Conservatives make our first and most deadly mistake when we treat liberalism as a political movement.
If analyzed by its actions and not its words, liberalism is not a political viewpoint, but rather a social activity which has political consequences. Like a cult, it bases its power on its ability to include other people for participating, and to convey a social reward to them.
Like all good cults, or even advertising, it starts by convincing its members that they lack something. Its members focus on suffering and negativity, and bond on victimhood. They offer you a convenient explanation: there is nothing wrong with your decisions; something bad was done to you. Something was taken from you.
This forms the basis of the hive mind ritual. It works backward from normal human thinking. Normal human thinking is to spot a problem, and think of a solution. The hive mind starts with a solution, and goes in search of a problem. It is no different than a witch-hunt or the Holocaust.
When the ritual is joined, the negativity is channeled from individual doubts and fears into a scapegoat, and into the formation of a posse to hunt and destroy that scapegoat. The psychological undercurrent is that if this evil is destroyed, only good remains. All who participate are now accepted in the cult. They are included.
The fundamental concept of liberalism, equality, appeals universally because it implies an end of conflict and everyone being happy. It is what you would want if throwing a party or going camping with friends. It is a socially popular idea, not a rational one. It makes people like you.
It also allows its individual members to compete in the game of who-is-most-orthodox. This is a lot like what hipsters do; it’s a competition to see who is the most unconventional, ironic, unique, outrageous, bizarre or shocking. Those who go the farthest rise in social status. Social success comes from political success.
As an end result, this tendency produces a “hive” of angry people who surge forth looking for someone doing something incorrect so they may pound the heck out of them. If you’ve noticed similarities to bullying, or to fanatical religious cults, you have spotted the human psychology behind liberalism.
Drugged on moral superiority because it compensates for whatever wounds they have convinced themselves are caused by their victimization, the people caught up in this mental process — it’s like a mass mania, a trend or a group panic — cannot stop themselves from acting out the drama.
They see the world in one dimensional terms. The dogma of liberalism determines who succeeds; therefore, any idea or action is either of the dogma, or presumed to be against the dogma. Since they believe in a prime victimizer, they are always looking for victimhood or an excuse to use it to justify their behavior.
It is successful because it unites its members, but without asking them to make the sacrifices necessary to maintain society by disciplining themselves. It does not ask people to change themselves; they are told the answer lies solely in changing the world, with no adaptation or change in the individual required.
This is why liberalism is as old as humanity. In fact, it is eternal. If intelligent lizards arose on Mars, it would be a challenge they would face, because it is inherent to intelligent creatures in a civilization. There will always be the temptation to use liberalism to explain failures in life, sadness or even boredom.
Conservatives need to stop taking liberalism seriously. It is not politics; it is a social setting. It creates political results, but for social goals. This means that it doesn’t succumb to or answer to logical argument, because it doesn’t care. Its only goal is to look good and get its members advanced in their social group.
There’s an old legend in Texas that if a stampede — a mass panic by thousands of cows — comes your way, you should stand with your shoulder facing the herd and hold out your hand, palm up. The cows at the front edge of the stampede interpret you as a barrier and they go around you.
Republicans need to do the same thing to liberals. Liberals bully because they know they can find an apologetic victim who will be cowed by the social pressure of having a lot of people disapprove. When you take them seriously, you allow them to play this role and get away with it.
A better outlook is to assume that everyone is insane, and look for the rare plan suggested by a rare person which might not be insane. This avoids the right-left cycle whereby the right apologizing fuels the left, and allows us to stop wasting time on explaining and defending ourselves to people who don’t care what we’re saying.
Early this morning, one of the brightest lights of right-wing thought moved on from this world. As an American who enjoyed the idea and reality of America, Lawrence Auster was not “new right” in the European sense of co-opting leftism with rightist motivations, but since America had already done that with neoconservatism, he went to the next step and rediscovered a roots conservatism that few can understand in this time of a civilization distanced from its origins.
Auster’s story is one of triumph: of a man beating his own demons and coming to accept his love for the world and the divinity within it, of a man beating back illusion of multiple layers, of someone who could use his piercing mind not to generate tangential theories and ideologies, but to peer directly into the substructure of reality itself and build his theories on that. In a time when wishful thinking is the foundation of most politics, Auster presented a stable and commanding perspective.
For details of his life, Laura Wood’s eulogy is the best place to read; for a guide to his thoughts, visit his blog View From the Right and read the “Key VFR articles” in the lower right-hand column. There is too much to Auster to summarize with honesty in a single article.
Instead, it makes sense to celebrate two of the principles that Auster shared with all good conservatives: interactive realism and reverent love. Interactive realism is the ability to recognize the rules of the world and know how they can be manipulated without leading to disaster; reverent love requires a religious type of outlook on the world, in which one sees a transcendental point of view underlying all that is good and bad in perpetual struggle on earth.
Where his original writings show an aggressive pragmatism, Auster developed his views by struggling in inches and not feet over the fundamental questions of epistemology, ontology and metaphysics. It was this painstaking attention to detail, and to correcting imbalances and thus improving perception, that he became one of the most insightful realists of our time, and also one of the best voices arguing for, if not religion, a view of the world as an outgrowth of divinity.
We have lost a great thinker, but in every loss there is a contrast, and it shows us each what we must do to become more like the vision of existence that we adore. As such, this loss will spur others on to be better, to work smarter, to be more diligent and to be more perceptive. As for Mr. Auster, in honoring his belief (and not incompatible with my own Perennialist outlook), I choose to believe as he did, that he is in a state of the divine and watching us with unending compassion from the heavens.
Breakfast with the Dirt Cult
by Samuel Finlay
318 pages, William P. Watkins, $12
A chronicle of the adventures of an American soldier in Afghanistan, this book contrasts the social impact of feminism, the emotional and moral consequences of liberalism, and the breakdown of society with the quest for raw Nietzschean survival as embodied in the process of combat and survival.
The action follows the life experiences of Tom Walton, a 20-something American who senses something is not quite right in the world. He is looking for something to hold on to, and to believe in, while he struggles to make sense of the world around him. For most of the book, his reliance falls on a young woman with whom he has found affection.
As time goes on, Walton is deployed to Afghanistan. Most of the action of the book occurs either in training or in action during the Afghan conflict, featuring Walton going from having never had combat to having experienced combat. The description in this area is quite vivid
While the external action goes on in the battlefields, bars and bedrooms of the world, the most important activity of this book goes on in Walton’s mind as he reconciles his experiences with ideas he has learned and been analyzing over time. The disconnect between reality and expectation fuels his examination, which leads him toward many traditionalist, anti-liberal and anti-feminist conclusions.
He knew that on paper he was just a bookish young man from Middle America, but in the Chinook with his platoon of natural-born, pure-bred sons-of-bitches next to him, he felt like he was in a war band of pagan gods out for vengeance and blood. He could barely fathom how this moment compared to a day of life back in the States consisting of eight hours in a cubicle then going home to watch sit-coms, and maybe rub one out to some porn. (107)
Finlay explores many concepts that fit into the nexus of the growing anti-feminist awakening known as the Men’s Rights movement, which combines a fundamental anti-liberalism with a rejection of androgynous roles and a loss of masculinity. The Men’s Rights movement is interesting because it is always at the edge of social conservatism of the most extreme nature, since its diagnosis of feminism reveals how “equality” shatters the unique and complementary beauty of the genders.
As Walton stumbles through a relationship, he notes several painful factors. The lack of exclusivity makes him realize a beauty is missing; the hypergamy of women makes all of his interaction with women seem to be like a game in which they have rehearsed all the right moves. Through Walton’s eyes, we see modern dating as the insincere mutual manipulation sect that it is, and his disgust with it is most profound when he contrasts the beauty of nature, of combat and of self-reliance against the saccharine treacle quagmire of modern dating.
One of the interesting themes of this novel is the shifting of Walton’s analysis. Toward the beginning, he blames the usual suspects for a lack of fun: rules, regulations, sobriety, discipline. Toward the end, having been baptized in fire and blood, he starts to see how the permissiveness and ambiguity of modern society leads to a space of no values in which there’s no point doing anything, and really no point trying for anything above and beyond the norm.
Something was wrong. It wasn’t merely the wounded and the hospital; it was war, and that was to be expected. But the country, the world…the whole spirit of things was shot through with vileness and confusion. He couldn’t put his finger on it, but he sensed its presence nonetheless. (221)
Walton is a perfect protagonist-narrator because he is smarter than average but above all else, an innocent. He wants to experience the world, to read great literature, and to have adventures. He is bored and good-hearted, although far from perfect, but his desires are all perfectly normal. He is terrified of life passing in a meaningless blur after which he would have nothing to offer but regrets. However, he feels trapped in time by what he perceives by the end of the book as the complete decline of civilization.
The combat sequences written in this book are not Hollywood. They are instead more like something you would find in an outdoorsy magazine, with the combat part seeming like an incidental event viewed mainly through the eyes of shock. Characters, although sparse and not particularly prone to develop, reveal themselves through what they are willing to endure. Walton’s praise showers on those who are not just intent on surviving, but who have something greater embedded in their soul, even if just a yearning for experience or adventure.
Through Walton as a mouthpiece, Finlay shows us the landscape of a ruined culture. There are the manchild boys who espouse veganism and yet cannot make a single clear assertive statement; the families touched by war and death; the dysfunction of the system, the aimlessness of its people, and above all else, the careless indifference and passivity of the average person. Walton shows us the invisible dystopia that is not yet Blade Runner, but in its heart is already there.
At some point, he had embarked upon his own regime of hedonism in the name of fitting in and “having fun.”…Eventually people in such circumstances grew addicted to novelty. As they did, they lost their edge and devolved into perfect savages…In coming to dominate the planet and achieve widespread affluence on a scale never seen before, [the West] had become a victim of its own success and had embraced self-castration. The rot of imperial fatigue gnawed as its core. The earth stank with it. It had taken something fundamental from its own people, and they had grown soft and decadent in the warmth of learned helplessness, making deals with whatever devil promised them everything without them ever having to pay or bleed for anything. (128)
This book could be a lot shorter, perhaps a hundred pages or more, without losing much. While the language is often beautiful, it also frequently suffers for the condition of being halfway between a memoir and story, such that many words are used to describe mentation but the surrounding events do not exactly demonstrate this. Oftentimes, lengthy descriptions could be replaced by singular evocative events or more compressed scenes. These tendencies contribute to the book having a long middle section and a slightly rushed ending.
Breakfast with the Dirt Cult explores themes of inward value versus social decay through visual examples that are helpful to those who find philosophy not vivid enough. By picking a slightly enlightened everyman protagonist who is more innocent and serendipitous than average, Finlay gives us a powerful lens into the culture he examines and the “inner self” values that contrast it. The result is an insightful commentary on the values of a time, as seen from the deck of the ship as it sinks.
On both sides of the Atlantic ocean conservatives are in disarray. Soul-searching and rending of cloaks follows lost elections or foregone opportunities. Everyone seems to know what to do, except that means that no one knows what to do because there are too many options.
Relying on articles written in the mainstream press and their own internal debates, conservatives are generating massive storms of confused statements. In doing so, they are acting out the dreams of their enemies, because the confusion and fear are palpable, and are alienating voters at a rapid pace.
Complexity has arisen where none needs to be. Instead of relying on this completely dysfunctional process, conservatives should consider going back to the type of simple advice that has guided us in the past. Ours is a viewpoint of gut instinct and holistic knowledge, and it’s not going to fit in any other template.
1. Identify what you stand for.
An alarming number of conservatives have no idea what conservatism is. They can recite positions on certain issues, or quote public authorities, but they have no idea what the philosophy is as a whole. Liberals have a clear ideology, libertarians have a single rule, but what do conservatives have? Billions of hours of video, reams of paper, tons of commentary, and the end result is chaos.
What is conservatism? By the nature of its name, it is to conserve: this means to save what is good, pitch out what is bad, and ignore the rest. Logically, this extends to a few other ideas. First, we’re about results and consequences in reality; this is not ends over means, per se, but paying more attention to ends/goals as contrasted to results. Second, this requires a study of the past to know which ends we’ll achieve with our actions. Finally, this implicates a goal that is ongoing and timeless; in our case, it’s a quest to produce the best society possible by following “the good, the beautiful and the true.”
2. Do not be reactionary.
A non-reactionary conservative is baffling to liberals. They do not like whole truths. Their movement is social, which means it is based in individuals regulating their self-esteem through participation. This means that they do not attempt risky things like creation of new ideas, but instead focus on details of the current system that they do not like. When they spot an offensive detail, they rally the troops for a Two Minutes Hate, and then attack obsessively.
By no means should conservatives ever stoop to the liberal level and talk about details, or things we dislike. Among other things, you will never beat liberals at complaining: they are the masters, and they are a billion times better than you will ever be. Focus on the big picture instead, and where we want to be eventually.
3. Do not adopt the values of your opposition.
Right now, the right is a giant stack of people all shouting at each other. Things are wrong! Somebody fix it! Since most of them are accustomed to business, they offer a business-y solution: figure out what the other guy is doing, and imitate it.
However, in business as in politics, this is a bad idea if you’re behind. The other guy has the upper hand in that area, and by imitating him, you offer an inferior substitute, not a different option. This drives away people who want an honest option while simultaneously failing to attract people to you who will get a better deal with the other guy.
In the case of Republicans, trying to be more leftist is a strategy destined to fail spectacularly, which is why liberals consistently urge us to adopt it. They tell us that if we be more like them, we’ll get the votes; in fact, we’ll lose our audience and fail to gain theirs, and basically die out at that point.
We should have learned this with John McCain. Throughout his campaign, he waited nervously by the podium chewing his nails. When a liberal suggested a plan, he leaped into action, proclaiming his own plan which was basically the same except it had some advantage in the details. Everyone nodded and ignored him, because he made himself irrelevant.
Romney/Ryan were doing their best in the polls when they had strong conservative opinions that stood out from others, and when they emphasized common sense whole solutions like fixes to the economy and society. They lost as soon as they got cowed by media coverage of the 47% remark, and started trying to imitate leftist positions.
We cannot be bigger gift-givers or immigration-panderers than the Democrats. They offer everything we offer, and more, because Democrats are the party of pluralism, or of not having social standards at all. Democrats are the party of the ego, of the individual, of the lack of order. They offer people virtually no rules and free bennies.
We can’t beat that without becoming non-conservatives, at which point everyone will flock to the Democratic party anyway. Do not try to play this game as it will fail.
Simple ideas, deep effect
A simple detail is an annoyance; a simple highly abstract statement can summarize a belief. For example, Marxists have the idea of class revolt through dialectics; anarchists have the idea of no leaders. We need to stick to similar simple ideas as conservatives, and stop the panic and chicken little activity so that we can focus on what makes us popular with other conservatives, and use that consensus to win.
When an author has had a good long run, it probably does not make sense to mourn their deaths so much as to note what they did of significance. Today we lost Chinua Achebe, the African author whose 1958 account of instability during a revolution, Things Fall Apart, is on the syllabus at many universities.
Taking its title from Yeats’ poem “The Second Coming,” Achebe’s book showed humanity at its failure point between past evolution and future consciousness: corrupt, self-serving, dishonest and thoughtless. He captured the decline and collapse of a civilization not through some study of its ideology or institutions, but by looking at its people and their own moral decline.
Achebe once said that politics is the study of how people motivate one another. This broad definition seems incoherent at first, until we realize that “politics” as we are taught to look at it is a show on a stage, when the broader question includes every method by which people are motivated. It shows us society as a whole, not fragmented into the silos and categories that are convenient for our parasite-leaders.
Things Fall Apart was not a perfect book, nor did it aim to be. Like Solzhenitsyn or Burroughs, Achebe was a journalist in the oldest school, creating a chronicle of specific events to reveal the battle that rages in every heart and soul. Rest in peace; see you on the other side.
As satisfying as it is to see a man triumph by calculating his position, adapting to his surroundings and conquering it through logic, it is equally satisfying to see a fool miscalculate, over step his boundaries, and suffer the violent consequences of the untamed wild. This is cosmic justice. This is why it is better to be five steps behind your limit than even one step beyond it. This is why you err on the side of caution.
The notion of a boundary or limit is sort of a head scratcher. I can build a fence between my neighbor and myself. This now designates the boundary. Of course, my neighbor could just hop the fence. We see boundaries on maps, but not in physical reality. In the absolute sense of reality, nature, and the wild, there really is no such thing as a boundary. A boundary is simply a useful notion that we believe in, lest life would be unlivable. Therefore, it is not so much “unreal” or “imaginary,” as it is a creative solution.
Often, much of our intellectual enterprise is hostile to things that cannot be “proven.” It is also hostile to creative language. Things must be very neat and tidy and perfect so that everyone can potentially understand it. The rebellious spirit may say, “I do not see this boundary you speak of, you are just making up a word to keep me from total freedom.”
Similarly, a standard is just like a boundary. But rather than being a creative, useful idea, that allows people with different talents to coexist, it becomes an imaginary, authoritarian imposition.
In a certain sense, it must be admitted that a standard is “imaginary.” But this is only in the sense that it cannot be seen with the eye. The “proof” or usefulness of a standard, or boundary, or limit, is seen in the consequences of its observance or non-observance.
When the first band of cavemen lurked out of the primordial cave to slay a wooly mammoth, one of the more dim-witted cavemen was probably taken with the fuzzy mammoth and he went over to pet it. The next thing he knew, he was impaled on its tusk. The rest of the cavemen huddled together and agreed that the proper boundary between themselves and a wooly mammoth was about the length of a spear. Their comrade’s corpse was all the proof they needed.
So it must be admitted that a standard actually is an authoritarian imposition, if you consider death to be an authoritarian imposition. This is why it is silly to constantly question authority and the wisdom of the past. To do that, is to be like another caveman that goes up and pets the wooly mammoth. This is why trust and belief are more powerful than skepticism and knowledge. This is why specifics are more misleading than generalities. Dim-witted caveman #2 says, “Well that won’t happen to me!” as he is gored and flailing on the mammoth’s other tusk. Dim-witted caveman #2 decided to “think for himself.”
Some people like the cute animals at the zoo: penguins, otters, koala bears, and Toby the red panda. I always preferred the tiger, the rhinos, the lions, and the polar bear. Dolphins communicate with humans; great white sharks eat humans.
Apex predators are the living incarnation of the limit and the boundary. If you want empirical evidence there it is. I was too young to remember it, but there is a story at my local zoo. I have heard the tale many times. Some drunk, idiot bum, fell over into the polar bear exhibit and they had to shoot the polar bear to save the life of some vagrant with a death-wish. I always thought that was a shame. Maybe the Romans were onto something with the gladiatorial games.
I won’t deny that I felt a certain sense of glee when I heard Roy got mauled by his Bengal tiger. I seem to also remember a killer whale killing its handler at Sea World. It is a killer whale after all.
I have the utmost respect for Steve Irwin and I think that some of the guys that do this kind of thing really get it. I bet Steve Irwin has the utmost respect for that sting-ray, too, and I bet he forgives it. The cut worm forgives the plow. Steve Irwin knew how to “die at the right time.” It was a mythical death and very appropriate. There is no shame in this. To be killed by the wild is a kind of destiny and honor. Jane Goodall could learn a lesson here.
There was a terrifying story a few years ago from Connecticut about a pet chimp ripping a woman’s face off. It was captured on a 911 call and you can hear the chimp screaming in the background. I don’t think I’m the only one that laughed at hearing an elderly woman call the police to tell them her elderly woman friend was in the process of being disfigured by a monkey. All the while you could hear the monkey laughing in the background, jumping up and down in triumph. Curious George went bad and Curious Humans went stupid. Curious Human Visits the Emergency Room: the Revenge of Curious George!
Liberals want to fight on behalf of the environment and wildlife. Yet at the same time they want to fight on behalf of humans. This simply doesn’t compute. You can’t have it both ways. You can’t have your own boundary respected and trample all over the boundaries that are imposed upon you as well.
As Robert Frost said, “Do not tear down a fence until you know why it was put up.” The fence might be there for your own good.
If conservatives want to start a serious environmental movement, don’t cast nature and wildlife as the victim. Don’t play on people’s sympathies and pity. What will happen is people will identify too much with only the cute animals and the exceptions to the rule. At that point, the boundary is blurred, and it becomes a victim movement co-opting animals as symbols. It becomes completely “humanistic.”
The problem with a “preserve,” as in a wildlife preserve or nature preserve is that you are playing total defense and evasion. You are thinking backwards and counting backwards. Rather than counting from 1 to infinity, you are counting down from infinity to 0. It is a countdown unto destruction. You posit total defeat and destruction at the end, and you are simply staving off the inevitable. You are already dead.
Instead, play up the “authoritarianism” and consequentialism of nature red in tooth and claw. Work in a factor of reversibility showing the possibility of triumph. Have a sense of humor and “celebrate death.” Who do you want on your side in battle, Flipper or Jaws?
If you want humans and wildlife to coexist, then the best way to illustrate this is to show what happens when civilization crosses the boundary into the wild. Celebrate the mythical deaths of humans that get too close to nature. Otherwise, Toby the red panda just might rip your freaking face off!
When the economy gets ill, people claim it’s a recession and then a depression. What they can’t do is tell you why this happens. The answer is simple: the economy is re-adjusting its own value after having been oversold.
Unlike energy, value can be destroyed. If you build your economy up and claim it has value, a clock starts. That clock runs during the time your economy has to deliver on that value. No delivery, and people figure it’s a scam.
This is not much different from how we treat new marketplace entries. If a new restaurant shows up and advertises its quality food, we wait for someone to report back about how great it was. If no one does, we avoid it.
Ten years into a burly recession, the talking heads say the boom days are not coming back. They didn’t warn us, because long-term thinking isn’t news.
The pleasant fiction is that what goes down must go back up. The complex reality is that we squandered the value we added to our economy over the past sixty years. It can’t come back because it was spent on dead-end targets.
Look at all that was given us. The postwar world gave the Allies a huge wealth boost. A Baby Boom came of age in the 1960s. Then a boom in cheap Asian labor. After that the internet boom. And what remains of these?
When you have “wealth” it must be put into a form that makes more wealth, or it dissipates. Holding on to wealth is impossible; it needs to become part of something that regenerates, or it falls out of relevance.
We could have built ourselves into the most powerful nations on earth. Instead, following what “the people” wanted, we wasted our wealth on other things. Both government entitlements and private spending on irrelevance crushed us.
Government wasted wealth on civil rights programs that didn’t work, crusades to end poverty, welfare and entitlements, and many well-intentioned programs and hiring a vast army of bureaucrats.
Private citizens wasted wealth on themselves. They bought luxuries, had vacations, partied hard, and saved nothing. Now they’re in depth up to their thyroids and have no savings to speak of. Retirement: never.
This is what happens when you sacrifice wealth. For a while, you have a lot of it. Then it goes away with a big flushing noise. After that, the economy compensates by dropping actual value minus the artificially inflated.
People don’t like to think about it that way. They like present tenses that imply a future without doubt. As in, “now we’re rich, and we never have to do anything again.” That attitude leads to poverty, as history now shows us.
Conservatism discovers itself again at a crossroads. This is what happens when you’re in denial: you put aside what you need to know, and fill your head with stories that explain why you don’t know it and why that’s OK, and then you run into the same reasons why you needed to know that stuff in the first place. Wash, rinse, repeat.
Our direction remains unclear because we cannot finalize our response to liberalism, which is a relatively recent intrusion into human politics. We can’t see to realize that they’re different from us for a reason, and that by understanding that reason, we can stop arguing at cross purposes at them.
What befuddles us is socialization. Liberal politics is based in socialization or more specifically, conversation. Liberals excel at conversation because it is their basic mode of expression and the basis of their political opinions. They base their view of the world on what would sound good in conversation, and what might convince others to like them if heard aloud at a cocktail party or hipster bar.
This approach makes sense for civilization late in its life cycle. In late civilization, there are no more mountains left to climb: all has been done, and what we do is advance it incrementally by doing our jobs, keeping it afloat. As a result we are no longer judged by results, but by perception of results.
At that point, conversation is the goal: look good and you will be promoted, be accepted, sell your products or become a media figure. It is an alternate reality where anyone can succeed. Conversation is not based on results, but on feelings and on acceptance. If you want to be very popular, accept everyone.
Suppose that you’re a young hipster. A friend walks over and says dejectedly that he didn’t get the job. A reality-based response might be to notice that he’s been stoned for the past decade and probably failed an informal sobriety check. A conversational response is to tell him that it’s not his fault and it’s terrible that these rich, lazy, bloated corporations don’t hand out more money to deserving people like him.
If you were to speak the first response in polite society, you would be met with boos and hisses and considered to be very rude. Note: no one cares whether you’re right or not; it’s how you appear personally to others, because they’re judging whether they want you in their social group, not whether your statement was correct. But speak the second, and everyone nods. Women and smaller men relax; there will not be confrontation and conflict here! Merchants smile; the lack of conflict means the profit-hose can keep spewing. Everyone is “happy” with that answer.
For liberals, there is no sense of “creating” civilization. To them it’s like hot water in that it just appears when you turn the tap. They think in terms of how to convince others to help them, such as asking for service at a restaurant. This is why their primary and only mode of dealing with others is to flatter them, eliminate conflict and “give gifts” of social approval or collective inclusion.
Naturally this induces tension within the liberal. They are caught between two worlds: conversation and the physical reality that sometimes destroys their idealistic plans. This is why their policy is forever in a formation stage, and never in a measurement and refinement stage. It is pure image and nothing more. For them, there are no consequences because those are not part of the conversation.
This duality induces depression in them because they know it is self-destructive to be delusional. One liberal pathology involves trying to provoke people that they think may know better. On the surface, they want to defeat the opposition. Underneath, they are like people contemplating suicide, asking the world if it cares. They want to see if anyone will stop them from carrying out their destructive plans.
Conservatives fail to tackle this alternate world. We are driven by having strong ideals based in reality, and consequently are more aware of threats to those goals. The liberal perceives no threats because the liberal has no goal in reality, only goals in the world of appearance. When conservatives talk policy with liberals, they are speaking a foreign language that uses familiar words with different meanings.
For the past 200 years, conservatives have thrown up our hands at the obstinate denial of liberals and instead gone back to doing our own thing. We retreat back to our suburban homes, happy families, workaholic careers and hobbies. We groan and moan every election but then shut it out of our minds. Someday, we think in the back of our minds, everyone is going to wake up.
They won’t, however, because our behavior signals acceptance. We are accepting conversation as reality, and idle chatter as politics. We are accepting denial as truth. The result is that we tell them world we’re basically OK with this new direction, and we eliminate ourselves as contenders before we even begin.
This is why every few years there’s another shocking moment of waking up to the reality of it, finding ourselves at the crossroads, and again facing the decision we’ve postponed for centuries. We have to point out that liberalism is incompatible with reality and marginalize it as the idle chatter it is, not try to emulate it or give it credence by debating it.
A Special LessWrong.com Editorial
by The Lifehacker
I’m not going to beat around the bush. We all know that things are bad. Maybe in 2046 or 2048, some of us still believed we were “priming the pump” for economic recovery and things could get back to normal under the right leadership. I can’t imagine anyone still held that faith after October 5. We all saw the livestreams and broadcasts, the millions of displaced families. We saw the President announcing that nothing could be done. It was a defining day for me, and probably for the rest of you as well. We live in an age of survival now.
But on this blog, we have something the rest of the world doesn’t have. Our adepts understand the art of human rationality and the unique realizations that come from Insight Porn, and the Lifehacks it gives us over the uninitiated. Yudkowsky may have passed before He could complete His work, but we all remember His teaching: defeat the past! become stronger! Tsuyoku naritai! You don’t have to believe that we will become “Supermen” (although I acknowledge some of my fellow contributors do) to recognize that our completely free logic, unimpeded by the foolishness of religion, will help us survive this crisis better than anyone else.
At this time more than any other, we need to recognize that the past is only a chain preventing our progress. I realize “progress” is a dirty word these days, but the progress of the individual, running away from the past into the future, is eternal, and nobody can deny that a mature human being who is constantly seeking progress is much more useful for your Super Survival Team than a husband who is tied down to his wife or kids. It’s about getting rid of your irrational religious, political, social baggage and getting stuff done.
That’s why I know that what I am about to share with you know will garner logical, thoughtful responses on morality and ethics, rather than knee-jerk, sentimental revulsion.
I have eaten my mother.
As this blog has always recommended, I kept five months of emergency rations in my vault, and I kept the key to the vault on my person. Two weeks ago I lost the key. And yes, there is much, much more to that story — but the point is, I am now penniless and hungry.
I haven’t spotted the food truck for forty-five days, four hours, and 10 minutes as of this writing. Mom wasn’t doing too well in the first place, to be frank. I did the best I could, but she passed four days ago. In the morning when she ceased to be a living being, my electricity went out, and it only just came back on. Because I spent so much to fortify my Albuquerque home back in the 2040s, I never had the money to move somewhere greener. My completely secure home is the only inhabited one in my block.
Material circumstances therefore gave me the option of death by starvation or unorthodox methods of procuring food. Now, let’s talk ethics.
The most ethical means of procuring food in this situation would be gathering grass, nuts, and berries. None of these are available in 2060s New Mexico, for obvious reasons. Less ethical would involve trapping animals, but I haven’t seen an animal here in over a year.
And a huge pile of still-fresh meat is slowly rotting in a bed right across from mine. Do you begin to understand my predicament?
Way back in the day, Sir Richard Dawkins said in an interview: “I can think of no moral objection to eating human road kills except for the ones that you mentioned like, ‘what would the relatives think about it?'” But let’s not Appeal to Authority. It’s time to use your own logical processes.
Unscientific superstitions aside, the only argument I’ve heard against tomokui (the Japanese word) of an already deceased body is the “gross factor”. Is that at all rational? If we employed the “gross factor” in our logic, we would never have rejected homophobia, and then where would we be today?
Let’s turn off our Lizard Brains for a second and ask ourselves, What Would Yudkowsky Say? He would say, defeat the past and live in the present! What a pile of meat once was is irrelevant to its present existence. This is not a thing that “was” once my mother; ideally, there is no “was”, and the fact of the matter is, meat can’t object to being eaten. Claiming that eating meat can lead to worse, actually immoral acts against a living being is the Slippery Slope Fallacy.
And just like that, a new path has been opened to you. Bam! Insight Porn! You now have a Lifehack you can use against those who are “grossed out”. You have a means to survival in this desperate age. Aren’t you glad you know how to use Logic?
I’m sure you’re wondering, how does “long pig” taste? Well, I originally tried to eat it raw, but it was too much like uncooked chicken and I couldn’t digest it. Later I cooked it with the garnish of salt and it was good. The best part, oddly enough, was the brain. As an irrational matter of purely personal taste, I would definitely want to eat the brain again.
Well, there may be a lot of people crying “gross” or who want to try out my Logical Fallacy Detector, but that’s what the comments section is for. Sound off below and give me your worst!
A recurring comic theme in the film Dr. Strangelove is the juxtaposition of obedient social etiquette contrasted to nuclear apocalypse looming in the background.
President Muffley calls Dmitri the Soviet Premier on the phone: “Fine, I can hear you now, Dmitri. Clear and plain and coming through fine. I’m coming through fine, too? Good, then! As you say, we’re both coming through fine! Good. Well, it’s good that you’re fine and I’m fine. I agree with you, it’s good to be fine!”
Later in the call: “I’m sorry, too, Dmitri. I’m very sorry. Alright, you’re sorrier than I am, but I am sorry as well. I am as sorry as you are, Dmitri! Don’t say that you’re more sorry than I am, because I’m capable of being just as sorry as you are. So we’re both sorry, alright? Alright.”
As the film progresses, Captain Lionel Mandrake absolutely must get the President on the phone. Nuclear apocalypse is imminent. It is literally zero hour. It is life or death. Alas, Lionel Mandrake has no change to use the pay phone!
Group Capt. Lionel Mandrake: Colonel…that Coca-Cola machine. I want you to shoot the lock off it. There may be some change in there.
Colonel “Bat” Guano: That’s private property.
Group Capt. Lionel Mandrake: Colonel! Can you possibly imagine what is going to happen to you, your frame, outlook, way of life, and everything, when they learn that you have obstructed a telephone call to the President of the United States? Can you imagine? Shoot it off! Shoot! With a gun! That’s what the bullets are for, you twit!
Colonel “Bat” Guano: Okay. I’m gonna get your money for ya. But if you don’t get the President of the United States on that phone, you know what’s gonna happen to you?
Group Capt. Lionel Mandrake: What?
Colonel “Bat” Guano: You’re gonna have to answer to the Coca-Cola company.
Valeria Solanas and I agree on one thing, the modern world is an unmitigated bore. As President Muffley makes clear, “Gentlemen! There’s no fighting in the War Room!” Let your hair down, will ya?
The secret lesson to be learned by way of nonsense and absurd humor is that it relegates things to their proper perspective. The Jabberwocky, for example, relegates language to the proper perspective in relation to reality and life by way of its own nonsense. The end effect is that the mysterious conjuring of language puts reality back into perspective.
Quasi-nonsense, metaphor, and myth, by being so “preposterous” are actually more truthful than scientific-esque vocabulary, bureaucratic language, and Newspeak. They are truthful because they do not purport to be “accurate” and this confession is already worked into their own fantastical form.
Bureaucratic language and analytic exegesis have no such sense of humor. They take themselves to be perfectly accurate and do not acknowledge the very conjuring of language. Myth, metaphor, the absurd, and quasi-nonsense are not just a daydream diversion to distract us for a few moments from the grind.
When dealt with and executed properly, nonsense and the absurd are not nihilistic expressions of the futility of life. They actually represent the resistance to gravity and literalness. Life and reality is not a one-way street. There is acknowledgment, but there is also resistance. There is reversibility.
This is where “meaning” has run amok. Some things are meaningful. We should lead meaningful lives. But every last thing need not be meaningful and dwelled upon. Otherwise, everywhere you look is a “dog whistle” or “sign in the sky.” Paradoxically, when we have no long-term, big-picture meaningful quest, we are also racked by countless “little meanings” that should really mean nothing. It’s just like the juxtaposition of nuclear apocalypse and social etiquette.
Paraphrasing Jean Baudrillard: “People want to transform themselves and they want to transform the world. Yet they cannot even transform their own language.” Humorless, control-freak leftists and politically correct zombies cannot even transform their own language.
So, how can we help these poor souls transform themselves? Let us propose a most devious and mischievous strategy. You must take this metaphorically, and apply the lesson as you see fit.
Imagine you are a young rapscallion growing up in this boring, bureaucratic thought prison. You want to fight back and blow off steam, but you don’t want to ruin your life with serious crime or “hate speech,” either. You want to be civil in your disobedience. What shall we do? How can we be creative?
Perhaps we can create Frankenstein’s Monsters out of this new PC vocabulary. The monsters will do the work for us. The key is to pick something out of the new age lexicon that is unnerving, but not necessarily forbidden. It must also not make sense. It must be pure, absurd play.
Suppose I’m a humorless control-freak and I happen upon the word “AIDS” spray-painted on the YMCA. No message, just “AIDS” all by itself. What does it mean? “AIDS” what? There is no what, there is just AIDS. You start reading into it a million things. It is a hint but not an outright message. The lack of any clear message forces the mind and imagination to wander.
Turn the vocabulary on its ear. The playful and juvenile aspect only amplifies the effect.
Suppose at a social gathering I were to describe something as “retarded.” The piano stops playing. “How dare you, Ted! That’s racist!” Relax, it’s not racist, I’m a quarter retard, myself. I come from a long line of retards. My great uncle was a full blooded retard. Dick Swanson the retard. He knew he was retarded and the one privilege of being a retard is that you’re allowed to call other retards, retards. It takes one to know one, and I know a lot of retards.
Imagine a young Ted Swanson, stealing through the night, merely to write the word “gay” on the newest public “art” sculpture. Is this hate speech you may ask? Not at all, “gay” means happy, remember!? It’s not hate speech, it’s happy speech! Gee whiz, you sure do have a perverse and accusatory mind! I’m gay, myself. Aren’t you gay? Well of course you are! Of course you’re happy! It’s great to be happy! It’s great to be gay! My dream is that one day, every man woman and child on this entire planet will be gay!
I know you’re gay Dmitri, but I am gay as well. I am just as gay as you are Dmitri! Don’t say that you’re gayer than me! Alright then, we’re both gay!
Death in Samarkand: Consider the story of the soldier who meets Death at a crossing in the marketplace, and believes he saw him make a menacing gesture in his direction. He rushes to the king’s palace and asks the king for his best horse in order that he might flee during the night far from Death, as far as Samarkand. Upon which the king summons Death to the palace and reproaches him for having frightened one of his best servants. But Death, astonished, replies: ‘I didn’t mean to frighten him. It was just that I was surprised to see this soldier here, when we had a rendezvous tomorrow, in Samarkand.’
It is precisely the naïve gesture that induces vertigo in the mind of the control-freak because there is no clear meaning. When people see signs in the sky everywhere, this could prove to be a more imaginative way to play the game. Metaphorically speaking, this fatal strategy could be extrapolated and serve as a way to unnerve humorless zombies. They run from what they fear only to meet their own fate.
It is like a message in a bottle. The very fact that there is such a slim chance of any possible sense to be made is what lends it its power. The irony is that the thought police will be the ones to reveal their own assumptions about various minority statuses.
You have to remember what it was like when you were a wanderer. The pivotal points were usually not systematically induced. The most powerful and seductive moments of life are when the stars seemed to align and you were spirited away by a billion chance factors all coming together at one fateful point.