More political musings (collectivism vs. conservatism)

So, as we talk about various types of collectivism, and various pundits try their hardest to convince us that socialism will make us all poor, I thought I’d bring out a few facts.

The first thing I’d point out is that generally conservatives are anti-collectivist, and generally whenever conservatives get in power in the USA, a recession almost immediately follows. Now the powers that be would *really* like you to forget this fact, or stop noticing it – just like they’d like to convince you that the cause of the failures of the Soviet Union and China were the result of collectivism.

What they carefully ignore is that A: sometimes collectivism works. Sometimes it works quite a bit better than individualism. B: In the places where it doesn’t work, *often* there is a attempt to pair it with dictatorship or oligarchy. This is certainly the case in both China and the Soviet Union. C: In small scale places where it doesn’t work, often the USA, which has capitalism as a state religion, was responsible for repeatedly blowing things up and/or enacting sanctions in order to make sure it would fail. Cuba is a obvious example of a system that probably would have succeeded wildly without repeated abuse by it’s collective-phobic neighbor.

However, there are a few things to remember. We see a lot of what I call ‘stupid greed’ – that is to say, greed that makes everyone, including the greedy person, poorer. Part of why I think we see it is that having large amounts of power leads to a special type of brain damage. People with large amounts of power lose the ability to empathise with those beneath them, which leads increasingly to them forgetting that a dictatorship is generally not a winning combination. People in power also often come over time to vastly overestimate their intelligence. I’ve been reading about the downfall of Commodore Business Machines, which is kind of a tragic play in 3 acts, but definitely one of the acts is the result of Jack Tramiel having this sort of brain damage.

So, the powers that be, who have a lot of money to spend on propaganda and attempts to change our minds, want very badly for us not to choose collectivism because they – in their generally brain damaged way – think that life is a zero sum game and they’re going to be less rich if they have less money.

However, as I’ve talked about before, this type of greed is generally stupid – it costs the person who is exercising the greed potential experiences, because it leads to hoarding pointers to resources instead of spending them intelligently to garner more resources. It’s important to understand that there are resources which are multiplicative in value – obvious examples are intellectual property like the transistor, but you also have technologies which have a network effect, such as the fax machine and the personal computer – every one that you add to the world increases the value of all of them.

However, there seems to be no hope of getting through to people who have fallen into this mindset. They are convinced that conservative politicians and conservative policies are exactly what they want. You can run into people who generally acknowledge the value of research and intelligence, who would never attempt to compete on things like configuring computers, designing circuits, or writing software – but suddenly whenever the topic turns to politics they know best because you are promoting liberalism and collectivism and they are deeply convinced they know what history says. They in fact are cherry-picking from the history that ended the way they wanted, and then furthermore carefully ignoring that a lot of the failures of collectivism have been the result of single-party thinking, oligarchy, or dictatorship. But you can’t generally get them to understand that.

The good news, I suppose, is ultimately conservatism is likely to fail in a evolutionary point of view. Conservative policies, consistently carried out, will kill off our species – because conservatism wants to keep things the same, and ‘keep things the same’ includes things like a fork bomb (be fruitful and multiply) and epic stupidity (there’s plenty of oil, we should continue to fight wars to get resources we want, etc), and hopefully the next species will be a little smarter.

This didn’t end up being as much of a roundup as I hoped.

One Response to “More political musings (collectivism vs. conservatism)”

  1. bunne Says:

    The problem with any given system of societal management is malfeasance. You give some people the keys to the corner office and they start trying to figure out how to own the whole building.

    The problem with money is user error.

    The problem with any already packaged and labeled “way to do things” is no one blanket covers every ass. They’re all as needed, when needed, where needed applications to be *honestly* administered as requirements demand. Trying to say that any single given ideology can do it all is like trying to mix a record in Photoshop.

    And NONE of them work unless they are stewarded by honest men. None of them.

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