The Most Intolerant Wins: The Dictatorship of the Small Minority
Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Interestingly provocative thoughts

The magnitude of the examples mentioned does not distract from the fact that these are cherry-picked anecdotes with plenty of confounding factors.

Proposing (in)tolerance asymmetry as a potential driver of change might be partly correct in certain examples but does only inaccurately reflect the worlds reality.

It is not always the most intolerant group that wins in a complex system, at least if we consider long term success. Usually, the most integrative system allowing many components to cooexist and thrive have an advantage to survive the test of times.

In evolution, nature’s most successful implementations are all characterized by high redundancy of components and adaptability.

In politics, we have the “united states” of America that delivered economic success and intercontinential piece, the same can be said with the formation of the European Union. There were plenty of “intolerant” groups with more than 3% of the total population that did not succeed, e.g. the Confederate South in the US, nor did the most intolerant Red Khmer communists in South-East Asia or the Nazi’s in Europe.

In society, one might think about Ghandi or Martin Luther King Jr., who you might call out in being the most intolerant in acception the status quo and thus succeeded; but I would argue that there were plenty of super-intolerant people (above the 3% mark) still here today and they were unable to stop change. So intolerance could not have been the deciding factor, more likely it was the apparent improvements that stuck with the majority and prevented the racist intolerant minority to succeed.

In science, it is true that a minority pushes stubbornly for something until it eventually converts the majority to adapt to it. However, to argue that this is only caused by “intolerance” pushing, not be the inherent value of the matter, seems too one-dimensional.

In the long run, I believe that the few small minorities that win over the majority do not succeed because they are the most intolerant, but because their ideas are better for everyone, thus outcompeting alternative lesser ideas.

For religions, this has been partially shown by the fact that they allowed humans societies to form and prosper. However, every idea is a creation of its time and limited by it; thus any idea will be outcompeted and substituted by a better one in the future. Intolerance or not.

Might intolerance dynamics be a facilitator of progress? After considering your arguments, I think research would be warranted to address this question.

Thank you for your interesting read!

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