Decision Making and how it fails societies

As individuals, we do micro-decisions every day which impact our lives and that of our close ones. However, to make big decisions that positively impact a huge group of individuals and their surroundings, collective decision making is required at a massive scale.

These big decisions mostly focus on serving the common good for a large community of people. These decisions include but are not limited to deciding to launch an attack on a neighboring nation, build a dam or reduce onion prices. Brexit happens to such kind of decision.

To progress, collective decision making is the most important factor. Faster decision making on a big scale leads to faster progress. For faster decision making, a population needs to build a consensus. To build a consensus, the population needs to organize itself. Faster it organizes itself, faster it reaches a consensus and rapid decisions are made for the common good. This sounds like commonsense but come to think of it, how difficult it is for even a family of four to decide on how they are going to cut costs or even chose a travel destination.

Politics is one of the ways of organizing a population. Political leaders influence people through their ideologies, beliefs, and sometimes money to form a large group of people who can voice out their opinions and support politicians to make decisions on their behalf. In geographies where people fail to organize, dictatorial powers rise where a small but powerful group makes decisions for a very very large group. Mostly these decisions benefit the small and powerful group that controls the majority of the resources.

Societies and cultures that fail to organize, fail to make those decisions quickly. Indecisive societies don’t do any progress.

When politics fails to organize people, it is replaced by war.

War is a continuation of politics by other means, said Carl Von Clausewitz

When softer tactics fail, the brute force of wars was used to organize people. Our history is tainted with brutal wars and holy wars (read crusades). Wars were used to direct large swaths of populations and resources towards a bigger cause. If millions organize and are forced to follow a common doctrine and standards then, by all means, those million people will develop faster than the million people who are divided into different tribes and follow a variety of beliefs.

And when wars failed to organize people, you have situations like the Middle-East (Syria, Afganistan, and Iraq) that is struggling to establish normalcy. Large parts of Africa (Somalia) and other poor nations are going through a similar fate. They are failing or organize themselves.

We can attribute the rapid success of China to the dictatorial set-up that forced people to follow rigid rules. Under one belief and one rule, people came together worked hard to provide the best economies of scale to the western world and China came to be known as the factory of the world.

On the other hand, India failed to do just that. India is a highly heterogeneous nation. India is in itself a continent like Europe, where more than 100 languages are spoken and so many distinct cultures thrive. People with different ideologies have starkly different preferences, priorities, and beliefs. Hence such heterogeneous communities fail to arrive at a consensus that drives common good.

Having said that, India is trying to unite through political means. It will be good to see if it follows a stable political model to grow as a nation like so many western nations have done.

And one-day politics will be redundant too. Wars have already become redundant. If people don’t need politics or wars to build a consensus then what they will resort to?

And a short answer could be technology like blockchain. We develop systems that are sacrosanct from the deviant vagaries of the human mind. These systems automatically provide a democratic set-up to decide the priorities, fill the supply-demand gaps and channelize resources where they are really needed. Read about  WHO, Uber, Crowdfund sourcing organizations. They are all doing that in some way but we as a race have a long way to go.



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