Why Modern Society is Dysfunctional

The case for a socioeconomic redesign

Growing inequality, totalitarianism, mental illness, partisanship, racism and social fragmentation… Judged by the results it produces, modern society is clearly dysfunctional.

Human behavior is dictated by a combination of instinct, culture, social structure, and economics. Instinct is a constant variable which can never be fully eliminated, and must be taken into account. Socioeconomic paradigm (culture, social structure, and economics) determines how instincts express.

When a device or technology doesn’t work as intended we either correct the design or discard it. To hold on to a flawed design would be absurd. Unfortunately this logic is rarely applied to socioeconomic paradigm.


Human groups all establish cultural norms regarding beliefs and behavior. Members receive social validation when they conform to those norms, and receive condemnation when they step out of line. This mechanism acts directly on the dopamine system.

Cultural norms evolve gradually over time. The course of this evolution can be influenced.

Social Structure

Homo sapiens sapiens is a social animal and will therefore always organize in collectives. Modern civilization structures society in top down pyramids (vertical collectivism). By stacking authority and conformity in layers, vertical collectivism inherently concentrates wealth and power in very few hands. These imbalances accumulate over time, leading to an increasingly unhealthy society.

Horizontal social structures provide a tested and proven alternative.


Money utilizes the psychology of scarcity to set value, and gives rise to competitive behavior, hoarding and economic stratification. When currency is abundant prices rise. Money works best when there isn’t enough to go around. In societies which run on money, status is defined by how much one has. Wealth attracts social validation. Poverty attracts scorn.

Monetary wealth has the tendency to accumulate. It’s much easier to make money if you are already have some to start with. The ability to purchase productive assets and obtain loans amplifies earning potential. The gap between the haves and the have nots is therefore naturally inclined to increase.

For over 300,000 years, prior to the dawn of civilization and the advent of money, humans relied on cooperative economic models to distribute labor and resources. Cooperative economic models utilize a psychology of abundance, and is oriented towards cooperative behavior. Inequality is inherently limited. Status within such societies is defined by contribution rather than accumulation. Generosity and productivity attract social validation. Greed and hoarding attract scorn.

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