Wednesday, September 14, 2005

A Short Essay

Society is divided and evolution is the fault-line. There are those who believe in intelligent design, denying order can arise independent of an orderer. Opposite them stand evolutionists, who realize that order can arise spontaneously, free from conscious direction.

Progressives inhabit the first, dogmatically ignorant class. They don’t believe in evolution, cannot fathom how society could order itself apart from their all-knowing guidance, and won’t acknowledge that traditions are evolutionary adaptations which we deface at our own peril.
I’m not speaking primarily of biological evolution, but of the traditions and institutions which evolve, quite like organisms, from a state of disorder to a state of order, without intelligent guidance, leaving civilization in their wake.

This bothers Progressives.

They believe society should be a grand construct of reason alone, not guided by mindless evolutionary forces. Progressives distrust traditions as irrational.

But, as the economist Friedrich Hayek showed, traditions are evolutionary adaptations. Groups following certain irrational traditions increase in number, groups following others disappear. Evolution selects for certain traditions, just as it selects for certain types of locomotion. The traditions that have been passed down are those that have allowed our population to increase to its current size. Flippantly modifying these traditions means changing the circumstances which daily allow us to sustain our current numbers. However irrational these traditions may be, it’s indisputable that, as adaptations, they’re part of what keeps us alive. Decreased productivity, crime, societal unrest, anomie—these are the fruits of rationalist progressivism.

I’m not opposed to rationality per se—just the arrogant rationality of progressives. Real rationality means realizing the limits of one’s knowledge, knowing that thousands of years of trial and error evolution are superior to one, imperfect mind.

To declare a tradition irrational is like viewing a puzzle piece in isolation of the puzzle. The jagged edges offend the rationalist’s sense of symmetry. But these jagged edges are the interconnections with a society that has evolved concurrently. They’re infinite in number, and knowable to none but the omniscient. Progressives claim this title and cut the jagged edges.
Progressivism’s anti-evolutionary stance is even more apparent in its views toward another tradition, the free market. Capitalism is an evolutionary mechanism; millions of entrepreneurs try to “survive,” with the fittest earning the most money and thereby multiplying in number with imitators. Fittest, here, means satisfying the most wants. So, through capitalism, man satisfies his own wants by satisfying the wants of others.

As an evolutionary mechanism, capitalism generates order from disorder. Progressives, like their religious Intelligent Design counterparts, are reduced to claiming society is “irreducibly complex,” and cannot be self-generated through the free interactions of people. Instead, it requires a creator and overseer—them, natch.

Perhaps it’s possible to believe in evolution, yet still oppose leaving society as a self-generating mechanism modulated by the evolutionary adaptations of tradition. However, if you acknowledge the possibility of spontaneous organization, yet would restrict these orderings according to your perceived enlightened rationality, you are an enemy of freedom. You might idealize fraternity or equality, but not liberty. Evolution, traditional morality, capitalism, freedom—all are intimately related.

A society which respects these, leaves the free associations of men to self-generate order using evolution. “Experiments in living,” as Mill called them, proliferate, and those that achieve success in the free market evolutionary mechanism are carried ever higher.

In this way, traditional morality is open to change, even as it’s free from top-down dictations.
Society need only remember Giambattista Vico’s admonishment, “Homo non intelligendo fit omnia”—Man became all he is without understanding it. And on this path he will continue.


Blogger Scarlett said...

Reply to your Paragraph

If order can rise spontaneously then why do capitalists have strict rules and structure? Go to a bank and get a loan by telling the lender you're just going to sponstaneously start a business and see what happens.

You're a student, have you never heard of entropy? How could an institution or tradition BEGIN in a state of disorder? Name a tradition that begin in disorder and evolved into order without guideance?

I am a progressive and I don't distrust traditions. For instance I believe we should have presidential elections and not allow the Supreme Court to appoint the POTUS. I also believe that the person who sits in the White House should be qualified to be there and I don't mean having a rich family qualifies you. The POTUS should at least have a command of English. If we don't have intelligent guidance in this area things could deteriorate rapidly.

Could you please name one tradition that progressives are attempting to destroy and therefore "decreasing" our numbers???? I don't even know what you're talking about.

In your fifth paragraph - how did progressives suddenly "evolve" into one single mind? Name which tradition Progressives are affecting by intellectually controling it.

The free market is a tradition? Really? Didn't the US government bail out the airlines after 9-11? Didn't the US government bail out the auto-industry during the 70s? Isn't the taxpayer making the current investment in the middle east and are the oil compaines and the military/industrial complex and others in the private sector not taking all the profits? Is that your idea of a free market? Didn't Haliburton get the contract in Iraq without having to bid for it and wasn't Haliburtion given the contract to rebuild New Orleans and MS and AL? Is that your idea of competition and allowing the market to work. What chance were entraprenures given and how could they compete with Haliburtion?

Our forefathers didn't believe in corporations. google Jefferson's comments about them. As a progressive I would be more then happy to let the markets work and I would also be happy to get the damn corporations off the government teat. Republicans call it socialism if poor people get tax dollars but when businesses live off of the taxpayers while paying no taxes on their wealth its called a free market.

We could have had universal health care for the American people but the pharmacuical companies bought and paid for our legislators so I wouldn't exactly call that a free market. The taxpayer pays for research to develop new drugs and then turns the results over to big corporate pharmacuicals who then goug the consumer - thats your idea of a free market?

When the US and the CIA attempts to overthrow Chavez of Argentina because he won't privatize the oil resources that are currently owned by the people of Argentina does that not make you aware of the role the government and the taxpayer play in the so called "free markets"? Are you not aware that the CIA staged coups in South America and in the middle east and took out fairly elected leaders and installed dictators friendly to US business? Whats "free" about that? I'd say that is anything but allowing tradition to proceed without intelligent guidance.

The USA enjoys a high standard of living because we subjugate workers in third world countries and we gain our wealth on the backs of these people. Do you know what "petro dollars" are?

You think there is traditional morality in all of this? Perhaps the progressives should have played a greater role in your education rather then allowing our public school system to descend into disorder.

your last paragraph - Morality is what it is - it can't change or it wouldn't be moral any more. I don't even know what you're talking about when you say it shouldn't be decided from the "top down".

5:43 PM  

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