Gödel and Governance
Regardless of validity or fairness, morality will generate in one of two ways: either reactive (in response to a confrontation which will tend to align with civility) or derived (from a predetermined ideology). [… W]hile reactive morality will reflect previous conflicts of the society allowing for a more accurate reflection of the practical […] needs that will be encountered, it is in danger of [promoting] “goodness to be dictated by the influential” in spite of the underrepresented. In contrast, derived morality will be consistent and more fair to all groups (unless the ideology is based on civility as well) by design, but it will lack the specifics needed to address many of the practical issues that will arise.Radical Civility – Values – Moral Consistency
This will be a bit more dense and a bit longer than my usual posts so I’ll provide a quick summary of my intent before getting into it. There are 3 stages:
- Provide some groundwork including a summary of Gödel’s Incompleteness Theorems
- Show how this relates to governance
- Liberalism thrives due to its adaptability but fails due to structural dependency
- Conservatism thrives because of exhaustion but repeatedly fails due to its inability to adapt.
- Provide a solution
I hope you find this enlightening.
In 1931, Kurt Gödel published a mathematical proof that all axiomatic systems (models that are created based on core principles) will always be a bit flawed. They were called Gödel’s Incompleteness Theorems. While there are many sources that explain it better than I ever could, I do want to give two examples to identify the key principles: incompleteness and inconsistency.
Considering that humanity has yet to find a pattern in the primes and but we know there will be infinitely many, we aren’t exactly sure where the next biggest one will show up. That being the case, we are limited in the amount of things we can know about it. Moreover, if a number “p” is prime, then the pth prime is bigger than p. As a simple example, consider p = 3: the 3rd prime is (2… 3…) 5. 5 > 3. There is a formal proof that this is true for every case, but I hope you can trust me.
So completeness is the claim that – within a system – every question that can be asked has a truth value. There are no “we cannot give an answer to that problem”. While Gödel proved this is universally false, his proof is complex so I will give a simple example. Consider the following question: if p is the largest prime we know of, does the pth prime end with a 7?
Since the pth prime is larger than p, but p is the largest prime we know of, the inability to predict primes means the answer has to be “I don’t know”. The natural number system is incomplete. There are always ways to construct questions like this for any axiomatic system.
Now we can create new axioms to avoid these problems as they pop up, for example we can make one axiom to state that “any prime greater than p must also end in a 7”, which would make the answer trivially true, but there will eventually be another question found that cannot be answered.
The second part (inconsistency) is a bit easier to explain: if the axioms are cards, and the model is a card pyramid. Does the pyramid hold itself up? Of course not. It needs something more fundamental like a table or the ground. And that’s the basis for inconsistency… there will never be able to be a system that – within itself – is justified.
So that’s the first thing that needs to be understood: no axiomatic system can be either complete or consistent.
While this was aimed at critiquing mathematics and logic, the repercussions of this proof are vast. One consideration that will only be mentioned in passing for now is why human immortality would be catastrophic. If we had it, humanity would fundamentally be different or we would destroy ourselves, but more on that later.
Framework of Governance
In the following sections, I will be defining these terms within the context of this conversation. You may disagree with the terms, but honestly I don’t care. I just want the information to be able to be expressed clearly.
Governance: establishing a framework that is both complete and consistent so that society can function. Within this conversation governance is focused on the documented framework that can be reproduced regardless of party affiliation or other political variances.
The re-createability is an important property because it allows it to claim consistency (the ability to self define) and the ability to derive answers to new questions (completeness). In short, it generates the axioms that allow the framework to exist.
Or at least the illusion of such. As mentioned in the previous section, axiomatic systems are neither complete nor consistent.
To look at the latter critique first, governance cannot define itself. While a table may be assumed with the house of cards, that table is not part of the house of cards. Similarly philosophy that justifies a type of governance is not the governance itself. But time moves forward, tables become unstable even if the house of cards is secure, philosophies become outdated even if the governance does not. If governance is to persist, it needs to be justified with multiple foundations or – more ideally – admit it is inconsistent.
The formar critique, that any single point of governance is not complete, is a bit easier to show. Again time moves forward and new ideas arise. Those ideas are incompatible with the axioms that dictated governance from yesteryear when such things were inconceivable. The right to bear arms could not foresee automatic weapons much less the atomic bomb. The right to free speech could not foresee the 24 hour news cycle. Any stagnant position – in time – is fundamentally flawed if we have clairvoyance of things to come.
Governance – on its own – is fundamentally insufficient and impossible. It must be defended for society to remain stable.
Attempt to Adapt
Liberalism: the belief that no instance of governance is ever correct and it must be adaptable.
Another way to put it: we can keep adding axioms, and we can keep finding new foundations when the old one’s fail. This is one of two ways that can be used to keep a sound governance (the other will be addressed next). When new questions come up, we add axioms to answer those questions. When the table fails, we move the house of cards to another foundation.
Adapting to new questions is a valid approach, and it often works.. especially when it is done with the explicit intent to ensure none of the other axioms are contradicted. But unfortunately all systems eventually become restricted by their own axioms. Eventually the desire to adapt to new situations while holding to the legacies of the past will become impossible. Which brings liberalism to its flaw: it depends on past governance to generate new ones. Or put differently, it can’t abandon outdated axioms.
This is because it still depends on a stable foundation. While it can make shifts to things like the ground which won’t collapse as a table will, you still run the risk of earthquakes or flooding. There is no structure which will stand indefinitely, there is no structure which is self defining. And liberalism necessitates that foundation.
So liberalism is insufficient.
Rejecting the Premise
Conservatism: The assertion that any single instance of governance is both complete and consistent.
Reminder: I’m sure this definition is debatable, but for the sake of this conversation I don’t care. The idea is what I’m hoping to express.
While it may be more acceptable to say that conservatism is an opposition to change and innovation, I see this more as the effect of the belief rather than the belief itself. The constant need to adapt to synthesize new ideas and language is a rejection of our own desire to know ourselves, the desire to know what is real, and to have the comfort of stability. In short, it is exhausting not to be a conservative.
Even though (based on the Incompleteness Theorems) it is fundamentally delusional to think it justified, it is much easier to just reject the idea that stable governance is impossible. Conservatism is an admission that it is more convenient to be illogical than it is to keep governance viable. So the claim is made: the logical conclusion is wrong; consistent and complete governance exists and we have it now (why now? because fighting for something else would be harder).
I’m not at that level of cognitive dissonance, so I’m unsure if they believe that their governance will persist forever or that they are just biding their time as long as possible until it fails. I don’t think they really care though. They don’t consider what will happen “after”. That’s not their problem. They are tired of adapting and comfortable for the moment, so this is enough. All other justification is superficial to the claim that “the premise is wrong and I won’t consider the alternative.”
Fact is, liberalism demands that these delusional people are accepted into the discussion of governance. As such, even as the table collapses, they will assert the house of cards will be fine. The “original” construction of the cards (which was intended to be independent of the table) is ONLY as stable as the table itself. The table IS part of the house of cards. If the table falls, then the house of cards must fall too. In the terms of many conservative in the US, the table is synonymous with religion. To others, it’s capitalism.
The biggest problem with this, is it necessarily rejects people that are incompatible with the “original” axioms. It is an ideology not only built on anti-intellectualism, but also dehumanization. Not through malice, but necessity. This is why it is naturally susceptible to fascism (i.e. “the demand that people within an ‘ingroup’ assimilate to a single strict worldview dictated by a supernaturally wise leader or be ‘invalidated’”… again, I don’t care if you disagree with this definition, this is what I mean).
So what now? Liberalism doesn’t work, Conservatism is fundamentally harmful, is governance ever justified?
Simply: no. It never is. We try to make it work, society depends on it, but governance will always fail.
And that’s ok. With the definition provided, that’s ok.
Radicalism: the demand that we constantly challenge the axioms which society is built on to make sure they still are relevant.
Now it’s time to revisit immortality: we have seen clearly that humanity – in general – favors conservatism because doing otherwise is exhausting. If we accept this, if we accept that – eventually – people will embrace the illogical notion that stagnating is better than adapting… if we accept that – eventually – we will dogmatically defend our worldview and the “truth” it depends on… then immortality would be a condemnation that humanity would be at constant war. There could never be a common ground. In contrast, we could embrace immortality if we were personally radical… but that would mean we would have to reject the preservation of our axiomatic values. We would have to reject “self preservation”. We would have to become something different than “human”.
There is a saying that starts “hard times makes strong men” that is intended to justify the idea that if we don’t consistently defend our conservative governance, life will become less comfortable for everyone. There is some truth in this, governance must be protected if it is to persist; but as we’ve already shown, it will eventually need to fundamentally change. And that’s the solution to all of this: radicalism.
The more frequently this is done, the “hard times” needed to correct the inconsistency of governance will be less violent. Currently we are at a time when the proclaimed consistency of the current governance is at a potential breaking point. So for anyone reading this, I can only ask one thing:
When we set up the next governance framework… please make it essential to the existence of whatever new framework exists that radicalism – in favor of those being hurt – is not only expected, but promoted. Liberalism is no longer enough. We need to consistently promote those that have the least social leverage so they can critique what needs to be critiqued.
Every action, every decision, every choice is a vote to make reality what you want it to be. Please help promote each other