Success Breeds Failure

The United States is the freest, wealthiest, most tolerant society the world has ever known.  Even today’s poor live lives undreamed of by royalty less than a century ago.

Yet in what seems like a major disconnect from this reality, we have major politicians calling for a transformation of society.  Why is this?  Well, other than pandering for votes and power, which is a large part of it, there is another more basic and more dangerous process at work.

And that is success breeds failure.  This is a common and accurate theme in management thinking.  Success breeds complacency.  Success can lead an organization from lean and mean, to fat and happy, to obese and stupid.  Real-world business results show hundreds of examples which prove the point.

This process, one of an individual accepting unearned success, knowledge, and wealth as a “given”; thinking of it all as “just the way it is” seems to be a common thread in human thinking.  We intellectually take ownership of all past successes and think of them as almost our inalienable right. 

There are no fundamental reasons for this success, it’s like gravity… it simply exists.  Some take this even further and believe they are morally superior to all who came before them. 

This is profoundly risky thinking which can’t end well.  It is dangerous for a business and its employees to fall into this trap and it is toxic and ultimately fatal for a society to do the same.

There are reality-based reasons the United States of America is wealthiest, most successful country the world has ever seen.  It isn’t our abundant natural resources.  Those are relatively common around the globe.

It isn’t “in the blood.”  People from across the world come here and succeed.  We are a nation of mutts, so that can’t be it either.

It isn’t that our benevolent governments have driven this.  For most of the history of the country all government was relatively small.  Throw in the fact these organizations don’t create wealth, but only consume it, and obviously the amazing engine of wealth creation has little to do with the powerful non-profit organizations we call government.

No, the amazing wealth-creating behemoth that is the United States of America is due to the simple fact that individual freedom and limited government is in agreement with reality.  They work because they are true, no more, no less. 

This really shouldn’t be shocking.  Are we shocked when two free hydrogen atoms become water when joined with one oxygen atom?  We factually accept this atomic dance because that’s what happens, every time!  The same is true with creating wealth.

This individually unearned success, knowledge, and wealth allow people to begin to believe in silly things; things which simply aren’t true in any real sense.  This rot was allowed to take hold in our institutions of supposed higher education, where a few decades ago it became fashionable to believe there is no such thing as reality.   

Unless one thinks each of us is actually endowed with godlike powers, this is stupidity on stilts.   And of course one never sees a supposed believer in such things test their theory by stepping in front of a speeding train.

Yet it has only spread from there.  If one can believe anything and each is just as valid as the other, then why not socialism, or for that matter any other scheme the human mind can conceive?  If feelings and desires carry as much weight as replicable, coherent, and cohesive facts, then why not go for transformation?

Because there is reality.  This is truth whether one likes it or not. 

Many of the transformer’s beliefs are based on abstractions; things which don’t exist in the real world.  All of “identity politics” is based on falsehoods.  As a physical fact there are only individuals. 

These groups are artificial, mental creations which are breathed life, attributes, and motives by their creator – note the godlike abilities again – and they can “be” whatever the creator says they are.

But the reality is that there are no such things as women or men or blacks or whites or people of color or any of the other labels of socialist thinking.  Of course there are individuals whose gender is female.  Of course there are individuals whose most recent ancestors came from Africa or Ireland, etc.  But the key here is individuals.  They exist.  The groups are artificial creations that don’t. 

Governments are the same.  They are simply incredibly powerful, non-profit organizations.  But they too are artificial creations.  They don’t exist in any real, physical fashion.  Individuals like Bill and Jose and Roshanda might make decisions for government but the entity “government” doesn’t do anything since it doesn’t exist.

All of socialism is based on acting as though these artificial things are real living, breathing, and emoting entities.  I have to admit I enjoy the Harry Potter series but I don’t live my life as though it is true.  And it is useless to debate people whose arguments are essentially based on Harry and his world being real. 

You can never win the argument since they have magical thinking on their side and are thus bound by no deeper fundamental reality.  They create these abstractions which are like their personal puppets, dancing to and “being” whatever the creator says.

These foundational errors are the reason socialism has never worked and why it never can.  And if we insist on ignoring reality it is a statistical certainty that sooner or later it will cause our demise.  There is no other possible outcome.

Look at your children, your grandchildren, all humans, in fact all life on the planet.  Why not socialism and this attempt to transform society from the ground up?  Because this incredible gift we have been granted is far too precious to risk by living as though childish and immature dogma from centuries past actually represents reality.

John Conlin is an expert in organizational design and change.  He also holds a BS in Earth Sciences and an MBA and is the founder and President of E.I.C. Enterprises,, a 501(c)3 non-profit dedicated to changing the world, primarily through K-12 education. 

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