Sunday, April 24, 2011

PAP vs Opposition like the then Anglican Church vs the Methodists

The PAP can be compared to the 18th century Anglican high church, and the opposition parties are the invigorating then Methodist movement. This thought came to me because I was beginning to suspect that whilst PAP diehards will vote for the men and women in white, they do not try to persuade others to join them. On the other hand, opposition supporters and anti-PAP types are different. They try to cajole for support from the fence sitters spontaneously. I wonder if we are on the verge of achieving a tipping point for Opposition support.
The Anglican high church represented orthodoxy and best practice. The Methodists were a strange group and deemed to be on the heretical edge. The Anglicans had the elites with them. The Methodists attracted the masses. Aren’t we experiencing a parallel of that in Singapore now?
The Anglican priests were friendly to all but nevertheless emotionally disconnected and personally remote from the working class. The Methodists live and succor among the unwashed masses.
The Anglican high church had the resources, respectability and track record. The same could not be said about the Methodists, but they were drawing in the crowds. People felt a glow inside their hearts, a sense of possibility, optimism. Change. The Anglican high church had “lost the gospel” but the Methodists have “rediscovered the gospel”.
I can go on, the PAP is also like the Roman Catholic Church of Luther’s time but of course not corrupt as the Roman Church then were. The Lutherans served the as the contrast to the Roman Church like the Methodists would later to the Anglican orthodoxy.
Similarly the PAP represents economic orthodoxy, a subscriber to the prevailing best ideas even if they claim eclecticism because of pragmatism. So they hire the best consultants and thought leaders. Sometimes the ST write them up. The opposition brain trust is who they can find to be well traveled and brilliant to join the party. I hope but that is a long shot, for a heretical economist among them like Dr. Goh was.
Now orthodoxy is good when it delivers but what if a paradigm shift is called for? Thomas Kuhn have noticed that repeatedly the incumbent cannot make that shift. Closer to our times, Clay Christensen’s proposed the same in, “The Innovator’s Dilemma”
Today I wonder if we have not reached the point where a pound of growth creates a pound of problems or more. In earlier times, a pound of growth yielded no problems. As the paradigm age, the solutions often comes with problems that cannot be rid. Today, it seems we cannot get growth without widening the income gap. When policy solutions become more and more complex, that is another suspicious development pointing to an ageing paradigm. Worse, if the box from which policy makers craft solutions yield problems that are even harder to solve tomorrow, we are digging our graves already.
To protect myself, I have written quite conceptually but I am sure it is easy to find examples for these concepts, making them concrete and reasonable.
Finally there are no truly new paradigms. We will recycle old paradigms, which to be usable we must dress it up for our times. Technology would cause the recycled paradigm to be milked differently but only as if you go from point A to B with a horse or a car, the concept is still transport but the difference is time or sped to destination.
I had hoped and looked to the PAP for intellectual leadership and courage but they have instead chosen to be safe hands. When safe hands bring us danger and the early sign of danger is stress and misery for a growing number of people safe the elites, and more and more people sense that something is not right but not always easy to put a finger on, this sort of Zeitgeist cannot be calmed by the thinking and strategies of the last five years. If anything they would exaggerate our problems.
I sense that we are at the crossroads and I know I am far from being alone.

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