For and against liberalism
I was listening to General Intellect Unit’s latest episode on my way to work. They discuss “Designs for the Pluriverse”, by Arturo Escobar. I think their commentary on individualism vs traditionalism is spot on. The response to the modern problem of being alone, alienated and having lost your soul is obviously becoming part of a welcoming community; in contrast, idolising traditional societies seems to me to be a symptom of excessive alienation. We can’t even conceive what it would take so as not to be alienated and we are inventing a fantasy golden past to go back to. I think the clues for what would constitute a sane societal organisation would come from consciousness studies and the “differentiated yet integrated” approach they seem to be converging on. Using reinforcement learning as a more practical analogy, you would need to setup societies like Dec-POMDPs, where there is a clear alignment between the rewards of the group and the rewards of the individual. It is not clear to me what institutions are needed to achieve this.