Monday, August 08, 2011

Conserve or Liberate?

Most humans hate to follow things to logical conclusions. Or so one might conclude when listening to human debates. There are rabid conservatives and rabid liberals, whose two polar arguments may be described as, "No movement," and "Everything must move."

The physical laws of the universe appear to support conservative liberalism or liberal conservatism, but not the extremes. If nothing moves, no work is done, the system does not change state, the womb of the universe remains barren. If all things move, then we hasten towards entropic leveling (which is what would happen if all things were equal, if information flowed without hindrance, and energy could be used at will without impedance) and the heat death of the universe.

I don't think humans are born equal or should be treated equally. Yet I believe in the attempt to create a broad equality of treatment and access, which like any spectrum, has limits and gradual differences. All may be enjoined to abide by the same rules; all may have the same choices; but not all may have the same resources. If all did, then the game should be rigged to allow for no dominant strategy, because if it did, everyone should converge to the same behavioural norm and that would be stultifying because nothing would move.

Another way of looking at it: if all were equally rich, nobody would be rich. That is why Jesus said, "The poor you will have with you always." That was a rich and very loaded statement. A simple illustration will suffice.

Let us say that God decided to distribute all the world's riches evenly to all humans, so that everyone had the same amount. Then each human was given the same habitat, in terms of opportunities, aesthetics, resources. And each human was given the same skills, same capacities, same drives and physical structure. And all genders and races were made physically identical. And immortal. Wherever the Omnipotent could make identical and sustainably so, It did so.

What do you think would happen if this state was maintained?

Obviously, nothing would happen. For no creativity, no value, nothing depending on difference would remain. Birthrates would be zero, because a newborn manifestly is not competent and wouldn't be able to be an equal-human. Unless they were born from pods which generated equal-humans.

Equality is a bad thing, egalitarianism a somewhat worthy thing in a grossly unequal world. But just like Sartre's idea that choice is the highest moral good came from a gross fear of totalitarianism, so too does ultraconservatism arise from the gross fear of rapid change.

What conservatism and liberalism need is the opportunity to intersect and balance each other in a world that throws up challenges that neither can tackle alone. But this will often fail because of physics. The only way out is thus... metaphysical.

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