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If the perfect system isn’t completely perfect, it’s not the perfect system

When I think of modernism I think of the search for the perfect system, the grand unified theory, the silver bullet that holds everything together. An end to the patchwork of folk wisdom, replaced by a directed effort to put everything in order based on one foundational truth. Be it faith in the infallibility of the hadith, the primary colors clarity of plastic vision, or in the inevitability of free market forces.

But the counterpoint to that is if the system built from the foundational truth ends up a mess that needs patching, then that foundation maybe wasn’t so true after all.

Laissez-faire capitalism

Market capitalism is a pretty hard sell now that it’s hopefully clear to all that it’s driving the Earth’s environment over a cliff. It’s not like this is news to anyone; environmental regulations have been a needed part of that model from day one, and the exceptions, like Ayn Rand (“Whaddayamean Rearden steel needs to undergo regulation testing?”) are few and far between.

We’ve had a few hundred years with market capitalism as the underlying foundation and driver of everything around us and it’s increasingly clear that that doesn’t work very well.

Conclusion: we do need a society to set some rules.

Ancom federalism

I can’t be too cocky about that since I have my own background in ancom-style federalism which also ended up being an exceptionally poor fit to solving global problems like climate change or even non-global problems like slavery next door.

Conclusion: people do need to come together on a grander scale.


But a society based on rules isn’t in and of itself enough, as the complete clustermess of “tankie” states show with their eagerness to dig and drill, plundering the earth just as willingly as their cashdriven counterparts.

When our atmosphere is being destroyed by a drill, the people aren’t much happier if it’s labeled The People’s Drill.

Conclusion: we need to hack underlying protocols and incentive structures.

Patchwork systems

I feel like this is a huge point in favor of OSR style roleplaying games compared to more pure and distilled and unified “modernist” story games. OSR style games are postmodern, they are a folksy quilt of subsystems that don’t really fit together unless the group paints over the seams with actually interacting with the diegesis and its elements.

Similarly, and I’m not the first to make this observation, that’s why GTD works so well where more crystaline and suffocating systems like Franklin-Covey can fail.

Or the well-known comparison of APL in all of its pristine glory vs Lisp in all of its adaptability and extensibility.

A field of untouched ash might be more perfect than a living, messy, rhizomatic forest but if you’re looking for me, you know where you’ll find me.