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The modern orthodoxy tells that it is enough for everyone to look for own interests, and the common matters will self-organize themselves. Thinking of possible collective consequences and choices is seen as Marxist, socialist or even fascist - how convenient to dismiss any ideas of social organization!

Taking care of collective fate does not necessarily meads that rigid "engineering" are sought. The approach could be very evolutionary: do not reform or discard something working just because of an ideological ideal; let countries and societies decide they own pririties and methods; realize what choices are available.

I am (still) slowly reading Taleb's "Black Swan". Beside philosophical line, Taleb still shows his political-economic preferences which we could challenge. In his terminology, we are leaving Mediocristan, and the world gets increasingly Extremistan, meaning that a lot of events, fortunes and fates are determined by random fluctuations and self-enforcing advantages. The free and wild capitalism has to be mostly thanked for that. According to Taleb, that is great - if more people can achieve a wealth nirvana, the better.

But what is the real historic perspective of this Extremistan drive? If this is such a new phenomonon, why this glorious fun was not discovered earlier? If people were that smart before... why they need to re-discover the same, why so much convincing is needed to cure "naive" good wishes? We can reckon that this capitalism can make some people prosperous for long time; it evidently can make most people more prosperous for some time (hello, bubbles and pyramid schemes!). But can it really do all the good all the time?!

Does everyone really has to agree that this Extremistan tendency is inherently good? Is it really good that, thanks to the scalable pyramid distribution of wealth and power, a Texan family and, say, a couple of Saudi families could, in principle, run and fool all the world just for their own benefit and joy?

Can't we look around and see, how much variation is there in the scalable Extremistan distributions? How much do those 80/20 statistics differ in Mexico and Norway, for example? How do our choices and discussion manners affect society and world distributions? How much do people really want that Extremistan excitement, how much they could do to find a comfortable balance?

Say, I believe I could be one lucky winner of world's financial, academic or publishing games, but even then, I would prefer less Extremistan rules and customs, at least in every day life and work? What if what scares me is not a personal failure but a global Black Swan calamity, of some trivial environmental supply variety - "unpredictable" but calmly foreseeable, even if masses of "empirical" ideologues deny it full time?

What if I can find other people with the same concerns and preferences, and we can do together something to make the world less crazy... Would our collective determination be very unfair to all private Extremistan lovers?

by das monde on Thu Jul 24th, 2008 at 02:54:07 AM EST

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