We struggle to explain large scale long term cultural changes. Such as the rise and fall of empires, or the demographic transition. Yes, we do seem to find patterns that are somewhat predictable, but our abilities here are also clearly limited.
"Things out of perfection sail"
I had never heard of "futarchy," which just shows that I'm fifteen years behind in my buzzwords.
In what sense can you establish that our civilization has been drifting towards dysfunctional states? I mean we always focus on matters of concern, but looking at the broad scale I'd not only prefer to live at this time in history, I'd much rather have people who were inculturated now run a society with the tech level we had at any previous point in time.
So is there some quantitative measurement you can point to?
Do periodic wars force rich cultures back into line? Either they fix themselves in order to win, or are conquered and replaced by more functional cultures.
An expensive and tragic solution, but maybe a solution.
But is the drift necessarily random?
All people, no matter how healthy, die eventually.
And all civilizations eventually pass, just as they came.
"A generation comes and a generation goes, but the universe endures forever"
* Hard times make strong men,
* Strong men make good times,
* Good times make 'strong' women,
* 'Strong' women make hard times?
I think the lowering of fertility was systematic https://mulledthoughts.substack.com/p/the-demographic-transition-as-parasitic
Futarchy is a potentially good idea but it must be limited or else a group can permanently wrest dictatorial control of the government and invalidate all futarchy contracts. The group, say group X - if it has enough money - just needs to propose that the country should be ruled entirely by members of group X, and bet enough money on the result of that being beneficial. Having done that, futarchy would dictate that yes, we should try letting group X rule the country! So group X rules the country, and their first act is to abolish futarchy. Then, even if the results of group X's rule are bad, group X will never be held accountable for that as long as they remain in power.
What stops that from happening?
(Of course, a rule - within futarchy - that futarchy may never be abolished, would be totally ineffective. Once group X is granted dictatorial control over the country, especially including the military, the rules of futarchy can no longer effectively bind them.)
I don't see why this is incompatible with a memes-as-genes evolutionary model. In evolutionary biology, small groups have lower rates of mutation but due to small size are much more susceptible to genetic drift (change in the average genetic makeup of the population) as those mutations can work their way through the population much more rapidly; in contrast, large populations have much higher rates of mutations but because it takes so long for a mutation to work its way through the population (if ever), genetic drift is slow.
Some cultures (populations) mutate bad memes (genes) that render them less fit. As Dave92f1 comments, wars force rich cultures back into line. The genetic analog is that predation or interspecies competition for a niche prunes less fit mutations from a population.
There's a famous evolutionary biology experiment (https://evolution.berkeley.edu/lines-of-evidence/experiments/) in which drab guppies placed in a tank with no predators evolve to be brightly colored, easily seen for attracting mates, but introduce a predator and over a few generations the showy ones are picked off and the population drifts back toward drabness.
I wrote a piece (https://whitherthewest.substack.com/p/the-heterozygote-advantage-and-the) arguing that it works the same for memes/cultures: the same memes can bring prosperity in some contexts but be dangerous in others or when taken to an extreme. To quote the relevant bit, focusing on the meme of skepticism: "the meme of skepticism is not an unalloyed good. In environs and situations in which survival is precarious and military-esque deference to authority is necessary to stay alive, having a sudden increase in skepticism and doubt of the hierarchy could lead to the death of the society and the individuals that it comprises. But at other times, the meme of skepticism presents great advantages: being creative, willing to go one’s own way, follow one’s inclinations and not blindly stumble after the herd can yield enormous benefits when it comes to science, business, art, politics, or personal interactions. I would posit that there is a strong correlation between the prevalence of the skepticism meme and the level of creativity, dynamism, and liberty of a society."
Maybe there is less group-level selection pressure on culture recently.
1. Improved communication technology makes it easier to culture to spread from individual to individual, without society-level competition on culture
2. Not much war, which removes the phenomenon of one culture defeating another culture via war
Culture are supposed to be unstable. Evolution is slow persistent adaption to slow persistent change environment. Culture is fast adaption to fast changing cultural environmental factors. Our fast changing environmental factors are mostly technology and laws.(in the past, new territories and geographies were also part of this fast changing environment)
I still think you should rename futarchy to something not associated with hermaphrodites :D
Also, on a more substantive note, why do you think it will not be subject to random drift?
Wouldn’t the evidence across countries suggest that increases in wealth, not just cultural drift, are at least partially responsible for fertility declines?
Maybe a viable long-term strategy is not to just try and build A society that lasts forever, but build some meta-framework (knowledge? mythology?) that allows us to rebuilt faster after each societal collapse
I think that Yarvin is right that cultural changes have a leftist tendency "Cthulhu may swim slowly. But he only swims left."