Matchism Motivations

The human species, which evolved to survive in small groups in an environment of relative scarcity, is poorly adapted to live in a civilization where resource management and individual freedom and fulfillment have replaced gene transmission as the measures of system success. This mismatch has led to unnecessary suffering and limits our potential, both individually and collectively. The primary cause of that suffering is that we have failed to recognize that social/economic/political systems are just technology that can be engineered to facilitate progress toward defining and achieving our goals, systems that can compensate for the human species’ manifold maladaptations.

Can humans really define goals that would give them what they really want or need if achieved? How do we decide which human instinctive behaviors should be allowed or even encouraged, and which must be worked around or even suppressed because they are maladaptive? Which aspects of our current cultures and customs can be carried forward and which must be replaced or suppressed? From this first principle of Matchism it should be clear that these are empirical questions, not matters of philosophy. Where there is doubt we must do the research and/or experimentation to objectively determine the proper course toward defining and then working toward achieving our goals. To do otherwise is circular reasoning: Using a maladaptation to justify acceptance of maladaptive behavior. Examples include relying on gut feelings, your internal moral code, or the pronouncements of any authority (particularly a religious authority) who has not done the research or experiments to validate their positions.

Allowing these maladaptive instincts and behaviors to influence our decisionmaking is a form of indulgence, a selfish expression of individual preferences to the detriment of The People as a whole and often every other individual in particular. Our patterns of behavior, called replisms in matchism, generally originate in instinctive behaviors passed down to us in our genes, in some cases over eons of evolution. But they’ve become more than that now because they have been modified, and in some cases even amplified, by cultural influences (customs and traditions).

These maladaptations are not uniformly distributed among The People, and of particular concern are Social Dominators and Psychopaths (who are relatively resistant to social pressure to follow established norms) and Authoritarians (who are the most sensitive to fear and prone to aggression). Our systems must therefore be designed to take this nonuniformity into account. The new systems must provide the best overall fit for The People, not just the best fit for those most interested in how these systems work or who are most able to design or use the systems for their own benefit.

What kind of government and economic systems will matchism define? Will it be some form of collectivism, like communism? Or maybe a more hierarchical system, like fascism, but with some mechanism for ensuring that it is neurotypicals rather than SDAPs who end up in charge? Again, answers to these questions will not be found in the realm of philosophy, but of empiricism and social engineering. If all human beings were social dominators or authoritarians (or both) some sort of fascism or totalitarianism would most likely end up being the most appropriate form of organization. Although there would be much death and destruction in such a system, it would suit The People: The SDAP leaders would love their jobs and the rest of the population would be satisfied to let them run free because their authoritarianism would allow them to accept their own suffering as a necessary part of the functioning of the system. A willing sacrifice for the Fatherland, as it were.

If on the other hand none of us were SDAP and we all instead had strong utilitarian, egalitarian, or even altruistic preferences, we’d probably be happiest and most productive in a collectivist economic system. Whether the government was democratic or hierarchical in organization may not matter so much if all humans had these characteristics, since even in a hierarchical government the leaders would not be inclined to abuse or exploit the people they govern. And if in addition religious inclinations were a predominant feature, and we also had egalitarian and altruistic inclinations, perhaps a society resembling the Amish would be optimal.

Unfortunately for us, though, none of these preconditions hold, so none of those systems would support creating an appropriate set of goals, let alone provide the structure required to achieve them. Tens of millions of people have died in the social engineering experiments that provide support for this conclusion. These alternatives also fail to account for the fact that there are significant numbers of psychopaths and sociopaths among us who would likely gain control at the highest levels of any sort of hierarchical government and cause widespread inefficiency or even outright suffering, as they have throughout history.

Notably the Amish path is non-viable as a global political and economic system because it relies on a 20% defection rate, which has the effect of offloading the disruptive influence of Social Dominators and Psychopaths onto outsiders. This is in addition to being able to take advantage of technology (especially medical care) and the stabilizing effect of a government and economic system outside their society without having to assume the burden of creating or maintaining either of these things: The Amish do pay taxes but do not participate in the running of the government, nor do they make any contribution to the development of those technologies on which they, like the rest of us, have become dependent. An Amish society without a Leviathan to enable and take care of it would quickly come to resemble the European Dark Ages with little or no social, economic, political, or scientific progress, and the people would likely be subjected to the whims of a crippling and exploitative Church run by SDAPs. A similar relationship exists with another class of “utopian” communities, the Israeli kibbutzim, which have only survived because of the influx of billions of dollars in subsidies from the Israeli government and private charities.

A curious fact about psychopaths: Although they generally prefer to have as few rules imposed on them as possible (e.g., most psychopaths are Libertarians, Exhibit A being Ayn Rand), when selecting rules that must be applied they turn out to be the most utilitarian members of society (Bartels & Pizarro 2011). A majority of autistics, those who exhibit alexithymia, also have these tendencies (Patil & Silani 2014). This presents serious, perhaps insurmountable, problems for that philosophy which prizes “the greatest good for the greatest number” and so would seem to be the ideal philosophy upon which to build a collectivist or even socialist political or economic system. The problem is that neurotypicals reliably fail to follow the completely rational path that utilitarian philosophy sets out for us. The concern of psychology researchers and utilitarian philosophers is that this means that humans are inherently immoral, and so either humans or utilitarian philosophy need to be changed to make a better fit. But the underlying problem is really that there are significant differences between the environment of the EEA and that of the modern world, at least as modeled in the environment of your average psychology lab: What worked for the former gives seemingly irrational results in the latter (not even counting the fact that humans weren’t perfectly matched even to the EEA, due to the inefficiencies inherent in the evolutionary process). While it would be helpful to know exactly what the differences between these two environments are (and at this point we surely don’t), from an engineering perspective this is not strictly necessary. Implement matchism just requires knowing what the working properties of the components are, not anything about how or why they evolved to be that way.

This means that the new system will have to be designed such that each personality type can work within it, yet doesn’t allow particular groups or individuals to use it to exploit other individuals and therefore break the system or render it unstable. Other than some sort of benevolent dictatorship with an extensive information-gathering feature, the only political system that will ensure this is some form of direct democracy with very high (near 100%) participation rates (how that can be achieved will be discussed in the next two sections). The new system design must also take into account replisms, those human characteristic patterns that throw a monkey wrench into any plans to use utilitarianism, or any other existing political philosophy, as a guide for defining public policy.

Matchism therefore proposes three different sources of individual behavior and is designed to utilize, or at least account for, all three:

  1. Replisms: The natural patterns of behavior that are instinctive in humans. This is the “nature” part of the nature/nurture dichotomy and the source that Ayn Rand’s Objectivism, and most forms of libertarianism and anarchism, posit as sufficient to build a functioning society on: They assume that if humans are left alone they will naturally create a just and productive system. Unfortunately, not only does it ignore the other two sources of behavior, but also ignores the crucial fact that our replisms evolved to improve fitness of genes in the EEA (a la The Selfish Gene, Dawkins 1976-2016), and they frequently (if not usually) are incompatible not only with modern technology but with any system designed with a goal other than successful gene propagation.
  2. Conditioning: Behaviors that come from cues in the environment. This is the source that would enable BF Skinner’s “Technology of Behavior” as proposed in his Beyond Freedom and Dignity. This is a powerful and malleable source, but Skinner omits any details that would show how to use it in combination with the other sources, and for the most part even omits any consideration that there are other sources.
  3. Individual Differences: Replisms and Conditioning have different strengths and work in different ways in different individuals due to their personalities. Our current systems and generalized philosophies fail to account for the fact that humans aren’t interchangeable and that if you allow them to self-select into positions of power, the people who seek these positions are inherently incompatible with the goal of creating and administering a system that will optimally benefit all humans. Whether it’s the traits measured by assessments of SDO, RWA, political orientation, psychopathy/autism, or the Big Five personality traits, it’s important that the system be robustly designed to accommodate all of these individual differences in the population.

A social engineering example: While there is undoubtedly such a thing as talent, and some individuals will grow to be richer or more powerful than others, luck plays a vastly larger role than talent in determining how high the peak of an individual’s wealth and power is (e.g., see Malcom Gladwell’s Outliers: The Story of Success). Neurotypicals are instinctively comfortable with this outcome so long as there is a guaranteed floor income, a result verified by experiments which propose a wide variety of possible economic systems, and then actually measure which systems they consider to be “fair” (as if behind a “Veil of Ignorance” as described in Rawls’ 1971 A Theory of Justicesee Frohlich and Oppenheimer’s 1992 Choosing JusticeBond & Park 1991Krawczyk 2010, and Traub 2005). This is because the egalitarian replism is a strong behavior source in Neurotypicals. It is much weaker in Social Dominators and Authoritarians, however, so they would be more comfortable lowering or even omitting a floor-income policy. As for psychopaths and alexithymics, they would no doubt choose a much more utilitarian design than either of the other two groups with even lower levels of inequality. Summed over all individuals, however, and with weightings proportional to their numbers, The People as whole don’t behave according to utilitarian principles as prescribed by utilitarian philosophers (Bentham, Mill, Rawls), nor to Objectivist/libertarian principles as prescribed in Rand’s Atlas Shrugged. Instead they adopt a more hybrid approach which allows for substantial inequality, yet protects those who end up not being talented or lucky. As such, matchism is to libertarianism as neurotypicals are to “alpha males”, and matchism is to utilitarianism as neurotypicals are to psychopaths and autistics.

The experimental evidence also provides clear guidance on the economic system that is most compatible with humans. Like all animals, humans are instinctively competitive: Any genes that produce an individual that does not look out for themselves above all else in an environment of scarce resources would not propagate. Every small-scale community, and indeed even every social animal society that contains unrelated individuals, operates using the fundamentals of capitalism (bartering, reciprocal altruism, etc.). Living up to the Marxist maxim “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need” requires a kind of altruism that is virtually unknown in the real world (for more on why altruism should not be relied on as a feature in any socially engineered system, see the section On Charity).

Every attempt to implement a truly collective economic system has been a dismal failure, this despite having the advantages of working on largely self-selected samples and the ability to impose tremendous economic and emotional costs on the individuals who choose to participate: It has been tried thousands of times, yet the average commune only lasts a few years, and all are characterized by high turnover rates and continual strife (see Sosis_2000Sosis_2003Bader_2006, and the documentary Commune, about the Black Bear Ranch in California, where despite the community itself having survived for over 40 years the average residency for any particular individual is less than 2 years). Even the mighty Soviet Union was brought to existential crisis on multiple occasions over the issue of “handicrafts” (small scale capitalism) when it became clear to the participants in that experiment that collective action and central planning were incapable of meeting even their basic needs.

The problems with capitalism stem solely from the failure of our decisionmaking systems to regulate it, not any inherent incompatibility between that system and our nature. Although most modern politicians and philosophers cite inequality as a primary problem in modern civilization, this is simply a misinterpretation of the data and a misunderstanding of neurotypical nature. Occupy Wall Street didn’t spring up in 2007 when income inequality reached its peak, it started 4 years later and was triggered by a perception of injustice that was independent of any perception of wealth or income inequality: The problem wasn’t the mere existence of the 1%, it was that they were able to game the system such that they didn’t suffer the same kinds of losses as the 99%. Inequality is an essential component of capitalism: It is the engine that drives it and without it there is no drive toward competition and the improvements in product variety, availability, quality, and production efficiency that competition brings. Lucky for us humans that acceptance of inequality in outcome is a replism even though we are apparently genetically biased to prefer equality in opportunity. Furthermore, emphasizing changing the economic system before changing the political/decisionmaking system is just the hallmark of amateur social engineering. The reasoning is simple: A properly function decisionmaking system that has the full support of the population can bring unimaginable resources to bear on any problem, whereas even the best designed and most competently engineered economic system can be rendered impotent with a simple vote by a political system that considers it to be a threat.

What all of this leads to is the proposal that for any group of people with some particular distribution of characteristics and a given level of technology there is some economic system and form of government that will be optimal. At this point, given our limited technology and even more limited understanding of replisms we have available to us and the distribution of these characteristics in the population, we can only have a rough idea of what the eventual products of matchism will be. And that means that it would be the height of arrogance for us to hard-wire any aspects of it to ensure that any aspects of our existing moral codes are preserved, a design that would virtually guarantee that the new system will be a poor fit for the people of the future (and of course a poor fit for us as well). What we can be sure of is that because the new system will be custom made for us, warts and all, starting immediately (albeit imperfectly), tracking our moral and technological development, matchism will fit the people of the future vastly better than our current systems fit us.

Next: The Will Of The People