We're in for a wild ride. Exponentially accelerating technological, cultural, and socioeconomic evolution means that every year will see more developments than the previous one. More change will happen between now and 2050 than during all of humanity's past. Let's explore the 21st century and ride this historic wave of planetary transition with a confident open mind.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Ideology Causes Societal Stagnation

When the ruling 20% of the population (NTs/NFs) overwhelmingly relies on heuristics and ideological shortcuts, the resulting storm of cognitive laziness rots society from the top down. Progress in the 21st Century will require development of a guiding yet non-ideological framework

Before diving into construction possibilities of such a framework, a few words about why this blog is titled The Pragmatist. The name was selected to be in stark opposition to the widely hated The Economist ("free" trade/ neoliberal claptrap/ capitalist propaganda arm of the British intelligence). The Economist has done more harm via cognitive pollution of world's elites than most state propaganda arms can ever aspire to. Countless countries were left in ruins by the sort of rigid one dimensional Trotskyist-esque globalization peddling that a pretentious rag like The Economist provides.

A silver lining to this was that The Economist's underlining assumption (that a certain type of development is the best) has stagnated jolly old England via its rulers. This is similar to the way the Chinese empire was stagnated by rigid adherence to traditionalist Confucian train of thought in the 19th century. If Chinese elites of old had a similar magazine, say The Confucianist, it would undoubtedly deal with alternative modes of development with the same contempt and dismissive patronizing attitude. Just like their Chinese brethren before the Opium Wars, Anglo elites of today consider the rest of the world to be barbarian even if these barbarians are developing more advanced technology and infrastructure. They may not be into the beauty of calligraphy but the various non-development obsessions (and thus unbecoming of ruling elites) are eerily similar.

Why would this stagnation of the English speaking world be a blessing in disguise? For starters, from a global perspective, the socioeconomic decline of United States and United Kingdom will do as much to discredit capitalism as the decline of Soviet Union did to discredit communism. Thus we will finally exit the era of great ideological jihads that marked much of the 20th century. This will seem incredibly unfair to many in the Western world who will think the decline occurred because some idealized branch of capitalism in their heads was not adhered to enough. They have their counterparts in the former Soviet space. For majority of humanity at large however, it will mean mental liberation from rigid "isms". Failure of US will trigger bitter factional struggles in the cities of Berlin, Paris, Moscow, Tokyo, New Delhi and Beijing. It will mimic similar struggles after Soviet collapse and the tidal wave of social change will be tremendous.

In fact, because both superpowers were so intertwined with the ideological systems they mouthed, the discrediting of capitalism will usher in greater change than discrediting of Soviet communism. There will be nothing to fall back on in the minds of both ruling elites and everyday thinking peoples of the world. Chinese and Russian leaderships of today are pragmatic and heterodox yet they still have FDR's social democratic industrial capitalism embedded in the back of their consciousness. China will not be able to fill the void left by US in the minds of world's elites the way US filled the void of SU.

[Note: Democracy will not be similarly discredited since the financial/corporate oligarchies in UK and US provide far less democratic input than the oligarchies of continental Europe. US doesn't have the very basic minimum democratic principle of proportional representation allowing more than two parties. UK's horrid non-inclusive first-past-the-post system makes a mockery of allowing political competition. Lack of democratic input will be singled out by future researchers as the main structural reason why the Anglo kleptocracies reached the levels of irreversible stagnation that they had.]

Well that was more than a few words but The Economist is the devil, it needed to be said. The point is that human intelligentsia wont be free to develop the rest of the herd with ideological "isms" lurking to unconsciously frame all perception. It appears that left brainers are more prone to adapting "ism" systems. That is unfortunate since they tend to be overly represented at the top of various ruling hierarchies.

The more one "educates" oneself about his or her ideology the more neural connections are created within the brain, making it easier to retrieve data. Since left brainers have more sequential processing than right brainers, their brains get the most easily reshaped by system based socioeconomic thought. In other words they build a sort of a neural muscle that aids in spouting one dimensional propaganda. Similar to an athlete just working out one muscle group while letting the rest of the body atrophy. Often having such a brain circuit devoted to a an "ism" feels empowering since:

1) Most of the population (80% who aren't NT/NF) haven't delved into internalizing a system to such an extent. They think anybody with an elaborate enough system must be an expert
2) Half of the intelligentsia (NFPs/NTPs) are right brain dominant and sample data from across a variety of systems and experiences. Their style of conversation relies on drawing horizontally from a wide range of fields. To a left brainer system peddler it would appear that they are dodging the conversation.

In any event, a person deep into system based ideological thinking is prone to debate mode of conversation rather than mutually beneficial discussion where tangible learning can occur. A sort of an interpersonal cold war mentally becomes ever present. An "us versus them" dynamic develops within the intelligentsia. We saw where that leads entire societies.

Previously I touched upon the criteria by which future leaderships will be judged:

1) preservation/expansion of human autonomy
2) speed in construction of energy plants needed for continental infrastructure projects in irrigation, transport, farming, etc.

Providing more infrastructure can never truly become an ideology any more than providing more water and food can be an ideology. If you talk to anybody whose cognitive processes are deeply caged by an "ism", it is highly unlikely that they'll mention the result of less shelter, food, water, energy as the benefit of their ideology. And of course minority death cults can be readily recognized and dismissed out of hand (this unfortunately includes some "post-industrialist" factions of the green movement). Thus we have infrastructure as our first guiding point that is flexible enough depending on the needs of a particular region/climate.

What the ideologues of course differ on is how to get to more infrastructure for humanity. We can't simply use the process of elimination of what's easier in terms of how to proceed. This may open the door to tyrannical political suggestions. Yet how do we make the above mentioned preservation/expansion of human autonomy a guiding point without it becoming a rigid "ism"?

This is a complex topic that I'll attempt to tackle in the next article. Obviously provision of shelter/food/energy and giving more cutting edge democratic proportional representation builds autonomy of the individual. Yet we can't just say "our guiding point should be infrastructure and we should build more infrastructure and build it quicker in a way that keeps expanding the autonomy of all individuals (second guiding point)". Although it may appear as if there are no trade offs with our guiding points, many political factions can easily spot trade offs that can occur (sacrificing humans in name of infrastructure construction or sacrificing infrastructure construction in the name of humans).

Therefore, the relationship between the guiding points needs to be very carefully developed to preemptively deflect accusations from ideologues of various stripes (namely libertarians and those who want to emulate Chinese dictatorship).

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1 comment:

  1. Great article, love the site and the way you think, but some things I would like to point out/ put out there for thought

    "What the ideologues of course differ on is how to get to more infrastructure for humanity."

    I'm not sure if this is the case, many ideologues are trying to promote some type of morality, instead of debating differences on achieving commonly held goals, for different ideologies often times the goals themselves are different.The guiding points are not so clear or clear cut to put it succinctly.

    Then it begs the question, on what terms should our values, goals and beliefs be developed, because here I don't think you can ever fully rationally come up with the 'ideal' or 'right' values/ goals. It is almost impossible for people to deny and discount ingrained cultural upbringing, whether it be religious or based on neo-liberal principals.

    An example albeit a radical one: Not one single U.S student growing up through the education system without some strong external parental or cultural influence will ever think slavery is ok. Everyone to some extent by the time they reach the age where they can think for themselves will be operating on principles so ingrained into their identity it will be impossible to engage in completely productive discourse. I know myself I am a slave to the liberal principles of egalite, fraternite, liberte, life liberty pursuit of happiness ect and the concepts of rights.

    "a person deep into system based ideological thinking is prone to debate mode of conversation rather than mutually beneficial discussion where tangible learning can occur."

    Great stuff.