The Matchism Code

The fundamental goal of Matchism is the creation or identification of provisions for the Matchism Code, laws/policies/customs/conventions that make use of one or more human characteristic strengths and minimize the negative effects of human instinctive or cultural maladaptations to achieve the Goals of the People.

Some Clinations fit well with the needs of modern civilization and can be used directly in the design of new social and economic systems. When used in this way, they’ll be called Matchable Clinations, our love of technology being among the best examples. But other Clinations are more problematic because although they may have been useful in past civilization or even pre-civilization, they conflict with our current requirements, our innate tribalism being the best example of that. These problematic modes of operation will be classified as “Deprecated Clinations”, borrowing a common term from Computer Science for a feature or interface that is obsolete and should not be relied on because it conflicts with the growth path and so will likely be removed in a future version. While the ability to remove individual instincts from human genetics is beyond our current technology, because humans have a great capacity for learning and are very susceptible to social pressure, merely identifying Deprecated Clinations and designing our systems to compensate for them will allow achieving most of the Goals without requiring any genetic manipulation. A partial list of patterns of behavior to relevant to Matchism is provided in the section on Clinations, and a prototype set of Goals is provided in a separate section.

But if humans are so adaptable, why not just design utopia a priori (as many have done, see the section on Utopias and Dystopias), and then train humans to adapt to it? In theory this method could work, but there are several practical problems. The first is that the new system must be adopted first, by the existing population, and so there will be no opportunity to retrain them. There is also the problem that, because many of the new rules will conflict with their internal moral codes, retraining many of these adults may not even be possible and they would instead have to be eliminated (as has been convincingly shown by the various communist revolutions).

The second problem with an a priori utopia is that Clinations differ substantially in how easy it is to modify them. Some, such as our inherent laziness and competitiveness, are so fundamental that it is probably impossible to substantially curb them without causing serious psychological damage. Others, including our tribalism and egalitarianism, are actually fairly easy to manipulate because these Clinations evolved to function on groups after classification into ingroup/outgroup status. This makes the task of modifying them more of a marketing problem than one of overriding our instinctive natures. For example, one of the experimental conditions described in Stenner’s 2005 The Authoritarian Dynamic requires authoritarian humans to read a fake news story about the discovery of alien life forms that may soon come to visit us. The results were quite astounding: Those normally highly-prejudiced and tribal authoritarians started responding as if the whole human race were their in-group, and that any differences between humans could be safely ignored. This means that what would appear to be one of the hardest problems we face as a species, getting people to pull together toward a common goal, may actually be achievable quite easily by merely defining the outgroup to be those people who are not Matchists. Why even risk trying to establish an a priori utopia when the principles required to define a fair, safe, and stable civilization (i.e., the principles of Matchism) must be used to choose the rules anyway?

The third problem is the real “deal breaker”: We simply don’t know enough to design the perfect Matchist system at this point. Matchism is therefore first and foremost the design of a process that we can use to ensure that our new system will gradually become closer and closer to an optimal fit for us. Since the Clinations of future generations themselves will shift as a result of our new systems, the process will be iterative, taking generations to stabilize. While the core components of Matchism can be implemented and adopted within a few years and so start providing some benefits to everyone soon afterwards, the largest benefits will only accrue to the youngest people alive today.

There are three philosophical sources for the rules that will be codified in this list:

Replism is the belief that Clinations have inherent value and provisions should be designed to preserve and promote them.

Prophetism is belief that new rules can be created and applied to improve a culture even if they conflict with or require conditioning to suppress Clinations or modify their expression. These new rules may be considered “divinely inspired” or merely practical interventions (i.e., social engineering) designed to solve particular problems.

Traditionalism is the belief that “The old ways are the best ways”. Whether the original source of the rule was replism or prophetism, years or generations of use have thoroughly ingrained the rule into the culture and the people raised within it.

Take the Sixth Commandment (“Thou shalt not kill”) for example. Originally prophetism (attributed to Moses) it has been conditioned into the people living in most modern civilizations for so many generations it should now be classified as traditionalism. It’s definitely not derived from replism, however, because it would read “Thou shalt not kill any close relation” in that case. As a result of it being designed to reduce conflict in multi-family bands (tribes) and prevent the waste of valuable human resources it’s an example of social engineering (prophetism), not a product of evolution (replism).

Next, take the custom of inheritance. Originally a pure expression of replism, it has been ritualized into cultures to the extent that it is hard for most people to imagine doing away with it, even when there would be tremendous advantages to doing so (e.g. the section on Inheritance).

Liberals/Progressives/Reformers will generally prefer prophetism as a source of rules and will readily accept new rules. Conservatives will prefer traditionalism and will resist modifying the existing set. Raw replism will be preferred by antisocial or inadequately socialized individuals, including many Libertarians who profess to believe that individual power and freedom must never be made subject to constraint by society at large, and particularly not by the government acting on behalf of other individuals. As pointed out previously, this means that replism will also appeal to psychopaths. Matchism is generally agnostic as to the source because the acceptance criteria for a rule is “whatever works” rather than any inherent value that accrues from the source.

The current list of provisions that have been approved by The People, the Matchism Code, will always be imperfect and incomplete. It must therefore be updated and then reapproved by The People on a regular basis as these inadequacies become apparent.

The Matchism Code (or just “The Code”) is the Matchist “bible” and “constitution”: The set of rules that every individual must at least know to considered an assimilated adult, even if they don’t always follow them (some provisions are more what you’d call “guidelines” than actual rules). Because it contains more than just laws as found in most city/county/state/national codes it is also essentially a moral code, the moral code that a Matchist society will be based on. One must keep in mind, however, that one can only expect this moral code to be fully implemented after a couple of generations of humans have been raised under it: One thing we’ve learned from subjecting humans to countless hours in Sunday School (let alone Madrasas) is that it has little effect on their tendency to go out into the world and commit a seemly endless variety of crimes and other antisocial acts. That is, you can’t teach morality in a classroom. Nor, as the saying goes, can you legislate it. Instead, our moral codes are absorbed from our environment, particularly from trusted adults when we are children (Kohlberg 1984). And although some small percentage of the population eventually (in many cases as late as their 30s or 40s) learns to abstract morality as something that can be reasoned about (Kohlberg’s stages 5 and 6), as a general rule even writing down things like the 10 commandments and the Seven Deadly Sins and expecting people to learn and follow them is the hallmark of an amateur social engineer.

The common theme in this proposed Code, to the extent that the provisions differ from the types of clauses in other examples of governing documents, is that the available science on the underlying issues provides direction, and in many cases is settled. Unfortunately most people, including our current crop of politicians, are either ignorant of these facts or deliberately choose to ignore those that do not support their existing world view or their party’s platform. For example, countless studies have been done on the question of whether a particular required service can most efficiently be provided by a government agency, private enterprise, a regulated monopoly, or a government contractor. But rather than hearing about these studies when a matter comes up for debate, we get sound bites: “Government Bad, Free Enterprise Good!” or “We must protect ourselves from greedy corporations”. The truth, of course, is that “it depends”, and determining what it depends on, and therefore which is the best option, is a key step in the process of conversion to Matchism.

Some of the proposals in this version of The Code are ahead of the science that is required to definitively support them. Note that this is not the same as claiming that any of these proposals is invalid because the science is not settled yet: Only when the research is done and conflicts with the proposal does it absolutely need to be modified. This is because it’s better to make an educated guess and plan to make adjustments in the future than to simply do nothing. As such Matchism can also serve as a road map to the types of issues that require further research.

Next: The Deceased