You can think of Matchism as a major software upgrade. Call it “Civilization 3.0” (1.0 being monarchies, 2.0 being representative democracies). While we can’t change the hardware we’re using (i.e., we human beings with our EEA brains), it is certainly possible to upgrade the software (political/economic/cultural systems). And as anyone who has developed software can tell you, after several years of making small improvements and fixing bugs in an application, it always starts to become unstable. Even small changes to add a feature or fix a bug cause new bugs to appear in seemingly random locations. The application gets slower and slower with each new revision, and it is impossible to even consider making the large changes required to substantially add to the feature set. What has to be done at that point is a complete rewrite, taking into account everything that has been learned about how people use the application and how the old version supported (or failed to support) that use and designing a whole new architecture to do it more efficiently and reliably.

For those unfamiliar with software development, perhaps a more familiar analogy is old buildings. Say you’ve got a multistory brick building, built in the late 1800s. It was not designed to be earthquake safe, and so a lot of bolts and steel have been added to reinforce it, much of it being visible. The electrical and plumbing systems all had to be replaced when they stopped working over the years and most of that work is visible too, with pipes and wires running all over the place, and much of the original moldings and tile work having been destroyed or patched in the process. The building is cold in the winter and hot in the summer because there is no practical way to add insulation or seal air leaks without completely rebuilding the interior.

Now the heating system is failing and your contractor says that it’s unsafe and must be replaced (this being analogous to what Matchism has to say about SDAPs). Worse, because the new system would require major changes to the structure to install, building code will require that the rest of the structure be upgraded to code, meaning the addition of fire sprinklers and other improvements that will bring the total cost to somewhere near the value of the entire building. What do you do: Ignore the problem and keep using the old system and hope no one dies? Continue to patch the old building, throwing good money after bad? Or do you just tear it down and replace it with a new, modern, comfortable, energy-efficient building?

Fortunately, Matchism is more like software than a building: We can build it and test it in parallel while we continue to use our existing system. Then when it’s ready, and we’re sure we’ve got all the major bugs fixed, we just press a button and the old system will instantly be replaced with the new and better one. And while one should always have some skepticism that a major overhaul like this will be trouble free, it is reasonable to have a certain amount of faith that this process will go a lot smoother than any government project has: For every failure like the US “Obamacare” website or billion-dollar defense department weapon system boondoggle, there is a successful open source project that shows that even large scale projects are possible with relatively modest numbers of people and resources. As a project in which every human being has a stake, and can actually participate in the design and testing and funding of, The System should not suffer for lack of resources. And after all, who do you trust more to do a good job, the kinds of people who brought you smartphones and social media, or the people who brought you the Viet Nam and Iraq wars, massive budget deficits, and tax and legal systems that they themselves don’t even understand?

Next: Ironies