"The reasonable man adapts himself to the world. The unreasonable man persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man.”
- George Bernard Shaw
"The only constant is change"
- Isaac Asimov
Much of 21st century society supports the reasonable man and expects that people will conform to the status quo. But as George Bernard Shaw's famous quote reminds us, we need the unreasonable man (or woman) in order that society can progress.
For those who are satisfied with the status quo, the concept of progress may seem baffling. Indeed, there are many people in our society who think we have "progressed backwards". But as Asimov reminds us, the status quo is not an option.
Nick Clegg learns the dangers of the status quo
Now consider the result of the recent UK local elections - the movement to the centre (an attempt to be the reasonable man) has spectacularly backfired as the LibDems lost control of 9 Councils without one gain. The voters who had supported the LibDems in the name of progress now recognise that the LibeDems alliance with the Tories show there won't be any progress from Clegg.
The Scots vote for the unreasonable man
Across the border in Scotland and the clans have voted for change. Major change. Who would have thought that Alex Salmond and the Scottish Nationalists would be given a mandate to separate from England?
And yet, that's just what they have voted for - a change to the status quo. If you stand for something, if you stand for progress, the reasonable man often recognises it.
Immigration policy is a flashpoint
Perhaps the greatest debate in the progress v status quo battle is over the issue of immigration.
On the status quo side are those in favor of monoculturalism. Genocides have been committed in the name of monoculturalism. And more commonly, official government policies have supported monoculturalism, with Australia's White Australia Policy continuing as late as the 1960s.
The most notable monocultural nation is Japan. Only 1.5% of Japanese are migrants. The Japanese economy and society is now suffering terribly from this status quo approach.
In contrast, Australia and America are countries where migrants have built our societies. And both countries are at a tipping point in regard to the next step.
Today, President Obama announced a new policy supporting continued immigration to the US. In his speech he said " immigration is not just the right thing to do. It’s smart for our economy." And of course, he is right. You can watch Obama's speech here
He is resisting those who want to retain the status quo, despite emotional, fear-based claims, while still recognising the need
Australia is also at a tipping point. Our aging population cannot be self supporting without an influx of new workers, as demographer Bernard Salt has reported many times. And today Skills Australia estimated that we will need an additional 2.4 million skilled workers by 2015.
More importantly, we need new cultures, to generate new ideas, and continue the regeneration of Australia. We need to embrace new migrants - new citizens - to Australia.
We need unreasonable men (and women) to achieve progress. If you think calls to increase permanent immigration are unreasonable then bring on the unreasonable.
Let me know what you think.