In Capitalism’s version of Democracy, Science (like every other discipline) must prostitute itself in order to ‘make a living’. In Democracy’s version of Capitalism, where the value of people is placed above profits, Science could recombine with ethics and passion, and get back to chipping away at the huge block of Ignorance that lies between us and the Truth. The Third Option believes Social Science is adrift right now, in search of a purpose, and wishes to suggest a purpose: instead of continuing to meticulously describe the water in which all of us are currently drowning, help us instead to engineer an environment that is more user-friendly—where we can still get our feet wet, but not spend our entire lives simply treading water.
Join The Third Option in recognizing Economics as an ‘applied Social Science’, then begin postulating your own Unified Theory of Economic Democracy, backed by the full weight of Social Science research, in order to present this alternate theory of Democratic Capitalism for public consideration.
In the meantime, The Third Option is offering its own Theory of Economic Democracy for your consideration. Read our Open Letter to Economists for all the details. Below are 10 more of the many angles from which Social Scientists can attack the problems we face as a species.
The social sciences offer equal promise for improving human welfare; our lives can be greatly improved through a deeper understanding of individual and collective behavior. But to realize this promise, the social sciences, like the natural sciences, need to match their institutional structures to today’s intellectual challenges.Nicholas A. Christakis
Table of contents
The Law Argument
Social science research is fragmented by the widely differing and seemingly contradictory approaches used by the different disciplines of the social sciences to explain human action.Sun-Ki Chai
Law, as a social science, is operating at a disadvantage because it has traditionally hitched its wagon to whoever is in charge, which conveniently has allowed it to not think much about its individual role in the universe. With Capitalism currently at the wheel, a shotgun marriage was hastily arranged between Law and Economics, with Law completely ignoring attractive offers from suitors like Ethics, Sociology, Cultural Studies, etc. that have a much better understanding of people than the rational self-interest theories Economics espouses.
The ‘new’ thinking is to define Law as a “social tool” to enhance “economic efficiency,” which is how Marx defined the role of Law about 150 years ago. In an environment designed to create conflict, Law understandably has its hands full, and through adopting economic efficiency, has managed to efficiently thwart any attempts for the poor to economically advance, while effectively securing the blessings of wealth from the 1% to their posterity. What Law (and every other discipline) fails to realize is that people are a product of their environment; currently, this economics of ‘maximizing self-interest’ has been shoved down everyone’s throats, forcing people to navigate (aka ‘adapt to’) said environment; naturally, behaviors would start to look familiar, as this maze has only one way out, and social science, in its limited role as bean counters, would successfully log the data confirming that economics has astoundingly predicted human behavior once again. Of course, there are prisons, churches, schools, streets and minimum wage jobs filled with conflicting data, but no one here is trying to get the answer right, only corroborate so as to justify the rational self-interests of those in charge.
Law epitomizes the precarious perch where Social Science currently rests; it is of no practical use in a world fashioned to maximize self-interest unless it focuses all its brains on doing the same; together, we each become accomplices in perpetuating our own oppression. The scary part is that ‘scientists’ are the educated ones among us, and education is allegedly supposed to save us from scenarios just like this, not join forces with the brutish / ignorant side of our nature. The Third Option is ready to support any social scientists willing to take a ‘proactive’ stance against Ignorance, and fashion an environment for people that brings out the better angels of our nature. It is time for Social Science to proactively utilize all the Data is has collected and help propel us toward an enlightened future, rather than chain us to our oppressive past. We hope that at least some within the field of Law would join with them, and offer a matching Law theory supporting more people-centered approaches to resource allocation and social interaction.
The Political Science Argument
Political science [like the social sciences as a whole]…lives on the fault line between the ‘two cultures’ in the academy, the sciences and the humanities.J.R. Stoner
Political Science has readily utilized various other fields in order to broaden its skillset, but ‘knowing a little about a lot’ has not made predicting public choice any more predictable. Having the designation of ‘Science’ attached to any field of expertise implies one is only qualified to observe and describe the water where some of us own boats, some of us tread water, and some of us drown. It is only once the designation of ‘Engineering’ gets attached to Science that it is allowed permission to dive in and make the situation more tenable for people. Whether Political Science Engineering builds us a bridge or a moat (with sharks in the water) would depend on who is paying them for their services.
In our current top-down economic arrangement, the only people with the cash are those in Control, and therefore Political Science gets their paycheck from those seeking to gain or maintain this Control.
The current system our ancestors have engineered is analogous to a large room with only two exits. When those in Control yell ‘fire’ in this crowded room, it is only natural that people would head toward the nearest exit. What those in Control really want is to fashion a room with only one exit; this would immensely help their chances to predict public choice, although people would rightly question the Liberty of it.
In The Third Option model, which is built from the bottom-up (like the universe itself), the theory is to create a homogeneous environment as subtle as the fabric of space, and empower people with the velocity to expand outward, though not necessarily in a physical sense, as we have allowed in our current consumeristic model. Rather than continuing to adopt this top-down paradigm of Control, if people expand the power within themselves first, they will find that the rest of us naturally gravitate toward them; if we share our Power, by empowering those around us, this creates a bond where Liberty and Unity can coexist.
The Communication Argument
When you talk, you are only repeating what you already know. But if you listen, you may learn something new.Dalai Lama
Through some seriously ingenious bioengineering, we humans are able to carry our roots around with us. Once the umbilical cord gets cut, and direct connection is severed, however, each of us still requires a steady flow of indirect human connection, in order to sustain a healthy existence.
The underlying purpose of every human interaction is to communicate. We are all nodes on a giant interconnected grid, each inherently designed to transmit whatever we receive; like all human ‘innovation’, modern communication networks succeed because they already existed naturally. Biomimicry has slowly become more of a conscious human strategy, but the key to all human progress has consistently been our ability to appropriate —or mimic—that which the force of sheer will had already manifested.
At this stage of human evolution, we still transmit and receive mostly at the ‘passive’ subconscious level, in a purely reactive fashion; we have not yet gained the awareness required to consciously comprehend many of the transmissions we receive; nowhere is this more evident than with the messages that violence and other self-destructive behaviors have been futilely shouting at us for generations. Going forward, social science engineering must be trained to dispassionately dissect all information being transmitted, utilize all interdisciplinary knowledge available (’communication’ required), and give recommendations for how to alleviate—in order to dissipate—the ripples of destructiveness that signify a failure somewhere in the overall structure of society. In a paradigm where all people are created equal, any ‘people problems’ would automatically become ‘societal problems’, and when we choose to reflect upon— rather than dismiss, manipulate, misinterpret or ‘politicize’— the data we receive, the exponential power of a homogeneous human communication network could finally be realized.
Studies in communication infrastructure have already noted the positive health outcomes that transpire when human contact is facilitated. Communities that fashion a safe space where people can naturally meet and greet (coupled with quality local services that draw us out of our caves) have had great success engendering a natural communication network. When people are allowed to exchange information, through ‘storytelling’, civic engagement increases; people who feel a sense of belonging are more inclined to solve community issues together. The Third Option wishes to help train everyone to be emotionally intelligent active listeners, supply them with all the physical resources they would need, empower them with the ability to affect their ‘environment’, then hold them accountable to build their own sustainable communities. Communication infrastructure would be the glue that holds this plan together.
The Psychological Argument
Psychology is evidently at the basis of political economy and, in general, of all the social sciences. A day will come when we will be able to deduce the laws of the social science from the principles of psychology.Vilfredo Pareto
Richard Thaler is credited with kickstarting the marriage between psychology and economics, with his paper “Toward a Positive Theory of Consumer Choice” in 1980; it was further solidified by his colleague and friend, psychologist Daniel Kahneman, whose thinking on the subject influenced Thaler’s original work, and can be found in Kahneman’s book Thinking, Fast and Slow. These form the basis for understanding behavioral economics.
As psychology can attest, human beings have a definite problem with cooperation, unless some arbitrary hierarchy is established. Take, as an example, psychology itself. Some psychologists reason (quite well) that an interdisciplinary mix of economics and psychology should be called ‘Economic Psychology”, while economists feel it should be called Behavioral Economics (there have been papers written on this subject). The fact that there must be a special field designated within economics that actually includes the whole person in the conversation speaks to the incompleteness of Economics as a discipline; psychologists may not fully understand people, either, but at least they are trying. Thomas Piketty, seen by his colleagues as a prototypical ‘social science engineer’, has disparagingly downgraded economics to a mere ‘sub-discipline’ for much the same reason.
People are well-rounded pegs who should not be shoved into the square hole Capitalist economics creates for them. Since the beginning of recorded time, thugs with rational selfish unwavering appetites ruled over the rest of humanity, and they undoubtedly assumed everyone felt the same way they did, which explains the brutish lengths to which they went repressing everyone else’s rational selfish unwavering appetites. Here we are today, the byproducts of this tradition, dispensing a form of Democracy that offers everyone the equal opportunity to live a thug life.
The Third Option suggestion is to remove the current economics from the social science family*; replace it with an economic ‘science’ dedicated solely to observational research, collecting data on the adverse (and positive) effects of the current economics on its people (which is more in line with legitimate social ‘science’). Next, create an interdisciplinary ‘social science engineering’ division, whose sole task is to fashion then beta-test a socio-economic environment more conducive to positive health outcomes for people and planet; the entire social science community should weigh in on this undertaking; feel free to use the data coming in from the new economics discipline, now that it would be conducting actual ‘science’.
* When kicking economics out as a social science, we suggest citing the following reason: no science can be centered around economics, as it is not a natural phenomenon, but an arbitrary human-made construct. People, however, are a naturally occurring phenomenon, so for economics to be a social ‘science’, it needs to focus its study on people, and how their arbitrary socioeconomics affects them. Tell economics they can only get back in the club if they A) start doing some actual ‘science’, or B) offer something more egalitarian in the way of ‘engineering’; people tend to have a rational, self-serving, and unwavering taste for Democracy.
The Sociological Argument
Do we not need sociology and political science, perhaps also some other social sciences, if we want to understand how individual actions cause macro-economic effects and how individual actions are based on and shaped by social institutions?Hermann Brandstäter
Sociology arose as a way of seeing society in historical, psychological and economic terms; in other words, to define people as products of time (their ‘history’) and space (their ‘socioeconomic environment’), and how this psychologically affects their perceptions of reality. Like most social sciences, sociology felt the need to legitimize itself by sticking close to the tenets of natural science (and scientific method); many soon realized, however, that the accumulation of facts (aka ‘quantitative research’) toward deductively reasoning something about society effectively removed societal institutions from any diagnostic scrutiny; this began a push to create an ‘applied sociology’, in order to better interpret the “reality of social action.”
[Sociology is] … the science whose object is to interpret the meaning of social action and thereby give a causal explanation of the way in which the action proceeds and the effects which it produces.Max Weber
The tool of inductive reasoning brings our entire societal ‘environment’ under the microscope, allowing a more meaningful discourse on the observable flaws within it. Unfortunately, those who have looked to advance ‘applied sociology’ in the United States have been forced to the fringes, as the powers-that-be are not looking to advance any progressive social action concerning Capitalism. U.S. sociologists and economists—apparently not about to bite the hand that feeds them—continue to reinforce the status quo by basing their observations on the assumption that Capitalism IS the natural environment.
“Sociology has had relatively little impact on economics. Communication between economics and sociology is hindered by intellectual barriers such as fundamentally different assumptions with regard to the roles of induction and deduction, as well as by institutional and professional obstacles.” —Arne L. Kalleberg
Perhaps someday we will learn how to manipulate Time and Space within the Natural Environment, but right now we cannot even effectively alter the man-made economic environment we have slapped over top of it. Economics is only as sophisticated as the people who designed it; in our economic capacity to seek greater efficiency and effectiveness, applied science was conceived. It is the perfect tool to economize economics; to stand in the way of it doing this job only proves that economics is simply the construct of those in Control, the alleged ‘invisible hand’ was never there to begin with, and historical oppression is alive and well and still grabbing at our heels, slowing human progress –as usual—down to a crawl.
People need science to advance us, not reinforce our subordination. When economists invoke the logic of gun owners—by claiming that economics is not flawed, only the people who use it—they prove themselves to be propaganda salesmen at best, but certainly not scientists. When the tools people use can also be misused, a flaw (negative externality) exists in its design. To reflect on this issue—and formulate a workable solution—is how humans evolve intellectually; any attempt to thwart this should be considered a crime against humanity itself.
The International Relations Argument
War is the continuation of politics by other means.Carl Von Clausewitz
International Relations is foremost a story of conflict, and the history of U.S. conflict needs no ‘revision’; we are the central character in post-World War II conflict, so much so that We the Taxpayers have been forced to run an open tab for all U.S. Military Industrial Complex ‘relations’ since that time. We have ‘interests abroad’ to protect, and ‘spheres of influence’ to exert. Whether IR chooses to simply collect (in order to catalog) this data, or analyze (in order to interpret) it, the ‘quantitative research’ done will never prevent conflict until we choose to apply it toward actual preventive solutions.
In the U.S., the field of international relations (IR) is mostly relegated to a sub-discipline of political science; outside the U.S. its role has been expanded to include a wide range of interdisciplinary knowledge from fields like economics, law, history, geography, cultural anthropology, sociology, and more. Regardless of its skillset, the field of international relations is rarely ever allowed inside ‘the room where it happens’; its job usually begins sometime after ‘relations’ have already taken place. This invariably leads to a Rorschach Test of interpretations about who did what to whom and why, that understandably run the gamut of external and internal human motivations. Ultimately, all this merely serves as the rationale (or excuse) for pushing whatever agenda a country was already going to purse anyway.
The realist agenda seeks to appropriate, the liberal agenda looks to assimilate. Both are driven by materialistic concerns. Constructivists point out that a ‘socially-constructed’ collective consciousness forms within groups, and these social ‘norms’, ‘values’ and ‘identities’ are what drive conflict between groups, once they are forced to address each other (over materialistic concerns). Convergence theory has one thing right: as environment is altered, similar (and thus predictable) patterns of human navigation occur within this environment, though little effort is made to mitigate the negative behaviors these environments engender, by altering them in any substantive way. Critical theories of conflict and dependency attempt to explain the effects of Control, which drive one person to dominate another, and fuels everything from domestic violence and various forms of discrimination and inequality, all the way up to war and revolution.
So, what have we learned about ourselves? And to what end? People are driven to create more Certainty for themselves and will seek to Control the environment around them in order to secure it. When individual Control was not a sufficient-enough strategy, cooperation came to be utilized, and thus the value of Belongingness was established. When the neediness to Control meets up with the neediness to Belong, many individuals will regrettably submit to Control in order to secure Belongingness. The terms of surrender are significant; many will readily relinquish non-survival needs such as individual identity or moral values; this is how an entire group can become the tool of pathological Control, which invariably seeks an amoral agenda. Once an environment of Control has been established, it is not in most people’s nature to defy it, simply because we have survived evolutionarily by learning to navigate around any environmental obstacles we cannot Control. Thus, as long as situations are tolerable enough, various levels of oppressive Control will be accepted, woven into the fabric of society, and become the ‘norm’. Evidence of the toxicity of Control can still be seen, however, in the plethora of negative externalities we currently suffer, each of which is extensively catalogued by social science, and subsequently shelved. Once the shelves become full enough, and ‘people problems’ are perceived as ‘societal problems’, Control may consider offering specific concessions in order to placate the ambivalent masses, but ultimately will never relinquish Control, because the fear underlying the pathology is too great.
International Relations, like Justice, Health or Education, should be a hub where all social sciences meet in order to ‘engineer’ the best possible outcomes for people. The Third Option believes it is time for the U.S. to ‘export a new brand’ of relations where ‘giving is the new taking’. The lowest common denominator in international conflict are those people who wish to bully, assault, extort, violate or subordinate others for some measure of external Control they cannot regulate internally. The first step in conflict avoidance is to redefine all perceived human rights as ‘reciprocal obligations’, which implies that we are bound to confer them on others, if we wish for others to ‘reciprocate’ and likewise bestow them on us. Through this, a kind of Democratic Equality could arise, as we imply that all others are equal in relation to us.
The world will never be an ‘interdependent’ body until we first emancipate everyone from the co-dependency that past (and present) forms of Control have fostered.To do this, America must legitimize ‘reciprocal obligations’ by conferring the tools of independence ‘free of charge’ on those who need them most. Education, in order to provide sustainable basic needs, along with the resources to build, deliver, and maintain them, would be the new ‘brand’ America seeks to export. Once people can live as free and independent selves, the subject of interdependence can be more seriously broached.
In the new world order, Power will be defined by how much one can ‘empower’, and by how much one can control internally (through self-mastery), not externally (through property ownership and consumerism), which the sane among us can already see is not sustainable. America must cease its current religious crusade to politically and economically assimilate the world, and instead help create a world of more Certainty, and in doing so, become instantly wealthy in the new currency of Empowerment. Even after conflicts between Germany, Italy, and Japan, our decision to empower their economic recovery proved helpful in forging a bond with them that has so far held up. How people ultimately feel about one another is the secret ingredient when formulating a longer-lasting glue between them. History, like the future, does not have to be something that simply happens to people. People can create a History and a Future, but it must be built on a stable foundation of Trust; empower Certainty, Fairness, and Inclusivity, and let gravity become the new force in international relations.
The Cultural Argument
Through our culture we develop a sense of belonging, personal and cognitive growth and the ability to empathize and relate to each other. Direct benefits of a strong and vibrant culture include health and wellness, self-esteem, skills development, social capital and economic return.Martin Gallasher
Culture encompasses religion, food, what we wear, how we wear it, our language, marriage, music, what we believe is right or wrong, how we sit at the table, how we greet visitors, how we behave with loved ones, and a million other things.”Christina De Rossi
Culture is how we do our thing. It matters because it defines us…[it] is our way of life.
We now live in an era when, throughout the capitalist world, the overriding aim of government economic policy is to maintain consumer spending levels. This is an era when ‘consumer confidence’ is treated as the key indicator and cause of economic effectiveness.Jeremy Gilbert
Once upon a time, there were many ‘Cultures’—societies of people driven purely by Social Capital and backed by the original ‘gold standard’—Belongingness—which proved to be a resource as unlimited as air or water. It was through this paradigm of Belongingness that the early economics of resource allocation was managed. Belongingness starts with Cooperation, and through this investment of shared Effort, an economic return of Trust accumulates, which leads to Reciprocity, as people take their hard-earned Trust and begin to invest it in each other. Social capital builds, and interpersonal relationships are formed. The constant proximity to one another necessarily leads to socialization. People define ‘values’ and assign ‘norms’; when utilized, the value added in peer approval alone also pays dividends in self-esteem. This accumulation of shared wealth—measured in social capital—reinforces a mutual understanding of how the ‘world works’. Within this internalized narrative, Identities become established, individuals find Roles to fill, and those able to successfully ‘fit in’ garner a lifetime of personal and societal returns on investment (ROI).
The early conquest, assimilation, and occupation of resource-rich lands undid all that, and a new paradigm was introduced—one that replaced internally driven cooperation with externally controlled subjugation. Consistent with the religious fanaticism of the time, the dominant ‘culture’ fervently believed that their society was superior and set out on an economic inquisition to prove it. A paradigm of top-down Control can only succeed through usurping property (and thus resources), followed by establishing ownership ‘rights’ over it, which requires a well-fed army constantly standing by, in order to secure such a clearly tenuous claim.
Slavery was eventually replaced with wage slavery, colonialism with imperialism, assimilation with appropriation, but the sentiment remained: the ‘Economics’ of oppressors needs ‘workhorses’ (cheap labor) to supply the effort of production on the front end, while on the back end (consumerism), the best that human effort could create was still only available to those who held the whip. This arbitrary system of allocating resources from the bottom (‘laborers’) to the top (‘consumers’) has now gone ‘viral’ and is on a quest to efficiently and effectively devour the planet and all its people. The hope is that this hunger can be curbed, the warring will stop, and together we will begin to implement sustainable strategies that reconcile seemingly limitless wants with the reality of a closed environment.
As all previous societies were systematically absorbed into the belly of this economic beast, those who remained became cultural orphans, and forced to live (like the rest of us) by selling off the most marketable parts of themselves. Those who attempt to integrate into the world of financial capital soon feel the sting of isolation and become living proof that the social capital of Belongingness holds more value than anything Control can offer. Liberty—over which the dominant culture claims sole property rights—is nonetheless biologically crucial to all human health. The conflict caused by forced assimilation continues to eat at these once-content people, whose social narrative was taken along with their resources.
The current model of economic growth can only be maximized if subordinated people get paid less than they produce and consume more than they can afford. This apparently seemed like a fair arrangement to those at the top, but some people have proven more difficult to Control than anticipated. Economics was forced to turn to the ‘social’ science of people, and have in effect created their own branch of ‘Cultural Assimilation Studies’, through which many newly-formed disciplines (behavioral economics, cultural economics, etc.) have formed, utilizing manipulation, appropriation and homogenization to continue economic growth optimization.
While the negative externalities of a Control-based system continue to take their toll on the mass of people, natural science is busy reinforcing the paradigm of Belongingness as our original narrative. It is the endorphins of Hope and not money that stimulate motivation, goal-setting, and problem-solving. It is dopamine that stimulates productiveness, and serotonin that helps reward our accomplishments. The existence of oxytocin encourages empathy and communication, in order to interact and grow Trust. Through the sale of artificial highs, economics attempts to push its narrative of Control onto us, when the paradigm of Belongingness is clearly the healthier choice. Control is a fear-driven strategy; anxiousness and fear release cortisol, which is harmful to health in long-term doses. In order to minimize the anxiousness of a few, those in Control have dumped a lifetime of stress onto the rest of us. There is nothing like the real thing; continuing to peddle artificial highs only distract us from where we really need to go.
The Third Option would like to restore the ‘bottom-up’ paradigm of a community ‘culture’, where Belongingness can again take root, and facilitate cooperation and reciprocity. Effort is the only true method of producing value and is raised considerably when internally generated. Two major adjustments must occur:
- We must tie financial capital and social capital together, in order that the effort derived from cooperation and reciprocity reap clear financial benefits for everyone.
- We must cease to Control people from the top, but instead facilitate them from underneath, always careful to provide enough Certainty, Fairness, Inclusivity and Sustainability to ‘nudge’ them toward the healthiest version of themselves possible.
A National Public Bank would financially facilitate communities with the resources that—through cooperative Effort—could help create the Certainty both financial and social capital provide. With all investment of Effort flowing directly back into this National Bank, a clear correlation between social capital and financial capital would be established, satisfying both sides of this contentious political issue over which is ultimately more important: profits or people.
The Human Geography Argument
We must pass through the barriers of language and race, of geography and religion, of custom and tradition and we must build on a common foundation.Vincent Massey
Human Geography sits on the border between people and the natural environment, and seeks to define how we alter it, and it alters us. Through its multi-varied sub-disciplines, human geography can track people as they migrate (population geography), and diseases as they migrate (health geography). It can look at densely populated Urban Geography and witness poverty, homelessness, social exclusion, et al, and look at low-density rural areas and witness exactly the same thing. Like other social science disciplines, it has suffered the infiltration of a capitalist economic agenda such that sub-disciplines (like cultural geography, that once corroborated with Anthropology) now spend all their time researching trends in fashion, food, and travel options, or studying the financial investment ‘landscape’. Social Geography has still stayed focused on people issues, like the intersectionality of class, ethnicity, age, gender, sexual orientation, etc., and Historical Geography has continued to scrutinize the effects of post-colonialism and human-induced environmental changes.
If the Third Option has its way, and the social science community invests a large share of its intellectual capital toward our people-centered venture, human geography would become crucial in building all our new proposed infrastructure, as well as helping define international relations through tracking migration, poverty, hunger, climate, agriculture, transit, language, culture, and more. Some specific concerns would be:
- Where to place regenerative versus vertical farming,
- Where to place transportation routes and hubs, from hyperloops, high speed and heavy rail, to electric air and ground transit,
- Where to position our international Global Schools, to best serve the essential needs of populations who are isolated and underserved,
- How to build communities that reflect both local geography and culture (past and present),
- How to maximize green energy output by tracking heat, light, wind, and wave power capacity,
- Where to place health and education services to facilitate public access by all, and
- Who (and where) to regulate environmentally, in order to minimize damage from hazardous waste, pollution, etc.
Human Geography is the battleground where the fight for Economic Democracy can be won. Human Geography substantiates The Third Option assertion that people are in every way the product of their environment—that how we accord ourselves –our reactions, choices, attitudes, values— has everything to do with our physical, social, and cultural surroundings. The Third Option hopes to fashion an environment that more correctly embodies the tenets of Democracy and believes people will adapt accordingly.
The Education Argument
If the education system fostered inner peace, compassion and non-violence, or the idea of doing no harm, students would learn how to achieve peace of mind. This is what is required if we are to fulfill the goal of a genuinely peaceful and demilitarized world.Dalai Lama
Education should be the social science lab where a constantly emerging future is shaped. First, social science could calculate the forces that drive our children toward success or failure, peace or violence, empathy or narcissism, generosity or selfishness, giving or taking (aka Power or Control). Next, social science could utilize these calculations to help educate our educators, so they better ‘connect’ to their students, and effectively power and empower individual self-actualization. Finally, social science could unleash the power of ‘social science engineering’ among the ‘student body’, where they could demonstrate A) the exponential Power created by the interdependence of a group of self-actualized selves, and B) the superiority of proactive change over the ploddingly long tradition of reactive change, full of violence, band-aid fixes, and temporary concessions that never stick.
Social Science is an immense source of Power that is wasting its energy in the current environment, because science is meant to analyze systems, and our current systems do not wish to be analyzed, because they do not wish to be changed. They are of and by and for only a small group of people, who are getting exactly what they want from these systems. Until the rest of us demand a true version of Democracy, Social Science will continue to sit on the sidelines taking stats, and statistics are in every way for the losers.
Max Weber saw capitalism as “a system of masterless slavery”; a legitimized form of domination that permeated every facet of societal infrastructure. Still, Weber saw room for ideas to “become effective forces in history,” even if only used to pave the road upon which our rationalized self-interest travelled. Currently, we drive along a path named Democracy (the idea) which Capitalism (our self-interest) has built for us. It is a road with no turns and no exits, and therefore technically represents Democracy in name only. On this one-way path, education has been charged to fuel the next generation of drivers, with “a promise of access to, and exercise of, power [aka ‘Control’].”
This current model of ‘masterless slavery’ confounds ethical responsibility, and through an education that conditions us to fit into a depersonalized model of society, continues to develop “some into masters [and] others into slaves.” Philosopher John Dewey worked hard to promote the idea of Democracy as a way of life, and education as training toward that life. Max Weber felt that change must start with the educators themselves, and admonished the complacency of his contemporary “academic profession in its eager subservience to the authority of the state and the erosion of its moral rectitude.”
Similar to the critical theorists of the Frankfurt School, Dewey and Weber equated group silence with full-throated approval when it came to the matters of status quo—there could be no neutral ground in a battle designed to save everyone, which is what Democracy demands. It is important to note that Dewey and Weber were both seen as “effective forces in history”, yet their poignant ideas about Democracy and Capitalism, while still allowed to travel—a 100 years later—down the same road as the rest of us, have done little to alter the course of human events in any infrastructural way. The path beneath our feet has seemingly been set, and any ideas that seek to take us ‘off-road’ are seen as radical and risky.
The depersonalized bureaucracy, with its utilitarian purpose, will –on its best day—sacrifice the happiness of the minority for the happiness of the majority. Placing a financial value on happiness has skewed this number even further, so that now it only needs to accommodate the happiness of those with the majority of the cash. Oppression often hides itself inside the ruse (or illusion) of choice, and thus masquerades as Liberty, because it suggests free will. In other words, if a choice is merely between two sides of the same coin, whoever owns the coin is the only sure winner.
Functionalist theories of Education train us to either be the wolves (individual winners) or the sheep (who must obey the authority of the ‘winners’). “Children in America receive rewards for following schedules, following directions, meeting deadlines, and obeying authority…American students also quickly learn the importance of competition [and] through…some kind of prize or reward…associate winning with possessing.”
Conflict Theory sees the same thing as the Functionalists, but knows that reinforcing the status quo is simply “maintaining social inequality and preserving the power of those who dominate society.” For example, even in a so-called Democracy such as the U.S., public education funding is unequally skewed toward affluent neighborhoods (because it is based on local property taxes). Meanwhile, better schools have students fast-tracked into higher education opportunities attached to higher-paying jobs. Thus, the hierarchy of class (and race) is maintained.
Symbolic Interactionist Theory –first posited by Max Weber—has recently shown that students will more readily rise to meet the expectations a teacher sets for them if they perceive the teacher believes in their ability to succeed. Students who are perceived as ‘better’ often receive more attention, and it is this combination of expectation and close connection that drives a child’s performance early in their education. This again reinforces the value of Belongingness (connection to others) and speaks to the further reduction of student-to-teacher ratios. It also suggests a focus on process before content in early childhood education (or ‘installing’ the tools for success prior to pushing any particular curricular agenda). Tools of ‘Grit’, for example –passion, perseverance, purposeful practice, belief in one’s skills, etc. –can be learned through various physical activities first (that can also spark mental acuity), before being applied toward the acquisition of knowledge-based skills.
Education sits at the beginning of a journey that could lead future generations down a road to Power instead of Control, but it needs a mandate from the people in order to make this change. By conveniently sitting outside the systems which it observes, social science has a choice many of us do not: to reinforce Control or influence Power. If social science can show it is qualified to lead us toward Power, it would then fall to the people to hire them as our detectives. They could follow the trail of negative externalities to their systemic source –Oppressive Control—then enact a more Democratic form of Justice upon it.Only through social science engineering could we proactively build this road toward the better angels of our nature.
The Health Argument
Economic stability, neighborhood characteristics, education, food access, social systems, and health care access are but a few of the many factors identified by research to influence the health of the population.William Riley
Because it is so intimately connected to people and their well-being, Public Health, perhaps more than any other ‘scientific art,’ understands the need for interdisciplinary social science engineering. Every day it witnesses the direct health impacts caused by discrimination, socioeconomic status, food and housing security, social connection, income inequality, and the many other societal factors commonplace in underserved U.S. communities.
During his time in government, William Riley, recently retired director of the Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research at the NIH, had a hell of a time getting funding for social science research. Besides private healthcare jamming up the airwaves “with commercials touting various medications, devices, and healthcare facilities, the public could also be easily “misled regarding the importance of social and behavioral determinants of health based on the funding allocations at the National Institutes of Health (NIH).” According to Riley, “social and behavioral factors account for approximately 50 percent of the premature deaths in the United States, but only about 10 percent of the grants funded by the NIH each year have social and behavioral aspects in the research proposed.”
In its mission to study society and its structures, social science has inadvertently uncovered a slew of factual evidence implicating American Tradition in various crimes against humanity. In the past, Tradition would simply ‘deny the facts,’ but the facts have piled up so high at this point that Tradition has had to go to Plan B, which involves denying the whole concept of facts in general.
One fact is obvious, though: our government has a conflict of interest when it comes to our health. Much of what causes our poor health is also what makes America great apparently: 521,000 Americans die each year from using tobacco (41,000 of them from the second-hand smoke alone). Nearly 116,000 people get shot by a gun each year—a little less than 40,000 of them die, the rest cost us $14.2 Billion to save. 4.4 million people are injured in traffic accidents every year; 38,000 are killed. 10 million die each year from U.S. air pollution. 300,000 die annually from a growing obesity epidemic. 120,000 a year die directly from work-related stress.
Funding social science would ultimately lead to addressing these health risks, which in turn would reduce the cost of U.S. healthcare, both of which fuel U.S. Economic Growth, the only number that really matters. $4.1 trillion was spent on U.S. healthcare in 2020, which was nearly 20% of our entire Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Consumer spending accounts for another 70% of GDP; it is not in our government’s best interest to shut down this delicate chain of over-work, that fuels the stress, that fuels the over-consumption, that fuels the poor health, that fuels our ‘robust’ economy. Without our high GDP, we would just be another third world country, first in gun violence, incarceration, and inequality, and last in education, health, and infrastructure.
The private sector putting all its money on profiteering to save the world is proof that Americans have a serious gambling problem. Fortunately for the wealthy, a giant safety net has been placed under them, so their gambling losses all get subsidized by the American people, who become, in effect, their codependent parents. These kids are not the grateful kind, however. When we get old, they will stick us in a home –one that they own—then charge us $5,000 a month to wither away in isolation.
These kinds of ‘people-problems’ always escalate because some of us are born to create conflict, and the rest of us are born to avoid it. It could be argued that social science has already done its job; they were hired as ‘social detectives’, and they have quite thoroughly dug up the evidence against the current socio-economic regime. The Third Option believes there is no future for social science in a capitalist world; their best bet is to peddle their special skills to those who seek to change the current environment.
Granted, this would put social science in a difficult position. Within capitalism, so many negative externalities arise that social science would never run out of research material, except capitalists do not want anyone digging up this dirt, and therefore would not pay for social science to do it (thus it has fallen to government to fund social science; since capitalists have taken more and more control of government, social science has received less and less of this funding). If social science attempts to help change the world, using its data, there would come a time where perhaps they would have no work left to do. Many social sciences have already jumped the ‘science’ ship and opted to utilize their talents to serve profit and not people (scientists gotta make a living, too).
Universal Healthcare is a huge part of The Third Option package, and mental health from birth to death is part of that package. Because The Third Option believes that a huge percentage of human behavior is based on both environment and social connection, and that Power supplied from the bottom up is easier on people’s sensibilities than Control from the top down, we fully expect our plan would drastically improve human health while severely lowering its overall cost—and we are pretty much okay with that.
What the Third Option Believes:
Some of the Tenets of the Third Option
- People need Certainty, Fairness, Inclusivity and Sustainability
- The Planet has achieved Sustainability in its eco-nomics, and because People need the Planet, People need to achieve Sustainability in its version of economics.
- Our government promises Democracy, so this must be a constant – not a variable – in our economic equation.
- People prefer boundaries – a clear (Certain) and consistent (Fair) ‘environment in which to navigate.
- From there, they prefer the Liberty to navigate (pursue ‘happiness’) how they see fit.
- Accountability is a necessary boundary, to achieve Sustainability.
- In order to better secure unalienable rights, we must first rebrand them as Reciprocal Obligations that we equally confer upon each other.
- Belongingness is a crucial part of the human equation. Defining Democratic Equality in relational terms, instead of financial terms, can help us better confer Democracy’s ‘reciprocal obligations’ upon each other.