Socialism Would Be Easy If Not for F*cking Creativity
Right? An antiquated machine that extrudes the identical lame product over and over -- say, Tom Friedman -- is the antithesis of creativity. If something can be predicted by its antecedents, it isn't a creation, it's a mere effect of something else, fully reducible to predetermined causes.
Science, strictly speaking, explains everything but creativity. Not only that, but in its reductionist mania, it generally attempts to explain the creative via the uncreative, the intelligent via the mindless, freedom via necessity, and the living via the lifeless. It just waves a magic wand over the ontological discontinuities and pretends this is an explanation.
I noticed this yesterday while thumbing through a recent Scientific American in the orthopedist's office. No matter what subject they touched -- the Big Bang, the origin of life, the intersection of ideology and science -- every author had the same adolescent tone of smug superiority to go along with their dull absence of style and their one-dimensional shallowness of thought. The magazine seems to exert a heavy editorial hand that banishes seriousness of thought; or that affirms a frivolous certainty.
To put it another way, their minds are entirely lacking in creative surprisal, so perhaps the metaphysic they embrace is just a massive projection of their own experience and limitations. As the left likes to say, they are indeed speaking their truth. Which no one should confuse with Truth. Rather, these are just fairy tales for the tenured, chicken shit for the scientistic soul.
But to be trapped in that sort of mind would be a kind of living hell for anyone who has made it to freedom, or who has rotated in Plato's cave.
Freedom means nothing to someone who has never experienced it, which is why it is so difficult to export it to places where it has never existed, e.g., Islamistan. For such peoples, freedom has an entirely different connotation, meaning essentially the freedom to live in their traditionally unfree manner. For them, the alternative to such oppression is social chaos. What we think of as individual liberty doesn't enter the equation.
My own racket of psychology is no more a science than is global warming. Psychologists have no difficulty explaining something after it has happened. The trick is predicting the event before it happens, which is what a genuine science does. The best historian in the world cannot predict the future.
What this means, of course, is that man can never be exhaustively described scientifically. True, it is useful to consider certain human parts in a mechanistic/deterministic manner, but the soul -- or a person, if you like -- is quite clearly beyond any human calculation. A person is not reducible to an ape, just as taking a shower is not reducible to rubbing oneself with hydrogen and oxygen.
The same is true of the climate, but for different reasons -- not because the earth has a soul (although it may have some analogous, emergent large-scale interior unity), but because of the infinitude of variables, i.e., because of the complexity and non-linearity of the system. Climate cannot be predicted for the same reason we have no idea what the global economy will look like 100 years hence. In both cases, the researchers simply don't know what they don't know -- which swamps what they do know.
Scientism is afflicted with a bad case of WTSIATI: what they see is all there is. How sad!
If we could predict surprise -- a contradiction in terms -- then we could organize and plan for it. Nevertheless, despite the intrinsic contradiction, this is precisely what leftists presume to do, i.e., control the uncontrollable and predict the unpredictable. In short, socialism would work beautifully if only creativity didn't exist.
Or, to paraphrase Larry Sanders' self-serving agent, "our job would be so easy if it weren't for fucking talent!"
"In a free economy," writes Gilder, "a high degree of apparent randomness does not mean actual randomness. An apparently random pattern is evidence not of purposelessness but of an entrepreneurial economy full of creative surprises."
Again, it's just like a person, only worse. If you kick a rock, you can pretty much predict where it will roll. But if you kick a man, you have no idea what he might do. Freedom is a terrible thing. No wonder most cultures -- and most people -- hate it.
One of the most succinct definitions of a person is provided by Nicolás Gómez Dávila; it is simultaneously the least and most you can say: a person is the permanent possibility of initiating a causal series.
Now, to initiate a causal series is to create, since an "initiation" is not preceded by anything else. In other words, it arises in a genuine space of undetermined freedom of choice. This, of course, is one of the deeper meanings of being in the image and likeness of God, for only God and man have this power to freely initiate a causal series (God absolutely, man in a relative analogue).
So, just as knowledge and power are intimately related, so too are freedom and creativity. Only in a free-market liberal democracy are they all present and accounted for. The left wants the power but not the knowledge, the freedom but not the creativity. Mere power + freedom results in precisely the type of lawlessness we see in the Obama regime. e.g., Obamacare for thee but not for me. (Or Clintonworld, where the powerful trade their StupidPower for more of it.)
Ironically, the most important scientific developments of the 20th century should be a lesson in epistemic humility, not an excuse for promethean omniscience. Gilder catalogues some of these:
"In physics, mathematics, cosmology, and psychology, reason collided at every turn with an insuperable barrier of incompleteness, uncertainty, paradox, incomputability, or recursive futility."
Raccoons know the drill: Gödel's incompleteness theorems, Heisenberg's uncertainty principle, Bohr's complementarity, Polanyi's tacit knowledge, Matte Blanco's symmetrical logic, the irreconcilability of quantum and relativity theories, the irreducibility of Slack, etc., etc.
It takes a big mind to know little -- or to unKnow a lot, to be precise -- the reason being that the largest spotlight has the largest area of surrounding darkness. But in a way, that darkness is a measure of our freedom, or at least makes it a permanent possibility. It certainly means that no one can shove us into their little prefabricated boxes -- boxes of class, or gender, or homophobia, or white privilege.
Perhaps the simplest and most suggestive definition of entropy is as a measure of freedom of choice: the higher the entropy, the larger the bandwidth or range of selection (Gilder).