Saturday, May 20, 2017

The paradigm of Complexity

It seems to me most socialists dream of a return to the "music of the spheres" which animated the social orders of the middle ages.  They dream of planets describing fixed orbits, and lives which revolve around clearly defined social roles.  They dream of fixity, of an end to existential angst, to what they see as an overabundance of freedom.

But complexity is how the world actually works.  It is how nature works.  Even if we cannot see it within our very short lives, everything is in flux in ways which are in principle and reality very different than the machines built by those who modeled Ptolemaic models of the universe.  Everything is in a continual process of change in ways not best described as linear, but only approximately linear.  In an infinite universe, we can in principle never know enough.  God does play dice.

The paradigm of Complexity says that things tend to work out over time, given good organizing principles, within human social systems, and without top-down efforts and control and ordering.

It takes some faith, as one example, to believe in our economic system.  But it manifestly works so well that the concern is not feeding people, but that we might grow to consume all the planets resources, which we have learned to use and exploit efficiently.

But even there, there are inherent limits in the system.  Even now, ones sees a market which brings to the table "sustainably sourced fish".  One sees drives to recyling, and the reduction of waste.  Because there is an expressed need for this, our system brought it into being.  All it takes is awareness and time and economic freedom.

The faith required to believe in our system is vastly less than that required to believe in the individuals who claim they can do better.  No one has ever done better, and in the modern era those who have tried have not just failed, but created mass horrors.

The obsession with abstraction which is BEST, not least, seen in Socialism, cannot by its nature return us to stable social relations, and qualitatively better emotional connection with one another.  Economics, as I have said often, needs to be seen as a separate preoccupation from the system of meaning formation, truth formation, and political relations.  All are logically distinct, even if connected in formally complex ways.

I was listening yesterday as long as I could to some silly person pointing out that direct exchange is more socially meaningful.  This may be true, but in the eras and places where it predominated, so too did war, rapine, and plunder.  War has happened everywhere and always, in a great many cases because somebody somewhere had something that somebody else wanted, and had no other means of acquiring.

Human relations exist within an economic system.  We can choose to value people over things, but this choice must be made and expressed on an individual level.  There is no return to Eden if we try and mandate people get along in a certain way.

This truth emerges from the fundamentally crucial idea--paradigm/way of looking at the world--that social relations are Complex.  Love does not emerge at sword or gunpoint.  Connectedness cannot be coerced if it is to be valid and vital, real and lasting.

No, real change is gradual.  Seeds are planted, the soil is watered, and time is given.

Perhaps it would be most useful to speak of Social Gardening, not Social Engineering.  The topic is not machines: it is living beings, and the goal is growth and health and flourishing, not rounding up and managing.  That, we might with equal justice, call Human Husbandry.

Such an activity is the obsession of Leftists, who do not in any meaningful way connect with life as a whole, or with God, which we might call the Great Life.  They want to provide nothing more or less than the bookend to the process begun with the first emergence of self awareness in a biologically modern human.

This is what I see.

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