are doing it. If you want two really good books, read Peter Hitchen's "The Broken Compass" and Jeremy Paxman's "The Political Animal" - Paxman's is the lighter (and also funnier) read, but both demonstrate how odd most politicians are.

Nick Palmer said...

I think the developed doublethink tendencies of TLS et al are a specific case of the generalised doublethink that afflicts society as a whole.

The sort of doublethink that allows talentless or mundanely talented X factor contestants to believe that they can "make it" if they believe in themselves enough and if they "want it badly enough".

This attitude is presented, fed and watered at seminars and group development courses for the types of people who would have been described as clerks in a saner age but who now think of themselves either as, or as wannabee, "masters of the universe"...

So rife is this sense of false entitlement, a teacher informs me, that the most hopeless children believe that they might be, indeed are entitled to be, popstars, rich, successful, models and chief executives etc.

I root all this in the values of the "yuppie era" - young upwardly mobile "aspirationals". Fascinating Aida once described them as yawningly uninteresting people paid irritatingly excessive salaries. Born with these people and the supporting infrastructure of public relations, market research, focus groups, psychological advertising was a kind of attitude that whatever they were doing they were "just passing through" whilst keeping a weather eye on the ever ascending slope of their personal career in front of them. I once wrote a piece for "Thinks", the Mensa Mag, about this topic in the early 80s but they did not publish it. A phrase that comes to mind was a definition. At a time when everyone was rabbiting about their yuppie careers, I reminded them that career also can mean an uncontrolled downhill progression.

Accurate perception of reality is in abeyance to serve the greeds of commerce and ego. The Enlightenment was soooo last millennium

TonyTheProf said...

I;m sure it wasn't when I was assistant editor at Thinks - we were desperate for any copy at all, which is why we wrote so much under pseudonyms to hide the fact the membership were dismally lazy.

Nick Palmer said...

I think it when a Guernsey woman was in charge.

I forgot to go on to say that the fervent assertion of belief seems to have replaced the need to be right or, at least, to have one's opinions based upon sound knowledge and logic. As long as it sounds plausible these days, it seems as if too many people accept that plausibility, no matter how misleading, as being as good as the actual truth.

Public opinion is spun so much these days we seem to have entered an era where those in positions of power routinely mislead with the vocal equivalent of legerdemain. Maybe they get a kick out if it.