Wednesday, 17 August 2016

The Next Stage In The Evolution Of Politics


Politics has changed a lot over the centuries. The dominant form of politics used to be loosely based on a Christian flavoured notion of human representatives promoting the common good, rather like Thomas Carlyle's version of the great men, but in this case seeking a collective, objective human goal of divinely-inspired improvement.

Then, after the gradual influence of philosophers like Hobbes, Spinoza, Locke, Mill and Rousseau, a more liberal approach was fostered, with a more symbiotic relationship between society's rights and freedoms and the state's ability to govern by respecting those qualities.

Then came the devastation of two World Wars, which was followed by the cognitively dissonant simultaneity of believing that on the one hand the wars showed just how dangerous totalitarian extreme politics can be, and on the other the huge requirement of the state in pre-empting such forces again, not to mention the reparation and rebuilding projects that were required.

In the following decades, for all sorts of reasons too involved to go into now, both narratives have become intertwined, whereby some politicians pursue what they think is the common good with top-down prescriptions, and other politicians continually look for ways to promote our freedoms.

Sometimes there is intellectual strain and emotional duress on politicians' goals when, for example, the common good is for everyone's individualism to be allowed to breathe, in cases when what is proclaimed as the moral thing to do is another attempt to infringe on our liberties, and in cases where the more liberty we have the less we should pursue notions of what I call fabricated equality (artificially trying to make positively unequal things equal).

Given that human progress occurs dialectically, it is understandable that wherever possible modern politics is always seeking to synthesise apparent theses and antitheses into a coherent narrative that draws on the best of past political ideas.

That is also why we see the main body of political parties (comprising most elected MPs in the House of Commons) occupying more of the centre ground than ever before, in many ways indistinguishable from each other, making the fringe parties that hang on the periphery (most notably: UKIP, the Green Party, and Corbyn's wing of the Labour Party) appearing somewhat heterodoxical in the modern political context.

The key thing that people are gradually starting to learn is that things are generally not designed by a central planner, they evolve over time, and although they look spectacularly like they are too sophisticated to have emerged by a long process of trial and error with no end goal in sight, it is not the case.

Once it is more widely realised that, just like organisms in biological evolution, bit-by-bit selection is the primary game in town, I think we'll begin to adjust our interpretations of a coherent political narrative towards the next stage of human evolution - the stage at which the system of state meddling is deracinated, and what's planted in its place are the seeds of understanding that human societies thrive and progress in a bottom up manner, not a top down one.

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