Friday, March 30, 2012

Cultural Learning, Economic Edition

Via Aretae, I find an example of the kind of thing that makes me think that people, in general, learn culturally. It's just real, real slow.

The intellectual classes have known (or should have known) how to make a country prosper since at least Adam Smith. It has simply taken this long for the knowledge to seep its way through societies, to make its way deep enough that leaders attempting to follow the ideas can get a meaningful number of people following them.

There are other ways this knowledge osmosis results in wisdom in leadership, but they all boil down to equivalents of the above.

I've seen many reasons to be optimistic or pessimistic about the future, but this is the only one that solidly meets my standards. Importantly, it can do both - if sophistry is what's percolating down, then it justifies pessimism. If you happened to know what makes a thing percolate easily, and read Marx in the 1800s, you could be utterly justified in seemingly paranoid pessimism, and you would have been proven horrifically, atrociously right. As another example, every pessimism of Carlyle's that Moldbug has shared turned out to be grimly true.

Thing is, while error percolates just fine or even better, it also vanishes. Eventually. For the people on the ground, who, how many, and what arguments various intellectual camps have is irrelevant, because reality gets the final word. Only believing in truth is stable. Eventually, an alliance forms between reality, the footsoldiers, and the intellectual camp whose first allegiance is truth, not politics.

One nitpick.

""Nations in the top quartile of economic freedom had an average per-capita GDP of $31,501 in 2009, compared to $4,545 for those nations in the bottom quartile,""
This is an association. It could easily be the other way around, and prosperity buys freedom. I'd like it the libertarian way around, but I certainly can't prove it.

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