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A curious question

June 18, 2009

An interesting email came in from my old friend Karl Wiig this evening. He is looking for a list of competence that nations need to acquire to be successful in the modern age. Now regular readers of this blog will know that I am very dubious about the whole idea of competence as it is currently interpreted. However the question pricked my interest. It links back to an earlier polemic on government to which I owe a more substantial follow up.

The question

I would like to ask for your perspectives on what you consider important for your country to be competent – as considered from intellectual capital, or knowledge, points of view.

One perspective is that for a country to be competent is to be able to provide security and make it possible for its citizens to have acceptable quality of life, livelihoods, freedoms, and other aspects – now, and in the future.  It might mean having good governance, maintaining peaceful relations with the international community and within the nation itself, effective industries, knowledgeable workforce, and being able to participate equitably in the global economy.

My answer

  • An ideation culture, enforced by social pressure, upbringing and nature which is based on obligation, not selfish atomism
  • A specific education, training and development programme capable of creating a cadre of trans-disciplinary agents able to synthesis across difference fields of study and application.
  • A system of governance which is based on evolving precedence (using the above referenced culture) rather than statue based and other idealisic forms.
  • A radical rethink of democracy. Any society that elects its judges is by nature a barbarian one. Democracy needs to connect people at each level of election so that there is knowledge of the person involved.
  • A programme that forces all young people to spend three years of national service (one year post puberty, two years before university) in at least three alien and disruptive cultures (ideally renewed every ten years).
  • Free, open, funded access to health and education based on need or ability, abolition of private provision of either service, thus forcing the powerful to upgrade the universal.

I hold the reasons for these to be self-evident, but am happy to defend them

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