The Outsourcing Of Autonomy
If there is one thing to gain from studying history and human psychology, it is that man is prone to thinking there is a hero on a white horse to make life’s difficult decisions for him.
This man on the white horse has taken numerous forms over the millennia, from religion, politics, warfare, sports, to economics and many others.
Nowadays, the trend towards populism is evidence of man’s drive to search for another proverbial man on the white horse.
What history tells us is a man on the white horse…
What today’s man on the white horse resembles in reality…
While I acknowledge there are individuals much more intelligent, wise, and experienced than I, rather than searching for “expert opinion” we would be much better served in trying to curb the influence of laziness and ignorance.
We must accept that we are personally responsible for our own lives and must carve out our own slice of meaning in this universe. Whenever we reach a point in time where the majority do not accept this, and are instead looking for the man on the white horse, the society is nearing a tipping point.
The individual must be empowered to the point where they generate meaning for themselves. However arbitrary a concept, meaning lends itself to capital creation and increased productivity from an economic perspective, something that clearly lacks in socialist/communist societies.
Unfortunately, it seems socialism is growing in popularity here within the crony capitalist United States. This trend may be a dead cat bounce, or it may be the earlier stages of a longer-term trend. With socialism comes the feeling that nobody is special. We are all the same. Equality becomes the dominant value in socialist states, to the point where there is no social mobility.
Would you agree that the word “equal” and “equality” are being floated around much more these days, both for better and worse?
While I have no qualms with equality in terms of human rights, economic opportunity, and social mobility, I also believe that you are the recipient of what amount of effort you put into any endeavor. In other words, your output is determined by your input, and it is highly unlikely that we can collectively create equality at the input level.
Doing so would require eugenics similar to Huxley’s Brave New World in order to ensure all organisms are created equal, not to mention the economic, political, and social ramifications of making sure all households are equal.
Quite the dystopian undertaking, wouldn’t you say? And who would manage this undertaking? The same government that cannot fill the potholes on your local road?
The only way societies achieve equality is at the output level; they take output from one individual and give it to another.
It works like this:
Bob works his butt off and receives $10 in output as a result. Bob’s neighbor, Bill, puts next to no effort into his pursuits and receives only $1 as a result.
Society, by means of governance, steps in and makes sure that each Bob and Bill receive the collective sum ($11) split into equal parts. This results in both Bob and Bill receiving $5.50, even though they did not input equal effort.
After seeing this process continue indefinitely, what incentive then does Bob have to contribute any additional effort beyond Bob? As a result, it no longer becomes the splitting of $11 but rather the splitting of $2, essentially reducing Bob to the same input/output result at Bill. We have achieved equality.
Is this the genuine end goal of all this talk of equality these days? It can’t be.
It is really a desire of equal opportunity, and more importantly, the prospect of social mobility. Social mobility is perhaps the most telling indicator of where a society stands. However, this desire seems to be getting off track and veering into other arenas that are seemingly characteristic of greed, pride, envy, laziness, anger, self-satisfaction, and lust.
Universal basic income is gaining traction as a solution to economic inequality. However, it’s one fatal flaw is that UBI provides no motivation or meaning for an individual to do anything special or significant — remember Bob? No passion, no meaning, no humanity.
In response to the fear being generated by robotics and artificial intelligence, the best our thought leaders can come up with is further sacrificing our humanity in the name of equality. Equality is a farce; no two life forms are the same, not even identical twins.
- So how then, can we all be equal?
- Is long equality, in reality, short evolution?
- Are those that believe in totalitarian-equality not believers in the power of evolution?
One could argue that once societies plateau and forego positive evolution they slip into regressive tendencies towards socialism. This is when societies disintegrate, or fall apart via centripetal force. We all instinctively comprehend that in order to survive, we must evolve and adapt.
Is it such a stretch to think that societies operate as a single organism, and that when the organism begins to sense it is not evolving or adapting as quickly as its neighbors, it goes into fight or flight mode? Are we in this mode right now?
I argue that we are currently experiencing all of this. Perhaps, humanity is constantly experiencing this, but with the development of environmental climate change, perpetual war in economics, cyber and on the ground around the world, increasing nationalist tendencies, more ideas surrounding equality coming to the forefront, and more critical opinions on globalization, there is generally more anxiety stemming from our natural evolutionary tendencies.
In response to this, I find solace in accepting full and total responsibility for my life, be it financial, health, mental, spiritual, or whatever. I know that I am capable of finding meaning in this complex world of ours, seeking out friends with the drive to evolve, and doing everything within my abilities to learn how to become a better person.
This is what life is really about. Learning is man’s strongest tool to evolve, especially in today’s Information Age. Perhaps, more importantly than learning how to learn, is the ability to learn how to unlearn, and the ability to remain nimble and open minded to change.
“In progressive societies the concentration[of wealth] may reach a point where the strength of number in the many poor rivals the strength of ability in the few rich; then the unstable equilibrium generates a critical situation, which history has diversely met by legislation redistributing wealth or by revolution distributing poverty.”
“The fear of capitalism has compelled socialism to widen freedom, and the fear of socialism has compelled capitalism to increase equality. East is West and West is East, and soon the twain will meet.”
“We conclude that the concentration of wealth is natural and inevitable, and is periodically alleviated by violent or peaceable partial redistribution. In this view all economic history is the slow heartbeat of the social organism, a vast systole and diastole of concentrating wealth and compulsive recirculation.”
― Will Durant, The Lessons of History
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