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Knowledge, Values and Assumptions

I take knowledge to be well founded belief. However knowledge is incomplete, and provisional until proven and it is open to mistakes of interpretation. Because I am working at the highest level of system description possible, looking at the emergent property of behaviour, there will be debate about how much of our behaviour is capable of modification and whether or not it can make the difference I think it can. I will point out however that a lot of science is reductive so that

  • It is an insight that behaviour is an emergent property and just like a murmuration of starlings it cannot be derived from looking an any individual component in detail
  • It is necessary to consider the system as a whole, as I have tried to do, to see the emergent behaviour at all

According to Joseph Schumpeter “Analytic work begins with material provided by our vision of things, and this vision is ideological almost by definition”(Schumpeter) so here are the ones I am using. I set off to derive a new or alternative vision of politics and political economy from first principles; if we based political economy on what we know how would we design it so that it suited people?

Lets unpack the values and assumptions behind that statement;

  • When I say “based …on what we know” I actually mean knowledge based on what we are learning from science (including the importance of systems thinking) and that I think we can do a lot better the we do now by systematically applying it, so I believe its possible to make progress
  • When I say “so that it suited people” I actually mean that is designed to bring out the best in them (or at least encourage the right behaviours) and allow people to thrive – so I believe that people can improve. Conversely if some people, in receipt of enough resources to to live well, choose just to enjoy life that is a price worth paying. Its going to be cheaper than any means tested rules and regulation regime. In any case social pressure will exist and with selection by lot, everyone (without exception) may be required (at any time) to do civic chores

In addition there are some core values that support the positions I advocate. They are as follows (in soft systems terms they form the weltanschauung for the model of the human activity system I have developed)

  • The ends do not justify the means; this applies to political action and is much bigger than just rejecting the use of violence (although it does that as well). For progress to take place change must be additive or cumulative; there must be two steps forward and only one back. Imposition takes many forms from being coerced by terror right along the spectrum to just achieving compliance (as with the losers of an election). However all actions cause a reaction, so in the end any form of imposition will cause a reaction. The reaction will come from those who suffered the imposition.
  • All people are of equal value and have the same rights and responsibilities towards each other; that the golden rule should be applied (do unto others as you would expect them to do to you) as the most promising way to avoid conflict, in short the essence of enlightened self-interest. It follows therefore that politics should be inclusive and democratic, our representative form of democracy has run its course, it is time for the next great step forward, bringing in more people

These values can be derived from first principles and that is what I try to do where they are needed to make the case, see The Human System - The products of mind - a universal ethic?

Although I strive to make the derivation of a basic set of values from first principles logical they will not work for everyone. Even if they follow my logic they may disagree with it. For example one can take a view that, faced with a short existence in an indifferent universe, we had just better look out for ourselves; individually, familialy, tribally, or name your group allegiance of choice. In the end I concluded that the ancient idea of yin-yang was as close as I could get, the alternative I depict is a truth in dynamic tension with the current zeitgeist (of competition).