Why does good work?

A riff off Sam's post

Is it that something is good because it works, or is it that good things happen to work?

Good and Evil are objective. Despite being abstract, Good is always good, and Evil always evil. It's always better to give a beggar bread than it is to torture a child, there's no opinion that can change that.

Stating what works is good is begging the question: why is it good? Why is free market capitalism good? Because it works? No. Freedom is good, it working is a consequence of it being good, not the other way around. Why is communism evil? It's not because it doesn't work, but because it's based on lies; lies of human nature.

Was America founded because the founders expected the union to be a great success? No, many of them had doubts how long the experiment would last, but they thought liberty a righteous pursuit.

What does it mean for something to "work"?

What do we mean by saying good things work? What is our measure of success? A goal must be achieved. So, what's the goal? Is it the general welfare, GDP, or happiness?

The regime in 1984 worked, at least for The Party. China's mercantilism, has had plenty of positive economic results, but we wouldn't call the top-down state control of the economy and the surveillance of its citizens good, though it achieves its own goals.

For something to be truly successful, it's goal has to be aimed at the highest good possible. A fruit of that high aim is human flourishing.

Why does good work, and evil doesn't?

Why is it that Evil does not work? How come the Soviet Union, the "Evil Empire," collapsed? Every one in the Soviet Union, from the top of the government to the average citizen lied; lied to each other and to themselves. As Solzhenitsyn put it, "In our country the lie has become not just a moral category but a pillar of the State."

Trust is the most valuable commodity of a society, when everyone is lying trust deteriorates and the fabric of civilization itself falls apart.

The Stasi in East Germany kept files on a third of its population, 2% of people were government agents, and many more informed on the behalf of the government. How can you engage in a productive enterprise when you don't know who will report you to the secret police?

A free society is able to create trust between every one and every institution. You're not afraid of being thrown in prison by running your mouth to the wrong person, even if you knew that person worked for the government. You keep your money in the bank, the bank allows you to purchase things on credit.

Trust in a free society creates a network effect, making the society anti-fragile. If a business breaks trust, it will lose customers to a more trustworthy competitor. If consumers can punish lousy producers, societal trust will be strong. If the government bails out bad actors, trust will wither. There's a reason why trust-less systems are becoming popular, such as bitcoin. There's no reason to trust a money system that's controlled by people with little oversight.

People trust each other because they have mutual aims, and perhaps they're aiming up.

If the "Brave New World" existed, would it be good?

If Huxley's Brave New World were real, would it be good? It works, "everybody's happy nowadays," with the help of soma; all disease has been eliminated; there's plenty of food and work for everyone; you can pursue whatever pleasures you'd like; it's technologically advanced; there's even no mosquitos. There is also no pain, danger, family, no literature, no real freedom. John in the novel denounces the moral emptiness of that world, "I don't want comfort. I want God, I want poetry, I want real danger, I want freedom, I want goodness, I want sin."

Though Brave New World's one world government, controlled top-down is very successful, it is empty, void of meaning. Without meaning, it produces no fruit of substance. It's maybe just as evil as the power mad state of 1984. It reduces man to a set of chemicals, to pleasure, to sustainability.

Good works; evil doesn't. Concretely, we know what's good by what it produces, "For each tree is known by its fruit." With discernment, we can know what is working and what's not; ultimately we can know the difference between good and evil.