By Chris Rossini
Ignorance is the nature of each individual human being. It is something that can never be fully discarded, no matter how long one lives. We can each relatively decrease and diminish our own ignorance, if we so choose. But we can never completely abolish it.
Even if you were to take every last second of the rest of your life to jam a new piece of knowledge between your ears, your ignorance would still vastly overwhelm your understanding.
Knowledge amongst human beings is radically decentralized.
One person spends a lifetime learning about a part of the human body and uses his expertise to serve his neighbor as a doctor. This person, who may be brilliant at re-setting a broken bone, can have no idea on how to fix his plumbing back at home. His brilliance is limited, as it must be for every person.
Fortunately, another person has the knowledge to be a plumber. So the doctor and plumber (both brilliant in their own ways) voluntarily decide to trade and exchange.
Both must decide on their own if it's worth it to exchange. No one has the "right" to another person's labor. That would be slavery. Neither is interested in making the other a slave.
So the two must negotiate terms that work for each of them individually. Both benefit if they both agree. It's not a zero-sum game where one is forced to interact with the other against his own will.
And so the freedom to trade is the bedrock of a peaceful civilization. Different perpetually ignorant individuals, each deciding what knowledge and expertise is needed at the moment, in order to achieve a particular and specific individual goal.
That's how civilization thrives...with voluntary interactions.
While it's impossible for an individual to knowing everything, it's never necessary anyway.
Only specific knowledge is desired at specific times and in specific situations. The doctor may not have a plumbing issue for many years to come, and will thus never even have to think of the word 'plumbing,' until it becomes necessary again.
When fixing the plumbing becomes necessary, he'll once again seek out the person with the proper expertise and perhaps conduct another trade.
The time will be different. The situation will be different. The plumber may be different. So the terms of the possible agreement will be different as well.
Each moment is unique.
The doctor may decide it's not worth it to him (this time) to have the plumbing fixed. Since free trade is not a zero-sum game, he can decline to have the issue fixed at all. With voluntary exchange, all parties have the ultimate power and freedom of saying: "No."
Now....multiply a single voluntary interaction between these two individuals by about 7+ billion people and you get a glimpse at how infinitely complex human life and civilization is. It's way beyond anyone's comprehension.
Human civilization is infinitely complex with an unknown number of variables. There are unknown and ever-changing thoughts, beliefs, goals and aspirations of 7+ billion people!
And yet...there is another aspect of human nature (besides ignorance) that influences civilization.
Each one of us can imagine anything that we want. It is a big part of our freedom of thought. But imagination can be used for either good or ill.
We can imagine things that are true, as well as things that are not true. Hollywood is an entire industry centered around creating entertainment built on the imaginary and untrue.
But BIG societal problems arise when people imagine things that are not true, and then try to force it into becoming reality.
This is where perhaps the deadliest idea in human history comes into play: Socialism.
Trying to force this imaginary idea into becoming reality has already killed hundreds of millions of people over the last few centuries. The deaths from this idea continue to the present day.
What happens with Socialism is we get some very vocal people who believe that they can (and should) control everything in society.
What should be produced ... Who should produce it ... Where it should be produced ... How should it be produced ... When should it be produced.
This is all impossible for anyone to know, let alone a group of very vocal people.
But it goes beyond even that.
Everyone must think one way ... Everyone must believe one way ... Everyone must act one way.
Again, this is absolutely impossible, but it dominates the imaginations of a lot of people, and they subsequently try to force it into becoming reality.
Technology cannot help those who seek total control either.
Remember, knowledge is radically decentralized. It can't be centralized because there's no limit to the amount of knowledge that exists! You can't catalog the limitless. You can't put boundaries on the boundless.
Think back to the doctor and plumber, and the specific thoughts that go through the mind of each. They're the only ones who know what they are thinking. They're the only ones that choose specific goals that each try to accomplish in each second of their day.
Now multiply it by 7+ billion and you have an unfathomable amount of change that takes place in every split second.
There is no way for a group of vocal people to control society. It doesn't matter how much power they have, how many weapons they have, how much force they threaten, how much force they dole out, or how many algorithms they create.
It certainly doesn't matter how much data they can store either. The amount of data that they can't store will always be greater, and the possibilities of what can transpire in each moment will always remain unpredictable.
The only thing that constantly striving for the imaginary utopia of Socialism can accomplish is the only thing that it's ever accomplished: It can destroy society.
But why bother?
Society would ultimately be rebuilt on freedom anyway. The desire to live is perhaps the strongest desire that people have.
Why not just accept the truth?
A part can never control the whole.
It's best to just live and let live.
The upside is limitless.