After reading some David Friedman on subcultures and rereading The True Believer by Eric Hoffer I am now convinced that the ability to make an impact is a much larger part of human motivation than I previously thought. This explains in fuller detail why young people keep jumping to new causes (ACAB/Cop City/Trans/Whatever the Alt Right is into these days) – they can make a difference in those new fields. If a young person enters a subculture that contains older people, say climate change or housing veterans, they’re competing against veterans with decades of experience. The “No Cop City” movement is brand new, and anyone can make a difference. No experience needed and the young are on equal footing with the old. Indeed – the young are somewhat more advantaged with a higher amount of free time and fewer accumulated commitments.
Granted – this relationship has always been present, but I think I’ve underweighted it in every aspect of human endeavor.
Upon reflection, I’m reminded of this quote from Olaf Stapledon’s Odd John (regarding the villain of the story)
And why? Because, as I begin to discover, there’s a sort of minute, blazing star of worship right down in the pit of his hell. He sees everything from the side of eternity just as clearly as I do, perhaps more clearly; but—how shall I put it?—he conceives his part in the picture to be the devil’s part, and he’s playing it with a combination of passion and detachment like a great artist, and for the glory of God, if you understand what I mean. And he’s right. It’s the only thing he can do, and he does it with style. I take off my hat to him, in spite of everything. But it’s pretty ghastly, really. Think of the life he’s living; just like an infant’s, and with his powers! I dare say he’ll manage to find some trick for blowing up the whole planet some day, if he lives much longer
One undercurrent I got from the Effective Altruists at the conference (there were many) was that EAs (at a base level) are not motivated by the usual social worker reasons, righting wrongs, preventing harm, helping people, etc, but as a way to optimize the distribution of good fortune. Not sure how meaningful that is, but it does produce a marked change in delivery.
Pardon the ramble – I will be organizing this at some point – but in the spirit of creating artifacts
From listening to Michael Malice wax morally on about anarchism
I’m reminded of Albert Jay Nock’s comparison of State Power and Social Power – they operate at each other’s expense to some degree.
But to expand on that (this is not Nock’s thinking) – there is a need for order, and real costs to lack of order (at certain levels of anomie we reach the world of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road) the question is who supplies that order – in the best case for State Power you have the English policeman found in European stereotypes, in the worse case you have modern day North Korea. In the Social Power cases you have at best David Friedman’s wildest dreams (or Utah as seen in brochures), at worst you have Mississippi in 1940 where everyone is white except you.
Formula for Minarchism (where order is defined as “liberty” in the mid century sense of the word):
80% of State Power is interchangeable with Social Power in producing order
80% of Social Power is interchangeable with State Power in producing order
Quality declines as more of each power is used after 20% – and State and Society decline at different rates
Order is maximized at Power Unit * Quality
I’m pondering what that equation would be.
A perfect essay by Asimov on the right way to view the world
Another way of looking at it is to ask what is the “curvature” of the earth’s surface Over a considerable length, how much does the surface deviate (on the average) from perfect flatness. The flat-earth theory would make it seem that the surface doesn’t deviate from flatness at all, that its curvature is 0 to the mile.
Nowadays, of course, we are taught that the flat-earth theory is wrong; that it is all wrong, terribly wrong, absolutely. But it isn’t. The curvature of the earth is nearly 0 per mile, so that although the flat-earth theory is wrong, it happens to be nearly right. That’s why the theory lasted so long.