Opinion

Who Cares About ‘Conservatism’?

It’s time to stick a fork in conservatism, it’s done

With the Republican nomination and subsequent election of Donald Trump there has been a great deal of hand wringing regarding what it means to be conservative.  Does it mean this or that and who gets to determine which?

Many “conservative” publications have spent more than a few pixels on this topic; and yes, most of the editors believe they get to define it.  They are wrong.

In fact the framing of the entire argument is wrong.  And for all you self-identified conservatives out there please don’t get your panties in a bundle since the same can be said of liberalism.  For both, it is time to move on to something else.

The entire liberal/conservative attempt to frame the world is based on a fundamental falsehood; the falsehood that one’s beliefs and opinions somehow matter when describing reality and that you somehow have the power to pick and choose which to believe, i.e. which is a true representation of reality.

This is a childish way of thinking.  Yours and my opinions or beliefs matter no more in politics or economics than they do in the hard sciences; which is to say they don’t matter at all.

Rather than attempting to put everything in a conservative versus liberal framework, how about casting that aside and instead building a true versus false framework?  This is what started about 600 years ago in what is now called the hard sciences, in fact this was the birthplace of “science” and look at the results!

We now just need to take the logical steps of extending this way of thinking, this way of looking at and organizing the world to all other areas of our lives — politics and economics included.  No magazine or pundit is required to tell us what it means to be conservative or liberal; instead we all should discard those labels and simply be seekers of the truth.

I can already see the eye rolls; here’s just one more schmoe attempting to tell us his truth, i.e. his opinion.  If you understand the nature of the paradigm shift I am suggesting you will quickly discover this statement makes no sense, it cannot exist in a fact-based worldview.

But I can tell you the truth as discovered over the past couple hundred years.  The first and most fundamental truth is we, humans, evolved on this planet.  Thus we are a part of the natural world and nothing we can do or build can operate outside of the boundaries set by this world.  And please, this fact says nothing about the existence or non-existence of God.

Far too much political and social thought act as though we are infinitely pliable and not the result of 3.8 billion years of evolution.  Those thoughts might have been defensible 100 years ago but not today.

Another truth is statistics.  Einstein once said God doesn’t play dice but on this he was wrong.  Statistics is a primary driver of all things.  Relating this to politics and social systems it means the many will always outperform the few.  Thus individual freedom will always outperform a top-down, hierarchical system.  This is not a political “belief” but an observation of fact and it thus points one towards a limited government way of thinking.  There is no other choice.

Somewhat tied to this is the reality of swarm intelligence and the self-organization it drives.  Swarm intelligence attempts to describe the collective behavior of group animals; think of honey bees, schools of fish, herds of bison, flocks of birds, and yes even good old humans.

The swarm acts as a significant intelligence multiplier.  Rather than relying solely on individual intelligence, this process creates a collective intelligence that is orders of magnitudes beyond that of any individual member.  You can see it in action every day in pretty much every product or service that exists.

This occurs with no leader, no management, and with no one “seeing the big picture.”  In fact having no one in charge is a key ingredient to swarm intelligence.  This incredible increase in intelligence is driven by countless interactions between individual members with each following simple rules of thumb and reacting to their local environment and those members around them.  That’s it.

And although it may be difficult to grasp, this self-organizing behavior has no cause and effect, it simply is.  Almost every advancement in human existence has been driven by this, not those powerful non-profit organizations we call government.

When we attempt to place leaders in this process the collective intelligence plummets.  This explains why governments and their activities are always going to be far stupider than free individuals going about their daily lives.  This isn’t a political statement but a factual one.

Again, we aren’t talking about knocking off a couple group IQ points but rather magnitudinal increases in stupidity.  This stupidity multiplier isn’t restricted to governments but to all organizations, the larger the worse.  Anyone who has worked in government, the military or other large organizations has seen it every day.

Thus the facts, not some chosen political philosophy, are clear that individual freedom and limited government will always outperform systems of limited freedom and expansive government.

Liberal, conservative?  Those are childish beliefs carried over from the past.  It is time to send them to dustbin of history and to move forward as the hard sciences did centuries ago and to simply become seekers of the truth.  The future of the planet depends upon it.

John Conlin is an expert in organizational design and change.  He is also President and founder of E.I.C. Enterprises, www.EICEnterprises.org, a 501(c)3 non-profit dedicated to spreading the truth here and around the world primarily through K-12 education.