Prepare for the Paradigm Shift

Paradigm Shift

There are two ways to solve any problem. The first could be characterized as “pre-rational.” People using this method seek to solve a problem by asking “What has worked in the past?” This method is empirical, intuitive, and inductive. It is an approach that leverages the mistakes of others, and the wisdom implicit in our customs and tradition.

As a rule, primitive people solved problems using this method. They did what worked, and didn’t ask WHY it worked. A few examples will illustrate:

  1. In tropical regions people lived up on the hills, and on higher ground. They discovered that doing so prevented malarial infection. There was no need for them to understand malaria, what it is, or how it was transmitted. There was no need for them to know what we know now - that the high ground is furthest from mosquitoes - vector for the disease. All they knew was that living on high ground prevented malaria. That’s all they needed to know.
  2. Other primitive people developed a taboo against the consumption of pork products. This custom inoculated them against trichinosis - a deadly parasite found in pork.  They didn’t need to know why not eating pork gave them an advantage against this parasite, only that it did.
  3. Certain herbal remedies of primitive peoples have held up to the scrutiny of modern science. These remedies were discovered over thousands of years, and adopted because they worked. There was no need to understand why.

Modern people also use this method of problem solving. In fact, many of the decisions we make are guided by the same approach. We observe how people around us deal with issues, and we model our behavior on them. On occasion, we may even discover new advantages, by accident, without any purpose or plan. Unconsciously, we seem to realize that learned behavior, and customs contain truths that we may not understand cognitively. It is because of this that we learn to respect tradition, heritage, and the proven track record of our ancestors.

This is the central idea of the conservative outlook towards life and politics. “Be cautious about what you think you know and respectful towards learned customs. The test of time is the best test.”

But there is a second method of solving problems, which could be characterized as the “rational, deductive” method. We have used this method with increasing frequency ever since the enlightenment. When we use this method, we first seek to understand “WHY?” a particular problem happens. We seek to understand the root cause of the problem, cognitively. We seek mastery over the subject matter - the ability to represent the essence of that subject using concepts. Once we achieve mastery, then we hope to be able to imagine radically new solutions to the problem.

These solutions may seem counterintuitive. They may “rub us the wrong way.” They may be very different from conventional attempts to solve the same problem. As a rule, they would never have been discovered through the pre-rational method. In fact when we use the rational method, we must be completely indifferent to methods of the past that have failed. There must be no distortion. We must tune out traditional approaches, customary ways of thinking, and predispositions toward the subject matter. We must attempt to model to the problem on a blank slate, and then build a solution.

A great example of a field that has shown the power of the rational method is modern medicine: We now know WHY we get sick. We know how our body processes work. With this knowledge we have generated solutions, such as heart surgery, biotech therapies, vaccines, pharmaceuticals, medical devices etc. Each of these have been great successes that never could have been discovered by random chance, by following customs, by observing rituals, or seeking answers in the habits of our ancestors. Medicine, is one field, amongst others, that has made the leap from the pre-rational to the rational.

I propose that we attempt to apply this rational, deductive method to solving the problem of the state.

This proposition requires a note of a caution. Red flags should fly, literally. Because people HAVE attempted to apply the rational method of problem solving to human society. Their project was called socialism, and it failed disastrously. But it failed because the socialists had their models wrong. They did not properly master their subject matter - the first step in the rationalist method. They were arrogant and willing to impose their ideas by force. Millions died, and the socialists must be judged for the destruction they caused. But their failure is not a judgment against the rational method, itself. It is a judgment on their application of that method. They did not follow the rules. They tried to “cheat.” Again, we need to keep in mind the admonishment of the conservative mentality. “You know less than you think you know.”

Nevertheless, when we think about the state, and the struggle for liberty, we need to admit the obvious: Traditions are failing. Customs are failing. The accepted patterns of life are failing. The wars of the 20th century should have made this clear to right thinking people. The democratic system of our ancestors does not work. The model contains flaws. What is needed is not incremental improvement, but a paradigm shift.

Thomas Kuhn’s book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions is instructive on this matter. Kuhn shows how science advances not by the gradual build up of small, incremental gains, but instead by disruptive paradigm shifts. According to Kuhn, revolutions in a particular field occur when new data appears that does not conform to the existing model. As more of this new data is gathered, the failure of the old model becomes obvious, precipitating a crisis. The crisis forces previously closed minds to consider new paradigms. Eventually, the old guard gives way, and the experts in the field adopt a new paradigm that more closely matches the known reality.

We are seeing such a crisis precipitate before our eyes - not in the field of science, but in the field of governance. Trust in democracy and government itself is evaporating. Social media and the internet are exposing, for the first time, the lies and failures of our system. This “new data” is making obvious the failure of the old paradigm, and many are beginning to search for a new, better one.

The old paradigm which is giving way, is liberal democracy. Many people still believe that it is the “final say” or “state of the art” of good governance. They are not interested in thinking about radically different models. All of their customs, rituals, and attitudes towards governance are wrapped up in democracy. They are not willing to attempt to step outside that model. Consequently, they argue for practical engagement with politics. Their solution to our problems is that we organize, lobby, vote, or petition the government. They themselves, often work tirelessly and are diligent, within the paradigm, but they do not openly advocate, or consider possible, an entirely new paradigm. Nor do they consider the practical steps that will be needed to bring it about.

This is the problem. This is what I think we need to change. If we want a fundamentally freer and better world, we must take a different approach from that which has failed in the past. Our ancestors never solved the problems of war, poverty, corruption, or injustice. Do not believe them if they say “we will always have these problems”. That’s what they think. That’s their paradigm. We should not accept it.

If we want to solve these problems, for good, we will need something new. We must address the problem of the state with rational deduction, and attempt to master the subject. We must work on a new paradigm. When the crisis comes, we will then be prepared with a solution, and the paradigm shift to a stateless world, will be brief and relatively painless.

So how is our paradigm different? How is it better?

One word: simplicity. Our paradigm is much easier to understand. Instead of a group of people, and “system” that claims the right to rule, our world would be governed by a two simple principles: Self-ownership (including inviolable property rights), and non-aggression. No indoctrination or explanation would be necessary in such a world. All a person would need to understand is that each person is an absolute sovereign over himself and his property. This is a very simple idea. The stateless part of our paradigm is actually the outcome of our principles, not our starting point.

This paradigm, of sovereign people dealing with each other according to easily understood and simple rules, is much more elegant than the democratic nation state paradigm. It eliminates the “ifs, ands, or buts” characteristic of democratic system (ie “Stealing is a crime, but if the state does it, it’s ok.” or “Killing is bad, but if a politician gives a soldier permission, then it’s good.” etc.) Our paradigm is truer to the aspirations we all have for good governance: rule by the people, belief in reason, faith in ourselves, forbearance and tolerance toward differences of opinion. The paradigm of democracy has failed these tests. The data proving this failure is accumulating. A crisis is coming. A paradigm shift is going to happen.

We must prepare.

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