Thursday, October 15, 2015

Who Wants to Live in An Experiment?

No matter how many insults, criticisms, or arguments you hurl against liberals and moderns, one defense stands firm. To every incident of corruption, desecration, and destruction they can reply, "It's an experiment." Moreover they say with great pride that liberal, egalitarian, democratic, and socialist projects are imperfect and thus in need of change. To them I raise three objections.

First, the purpose of an experiment is of course to test something, but social and political experiments do not permit the most necessary part of a scientific experiment, the control group. The dizzying quantity of variables makes the title "experiment" merely nominal, and here I refer only to variables of human interaction such as preference. If you consider the hodgepodge of policy, then the concept of a proper scientific experiment is laughable. This elementary concern seem not to trouble those who view the management of life and society as mere equations in need of solution.

Second, and what I find less honest, is the frank lack of hypothesis in these so-called political experiments. What exactly does a successful democratic experiment look like? The very fact that I must pose this question reveals the implicit flaw in the scientific approach to social arrangement, namely that the formulation of any hypothesis itself requires philosophical investigations. These eternal questions about man's nature and the good life are those most often left out of or taken for granted in the experiments in question. Let us ask, for example, whether a democratic experiment which ends with a flourishing but non democratic society a success. What democrat would say so? If the failure of democracy and public education, for example, looked precisely like what we observe now, does the experiment end? Can we go back? Of course not. The experiment never ends.

As such and most damning of the experiment, though, is that relentless tumult of tinkering which the managerial experimenters accept. I find reform a hard sell, and those who don't seem to carry less of the past, and less love of it, than I do. If progressives, liberals, and libertarians considered more often what might be lost, they might less often be willing to bet their father's farm. Perhaps the endless tide of change, of new laws, technology, issues, trends, and ideologies and the relentless rancor in which they are debated and spread simply do not lend themselves toward a good life. Given the choice, I wonder who really wants to see the world reinvented over within his life, and who really wants to live in an experiment.

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