Friday, June 28, 2013

Us, Me, or We?

Our desire for a particular political ideology is highly driven by our self esteem.  

He is just better than everyone else
Those who think they are better than every one else tend to want no holds barred competition.  Those who are less sure of themselves want to be apart of a group.

From a political perspective, timid humans trend toward communism while egocentric people trend toward anarchy. 

Communists tend to be altruistic and Libertarians tend to be selfish.  

It is more dangerous on the norm to be surrounded by Libertarians than Communists.

The optimal utility for society will most probably be a mixture of these two extremes

Thought Experiment

Pretend for a moment you secretly think you are better than everyone else.  Your natural talents, current resources, and/or knowledge make you a better human being than most of the people around you.

What kind of political system/structure would you want to exist in?

     a) everyone on a big team
     b) lots of small teams 
     c) every man for  himself 

Now pretend that you think your just normal/average, a little bit less educated, do not have so many resources and/or are lacking in some natural talents.

Look at that list again.  What kind of political system/structure would you want to exist in?

People who think they have an advantage will be less likely to want to be on a team.  They tend to believe their personal merit will allow them to do better in a competitive situation on their own.  Given the chance to compete one-on-one, they think they will win.

People who think they are less capable want to have the infrastructure of a team.  They hope their lack of personal merit will be supported by others who have different strengths and weaknesses.  Given the chance to be on a team, they think they will win.

Safety in Numbers
We Are Together

Communism and Socialism are examples of society as a big team.  

Examine from the lens of self esteem, "communism" is about spreading all the skills evenly so no one has unfair advantage.  All skills are normalized in value toward the benefit of the team.

From this perspective "socialism" can be seen as a team which spreads risk but is configured for more personal advantage to be allowed, as long as it benefits all.

The Uber Man
Cream Rise On Up

On the other end of the spectrum we have Anarchism and Libertarianism as trending individualistic political structures.

“Anarchy” systems are generally focused on individuals, have minimal formal rules and eschew systematized political teams.

While allowing for more interconnectedness through transactional systems, "libertarianism" is also very focus on individual merit and achievement.

A fundamental part of both these theories is that the best/fittest individuals should be able to rise to positions of strength and power.

We Can Do It

In between these two extremes of anarchy and communism lie a great many flavors of political formulation.  Oligarchy, monarchy, democratic, republic, federalism and others are based on larger or smaller teams of people working in concert and competition toward an end.  
Many competing teams in the whole
These in between political structures for this discussion are grouped together because they share in common a limited interdependence and a since of shared risk and reward among group members.  There may be a supreme leader or not.  There may be regular transfer of power or not.  

The in between political structures are different means for those with more perceived merit to have some more independence of action and those of less perceived merit to be more controlled.  All attempt to setup a situation that allows the cream to rise to the top for the good of many.


The link between political affinity and self esteem is not an absolute.  It is a trend.

If you take any one individual who thinks to become a communist, they may not have low self esteem.  In large groups however, the trend toward lower self esteem and desire for being the member of a protective grouping is clear.

Likewise, not every anarchists and libertarians will be selfish ego-maniacs. Like with many fluid natural systems, the attraction to self aggrandizement will trend more people in that direction.

There is clear data about self esteem and team participation.   There was no clear quantifiable data that I could find showing the exact distribution of self esteem to political persuasion.   

My understanding is that self esteem is self reported and the results are skewed in most surveys about political persuasion because of the nature of question being asked.

My hypothesis is that we would look for bell curve like distribution models of self esteem based on group dependency/inter-dependency beliefs in direct correspondence with political persuasion.

Individuals who are surrounded by altruistic actors will have a competitive advantage over those surrounded by the selfish actors.

Gaming theory studies on competitive versus cooperative behavior patterns in nature show a clear advantage toward the cooperative individual’s survival.  

There are some systems that thrive on pure competition; however their ecological stability is much harder to maintain making them rare and often fragile ecosystems.

Examples of this stability of cooperation exist within in plants and individual cells.  The cell groups that cooperate in a plant have proven very successful evolutionary.  Even individual cell organisms are collections of parts in cooperation.  Life itself evolves to those systems of cooperators because of the specific advantages spread risk and shared power brings.


Libertarians trend to have more self worth, self regard, self respect, self integrity and be more self centered and selfish.

Communist trend to have low self worth, self regard, self respect, self integrity and be more group oriented and selfless.

Any one individual who is surrounded by self centered and selfish people will be more apt to fail.

Any one individual who is surrounded by selfless and altruistic people will be more apt to succeed.


Here are some relevant papers worth reading if you’re interested in exploring these ideas more deeply

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