Monday, May 21, 2007

Gain and Loss 2

In "Gain and Loss", I said that a relationship existed between gain-oriented thinking and libertarianism and atheism and individualism. I'd like to expand upon that. Libertarians not only are gain-oriented, they must be. This is to me, a logically unproven but empirically true rule. One of the things libertarians should be doing consistently is gain-oriented thinking rather than loss-oriented thinking. Loss-oriented thinking is lazy thinking. Gain-oriented thinking is better. But this isn't very specific or easily understood, so allow me to use an example:

I've been thinking about this Dispute Resolution Organization (DRO) idea put forward by Molyneux and fans. It looks to me like a good example of loss-oriented thinking. What the DRO system amounts to is statism without the state. It operates in very much the same way. The idea is that people should have some organization with purpetual jurisdiction over them for purposes of contract and tort enforcement, by signing what amounts to a social contract. It is the state in practice, without the geographic monopoly or forced payment. The idea that it is necessary to have such an organization is saying "The government is necessary" while changing what is needed to make it such that the government is no longer the proverbial "necessary evil". Ironically, they're implying that government is necessary and not evil in contradiction to the libertarian manta of evil but not necessary. And the lie of the social contract, an idea created in defense of the state, is accepted as true with the libertarian condition that it must actually be signed. That is lazy thinking. The bare minimum of thinking that needs to be done to arrive at libertarianism is done, and not a bit more. The problem is solved, an objection is no longer valid, what more needs to be done?

To put it another way:

Objections (potential losses) arise about how the world will work without the state.

A gain-oriented person has the goal of seeking insights as to how the world could work without a state. "What are all the potential solutions?" he asks. "Have they all been thought up? Let's look for more. The more we have the better the chances of finding the best system possible."

A loss-oriented person has the goal of invalidating the objection, cutting off the threat to the worldview, with as little effort as possible. They will fall back on existing structures, modifying them as little as need be, to give a merely adequate response to the objection. Additional thinking is not necessary, so why do it? The goal, the narrow, loss-preventive goal, has been met. And in the process, almost no useful insight has been gained.

This suggests that loss-orientation isn't mutually exclusive with gain-orientation. You can be extremely gain-oriented, but if you become loss-oriented in the final stages, you still will not win, at least not as much as you should have. It's possible to be extremely loss oriented and become a fascist, highly loss-oriented and become a conservative or socialist, somewhat loss-oriented and become a centrist, somewhat gain-oriented and become a libertarian, highly gain-oriented and become a minarchist, or extremely gain oriented and become an anarchist. And then go further.

Gain-oriented thought correllates extremely strongly with human success. All of the greatest things done in history were done by gain-oriented people acting in a gain-oriented manner. The Agrarian Revolution. The Industrial Revolution. The Enlightenment. The Rennisance.

Loss-oriented thought correllates extremely strongly with human failure. All of the worst things done in history, and the greatest failures in history, have come from loss-oriented thought. Slavery, religion, Soviet Russia, Nazi Germany, every single war in the history of the world, terrorism, all based primarily on the prevention of loss or the results of that kind of thinking.

I've held as a person principle what I now realize to be a gain-oriented way of debating. My mindset is "I would rather be proven wrong now than continue to spread ideas which are false." This mindset resulted in my quick adoption of anarchism. Because I had to give up any time I found that I was wrong or inconsistent, I had to adopt the alternative presented to me which corrected the problems. But I notice a lot of people approach discussion and debate with a different mindset. It's as if they are thinking, "I am right and you are wrong. I will concede nothing. Every idea of mine is valid irrelevant of my ability to defend it. I will end this discussion in a draw before I will lose to you. I will not lose."

Which of the two perspectives is more gain-oriented? Which is more likely to result in success? Which is more futureminded? Which is more thought-related as opposed to feeling-related? Which sounds like an atheist and which sounds like a theist?

Are you, the reader, gain-oriented or loss-oriented?


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