"Consensus, Intent, Taboo and Sacred" VS "Incentives and Institutions" : Another Inequality.


(very good piece)

[W]e humans are usually much happier once we figure out that “consensus and intent” are possible only for small groups, and beyond that scale we must construct protocols (processes) and incentives (information) via institutions (formal institutions) such that it is unnecessary for individuals to constantly exist in conflict between incentives for self interest and the goals of the organization and the polity.

There are certain “taboos and sacredness” that it is possible to instill pedagogically. But the more rational and educated the human the less taboos can be used to restrain him from making exceptions that he can justify by his reason. The lower the intelligence of individuals, the more they rely upon intuition, upon the information that they obtain from others, and upon intuitions of ‘sacred and taboo’. So the more educated the populace, the more complex the division of knowledge and labor, the more necessary are incentives and institutions and the lower value there is to “consensus, intent, sacredness and taboo”.

We require formal institutions. The pricing system is our most important formal information system. It tells us everything we need to know about our condition related to that of others, and tells us what we we should be doing to serve others whether we want to do it, or can do it, or not. It is our most important information system. Morality and ethics captured in the law prohibits a spectrum of “free riding” (the violation of the contract for logical participation in cooperation) from the criminal, to the ethical, to the conspiratorial, to the moral. We are left to our own devices to prevent conquest. Army, Religion and Credit are our most common defenses.

The failure of the sentimental, lesser mind, is not to grasp this basic spectrum whereby humans are materially unequal in their abilities an there frames of reference, and therefore in their means of action. The lower you are on the scale, the more consensus, intent, taboo, and sacred, and the more you depend upon others for knowledge necessary for action. The higher you are on the scale the more you depend on reason, incentives, justification, institutions and abstract information to make your decisions independently of those who rely upon their peers.

This pattern means that the exceptional people are always trying to outwit the less, and therefore, invent new economic means which those below them adopt and later benefit from. We tend to think only in terms of technology and consumption, and not behavior as technology. But rational innovations can easily be adopted by repetition and habituation and from that we develop the sacred and the taboo.

As such the rational and scientific solution to the problem of creating commons is, as the british did, privatization of administration of the commons so that institutions and rules and incentives can suffice where consensus, intent, taboo and sacred cannot.

The enlightenment error is everywhere. We are not equal. We are not similar, and that is why we form a division of knowledge and labor. We cannot ask each other to operate by the same consensus, intent, taboo and sacredness. Because we unequally make use of peers versus non-peer, abstract, information.

The conservatives say this in moral language that is so arational it is impossible to disassemble. But they have made sacred this set of ideas. And that is how they function.

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