FORWARD BASE B

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Tag Archives: social

Social Engineering Should Be Tested First

The best intentioned reformers often make things even worse.  But so would anyone trying to solve massive, complicated problems on the first try. It’s actually more surprising anything ever goes right.
It amazes me looking back over history to see how reformers and revolutionaries try to apply their ideologies without ever having tested them. Imagine a tech company releasing a new device without extensively testing it first or a computer programmer writing code for an entire program without ever trying to compile it. Ridiculous, yet that’s what people try to do all the time. Too often the result is disaster.
The higher castes have greater agency through which they deal with greater responsibilities. They can’t just say “oops” when there’s a big logistical screwup and a couple million people starve to death.
Any responsible sentient being in power naturally has a system to test new ways of organization before implementing them on a large scale.
Observing differences between local governments and the study of history provides lots of fertile material for hypotheses, but the devil is in the details.

There would have to be some sort of R and D department for trying out new social technologies. Perhaps there could even be reality shows of a sort where in the first round groups of maybe 150 or so live under a hypothetical social model then those groups that make it past the elimination get expanded up to 1000 and so on. There would be rules to keep it ethical. People who “die” in the experiment would just be “voted off the island” and sent home. Not being “real” would of course distort the data, but perhaps money or other incentives could make the results worthwhile. Someone who “dies” might lose all their prize money, representing a total loss.

Or to make this simpler maybe a reform simply gets tried first in a small town or a single city first and upvoted or nexted based on results. Perhaps there might be an actual experimental province set aside with discrete zones. Those who chose to live there would simply vote with their feet. In the absence of any Berlin walls, it would quickly become evident which zones people like and which they avoid and what type of people or demographics prefer different systems. Of course, the experimental province might give unrepresentative data if they attracted outliers of the population, but it could be a start. Not to mention, there would probably have to be incentives to get people to choose to live in experimental land.  Perhaps they’d sign contracts to stick around in experimentland for a year or two or else they lose all their bonuses.
As enough information was amassed from real life experiments maybe computer simulations would become more effective at projecting results and maybe programs could be written to project hypotheses for ideal social organizations taking every aspect of human nature into account that maximize both raw competitiveness and creativity/adaptability to new stressors.

Throughout history, groups have settled on something that works for the time period and then try to perpetuate it ad nauseum across milennia.  Talmudic Judaism was a brilliant way to coordinate a particular Semite tribe over 2000 years ago.  Islam turned out to be the right solution for quarreling Arab city states about 1300 years ago.  But one of the things we immediately notice is that all these systems buy a professional suite of anti-virus software to prevent change to that successful formula, even if it’s a thousand years later.
Sadly, social technologies tend to stagnate because they only ascend to apotheosis in the first place because they have serious protection against change.
The challenge before us then is how to design a society to be both resilient and highly adaptable to new stressors, so that when the next big asteroid hits, we aren’t among the dinosaurs.

The Masses Crave Discipline

I was briefly doing some reading on dog training once because I was visiting my parents and they had a young puppy full of energy with little discipline.  It was difficult to even take the young animal for a walk because he would zip every which way with no sense of direction and constantly fight against the tugging of the leash.
I soon discovered the ideas of a guy called Cesar Milan on the web, a fellow who I understand had a TV show.
It soon struck me that his kind of ideas didn’t just seem dog-like to me.  I’d never found a finer manual in the art of herding people.

We have only to see Britain’s adulation for its royal family or Americans’ worship of the Kennedys to understand that the typical human psychologically requires a master as surely as any dog.  People feel happy and safe when there is a dominating presence at the head of their tribe.  They become miserable and anxious in the absence of discipline and leadership.

One has only to observe groups of kids.  A classroom with a strong and competent teacher is well behaved and happy.  A class with a weak teacher is obnoxious and miserable.
One would think that the kids with greater freedom would be happier, but the opposite is true.
Over the years I’ve had stints as a substitute teacher and an English teacher.  I’ve worked in tourist venues where groups of kids pass through constantly.  Everywhere I’ve gone, the kids without leadership have bratty sneers on their faces and while they may smile, it’s always a snide expression of mockery and contempt.  They’re unhappy, insecure, and bored.
Investigating dog psychology on the internet, I read how canine misbehavior is an attempt to get attention and test the leadership of the master.  The dog is begging to be shown rules and leadership just as it begs for food.  After all, social creatures require rules and structure as they do food or water.
It struck me that all those kids are exactly the same way.  Their misbehavior when not disciplined is just an escalating plea for leadership.  They immediately become happy and compliant again when their misbehavior is punished and they are decisively cast down into their proper place.

Dogs, according to the likes of Cesar Milan, experience a great deal of stress when despite their pleas, no leadership is forthcoming.  The dog starts to see itself as the incipient alpha bearing full responsibility for the wellbeing of the pack.  This crushing stress, combined with perceiving the need to assert itself as leader, mere misbehavior can escalate into outright aggression.  This is the point where the master loses control of the situation irrevocably.

Here,  I reflected, rulers of people do not fall from internal disputes as long as they show strength and leadership.  However, the moment a ruler makes concessions, the end is near.  We can reflect on Gorbachev and the end of the Soviet Union, or Mubarak in Egypt.  We can compare the outcome of President Jackson’s quick and decisive suppression of secession movements in South Carolina, with the concessions and indecisiveness of Buchanan.
It is an eternal law of dealing with the masses: the strongman is rewarded with obedience, the kind man with rebellion and overthrow.

American foreign policy would have been greatly improved had its formulators understood the human craving for discipline.  They would have immediately had an astute and accurate understanding of what an Iraq without Saddam would be like.  Now, faced with all the problems that the strongman kept in check, they’re forced to unhappily enter an alliance with the Iranians just to feebly attempt to restore what they already had—and willfully undid—because they chose to make real world policy while living in a fantasy land.

If anything, the colonialists of the British Empire had no illusions about the subservient and base nature of humanity.  With incomparably less wealth, technology, and personnel they managed to govern most of the planet.  A few jungle and desert zones capable of resisting the entire might of the United States caused no unusual problems for the British whose only advantage over the American superpower was a shrewd understanding of people.

Enlightenment thought teaches us humans are perfect rational agents, who need only be set free.  But even the most casual glance at the psychology of real, ordinary people quickly informs us:  One of the cruelest things that can be done to a man is to set him free.  At heart, man wants to be ruled.

Why Do People Think Human Evolution Has Stopped?

I can’t count how many times someone has remarked glibly and smugly with glazed eyes and a vacant smile “But we have modern medicine/modern society now.  Human evolution has stopped.”  I’m stunned every time.  I’m used to stupidity, but even otherwise intelligent people will say this to me.  Do they choose not to think?
Do they choose to refuse to understand that nature never takes a holiday and that our genes are locked in eternal competition for survival?  Do they not understand that no one will care about their ‘careers’ past the day they retire?  That our ‘accomplishments’ will be forgotten as soon as we are dead?

Changes in stressors merely change the selectors!  Heavy rains are good for some plants, bad for others.  Socially awkward growing up, I keenly felt the cold steel of Darwin’s axe on my neck every day of my entire youth.  I was trapped in a prison of society’s blazing hostility for over a decade.  I was never allowed to delude myself that everyone succeeds.  Before I was a teenager it seemed I stood on the edge of that ignominious trash pit failed specimens are dumped into by nature’s callous hand.  I’ve never, ever forgot it.

This is, in itself, selection at its best.  Those capable of further reflection will have a major advantage over those that buy into the popular platitudes.

The selective barrier I see in modern affluent societies is for an abstract appreciation of the essentials.

For instance, the type A go-getter that always goes for that promotion but never has any kids, dying out as completely as the dinosaurs, no better than the wino on the street corner, no different than a young man brutally mowed down in battle.
In past generations, the type A’s instincts would have been optimally suited towards breeding with the best mates.

Now, however, a more abstract way of thinking about one’s genetic destiny is required for success…or the total absence of thinking, allowing one to rut without care on the animal level.  These are the two present viable formulae for genetic success in the Modern West.

With humans, we give primacy to ‘environment’ and insist on a ‘blank slate.’
We can breed dogs specifically to herd sheep yet do not believe in breeds of people that have come about from the demands of specialization over the last millennia of civilization?

Childish, williful ignorance at its best.

Those who determine the future of the genes, determine the future of the species.

 

 

Pre-Politically Correct History: Eugenics and Hindu Caste

“The caste system had the eugenic value of keeping the presumably finer strains from dilution and disappearance through indiscriminate mixture; it established certain habits of diet and cleanliness as a rule of honor which all might observe and emulate; it gaver order to the chaotic inequalities and differences of men, and spared the soul the modern fever of climbing and gain; it gave order to every life by prescribing for each man a dharma, or code of conduct for his caste; it gave order to every trade and profession, elevated every occupation into a vocation not lightly to be changed, and, by making every industry a caste, provided its member with a means of united action against exploitation and tyranny. It offered an escape from the plutocracy or the military dictatorship which are apparently the only alternatives to aristocracy; it gave to a country shorn of political stability by a hundred invasions and revolutions a social, moral and cultural order and continuity rivaled only by the Chinese.”

Will Durant, Our Oriental Heritage, 1935

Despite all the flaws and cruelty we’ve seen come from the Hindu caste system there’s something to be said for making sure people spend more time getting things done rather than putting all their energy into competing for status.
Also, compared to the constant uncertainty of existence in our own society there is something to be said for being born into a trade union that has real leverage.

Though we must be mindful of the sort of strife that is typical in Indian society, surely there are important lessons to learn from them as well. Lessons that can put the barbarous excesses of our own system in perspective.

Finally, results matter. Hindu society has proven far more stable for far longer than our own.

Another Excerpt on Hindu Caste and Eugenics from 1927

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