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The Paradox of World Domination

The paradox of world domination goes like this: suppose that there are some people hell-bent on ruling the world with an iron fist. Also suppose there are other people who don’t think the world should be ruled by such a dictator, and that instead rights and liberties should be passed down to countries and individuals.

The trouble is this: in order to prevent the pro-world domination faction from installing their world dictator, doesn’t the anti-world domination faction have to install their own dictator? After all, don’t we need to execute all of those potential dictators and prevent them from taking control… with our own iron fist?

Now I submit that this idea is analogous to the paradox of tolerance. Wikipedia describes it thus:

Paradox of tolerance

The paradox states that if a society is tolerant without limit, their ability to be tolerant will eventually be seized or destroyed by the intolerant. [Karl] Popper came to the seemingly paradoxical conclusion that in order to maintain a tolerant society, the society must be intolerant of intolerance.

The reason I think these two ideas are analogous (for my purposes) is because intolerance can be considered a subset of world domination. For example, imagine a world dictator whose only “absolute decree” is that we must not tolerate some particular group. The logic here is that I generalize the problem, show that the general case isn’t true, and thus the specific case must not be true either.

With that informally established, let’s consider the present state of the world. There is no world dictator (yet, perhaps), thus empirically there does not have to be one.

Specifically, this is possible because, even if in fact most people would like to have their own world dictator installed (themselves if no one else), there are actually many such factions which don’t agree with each other. The people who don’t want any dictator, and the people who don’t want the wrong dictator, can collectively form a coalition to keep dictators out, without having a dictator of their own (and without necessarily even agreeing with each other on the specifics).

This is my solution to the “paradox” of tolerance. I may not agree with what you have to say, but I will defend to the death (if necessary) your right to say it. I will defend you even if you wouldn’t defend me on some or all topics. This is stable as long as enough people would defend each other most of the time (which is a state I hope to maintain, in part simply by showing that it is possible!).

Now please stop trying to take over the world in the name of good, because I don’t believe such a thing is possible.

Keywords: politics