Fight to save the Enlightenment

Contemplating Civilization: its rise, fall, rebuilding… and future
[Via Contrary Brin]

Go read one of the most important books in the past twenty years, Robert Wright’s Nonzero. Our entire Enlightenment Experiment has been about positive sum games. Open-competitive Economic Markets, Science, Democracy… these are all examples of systems set up to harness competition and produce positive sum results for all.

Alas, there are forces in human nature that always trend toward ruination of such systems. Winners tend not to want to compete as hard, next time, so they use their wealth and power to cheat! It is called oligarchy; the very thing that wrecked markets and democracy and science in all past cultures. Every single last one of them.

Except ours… but not without a struggle in every generation. Today, capitalism isn’t the enemy; it is the #1 victim of an ongoing attempted coup by oligarchs – who are only doing what humans are programmed to do, when tempted by feudal privilege.  If liberals would only read the “First Liberal” — Adam Smith — and realize this, they might drop both the left and right and stand up for the balanced market that emphasizes small business, startups and brash-competitive creativity, instead of monopoly, corporatism, state-paternalism and aristocracy.

Heck, if our ancestors could stand up and save the Enlightenment during their crises… so can we.


Oligarchs are what we have fought against for a long, long time. We have fought this battle before and came out on top.

Nonzero is a very important book. Read it and you will begin to understand what changes are happening in our civilization.

The power of Nonzero, of positive sum solutions, wil be what gets us over this period.

That and getting rid of the oligarchs.