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Saturday, December 06, 2014

Is Feudalism the Natural Social Order?

David Brin asks Is feudalism the natural social order?
We know that bullying cabals of cheaters have conspired to dominate others and steal and wreck markets across 99% of societies for at least 6000 years and probably 250,000. Across all continents and wildly varied cultures, this universal pattern perfectly "correlates" with Darwinian advantage to the bully-cheaters. It is the broad fact known about human societies ... and those who would shrug it off — in favor of following incantatory gurus — are in no position to lecture us about "science."
An honest libertarian — even a "theorist" would recognize and accept the burden that this long and lamentable pattern lays upon our feet. If 99% of societies were feudal pyramids of hierarchy and inherited status, it suggests that our own — with its emphasis on individualism, rights and competitive creativity is a rare exception. Not an outgrowth of "natural law" but instead an invention, spectacularly clever, complex and needing perpetual maintenance, lest it slump back into older, more entropic ways.
Only one society ever systematically evaded this attractor trap. Its methodologies included moderate regulation to keep competition flat, open and fair. Not perfectly! But vastly better than any other society... by orders of magnitude. We moderate Smithians know that this revolution is the best thing that ever happened...
...beyond engendering vast wealth and science and reducing ancient mistakes like racism and sexism, it also made more libertarians than any other society ever!
It was not built by platonist theoreticians whose incantation mantras pile high "logic" that is endlessly refuted by actual human experience. Nor will it be extended by indignant, simplistic snits, or raging counterfactuals like "all government is bad and no concentration of wealth is ever toxic." That mantra is exactly what oligarchs want sock-puppets to recite, as they rebuild a feudal order.
We've got an opportunity to escape a trap that may have held back hundreds of other sapient species out there, perhaps millions. In the main article I ask what possible societies might arise from descendants of — say — pack carnivores, like wolves? Or solitary hunters, like tigers? Or solipsistic omnivores (bears), or herd herbivores? Or ants? But here's a funny thing. Not one of them seems guaranteed safety from the feudal attractor-state.
We seem to have found a way if we don't blow it, by betraying the pragmatic enlightenment invention—experiment in favor of theories. But so many are pushing to abandon the experiment! So many yearn — even in fantasy tales and films — for a return to old ways.
In the end, we may be kept from the stars by a simple flaw — our habit of delusion and self-hypnosis.
Read the main article here.