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I don't talk about politics much on here, if ever. I generally think that's a wise decision for any public or non-public figure. The risk to reward ratio is way too high, and chances are you'll be misinterpreted or offend someone along the way. What's the point?

I have another reason though, which is that I don't even know what I'd say if I did talk politics. It's quite the dilemma, because I actually love politics and drama. I spend a lot of time discussing it and thinking about it, I just don't know how to write about it. I don't know where to start.

For one, I don't really think there are any great identity labels that I vibe with. Usually you might classify youself with some ideological position so that you don't have to explain your take on every single issue, and so people know where you're coming from. I bet this would be a lot easier if I could say I was a liberal/conservative/democratic socialist/libertation, but I don't know if I am. It doesn't help that none of these positions are very well defined, so I don't even know how to begin to tell which one fits me.

However, there's a freedom in casting off identity labels. You get to approach these conversations from any direction you want. You don't have to worry about the moderates or the radicals in your coalition. On any individual issue or topic it's fun to think about it from first principles to figure out what my position should be, whether or not it aligns with any of the mainstream ideas.

And you know what? I do have a self-consistent ideological framework to describe my politics. I don't know if there's a label for it, probably not, but maybe I'll come up with something by the end.

If I had to describe it in short, I guess my position would be that just about anything can be ascribed to systemic and environmental factors. I feel pretty strongly about this, almost to the point where I wouldn't assign blame to any individual person for their actions, no matter how good or evil, but rather to the system that caused them to act this way.

Actually no, maybe that's a tad to strong, but it's in the right direction. People do whatever the systems around them incentivize them to do. I'd also say people are naturally greedy and selfish. If someone has the option to get more power or money, and can do so without facing negative consequences, I think that they will do for the most part, and they are blameless for doing so. It's the system's fault for offering them that choice.

I guess it's strange to say that people are generally selfish, because I wouldn't really describe any specific persons I know in that way. On an individual level, I don't think anyone really considers themselves to be selfish or greedy. But on a political level, which deals with millions or billions at a time, I think that society as a whole can often act remarkably short-sightedly. I also don't condemn any of the greedy or selfish as bad people, just that they made the decisions that were offered to them by the system.

I think another keystone of this philosophy, and the one that prevents viewing society as a depressing morass of selfishness, is that humans are at our absolute best when we cooperate. The selfish thing to do may be to rob a store, if the system you operate in has low risks for bank robbers. However, the truly selfish thing to do, the one that benefits you (and everybody else the most) is to build a system where you don't even need any security guards because nobody would ever want to need to rob a store. Because everyone recognizes that everybody benefits the most when people can trust each other and follow the rules.

There are plenty of places like the former example in the world, where anyone might steal anything and rob anyone because there's little consequence. However I also think there's plenty of places like the second, where material wealth and culture and dignity creates a high trust society where people leave their doors unlocked and night and trust their community. I really do believe that if we design our systems carefully then we can have less of the first places and more of the second.

So if we can have all these great systems that reign in human excess and make us our best, then where do bad things come from. Why doesn't this always work? Well, I think another key part of this is recognizing that while cooperation is by far the best way for us to operate it does have its downsides.

In what is almost a law of nature, I think cooperation is a messy, lossy, undignified process. The only way we can ever do anything of worth is by organizing ourselves into these great insitutions and nations, with millions involved, but each step makes that just a little bit harder. You can see this yourself, try planning a trip with just 2 people and then try it with 20.

When these massive institutions like cooporations or governments make bad decisions, I don't really think it's any one person's fault. It's because cooperation and organization is really, really hard, and can only be made easier with really smart system design. It is truly, genuinely a miracle that despite how messy and imperfect cooperation makes us act, we're so so amazing as a species that we've accomplished so so much despite all of that. Cooperating may make us each 30% less effective, but coming together as a people and combining out strengths more than offsets that to increase our overall abilities tenfold. At least, it can when the systems around it are designed well.

The last point I want to touch on is the importance of liberty and diversity and freedom. Does that make me a liberal? By the technical definition you'd think it would.

Anyway, it's a quote from The Expanse that I think puts it well.

Every time someone starts talking about final anythings in politics, that means the atrocities are warming up. Humanity has done amazing things by just muddling through, arguing and complaining and fighting and negotiating. It’s messy and undignified, but it’s when we’re at our best, because everyone gets to have a voice in it. Even if everyone else is trying to shout it down. Whenever there’s just one voice that matters, something terrible comes out of it.”

So with all these ideas put together, I think I have a pretty self consistent position on most topics. If I needed a fancy label, maybe it'd be a systemetarian or something. idk, there's a lot more to say here but I'll have to think about it some more.