Something I’ve noticed about idealists is their tendency to agree on objective realities right up until they notice the philosophical impilcations. It’s counterintuitive, but you can trust an idealist with anything except abstractions. So the smarter an idealist is, the dumber he is, because the implications of his philosophy have greater reach. The opposite goes for pragmatists: you can trust them with everything except the details.
Let’s pretend for a moment that idealism and pragmatism are not opposites, as is often assumed, but rather two distinct axes.
I’ll refer to idealists as “rightists” and pragmatists as “leftists”.
Rightists and leftists respond to disagreement and conflict in polar opposite ways. Forced to make a choice, a rightist prefers local coherence over global coherence, so he will often de-escalate and leave the room. He isn’t concerned that two minds are in complete disagreement with each other, so long as each person is internally consistent. Forced to make a choice, a leftist prefers global coherence, so his response to disagreement and conflict is to escalate until the two minds are in agreement. He isn’t concerned about internal consistencies so much as external consensus.
In brief, rightists purity spiral and leftists conformity spiral.
Enter the idea of asymmetrical power relationships. It is not possible to scale up a human system without introducing chains of control because people have this horrible tendency to disagree with each other, particularly about who gets to have babies, and with whom. Weird, right? This is accomplished by piecing pre-existing star networks together into a tree network, by turning central nodes into parent nodes.
For example, the Catholic church takes the central node of each family (the father) and puts them under a local priest. The local priests are then subordinated to whatever is above a priest. I dunno, it’s not my thing.
A religion is slightly more complicated than a human functional network, because it prescribes mores for reproduction and introduces the complications of DNA and Koanic’s manbonobopig theory. But in terms of the basic human functional network (Overwatch theory), here are the parent nodes I’ve previously described.
I’d previously intuited the leapfrog rule, now I’ll explain why it occurs. Parent nodes must be the opposite type of their child nodes: e.g. Alchemists are idealists, policitians are pragmatists, technocrats are idealists, and so on. It takes a bit to wrap your head around this, but try to stick with me: idealists are only good at their jobs in this hierarchical system insofar as they can act pragmatically, and vice versa for pragmatists. This is despite the fact that idealists are motivated by idealistic action, and pragmatists are motivated by pragmatic action. Thus the need for an opposite-type parent node.
Jumping way further ahead, my intuition about all this is a cynical extension of Pournelle’s Iron Law of Bureaucracy:
In any bureaucratic organization there will be two kinds of people: First, there will be those who are devoted to the goals of the organization. … The Iron Law states that in every case the second group will gain and keep control of the organization.
My (tentative) belief is that any human institution that gets sufficiently large will become PedoGate. Stated otherwise, if Satan didn’t exist it would be necessary to invent him.