For those who follow my twitter feed, the fact that I’m quite far from a conservative should be quite obvious by now. Part of this is driven by the fact that if one looks to history, I think one would face a monumental challenge to argue that a majority of changes have had negative human consequences. Of course, once can cite issues such as the breakdown of the nuclear family, the fact that most of us are at best tacitly tied to our communities, and quite a few others, however from my view the cost of these issues is dwarfed by:
- Penicillin and modern medicine in general
- Lifting people out of poverty in the third world at an accelerating rate
- The democratization of information in the form of the internet
And many others, the fact that people can throw off dictators through the use of social media is quite astounding quite frankly. However, I do understand the concern, while change has always been a central part of the human condition, rapid change has been less so. I consider myself an adaptist, I view humanity’s greatest competitive advantage as being able to adapt better and faster than most. We have the capacity to adapt the environment to ourselves, which gives us a great edge vs. other organisms in that they adapt through generations, we adapt through neural plasticity.
When our species moved from hunter/gatherer to agricultural this took tens of thousands of years. When we moved from agricultural to industrial, it was faster but it still took 200ish years from the dawn of the industrial revolution to what I’d consider as it’s peak around 1970. The information revolution started in the 70s and now a mere 50 years later, virtually everything about our lives have changed, and we are struggling with adapting to this new area.
I notice a great difference in the generations, from a handful of “boomers” who have adopted technology on the surface level, to Gen X who are doing decently depending on early or late Gen X, to millennial generation who span the space from those born in the early 80s who are doing quite well but struggling with the social landscape changes more than the tech, and late millennials who are our first generation of “digital natives“. The key here is that people have the capacity to adopt to the current environment, and by doing so they can adapt that environment to them.
Both Gendernomics and Gendernomics: Building Value are books based on the fundamental axiom “Men can change”, which leads to the premise that “Men can change their sexual market value”, if men cannot change, then men cannot change our sexual market value, which means that your reproductive success is 100% based on your luck in the birth lottery.
What I’ve come to realize is that while all men can change, many men (and women) do not want to change. They want to adapt their environment to them, so that they do not have to do the uncomfortable thing and alter themselves. In order to accomplish this, they seek allies who have similar views, and push for their desired end-state. Of course, this isn’t a purely “left or right” issue, it’s a human issue and we see the same tendency on both sides. It’s all a fight to adapt the environment rather than the individual. The downside of this is that even if they realize their goal about their desired end-state the law of unexpected consequences tends to screw it up for them.
If we take the idealized structure of the 1950s in the United States, you need 2 things that the “We have to go back” people never account for:
- You have the bomb the shit out the manufacturing infrastructure of every other industrialized nation.
- You need to kill enough of your men to create a meaningful lack of men.
Even if you did that, #2 would still be dependent on the various social structures that existed around marriage, contraception, pre-marital sex, and various other things that meant that the only way to have a kid was to be married. If we did 1 + 2 in the modern United states, odds are we’d land on more polygamous relationships, or more likely a modern social democratic welfare state, where everyone works to take care of Chad’s kids. There is simple no way to push the toothpaste into the tube.
So, why do people want to go back?
Ultimately, I think much of this comes down certain inborn traits in us that we all tend to value. Most of us have a preference in risk vs. reward, stability vs. volatility, new experiences vs. stable experiences and so on. Many of these things factor into our preference the old social order is comforting because everything is broken down into a set of rules, that are supposed to never meaningfully change. Sure a few new things are introduced but in isolation they do not change things by a lot.
The washing machine, the water heater, the gas/electric stove, the dishwasher didn’t change the families that got them much, but they did free women from housework to be able to think about other things they would like to do, which in part, if not completely drove much of the “female liberation” movement in the 60s and 70s that continues to this day. One could in fact argue human history as periods of great and rather rapid change, followed by a calm period of quiet and incremental change.
Certain groups of men are born to be the forces of order, some are born to be the forces of chaos, and they are born in varying proportions all the time. When the forces of chaos outdo the forces of order we get large changes, when the forces of order outdo the forces of chaos we get incremental change.
I’ve joked that in order to change anything meaningfully in medicine, a generation of doctors have to die. This isn’t because doctors are stupid, do not take in new knowledge or are extremely resistant to change, it’s simply because of our tendency to become ego-invested in things. It takes a average man to build a career in any field, it takes a great man to move his field forward through investing in it over a lifetime, it takes a rare man to admit that he’s spent his life on the wrong path.
I’m sorry to say it, but in order for the world to change, conservatives have to die. By that I don’t mean that we should hit the streets with pitchforks to promote change. What I mean is that just like in a negotiation, humans have anchor points in their life. Most people start off as liberals, then become conservative as they invest into things they want to conserve.
As an example, a conservative born in 1950, wants to preserve that imprint of the world, that is his anchor point. In the same way a liberal born in that same year, wants to build on and move on from that imprint, but not too far. This is where those old labels like “Radical” and “Reactionary” used to serve a purpose, in that they denoted either a liberal who wanted to … radically progress the structure, or a conservative that wanted a time machine. There are degrees to change and degrees to which we are comfortable to move away from those anchor-points.
The reason why conservatives never really conserve anything, is simply that when the conservative born in 1950 had his kid in 1970, his kid imprinted on the values in the 70s, so that becomes his anchor point. When the conservative born in the 70s has his first kid in say 1995, that kid imprints on 1995, and so it goes.
So, knowing all this, what is the best and most pragmatic approach? Adapt to your environment, you can attempt to influence it as well, but you’ll never be able to adapt your environment sufficiently to realize a competitive advantage. Once that environment is adapted to your liking, you have to start competing with other people within it, and we start the adaptation cycle again.