Resistance to New Thinking

History shows us that there is always resistance to new thinking. A major component of this resistance is clone-think and institutionalisation. Group-mind simply does not want to budge. But the biggest component is threat to power-base. Anything which even slightly threatens the power-base, the established order, simply will not be tolerated. “This is the way we do things around here and you, sonny-Jim, will comply or else!”  There are more personal forms of resistance; “This is the way I suppose the world to be, this is how it works, and I shall not listen to anyone who tells me otherwise. For if I do the world I have assembled for myself might collapse and I can’t be having that.”

Last summer when I was looking into doing a start-up one of the key things I was looking for was agility, and agility in thinking. Sadly, in many cases this was lacking and particularly so in the UK. There is an impetus to encourage innovation provided that it does not threaten, even in the merest, established order. I found the people I dealt with in France and Germany to be significantly more agile and less stuck in the mud. We are back to power and the obsession with power-base in the UK. We may want innovation, but we want to control it and pull the strings, oh and can we please have a cut too, and let me borrow some kudos man.

New thinking is unsettling for some, even those who want change. We might want change but only a tiny little bit, please. We do not want anything too radical. Resistance is a bottleneck to evolution and whilst some degree of discernment is advisable simply going “shan’t”, isn’t the answer. Some friction is inevitable and if a balanced friction, it is a good thing, out of which learning comes. I’ll speculate that as a rule of thumb, the older we get, the more we resist change and the less fluid we become.

Science is loath to let go of the tried and tested. And rather than rewrite a rule it will introduce a vast polynomial expansion of adjustments to a given law before abandoning it. Each exception or adjustment is justified ad infinitum. And thus, an equation becomes several kilometres long before we let go of it. This tenacity to the old is pervasive. There is something comforting about it. Somehow, we know what we are doing even when that knowledge starts to look increasingly shaky.

Above all new thinking threatens the sense of control which we think we have, even if that control isn’t so great as we imagine it to be. Many fear to improvise, they prefer some “rules” even if they don’t like them. It is better to have rules and order than free-flowing improvisation. If you like playing games, then you want to know the “rules” so that you can play the game and bend the rules where it might be possible. We could make a case for a therapeutic use exemption of a drug and still be inside the “rules”. Game-players like rules because they have a framework, improvisers don’t like rules because they can inhibit and prevent. Without rules it can be difficult to prove who has won, because there are no metrics.

Having cued this up:

Am I a resistor to new thinking?

Is my resistance fixed or variable?

Is my resistance all about control and control of power?

Do I waste energy, dissipate it, by my resistance?

Am I agile or fixed?