Archive for July, 2012
Tuesday, July 31st, 2012
When humans are young, life appears as a path because there are hoops to jump through on the way to adulthood and only one passage that goes that way.
As life goes on, life begins to resemble a tree, with every choice leading to a branch. The biggest choices often do not announce themselves as such, but like a tree branch, lead you away from the trunk down a branch of branches related to the initial decision.
Moral decisions are this way. They seem innocent, but lead to finer divisions of the same basic choice. If you start stealing, soon there will be more opportunities to steal, and more pressures encouraging you to do so.
In the same way delusion is destructive. If you tell yourself one lie about an obvious truth, and use it to make yourself feel better, soon you will be telling more lies — bigger lies — to support that initial lie.
Much has been made of the idea that liberalism is an “ideology” and that ideologies are bad. The point is that conservatism is natural, and ideologies are made-up theory that is imposed on the nature as an alternative.
While this is true, it is also insufficient. All values systems are ideologies. What makes liberalism as an ideology different is that it explicitly replaces nature with a human order of “progress” that leads to a Utopia.
In other words, liberalism encourages us to take a look at all the world has to offer, pick a series of social values like inclusivity and fairness, and re-design our response to the world based on these alone, ignoring all other factors.
If someone decided to ignore the consequences of her actions in any other context, we would declare her insane and pack her off to an institution (or, more accurately, put her on disability and look the other way while she became homeless).
With liberalism however we ignore the insanity because it is a “good intentions” policy. Its essence is socialization, or getting along with other people. The way to do this is to include everyone, share and treat everyone as you want to be treated.
That sounds good. However, it is fatally flawed, because not everyone is good or correct. Many in fact are misguided. Substituting a concern for their goals and the results of those goals, with a concern only for how they are treated socially, effectively obliterates a society based on leadership, goals and ideas.
What replaces it is a touchy-feely society based on everyone getting along. Compassion replaces accuracy. Flattery supplants communication. Decisions are no longer made on the basis of success or failure, but the appearance of the former.
The result is an oversocialized civilization that lures itself into oblivion, then justifies that oblivion as good because it is socially acceptable, and by encouraging pluralism fragments its people into infinite directions, making repair impossible.
Liberalism is one form of this oversocialization, but all forms of oversocialization take the same basic direction, which is a promiscuous public altruism to convince others of your worth, in order to rise in a social game of moral one-upsmanship.
What they do not tell you about liberalism is that it rots your soul. On the tree of choices, the first choice to self-delude is a simple one; you pretend you are not as fat as you are, or that your grades will be better than you know they will be.
But that choice leads to others which are increasingly difficult to escape. At some point, you have to declare your life a failure up to that point and bail out entirely, or you will just keep perpetuating the process and feeding the monkey on your back.
As human beings of functional mind, we come with common sense and can tell that not all people are equal. We know that Utopia is meaningless because it would be boring, stagnant and entropy-laden. Yet we insist on playing this game, and it corrupts us.
What at first is a playful way of ignoring reality in favor of something that makes us feel like important heroes reforming a dystopian feral nature into a utopian progress, soon becomes an addiction to unreality which twists us from within.
When we cannot be honest with others, we cannot be honest with ourselves. This sets us adrift. What do we want? Where do we stand in relation to it? Like presidential candidates who believe their own press releases, we are entirely detached from reality.
Those who adopt liberalism are taking on a voluntary, arbitrary mental disease. All delusions are mental diseases, and liberalism by making its victims depend on that delusion does nothing but expand its hold on their minds.
As they are forced farther from reality, and as a result spend their lives on meaningless symbolic activities to make others like them, people get more alienated from understanding themselves. The cycle of consumption and self-destruction starts here.
When you look at people who have been liberals all their lives, you notice two things in common: they have trouble with any goal that is not externally defined, like making a lot of money or being popular. And they are angry, always angry.
Like all good parasites and addictions, liberalism both alleviates a stressor and brings it back in even stronger form. It seems to explain all that is wrong with the world, but by doing that, requires its victims to religiously believe in an illusion.
That illusion is cracking now, two centuries and change into the great liberal experiment in the West, and many people are even more alienated than before as a result. Expect them to reveal the ugliness of rotted souls as they lash out to keep the illusion alive.
Yet like all things in nature, eventually the reality principle kicks in. We can only borrow so much money, explain away so many failures, hide so many false estimations of our importance. At some point, we must produce again.
Liberalism destroys the souls of its victims by forcing them to make moral choices to deny the obvious. Their identity then depends on that, and they deepen the lie. While telling truth to lies may harm them at first, it is the only real cure for their disease.
Monday, July 30th, 2012
Because most people do not know what they want so much as what they do not want, people frequently ask what type of society is optimal.
This interesting question shows up in the most contemplative writings through history, from Socrates to de Toqueville to Huntington. The question of how we would like to live is perpetually valid and provocative.
We know for the most part that our current system is an aggregate of things that have not yet led to catastrophe; it’s a work in progress created by avoidance of bad things and rarely by striving for the good.
The reason for this is that since 1789, when we adopted equality in the West, we have been unable to have actual leadership. Democracy picks the comfortable compromises, not the bold new directions.
Looking at what society we would desire then requires us to take into account both what we do not want from the present, and what is missing in the present that we do want.
A sample answer would have to be divided into two parts, since this question is so huge. The first part is a general answer, like a theory tying it all together. The second part is a laundry list of tangible visions of how that would manifest itself.
- Parallelism: any future society will not be based on universals and moral absolutes, but the idea that in different places and at different levels of society, different standards are needed. Uniqueness is more important than a universal, conformist, idealized, optimized, industrial-like uniformity. These parallel societies and clines would each use their own methods of adapting to their world. Further, in our thinking, we would look for parallels (metaphors) to insure compatibility of multiple factors, not simple linear comparison.
Like most directions that are truly distinct from the compromise default, or basic lowest common denominator to which our societies return if leadership does not intervene, this definition is fully esoteric. It opens up with study, with knowledge, and to those with the right ability and clear mental outlook.
In turn, this leads to several smaller concepts that address specific changes to society itself. These changes would be informed by the larger principle, and emerge from it, but address areas that are idiosyncratic enough to require specific visions.
- Nationalism: Diversity requires that people either give up their native cultures, and become cultureless, or that they hold on to their culture and remain outsiders. Nationalism gives people an identity as a group and allows them to establish social standards for that group, and culture, which regulates the society without powerful government. Pluralism, since each person is pulling in their own direction, requires increasingly higher levels of police presence to keep everyone in line, since they have nothing in common. Nationalism replaces the nanny/police state with a strong organic culture based on similarity of culture, values, language, customs and heritage.
- Deep Ecology: The revolution of deep ecology was the realization that in order for a society to value the environment, it would need to restructure itself around healthy values that respect reverence for nature. Consumerism and socialism both do not have this. As a result, the society needs strong leadership and principles that come before cash money.
- Monarchism: Perhaps democracy can persist if the voting pool is whittled down to those who have knowledge, ability and competence. But even if it survives, it will need a monarchy to lead and an aristocracy to support it. Monarchs can make semi-arbitrary decisions based on long-term needs, and by ruling over a lifetime, apply a personal vision to the shaping of a society. Unlike rules, which are worked-around and tend to address past problems not unknown future circumstances, organic human intelligence is more flexible and adaptive. Traits like intelligence are heritable, but at the highest end of mental ability are those who have leadership intelligence, which requires the ability to find clarity among thousands of details and pick an optimum path with a fallback. By creating a caste for these people, we encourage them to breed among each other and preserve and nurture these traits.
- Modified social Darwinism: it is imperative that the best rise, but we must be cautious about administrative and bureaucratic methods of doing this. It’s better to throw people at problems and real world challenges, and promote upward those who do something useful, while doing nothing to support those who are inept at even basic challenges. This seems unsociable, cruel, horrible, unfair, unjust and inegalitarian because it is, but so is nature. There is a logical reason for this course: it is the fairest in that it allows all options to exist, and picks those that work with the rest of the system. Schools should base their learning on practical skills, all theory must have an applied component, and all classes should work students through a real-world project starting from the simplest and developing to the most advanced solutions. Workplace promotions should be based on demonstrated ability. Fewer hoops to jump, with more things tested at once with real-world problems, should be the rule.
- Efficiency initiative: our society worships work as a kind of moral proof of value to the individual. We should start worshipping smarter work, not “harder work” (which almost always translates into more time spent on the job). Our new heroes should be those who get the job done quickly and then go home to spend time with their families and hobbies, not the person who stays twelve hours a day out of obedience. As part of this, all government functions would take place through a single website and office, and different obligations to society and government would be streamlined into single events. The idea would be to force people to have free time so they deal with their existential and moral development as much as economic development.
- Privilege: Instead of a society of rights that ignores our past histories, we should appoint few basic rights — due process mostly — and instead become a system of privileges that are appointed for doing the right thing for many years. This does not mean that people become immune, only that their value to the community is counted in their sentencing, rewards and duties. Instead of “to each according to his need” our motto should be “you get what you give.”
Right now these ideas are taboo to many people. They are making the classic mistake of defending the regime that has passed, namely liberalism from 1789-2009, instead of embracing the order that is coming. The collapse of liberalism cannot be measured in terms of economy alone, but in the simultaneous arrival of dysfunction on many fronts, including existential, social, criminal, environmental and civilizational.
As a result, the old ideas — all of which are based in a single concept, which is egalitarianism — are fading away and people are looking for replacements. It is most likely that the new society will be composed of current ideas with their failing parts removed, as hybridized with what society was before we went down this path in 1789.
This synopsis covers the biggest changes alone and is vague because society is huge and to go down a level of detail would make this a much bigger writing. However, these are the thought paths we should explore, if we are serious about surviving ourselves as a species.
Saturday, July 28th, 2012
Since the year 1789, when the French Revolution changed European politics with a decisive stroke, the West has been exclusively the province of democracies.
Democracies take many forms, but in their modern style, they all share certain tenets: everyone can vote and every vote counts equally; people have certain civil rights; freedom of association is limited by law; freedom of purchasing and business is mandatory.
In theory, a count of votes allows a society to express the “will of the people.” In practice democratic societies, because they endorse the equality of all points of view, tend to be pluralistic, or composed of many incompatible points of view at once.
The idea of the will of the people exists only if there is one will. Because the society is pluralistic, the decision made does not express a pre-existing will, but a compromise forced upon the people by the fact of the election.
The result is not an expression of an underlying will, but an ad hoc cross-section of society, which tends to center around the lowest common denominator, because without an underlying will there is no goal and thus voting becomes a matter of convenience.
In addition, the average voter is harried and stressed by a decision they do not have the ability, information or patience to make. They are aware that their vote will in part determine their future, so the pressure is on them to make the vote as quickly as possible which results in them choosing the first plausible option.
A democracy will insist that this cross section is equal to the whole because that is the fiction upon which it is founded. However, what results is a perpetual state of compromise, which is the opposite of leadership.
For this reason democracies tend to be unresponsive to long-term problems and fixated on “galvanizing” issues that are mostly emotional in content, provoking enough reaction to force the audience to confront the election and vote consistently for one side.
The fundamental assumption of democracy that is unstated is the notion that we are all equal in ability. If we are not all equal in ability, this compromise process will find the lowest common denominator.
An exploration of this situation reveals the motivation of democracy. It is not, as stated, to choose the best leadership. Instead, it exists to keep power out of the hands of single individuals like kings or tyrants, and by vesting that power in a perpetual state of disagreement and compromise, neutralizing power itself.
Unfortunately for democracy, it perpetually leads to even greater tyranny because that inability to make decisions will eventually threaten even the most stable nation.
Since this threat is always visible, the human instinct is to go into denial, and to insist that a group of people of average low ability who are forced into a compromise situation will produce the best leadership.
It is no wonder that democracy is popular with those in power, since in this environment of chaos and instability the first mass-produced, well-funded and non-committal platform wins. People pick the least worst option.
Since 1789, the fortunes of the West have declined mightily through this lack of leadership. If we are to reverse our reversal, a good place to start might be an overhaul of modern democracy.
Friday, July 27th, 2012
Right before the most recent depression hit, the West was engaged in full-on manic “green” behavior.
It has fallen off somewhat, since there’s no point showing off your wealth in a recession. During hard times, you show off your humility, which is the way you saw you’re wealthy and hip enough to not have to say it.
But our green mania appears unchanged at its core, which is an obsession for buying products that show off how green the buyer is. The Toyota Prius, which saves some gasoline in exchange for the disposal nightmare of its batteries, is the most blatant example.
However, because we ignore difficult truths and prefer public image that is visually a more tangible symbol of our personal importance, we forget the most obvious green actions.
We are pouring out millions of gallons of gasoline every week. We could change this process not with some fancy technology, but by using existing technology and common sense.
Yet no one wants to do it because it’s not the self-contained individual choice. Green products are an option for purchase, and while totally ineffective are also inoffensive.
It might require some changes for all of us to avoid pouring gasoline on the ground. They would not be great, but they would puncture the bubble of our relatively absolute freedom, and require we actually cooperate instead of simply buying products to fake the appearance of something.
Our gasoline-pouring starts with traffic. At every light, and every clogged street, cars idle away prodigious amounts of gasoline. In stop-start traffic they burn even more. This could be avoided with staggered work attendance times, better street design, and just in time stoplight management. But no one seems interested.
We also pour away millions of gallons worth of energy in electronic lights and other security apparatuses. Probably a small percentage of our population commits crimes, but on the pretense of being free, we refuse to stop them. And so we all pay, every day in many ways.
Even greater amounts of energy are wasted in sending fools to desk jobs that achieve very little. Maybe they work four hours a week; stop the pretense of “equal” attendance, and require them to be at work for only those four hours.
More energy is wasted in traffic patrols, anti-crime efforts, worthless entertainment, convenience shopping and public government loyalty events. None of these actually make life better. They are simply a net drain.
Some might even say that we waste energy keeping alive many who clearly do not respect life enough to live. Criminals, the obese, the stupid and violent, the perverted and the self-destructive. Each one of them could be ten acres of forest land instead.
We focus on trivial problems in direct proportion to how serious the problems we ignore are. This is a survival mechanism, designed to keep us hiding from a predator through the process of denial. But it doesn’t work with the burden we face as those who have conquered nature.
Our real green problem is one of honesty. We can’t face our real problems and so we chase symbolic ones. If we made a simple change to that dysfunction, we could banish our woes in no time at all.
Monday, July 23rd, 2012
We live in a time of confused cause-effect because, since the Enlightenment, we have made ourselves deciders of reality based on our whims and the collective popularity of ideas.
Equality as a political concept means that each person is valid, whether their ideas/views are realistic or not; since each is valid, all must be accommodated, which results in a state called pluralism where many different points of view are considered true at once.
At that point, the deeper issues in life are dead because they are un-decidable.
We went from having kings and popes deciding a singular reality, to having each individual decide reality, and all of us be commanded to “tolerate” each other’s realities in order to keep the peace. There is no truth to decide, only the presumption that all is true.
With the deeper issues dead, all that exists for us as “truth” are the surface issues. How we present ourselves to others; how popular we are; how well we uphold memes, laws, media and other trends. We are how we appear. (The medium is the message.)
For this reason, we live in a state of duality. We have obligations, like jobs and not committing murder, and everything else is time for us, so we take as much as we can. During that time, we have “hobbies” which are unpaid pursuits that we hope entertain us.
Our hobbies rapidly extend to cover anything not mandated by the society itself. In our personal lives, and in our families, we exert dominion over the surface.
This is a form of surrogate reality, or the creation of an alternate reality which is not particularly important, but through which we live as if it were more important than reality itself.
Like the symbolic reality of morality, popularity and economics, this is a case of a few parts of the whole standing for the whole; in other words, we pick the areas in which we do have power and crowd out the rest.
One major area where this comes into play is the idea of control itself. Instead of having people work with us on a shared vision, we indulge in the thought that we can force them to do what we need. This however ignores the degree, or quality, of their compliance, as well as any secondary or incidental effects of our control on them. Those who wield control are perpetually surprised by unintended consequences.
Another area is tolerance. When we are at a weak point and deserve a break, we are annoyed by other people treating us as if we were not at a weak point, because from our perspective it seems like an assault on our weakness. Our retribution is to demand “tolerance” for all ranges of behavior, which means that weakness and strength are indistinguishable. But then we live in a society designed around weakness, and so it moves slowly, encourages incompetence and penalizes efficiency. We suffer more this way, as the result of our fear.
These surrogate realities are composed of notions in which the visible aspect of an act is considered equal to the cause of an act, e.g. flowers grow because they are flowers, not because of a complex interaction between sunlight, water and seed.
To enforce our surrogate realities, we cherry-pick information. Out of a thousand factors, we select the one that is important to us, and pay attention to the data that reinforces it, discarding the rest.
Through these reality substitutes, we eventually create a human-only world of emotions, judgments and feelings. This distances us from reality and thus, the only meaning we could have in seeing our ideas realized and tested.
As a result, we become lonely and bitter, locked away in labyrinthine castles of our mind mind and cryptic religions of our own populist morality, forever wondering what we’re missing.