Societies fail. But none fail because they focussed too much attention on detecting and correcting errors. This is to say: criticising too much or too often. A criticism is an explanation of why something is faulty, flawed or false. It is the necessary precondition for solving a problem: to identify what is wrong, and correct it. All extinct societies have failed because they have failed to solve their problems in time. One important reason is that in those societies there have become taboos that have slowed the rate of problem solving. Traditions about who to defer to, for example. The belief that king must always be deferred to (because, implicitly, he must always be right because he is divinely so!) - or some leadership committee or the commissars - and so on, are required to be above criticism in order to maintain stability (by which is meant “order”). Laws appear that make it mandatory to speak with deference about the ruler or rulers and never to criticise. To be critical of this, but never that. Indeed to be especially skeptical of certain ideas (like, say, “freedom” or “equality”) – skeptical and perhaps insulting and emotional: not critical in a reasonable way. So, for example, North Koreans must never criticise the leader or regime – but they should be careful to be especially “critical” of the United States and the system in South Korea. Insulting and emotionally “critical” that is. Not reasonably.
In a genuine tradition of criticism no such taboos can persist, even if they arise for a time – because they will be criticised and corrected. In all areas of life, in an open and dynamic society where there exists a tradition of criticism frank and honest discussions can be had about all the factors, on all sides, from all perspectives, about the most pressing problems.
Without this panopticon approach to speech and criticism we end up in a state where certain situations and scenarios cannot be broached and never recognised as actually of civilisational consequence. The traditions within societies that do not cultivate a tradition of criticism do not allow for the conditions for all important problems to be identified in time. Or if they do, they do not permit them to be broached. Or if they do, not broached in the most effective ways. Were any of this false, those civilisations would still be with us. But they are not because they did not solve their problems in time. The ancient society of Pompeii did not solve its problems in time. Did they not know about the volcano? Why not? Why was their progress too slow in identifying the risk and saving the members (if only by fleeing in time).
Criticism is destabilising - in OUR society - of ideas, not the society itself that thrives upon it. A tradition of criticism imported into, say, North Korea would destabalise that society but not civilisation. Indeed it would bring improvements to civilisation by civilising it. One might claim “But there have been countless societies without a tradition of criticism that have been stable. I suspect many more for much longer periods of time.”
But this is false. There have not been. All those were, demonstrably - by the very evidence of their own non-existence *now* - all inherently unstable. Moreover what stability they did superficially appear to possess was due to the opposite of a tradition of criticism. They enforced the status quo. This is the “inherent instability” in the system. For any society – the mere “appearance” of stability is not actual stability unless there is a good explanation as to why things are not changing. For example, it may superficially appear that an ancient tribe that has existed in the same way for thousands of years is “stable”. But this is only apparent stability. Not genuine stability. They are pencils balanced on their tip. Sure, if nothing else changes in the environment – there is no little bump – the pencil remains “stable” (balanced precariously). But is it actually stable? What mechanism to prevent it toppling over is there? Or is there every reason to think that any number of things could make it fall? Our thousands-of-year old ancient society is unstable in the same way. There is every reason to think that any problem we would easily solve would wipe them out. Their society is inherently unstable.
Unlike ours. Which is stable. Inherently. But only if we maintain a tradition of criticism. Ours is not like that precariously balanced pencil standing on its tip but rather a modern skyscraper with earthquake prevention mechanisms, a great firefighting system and computer controlled environment, surrounded by surveillance cameras and with a full time team of engineers and others maintaining its day to day stability, checking each rivet and bolt and column with sensors placed all about the precision engineered structure. It is maintained and many of the causes keeping it up are in the conscious awareness of those experts who are continuously finding areas of concern and correcting problems to ensure that should the building move even just a little this way or that, the support structure corrects it, to keep it upright.
For all societies (or individuals) problems are inevitable. Some large number could be lethal and will be lethal – permanently revealing the inherent and latent instability that was always there in the system – by destroying it. Unless, of course, the problem is identified in time. And corrected in time. To maintain the stability. But that requires criticism in time, and continuous criticism in time. But that of course takes a particular kind of tradition. One that protects criticism. All criticism. It’s the only thing that is an explanation for genuine stability – which is quite unlike superficial stability that has persisted - but only by good fortune. We have that too - but not only that. We also have a deeper explanation of the causes that keep us stable. The thing that allows us to "change" with the problems of our times. By adapting, making progress and improving - in time. It's what we're used to now. We're used to criticising things - that's our tradition. It's what keeps the whole thing stable.
The most valuable thing you can offer to an idea