The hardest thing about being a small hominid is that you run the risk, at any moment, of screwing up and getting killed — and unlike other monkeys, you’re aware of it any time a symbol of death or error comes up.
For this reason, most of human history has dealt with conflict resolution and ways to get people going in different directions to work together. It makes us feel good to think we’re banishing conflict because then we feel as if we’re safe from that conflict making us the one who screws up and gets killed.
But over the years, we go from “conflict resolution” to “conflict avoidance,” meaning that we no longer seek working solutions, but to stop the fighting. We assume the fighting is the source of the disagreement, and not the other way around, as would be sane.
Nature, unlike humans, does not think in blocking single linear categories at a time, so when we suppress conflict, we don’t eliminate it — we just squeeeeze it into another realm. If we can’t fight with fists, we’ll fight in the courts, or in the ballot box, or just be snippy with each other.
Passive aggression, the mentality created, arises from a desire to avoid conflict while a need to fight still exists. If I’m seen doing something combative, I get in trouble; so I try to provoke, needle, backstab, corrupt, etc. in order that I can destroy without seeming to destroy, and get the other guy to be the one who lashes out and gets clobbered by the other monkeys who just want the fighting to end.
All of these ideas are taboo because they cut through our pleasant illusion about ourselves, which is that we’re not half-monkeys who rose a few sigma and now are able to use tools but not fully manage our affairs. We like to think of ourselves as gods who intend each of our actions as a benevolent gift to others; the reality is that we’re snarling feral animals who’ve found a way to cloak our aggression in politeness, bureaucracy and a pernicious herd morality.
Tom Wolfe and Mike Gazzaniga explore this passive aggression through a reasonable measurement, which is social status. Status is how you feel you rank relative to your neighbors, and it can be either material or moral. Material is whether their BMW is as cool as yours; moral is whether they’re educated, enlightened, progressive people who donate eyeglasses to the Bonobo like you:
TW: Every time we go into a room with other people, it’s as if we have a teleprompter in front of us and it’s telling us the history of ourselves versus these people. We can’t even think of thinking without this huge library of good information and bad information.
MG: When you get up in the morning, you do not think about triangles and squares and these similes that psychologists have been using for the past 100 years.
You think about status. You think about where you are in relation to your peers. You’re thinking about your spouse, about your kids, about your boss. Ninety-nine percent of your time is spent thinking about other people’s thoughts about you, their intentions, and all this kind of stuff.
Forum: Tom Wolfe and Michael Gazzaniga
For the last 2,000 years our preferred method of neutralizing conflict has been to insist on equality.
First, it was insisted that we were all equal in civic duty, so should get a vote.
Then, it was insisted that we were all equal in the eyes of God, as we all had souls.
A thousand years later, we upgraded that to the idea that we were all equal citizens in potential, so we should have no limits of role or money.
None of these have worked, because in reality — that physically-convergent world out there — we are not all equal, and in fact, nothing in life is. (Most parts of reality consist of unevenly distributed values in a type of “standard distribution,” Poisson distribution or the easily recognized “Bell Curve” with a few at top, a few at the bottom, and most on a graceful convex in the middle.)
When we cannot recognize our inequality, and cannot accept conflict, we are ruled by our fears. In turn, we create a society that because it orients itself around avoiding these fears, sublimates its fear.
The result is the “crab mentality,” after the tendency of crabs in a bucket to crawl to the top, in which we compete for social favor. This creates a pleasant surface notion of equality and an underlying truth of constant covert conflict.
In addition, in order to preserve our good social standing, we insist on equality in defiance of the facts, and by making equality such an assumption, we oblige ourselves to tolerate incompetence. That in turn puts us in a society that is forever dysfunctional and frustrating, but no one wants to be the first to admit they are un-polite and un-sociable and don’t believe in equality.
In turn that gets us this:
New research from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University explores why powerful people – many of whom take a moral high ground – don’t practice what they preach.
The research finds that power makes people stricter in moral judgment of others – while being less strict of their own behavior.
“According to our research, power and influence can cause a severe disconnect between public judgment and private behavior, and as a result, the powerful are stricter in their judgment of others while being more lenient toward their own actions,” he continued.
This public/private split occurs any time we insist on pretending an unrealistic thought is real, more real than reality even since we use it to manipulate each other. In public, we must kowtow to the dogma; in private, we have to get things done and/or become violently self-assertive.
The cost of equality is that we throw out all truthfulness in order to seem like nice people to each other.
It arises from our fear of evolving to the next stage, which would naturally occur from our most capable people, because we’re afraid of personally being left behind — just as we’re afraid of having a lower place in the current crab bucket of society.
As a result, instead of looking toward the future, we look toward the past — we look backward, and try to divide up what exists, instead of making an even better vision of our world.
Those who are most afraid become “activists” who go around telling us that it costs us nothing to demand equality and suppress conflict, but then there are millions of details like this:
In 2002, civil lawsuits cost the U.S. economy a reeling $233 billion. With the rise of civil lawsuits over the last half a century, each American citizen is now estimated to pay a “lawsuit tax” of anywhere between $700 and $800 a year (27 September 2004 US Fed News). According to Secretary of Commerce Don Evans, if you take the total cost of tort claims and judgments in the United States and divide it by the number of citizens in the country, a tort tax of about $809 per capita results (15 December 2004 White House Press Releases And Documents).
What’s more, lawsuit costs represented about 2 percent of the US Gross Domestic Product, over $250 billion. Of this, the manufacturing sector bears a disproportionate share of that, at 4.5 percent. (15 December 2004 White House Press Releases And Documents). And costs are rising, with a reported 5.4% increase in the cost of civil lawsuits from 2002 to 2003 (1 September 2005 Design Firm Management & Administration Report).
Allow no conflict, and people will take it to the courts, which will lead to irrational animal conflict costing millions. How could that happen?
Imagine the other variables we could add:
- People driving slowly taking up to an additional half-hour of your time every day, for no reason other than their own incompetence. Add that up over the course of a year and think what you could have done with that time.
- Incompetents and dullards on the job must be tolerated, so every concept gets divided into bite-size pieces, and soon you’re sitting through two-hour meetings where five minutes among equals would have sufficed.
- Dumb people have no idea their actions have consequences, so they litter, commit crimes, vandalize, or simply break things you might like to use.
- Look at all the areas of our cities that are no-fly zones because they’re inhabited by people without a clue who ruin their own homes, riot, commit crimes, and so on. What else could we do with that land?
- Fools are a politician’s best friend because they are easily manipulated. Since we cannot call them fools, and make them unequal because they have rights, they’re there for any corrupt manipulator to promise them the sky — in exchange for more power of course.
Do we need to go on? These people are taking you for a ride. You have one life and only a certain amount of time in it, but that time is being taken away, passively, to support incompetents!
You go along with it because you’re afraid. The idea of universal equality and rights sounds good to us because we’re afraid as a group. If you the individual speak out against it, the others may gang up and you and clobber you — for denying their denial of reality.
The guilt and passive aggression that manipulates you has a huge cost, but all the people who are afraid that they might be incompetent are going to insist on it, even if it means that society as a whole moves like a person encased in lead, always pandering to the weakest link in the chain.
The individuals around you are thinking like the crabs in the bucket: they want to claw above you by appearing more egalitarian, more progressive, more compassionate than you. They don’t care about the results of their actions. They’re just trying to get more popular.
There are two real victims here: civilization itself, which stops rising to a challenge and starts collapsing inward; and yourself, because your time is wasted and all of those resources of time, money and energy you could have applied to something constructive are taken away.
It’s a reversal of evolution. Instead of seeking to get better, and when we find something better spreading it around, we’re trying to avoid anything better because it might make us look bad.
And they’re going to waste your life by slowing everyone down to the speed of that weakest link in the chain.
The following article suggests on means of helping us past this difficult point in — not history, but evolution itself — through psychological conditioning:
A recent study led by Phelps found that reminding people of the fearful stimuli, minus any fear-inducing event, shortly before the extinction session can effectively block the first memory. The finding could help improve therapies for overcoming fear.
The mechanism for the initial memory’s defeat could be that the initial quick reminder induces the amygdala to store new information, Phelps explains. The window during which the amygdala is “open” is fleeting, however, and could explain why the reminder shown 10 minutes, but not six hours, before the first extinction session, eradicated fear. As Phelps notes, relearning a memory, also known as reconsolidation, takes place much faster, within several minutes, than learning the memory for the first time, or consolidation.
You’re afraid of social trauma, which is when you do something and other people make fun of you for it and exclude you, if not outright beat you with sticks.
In the past, you’ve accidentally said things that violated a social taboo, and people have swooped in en masse to tell you how wrong you are. They may have summoned a priest, some scientific studies of dubious scope, or the opinions of your favorite Hollywood stars. They’re telling you that no matter what you see in reality, they are the ones to define official truth — and hilariously, if you disagree, they’ll claim you are redefining “commonly accepted” truth!
You can see the public/private split here. In public, we’re using opinions and logic and science. In private, we’re animals struggling against each other for power, and the cudgels we wield are disguised as opinions and logic and science.
With the above type of conditioning, and it wouldn’t take much, we could re-organize our people. We should have public rallies where each participant steps out and says, “You know, we’re not all equal and we can’t pander to the weakest link in the chain just so we seem nicer than our neighbors.”
And in the presence of others of our community, we watch as nothing happens. No pain. No nasty commentary. No cudgels. We learn instead to trust our own observations of reality as it is, and stop projecting these social falsehoods onto it just so we can climb a little higher in the social status game.
In this article on the “in progress” nature of feminism, I found a revealing constituent:
My generation — WOMEN — thought the movement would advance on two legs. With one, we’d kick down the doors closed to us. With the other, we’d walk through, changing society for men and women.
It turned out that it was easier to kick down the doors than to change society. It was easier to fit into traditional male life patterns than to change those patterns. We’ve had more luck winning the equal right to 70-hour weeks than we’ve had selling the equal value of care-giving. We have yet to solve the problem raised at the outset: Who will take care of the family?
As a young mother and reporter, it did not occur to me that my daughter would face the same conflicts of work and family. Or, on the other hand, that my son-in-law would fully share those conflicts. I did not expect that over two-thirds of mothers would be in the work force before we had enough child care or sick pay.
It’s easy to kick down doors and start revolutions. All you need to know is what you hate.
We hate the king. We hate the man. We hate the rich. Great — let’s get together an angry mob, destroy them and then…
And then what?
Well, see, the thing you hated was only a manifestation of (a) a necessity created by the many demands of reality and (b) a method replying to it. You shot the messenger, and the underlying needs and problems remain.
Those were heady, thoughtless, stupid days, and many a conventional marriage broke up as women took upon themselves the freedom they imagined men enjoyed, while many a professional man became enamored of hippies and New Age escapism, changing spouses accordingly. I knew this cohort well, and almost every one of the feminists I then knew and promoted on my radio programs and elsewhere either had a red family of origin or newly attached herself to some fraction of the left, whether it be Marxist-feminism or New Left feminism, which was odd, because “patriarchy” (the social division that is primary to a feminist) is an ahistoric notion and couldn’t be farther from the complex historical analysis that a proper Marxist (or non-Marxist historian) should exemplify. But rules were laid down by the new dominatrices, and compliant guilty males and ambitious females acquiesced, with nary a murmur or moral qualm. And part of this explosion of P.C. animosity took the form of exposing the inadequacies of their ex-husbands or lovers, naming names, the more famous the better.
Role-reversal was a losing strategy, not to speak of its intrinsic immorality in a movement that appealed to “equality.” The Battle of the Sexes has not been terminated; rather, new wine has been poured into old bottles. Escapist “magic” makes money as the Boomer generation swells the prospective movie and television audience, and Daphne Merkin struggles with “chronic depression” that she appears not to understand (see an earlier NYT article in which she darkly exhibits her mental states).
The second-wave feminists (a few of them) are now installed in academe and related venues, though their youth has fled, while the masses of women continue to struggle with the same issues that beset them before the 60s-70s feminists made the scene: e.g. women are terrified of aging for good reason. Here is just one example: Discarded women who loved their ex-husbands may continue to feel protective toward them, finally discovering that their concern was never reciprocated in a similar lifelong commitment. And to add to the insult, the older woman may find that she is expected to dress herself as if she were an anorexic adolescent girl.
In the case of women’s “equality,” as the author above found out, that’s an equal right to a 70-hour work week — and still someone must raise the children and keep the house in order. Even if you hire maids, day care and a psychologist, much of this labor remains. And unless your career is ahead of his, it’s going to fall on you. In addition, you’re now spending more money to have a second car, commute, pay those service workers, and so on. Did you really come out ahead?
Of course not.
Feminism is one of a thousand examples of this kind of thinking we could find in our modern world. People see a messenger that has something they don’t have; they kill messenger; then they find out that there were reasons why things were the way they were.
But they weren’t thinking about that. All they were thinking about was what they did not have. And in order to feel better for that selfish thought, about what others did not have. Pity became the order of the day.
The author suggests that approximately 4 percent of the population suffers from Antisocial Personality Disorder, which she refers to as the “condition of missing conscience” and alternatively as “Sociopathy”.
Dr. Stout begins by asking the reader to imagine a world where they have no conscience thereby freeing them from, among other downers, guilt, shame, remorse and concern for others. She then asks the reader to imagine, if they were able to conceal this psychological flaw from others, how they might live. They would, after all, be free to seek all the power, money and influence they desired, in the quickest, crudest and most ruthless way without the nagging burden of doing what is right. Or, maybe, Dr. Stout says, you are not ambitious, but seek only to relax and live as carefree as possible from the goodwill of others. Without conscience, you would be free from the guilt and shame that traditionally comes from being a freeloader.
The world Dr. Stout is asking the reader to imagine is the world of a Sociopath. This is not Hollywood’s version of a Sociopath, the social recluse with the transparently frightening demeanor, but a real snake in the grass. It is your beautiful and tormented best friend, your overworked and stressed out spouse or your down on her luck mother. Dr. Stout upends the reader’s notion of a Sociopath; warning that the real tell tale sign is not fear but pity. She states, “The most reliable sign, the most universal behavior of unscrupulous people is not directed, as one might imagine, at our fearfulness. It is, perversely, an appeal to our sympathy.”
The pity play or attempt to appeal to the sympathy of others was also addressed in research conducted by the Minnesota Department of Corrections and The Hazelden Foundation (2002). There, researchers concluded that criminal thinkers most often attempt to control others by portraying themselves as a victim, turning to fear tactics only when the victim stance fails to get them what they want.
The culture of pity — by which we consider each of us potentially unfortunate, a victim of life, and constantly look for victims and victimizers as the narrative of life — could be based on a kind of politically-savvy compassion. When we see another person, we can mimick their emotions, which makes them trust us as if we were extensions of themselves — much as a virus sidles up to a cell, merges with its walls, and then injects its hidden commands.
Mimicry facilitates the ability to understand what other people are feeling. The present research investigated whether this is also true when the expressions that are being mimicked do not reflect the other person’s true emotions. In interactions, targets either lied or told the truth, while observers mimicked or did not mimic the targets’ facial and behavioral movements. Detection of deception was measured directly by observers’ judgments of the extent to which they thought the targets were telling the truth and indirectly by observers’ assessment of targets’ emotions. The results demonstrated that nonmimickers were more accurate than mimickers in their estimations of targets’ truthfulness and of targets’ experienced emotions. The results contradict the view that mimicry facilitates the understanding of people’s felt emotions. In the case of deceptive messages, mimicry hinders this emotional understanding.
Could feminism have been a criminal enterprise? Consider:
- Sales of feminist literature, magazines, movies and political movements, convincing women to avoid stumbling into marriage after college and instead, to live that exciting Sex and the City lifestyle.
- Twice the workforce now paid half as much. All the women now show up? Great. Halve the starting salary and let the most aggressive workers prevail.
- Sales of birth control pills, makeup, clothes and perfume soar as women become sexually competitive for longer.
- Twice as many lonely city apartments rented.
- More cars sold because each person now needs one.
- Psychologists thrive as women end up on the couch, wondering how to solve the conflict between biological need and social imperative.
- Men spend more on entertainment since they’re not going to be spending it on family. Video games, beer and pizza stocks shoot upward.
I’m not suggesting a conspiracy here; I just want you to hold on to this thought:
Someone did benefit, and it wasn’t the people who embarked on the great feminist delusion.
Someone gained power outside of a working political system, destroying lives and accumulated knowledge, and now that the door’s kicked in, things aren’t turning out as well as they thought.
You know, we had those revolutions in 1917 and 1789 in Russia and France — which one of those produced a paradise?
And 1968, the year when feminism, gay power, black power, equality and marijuana triumphed — did that make a paradise?
Surely the answer must be that we are controlled by a vicious Satan who keeps us from realizing our grand liberal dream!
Or more likely, that new generations — having none of the experience of the old, and having parents too afraid to talk about politically sensitive subjects — stumble into the same illusions and then must serve under them until when older and surlier, they can point out how their lives were wasted.
But liberalism — of which feminism, class and racial revenge movements, welfare states and subsidy politics are a subset — just sounds good because it appeals to pity. You are the victim. And now you will want to find other victims, and band together, like a mob in the street throwing rocks.
Surely this ancient simian behavior will lead us to enlightenment.
Since the last post generated some interesting discussion wherever it showed up on the internet, here’s a few more ideas — in the form of “how the American New Right is different from other movements”:
- Abortion and Assisted Suicide. We’re not concerned with regulating the sexual morality of women through laws. Our view is that we should reward good behavior and avoid society paying for the consequences of bad behavior, which has a natural “Social Darwinist” regulatory function. Abortion may be murder; not all murder is bad, if the person murdered would not have a place. When people are terminally ill or terminally depressed, let them go. We have enough humans. We need more good humans.
- Stem Cells and Science. “Science is the answer” is not the answer, because science is applied by individuals and corporations with profit motive, and so is the most politically-swayed discipline currently in existence. We want to take this pressure off of science and depoliticize it, allowing research — but then determining carefully what we apply to the broadest segments of society.
- Cradle-to-Grave recycling. Many Republicans resist all Green initiatives because Greens are generally (a) leftist and (b) oblivious to consequences outside an abstract ideology not parallel to reality. However, this is just a common sense move: charge a small value added tax to purchase recycling and land reclamation projects from free market sources.
- Urban renewal. End rent control and other well-intentioned but failed policies for regulating our cities. Don’t let people sit on undeveloped properties in downtowns, and start arresting and removing the criminal element so we can redevelop these urban centers and stop wasting gas on commutes from the suburbs and exburbs.
- Homosexuality. It’s not an issue for us. While we find divisive political movements like feminism and queer rights to be counterproductive if not outright destructive, and while we defend the right of communities to define what behaviors they will and will not tolerate, we feel that a healthy society does not need specific policies for homosexuals.
- Socialism. Government has a palette of methods to address a given situation; for many things, collectivization is a good idea. We accept it for roads and other infrastructure items. In some cases, a socialist approach can be helpful, as in education. What we will not do is cripple our most productive people in order to subsidize the least productive, criminal, low intelligence or mentally dysfunctional.
- Church and State. We like the idea of religion, government and culture sharing the same values as this is the best way to bring together a nation. However, we don’t like Prayer in Schools just like we don’t like Jimmy Has Two Daddies in schools — religion needs to be de-politicized and politics, de-religionized.
- Post-inequality politics. Instead of chasing the impossible, and then being manipulated by oligarchs and panderers who portray themselves as defenders of the common man or the equality of the masses, establish wisdom and competition and nurture the good. Further, we should call the Democrats out on what they’re doing with our immigration policy, which is importing voters who because they cannot ethnically join the majority will always be opposed to it.
- Social roles. Per their mania for egalitarian ideology and class warfare, Democrats are hesitant to allow any “privileged” social roles to exist — which then creates a situation where these roles are determined purely by wealth and popularity.
- Media tax. Media changes minds cheaply, and where that media has political intent, it should be taxed proportionately to make it less of a cheap work-around to acting within the existing political system. We need fewer armchair people informed by political “comedy” shows, and more people active in local politics.
European New Right
- Puritanism. Or rather, a drive toward sobriety and chastity. Europeans tend to mock American “puritanism” without realizing that these rules are common sense. People who use recreational intoxicants substitute those for an ability to socialize and appreciate life, and become psychologically dependent; people who engage in casual sex devalue their ability to appreciate partners as more than bodies, and so damage society’s conception of family, leading to dysgenic breeding.
- Libertarianism. Much as in the palette of government methods, socialism is sometimes the best option, so also libertarianism is. Bureaucracies will never be as flexible or responsive or inexpensive as free market forces; even worse, bureaucracies can only be changed through a laborious political process or going through more bureaucracy, which makes them immune to critique except through carefully-edited “audience response survey” types of internal action. Wherever we can, we should replace government agencies with market forces.
- Social Darwinism. Many from the European Socialism-conditioned side of things do not like to see this, but we embrace competition through the market. Let those who are more competent be more productive and be rewarded more, and under no circumstances should we go out of our way to subsidize the non-productive — no matter how ideologically correct they may be. We support job insurance and health insurance as private market options purchased in bulk by the state and resold to citizens, and we support some “socialist” subsidies for artists and thinkers, but maintaining healthy competition is essential to our viewpoint.
And a couple of differences that make us stand out from all of them:
- Aristocracy. We support the maintenance of hereditary aristocracies of the people with the best all-around judgment that we find, so that we may breed a brain trust among us. They do not necessarily have to supplant other forms of government, but should exist as thought-leaders in their communities.
- Wise old people. In each local community, which ideally would have low ingress and egress rates, we support the idea of taking the older, wiser, and through their lives most productive people and learning from them. A council of elders that knows its citizens by name and history, and can help them through difficult decisions, makes more sense than an impartial but also know-nothing bureaucracy.
These ideas are probably too much for our readers already, because they run contrary — in part — to the fundamental ideals of a modern time. However, they’re worth considering as we’ve seen no coherent logical arguments against them and historically, they offered great benefit.
From a reader on Facebook:
I think “diversity” when not rammed down our throat, is GOOD for a society as it brings new ideas and fresh energy to a society.
If we’re all equal, then diversity brings nothing new that cannot come from a study of other cultures.
If we’re not all equal, then we need to make sure we group people of similar abilities and inclinations as created by the specific evolutionary paths of their ancestors.
This user was brave to post our earlier missive to his Facebook friends, and we advise him to maintain his position, so he doesn’t endanger himself and his family by having taboo political positions — it’s up to us to suggest the logical corrections above.
I encountered this one in the wild, and figured it might be fun to explore:
Person A: If the wheat crop fails, we can feed the people apples.
Person B: But not every person may like apples, and some apples may be rotten!
Technically, this isn’t a fallacy so much as confusing a disadvantage of a proposition with a contradiction. A contradiction occurs when a proposition destroys what it hopes to achieve; on the other hand, all propositions have disadvantages. If I say we should go to lunch at a pizza joint, there’s an opportunity cost and the disadvantage that we can’t also eat Greek food.
Person A: If we want to influence the world, we should get power by taking positions of responsibility in industry, religion and government.
Person B: But not everyone one of us will succeed in those roles, and many of us will become corrupted by the lure of money, so let’s not — let’s post on livejournal instead!
The Sluggard’s Fallacy is more of a mentality, and it’s a very modern one. If a proposition is not 100% successful, or does not treat succeed in every single instance, it is assumed to be bad. This arises from human conversations where one person suggests an idea and others shoot it down. It may technically be simply an inversion of the No True Scotsman fallacy but that’s not really the point.
The point is that our mental outlook has decayed to the level of whiners and sluggards — lazy cowards. We want any proposed idea to be magically 100% successful, even though nothing is, or we want it to go away so we can keep being mentally lazy. It’s a widely-distributed version of the drunk dad watching sports who doesn’t want to be reminded the kitchen’s on fire.
With the holiday season highlighting beliefs of major religions, it’s easy to forget how Western religion evolved over time. For example, my household and those of most I knew growing up were Christian in some denomination or other, so the holidays were filled with stories about the birth of Jesus Christ. Only later did I find out that the origins of some of these New Testament stories were somewhat questionable:
The older European and pre-European holiday traditions were not based upon claimed religious phenomenon, but rather upon the seasonal characteristics of nature. The ancient traditions were founded by people who were highly aware of seasonal change and arranged their lives and festivities around them accordingly, explicitly marking the spring and fall equinoxes as well as the summer and winter solstices. These periods acknowledged and celebrated the Sun god and its relation to society. The Sun god was seen as the provider of the energy for life from which they prospered, and was therefore given reverence.
Given the history of these ideas which date back to at least 2000 years before the Christian era, it should be no surprise that the original symbols and practices of [the holidays] persist today, just as our ancestors once celebrated them.”
Religions, and their respective gods, were in ancient times meant to symbolize reality, rather than creating new realities outside of nature and the seasons. Personifying these beliefs by distilling them down into one person – say, Jesus – only serves to accentuate our modern individualistic views, and that one-man symbol can easily be corrupted as he comes to mean so many different things to so many different people. Rather than a Sun god, you have the Son of God himself, who is all powerful and all knowing. It’s easy to see how this tool can be extremely dangerous.
I thought of this recently when working with my father around the holidays, helping him out at a family business he runs. I help out there weekly, and ever since his father died in 1997, we reminisce – especially around the holidays – about how short tempered but funny he was at times, but also about how much he loved his family and the sacrifices he made to ensure they were given what they needed.
This is how people live forever. Family men live on in the stories told to future generations, as I’ll surely tell my son about my grandfather. Other men – strong leaders of large groups of people who achieve great things – are written about in the history books, and the lessons from their lives and their leadership are what interests people, as well as the effects of their policies.
Due to the individually-focused major religions of today, people need to believe that living forever involves heavens full of virgins, grandma, and Moses, where you look better, feel younger, and are completely conscious of this heaven after you die.
Living forever is really about your ancestors: how you remember them, what they did during their lives, and whether or not their actions are translated into valuable lessons for a family to advance – physically, intellectually, morally. The physical being itself turns into dust; memory is how life after death perpetuates.
Extrapolating this idea to society as a whole is how societies become more healthy over time, instead of less healthy, as we see today.
Nietzsche talks about moving beyond good and evil, but per his excellent On truth and lies in an extra-moral sense, his main fear is that by making these external definitions of good and evil, we’re swayed by the people with most interest in manipulating us — by definition, the evil ones.
It’s a bit heady for me to tackle evil, but let’s start with sin. The smarter Christians I know refer to sin as a form of error, but then acknowledge that some people are born broken and are prone only to error. They cannot help themselves. They’re like mosquitoes; they live to bite.
Hill said the child had been playing in a common area at the apartment complex with her two sisters, ages 7 and 9, when a man parked his brown pickup in a nearby parking lot and walked over to them carrying a camera.
“He physically grabbed the 7-year-old girl and forcibly took a photo of her,” Hill said.
The man then forced Natalie into the truck and drove away.
So, um, what do we think this man intended to do to this little girl?
If he fits the profile, as he statistically most likely does, his intention was to “sexually abuse” her. Let’s dial back that euphemism and convert it to the raw terms: rape, sodomize, and then probably murder this five-year-old girl.
I don’t know if that’s evil, but I know it’s both destructive and compulsive, at a level that’s hard-wired in. You don’t educate this kind of abuser. You don’t put them through therapy. They are never going to change.
Everything that pedophile Theodore Sypnier has to show for his 100 years on Earth is packed in a single duffel bag as he prepares to begin a new chapter in life: freedom.
But 10 years after his last arrest, as Sypnier prepared to shed the closely monitored lifestyle of the halfway house, its director warned that the spry and active Sypnier has not changed from the manipulator who used his grandfatherly charm to snare and rape victims as young as 4.
“Whether he’s 100 or 101 or 105, the same person that was committing these crimes 10, 25, 30 years ago still exists today and has an unrepentant heart,” said the Rev. Terry King, director of Grace House, which has twice taken Sypnier in from prison. “He is someone that we as parents, as members of the community, any community, really need to fear.”
Being grandfatherly was how the 5-foot-5, 150-pound Sypnier found his victims, authorities say. After his most recent arrest at age 90 on charges of raping and sodomizing a 4-year-old girl and her 7-year-old sister, his neighbors in the suburb of Tonawanda recalled what appeared to be a kindly Sypnier offering rides to adults, handing out money to children so they could buy candy, and baby-sitting.
“I’ll tell them I never harmed any children,” the father, grandfather and great-grandfather told his hometown newspaper, The Buffalo News.
That’s compulsive behavior. We’ve had nearly 50 years of re-educating, counseling, chatting up, jailing, rehabilitating and other forms of well-intentioned palaver with this dude. He like others of his ilk are not going to change. They are predators.
There is only one solution: to kill them, and do it without a big show trial and a big showy pandering of “how fair-minded we are!” with endless appeals. He’s done something heinous; the evidence is incontrovertible; he’s going to do it again and has a history of creepy, molestor-y behavior. People who are not molestors tend to try hard not to appear molestor-y.
The only solution is to kill him. Half of our population would rather we spend the equivalent of two years at college for a deserving student, per year, on keeping this idiot alive — so we don’t look evil for having killed someone who has a 0.001% chance of being a pedophile “not guilty” for the crime of which he was tried.
Let’s not dwell on failure. Pedophiles are failures. Remove them, and spend the money on a deserving college student, or just throw it into a fund to sew up the ravaged orifices of their victims. But we can’t say that realistic sentiment out loud because half of our population will wail about how unjust and inhuman it is to murder murderers, pedophiles, creeps, retards and insane people. They’re human too!
Maybe it’s time we started looking at these people who are defending the indefensible, point out that sin is error and they are in error, and use the word they really fear: enabler. They are enablers for these criminals, and under their pompous protective arm that insists we be “humane,” we tolerate all forms of predators and it weakens us as a society. The barrier to a cure is the enablers, and it’s time we called them out on it.
We’re at one of those great times in history where both sides of the political equation are crossing over to the other.
This happens because each has retreated to such extreme positions they’ve confused their goals and methods.
Amerika.org in particular is a vanguard of what we call the “American New Right.” We borrow equally from the American right (Republicans), the European New Right, and — there’s no way to honey coat this — the extreme realist fringe of the green movement.
Right now, we’re a movement for the readers and thinkers who are too arrogant to allow social mores to control our thoughts. We seek out sensible answers to today’s problems and a sensible design for society, and we’re not going to twist our truths to curry favor from a society of couch-sitting, television-addicted, self-important yet generally not very autonomous people.
We hold these truths to be self-evident:
- The highest and most important question of our survival is people quality. In intelligent, health/beauty and moral character, our people must be on the whole good, or we’re going to be babysitters in the monkey house. Some people are good, meaning they are productive and intelligent, healthy and of good moral character. Others are bad; these tend to have health problems, not be that attractive, and they may be clever but they are not intelligent. Bad people disguise themselves as many things, but their main activity is parasitism, whether legal or not. People are born good or bad. Their genes determine most of it but there’s a roll of the dice at birth. You cannot educate the bad into the good but you can hobble and destroy the good and turn them bad.
- The goal of government is not to direct, but to conserve. Government should serve the will of the people as a whole, not be a facilitator for each individual’s dreams. Civilizations are groups of people united by language, values, heritage and customs. Government must serve the role of protecting these people and their environment.
- Our environment is our lifeline and how we gauge whether we’re good people. Our environment is like a giant machine that replenishes our air and water. It creates the conditions for life as we know it. Our science is puny in comparison. Obviously, we depend on it. Even more, its condition affects us mentally: when we feel that we are destructive displacers of the good, we sink into despair. When we feel we exist on an honest level with our environment, and aren’t parasites, we feel good. We need to conserve half of each biome for nature — no roads, no railways, no concrete, no humans moving through it. Just leave it alone.
- Realpolitik is in effect and always will be. Every person and country wants to rule the world, and only one can, so the others will be gunning for that one. Even more, if their neighbors have something they can use, they’ll want to take it. Conflict is part of nature and when you think about it, makes sense — nothing ever goes to waste because a frail or obsolete entity is holding on to it.
- Nothing about the human condition has changed or ever will. We are the same creatures we started as and we face the same eternal problems. These don’t change with technology or passing years, but get a little bit harder to spot. The idea that it’s 2009 and so we should follow some progressive agenda is as ridiculous as the idea that it’s 2009 and so we don’t need protein in our diet any longer. History is the laboratory from which we learn what works and what doesn’t, and the notion that we can throw out years of learning because an arbitrary number of years clicked forward is, well, insane.
- Any sane nation will focus on two attributes to its value system: innocence and adventure. Innocence, especially sexual innocence, keeps us loving toward the idea of family and lets us raise people with high, clean, life-embracing ideals. Adventure is what we need to be motivated, because it makes the struggle endemic to life into a form of play. Our modern lives are without grace, without innocence and without a sense of adventure, so we are both bored and cheapened.
- Finance should reflect the value of production, not of sales. Dying empires make their money circulating properties around and “adding value” to them with marketing and services. Thriving empires make things: they invent, they grow, they manufacture, and they refine. The pretense that non-service economies are somehow lower is simply that, a pretense.
- Status should reflect the value of productivity, not of social meme. Right now we have a society where people succeed by flattering each other, or using handy advertising methods to make everyone feel good, and while we’re all so polite and politically correct, we’re also completely alienated from the truth and as a result, ignoring the people who are doing the best things in our society. Polite, politics, and popularity have similar roots — the pandering to the assembled crowd with platitudes, cliches, glad-handing, make-work pleasantries, and by thus avoiding reality, the manipulation of others and personal profit.
- Libertarians have a point: leave people alone if they’re not doing anything stupid. There are roughly three groups in any society: the good, those who destroy what the good do, and those who are in the middle. Reward the good, smite those who destroy what the good do, and ignore those in the middle until they do something exceptional. But in the meantime, leave the people who are not doing something destructive alone. We are choking on bureaucracy, rules, regulations, and nit-picking law enforcement that ends up mostly penalizing the good guys, like shearing the sheep while the wolves feast.
- Darwinism is an ongoing process. Society is a form of natural selection that determines who is rewarded and gets a chance to breed more than others, and who is encouraged to do so. Most societies kill themselves by encouraging their smartest people to remain single and “individualistic,” while also rewarding the least productive people with pity that encourages them to breed. This destroys civilizations. We need to produce always better, always smarter, always healthier and more moral people — and to that end, we should discourage breeding except for the good people.
- Diversity is not a strength; it’s a weakness. When everyone is moving toward roughly the same values, goals and ideals and they have roughly the same abilities, we do just fine. When people are moving in every which direction, they tend to think society is doing great for them personally, and only many years later notice the decay and inability to make decisions that was the opportunity cost of that “freedom.” Let’s not focus on “freedom,” which means lack of accountability to reality, but instead focus on pragmatism. That means the best civilization is one with minimal diversity: similar religions, similar ethnic/racial stock, similar intelligence/class/caste, similar values, same languages, and so on. It’s taboo to say this now because saying it points out that our civilization is dying and not thriving. However, it’s insane to assume that radically different evolution did not produce radically different results. We can politely insist on that and separate our peoples, and not end up being such diverse failures as Brazil, Ireland, Russia, Mexico and so on. Greece and Rome were strongest when not diverse; has anyone noticed the constantly rising crime, corruption and disorder in the USA as we’ve gotten more diverse? The problem isn’t the ingredients — blaming another race for your problems is racism — but the fact of mixture. Mixture creates confusion. Solidarity creates strength.
I’m sure these will be taboo. The Republicans will not like the green parts; the liberals will flame out about the anti-diversity and anti-class-warfare stance; the European New Right will not like our Puritan moral ethic. Too bad — if you think through all the variables, you’ll see this viewpoint is the least neurotic and most effective of all.
To incite further discontent among the latte-sipping classes:
Diversity has never worked throughout all of history. It’s a way large nations announce they are dying and replacing themselves with hired labor.
Whether it’s diversity of religion, of race/ethnicity, or even too much separation between classes, it destroys nations. Don’t blame African-Americans, Jews, Whites or Mexicans — blame diversity!
This showed up in the comments of one of our associated blogs and just about says it all. Our dying civilization has created myths that no one wants to be the first to debunk, because these myths are of the “just do this, and it’ll all be all right” superstition — which never works, by the way, because reality doesn’t work that way.
We’re the American New Right, and we’re here to debunk these myths and scare away anyone too cowardly to face reality head-on. The past thousand years of history have been a nightmare, save the development of our technology, but now we’re about to obliterate ourselves through ecocide, nuclear proliferation, continued warfare, race hatred and meaningless modern lives. Our ideas fix these problems. We’ve been trying liberal ideas for the past thousand years; what problems have they fixed?
The news is waxing boring these days.
A Chinese court sentenced a prominent dissident to 11 years on Friday — the longest term ever handed down for subversion charges, according to rights groups that say it signals the government will take an increasingly hard line against activists in the year ahead.
The sentencing of Liu Xiaobo, after he called for sweeping political reforms and an end to Communist Party dominance, also drew diplomatic criticism, with the United States saying it went against international norms.
Liu was the co-author of an unusually direct appeal for political liberalization in China called Charter 08. He was detained just before it was released last December. More than 300 people, including some of China’s top intellectuals, signed it.
Dissidents are neurotic people who are trying to band other neurotic people together on a mission toward reform, which they don’t understand, having no background in political science.
It’s a lynch mob of incompetents that wants to destroy what others have created.
Because neurotic people cluster together, they’ve created this mythos that wherever power is, someone is being horribly oppressed. And they’re half-right in the way of noticing irrelevant detail that is in vogue right now: someone is always being oppressed. That’s because many people are irrational and destructive and need to be oppressed.
It’s just a flick of the wrist definition that we fail to notice that jailing multiple anal rapist murderers for life is not oppression. They are being oppressed. Their rights have been taken. True, they did something destructive. But what if Liu Xiaobo did as well?
Here’s what liberal dissidents do:
- Encourage the population to consider itself victimized.
- Create doubt about the direction of the country.
- Demand that which works pays attention to what doesn’t.
- Create a sickening atmosphere of moral status competition, where each person tries to be the most liberal.
- Distract from the social mechanism where knowledge is accumulated and knowledgeable decisions are made in favor of letting each person bloviate freely about things they do not understand.
- Like a cancer, they make people feel bad for not being dissidents. The safe we never notice; the dangers we do. The danger of not being hip or new, or able to compete with these people described in such positive terms — progressive, liberal, munificent, benevolent, egalitarian — makes us want to be dissidents, too.
- Introducing a new status symbol. Like piety in the 1500s, patriotism in the 1940s, free love in the 1960s, big cash in the 1980s and recycling in the 2000s, being a dissident is a big status symbol. That’s why all the Hollywood stars and political wives try to do it.
I don’t think a just world exists, because a just world would never get anything done — it would sit in constant contemplation of the morality of each insect death or stone moved. But a practical world does, and in it, the “winner takes all” mentality that favors the strong produces clear decisions and forward motion, while the neurotic brake-slamming of dissidents slows us down.
Send Liu Xiaobo and Cindy Sheehan to the same concentration camp, preferably one of those elite ones they have in Siberia, and let’s get on with life instead.
Normally I detest these “You Might Be a Liberal If…” lists, but I figured this one could be meaningful if it were cut down to size. From Marquette Warrior via Fourth Check Raise:
- IQ tests should be used to stop the death penalty, but not to determine admission to AP classes.
- The Ten Commandments in schools will hurt the children, but “Heather Has Two Mommies” won’t.
- African-American, Queer and Women’s Studies prepare young people for good careers, but a biology major is an outdated relic of white, misogynist domination.
- Math tests are racist, but there is nothing racist about blacks being admitted over more qualified white applicants.
- McCarthyism was wrong, but black-listing “right-wingers” from ever teaching in college is just plain old common sense. A right-winger is anyone who doesn’t toe the line on all issues.
- Education is about “feeling,” not knowing. Logic is the product of white male supremacy in our culture.
- The best way to care about a disease is to wear a ribbon. You must also prevent pharmaceutical companies from making a profit.
- You preach to everyone that diversity is our greatest strength, but you paid half a million dollars more for a house in an all-white suburb than you could’ve for the same house in a black neighborhood.
- You see racist code-words in all media except in hip-hop singles such as “Kill The White People”.
- You wonder out loud, “Why can’t we all just get along?”
- You oppose all racial prejudice, but think all whites are racist, consciously or not.
- Indians created the United States and Europe became great as a result of Islamic influences. On second thought, Europe isn’t great.
- Black dominance in basketball is progress, but white dominance in swimming is an outrage.
- Racial profiling is wrong, but all serial killers are white and all Mexicans are hard-working family men.
- US wants to build a wall on the Mexican and not Canadian border because of racism, not because 20 million Mexicans and almost no Canadians cross into the U.S. illegally.
- Prostitution empowers women, but having a man open the door for you is degrading.
- You get out of bed, look at your naked body and at your wife’s, and then think: “gender is a social construct that has no basis in science”.
- Men stand in front of toilets only to promote male supremacy and should be forced by the government to sit.
- Great spirituality is found in Voodoo, but nothing in the Bible.
- Gay students should be allowed to publicly kiss in class, but Christians shouldn’t be allowed to quietly pray during a break.
- The Christmas tree should be banned from public view, but that anyone objecting to pornography “only has to look the other way.”
- When a Western woman travels to the Middle East, she should respect their traditions and cover up. When Moslems illegally infiltrate Europe, they have the right to expect the Westerners to adjust to them. If the Europeans don’t, Moslems have every right to riot.
- Child molesters can live anywhere and maintain their privacy, but Wal-Mart should be limited to far-away places where children can’t be exposed to it.
- Teenagers can’t control their sexual urges no matter what we do, but child molesters and rapists can after counseling.
- Affirmative action is the way to solve racial problems in America.
- Quietly reading “The Bell Curve” on the bus is harassment, but keying someone’s car for disagreeing with you is activism.
- When rape and murder statistics go up, you blame poverty.
- You say, “Why do they hate us?” when America is attacked and “we’re just furthering the cycle of violence” when we retaliate.
- Truth matters less than feelings.
- None of your friends ever voted for a Republican.
- 95% of blacks voting for a black guy is normal, but 55% of whites voting for the white candidate is a sign of how flawed our racist voting system is.
- You call yourself ‘progressive’ but oppose all progress because somebody might get fired and replaced by a cheap and more efficient computer program.
- People aren’t successful, they are privileged.
- People don’t earn. They deserve.
- The Christian Right shouldn’t impose their morality on you, but you want to impose big government on everyone else because otherwise they won’t do the right thing.
- Playing competitive sports could do permanent harm to teenagers, but smoking weed daily and occasionally trying hard drugs is just something all college students do.
- Freedom of speech means the right to scream when a conservative tries to speak in order to prevent anyone from hearing his views.
- Everyone who disagrees with you must be reported for racism to your employer, university dean and the police.
The essence of liberalism in every movement worldwide has been this: we do not succeed or fit in what exists, so we will create a fantasy world of morality in which our way is better, and then use that to force others through guilt to come to our side.
This is different than honest morality, which means treating the world with respect and paying attention to the consequences of your actions, and different from honest progress, which means taking what is and making it better using time-proven methods — the scientific method of assess, hypothesize, prototype and repeat.
Liberalism is in short a trend, or social fashion, by which unexceptional people with no purpose or utility to their lives make themselves superstars among their captive audience. Not surprisingly, it leads to fragmentation of civilization and its downfall — as it has in every instance throughout history.
If you spend your time working toward greater knowledge and clarity, you will some day stand on a promontory of realizations high above the thronging masses.
If you are also learning for “inside out” reasons, meaning you want to improve yourself and make yourself more effective, this will be painful. You will see how easily human life could be more meaningful, less wasteful, and more fruitful; you see the gap between that plan and any plan your fellow citizens will invent to be painful.
After all, if you’ve made it that far, you recognize their motivations and see why they won’t ever really change, even as they make nearly infinite motions of radical change. They’re like the college hipster: wearing outlandish clothes, doing the opposite of what is expected, and always into some “outside the norm” topic like Buddhism, eye booger recycling or the martial arts of the ancient but tiny Huakading tribe of the South Pacific. It’s gotta be different, you see.
Of course, if your motivations are “outside in,” meaning that you are trying to make yourself gain social status so that in turn you become more powerful, as soon as you get learning you’ll start feeling really good about yourself. Look at how far you left those others behind! They’re peons compared to you. You know the truth, and it does make you a better person. So any time they bring up their dingy and stupid ideas in conversation, you’ll set them to right.
But then that defines the crowd and the thinker: the crowd is outside-in, and the thinker, inside-out. The thinker has transcended a need for self-affirmation through external objects; the thinker assesses whether a thought has validity, and then truth, and moves on from there. The crowd wants to use thoughts that seem true as a means of advancing themselves. It’s the same sad old human tale of a bucket full of crabs, each trying to climb to the top, not realizing that real power is outside of the bucket.
They will however continue to use their “ideas” against you, and will hoodwink others into believing these ideas, which they will then repeat in their attempts to rise in the crab bucket. They feel that if they get in a sharp word, a clever retort, a moral judgment or a zippy comeback, they have Won. In the game of immediate social discourse, they have; people laugh, and opinions are formed. In the long term however, they have only won with that insular, inbred and self-affirming group of low-confidence people who fear reality.
The best word for these people is “sophomoric,” from the Greek terms for wise fool, because they like so many others have gained enough knowledge to think they know what they’re talking about, but not to recognize the patterns and life cycles of their topic. As a result, they are like superstitious witch doctors, saying “before it rained last time, we killed a virgin. If we do it again, the rain will come” — they have compared one detail in a before/after setting, and made the conclusion that this detail is the cause of their desired outcome.
Our most popular sophomoric “wisdom” today:
- Liberalism and science are an antidote to Christianity. Rather silly, if you read history. The Enlightenment came about because… the church got liberalized, and individuals not priests interpreted the Bible. What did they seize on? Perfection of the human form and equality of individuals. That’s the same as liberalism, which argues for equality of individuals and humanism, or praise for the human form and mind, except that instead of using “God” it uses moral “good.” Otherwise, there’s no difference. Liberals like to claim that Christians are ignorant bumpkins who take their orders from a mysterious sky-god. But if the orders are the same as those they get from their personal Reason, what’s the difference?
- Darwinism is not a happy philosophy in which we are all the same. In fact, it asserts the fundamental ambiguity of life: whatever breeds more, has more of its traits prevail. That doesn’t necessarily mean combat. It may mean some creatures nurturing their offspring in a more effective way. It can also be random and pointless, as in a case where a bird species that prefers blue berries to red suddenly replaces others when a new species of poisonous red berry is introduced to their island by a wandering hobo. Darwinism does not affirm equality. Instead, it points out that a struggle against equality is what enables species to have health at all.
- Anarchy is a complete and total failure. Many anarchist communities have been tried; all have failed, except those subsidized by income from “outside,” usually drug or tourism related. Even the encyclopedia of wishful thinking and fantasies by unemployed post-grads has to admit that none survived, and so has to expand its definition of anarchy to mean “free market” and “female empowerment.” Anarchy means rule by theft and violence; civilization is its antidote.
- Liberal states tend to be collapsing states. Throughout history, we see liberal states pop up to the praise of the cosmopolitan, over-educated, make-work job holding class. They clap their little soft hands and praise the progressive alternative! But then as time goes on, the liberal society slides into either third-world levels of disorganization, or collapses outright. Even without the examples of France and Russia, who liberalized and dropped their average IQ by ten points, we can see a history of liberal states being a sharing of good feelings before the collapse.
- Life is struggle. So much of our human discourse involves trying to find a safe answer where everyone comes home alive and is presumed to live forever. We hate destruction, so we avoid destructive-seeming acts, not realizing that life is like a forest: if something does not periodically burn out the underbrush, we set up the conditions for a massive fire. Avoiding struggle is setting up the underbrush and lining it with napalm. Our voters and marketers are afraid of wars, deprivation and conflict because they are unpopular, but they are necessary to avoid even bigger conflicts.
- Power is literal. We fear Malthus, realpolitik and Machiavelli because they affirm something we know in our inner hearts: the struggle for power is merciless, and it is merciless so that a decision is always reached. A world of compromise and safe accords would be a boring one where dynamic change was impossible. Malthus shows us that often succeeding is the worst kind of failure, because we can drown in our own successes; realpolitik tells us that there must always be a big boss in any theatre of power, and that others will try to exterminate him; Machiavelli (and Homer, come to think of it) reminds us that crafty manipulation and ruthless seizure of power are often the best path to the stability for everyone.
- Diversity of all forms is destructive. Although I’m not the biggest Ann Coulter fan, she nails it:
Never in recorded history has diversity been anything but a problem. Look at Ireland with its Protestant and Catholic populations, Canada with its French and English populations, Israel with its Jewish and Palestinian populations.
Or consider the warring factions in India, Sri Lanka, China, Iraq, Czechoslovakia (until it happily split up), the Balkans and Chechnya. Also look at the festering hotbeds of tribal warfare — I mean the beautiful mosaics — in Third World hellholes like Afghanistan, Rwanda and South Central, L.A.
“Diversity” is a difficulty to be overcome, not an advantage to be sought. True, America does a better job than most at accommodating a diverse population. We also do a better job at curing cancer and containing pollution. But no one goes around mindlessly exclaiming: “Cancer is a strength!” “Pollution is our greatest asset!”
At the End of the Day, Diversity has jumped the shark, horrifically
This applies to all forms in which we can have diversity: of values system, of opinion, of religion, ability (IQ and otherwise), of ethnicity. This does not mean we favor “monoculture,” but that everyone be pulling in roughly the same direction.
Right now, there is no greater taboo than speaking against diversity, because it ties in to two of our biggest sacred cows: first, equality as a means of class warfare, or protecting the masses of us against those who have higher ability and might take it all; second, the idea of the individual as coming from a “blank slate” in which we are each the architects of ourselves, nevermind that the best evidence suggests we inherit our personalities, intelligence and bodies and make only minor modifications in our lifespans.
- There is no way we are not affecting our world. You have a straw man in the public eye, global warming, which is used as a surrogate for all of our impact on the environment, and which has become a political pawn for third-world financial revenge against the first world. But think of all we don’t mention: the overfishing, the loss of natural habitats, the inability to find a square foot of earth without a crushed coke can or cigarette butt, the pollution and the trace elements we have rearranged. Climate change is bad news, surely, but it’s probably more complex than just carbon — most likely, the real culprit is our concrete cities reflecting heat while we remove the forests that renew moisture and oxygen while we also pollute. Global warming is like blaming our fingernail polish color for ruining an hideous outfit: many things are wrong, but it makes us feel comfortable to zero in on one.
All of these fears — fear of the more competent, fear of lack of autonomy of the individual, fear of power — boil down to a single human trait: fear of incompetence. I don’t think any longer that death is what we fear; in fact, I think many embrace death because it ends their lives without requiring their own intervention. What we do fear is powerlessness, insignificance, being left out, and so on. So we create a herd mentality that obligates others to include us, immediately fostering an environment of servile insincerity.
Our sophomoric reasoning may have arisen from any number of potential causes that are also its effects, like egalitarianism, religious strife, class warfare, lowered intelligence, populism and so on. But decay is a complex process that rarely has a single starting point; instead, it has many potential starting points from which the disease spreads to all others. Think of the organ systems: if the heart starts to fail, so do the lungs, and eventually the brain, and if any of those started to fail first, the process would happen in reverse. It’s not a linear process but a parallel one, like all complex things in life.
We insist on a reality that feels good to us. We use it to make others feel happy so we can sell them products or ideas. Then, we are dismayed that we have obscured actual reality, and people prefer the fake reality. It’s like the mice in the lab experiment where pushing a button gets them cocaine; well, who wants to go back to dreary lab cage reality when there’s coke around? They push the button until they starve.
The smartest among us have been talking, for many centuries, about “waking up.” We live in a dream, they remind us; a dream made of our combined populist notions, democratic votes, consumerist marketing and social/politeness viewpoints which we trade around like Monopoly money. Our decline has gotten to the point where we cannot talk honestly about even the most basic aspects of our society, so we do not make decisions, so the process continues unraveling while we sit in the middle like neurotic rape victims wondering what’s happening to us.
Each generation passes these problems to another. The positive way to look at this is that they solved the problems they could, but are leaving the ones they could not. It’s time for us to accept the fear of speaking taboo, and very professionally sidestep it, so we don’t leave our children even bigger problems. Life is worth living and so it’s worth living well, which means we need to abandon the sophomoric tendency of picking only the few attributes of reality we want to see, and instead, we need to start thinking structurally about it, considering every factor at once — but that requires that first we get honest with ourselves.