An interesting thing about our brains is that they’re exceptionally good at making connections among different ideas that don’t, at first, seem to be connectable. There’s an idea that’s been growing inside my brain over the past 2 years or so, and I’m going to try and lay out the reasoning involved and see if it follows.
In no particular order, there are a few different legs to this idea, and I’ll mark where certain ideologies converge or depart, to my knowledge. I’m going to continue to develop this, because it seems to me, at the moment, to be a useful idea, and I see it extending into different areas, including philosophy, economics, and politics. I’m going to name this thing “Fractal Libertarian Theory” for the moment. Perhaps a better name will occur to me in the future.
A fractal is, according to wikipedia and as defined by Benoit Mandelbrot, a subset of Euclidean space for which the Hausdorff dimension strictly exceeds the topological dimension. Now, that definition isn’t particularly helpful if you’re not a mathematician, but the properties of fractals are what are of interest here. Basically, at whatever magnification you view the fractal, the overall dimensions remain the same. The microcosm is a mirror of the whole. File that away for a minute.
Saint Augustine of Hippo, in his Literal Meaning of Genesis, argued that the creation of the universe occurred instantaneously, interpreting allegorically the 6 days narrative of Genesis 1:1. This authority should suffice for the religiously inclined of the audience, but for the secular folks, the Big Bang Theory of the universe functions just as well in its place. In either case, the matter, energy, structure, systems, and tendencies of the universe necessarily function as a cohesive whole, that is, everything in its simplest to its most grandiose scale must function together, or not at all. File that away, as well.
Adam Smith, in 1776, wrote his seminal work on economics, An Inquiry Into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations. In it, instead of laying out the principles of an economic system he thought would be advantageous to a successful state, he rather observed the systems that were naturally successful and attempted to reverse-engineer the natural reasons why such a system would tend to be successful. The existence of such tendencies and the structural underpinnings of a universe in which such a system would tend to be successful are, in my mind, a rich area of inquiry when it comes to economics, but file that idea also, since it’s a distillation rather than a strict focus of the philosophy I’m working on.
Brett Weinstein, an evolutionary biologist and member of the so-called “Intellectual Dark Web,” in an interview with Dave Rubin on YouTube in 2018, put forth the observation that human beings act in a mode that’s “bigger than the individual, but smaller than the group.” The structure of human social integration is such that individual humans act as members of a group, regardless of whether the group actually exists or not. We are biologically designed to function in a universe in which varying levels of scale all function together, and not independently of one another. In a similar vein, but a non-biological one, a variation of the classic “double-slit experiment” of wave/particle physics found that even when individual photons are released, an interference pattern is projected onto the reception medium, as if energy particles either function as a part of a greater whole regardless of whether they are alone or in a group, or that causality isn’t as time-based as we generally think it is. Let me know if I got that one correct.
The human body is a masterwork of biological evolution. The systems and processes involved in its development, growth, maintenance, and integration into its environment is nuanced and specific in the extreme. The same can be said of all the physical bodies of all the living things on this planet, in the microscopic detail of every aspect of every creature or plant to both fit into its particular niche AND be a part of the niche of the other living things in its local area. Environments themselves are quite complex in this way, in that every element of the environment forms both an effect AND a cause that affects the other elements of that environment. To break this down into more manageable terms, the structure our living environment is such that the micro affects the macro, and vice versa. Both individual elements and systems exist in such a way that they operate in concert to the advantage of both – I’m sure I’ll part ways with my extreme leftist friends at this point, but I’ll leave this discussion in the file for future revisitation.
An interesting derivative arises here when it comes to human societies and states. Libertarian orthodoxy has it that the individual is paramount in society, that every attempt to limit the liberty and ability of the individual is to be avoided as detrimental to society at large. Not so. The state must function in such a way that it attempts to maximize the freedom of the individual, BUT still must maintain the ability to martial the productive and social capacity of the populace. Sorry to my anarcho-capitalist and anarchist friends, you’ll have to get off on this particular bus stop. Just as individual people must interact with their peers at their particular scale of existence, states must also interact with the unique powers and responsibilities available and necessary at THEIR scale. Neither can function without the other, just as human beings can’t interact without the previous proper function of the bodies that nature has formed for them. If your lungs aren’t working, you can scarcely hope to start that business you wanted. I suspect this is a line of argument I’ll be expounding upon a lot in the future, provided this idea finds a hook.
Post-Modernism, Deconstruction, Cosmic Nihilism, and the like will have a specific problem with a philosophy like this one, specifically because they try in their various ways to atomize society and life itself in such a way that they try to isolate human-level interactions from macro-level systems. Never mind that human beings are simply a construct on a certain scale of the overarching whole, and they don’t try to atomize to the point that human livers shouldn’t simply accept their socially constructed roles of breaking down alcohol for the benefit of the larger organism in a perpetually oppressive power dynamic. No, they seem content to pick apart the social fabric at the arbitrary level of the individual and no smaller. File that conflict away for a later discussion.
Politics, in this context, are where the coding is done, so to speak. It’s where the varying levels of interactive scale communicate with each other in order to facilitate the natural tendencies of the social and environmental systems. The people, individually, use their various means of communication to impress their needs and wants on the larger scale system, whether local, statewide, regional, national, or global. The larger institutions, like states or nations, act with a sort of individual will as well, formed mostly of the individual wills of their constituent people, but also with scale-specific intentions and agency of their own. Politics acts as a scale-bridging communication medium, the ideal function of which is to set the rules or write the code to maximize the capacity and ability of each scale level of the system.
All of these things are individual puzzle pieces of the thing I’ve been thinking about recently. They seem to all fit together in a certain way, which I assume is what you would expect if they apply to the universe. The universe is discoverable, which is the pulling force ahead of scientific inquiry. The driving force behind it is also provided by the universe, which, in our case, is natural human curiosity.