Radical Judgment

A relativist would say that it isn’t our place to judge other cultures. However, such people are flaming hypocrites. Two seconds afterwards they’ll turn around and tell you what they think of somebody, or that a certain movie is terrible, or that one artist is better than another, and so on and so forth. Judgment, in the sense of forming impressions, is an inescapable part of being a thinking being. To dismiss a certain type of judgment as “improper” because all the possible permutations must be appreciated equally, is just nonsense. It’s an attempt to make you stop thinking, just like how religion will tell you to trust your faith. There are indeed numerous hideous cultural practices that the world would be better off without, from genocide to female genital mutilation. However, the statement that they are horrible and unnecessary does not automatically follow through into action. I do not believe that it is anyone’s place, particularly in an international sense, to use military power to force anyone to do anything. If you’re going to point a gun at someone’s head and tell them not to kill people, OK, I can see what your intent is, but you’re kind of not being morally consistent. Not to mention that use of force is going to eventually tempt one of the gun’s holders to go a little farther, maybe to see infrastructure built, and then maybe anti-corruption laws (haha, no hypocrisy there), and then taxation, at which point the ones with the guns are basically muggers. Although they are very powerful, methodical, and have lots of mindless patriots willing to back them up for no better reason than the location of their birth, but they’re still muggers. Well, not exactly. I can at least respect the honesty of a real mugger, since he isn’t going to try to convince you that you’re a bad person if you don’t hand over your money.

Now, I would like to point out the twisted chain of reasoning which leads to this suspension of a necessary mental faculty. First, bring forth the evidence in the racial inequalities of the past and in other nations. Conclude that this is a bad thing. Therefore, since judging people based on the color of their skin, or eyes, or I don’t care what, is unjust, therefore we shouldn’t judge people. This is then used as a rationalization to suspend reactions to other cultures because we have to “respect” them, to religions in the form of “you can’t judge someone by their religion, therefore saying (religion X/religious people) are crazy is religious persecution=racism=bad.” Therefore we should conclude that talking to people about their religion is something we should avoid- you’ve probably observed the sensitivity to such discussion, at least in the US.

To get at the nitty-gritty of the issue- the issue isn’t that judgment is bad. That is a fallacy of the first order perpetuated in a masterwork of propaganda and conditioning. No, the evil is in irrational judgment. You can’t damn someone for making a judgment. You can, however, damn someone for a judgment that has no basis or bearing on reality and the truth. You don’t start a flame war when someone tries a food you like and says it tastes awful. If you’re over the age of 6, at least. They’re just responding to their own sensory impression, just as you would. However, there is always a huge, often violent reaction to racial injustice such as stereotypes based on skin colors because the ones being victimized know on a very deep level that their persecutors are being completely and totally irrational, yet they have the power to make their fantasy-world take shape in reality, and that will irritate the living shit out of absolutely anyone, including you. Don’t believe me? You’ve been in this exact situation many times before. Have you ever been talking with someone, and you observed some event, and then afterwards the other person has unequivocally deluded themselves about what just occurred? A true to life example would take some explication, so I’ll make a synthetic one just to keep it compact. Let’s say you’re playing a game where you roll a die- a 6 earns you $100, and a 1 makes you lose $100. It’s your turn, and you roll 6, 4, 3, 6, 2, 2, 3. After you finish you turn to your buddy, hand him the die, and go “Hey, that was pretty lucky. You owe me $200.” Your buddy looks at you quizzically and says “No, you owe me $400. You got four ones, idiot.” Ah, yes, I can hear the ire in my readers rising already. Now imagine that this deluded fool is your boss, and if you piss him off at all he’ll simply fire your ass, so you have no choice but to concede and hand over the money. This is the exact analogue of injustice- racial, religious, whatever, but on a teeny, tiny scale. The issue isn’t that judgment is bad, it’s that irrationality is horrifyingly damaging on a very deep emotional level. Kind of ironic that that exact brand of irrationality is used to perpetuate the suspension of judgment- another form of irrationality. However it isn’t surprising because you can’t back up such a proposition with true rationality.

In the words of Ayn Rand, “Judge, and prepare to be judged.” Think about this statement, it has a lot of depth. Market capitalism works because each vendor is competing with others selling the same thing, and each buyer is competing to get the products they want. Human social interaction is meant to work in the same organic fashion, where each person is free to do what they want, including to judge others, while at the same time others have the freedom to judge them (including for their judgments). Companies selling good products get more customers in an evolutionary system meant to produce the most happiness in the most efficient manner with the resources available. In every exchange, value is created because if both parties didn’t benefit then they wouldn’t make the deal. In the same way, human judgments should function within an evolutionary system to produce the most accurate picture, because the more useful judgments are perpetuated while the inferior or irrational ones are tested and recognized as such before being discarded. Modern science is an evolutionary system matching the body of knowledge against reality, using an evolutionary system of many scientists, and theories proved false are discarded because they detract from the accurateness of the picture as a whole.

The evolutionary system is the greatest discovery in the history of mankind. With the possible exceptions of language and agriculture (the distinction between discovery and invention is purely semantic and totally unnecessary). Problems arise when you try to interfere in this system using force. For example, let’s say we have a population of deer in some forest. These deer have lived in peace for millions of years, but now, because of mankind, they are faced with a new predator: the T-Rex. Thousands of Tyrannosaurus Rex specimens have escaped from Area 51 and run all the way from Roswell to eat these tasty deer. Now, as humans, some might say we have a responsibility to intervene because we caused this problem. They may have a legitimate point ethically, but that’s not what we’re talking about at this moment: we’re talking about the equilibrium of evolutionary systems. Let’s say for a moment that we decide the wacko environmentalists, as opposed to the rational environmentalists (i.e. me), are right, and we use SCUD missiles and machine guns and whatnot to keep down the population of T-Rexes. Lots of deer still get eaten, but they aren’t going to even approach the black chasmy brink of extinction. The wacko environmentalists cheer a successful cause, and the rationalists mourn the fact that now we, humans, are mired in mediating a war we cannot win, because our very objective is to keep the war going by maintaining a supply of defenseless deer. The sane, rational perspective is that the deer is just going to get evolutionarily selected out because of the presence of T-Rexes. War over, problem solved. Every day we insulate the deer population from its environment is another day that it is evolving for our artificially created fantasy bubble reality, and another day it’s not evolving for the actual problems it needs to face in the world. So, the hard truth is that in the long run it’s better to let the deer go by the wayside. Now, in real-life terms, this might result in a cascade effect which brings down the whole ecosystem, so we might decide to do something about it in that light, but the evolutionary system being artificially disrupted and warped is still true.

Now consider applying this idea to the economy. Insulating industry from overseas competition using tariffs is more or less equivalent to giving our hypothetical deer some badass anti-T-Rex device that means a T-Rex will run screaming back to its mama when faced by a mighty doe, if so equipped. In fact, given enough time these deer might even become so bold as to exercise their newfound T-Rex herding powers to useful effect. Perhaps they choose to hang around near them so that if some other predator shows up they can just dart past the T-Rex and their predator is sitting there, shaking, thinking “nuh uh, no way, man!” This will obviously mean the deer won’t evolve the means to protect themselves from these T-Rexes. So, if at some point in the future that protective shield is removed, the resulting correction in the system will be swift and brutal. Plus, if the deer had adapted to an environment in which they had T-Rex scarer devices then they’re living in a fantasy world that leaves them even more poorly equipped to deal with reality. To use the previous example, they’d probably seek out T-Rexes to hide near, only to their surprise now the T-Rex just eats their deluded mammalian ass. Though that trend would end fairly quickly because all the deer using that strategy would be devoured pretty fast. Leaving analogy-metaphor-land, tariffs are exactly that type of interference in an evolutionary system. As are taxes, regulation, and oh so many other economic interferences. The problem is that a) the government can enforce its fantasy land on a consistent basis, and does so, and b) we’ve been in consistent fantasy land for so long now that we have become totally unable to survive “in the economic wild.” American car companies have been producing poorer vehicles at higher prices than foreign car companies for a loooong time. But nevertheless, they get government funding, legislative aid, and a whole gaggle of loonies decrying that you should “buy American! Be patriotic!” The big problem is that it’s so tempting to just help them a little bit. There’s a rough patch a long time ago and we go “Alright, it’s OK, we’ll give you a teensy little edge, but only for a little while, OK?” Of course, it doesn’t last just a little while because the car companies adapt to the new environment to maximize profit and minimize cost, often producing a poorer product that will be equally competitive, factoring in their edge. You can’t strip their new advantage because they’ll cry bloody murder at how the government is destroying them, killing jobs, etc. etc. It’s gotten to the point that, if those aids were relaxed, the American car companies would have a very, very hard time, and probably fold.

Judgment falls into the same category. The ideal system is a free field because evolutionary systems will just appear wherever necessary to maximize utility. Don’t believe me? Get a group of 100 third grade students, lock them in a gym somewhere, give them 10 chips each, and give them a list of prizes- like 1 chip for a piece of candy, 5 for a toy, etc. etc., up to 1000 for a bike. Any prize list, any number of chips, it doesn’t matter. Watch what happens. You will see deals, contracts, breaches of faith, economic retribution, and in the end, on the whole, each kid will be relatively satisfied, having transformed their 10 chips into 10 chips of value for them, which will be subjectively different than 10 chips of value for each other kid. The ones who prefer candy have no qualms about getting 10 candies, although they will probably lent their 10 chips out to the kid who wants the video game for 40 chips, in return for an 11th candy. These kids have no training, and precious little reasoning ability, but nevertheless they can create a myriad of evolutionary systems to select for maximizing happiness.   The same methodology should apply to human truth, to history, opinions, to elections.  I have no problem with the idea of elections at all- they’re very representative.  What I have a problem with is the idea that the will of the majority can be enforced on everyone else by men with guns and blue uniforms.  Anyone who agrees to abide by the majority’s decision, fine, that’s great.  Otherwise you’re saying that if five men want to ambush and rape one woman, they’re the majority in that particular subset of humanity, and so therefore the woman is morally obligated to obey and if she doesn’t then the brutes have the moral authority to use violence.  Or, if you’re of the beauraucratic persuasion, you could argue that they have to be wearing blue uniforms.  It’s not the vote I have the problem with- it’s the idea that violent enforcement must, well of course somehow follow.  That’s my judgment, you’re free to make yours.  Just don’t tell me I shouldn’t judge just because it’s convenient for someone else if I don’t think.


One Response to “Radical Judgment”

  1. Tina Russell Says:

    I finally decided to write a comment on your blog. I just wanted to say good job. I really enjoy reading your posts.

    Tina Russell

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