Liberalism, a school of thought, believes that society prospers and becomes happier through the liberation of individuals. The idea is that if each one of us pursues his individualneeds and desires, the entire society will benefit as a result. Liberalism, hence, pursues and supports a system where individuals are as free as possible, to liberate the individual from any collective entities such as religion, tradition, culture, etc. Liberals believe that if you are allowed to think the way you want, speak the way you want, wear the clothes you want, eat the food you want, believe in the religion that you want, follow the traditions that you want, choose the things you want in this life, that way you will hit two birds with one stone. You will become happy because you can do whatever you want, and you also benefit the entire society.
Liberals believe that whatever you want, you need money to get it. And the only way to get more money, is to work harder. And when you work harder, you produce more. And when you produce more, others will benefit from your production. For example, if you are a baker, and you wanted to make more money, you will bake more bread, faster, with higher quality than other bakers. You will compete with other bakers to provide the best bread at the best price, which will motivate other bakers to work harder to compete with you. You, as a baker, are not making delicious bread because you care about others, but because you care about yourself, you care about making more money, so you can get whatever you want. But because you care so much about yourself, i.e. about getting more money, you end up working harder and serving other individuals' needs and desires, such as the desire to eat delicious bread. And this works for any profession you choose.
Of course, with liberalism comes the need for security. Liberals believe that the role of government is the security of individuals. Internal security, like police, protect individuals' property and persons from being stolen or damaged. While external security, like military, protects individuals from foreign attempts to steal or damage the individual's property or person. So, aside from security, individuals should be given as much freedom as possible, because it is their freedom of doing whatever they want that leads to making everyone happy in the end. Accordingly, liberals believe that all the problems of the world come from the lack of liberty to individuals, given that they have adequate security.
One of the big obstacles to liberalism is known as "game theory." And the most used example to explain game theory is the famous "prisoner's dilemma": Imagine two people caught by the police and put in two separate interrogation rooms. They are suspects to a crime, and the police gives each one of them this offer:
1) if you confess, and your friend stays silent, you will get 1 month in prison, and your friend will get 10 years in prison.
2) if you don't confess, and your friend confesses, your friend will get 1 month in prison, and you will get 10 years in prison.
3) if neither of you confess, we will let both of you out. Both of you can go free.
4) if both of you confess, you will each get 3 months in prison.
Obviously the best option here is to immediately go free and not spend a single minute in prison (3rd option). But each prisoner has no idea what his friend will decide to do (there is no trust). If the first prisoner stays silent, hoping his friend will not confess, they will both get out immediately, or he will get 10 years in prison in case his friend confesses. It's too risky, because he doesnt know what his friend will decide to do. But if he does confess, he will get 1 month or 3 months, depending on what his friend does. Of course, 1 or 3 months is bad, but it's not as bad as staying in prison for 10 years. Staying silent might lead to immediate freedom, or 10 years of imrpisonment. It's a risky gamble, and since each prisoner doesn't know what the other will do, it is less risky to confess than to stay silent.
Therefore, in the prisoner's dilemma situation, each prisoner will separately do what is 'best' for him, which is to confess (be on the safe side: avoid the 10 years). And when both confess, they end up getting 3 months in prison. Whether the prisoner is innocent or guilty is irrelevant. And this is the problem of freedom of choice. Even when you really don't care about others, and only care about yourself, you still end up making choices that will hurt you, because you don't know what others will choose. Game theory, then, suggests that we try to choose the least risky choice in every problem, in every gamble, to minimize the damage. But if the two prisoners worked together and sought the good of both of them, they would have both chosen not to confess, and hence both of them would have got out of prison immediately. This requires cooperation and trust between the two in order to satisfy individual needs.
What liberals forget (perhaps intentionally) is that collective behavior and rules, such as tradition, religion, culture, came as a result of individual desires. It is collective behavior, at least in theory, that maximizes the interests of the individual. Liberals believe that when the individual seeks and achieves his individual interests, he ends up indirectly achieving the well-being of society. Culturally and historically it's been proven to be the exact opposite (as shown in game theory; prisoner's dilemma). By caring and achieving the interests of society, the individual ends up achieving his own interests much more successfully. Just like in the prisoner's dilemma, if the two prisoners were brothers or close friends, neither would confess because neither wants any harm to come onto his brother. And they both know that the other would not confess and cause suffering to them. That's what social values teaches them to do. By putting the interest of others first, they end up optimizing their own interests automatically. When they both refuse to confess, out of fear of causing the other person suffering, they will both be freed immediately.
Now if one of them chooses to disregard the interests of the collective, i.e. disregards the established cultural norms, seeking his own individual interests, and confesses while the other remains silent (1st option in prisoner's dilemma), he will spend one month in prison (which is bad, but staying on the safe side), while his brother will stay in there for 10 years. However, when he does come out of prison after one month, his family and relatives and friends will know what he did. Putting aside the possibility that someone will hurt him physically, the best scenario is that no one will help him or trust him ever again. He may choose the liberal way and pursue his own interests and desires, as a baker, but no one will buy from him no matter how efficient and good he is at baking bread, because the entire society resents him. No one will sell him the things he wants to buy. But as for his brother or friend, who ended up spending 10 years in prison, they will see him as a true hero, a man who would sacrifice his life for his friend, a man who is trustworthy and earned the respect and love of the whole community. When he gets out of prison after ten years, his family and relatives and friends will do all that is in their power to help him and please him. In a culture that values social ties, when you care about the interests of the society as a whole, you end up serving your own interests much better than the liberal way.
And also in such a society, internal security becomes less important. People don't steal or damage others not because they are afraid of police, but because they are afraid of losing their social ties, which is worse than imprisonment. When you are resented by the entire society for your misbehavior, you will have no option but to immigrate to another society where you can start a new life. However, if the new society you immigrate to also values social ties, it will take you a long time to earn their trust and friendship before you can succeed.
This shows that morality and ethics are not external constructs applied on top of a society, but they come from within a society. If we take an example of a primitive society of 20 people, the strongest one can seek his individual interests and get whatever he wants because he is the strongest one in town, and everyone does what he wants to avoid getting harmed. But sooner or later, the strongest one will grow older and slower and weaker. Then one day a new man becomes the strongest one and will take his place. No one will help the former strong man or feel pity for him, due to his past behavior. If he had wisdom previously, he would have made friends and social ties with others, guaranteeing his well-being. The fact that he could have used his strength to harm others and get what he wants but chose not to, would have earned him even more respect and benefits than the average man in town.
Morality and ethics, then, are collective constructs for the optimal benefit of individuals. Morality and ethics are not instinctive. The human instinct is to satisfy one's biological and mental desires. But humans learned that: as a group, caring for one another, serving one another, through a loose or rigid code of conduct, proved to be a much more efficient way to satisfy those individual desires. Caring for others and respecting the society's code of conduct is in the interest of the individual after all.
Whether this code of conduct was created by Hamurabi or Confucious, or revealed to prophets in the form of holy scriptures, the truth is that morality is very much needed wisdom to optimize individual interests in peace and harmony. It is not out of benevolence to the other that we choose to strengthen social ties through a code of conduct, but out of the benevolence to ourselves.
No society on Earth is perfectly liberal or perfectly social, but lies somewhere in between. I contend that the closer a society is to socialism and the farther away it is from liberalism, the more satisfied its citizens are as they can gain higher optimal solutions for their individual utilities (desires). Unfortunately, under the direct and indirect influence of the American empire, there is an external as well as an internal push toward liberalism.
Code of Conduct:
It doesn't matter whether the written or unwritten code of conduct came from heavens or from earth. Whether you are looking at an atheist society like China, or a polytheistic society such as India, or a monotheistic society such as Greece or Egypt. The goal of the socially constructed code of conduct is one: optimal solutions for individuals. There are obvious examples such as murder, theft, lying, cheating, etc. It might look like optimal solutions for the individual, until other individuals seek their optimal desires by taking revenge, which would lead to a world of chaos that only a return to the code of conduct can end, bringing peace and order.
But there are other unclear ethics. For instance, individuals naturally desire sex. Under the guidelines of liberalism, each individual will seek his or her direct sexual satisfaction. Of course the more powerful individuals will use their power to increase their satisfaction, which may include seduction or even rape. But presuming that government (security; police) successfully blocks any damage to individuals' persons or property, then we are talking about consentual sex only. At first glance, consentual sex sounds harmless. That's what married people do (or should be doing). Indeed there is nothing wrong with consentual sex, except for the possibility of pregnancy. Since children obviously cannot survive on their own, they need adults to feed them and protect them until they become adults on their own. To avoid having a fatherless child (bastard), every society on earth constructed a social value called "marriage." The original purpose of marriage was to announce that so and so are having consentual sex, to identify the father in case of pregnancy. And that's what marriage does: it puts the father under the spotlight. Not until 50 years ago, the man was the main financial provider of the family. It was very important to rule out any other candidates. That's why in many cultures polygamy was allowed only for men. A man may have more than one sexual partner, but women are only allowed to have one at a time. That's because a woman having many sexual partners would make identifying the father impossible (until recent discoveries), whereas men could have many sexual partners because identifying the mother is never a problem. In other words, marriage is simply a contract signed by two sexual partners to hold the man socially and financially responsible in case the woman got pregnant. That's also why preserving one's virginity was always more strict for women. A man who sleeps around with different women can always escape responsibility because no one could prove that he was the father, even he himself cannot know for sure. Whereas when a woman gets pregnant, everyone knows she was sleeping around, and hence easier to find guilty.
Societies all over the world did not have a problem with sex (both religious and secular alike). It was not something shameful. Sex has been the cause of celebration throughout the world. But to protect the children financially, these societies agreed upon a contract that they called marriage. What is a wedding but a social gathering to celebrate consummation (sex)? This tradition, or social norm, has been followed for thousands of years all over the world to provide optimal benefits for all individuals. Liberalism, however, doesn't believe in those collective norms, but instead supports the right of the individual to optimize his or her desires regardless of what others want. Under liberalism, it seems perfectly normal to seek sex outside of the cultural construct of marriage. Two consenting adults, married or not, may have sexual intercourse and satisfy their desires. It looks like a rational decision on behalf of the individual unless the woman gets pregnant. If the two consenting individuals knew in advance that pregnancy was certain, they would have chosen not to have sex as their optimal desires. With pregnancy, all options become stressful: for men (forced marriage, escaping, denouncing responsibility or fatherhood, financial costs, possible lawsuits) and for women (forced marriage, escaping, abortion, giving the child away, financial costs, possible lawsuits) etc.
Some may argue that now we have many more ways to avoid pregnancy, from IUDs to condoms, contraceptive pills, after pills, early abortions, vasectomies, tubal ligations, etc. That's true, but all of these are constraints limiting the optimal satisfaction of the two consenting individuals, not to mention the stress that comes from the fact that most of these methods are not full-proof. There is still a possibility for women to get pregnant even with IUDs, condoms, pills, and so on, let alone their harmful side effects. In addition, we now have STDs. It seems to me that the optimal sexual satisfaction to individuals is best achieved through marriage: seeking the approval of society (serving the interests of the community) in return for optimal individual satisfaction.
Of course these days marriage is no longer as optimal of a solution as it used to be 100 years ago. Divorce rates are rising all over the world, and people (especially young people) are finding pre-marital sex, with all its disadvantages, to be more optimal than marital sex. I will explain why in the "systems" section.
Living in a society that upholds social values and social ties, a self-correcting and self-secured mechanism, sounds very appealing, almost utopic. But this "socialism" is not immune from corruption. The code of conducts may be corrupted to serve the needs of certain individuals or groups. I gave the examples of the strong man in a primitive society of 20 people, and the prisoner who sold out his friend in the interrogation room when he sought his own self-interest by confessing. In essence, liberalism is the poison. Once a person seeks his or her individual (personal) interests, the society suffers. It's true that the strong man will eventually grow weak and be subdued, but the damage he has done to other members of society cannot be undone. It's also true that the prisoner who sold his brother out will be punished by society, but his friend will still serve 10 years in prison. Those 10 years of his life will be gone and cannot be returned. Whenever individualism sprouts, some part of the whole society hurts and suffers. Nevertheless, people eventually forget and forgive as time goes by. But what if these were not sporadic incidents of individualism? What if individualism became systematic?
An individual may conspire with other individuals, who for some reason or another, believe that they deserve more than others, that they are better than others: smarter, stronger, wiser, etc. They figure out a way to optimize their interests even when others will suffer as a consequence. An individual may find the magical ring of Gyges, which allows him to become invisible at will (See Plato's Republic, book two, "2.359a - 2.360d"), and hence no longer suffers the consequences of break the rules. Gyges of Lydia could steal anything he wanted, rape anyone he wanted, kill anyone he wanted, and he could never get caught.
But more importantly, the individual or group of individuals (interest groups) need to maintain their superiority over society, or else they will be consumed by society's self-correcting mechanism aforementioned. That's why these individuals require establishing an system beyond the control of society. A super-imposed, unorganic system that did not come from within society, but artificially constructed and placed on top of society, regulating or deregulating the organic structure that has been grown naturally for thousands of years. The purpose of this system is to permanently tilt the table in favor of a small group (the smaller the greater the share of benefits). These individuals or interest groups become the elite of society. They can be military generals, government officials, dictators, businessmen, etc., whatever the title of the position is, it is surely a position of domination.
And to prevent the self-correcting mechanism of socialism, i.e. where people finally take action and pull the red carpet from underneath the elite and take back what was stolen, the elite system must divide the majority into groups and create struggle among them. As long as the majority of people are subdued through daily struggle with one another, the elite can maintain their dominance. The elite, then, establish internal forces (police, FBI, SWAT, etc) to protect the property and persons of individuals. The elite also creates a legal system within the overall system, to legalize their theft and illegalize the general public's theft. In the elite's system, a man stealing a candy from a store is called "thief", a man stealing a million dollars from a bank is called "robber", a man stealing billions of dollars from the general public through stock scandals or overpricing is called "successful businessman." In the elite's system, a man killing another man is called "murderer", a man killing ten is called "serial killer", and a man killing one million people is called "great president."
In this system, liberalism and individualism are praised as the fundamental pillars that makes society great. Free trade, free markets, and competition are the norms. "Let the best win," sounds like a good deal for the 1% winners, and a pretty bad deal for the 99% striving individuals. In the liberal system, education becomes an organized institution of indoctrination, to make sure that the general public are brainwashed into believing that liberalism and individualism are untouchable sanctities to be defended with their lives. In America, they call liberalism and individualism "our way of life" or "the American way" or "the American dream." Children are indoctrinated by their schools and parents that there is no such thing as free lunch, and that hard work leads to prosperity, and that if you don't get what you want, it's because you're not working as hard as you should. Children can't wait till they are old enough to leave their parents' house and become independent, free individuals. And parents also look forward to the day their 18 year old kids move out of the house and get jobs and pay for their own expenses. Parents say things to their kids like: "Why should I give my hard-earned money to you? Go make your own damn money!"
In a society where individualism is praised, where each of us seeks to optimize his or her interests, being part of a family becomes a burden. Sharing an apartment with a roommate becomes annoying. When considering getting married, a couple (usually the male) needs to prove that they can support the new family financially, which means that they have to have steady and secure jobs that pay well enough, which means they have to get college degrees, which means they have to get high school degrees, which means they have to be at least 25 to 30 years old in order to afford getting married. This has made marriage very expensive, and hence very unattractive (or even impossible) to our youth. Because of this, pre-marital sex became more desired as an alternative to satisfy sexual needs. Religion and cultural norms are becoming more strict as a result, trying to save whatever is left of the healthier society that we once had. But still, the power of the system is overwhelming, and if it continues unhindered, whatever is left of religious and traditional norms will become extinct. There is no room for any social unity to fight the illnesses caused by liberalism. The system continues to thrive on pulling people apart in the name of freedom and liberty of the individual. The system claims that it wants to protect the individual from collective constructs such as religion or worker unions which ultimately hurt the individual rather than help. The number of people suffering from depression is constantly rising. Drug companies make billions of dollars by selling over-priced medicines to cure the chemical imbalance caused by individualism, and they wonder why people on anti-depressents are more depressed. Divorce rates are increasing all over the world, the number of children per family is decreasing, food quality is getting worse, the environment is getting worse, new viruses and diseases created as a result of corporate efficiency, and so on.
That's not all. The liberal system has become the new religion of the empire. Wherever the empire extends its hands, people are enticed or forced to convert to liberalism. And wherever liberalism is born, the same symptoms and illnesses appear. People no longer keep their doors unlocked. People no longer communicate with their neighbors. You can't trust anyone. You can't depend on anyone. You can't help anyone. You can't ask for anyone's help. You are the cause of your own suffering. You are chosen among the workers who got laid off because you didn't work as hard as those who did not get laid off. The reason you don't have enough money and you're always on debt is because you are not working hard enough. No one can stand you because you have a bad breath, because you laugh too loud, because you're too sensitive, because you are not hot enough, because you're not cool enough, because your skin color is not the right color, because your job title is not appealing, because you read the wrong books, because of your political affiliation, because of your religious beliefs, because of the food you like, because of the pet you have or dont have, because you're too fat, because you're too skinny, because your friend is annoying, because your car is crap, because your car is too nice, because of your outfit, because you wear glasses, because you look like someone they don't like, because of your voice, because of your hair style, because of the music you listen to, because you always think about sex, because you don't think enough about sex, because you think about sex in the wrong time, because you're not a good kisser, because you're not good in bed, because you are too shy, because you're too aggressive, because you're too weak, because you're too strong, because you're too violent, because you're too generous, because you're too naive, because you scratch your arm in public, because you drink too much, because you smoke, because you don't drink at all, because you like swear words, because you cant stand swear words, because you discuss serious topics, because you discuss silly topics, because you joke all the time, because you never joke, because you dont know when to joke, because you dont know when to back off, because you dont know when to call or when to knock the door or how to knock the door or how you choose your words so carefully or how you just dump your words without thinking.
Will you ever be satisfied? You reach the point when you cant go on unless you listen to heavy metal or hard core rap? You reach the point when you cant go on unless you leave the TV on all the time, and leave the lights on all night long? You reach a point when you cant go on unless you fill your day with non-stop activities (work, TV, knitting class, dancing class, soccer team, online chatting, movies, games, eating, drinking) in order to avoid the accidental moment of having to contemplate how lonely you really are?
This doesn't mean that the pioneers of systematic liberalism know or believe that what they're doing is wrong. Good and evil are reciprocal in the sense that from the eye of the beholder, what he is doing is ultimately good, and what his opponent does is ultimately wrong. From a liberal's point of view, liberalism is truely self-liberating and is truly good for the entire society. From a liberal's point of view, the socialist collective norms are nothing but a system of control, to keep everyone in line. In a society where each person sacrifices for the majority, there is no time or motivation for free thinking, for creativity. Every minute that passes, you could have spent in helping others or cheering others. The doors are always unlocked and anyone can come in to visit. It's not a matter of security. All people are like on family who care for one another and no one would find any interest in hurting others. But still, with anyone barging in whenever they want to, there is no sense of privacy. Sometimes a person just wants to be left alone and let her mind wander. People are locked in marriages and families that they may not really want to be part of. In theory it sounds all great, but sometimes we marry the wrong people. Divorce would be devastating in a society with social values. Divorce necessarily means putting one's interests over the spouse's or children's interests. Even societies that do allow divorce, it is still something despised and only used as a last resort. In some Christian sects divorce is forbidden, and in Islam beating the wife ranks in 3rd place as a way to settle problems, where 4th is civil court and 5th is divorce. As individuals, should we continue to suffer eternally for the sake of society? In a collective system, individual desires are sometimes erased for the sake of the group. But that's easy for the group to accept because none of them ever had the specific and unique desires of that single individual. There is no room for appreciation of one's genius or ability, because in the end it's all sacrificed for the group.
The truth is, systematic liberalism has its roots in Europe, and it came about as a result of corrupt social constructs such as the Catholic church, the Roman empire, and the feudal system. The pioneers of liberalism saw in individualism and the pursuit of individual happiness an exit out of the stagnant misery they were living under.
Some may argue that liberalism was born as a solution to collectivism or socialism. When the code of conduct, such as the one in 11th to 13th century Europe, becomes so corrupt, individuals seeking rebelion against that code. The three codes of conduct in Europe at that time, empire, church, and feudalism, reached volcanic levels of corruption that society was breaking apart. Protestant merchants, as well as others, sought to rebel against the system, and they succeeded because they had accumulated massive economic power. The early roots of Mercantilism were born, as European merchants began to build their own infrastructure with new codes of conduct which promoted a shift towards secularism and individualism. The church was corrupt, the empire was corrupt, and the people knew it. Seeking its own self-interest and self-preservation, the church declared itself independent from the secular authority of the empire. As for the empire, it was crashing and feudal lords were gaining more power as each sought individual interests. At the peak of the European renaissance in the 14th and 15th centuries, large parts of Europe have managed to put an end to the corrupt empire, the corrupt catholic church, and the corrupt feudal lords. In their place came monarchs and city-states seeking systematic prosperity and wealth through mercantilist endeavours. World expeditions and conquests started from the 15th century until today. Capitalism was flourishing and trends for liberalism already started in the more developed countries like Great Britain, and of course arrived with the British who moved to America.
The ills of capitalism were already seen by many, such as Karl Marx, who predicted the collapse of capitalism a few decades before it actually did collapse in the 1920s and 1930s. It was known as the great depression, and it was taking place all over the world, for the same exact reasons that Marx mentioned, mainly over-production. Liberals believed that supply creates its own demand; that no matter what you supply, there will always be someone who wants to buy it, so keep producing as much as you can in order to make the largest profits possible. This, of course, was not true. As technology enhanced, productivity went up although the number of workers did not change. There were more products in the market that the people (the workers) could not afford to buy with their money. In other words, there was over-production. In order for companies to decrease their losses and stay in business, they had to fire some workers. But as workers got fired, they had less money and bought even less, which caused companies to continue to suffer from over-production, leading to more worker layoffs, which led to less consumption, and just like a vicious cycle, the liberal economy was collapsing on its own. The number of unemployed workers reached 25% in the US and more in other countries. Millions of workers were protesting their conditions, and families were starving. The free-market could not fix itself by itself, and required government intervention. The government basically took taxes from companies and people, bought the over-production surplus from the market, and re-distributed on the poor in rations. Businesses were glad and started to increase their production once again, requiring more labor. The unemployed began to find jobs and make more money, which meant they could buy more products, which led companies to hire even more workers, and so on. It was a reversal effect that led to economic growth. The liberals finally admitted that Marx was right, so they decided to let the government regulate the market just enough to prevent another collapse. Welfare systems were established, financial flows were regulated, tax systems were imposed, social security was created, and new labor laws were enforced to protect workers from exploitation such as minimum wage.
The Soviets, on the other hand, decided to go socialist all the way, i.e. communist. In communism, the government's control over the market and institutions was absolute. The Communists pursued an egalitarian system: utopia, where every citizen was equal and received close to equal rations. Nevertheless, their system did not emphasize the value of social ties, religious or cultural norms, but in fact sought to eradicate them. The communists' interpretation of socialism is very different from mine. I argued that socialism meant that individuals sacrificed their own desires for the well-being of their communities, unlike the political socialists who asked individuals to sacrifice their own individual desires for the well-being of the government, which is in essence the ruling class, the elite. In my opinion, the capitalist empire (centered in the US) and the communist empire (centered in Russia) were two sides of the same coin.
In Russia, regardless of their true intentions, the few elite saw that they were smarter, more capable, and hence deserved to rise above society and run the show for, what they claimed, the well-being of society. The Soviets used their military power to create this new order seeking unorganic conformity, preparing them for the installment of an artificial super-imposed system of control, where they were brainwashed to believe that by sacrificing themselves for the sake of a centralized government, they would eventually reap the benefits. But since the unenlightened centralized government had all the power and was held accountable to no one, they wore the ring of Gyges and ended up abusing their own power for the benefit of the untouchable elite. The workers were constantly reaping less than what they sowed, and with the communist system deteriorating, collective uprisings shook the Soviet empire in every province, which finally led to its collapse. Many critics blame Gorbachev for the fall of the Soviet empire, but the truth is he just hastened the inevitable.
In USA also, regardless of their true intentions, the few elite saw that they were smarter, more capable, and hence deserve to rise above society and run the show for, what they claimed, the well-being of society. The Americans, also, used their military power to create this new order seeking unorganic conformity, preparing them for the installment of an artificial super-imposed system of control, where they were brainwashed to believe that by seeking their individual self-interests, the whole society would reap the benefits. But unlike the Soviets, the US took many steps to delay the inevitable collapse, steps like ending slavery, the 1930s reform and creating a minimal welfare system, ammending the constitution to avoid mass revolution, spreading propaganda and fear of foreign enemies. Yet undisputed facts are available for Americans and the rest of the world to see that the empire of capitalism is heading towards a dead end. In the US alone, poverty has been consistently rising (17% under poverty line), the inequality between rich and poor has been consistently rising (see Gini Index), human rights are deteriorating (see Patriot Act), major corporations filing for bankruptcy, unemployment rate going up, the trade deficit is increasing to record numbers, the devaluation of the dollar, percentage of world GDP has been falling since WW2, education system is deteriorating, healthcare is deteriorating, and so on. The capitalist system representatives, such as WTO, G8, IMF, and World Bank are facing huge resistance and uprising from all over the world.
In truth, both the Communist and Capitalist adventures are disasterous because they tilted the table for the benefit of a few individuals who became the elite of society. The reason why the self-correcting mechanism of true socialism did not take place is because the elite took systematic steps to delay the inevitable, such as propaganda, minimum welfare, etc. As long as the people are silent about the crimes of the elite, those elite will continue to push their luck a little further, testing their limits and perhaps even widening their limits.
I don't claim that utopia is something achievable, although it's not impossible. What I'm saying, however, is that on the spectrum of societal order, we can strive to shift to the left, toward socialism. And by socialism, I mean: "seeking the interest of society will lead to optimizing individual interests." We should constantly strive to shift away from the right, away from liberalism. And by liberalism, I mean: "seeking the interest of individuals will lead to the well-being of society." As I have shown from the examples of game theory, doing what's good for others will satisfy the individual's interests at a much higher optimal point that cannot be achieved through liberalism. Trusting one another, which seems almost impossible to even suggest in a liberal society, will lead to optimal solutions and true security.
From a structural point of view, it would seem that the rise of systematic liberalism was inevitable given the history of collective corruption in Europe; corruption of church (religion), empire (government), and feudal lords (proxy-government). At first it would seem that the creation of a system that is controlled by the free market instead of the political order would be more efficient and satisfying for the whole society, if not the whole world. However, whether controlled by centralized corporations or centralized governments, the result is the same: the decay of society. What liberals cannot see is that it was liberalism that poisoned the centers of authority in Europe. Feudal lords, church clergymen, and imperial leaders, all sought their own self-interest over the well-being of the whole society, and they used the church, the feudal system, and the law to control the masses and subdue them. Replacing these three undemocratic authorities with the corporate undemocratic authority will not solve the problem. No matter what their disguise or job title is, the elite seek their own self-interests and will do whatever is in their power to hold onto their positions of power, regardless of the cost to the rest of the society. It's not true that free-thinking and creativity would be inhibited in a truly socialist system. On the contrary, with the absence of an elite group that is interested in conforming the citizens, free-thinking and creativity would break through new glass ceilings. Living in a society that values social ties does not limit individual freedoms or privacy, but strengthens them. People who care about others before they care about themselves, would naturally respect the privacy and freedoms of others. Relationships are built on mutual understanding and care for one another, no matter how many defects each one of us has.
In a society that values individualism, no one is good enough to be your friend or spouse or relative or family. No matter how great one's partner is, there is always someone better out there that one can strive for; compete for. Each person ultimately believes that he/she can have whatever they want, if they want it bad enough, i.e. work hard enough for it. This value obliterates the feeling of satisfaction altogether. No matter what car you drive, no matter what food you eat, no matter how great your spouse is in bed or in whatever, there will be always something or someone better out there that you can strive for, or hope for, or simply dream for. You can't settle for any job, because there is always a better job out there that you haven't figured out how to get yet. Who knew that someone like Michael Jordan could become what he is now? If he could do it, then so can anyone! The fact that Michael Jordan's story is the exception to the rule, the winner of a lottery, doesn't dissuade anyone from dreaming on.
Having too many laws and lawyers, or too many hopsitals and doctors, is not something to be proud of. The number of laws and lawyers and hospitals and doctors reflects how sick our society really is. If we were all healthy, it will make sense to have less doctors. If we all cared for one another and did not hurt one another, we will require less laws and less lawyers. Take the city of Memphis for example, which prides itself on having too many hospitals and leading research facilities such as St. Jude and others. Healthcare is the second largest industry in Memphis. Yet the reason for this has to do with the spread of yellow fever in Memphis a little over a century ago. Many people died and many others fled the city. And as for the law, statistics have shown that in societies where capital punishment is banned, murder rate is much lower than in societies that uphold capital punishment. Today the argument for capital punishment as a deterrent has become obsolete. I wonder how long it will take until people realize that none of the laws deter any crime. But for now, one thing is certain: A society that has less laws and lawyers, and less hospitals and doctors, is definitely a healthier society, and that's something to strive for.
And just like liberalism can be systematically institutionalized, I believe that a society free of an unaccountable elite can also be systematically institutionalized. The idea is to prevent the table from being tilted in favor of any interest group, and the keep the table as horizontal as we possibly can, not only for the greater good of society, but ultimately for optimizing the interests of the individual.