Thursday, August 02, 2007

Kauffman 2: You can never do just one thing

This is the second in a series of posts taking as their theme Kauffman's rules.

Or "leave well enough alone".

I've never felt that the basis of conservatism was wrong, so long as it is understood as an elaboration of "if it ain't broke, don't fix it". The issue then is what is a disagreement over what is broken, which at least allows the possibility of proving to the conservative that no fixing is needed. But of course conservatives use a whole different set of measures to decide what is broken.

I think the way women are pushed down and abused by societies and cultures across the world is broken, and desperately needs fixing. I'm convinced it's part of the road to salvation for this world. Education and uplifting of women have brought enormous rewards everywhere they have happened, and the poorest, most benighted of places are those in which women are treated the worst.

But conservatives see only harridans who want to steal what is theirs. Well, we all know that the chief problem with conservatives is that what they most want to conserve is whatever they have and others don't. When conservatives are also men -- and I've never really understood why a woman would be one -- that means conserving a structure of power that benefits them at the expense of women.

But not everything is broken. Far from it. Some among us worship change, as if it were in itself the good thing, and not its outcomes. Anyone who has worked for a corporation for more than a short while will have suffered at the hands of idiots who feel that everything should be churned. They spend millions on it -- usually all wasted -- and generally return to doing their core business.

The desire for change for its own sake has a particularly bad outcome: people and companies that were steadily doing a good thing can spiral out of control, leaving jobs, families, societies all broken in their wake. They think that if they only changed this one thing, they would increase profits, break the competition, make their shareholders millions. But you can never just change one thing, unless you are fiddling at the margin. One change impels another, and another, and another, until your whole system collapses. Like pulling threads...

In our own lives, we fall prey to the same mistake. "If I could only..." and we truly believe that we only need to fix this one thing and everything will be okay. We believe that a change is a panacea. But changes bring the need for further changes, and if we didn't think clearly enough of the outcomes of the first change, these can be tougher and tougher, making our lives worse, when on its own, the change we so desired, we were sure, would make them better.

I have learned to be wary of change. It is seductive. It makes promises that sound so good that you cannot believe you will not make the change straight away to have them delivered. But you pull the thread, and another springs out, and you must pull that one too, and before you know it, good things have unravelled as well as the bad.

So in some ways, I think conservatism, or caution at least, can be superior to progression. Leaving well enough alone can mean leaving slightly bad alone, if we are not willing to figure out whether pulling the string will pull our whole cloth to pieces.

This is at the margin though, in places where a little something is rotten, but on the whole, things are well. Where they are rotten to the core, you have to grab the thread and yank for all you're worth.

9 Comments:

At 9:20 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

boots sez:

I think the way women are pushed down and abused by societies and cultures across the world is broken, and desperately needs fixing.

It's up to everyone to do what they view as "right". Women have more control over their lives than they seem to give themselves credit for. Let society make your choices, and there you are.

I have learned to be wary of change. It is seductive. It makes promises that sound so good that you cannot believe you will not make the change straight away to have them delivered.

Here's a bit of simple logic for you: the more you do, the more opportunities you create for fucking up.

Where they are rotten to the core, you have to grab the thread and yank for all you're worth.

Life presents us all with different circumstances, and at times the only reasonable alternative is to pitch a fit.

 
At 9:24 pm, Blogger Dr Zen said...

The view you expressed on women is so retarded, and so wrong in so many ways, that I won't address it.

Also, the more you do, the more chances you have to succeed.

 
At 10:09 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

boots sez:

The view you expressed on women is so retarded, and so wrong in so many ways, that I won't address it.

Rilly? Hmmm. Women have more power over their lives than they seem to give themselves credit for. There have been women who found their societal roles so repugnant that they've left their country and found a new and better life. There are women who have banded together for "liberation" and achieved it. There are women who have done nothing more than exhibit a case of locked knees and improved their situations. In the US, women are free to work as welders or auto mechanics or whatever they damn please because they have banded together and demanded that right, and the fact that some women prefer to paint their toenails and whine is their own problem.

The fact that you wish to play bleeding-heart for them has no relevance to what they can do for themselves, in fact that stance is a remarkably sexist one that considers women to be helpless vegetables who must be taken care of by the manly gender. I treat women as individuals with rights equal to my own, and I assume that you do likewise; that is what we view as "right".

Also, the more you do, the more chances you have to succeed.

Quite true, just don't fuck up in the process innit. Just sitting there is doing something -- refusing to act, allowing the situation to continue.

 
At 3:43 am, Blogger Don said...

Garsh, we agree. This is where, for example, disarming the general populace, while seeming a good idea in the face of gun crime, has the added effect of shifting civil power to the police and military. Another example, outlawing marijuana, while seeming a good idea because of a total misunderstanding of crime and "immorality" amongst immigrant populations in the 1930s, created a hypocritical system that prevents the positive use of that useful herb.

When you say that "conservatives see only harridans who want to steal what is theirs," and that you've "never really understood why a woman would be one," you may be missing part of your own point. Conservative women perceive the differences between men and women and do not want to break the healthy systems that can arise in recognizing those differences. Unhealthy systems abound, of course, but the attempts to remove sex as a factor also did their harm and a lot of women consider themselves conservative because they recognize that. I think if you were to speak to some American conservative women (as opposed to, say, Saudi), you would find they are not subservient at all, simply wary of changes they believe to be harmful to families and to children.

Well, we all know that the chief problem with conservatives is that what they most want to conserve is whatever they have and others don't.

I'm still not clear on why this is a problem. If say the State determines that homelessness must be solved and that I must therefore open up my lower half-acre to three families so they can live there, I would fight most strenuously to prevent it. This would simply be wrong. Keeping what is mine is not theft; taking it is. The solution is not in State-sanctioned theft, but in economic policy that promotes economic growth, and discouragement of attitudes in people that promote their own failure.

 
At 9:18 am, Blogger Dr Zen said...

boots, the idea that women are sekritly empowered is a centrepiece of misogyny. As is denial of the plain truth. I won't indulge you any more on this subject. You're doubtless too old to change your views.

 
At 9:25 am, Blogger Dr Zen said...

Don, I am on the whole a statist and I don't see a problem with shifting civil power, or more correctly, the monopoly on coercive force, to the state. I trust the state more than I do someone who entertains the possibility of shooting someone.

I agree that jettisoning all the differences between men and women would be a good example of a bad outcome of good changes. The rest of your argument I do not agree with, and I think your analysis of American conservative women, although fundamentally correct, simply ignores the reasons for their beliefs.

"Keeping what is mine is not theft; taking it is." As we've discussed many times, we do not agree that the lower half-acre is "yours" in the first place. I take a Rawlsian view of what is fair, and I wonder whether, behind the veil of ignorance, you would be quite so keen on property rights. In any case, laws on property exist to perpetuate injustice. They appeal to conservatives for the reason that I noted.

You are wrong about economic growth, but I lack the inclination today to give you another lesson in economics.

 
At 2:20 pm, Blogger O' Tim said...

We believe that a change is a panacea.

Therein lies the essence of the "lottery mentality."

I need to think a bit deeper about my retirement plan.

 
At 9:14 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

boots sez:

boots, the idea that women are sekritly empowered is a centrepiece of misogyny. As is denial of the plain truth.

All humans are more empowered than they give themselves credit for, Zen. Women are no exception.

When you place yourself in a position subservient to a state human beings have created, you disempower yourself. You tie your own hands, and the fact that you have tied your own hands like the good child you are expected to be empowers you only to sit and whine about how the world is ugly and strange.

What Man has done, Man can undo; there is no lock a man can make that another man cannot unlock whether by picking it or breaking it with a rock or cutting it with a torch.

I suppose if one whines loudly enough there is a chance that the nice man will fix things for him, just as there is a chance that the nice man will slap him down for whining. Fuck the nice man.

 
At 7:22 am, Blogger blurbees said...

test.

don't mind me, i'm just seeing if my comments will post in other people's blogs, because they just stopped posting in my own blogs for some odd reason.

 

Post a Comment

<< Home