Archive for November 1, 2011

Incrementalism is the Enemy of Progress

November 1, 2011 6 comments

A popular lie propagated by so-called educated scumbags goes something like this-

Change is always incremental and we should therefore let self-anointed “experts” choose the best pathway for it.

But is this really true- either in the natural world or human history? Change is not incremental, predictable or controllable. It comes with its own momentum, direction, step-size and panoply of downstream effects. Some of my older posts have talked about it at length with specific examples such as- Birth Control Destroyed CONservatism, How The Online World Displaces The Traditional
and Economic Impact of Reduction in Couple Formation. This post is, therefore, not a rehash of the previously mentioned examples- but an attack on the popular lie that incrementalism can achieve change without significant disruptions of the status quo.

Consider the issue of obtaining civil rights for non-whites. While many white morons long for the 1950s, it was not a good time to be non-white in the USA. The unpleasant truth is that whites saw, and many still see, non-whites as third-class human beings. There was simply no way that civil rights for non-whites could have come through any incremental changes to the system. Nothing short of major changes to the system could have even been partially successful in achieving the society we live in today. As some of you might know, that is exactly what happened in the end. There are no half-measures in change, just as a woman cannot be slightly pregnant.

Similarly, capitalism cannot be reformed nor can we really create a kinder version of capitalism. Believing it is as absurd as imagining a form of communism without some form of totalitarianism. It is as futile as building large airliners with piston and jet engines and possessing both straight and swept wings.

Did you get my point? A person can ‘fly’ in airplanes with straight winged airplanes with piston engines (DC-3s) or in swept wing wide-body jetliners (A320s)- but an airplane that incorporates both is not viable. I not suggesting that you should fly in an untested deathtrap but you cannot have both the old and new if their requirements contradict each other.

Capitalism, in all its forms, is a zero-sum game that works well in a world with true scarcity of resources and things. It simply does not work well in a world where machines and cheap energy (mostly non-oil) remove the constraints behind true scarcity.

Attempts to create artificial scarcities in a technology based and highly connected world have the potential to destabilize the system in ways we cannot even imagine, in addition to those we can imagine and observe. Consider for a moment the multiple downstream effects of the toxic combination of job insecurity and feminism on things as diverse as kids per woman to various facets of the unstable atomized nature of the society we live in today. I could give you many examples of system defects and distortions caused by this combination. However, I am aware of the attention span of the average reader and will conclude this post with a thought-

You can pick the general direction of change- but not the route, stops, mode and destination.