I was talking recently with Graham and an observation came to my mind, one that I hereby state as Kosmaczewski’s Law: “The flow of knowledge is inverse to the flow of fascism”.
I’m sure many others have said the same or similar thing in one way or another, but I always wanted to coin a law with my family name1. Graham mentioned something similar on our conversation:
heh, I have heard the corollary stated before: “reality tends to be left wing”
which is an adaptation of something Stephen Colbert said:
Reality has a well-known liberal bias.
Let’s look for some examples:
- The incredibly large number of scientists that fled Nazism from Europe towards the USA before World War II, including Kurt Gödel, Albert Einstein, John von Neumann, John Kemeny, and all the other Martians.
- La Noche de los Bastones Largos of 1966 which caused the most drastic brain drain ever seen in Argentina’s history, and one which the country has never fully recovered from.
- Thanks to Melon’s new policies on X-tter, thousands of scientists are moving out of Twitter and towards Mastodon.
- Canada is poaching tech workers with a shovel as America prioritizes religion over science.
In my little head, this law is what explains that, even if the BRICS block might surpass the GDP of G7 countries soon, they will not develop into healthy, stable, long-running basis for new knowledge and science. Instead, they will rather rot into populism, misinformation, religious fanatism, and prosecution of free thinking. And worse.
Each and every BRICS country is a perfect example of how not to attract and retain brains. They are, however, excellent examples of demagogy, tyranny, oppression, misogyny, fundamentalism, exhacerbation of nationalism, prosecution of opposition, press censorship, cult of the motherland, and anything that can become the antithesis of a healthy, thinking society.
Rather, it’s the positive, inward flow of healthy, thinking brains, attracted by freedom of thought and respect for minorities of all kinds, which determines the wealth of a nation in the long run. Nations diving into populism and fundamentalism will recess into an abyss of ignorance and ignominy; because thinking heads will pack up and leave them as soon as they can.
Following the Canadian example I mentioned previously, I think that there is an opportunity for some countries in the world to take a giant leap forward nowadays, by poaching talent from other cultures decaying because of fascists tendencies. I’ve mentioned this in my article about John von Neumann at De Programmatica Ipsum in July 2022:
Where will the von Neumanns, the Einsteins, and the Gödels of our age migrate after the SCOTUS overrules democracy in 2024 and Gödel’s Loophole is proven to exist? At this time, the two major powers of our time, the United States and China seem unlikely locations for brains to settle and grow in the long term. Maybe this is the chance of a lifetime for the European continent; if not for all, at least for some countries therein: Portugal, Scandinavia, The Netherlands, and Switzerland, for example. Overseas, New Zealand, Israel, Japan, South Korea, and Canada also seem like potential candidates to become major research powers in the near future.
For those who read “Brave New World” by Aldous Huxley, that place would be Iceland. Sorry for the spoiler to those who haven’t read it.
So far, Switzerland could be doing better in this respect, but here we have our own fascist, far-right political party (very fond of those BRICS countries and their policies, by the way) to deal with first. Not even Switzerland is immune from the leprosy of such political movements.
Of course, Kosmaczewski’s Law is not the only way to explain the long-term riches of a nation, nor it has any scientific basis, as it is based on personal reflection, myopia, and inherent ignorance of the author of these lines. Ray Dalio offers an admittedly much more researched and thorough perspective, based on economic flows and military power, in his book “The Changing World Order”, which I strongly recommend everyone to read.
I think Kosmaczewski’s Law also applies in the great cycles of history mentioned by Mr. Dalio. At some point, nations start rotting inside, they clutch at the straws of fundamentalism and religion, start chasing out scientists, and a new generation goes somewhere else where they can keep on creating new science, away from prosecution and religious nonsense.
So, there you go, Kosmaczewski’s Law: “The flow of knowledge is inverse to the flow of fascism.” You can quote it if you want. And if someone said this first, or better, just quote them instead. As a TED conference would say, this is an idea worth spreading.
Update, 2023-08-25: Here’s Kosmaczewski’s Law in action (thanks Graham for the link!)
I feel like my family name goes well with such things like scientific laws, don’t you think? ↩︎