Before becoming this wannabe corporate hotshot, before marriage, before UNI, even before getting selected to the UNI, I was a rebel. Socialist, Anti-religious, all the cliches and a small cherry on top. I was working with one of the major socialist political organisations in Sri Lanka starting from age 16. We were having courses about socialism and meetings about current political situations.
It all seemed so obvious when it was explained to me. Why do we have social hierarchies when everyone can live in harmony as one, working towards the same goal of betterment of the world. Why do we need blinding religions which led to numerous nasty wars throughout the history when everyone has the intuition to reason.
I helped to convert my 3 best friends and dozens more to the cause most of whom still works with the organisation. Where am I? I no longer even talk with those friends.
I stopped actively working for the organisation right when I got into the university. I stopped believing in the organisation around 1 year after that, and right now, I’m building up my company and I’m constantly thinking it might not be that good an idea to flip the system even.
You sell out…
Yup, that’s me. It’s not some visionary realisation that moved me away from the cause, it was utterly due to my laziness and selfishness.
I was adjusting to university lifestyle and didn’t feel like saving the world. After getting back together with my girlfriend, I was hanging out with her every day and messaging her when we were apart. So I didn’t have the time or the need to think of anything else.
I know this looks bad but we are nothing but mortals and mistakes do happen. And believe me, I know that it was a mistake. I shouldn’t have put my selfish reasons forth and forget the greater good of the humanity.
But something interesting happened last few years which made me think that my contribution wouldn’t have mattered much anyway.
Who are we to play god?
There’s an interesting debate between Socrates and Plato about human morals. Socrates argues that humans are inherently good but our social structures corrupt us. And therefore, we should loosen them to help our values thrive. Plato in turn argues that humans are inherently evil and we should keep our social structures checked to contain it.
There are very strong points for both sides and the bottom line we should understand is this. No one knows the answer and no one should say they do.
Your thesis is as good as the fundamentals it’s built upon.
You can assume your fundamentals are right as long as your thesis is on paper. But when you try to flip a society over it, you have to take a good hard look at them.
If you say people will work on perfect harmony on socialism, you should be able to say in absolute certainty that Plato was dead wrong.
This is what changed on me. After forming the company, I got some free time to restart my habit of reading. Specifically on philosophy. More I read, more I understood, that you can’t mess with 12000 years of social structures and think everything will go perfectly. There should be a reason why religions were spawned independently in isolated societies in days of yore, and we need to examine ‘why?’ before we kill it.
Even if we forget Socrates and Plato’s debate over human morals, there’s another theory we can’t ignore easily because its validity is tested more than enough times. It’s called Game Theory which is developed by one of the greatest mathematicians of all time — John Forbes Nash.
He explains something called The Nash Equilibrium. Social beings don’t take the most optimal decision to the society assuming others will do the same. They take the suboptimal decisions that promises the highest return regardless of other people’s decisions.
Capitalism done right, could have done great. But look at where we are right now. Because that’s not how humans work. It always comes down to the equilibrium.
Whether the socialism works or not, I don’t know. What I do know is, if you want to tinker with the fate of the humanity, you should always have a backup plan. If socialism works, that’s great. If not, then what?
Are we lost? After 12000 years, do we have no clue what should we be doing then?
Absolutely not. We learned from our past and we’ll keep learning. We went from tribes to capitalism. We went from virgin sacrifices to buddhism. We’re improving. Maybe not radically as someone would hope. But improving nevertheless.
We don’t know if the socialism is right or not. Only way to find out without wiping out the humanity is take small steps in the right direction and see where it takes us. It might be socialism, might be capitalism 2.0. It definitely will be something better and it most definitely will take decades.