Man will go against his own interests for no other reason than to prove that he can. Indeed, to overlook just how deeply man cares about his “right” to do wrong inevitably leads to all sorts of unintended consequences.
For this reason, among others, utopianism is inherently flawed: it fundamentally fails to understand and account for the darker and more irrational side of human nature. And because utopian dreamers fail to understand the darker and more irrational side of human nature, they cannot understand the darker and more irrational side of themselves or of their ideas. In other words, they should never be trusted with any degree of power whatsoever. Their promises are not just empty, they’re dangerous.
Someone recently suggested to me that our decisions should be exclusively data driven, as if data tells us everything we need to know and humans are capable of being perfectly rational. Of course, that’s an absurd proposition. Not only does it fail to account for the fact that individuals value information differently, it suggests that evil can be solved using spreadsheets and algorithms. “If only smart people ruled the world we would never make another bad decision again.” Never mind the fact that intelligence and evil are not mutually exclusive. (Smart people, it should be noted, can be evil, too.) Sometimes it is not what’s in our heads but our hearts that’s the problem.
To be oblivious of our badness limits our potential for goodness. But rather than confronting evil and working to overcome it, most of us are desperate to try and justify it. Consequently, the moment someone veers off the politically correct path and attempts ever so slightly to point out the evil both within and without, intolerance conveniently becomes a virtue once again. We’re told, “You shouldn’t judge.” And this from people who are unaware that they are judging. Clearly, not only do they not mean what they say, but it’s terrible advice.
The world doesn’t need smarter people. It needs people that are humble enough to recognize their fallen nature.
Besides, just how important could being smart be if it fails to account for reality?