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What do we mean by ‘success’?

What do we mean by ‘success’? Do ethnic minorities have a problem achieving this, compared with the population as a whole? Are there things that block the way to ‘success’ in a secular culture, and how can this be achieved?


Nigel Pocock


While the notion of ‘ethnic minorities’ clearly implies difference, these are still human beings, sharing more than their differences.

This means that any rules that make for ‘success’ are likely to be in common for all groups, not just minorities.

Yet all groups can be placed on a scale of relative success or failure, and it is this sense of not matching up to the proverbial Jones’s that causes the most pain.

Of course, some people might not want to be like the Jones’s, but these counter-cultural people are likely to belong to a highly resistant group, such as Amish fundamentalists who reject the majority culture.

So what is meant by ‘success’? For most people this probably means material success, access to the good things of life.

This, in turn, is likely to have been achieved through having had a good education, motivated parents, having financial backing, and strong social networks. A stable home makes a big difference, with its commensurate improved mental and physical health.

Is it therefore impossible to change our station in life, if everything is dictated by predetermined factors? Any survey would show that being a member of a particular social class or ethnic culture indeed makes life outcomes highly predictable.

But as logical indeterminacy theory shows, if a person is made aware of a prediction, then they are in a position to refute that prediction.

In some cases the actor might have very little room for manoeuvre, the coercive pressures being so great. Some people groups have almost no control.

How then can the abstract argument of logical indeterminacy be turned into practical reality?

Clearly it has to be through access to an education that encourages relevant problem-solving skills. Important in this respect are the ability to weigh up options: firstly, being able to assess the plusses and minuses in a life-strategy; secondly, being able to assess all the possible factors involved; and thirdly, being able gain access to other people’s viewpoints over a wide range of perspectives.

What might prevent access to these strategies? Fear is one possibility. It might arise from the culture in which a person is embedded.

This could, in turn, be related to poor communication skills. In western culture this is likely to mean access to the English language – lack of which creates a prison, because the three options mentioned are unlikely to be possible.

At the same time, it has to be recognised that there are some groups that do not want to change. For them ‘success’ is not measured by material things, or influence in ‘the world’. These are likely to be ‘true believers’ who do not want to be contaminated by western influence. For them divine reward is paramount.

The secular state tries to say that they alone can provide happiness and social success.

All that is needed is for committed believers to become more nominal and secular, broaden their perspective, become naïve deconstructionists, and critical, but hybrid thinkers.

So we arrive back at a monoculture, and ‘success’ is possible!

(Photos: Pixabay)



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