24 April, 2017

Theories, not Ideologies

The problem with political discourse today is that a specific framework of reasoning (originating from the West, of course) is imposed upon all forms of social and political organizations around the world.

Politics is divided into "left" and "right" ideological extremes and are respectively called "liberal" and "conservative".

For one, both extremes are just ideologies -- they are neither theories nor strategies.

The "liberal" ideology argues that individual liberty is the cornerstone for good social organization, but has no strategic model towards sustainable individual liberty. Hence, if an individual says that his free-willed choice is to dominate and subjugate others, or to submit oneself to the will of others, liberals do not have a good ideological counter-response.

The "conservative" ideology (of the Western world) argues that some "God" has commanded how society ought to be organized and any deviation from that shall be a punishable offence. Some form of scriptural basis is seen as a timeless solution to social organization.

This framework is now imposed upon other cultures which have had vastly different ways of thinking.

Rather than attempting to breakdown the world using a flawed hermeneutic framework, the Western world would do well to invest in some deep introspection and recognize the need for systemic theories for governance.

Most theory of systems in the Western model of thinking, equate systems to machines.

A machine is an artificial construct -- it is a tool built for a specific purpose. The overarching purpose for the machine forms the converging factor for all design decisions.

A society on the other hand, is not a machine. There is no overarching purpose for a society and there is no naturally endowed command hierarchy. The task of managing a society is to manage a potentially divergent system in a way that it is sustainable.

It is such a wonder that the importance of the concept of "sustainability" is not given the central role that it requires, in the Western hermeneutics about social organization. Every issue is argued using an ideological lens -- not a systemic lens.

For instance, there is no liberal ideological argument if a close, adult friend decides by one's own free will and informed consent, that they would submit to the will of someone else and live like a slave. After all, "it is their life" and we have "no right" to dictate to others how they ought to live their lives.

However, if this friend were to be endowed with a reasoning framework based around systems and sustainability, it would be easier to reason with them with an argument that what they are doing is "adharma" (unsustainable) for the system as a whole.

In the 1990s when we graduated from college, the conventional wisdom was that, we have to emigrate to the US. No questions to be asked. The usual arguments given were how India was corrupt, how life is much better in the US and how Ayn Rand says that being selfish is virtuous.

The only argument I had was to agree with the conclusions, so much so that we need to extend this argument and advocate to the entire 1.2 billion people of India to emigrate to the US! Because after all, it is a better country and selfishness is a virtue.

Unless we are endowed with a capability to reason about systems as a whole, it is not possible to create sound strategic models for managing such individual dilemma that have systemic impact -- it will just be an ideological battle of what is a virtue and what is moral. Never what is sustainable.

The so-called "conservative ideology" in India is basically trying to re-establish the hermeneutics of dharma, where systems and sustainability form the core elements of reasoning. The "conservative" dharmic ideology is basically about sustainable liberalism.

The usual argument we hear is that our society has evolved away from this ideology for a reason.

Well no, firstly, sustainability is not an ideology -- it is a natural basis for a theoretical framework whose theories are open to debate and argumentation. And secondly, the society has not evolved away from dharmic hermeneutics. This way of thinking was upended due to external aggression, and it has survived (sustained?) centuries of aggression. Indian society has not changed from within -- change has been imposed upon it.

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