Re: The meta-invisible hand

Keith Elis (
Sun, 21 Sep 1997 18:01:22 -0400

The Low Golden Willow wrote:

> Alas, evolution does not seem to select for fun. Evolution seems to
> select for the ability to turn the universe into nothing but
> self-copies, or the ability to render other-copies inoperative.
> Competition works. The question, I think, is to what degree can
> competition be tamed?

I tend to sigh at the free market/natural selection analogy for the most
part due to the deterministic overtones. But I'll go with it, for the
moment. Just as I should seek to intelligently autoevolve my
biological/mental capacities, shouldn't I also seek to control my fate
in the free market? True biological autoevolution seems to require more
technology than we have at this point. However, while a form of natural
selection *may* exist in the free market, one can directly increase
one's chances at being "selected," or "surviving" within that free
market, far moreso than within the biological system.

[Developing that point...]

I'm not entirely sure that I understand you perfectly, but I gather
you're looking for a way to minimize the deleterious effects of free
competition on those that cannot compete as well. You call this "taming"
competition. I'm not sure this makes much sense. Competition seems to be
more a quality of the evolutionary model (that is, more an
organizational component) than a measurable, controllable quantity of
systemic input. In this sense, the more foundational question becomes
not a matter of taming competition, but a matter of taming the *results*
of competition -- or more to the point of your above comment, how do we
increase one's chances of survival WORKING WITHIN THE EVOLUTIONARY

Rough illustration:

If someone passed a law barring amoebas from feasting upon paramecium,
all paramecia (pl?) would have an increased chance of survival over
amoebas. That is, amoebas lose a plentiful supply of food, and paramecia
lose a predator. This is nice for the paramecia, but thwarts evolution
in an obvious way.

In a similar way, to pass a law affecting the competitive relationship
between the successful and unsuccessful actors in the free market
thwarts evolution and at the same time, glosses over the real problem --
that is, the presence of more unselected characteristics in the
unsuccessful actors.

So then what is the solution? I would argue that the problem can be
solved entirely without laws affecting competition, and at the same
time, within the parameters of the evolutionary model itself. The
solution is to grant the unsuccessful actor the same selected
characteristics exhibited by the successful actors.

How do we accomplish this? Make a list of the selected characteristics
based upon a group of successful actors, and publish them along with
detailed steps for acquiring them. My guess is that these steps will
probably encompass equal parts of autopsychological retraining,
practical skills, broad education, and access to information. Books like
Stephen R. Covey's _The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People_ are a start
in this direction. The interdisciplinary requirements of this approach,
IMO, lend it credibility as a solution.

What do you think?