Agency Dilemma occurs when the person with the power to take action is distinct from the two parties with a stake in the exchange. While contemporary Behavioral Economics provides a more realistic understanding of these parties, this reality is nevertheless a level playing field if individuals remain unrestricted their natural freedom of voluntary exchange. We may add to the classical theory of economics that the real individuals in the market are habit-driven, quasi-rational, and normatively bounded in their self-interested exchanges. What remains true, however, is that better outcomes occur when the least amount of Agency Dilemma is present. What also remains true is that Agency Dilemma is multiplicative, developing a bureaucracy that spreads like a cancer in the social body, removing its will to live.
America is losing its objectivity, not due to subjectivity or pluralism, but due to the invasive ideology of the egalitarian-bureaucratic machine. The agency dilemma multiplies geometrically, creating unnecessary complexity and total slowdown of action, even when movement is high.
The depravity of agency dilemma degrades three critical sources of objectivity:
- Causal Agency – the belief that actions determine consequences.
- Moral Agency – the belief that values require action.
- Economic Agency – the belief that value-actions determine payoffs.
Causal Agency simply disintegrates in any system of metaphysical dualism or transcendence of consciousness. To separate at a cosmic scale the “free” mind from the “determined” body leads to impossible conclusions. If we take the freedom of the mind to its radical conclusions, we are entirely alone in our private universe of thoughts, unable to trust the reality of material objects, causality, existence of other agents, or the significance of memories. If we take the determination of material reality to its radical conclusions, we all have a passive experience of the objects around us; we float in a great ocean of helpless predetermination, unable to trust any sentimental mechanism that tells us otherwise.
Neither of these two directions away from common sense can become a foundation for a moral system. There is no positive system of values based on either set of extremes. One option sets us free but removes all objectivity and significance, the other option gives us causality but removes all choice and intention. Not one of these extreme options is in accordance with normal human actions, in which objectivity and consequences may be speculative but true of reality. We only find this dualism important in denial of our own death. Without this psychological escapism, the most rational paradigm is both the most obvious and the least comforting: limited causal agency because of cognitive selections is “free” despite emerging as a property from layers of “determined” complex adaptive systems.
Without causal agency, whether due to a lack of freedom or a lack of consequence, moral agency is impossible. The great irony, which humans avoid recognizing at all costs, is that the only path to a positive moral system is the absence of distinction between the material and immaterial. To make any action special, we must not presume we come into the event with any privilege. To make any event significant, we must not presume it is transcendentally justified or forbidden. Causal Agency is a pre-requisite for Moral Agency, while Moral Agency is a pre-requisite for value, meaning, and significance.
Moral Agency requires an authentic understanding of responsibility for our actions. These actions aggregate in every passing moment of life until death. The inability to undo decisions or drastically switch to a different life that requires a path of objectivity and dedication is a source of anxiety. The authentic life requires the courageous embrace of this anxiety. The world is real. Time is short. Death limits the time we have available. We cannot reverse time. We are responsible for our decisions.
This objectivity toward life, death, pain, and pleasure is the only way to build a moral system, dedicate our time to its significance, and gain certainty that our life held meaning. Morality is an internal decision to externalize our vision, whatever that vision entails. Morality is typically the delay of gratification or the bold tolerance short-term pain for the sake of a long-run value. Self-discipline and self-responsibility pursues not one value, but a system of values. Causal, moral, and economic agency is the pursuit, with clarity of responsibility, of a single lifetime that cannot replace or exchange itself for different world, life, or system, rather spatiotemporal or transcendent.
The destroyers of this objectivity do not argue directly against our freedom, agency, morality, or rationality – there is no need. Any bureaucratic machine only needs to inspire general doubt that certainty is possible. Dualism, in its materialist, subjectivist, and transcendental forms, becomes an immense propaganda campaign that leaves every socialized, indoctrinated cog saying, “I’m not sure if…” and, “I don’t know if we can…” such that the only morality is the valuation of governmental control. This is not skepticism for the sake of learning, exploration, or debate; it is the fundamental destruction of belief in opinion, action, and identity.
Once a population has lost Economic Agency in the valuation of their moral and causal significance, the bureaucratic machine pumps a sludge of propaganda, spectacle, and terror into the social body. Generalized slowdown, mediocrity, layering, committees, taxation, and redistribution all develop the same form of governance: centralization, security, and deterrence. Honest morally significant debate becomes impossible, as does representative democracy; both Republican socialists and Democratic socialists slowly pass laws that place the power of legislation outside the legislature and into programs, departments, and special interests. When the power of legislation no longer resides in the representatives, democratic accountability slowly dies.
The increased role of bureaucratic, arbitrary, amoral diffusion of responsibility spreads into every government-sanctioned oligarchy and monopoly, protected by tariffs, bailouts, grants, and regulatory oversight. The bloated publicly traded corporations created through government interventions survive by mimicking the parasitism that created them, only able to survive by duplicating the rationalization and socialization of institutional mediocrity.
We have already seen where this slow decline of civilized value creation leads. Democratic socialism loses its pretense of personal liberty once the entire nation is dependent on government or corporate bureaucracy. The impossibility of creative energy, freedom of thought, and responsibility for actions gradually drives out anyone with morality or ability. The economy, devoid of life, becomes increasingly nationalistic, preparing and fighting in endless wars, continuing to increase centralization of control over natural and human resources. The society incarcerates or institutionalizes a steady group of rebellious discontents and the marginalized precarious as one normalization boundary while an elaborate system of fantasy provides other. The indoctrinated society believes they are free in reality, but only in contrast with Guantanamo Bay and Disneyland.
The population that remains in the socialist machine, fully trained and conditioned for nationalism, collectivism, militarism, and subjection, finally trade their remaining liberty for a dictator. Unable to rely on the energy of new ideas, ambition, and goals, the nation looks for a scapegoat. Realizing that the freedom, value, and significance of an earlier era, parasitically destroyed by socialism and corporatism, leave the social body in total exhaustion. The guards posted at the nation’s borders turn inward, and the bureaucratic machine takes the final step into to fascism or communism; the enslaved society finally has its mediocre masters.
Each of these three forms of Agency Dilemma result in diffusion of responsibility. Agency Dilemma is the disconnection of power from consequences. When decisions become increasingly distributed across a hierarchy of narrow-minded bureaucratic interests, the ability for to parties to make a rational exchange diminishes. Frequently we find a mysterious “They” preventing actions. Between the shareholder and the customer stand thousands of employees with agency dilemma, no economic accountability, and moral diffusion of responsibility. Between the individual and the factory farms, sex slaves, and child trafficking stand thousands of bureaucrats with agency dilemma, no economic accountability, and moral diffusion of responsibility. Between the product developer and the end user, between the citizen and the law, between the teacher and the student, between the entrepreneur and international trade; agency dilemma, no economic accountability, and moral diffusion of responsibility.
Without causal agency, no action is possible, only motion, movement, perpetual flux, and meaningless assemblages. Without moral agency, no value is possible, only doubt, diffusion, sentiment, and distraction. Without economic agency, no freedom is possible, only mismanagement, accidents, and bureaucracy.
We built America on a single premise – my moral code and yours need not agree. We need only agree on our mutual but individual rights of liberty and value. Each President and legislature moves us closer to a Hitler or Lenin, then the steady decline of American importance on the world stage. As the only country from its inception a constitutional democratic republic, the world is watching our fall to mediocrity.
We must reclaim our liberty, creativity, and objectivity.