Write To Rise
Nations. God. Capitalism. These ideas rule the world, yet they have no concrete existence. The ideas exist, only, when they exist in our minds. They’re abstract. Sure, we see the Stars & Stripes, a painting of Christ and Elon Musk launching a car into space. But they are only symbols. Yuval Noah Harari writes, “You can never convince a chimpanzee to give you a banana by promising him that after he dies, he will get limitless bananas in chimpanzee Heaven. Only Sapiens can believe such stories. This is why we rule the world.”
Indeed, we rule the world. We rule fire, we rule lions, we rule the sky. We rule each other. A toddler has a mother. A student a teacher. An employee a boss. Those above, rule those below. We live in dominance hierarchies. Dominance hierarchies are not abstract. They are real, like the law of motion – they exist with or without our belief or conscious realisation.
Dominance hierarchies are our reality. Where do you want to sit in it? At the bottom? Where your shelter, if you have one, is dirty. Where your desire for education is suppressed by your need to eat. Where your daily stress breeds ulcers and disease. Will you be satisfied in the middle class? You can have a white picket fence, roast chicken on Sunday and a degree on your cubicle wall. Do you need to be in the top 1%? Probably not, but if a flood or bushfire is descending on your home you’ll be wishing there’s a helicopter on your roof for your three kids. The higher in life’s dominance hierarchy you sit, the more problems you escape.
Humanity’s dominance hierarchies exist within humanity’s abstract ideas. Our nation has a head of state at the top, you the tax paying citizen in the middle and a welfare recipient on the bottom. A Christian God has themself at the top, you & I in the middle and Satan at the bottom. Capitalism has a billionaire at the top, a worker paying off his mortgage in the middle and a beggar at the bottom.
There are no stupid doctors. The better you mentally understand abstract ideas, the higher you will rise in your distinct dominance hierarchy, from medicine, to law, to business, to art. George Soros is an investor who has accumulated over $25 billion. That’s more than the GDP of Afghanistan and a hundred other countries. Soros credits part of his success to his understanding of Karl Popper’s General Theory of Reflexivity and applying it to capital markets (applying a complex abstract idea to another complex abstract idea).
Writing is a superpower for understanding and organising abstract ideas. Seeing ideas written on a screen lets us tinker with then. We analyse them. Order them. Question them. Invert them. Writing helps us identify ideas that will help us rise within dominance hierarchies and those that will hurt us. Democracy from dictatorship, diplomacy before destruction.
The more minds an abstract idea exists in, the more powerful it is. If Catholicism had only 700 followers the Pope would be a cult leader. If Seal Team 6 weren’t American they’d be the world’s most elite group of terrorists. Hell hath no fury for an atheist. Believing in abstract ideas gives those ideas power, and in turn, those abstract ideas gives their promoters power.
Presidents don’t stutter. Clearly communicating abstract ideas helps us convince others of their value. Richard Branson has made more than $5 billion. While that’s only more than the GDP of Sierra Leone and 50 other countries, he’s also at the top of the business hierarchy. Branson says, “[Communication] is the most important skill any entrepreneur can possess.” It has seen him convince investors and the public of new ideas, from a gay nightclub to a hyperloop.
Writing then helps us communicate those superior abstract ideas so other people believe in the same abstract ideas as us – giving the idea and us power. We write a constitution. We tell stories about Jesus. We write annual reports. We write, and those who do it best – dominate.