Sta Hungry Stay Foolish

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

A blog by Leon Oudejans

From permissive to intolerant societies (and back)

Being born in 1960, I was a teenager in the 1970s. If any society was permissive then it was back then. Nowadays, intolerance seems to be the driving force in (Western) societies. It’s an example of Isaac Newton‘s third Law of Motion: For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction (source).

In the 1970s, Labour-Left was a dominant political force that favoured tolerance. Both have slowly eroded ever since. Today, Labour-Left is a minor political force and still being pushed towards the fringes. Tolerance has been replaced by illiberal liberals and the intolerant woke-Left.

In my view, intolerance is far from its peak; it has only just begun. I suppose that we will be seeing decades of intolerance; probably peaking in repression of any unconventional view. However, Newton’s Laws of Motion will still apply: For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.

At the age of almost 63, I doubt that I will witness the return of permissive societies. Perhaps, people will have learned by then from its pitfalls (eg, surge in crime). Unfortunately, we seldom learn – despite our teaching – from history, which thus keeps repeating itself (eg, historic recurrence).

Today, my main remaining question is both simple (question) and complex (answer): why have humans been so successful (as a group and/or species), despite our many shortcomings (as individuals and as a group) ?? I think, feel and believe the answer is about the ingredients versus the mix.

I suppose that the wave of (i) permissiveness or tolerance, and the subsequent wave of (ii) intolerance are part of the answer. Despite all of our teaching, humans learn slowly. Perhaps, slow learning is essential; else it would not stick. Also see 2011 book Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman.

To me, the worst possible answer is this one: human stupidity is a precondition for human success. Nevertheless, my thinking keeps going into that direction.

“My scientific interests, as I’ve come to understand them, are essentially grappling with the evolution of intelligence and stupidity on earth. It’s quite common for people to talk about intelligence. It’s less common for people to talk about stupidity, even though, arguably, it’s more common. My background is in mathematical evolutionary theory, and I work on information and computation in nature. That includes the nature that we’ve created, that we call technology, and where it came from, what it’s doing today, and where it’s going in the future.”

A 2016 quote by biologist David Krakauer, President and William H. Miller Professor of Complex Systems at the Santa Fe Institute

We’ve Only Just Begun (1968) by the Carpenters (1970)
band, lyrics, video, Wiki-band, Wiki-album, Wiki-song

And when the evening comes, we smile
So much of life ahead
We’ll find a place where there’s room to grow
And yes, we’ve just begun

Note: all markings (bolditalicunderlining) by LO unless in quotes or stated otherwise.


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