Wednesday, March 6, 2013

On Trying to Create A Perfect Universe in Your Head

It'll never happen.

And you'll drive yourself nuts. And you'll always be unhappy. And if it becomes too compulsive of a problem, you'll be paralyzed and unable to write your next blog post because you are seriously uptight enough to feel like you need to completely systematize all of reality before you can write your next blog post and be happy enough with it to publish it. Incorrect to use the second person. It's me.

But it might be some of you too (actually, I personally know quite a few of you are this way), so I thought writing about this might help us both. In fact, crippling over-analysis is a common problem, not just among libertarians, even though I sometimes feel like it must present more often among our folk than the rest of the people I meet.

I can't remember if it's in The Dip or Tribes that Seth Godin says "Change almost never fails because it's too early. It almost always fails because it's too late." In organized human action, change often comes too late when its proponents wait to get their idea or product perfect before they take enough substantial action to share and promote it. If you're thinking about libertarianism that way (and I do regret thinking about this libertarian blog that way so persistently-- this post is my way out), your change is going to come too late.

Libertarian, you just don't need to completely solve all the world's problems; answer every possible objection to every possible answer to every possible objection (ad nauseam) about libertarianism that anyone could ever potentially throw at you; untangle every single contradiction; resolve every tension and controversy within libertarianism ever; and finally arrive at some perfect, all-encompassing, and static understanding of our role in reality.

Ideas don't have consequences. Actions do. You've got to observe the world around you, take time to orient yourself in it, make a decision, and act. Important to this process is understanding that:

1) It's most effective as a recurring, dynamic, adaptive process. You will have to make adjustments as you navigate the terrain of reality around you.

2) You will never arrive. You will never create a perfect universe in your head. And you don't need to. I don't have to completely sort out all my conflicting thoughts about human nature before I can side with the human being I see getting kicked around, abused, oppressed, and stolen from; and against the psychopath doing the kicking, abusing, oppressing, and stealing.

3) Collaborating in this process with other libertarians will yield enormous value to our individual understanding and our effectiveness. I'm not going to wait until I have it all figured out, and then start blogging from my perch in the heavens where I see and understand everything. I'm figuring it out as I go now, and I'm doing it here, on this blog, as it happens, so I can share what I'm learning with you and so we can help each other.

"So what if in the future, drug-dealing astronaut terrorist kidnapper pirates are eradicating an endangered species of microbe on one of Saturn's moons by dumping radioactive waste? How would libertarians solve that problem without government?"

"Dude, I don't know. I guess you're right. I should have voted for Obama."

Christians are right. A massive source of human unhappiness is jealousy of God and the desire for divine knowledge. You can't be God. You're a human. As economics frames one of the fundamental human problems, you have limited means toward unlimited wants. Those limitations exist on your cognitive means as well, finite libertarian friend.

In the Bible, the builders of the Tower of Babel said, "Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth." But "dispersed over the face of the whole earth" is how we became successful, and is a measure of our success. We're not God. We're human. And we have thrived by being human, by dispersing over and adapting to the many environments on the face of the whole earth, not looking down at its face from above.

You've got to navigate the terrain. You've got to explore. You've got to keep moving. You've got to learn and adapt as you go. You've got to understand that all your understanding is a work in progress, which moves faster the more we collaborate, or the libertarian movement will remain fractured over internal squabbles over the number of angels that can dance on the head of a pin, our change will come too late, and you will be unhappy. I know. I've been unhappy.

Over thinking, over analyzing,
separates the body from the mind.
Withering my intuition, leaving opportunities behind.

Feed my will to feel this moment,
urging me to cross the line.
Reaching out to embrace the random.
Reaching out to embrace whatever may come.

-Tool, Lateralus