Experts make a valuable and necessary contribution to our diverse and specialized society. But they cannot and should not be used to create or replace civil society. The idea that anyone can claim to be an expert in civil society is indeed a cause for concern. Civil society must consist of a large and diverse group of people in our societies. The Internet offers us the opportunity to radically expand civil society, discuss all the ideas and ideologies that make up the world, and publish our discourse for the world. We cannot leave this area to the discretion of experts, especially well-known civil society experts.
What is an expert? Experts and knowledge are usually recognized by academic degrees, publications, experience and reputation. There are good reasons for each of these things. But each of them can also be disturbing. When academic degrees and rank become experts, we need to carefully and critically examine the curriculum, quality and ideological biases of our educational institutions when awarding degrees. When publications become experts, we must be aware of the lack of clarity or transparency on the part of journals, as well as public and private sources of research funding. The experience is very valuable; but there are many wealthy political donors who have become consular officers with no experience. Fame is the thinnest of the signs and symbols of experience.
Famous experts are often considered the best experts, but this is not the case. Famous people and celebrities often get confused with experts and think that we should take care that their expert statements are really wrong! Moreover, professionals strive to come together and congratulate each other, giving each other grants, grants, awards and prizes. The Ivy League is a country club of experts. The longer you stay, the more your experience will improve, revitalize and develop with all your expert friends who clap you on the back. Finally, success leads to success. People who receive degrees, awards, scholarships and grants will earn more. If you did not enter this club in the first year of graduate school, it is unlikely that you will join it later.
Civil society experts
A wide range of civil society experts are recruited to analyse, explain and defend important policy issues. From a scientist and statistician, to an economist and professor of literature, to a historian and constitutional lawyer, to a retired general and ambassador; in this complex world, there is no shortage of experts who tell us how to think, act and vote. Now we even have technocrats – those elite experts who combine modern technological training with state power to create a utopia in developing countries such as China and Chile, well, maybe in the end. In addition, there are experts who are not experts. Politicians and the rich, journalists and sociologists are tired of asking experts or hiring experts or looking for someone with a higher degree to defend their position. So they step on the microphone and turn into experts. Ultimately, however, none of these experts in civil society offers us civil society or solutions to the problems that we need to address together.
In the last generation we have seen the emergence of a new expert: a technocrat. It’s the perfect combination of experience and power. Instead of simply bringing the powerful to power, we are bringing (powerful) experts to power. Hey, I like meritocracy. But let us not confuse technical, business or scientific degrees with the ability to lead nations and nations. Scientists, engineers and CEOs are no better or worse than anyone when voting, discussing important issues, or leading communities.
Perhaps the most prominent experts in civil society are scientists and statisticians. Statistics are an important tool for drawing reliable conclusions from small data sets. But statistics are also perhaps the most commonly used tool for lying in politics, in the media and in civil society. Consequently, scientists become specialized professionals who know certain tools and methods for researching specific and limited issues. They provide preliminary and factual answers to these questions. They do not claim to recognize truth, morality, wisdom or good public policy.
Sociologists are at a lower level of civil society experts. It can be: – Political scientists: analyze the policy and maybe try to tell you how to vote. Economists: who analyze the economy and may be trying to predict the future (with predictable results). Sociologists: they may or may not experiment on small groups of people and then tell you what is wrong with your company and what you can do about it. Historians: analyzing the past, complain that they know nothing about your past and that everything you think about the past is false. Anthropologists: who used to study distant cultures, and now study rituals in any culture, and who will tell you how your culture suppresses another culture. In related fields, literary and cultural criticism is replete with departments of English, foreign languages and comparative literature. Literary and art experts consider themselves to be the greatest experts in the field of culture, mediators in high culture and interpreters of all discourses, rhetoric and forms of cultural expression. As a historian, I like social and humanities researchers. They are often passionately involved in civil society. But that doesn’t make them experts in civil society.
Lawyers, constitutional prosecutors and law professors are another common group of civil society experts. These people are taught to think critically, read and write carefully, and to have discussions with understanding and rhetorical skills. Lawyers are legal experts, so if you have any legal issues, they are highly recommended. But in other circumstances, the Bar Association tends to make communication incomprehensible, extremely expensive, belligerent and overloaded with hidden mines (read the fine print recently?). The main problem with trust in an experienced lawyer is that you can find a lawyer who will protect any point of view. They can believe it passionately or simply believe in the dignity of intercession for their client. In short, lawyers are useful people who need to pay to support your position; but that doesn’t make them experts in civil society.
After all, former civil servants and diplomats are ubiquitous experts in civil society.