Archive for May, 2012
Thursday, May 31st, 2012
As if designed by demons themselves, humans suffer a number of seemingly hard-wired responses that defeat us by our own hands.
For example, we are slow to change when our situation changes. This is because we confuse instance and essence. We think that our particular situation, which is composed of specifics, is the archetype from which any similar situation is formed. Then when our situation changes slightly, we keep applying the same old formula and wonder why our outcome does not change.
Worse than not changing, the outcome gets more dire. This is because pounding square pegs into round holes not only fails to achieve its goal, but by becoming the activity that consumes our time, prevents us from taking the steps we need to in order to succeed. Not only that, but it frustrates us and makes us enraged, to the point where our emotional reaction obscures the path we need to take.
The West is in transition between an old and calcified liberal order, dating back to 1789 but with origins long before. For over a century, we have assumed that when this liberal order runs into problems, it is a question of tactics and not strategy. If our society’s strategy is to work toward a liberal Utopia, and it doesn’t work, our first thought is to assume that our strategy is universal, and thus that the only problem is with our tactics. This is like attempting to construct a house upside-down, and when it falls apart, concluding that the nails were not the right kind or the shingles were cheap.
People around us in this time are continuing to pound square pegs into round holes. When our wars to bring democracy to other nations, really a way of manufacturing allies against any other type of government, don’t work out we assume that the type of democracy we are using is wrong. When our equality or diversity programs fail, we assume that we need more diversity and equality to make these work. As our welfare states pay out untold trillions of dollars for a net increase in poverty, we conclude that we just haven’t paid enough. Keep pounding and some day, maybe these things will work.
Of course they won’t. What liberals don’t realize is that transition is upon us. Liberalism as a strategy does not work, and no matter what tactics we use, whether free-market libertarianism or central control Communism, the underlying liberalism of those two views will still be dysfunctional. Liberal states collapse quickly; we hate to admit it, but the only difference between our modern welfare states and the Soviet Union is a question of degree. This may buy us more time than the Soviets had, but it doesn’t change our destination if we refuse to change our goal.
Liberalism shows why it is doomed because it has embraced this hammering of the wrong shapes into rigid receptacles which will not fit them. By its very nature, it is a paranoid ideology that sees enemies of equality under every rug. When it runs into problems, its followers immediately try to find someone to blame, long before they analyze their own reactions. The entire ideology is a projection of personal dissatisfaction onto the world and the validation of the same through the agreement of others. This strategy is narcissistic and thus reality-denying, and so now two centuries later we’re seeing it fail across the board wherever it is tried.
When it comes to change in a society, the closest metaphor is that of someone attempting to repair a rug while standing on it. Instead, the person needs to step aside onto some other solid ground, then pick up the rug and fix it. But in the case of civilization repair, this “stepping aside” is intellectual and requires we stop thinking according to the assumptions of the old, dead and dying time (liberalism) and instead go to a more basic level of thinking, like rediscovering civilization itself.
Most people cannot do this. That alone is proof that they should not be making political decisions, because their entire “thought process” consists of memorizing the dominant paradigm and then applying it. If it doesn’t fit, they hammer harder. If it breaks, they blame someone else. They succeed so long as the society around them agrees with their hammering, but eventually that dogma comes into conflict with reality and their Soviet Union falls apart. So much for the notion that we’re all equal in intellectual potential. Obviously most people are not capable of making this decision. If these people had the ability to think their way out of this trap, they would have done so already.
It is frustrating to watch the mindless hammering. Our policies fail, so we make more extreme versions of them. The only people who suffer are the average middle class citizens of our Western nations, because these are the ones who pay the fines, pay the taxes, put up with the dysfunction, and buy their way out of bad government services by purchasing private alternatives. On the other hand, if enough competent people notice the pointless hammering, the readiness for change will come that much sooner.
Wednesday, May 30th, 2012
Religion, for most, was always optional.
Something we might be vaguely aware of, and this awareness would temper, to one degree or another, our behavior towards ourselves and others.
When Christianity, in its various flavors, ruled supreme, this was fine. Good enough.
But now? What now? With Christianity under full attack, and in full retreat, right across the western world, what are we supposed to think, now?
Well. Religion was never really a thinking thing, at all, as atheists everywhere, to their glee, have discovered. It never made much sense. To the thinking mind.
What is the point of religion, anyway?
In a word: Reverence.
Stop and consider that word. Go on. Consider it.
Defined, for the most part, as a profound awe, respect and love, usually in connection with The Divine. Whatever that means.
Reverence towards The Divine.
And that is what religion should be about. And does modern Christianity inspire this reverence? Um. Well no. Not really. Not for very many. And why is this?
Christianity has always been nonsense. Sad but true. And now, finally, there is no option but to come right out and admit it. The foundations have cracked and settled, the edifice is leaning, the roof leaks, and sooner or later, down it’s all going to come.
Jesus was not, as he is so often, and so smugly claimed, The One And Only Son Of God. And you can be reasonably certain that he, himself, never claimed himself to be. Others, much later, made that claim. So what was Jesus?
Jesus was a lowly carpenter, born like all men were born, to a woman. He lived this way for thirty years, before the change.
And all that stuff about The Three Kings, and The Virgin Birth? Spin. Sales hype. Hollywood-style manipulation to add to something that would have been far better off, and far more believable, without it.
So, this being the probable case, why Jesus? What made him special?
It is here that we enter my particular area of expertise…
How Jesus came to be enlightened, we will never know, unless we manage to become enlightened, ourselves. And very few will ever manage this metaphysical feat. Very few have, in all of human history. But some have…
Jesus, we are told, went forty days and nights, alone in the desert, without enough food, or water. And that, alone, might have been enough to sufficiently alter his state, that he was able to pass through ‘the eye of the needle’, into a state of being One with Everything. Which is basically what enlightenment is. And this is important to appreciate, because the enlightened being is suddenly aware that he is God, and God is him, and there is neither difference, nor separation between them, nor between anything else that exists.
Yes, you read that right. That is what enlightenment is. And so…
It is hardly surprising that Jesus would have said, to the very next person he met:
“I am God, and God is me!” Or something very similar.
And hardly surprising that anyone hearing him say this would – having no more than an everyday context in which to frame it – interpret this to mean that Jesus was claiming that he actually was God, and God was actually him.
Imagine this. Some wild-eyed hobo from the desert, claims he is God.
How do you receive this? Do you consider him deluded? Most would. Do you take him at his word? Some would.
Even though Jesus never was making this claim, for himself; he was, in fact, doing something very similar to describing the current weather. He was simply stating fact. This was his new reality, post-enlightenment. He could not contain it.
And so to cut an endless subject, to a suitable length, that was what Jesus was.
And forever worthy of reverence and respect, for achieving enlightenment, at all.
And not The One And Only Son Of God, after all.
The problem, you see, with Christianity, is that it is not true. I wish it were, but wishing it were does not make it so. It is a fabulous fabrication, superimposed upon real people and real events, that has had a very dubious result.
We are taught young, or at least we were, until recently, to fear God.
To merely worship Him, while living in fear of His wrath.
Thereby never making the journey toward Him, to join with Him, because, really, who would make such a journey, towards the source of their fear? Very few. A further consequence of this teaching is that there would, guaranteed, be no more like Jesus. And so Jesus would be, forever, The Only One.
But the very few who have made such a journey, in spite of their fear, have overcome their fear, dumped (or lost) everything they had, burned their bridges as they went, and actually arrived at the source. Became God, in part and in whole. This is fact. It can be done. It has been done.
Better yet: it can be done without being miserable one’s entire life, in a holy-moly quest for Christian purity. Which, as far as I can see, is more than likely to end in failure, anyway. It can be done, in whole, or in part, through one single concept.
Reverence! Remember? Reverence.
There is far more to say, write, discover, know. But not nearly as much as you might think. Because the path towards God is the simplest thing there is. Jesus said it, himself. Apparently. Although it somehow got turned into masses of incredibly arcane mumbo-jumbo by the people responsible for Christianity.
The reality is very, very simple. There is nothing to know, but this:
You are responsible for the growth of your own soul.
Nobody can attend to this for you. It is yours to do, and yours alone.
You can choose to live without a soul, if you prefer.
Many do. We know them as leftists.
But growing, caring-for, and finally setting free your soul, either at death, by default, or before, as in enlightenment, this is the whole and actual purpose of living.
It is, in fact, The Meaning Of Life.
You never expected to discover that, here, did you?
Monday, May 28th, 2012
In the modern time, revolution has gone from a historical event to a metaphor.
We talk about “revolutionary” new ideas, universally use the term “revolution” to mean an overthrowing of the bad by the good, and frequently talk about revolutions in technology, social practice, sex, art, drugs, and more.
Our own origins are in two revolutions, first the American revolution which overthrew the idea of empire itself by liberating colonies, and second in the truly archetypal revolution in France, in which the many and poor overthrew the few and powerful. It only makes sense that we keep applying this template to our current ideas.
However like all good terms of political control, the notion of revolution is deliberately vague. We know it to mean something approximately like a group of people deciding the old way was bad, and joining together to seize power. Notice that there is no mention there of the consequences of their actions beyond seizing power; what matters is that they are now in control, and control is like an object they own or a bargain they score at Wal-Mart. It’s not a means to an end, like an enlightened leader using power to achieve a civilization of lasting grandeur.
Since our bias weighs so heavily in favor of revolutions, revolutionaries and revolution-istic thinking, we automatically assume that anyone who is revolted against is (a) bad and (b) obsolete. The point is renewal, like changing our disposable trash bags or shopping for new entertainment goods. We worship the new, novel and different as part of our revolution cultism. As a result, if a revolution occurs, we assume the people pushed out of the way deserved it. In order to avoid having a revolution overthrowing our current society, which we claim to like, we give handouts to the crowd, usually in the form of freebies (entitlements) or permissiveness (more freedoms, even ludicrous ones).
This puts an interesting spin on history: for the first time, history is exclusively a moral judgment. We are no longer thinking in terms of how things come about, but what our feelings and judgments are about those things. In the post-revolutionary world, if enough people feel and judge against something, there might be a revolution! For this reason, we moralize history and those who take the least radical stance are those who win, because they’re least likely to be deposed by revolution. We assume revolutions are a morally corrective force replacing the bad.
However, that type of thinking obscures a historical fact: revolutions don’t have anything to do with actual injury. They have to do with perceived injury, because by its nature a crowd formed of angry people knows nothing about the actual circumstances, and forms a circular logical chain whereby it cycles its own dissatisfaction, amplifying it like a feedback loop. Revolutions are not political, or even more, although they pretend to be so. Revolutions are fundamentally a social activity.
“I had discovered that it didn’t make any difference whether you smoked reefer in a white classmate’s sparkling new van, or in the dorm room of some brother you’d met down at the gym, or on the beach with a couple of Hawaiian kids. … You just might be bored or alone. Everybody was welcome into the club of disaffection.” – The New York Times
Disaffection is a social response to the challenge brought on by a less than optimal condition. For example, the French Revolution was brought on by the increased power of the monarchy allowing them to standardize commerce, health and production, which meant that more citizens survived to reproductive age. This in turn causes a population bloom at the lowest strata of society, which then outpaced its resources and in coincidence with several mundane misfortunes, produced a food crisis and then a power crisis.
The fault was not with the leadership, but with the people who would become the revolutionaries, but they didn’t care. This was not a fact-finding and analytical endeavor. It was a social one. We are all familiar with tricks of the human mind like displacement, projection and cognitive dissonance. All are in play here; when something goes wrong, we want someone to blame. Once we’ve blamed them, that lets us think in terms of justification, working backward from what we want to a reason why we should have it. That in turn leads to the creation of a morality of why we should have it, and when the world doesn’t reward us, a strengthening of that morality to the point that we deny reality itself.
When the talking heads on the news, or our political leaders, or even our friends want to justify a seizure of power, they start talking in revolutionary logic. This is a script, much like con men use to talk their marks out of their money. A script works based on the assumptions we make as part of our culture and experience, such as the idea that if a revolution has occurred, it’s some Hitler getting disposed not a strong but benevolent leader. It’s easy to talk people into revolutions because blaming all of our problems on leaders and social institutions is easier than owning up to our personal problems, fixing the details that are out of place and using self-discipline to force ourselves to leave our comfort zones and actually achieve something worth doing. (Coincidentally, this is the only activity that makes people feel truly alive.)
As the fruit of the revolution of 1789 continues its rapid plunge into the abyss, showing us that it’s not the method of revolution but the goal of revolution itself that is dysfunctional, people are going to react to the emergency as they always do. They will demand more of what has worked in the past. They will not recognize at first that when what worked in the past doesn’t work, it’s time to re-assess and choose a new method. They will claim their method is new; after all, it’s a revolution! However, they’re preaching a tired and dead, old and calcified order that never had a chance of working. Remember, revolutions are not related to an actual injury.
When this happens, other people will expect you to go along with the script like everyone else marching in brain-dead hive-mind lock-step toward oblivion. The correct response is to raise your paper, push your glasses further up the bridge of your nose, and do the only actually “revolutionary” act you can: ignore the impulse to follow the herd in yesterday’s folly, and instead begin planning for your role in a post-revolutionary civilization.
Sunday, May 27th, 2012
This year is a good year to re-assess your political viewpoint. Across the globe power structures appear to be readying for a change.
One amazing fact of politics is that very few people systematically analyze the question of politics and form their own political inclination to match what they know to be true. Instead, an alarmingly large number of them adopt political viewpoints based on vague emotional associations, social groups, or perceived social status gained from having the “right” opinions (this varies with where and you who are).
As a result, across the spectrum of writers on the right, there has been a re-assessment of what it is to be right-wing. On Amerika, we have presented the simplest possible formulation of rightism: consequentialism, or a concern for ends (results, goals and reality) over means (methods, socialization and how we treat others). The reason for this tendency in rightism is that we believe there is an order to life itself, whether inherent or chosen for its optimal results, that is larger than the individual and the feelings, desires and social impulses of that individual.
In other words, we believe in objective reality. Out there between all of us is a world where dropped rocks always fall, and our actions always have consequences. In fact, these consequences are consistent between similar actions, so we can often predict the results of an action before we even do it. Some even believe that the study of action (means) and consequences (ends) can reveal the nature of our world and universe, much like scientific study or reading history.
On the other side is the left, which is a spectrum of beliefs from anarchism to socialism to communism. They believe that interpersonal relationships, and how we treat others, are most important. That means that it’s better to fail while behaving well than to succeed while behaving badly. What emerges from that statement is that the question of “goal” is removed entirely. To a conservative, the goal of your actions is what determines whether your behavior is good or bad. To a liberal, how you go about achieving your goal is what determines whether your actions are good or bad. The liberal formulation removes an assessment of the goal itself, as if wanting to remove intention entirely from the picture. Conveniently, this enables all goals to be equal, since they are unconsidered. This avoids troublesome separations that mark some people as having far-reaching vision and a responsible outlook, and others as simply passing time with whatever distractions they can muster.
The left will use any adornment to dress up their basic approach. They may say boldly and self-abashedly that it’s better to fail while acting in the “right” way, than to succeed while acting in another way. They may talk about morality, fairness, justice, equality and other pleasant-sounding terms. But at the end of the day, what they are masking is a hostility to goals. If you spend all of your energy of thinking in trying to ensure that your goal is a fair one, and will result in a better situation than another course of action, your methods are for the most part irrelevant. This can be taken too far and result in utter barbarism, but that’s rare, and even so, consider the two cases:
- Achieving what is necessary through utter barbarism.
- Not achieving what is necessary.
If those are your two choices, which is logical to choose? Assuming the goal is necessary, the second option is suicidal. Even if it requires barbarism to accomplish a necessary goal, its necessity makes it immoral to consider any option but accomplishing the goal. We frequently encounter this moral question through hypothetical scenarios: if a nuclear bomb is about to go off in a major city, and a bad guy knows where it is, do you torture him to find out where the bomb is so that you can save the people in the city? You either torture him (bad means) or you allow a fusion holocaust (bad ends). Or the question of the zombie outbreak in a small city. If you quarantine the area, you condemn the un-infected people in the city to a horrible death. But if you don’t quarantine, you could lose the entire continent or more. Another option is the runaway train scenario: you are steering a runaway train that is approaching a fork in the road. If you take the left branch, you’ll run over a family of three. If you take the right branch, you’ll run into a tanker car filled with nerve gas that could rupture and wipe out the ten million people. Collateral damage is bad, but creating a situation where the stability of society itself is threatened is much worse.
The means-over-ends calculus will always be more popular. First, it allows people to posture and claim moral superiority. “I would never treat someone that way, no matter what the cost,” they say. Second, it removes the question of goals, and thus makes behavior equally accessible. It takes someone with leadership intelligence to figure out a decent goal, but it takes very little intelligence to apply a series of basic behavioral codes. Third, means-over-ends is paralytic. It means that if any person is injured by a potential act, it cannot be done, since by the means calculus, that act is then immoral. We cannot torture people, create collateral damage or in any way treat people unequally. That eliminates most decisions, which puts society on auto-pilot as we avoid making choices and then accept whatever inertia renders unto us over time.
People don’t like to think this way, because it’s somewhat cold-blooded, but the ends-over-means calculus is the only thought process that works in any situation. You first determine what is the correct goal, which is a type of morality based on results and not methods, and then you apply whatever methods you need to do to get to that goal. This way looks toward the future and considers the whole, lessening the value of the individual but instead avoiding a collapse of social order which affects all individuals.
Smarter people tend to be more emotional and to have a hard-wired need to do the right thing. They are as a result easily subverted by changing “do the right thing” from achieving the right results, to acting in a way that looks as if it’s a result in itself. Which is more moral, achieving a morally necessary goal, or failing to achieve that goal while acting morally on inconsequential methods? If you nobly and honorably avoid torturing a terrorist, and his nuclear bomb vaporizes the whole city, was that a more moral outcome? The West has been subverted by a sleight of hand that holds that a dishonorable result achieved with honor is better than an honorable result achieved through trickery.
We are not the first generation in history to confront this issue. The Odyssey, written thousands of years ago, confronts this question as its underlying theme. Odysseus is forced by necessity to lie, cheat, steal, deceive, murder and even abandon those who are close to him. He must keep his eye on the goal, which is to return home, and ultimately he achieves it. If he used a means-over-ends analysis, he would be lost still. Further, his wife who is beset by suitors also uses an ends-over-means analysis, deceiving these suitors so that she can hold out hope that her husband will return. The Odyssey was passed on through the centuries with this important message. Homer and the wise bards who re-told that epic poem knew that Greeks, like the Europeans to follow, were smarter than average and thus disproportionately susceptible to the sleight-of-hand that replaces honorable ends with dishonorable ends and “honorable” means. As a result, they wove consequentialism throughout the story.
As the people in the West who still have functional minds awaken from the two-thousand year jaunt into a Utopian dream, they are re-discovering this old lesson. If you use a means-over-ends analysis, you will be unable to make long-term decisions or in fact make any decisions until the crisis is upon you. As a result your society will die a “death of a thousand cuts,” with each successive slash draining more of its lifeblood until eventually it collapses. On the other hand, if your civilization re-discovers an ends-over-means analysis, the central question of that civilization becomes the study of what goals are moral, and thus the civilization becomes forward-looking and aims toward optimal choices instead of simply expedient ones.
Saturday, May 26th, 2012
The world is changing. We are slowly reversing two thousand years of decline.
Like most decline, ours has not been absolute. It happens in stops and starts, in little increments, working inward from the details. It’s like getting the flu during a busy work week: on Monday, you sneeze (once). Tuesday the eyes water. Wednesday morning you feel a little off, but have a sudden burst of energy. Wednesday afternoon it looks like a cold. Thursday you’re a wreck.
Despite the relative density of most people, more and more of the people who make crucial decisions are noticing that a wrong turn occurred in the past. When you take a wrong turn, you re-trace your steps and go back to where you made the wrong decision, and then fix it, preferably without undoing anything positive you’ve done since that time.
We live in a society of people drugged on the progressive vision that says greater year numbers and greater permissiveness go hand-in-hand and mean that we’re getting somewhere. These will try to tell you that changing anything we do to a version from the past is a defeat, but they’ve obviously never trailblazed any woods. When you take the wrong course, the sooner you fix it and get back to the old course, the more you win.
Decline is universal to civilization. Without civilization, it does not occur; however, without civilization, a lot of great things do not occur as well. Some want us to un-do civilization and go back to anarchy or primitive existences. That’s neat, but it represents a denial of potential in us. Technology is not per se bad, but in the hands of a dying civilization, it’s misused — just like every other tool of that society is misused.
Neither is civilization bad, except that it raises the stakes. Decisions no longer occur on an individual basis with immediate consequences, but on a demographic basis, where all decisions affect others and in turn shape the filter that determines who will be part of that civilization. Most people have trouble thinking in this mode. Leaders tend to think in terms of standards of behavior, precedents and abstract values. People with no leadership ability tend to think in tangibles, immediates and sensations including emotions.
As a civilization grows, it either becomes successful or gets downgraded to a lesser type of civilization. For example, third world civilizations give up on most of the benefits of organized society, forming instead loosely-associated markets with mafia-style leadership. A step up from that is the classic first-world civilization, which is ruled by laws and roles, by values and mores, instead of ad hoc by strongmen and witch-hunts. At any time, a civilization can go back down that ladder. The third world isn’t a place, it’s a state of mind.
Civilization types are like mathematical formulas. With greater complexity come greater obligations, but also greater opportunities. When you change the formula, the output changes. They have plateaus however because certain types of equations have about the same degree of complexity. If your civilization is a one-variable civilization, you have mud huts, rudimentary farming and ad hoc dictators; with two variables, you have seasonal farming, open markets and a network of local oligarchs; with three variables, you might have a liberal democracy with highly codified laws.
When civilizations move up the ladder, they gain certain advantages for their citizens. The more complex the society, the more indirect these are. It’s hard for example to put a personal value on safe streets, clean water, or well-designed public spaces if you have never known the lack of them. Where in a simpler society, benefits come directly such as spoils of war or an abundant harvest, in a complex society the target is the myriad details that need to be organized to make civilization as a whole a pleasing experience conducive to productivity. Productivity allows the civilization to be wealthy, but more importantly, allows its citizens to accomplish individual goals above and beyond the minimum necessary for survival. Upward civilizations aim to improve on the level of this amorphous and abstract concept, while civilizations beneath them can’t yet conceptualize it and so focus on tangibles.
When a civilization starts to decline, it begins by overpopulating and taking that higher standard for granted. Overpopulation comes about because the innovations created by the best, like political stability, legal systems, hygiene, medicine, regular food and organized public life in turn tend to allow people to survive from infancy at greater rates. This is excellent news, except that the lowest people by ability in a society are incapable of adjusting their breeding rate to match the new lifespan expectations. As a result, the society becomes bottom-heavy with lots of followers and too few leaders. This enables the followers to unite and to demand the sorts of direct benefits one expects in a lower order of civilization (share the booty).
That causes civilization to gear itself toward taking for granted all that it has achieved, and to stop aiming for anything higher than a “facilitative society” that empowers individuals to seek personal wealth and hobbies. Such a society does not strive for unity and sees any kind of agreement as oppression. It is only happy when each person is moving in their own direction, making agreement on values impossible, and thus immersing the society in a constant leadership by committee which is both conservative in that it is resistant to change, and liberal in that the one change it will always permit is greater independence for the individual from any standard, objective, or values system.
Civilizations in decline are in such a race to the bottom. The goal is no longer to build complex ideas or goals, but to take what exists and divide it into small pieces so it becomes popular with the greatest number of people in the constituency. This in turn forces all truths through a kind of sieve that eliminates the connection between details, leaving only linear material assertions. At this point, any potential for leadership is fully destroyed. The politicians pander to the citizens, who depend on the media-entertainment elites to inform them, but that group in turn finds out what to inform about by watching the citizens. The circularity acts like a feedback loop, amplifying trends and fears but obliterating any larger framework of values.
This decline potential is inherent to all civilizations. Thanks to the technological prowess of ours, we have formed a worldwide empire from modern society, which is composed of:
- Liberal democracy: any system in which voting, popularity and consumer purchases determine what is important, instead of some objective standard like “is this realistic?”
- Welfare/Nanny state: to make citizens docile, make them dependent on benefits, and then manipulate them to do things in their “own best interests,” which in turn allows the society to make decisions for them. While this is necessary to a degree for most people, it quickly becomes an excuse to standardize people to the role that is convenient for government and business to have them serve.
- Technology and Progress: as a religion, we have the idea that with each passing day we are learning more about technology, and thus moving toward a more knowledgeable state; parallel to that, we think we are also learning a state of moral enlightenment which brings our society closer to a Utopian goal of pacifism, egalitarianism, altruism and uniformity of goal.
- Social reality: a decentralized control system by which people pass along sayings, memes, trends, fads, phases and other emulated behaviors. These enable those in power to leak out a single instance and have people then enforce that idea on each other.
- Consumerism and Media: with nothing in common but commerce, societies become wealth-acquisition endgames. To this end, business takes over from all other life-processes of a society. To support that, media arises as much for advertising or news. This then ends up constructing a symbolic reality that most people follow, even when it clashes with reality as they can immediately perceive and verify.
These are symptoms of end stage civilizations. Modern society is a worldwide civilization that is entering its end-stage. It is sad that this happens as our technology reaches new peaks, but because civilization decline is a disease of prosperity, and technology requires prosperity to fund its development, it is not wholly unexpected. It takes many centuries for a civilization to go through the decay process.
In 1789, the West officially committed itself to the final stage of decline by adopting liberalism. In 2009, it became clear that the policies of liberalism had not only failed, despite us applying band-aids during the Great Depression, but inevitably would fail because the goal of liberalism is to take from the productive and use that to subsidize and level the population for egalitarian (social) goals. Since the industrial revolution, many band-aids have been applied to keep this system afloat. It is failing by design, and people are now seeing its failings as inherent to its design, and not as flaws of implementation.
Interestingly Europe and the United States have different angles on this issue. The United States, while on the surface a more consumerist society, harbors a vast conservative sentiment arising from its practicality. Americans like end results, and they have now seen 70 years of liberalism do nothing but shatter families, leave people lonely, sabotage economies, destroy cities, etc. Europeans are on the surface closer to a sense of nationalism and thus of culture, but they have more deeply imbibed the virus of liberalism, and therefore even when they think they’re being anti-liberal, they tend to inject liberal ideas into that initiative and thus completely sabotage it before it even gets started.
What is dying right now is a worldwide civilization that has lost legitimacy because its inherent design flaws increase human misery. In contrast, conservatism increases human joy at the expense of giving up some “freedoms” that lead to terrible outcomes. The one accusation liberalism can make against conservatism is that liberalism allows the individual more choices. However, more choices are meaningless in a collapsing globalist regime based equally on leftist welfare policy and rightist market social Darwinism. The only rational third way is conservatism, which insists that a principle and concern for end results must come before considerations of method such as markets, popularity and democracy.
A time of great instability approaches. This is not alarming, because all transitions are unstable. Many people are alarmed because they have a lack of imagination about what could replace liberal democracy, in part because they have absorbed the government-media-social propaganda against monarchy, religion, culture, ethnocultural nationalism and a naturalistic reverence for the order of the cosmos. There is no point bemoaning these people, or despairing of the time we are in. Its basis is illogical and therefore it is failing, not from external enemies but from within. This failure affects Europe, Asia and America because they are all part of the same type of society design, which is the modern society. Where some see sadness in this, it is wiser to see opportunity. An old and now irrelevant order dies, and is replaced slowly but with increasing momentum by a fix to our wrong turn centuries ago.
Right now the knowledge of this change and any approval of it constitutes heresy and dissent to the society around us. The greatest threat are our fellow citizens, who have been told that anything but the current way is equal to oppression and the taking of their freedom. However, even these change, as they see that the people who possess leadership intelligence are OK with this change.
After two millennia of a downward curve, we finally have a chance to soar.
Friday, May 25th, 2012
The emergence of liberalism is not unique to the industrialized West. Nor it is unique to the modern time, or technology, or our complex financial systems. Liberalism is as old as humanity.
When people decide they want to pay attention to themselves more than reality, an occurrence which inevitably follows any population bloom, they begin a long slow progress like becoming obese. A candy bar here, an extra beer there, and each year a few pounds are added. Suddenly at 40 the slim 18-year-old is a marshmallow of 300 lbs.
This slow attack is hard to detect because people like to hide behind what is not immediately visible. If you claim that doom awaits, but in 50 years, only the 1% of the population with the brains and character to think ahead are going to care about what you’re talking about. The 99% are going to change the channel.
Liberal ideology holds that those 99% are in fact blameless paragons of virtue and they are in a subordinate position only by chance or oppression. As the slow attack gains momentum, what was initially an excuse (I didn’t perform well because I was oppressed because I was not treated equally) becomes a cause of action, namely the elimination of all inequality.
But that too goes through layers of interpretation. At first it is innocent, a cry for meritocracy. Then it becomes a crusade against those who violate it. Finally it becomes a demand for subsidies for all of those who did not make it to the bar labeled “equal.” Eventually, society consumes itself like a dog chasing its tail, forever self-critical of its inability to be totally equal.
An important part of this myth is the idea that some people are born The Beautiful People and enjoy a life of luxury, happiness, plenty and ease that the rest of us are denied. It’s not that we don’t have it; it’s that someone else has it, and since we’re all equal, the only way it can be that we do not have this is that someone denied it to us, oppressed us or otherwise used inequality as a weapon against us. In order to sustain this fantasy, we have to assume that all people are born with a “blank slate,” or equal abilities and potential, depending only on “nurture” or the circumstances of their upbringing. This illusion allows us to demand equality so that every person has an equal shot at becoming whatever they want to be.
Thus this illusion requires constant warfare against The Beautiful People. If they have more than us, that’s excess that should be re-distributed. In fact, if we divide everything up equally, there will be no strife and happiness can reign forever. That is called “progress.” And yet what is really happening, slowly at first but accelerating in the second century, is the replacement of the former The Beautiful People with a new group of favored ones. We can call this new group BPs, for Beautiful People, because such acronyms fit with the atmosphere of governments, non-profits and academics who most vigorously champion this idea, speaking over their wineglasses from their own gated communities.
The BPs are a new group that doesn’t resemble the golden Beautiful People of the 1950s or more. To be part of the BPs, you can’t be born with any kind of advantage. In fact, the more degraded your origins, the better. BPs are hipsters and immigrants from impoverished countries, the homeless and the lowly, those who have experimented with being in pornography and taking hard drugs, those who may be criminal but have artistic visions, those who are anonymous but think themselves superstars. These are the new beautiful people, replacing those A students on the football team of classic American lore.
Our mass-culture emphasizes these BPs. Whether it’s the Puerto Rican street gang from West Side Story or the “downtown man” of Uptown Girl, the point is that that which is born privileged is giving way to that which is not. The flower girl in My Fair Lady deserves an upper-crust man, and their love must be true, because it crosses those ugly unequal lines. When a prince marries a Kate Middleton, despite her family having forged their fortune through dubious means and her sister being essentially a prostitute, we all get that little glow inside of us. Inequality is banished, now pacifism and brotherhood can wipe away all those dark thoughts and unsettling realities. We can live in peace and prosperity together.
This is the impetus behind the creation of the BPs. We don’t want the beautiful people; we want the ugly, so they can be lifted up. We want the poor, so they can be gifted with wealth. We want the foreign, the alien, and the dangerous, so we can extend to them the privilege of our birthright. The purpose is to make ourselves feel good, not to care about them; they are the means to the end of our happiness, our uplifting moments, and our sense of well-being through altruism. And yet, when morning comes and the hangover passes, we see that even our well-intentioned acts have consequences and that perhaps those are more grave than a transient feeling.
Thursday, May 24th, 2012
Escape From Detroit: The Collapse of America’s Black Metropolis
by Paul Kersey
374 pages, SBPDL Books, $12
We last checked in with Paul Kersey with his earlier book Hollywood in Blackface, an exploration of the radically different realities of race in movies, and in the physical world. For his next venture, he has launched an exhaustively-researched inspection of the inward collapse of Detroit, MI.
Whether Kersey is right or not distills to a question of root causes. Many of us would argue that the cause of Detroit’s decline was abandonment by the middle class, which is inevitable once a mania for democratic equality becomes the norm, because democratic states focus on their poorest and least productive at the expense of the most productive in order to prove efforts are being made to enforce equality. A symptom of this, however, is a tendency to focus on ethnic minorities and civil rights at the expense of all other topics. This is a social conceit, not a political one; it’s popular to pity. The result is a tendency to favor the underdog at the expense of others, effectively bleeding a society dry for political objectives just as surely as the Soviets did before their collapse.
This may be the root cause, but in the meantime, Kersey asserts that the intermediate cause was racial strife — and he has the evidence to back it up. White middle class flight occurred only after the race riots of July 1967 which were the worst race riots in American history. Further, other factors do not adequately explain white flight. Conventionally, proponents of integration have blamed the collapse of the auto industry. However, this occurred in the 1970s and the exodus began immediately after the 1967 riots. Further, the suburbs showed no decline from the auto industry fallout; people simply found other jobs. While economic woes may be a contributing cause during the 1970s, the exodus started in the relatively prosperous late 1960s and was part of a larger pattern in which the white middle class moved out of the city for the suburbs as urban violence rose. After the riots, however, whites began to abandon the city wholesale.
Even more importantly, as this book points out time and again, for whatever reason that the white middle class left the city, the city then became ruled by African-American leaders for the African-American majority. This point is perhaps the most important one this book makes. If Kersey has time to do more analysis for a second version of this book, it would behoove him to include an economic history of the auto industry in Detroit to debunk this correlation that is often trumpeted as causation for Detroit’s decline. His analysis of black leadership may be more important, in that he shows how African-American poverty was not alleviated by African-American leadership:
Young was quoted as telling Rose in Detroit’s Agony:
In this country, Black people are victims of racism. It’s not accidental that cities around the nation that have the largest percentage of Blacks, have the largest percentage of poverty, have the largest percentage of crime, and the largest percentage of unemployment.
Immediately after making this assertion (which is true, because once a city goes majority Black, the Visible Black Hand of Economics takes over), Rose points out:
But in Detroit, Blacks aren’t just the majority. They’re the authority. They run the police, the courts, the schools, and city hall. But Black political power has not meant Black economic prosperity.
This paradox underscores much of the book. If white rule was oppressive, removing that white rule would alleviate the problem, we think. Clearly it has not, and Kersey will give any thinker a run for their money because his analysis of this gap is diligent and thorough. The evidence is overwhelming: since the advent of white flight and African-American government, we haven’t heard much from Detroit. The city is known worldwide for “ruin porn,” or photographs of its once-grand buildings and homes now in decay. Most people find such images depressing because they show abundant potential put to waste.
Kersey draws a distinction between Black-Run America (BRA) or the liberal plan for wealth transfer to poor black Americans at the expense of everyone else, and Actual Black-Run America (ABRA) which he uses to describe the leadership in Detroit and thus to illustrate the negative future offered if BRA succeeds. His thesis seems to be that African-Americans are incapable of self-government, and that a liberal plan to introduce Black-Run America will thus introduce Detroit levels of destruction across the United States. This idea contradicts the notion that most Americans are applying to race, which are expressed most clearly in the Kerner Report (253). This report, like most mainstream news sources and government, argues that since people are equal, the only source of African-American poverty is white racism. Further, the thinking goes, the solution is to spend large amounts of money on “Great Society” styled programs designed to bring equality to people through welfare, education and empowerment programs.
To defeat this mythos, which has the power of being an emotionally-satisfying and clear “easy” answer, Kersey digs deeply into the news articles and books about Detroit’s failings. His strength is as a researcher and contraster of ideas, and most of his arguments do not directly attack dominant paradigms but rather undermine them with clearly contradictory data and then explore those topics like tunnels through the vast mound of information on Detroit. At the end of those tunnels, he finds information that suggests a different truth, and emphasizes it by incorporating it into his narrative of the white middle class versus BRA and its advocates.
Much like the articles on this blog, Kersey is fond of quoting whole sections from his sources, and then explaining them in depth like a sociological analysis from primary sources. This fits right in with the funereal tone of this book as it presides over the decline of “The Paris of the West,” and allows him to approach it as an archaeologist trying to uncover the reasons for the failing of a once-great civilization. His sources often do the best explaining for him, through their inability to address certain possibilities or provide reasons for the decline; Kersey fills in for them using other sources, showing a truth emerging from reading between the lines and correlating similar data from different sources to provide a full picture of events.
In the 1960s, Disingenuous White Liberals (DWLs) like Mayor Jerry Cavanaugh thought that massive spending programs — redistribution of wealth — could maintain a steady peace between the white and black populations of the city. These dreams would spectacularly end in late July 1967 when Black people rioted, but the rest of the nation still clings to the belief that the government can redistribute money to the Black community to maintain the peace. (181)
The writing is compelling with strong and clear topic sentences, formidably readable explanations, and a refusal to drift off-course and ramble. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of the copy-editing of this book, which is a bit rough at times and undermines his message. However, as these are blog posts gathered up and republished, it’s understandable that some errors would creep in since blog posts usually happen after work, during dinner, while phones and family members scream, at least for most bloggers. If SBPDL re-editions this book, it could use a rigorous edit to bring out its true power. As it is, the book is a joy to read that zips right along without running the reader into any incoherent parts. It doggedly stays on top of its argument, and owing to its nature as a collection of essays, is redundant, but without losing sight of what it is expressing. The effect here is like layers of an onion, in which each essay provides more clarity on what the previous one expressed.
As a good nationalist, I think Kersey has made a monumental effort here and has most likely identified the proximate cause of Detroit’s downfall, but there is more to the story. Whether African-descended people are capable of self-rule here or in Africa or not is not the question; the real question is, can diversity exist without destroying both the host (majority) and guest (minority) populations? History and current events show us that wherever diversity is tried, no matter what the ingredients, one population ends up impoverished and angry and the other population ends up in the role of perpetual giver, or being those from whom wealth is redistributed. Detroit shows us a valiant effort at making a city diverse and how, because diversity fosters distrust as Robert D. Putnam’s research shows, that valiant effort is doomed to failure because the resulting distrust creates blame, which in turn creates victimization, which in turn creates retribution through crime by the minority and abusive authority by the majority. This pattern repeats time and again even when both groups are white. African-descendend peoples, who evolved to adapt to an environment and social climate that did not emphasize rule-based civilizations, may also have additional challenges, but these are somewhat academic since diversity itself will undermine African-American self-rule and/or white stewardship.
It is important that these contextual musings come secondary to what Kersey so eloquently expresses in this book. When the Founding Fathers of the United States wrote about freedom of speech, this was the kind of book they had in mind. Speech that is universally praised or is inoffensive does not need protection; radical theses that undermine the wrong but popular ways in which we construct our society, on the other hand, not only need protection but require us to be extra-vigilant in promoting and analyzing theme. Whatever we think of the ultimate cause of Detroit’s decline, Escape From Detroit shatters the possibility of the convenient fairy tales we tell ourselves, and shames us into searching more diligently for the actual cause. In that it is a triumph and for those who can think outside of the government-media-populist narrative, one of the major book events of this year.
Wednesday, May 23rd, 2012
Democracy is not a cause in itself but a symptom. Its advocates try to tell us that democracy and equality are goals in themselves, but it’s more accurate from a historical view to say that democracy and equality are what come about when any sense of direction has been lost.
When a society agrees on its values, it doesn’t need elections. It only needs to pick from its leaders those that exemplify those values the best, and to push them forward. Decaying societies are decaying because they have lost a sense of those values and thus are torn apart by internal disagreement. The right-wing is generally the party of eliminating internal disagreement, while the left-wing is the party of celebrating it because when society is weak, the individual is strong.
Currently the industrialized West is in its Late era. This is not a prophecy of doom; at any moment, if the will is found, the West can pull out of this tailspin. However, in the meantime there are wolves at the door who wish to dominate us, consume what we have, and then destroy us so that we no longer challenge their absolute control over their territory and those surrounding it.
In this we can see how RealPolitik on the international scale is a lot like prison ethics. If anyone near you is strong enough to fight you, they will. As long as you are average, you are unlikely to be fought. If you rise above, you are both a threat and a challenge, since others will rise above by beating you. If you fail to be a threat, you become a liability in that having to be obedient to you and your needs, in turn, holds others back. Thus to be more than average is to be forever vigilant.
While pax Americana has had its problems, almost all of these can be attributed to the fickle, individualistic and thus self-serving nature of democracies. When American democracy was in the hands of a few enlightened land-owning wealthy white men, it was an aggressive and intelligent creature. Once they handed the vote to anyone over age 18 who could demonstrate a pulse, politics went from being a serious matter to being a popularity contest in which people clamor for freebies and bennies and deny the consequences will ever come home to roost. It’s fair to say that early American “democracy” was more of a thinly-spread oligarchy than democracy in the Athenian sense.
The Americans face a number of people who want them dead. The Canadians are at the top of this list, but are ineffectual militarily. Mexico might also want in but is similarly unlikely. The real threats come from China and its long-time ally, Russia. China has in fact been maneuvering to find new allies, such as Pakistan, so that it can counter American power worldwide. China’s goal is to be the top dog in the prison yard, and it will only have that status when America is destroyed. Russia would like to see America destroyed as well, because then the only obstacle to Russian occupation of Europe is removed. While Russia profits from commerce with Europe, it might profit more from owning it, and would be able to remove those who historically have challenged Russian power and Russia itself.
China however is taking a page from Japan’s book. After their military defeat in WWII, the Japanese took another strategy: economic dominance. While they ultimately fell short of dominion, they achieved status as being a necessary trading partner and ally. China wants to hybridize this strategy to neutralize America by dividing its people against each other through the power of commerce. China’s recent purchases of media firms, vast tracts of land and leading members of traditionally strong American industries speak to this goal. When Chinese ownership is commonplace, few people will want to speak out against those they perceive as giving them jobs and paychecks. This leverages the weakness of democracy, which is that it can be bought because the individual citizen can be bought. This wasn’t a problem when land-owning men over 30 ran the nation, but it is when everyone over 18 has an equal vote.
When MGM decided a few years ago to remake “Red Dawn,” a 1984 Cold War drama about a bunch of American farm kids repelling a Soviet invasion, the studio needed new villains, since the U.S.S.R. had collapsed in 1991. The producers substituted Chinese aggressors for the Soviets and filmed the movie in Michigan in 2009.
But potential distributors are nervous about becoming associated with the finished film, concerned that doing so would harm their ability to do business with the rising Asian superpower, one of the fastest-growing and potentially most lucrative markets for American movies, not to mention other U.S. products.
As a result, the filmmakers now are digitally erasing Chinese flags and military symbols from “Red Dawn,” substituting dialogue and altering the film to depict much of the invading force as being from North Korea, an isolated country where American media companies have no dollars at stake. – “Reel China: Hollywood tries to stay on China’s good side,” by Ben Fritz and John Horn, L.A. Times
In theory, the claim is that we are avoiding offending the Chinese market. But like many things, this is a reflection more of Chinese power here in our country. We are afraid to challenge China on much of anything these days. We impotently issue reports about how China leads the world in economic espionage, ignore the “flood” of fake US military parts coming from China, and censor our reports of China’s rising military strength. We have given China direct access to our currency, of which they are the biggest creditor. Seemingly we tacitly approve their spying and infiltration of industry. This is because when they own so many job-producing industries, it will soon be politically infeasible to strike back against them at all.
That changes when the first shots are fired, but the Chinese are not stupid. They will delay that event as long as possible. In the meantime, like all great Seducers, they will play a willing economic partner and friend, always advancing their needs at the expense of ours. It’s a political shell game. The original shell game involves two clam shells and a pea. The game leader puts the pea under one and shuffles the two, attempting to fool observers. A good leader achieves this by making one shell attractive to the attention, while quietly moving the other one into position. China is doing the same by directing our attention at our paychecks while they destroy the foundation beneath us.
Part of the distraction involves a replacement of our productive industry with non-productive industry. They want us looking at the shell of media and social networking, while behind the scenes Chinese firms buy up essential industries or use their own manufacturing power to push those industries out of business. At that point, we will be sitting on a mound of currency that is nearly worthless, because instead of being backed by industrial and agricultural power, it is backed by technology that doesn’t do anything new except keep people in make-work jobs and on welfare busy goofing off. While we watch the shell of the Facebook IPO, who owns our heavy steel, power production, chip fabs, and factories?
The great fallacy of dying societies is that everything is free. If your job requires an hour of real work a week, then all that time is “free.” All the benefits are free. All the services are free. It never gets paid off, but what it does do is blow away the value of your currency, since currency is like stock a share in its parent entity, which in the case of nations is the collective worth of their industries. Instead of a vast productive nation of intelligent people, we’ll have a sea of entitled welfare queens, lazy bureaucrats, nearly useless make-work serfs, and so on. It’s in China’s interest to encourage this decline.
With America out of they way, there is nothing stopping China and its Eurasian allies from invading Western Europe and taking over. The Western Europeans are simply outnumbered and after two disastrous wars, have lost the will to fight. China and Russia will roll over them and leave the kind of disaster that was East Berlin or is North Korea in the wake of a once-prosperous, industrial, free Western Europe.
As said above, this decline can be reversed quickly. It requires we sacrifice our national myth that any use of one’s time is equal to any other. It’s not. End results are more important than feelings, sensations, social activity or even popularity. Production and the ability to do things matters. Right now, the people who think that the decline of this empire is their meal ticket are going to tell you that attitude is old fashioned. But these people simply don’t care about the future. It’s up to those who do to steer the West in a better direction.