Bottom-up, as opposed to top-down.

I am firmly of the belief that any Marxist, Meritocrat, Libertarian or in fact anyone committed to an ideology in general should be given a crash course in one crucial type of analysis: the bottom-up and top-down method.

This casts aside all partisan or indeed moral concerns, and simply looks at the sustainability of an ideology or even a specific suggestion; using only two criteria: could this be sustained by the voluntary or democratic actions of normal individuals over the long-term, and does it aid long-term sustainability of the bottom-up process that defines everyday life?

Like it or not, all systems of government and individual engagement with the community involve a degree of bottom-up process. Even the vilest dictatorship must secure some form of consent from its people, no matter whether it does so by fear, murder, trickery or bargaining. No system of government can survive if the people refuse to accept it en masse.

Therefore the bottom-up is a crucial form of analysis that must be applied to every level of political thinking.

This level of analysis goes a long way to explaining why different elements of our system of government have survived for as long as they have, and why other systems have been less successful. It is also notably absent from the form of thinking employed by many ideologues — particularly Marxists.

When searching for a reason for why both democracy and capitalism have proved to be so versatile and resiliant, the answer is simple: they are bottom-up processes of the more fundamental kind. Governments by consent place restrictions on both these processes, to keep them in check and ensure smooth working of the system. But attempts to replace them entirely, at least in Western democracy, are doomed to failure. Meritocracy hands government the tools to initiate a dictatorship. Communism hands the politically savvy the tools to seize total economic power centrally. The flaws in both these ideas are that they are top-down. Top-down principles work well as regulations, but try to build a system around them, and it’ll come crashing down. No dreadful pun intended.

[Prologue: a friend of mine has pointed out to me that economic systems with a particularly dominant asset or resource cannot be stable as a free-market or democratic bottom-up system, because of the vast amount of control that can be given to one single interest as a result of this. I accept the criticism, and add the caveat that a free-market based system (which can include the mixed-economy) can only work from a bottom-up perspective when the economy is sufficiently balanced.

I also to acknowledge that this article was a bit of a rant from myself, as a response to perceived failings of many ideologies in this area. I appreciate that, like all theories, it is probably as full of holes as the next one.]


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