Snatching Defeat from the Jaws of Victory: Cognitive Biases and the Rebirth of History

Are humans capable of ending history? No. While many macro political decisions can be assigned to why liberalism began to crack but some of them were the people. To use one example, people naturally want the low-density, auto-centric, suburbia and they also become alienated, friendless, suicidal, and nationalist when they get that because, in the long-term, the lack of community, meaning, and belonging makes them miserable. Like the mice in Universe 25, their lizard brains believe that high density will induce a Malthusian crisis so they don’t want it.

The conclusion of Universe 25, by the person who designed it, was that density led to societal collapse. It didn’t suggest that but what it did suggest was that rodents who had evolved in the wilderness for millions of years where all abundance was fleeting never placed any faith in it and feared density would lead to a paucity of resources and a nutrient poor population if they all shared so they killed each other and stopped having babies. That doesn’t say humans will go crazy at high density but says they will get anxious at high density, become NIMBYs, and then become Nazis and kill themselves when they have no community anymore.

And NIMBYs do cause sociatal collapse and in a quite viscious cycle. There is, in one sense, no way out of the collapse of liberalism for biological reasons since the metacognition needed to escape the Malthusian instincts that make NIMBYs is so esoteric that it is impossible to believe most people will ever manage it. Almost every time, when given a zoning pen, the average human will choose lots which will drive them to nationalism, suicide, and insanity. The only way to solve the problems of liberalism, among the only ways, is to give people community, meaning, and that stuff but the people are hard-wired to oppose the urban planning that would make that possible.

The political movements will never focus on something as low-level as zoning or street design. There has never been in the history of human politics a major political movement that called for New Urbanism and Jane Jacobsy urban design. Never. I majored in political science at a bourgeois, four-year, college which produced members of the influential political class. My peers all aimed to either be lawyers or staffers on the Hill because Washington DC gave them dopamine hits, not the county council or the school board. They don’t know jack shit about urban planning or social psychology and will never connect the two in that we need community institutions and New Urbanist designs or the Nazis will keep getting pumped out through the alienation of auto-centric, Robert Moses-style, design.

Liberalism failed, in large part, because the masses followed their lizard-brains and so did the political class. The masses wanted low density and the political class wanted higher status positions. In the end, the spiritual death of the community and meaning coulnd’t be abated by any force because people were hard-wired to manifest that spiritual death and the political class was hard-wired to look in another direction, namely bigger levels of politics. Therefore, we were doomed. The political solutions that would rescue liberalism are too local and too esoteric for most people and most political scientists, political activists, and political workers.

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