Archive for the ‘Globalism’ Category
Monday, December 22nd, 2014
What happens when progress is no longer an option?
In 1968 Paul Ehrlich wrote The Population Bomb a book that opens with a prediction of hundreds of millions of deaths from starvation in the 1970s. Increases in food production as a result of new technology prevented a population correction, but the underlying problem has not been addressed. According to the World Wildlife Fund, a third of all global arable land has been lost since 1960. Soil erosion in Africa has increased thirty-fold between 1974 and 2004 according to the WorldWatch institute. By intensifying food production, we have prevented an immediate catastrophe, but the effect it has had is to worsen the eventual catastrophe that will occur.
The predictions Ehrlich made were premature, not incorrect. The underlying diagnosis fits the pattern we are now seeing emerge. Technologies can emerge that delay the consequences of a disaster and a patient can undergo drastic lifestyle changes. In most cases of cancer however, experimental therapies merely buy us time, the underlying problem is often impossible to solve.
The problem we face is that we are a severely overpopulated species, incapable of participating in an ecosystem in a symbiotic manner. To feed our monolithic species, diverse communities consisting of countless interdependent species have to make way for fields of grain and herds of domesticated grazing animals. We take the existence of soil for granted, but most of the remaining fertile soil we now appropriate for our own benefit is a product of the forests that are destroyed, it can not survive in the absence of the organisms that gave birth to it. This theft enables us to presently sustain a biomass of humans that is an order of magnitude greater than all wild non-human vertebrates on land put together.
But for how long can it be sustained? What will be left in its absence? These are more controversial questions, where different people defend varying perspectives. Gail Tverberg is one of the most prominent of authors who expect a significant contraction in energy consumption within years. Others, like John Michael Greer, do expect disruption in the near term, but as part of a sustained gradual decline to post-industrial conditions over a span of centuries.
My expectation that I wish to clarify here, is for a global collapse to occur within a matter of decades. As a result of the interdependent nature of our industrial economy, I expect this collapse to be global. There are no places that will be spared and no reason to assume that an intermediate level of social complexity can be sustained for a significant amount of time. In the long term, I expect agriculture itself to be abandoned altogether, with surviving human beings forced to return to a lifestyle similar to that of the nomadic tribes of hunter-gatherers that preceded the rise of civilization.
In a previous essay, Why the Singularity will not happen, I clarified why further growth in complexity in advanced societies is unlikely to happen. The big issue we face is that economic growth is coming to an end. Deficit spending normally has the effect of increasing economic growth. In Europe however, between 2008 and 2014 we have witnessed our debt rise from 68 to 95 percent of GDP. In spite of this massive and unsustainable form economic stimulation, our economy has struggled to grow at all. A similar trend is visible in all developed nations, of rising debts without economic growth.
What we face is a prolonged decline in the size of our economies. The problem however is that economies are much better at dealing with sustained economic growth than with sustained decline. A long enough period of decline can lead to an acute collapse. Our pension funds can only be sustained because of the expectation of future economic growth. The same logic is used when we issue mortgages and engage in deficit spending. Debt with an interest of two percent stays the same as our income, if our income grows by two percent a year as well. If our income declines by two percent a year instead, after ten years the size of our debt relative to our income has grown by 49 percent.
For European nations to pay back their national debts, their economies have to grow. We have faced eras of sustained economic stagnation before, but government debts during those eras were lower. The US had a public debt to GDP ratio of around forty percent during the 1930s, compared to around 100 percent today. Governments are also dealing with debts they will face that are passed on by the public in case of sustained negative economic growth. The Dutch government has guaranteed a large amount of mortgage debt. The entire financial system is interconnected in ways that are not transparent, with effects that are difficult to predict in advance.
The problem extends not just to our economies, but to our own lifestyles as well. Contraction is difficult, because new technologies become essential as we adapt to their higher degree of efficiency. The classical example is that of hunter-gatherers who begin to practice agriculture. They can not return to hunting and gathering, as their population has increased far beyond what the original environment can sustain. In the case of resource extraction, the type of resources that are less dependent on complex technology have often been depleted. If tar sand oil turns out to be too expensive under present economic conditions to extract, there is no way for us to move back to less difficult sources of hydrocarbons. I am thus very skeptical of any suggestion that we can sacrifice some complexity.
In previous societies, collapse was often a relatively drawn out process. People extrapolate from such cases to our present condition, but our present society is infinitely more vulnerable than previous societies, because everything we do depends on organization dependent technology. Organization dependent technology is not a very new phenomenon, but a situation like ours in which every aspect of the economy is dependent upon the continued functioning of every other aspect is unprecedented. Ancient Rome was dependent upon food imports from rural settlements, but the present situation, where rural settlements are dependent on soybeans imported from Brazil through a large harbor, then transported to their destination by truck drivers dependent on satellites for navigation is new.
We face a crisis that does not allow us to go back. Obvious examples are nations like Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia is a nation that imports eighty percent of its food, it can simply not return to a lower level of complexity. In the 1950s Saudi Arabia was still largely self-sufficient in food production, but oil has enabled such an increase in wealth that food could be imported. Much of the food we eat has been kept frozen for years before it arrives on our table, we can eat tropical fruit in the middle of winter. Before refrigeration technology, people in many places were forced to ferment food to eat during winter, but most people today have no knowledge of how to ferment food.
Our dependence on modern medicine guarantees disaster as well. Modern medicine has allowed us to survive ailments that would normally lead to our deaths. Nearly seventy percent of Americans are on at least one prescription drug. It’s easy to introduce drugs into a population; it’s difficult to let go of them. Greece already faces significant problems with people for whom treatment can not be afforded. Sexually transmittable diseases become epidemic again when free treatment becomes unsustainable and whereas in previous times they were limited in their geography, today they have spread globally. Entire ethnic groups have gone extinct as a result of introduced venereal diseases.
Until not too long ago, much of Europe and the United States had hotbeds of malaria, which returned to Greece as a consequence of its economic situation. Malaria is growing resistant to currently used treatments and rats in much of Europe are growing resistant to widely used pesticides. A situation of economic decline is one in which investments in the future can not be made, because payoff is not certain, while people’s desire to posses immediately accessible cash reserves increases. Thus, a situation of economic decline is one in which we can expect pest species to return in high numbers, as the continual investments needed to exterminate them can no longer be sustained.
During eras of economic decline social instability increases, as the type of government programs that manage to keep the poor pacified are first to become obsolete. Crime does not pay under conditions where it is rare, because law enforcement agencies have the resources to address crime. Long term unemployed individuals with no job prospects have little to withhold them from criminal activity. There’s a growing list of crimes that law enforcement will not even bother to prosecute anymore, because resources are too limited. Thus the economic damage that is caused by criminal activity will inevitably grow during an era of economic decline.
Credit card fraud and VAT fraud are examples of criminal activity that perpetrators can generally get away with due to our ongoing economic crisis, as resources available for investigation are simply too limited. Technological progress led to the disruption of traditional communities, where the stigma of misbehavior ensured that crime remained relatively rare. Now that people don’t even recognize their own neighbors, law enforcement is increasingly forced to fill the vacuum. As Yugoslavia has shown to us, when social strife emerges between ethnic groups, it’s often impossible to put the genie back in the bottle.
Chatham House released a report that looked at the impact of a week long absence of trucks on the UK economy, similar to a September 2000 strike which reduced commercial truck traffic by ten percent. The maximum tolerance seems to be about one week, after which disruptions to companies become so large that it takes at least a month for them to return to normal activity. For them to be able to return to normal activity would of course depend on other companies returning to normal activity as well.
We can thus conclude that cascading failure is a genuine possibility when a society is tipped into instability. A nation that collapses can in turn trigger significant instability in other nations, depending on its importance in global trade. Nations that are believed to be most central to the global economy are China, Russia, Japan, Spain, UK, Netherlands, Italy, Germany, Belgium-Luxembourg, USA, and France. Instability would become a self-fulfilling prophecy, if actors respond by taking measures to protect themselves. As an example, if people respond to gasoline shortages by stocking up on gasoline, disruptive shortages become an inevitability.
Conditions that were once sustainable on a local scale do not necessarily have to be sustainable any longer under present conditions. The obvious issue is that population levels are now different. Many communities are dependent on food imports. Soil that was once fertile may now no longer be fertile at all, with farmers pouring fertilizer onto the land to make up for the fact that the soil is simply exhausted.
More insidious is the fact that climate change leads to changes in the relationship between plants and pathogen species. Certain insect species become far more destructive under elevated atmospheric CO2 conditions. Fungal pests also seem to become much more common in experimental studies. We haven’t noticed these effects, because farmers spray large amounts of pesticides. The climatic conditions under which our species developed agriculture no longer exist, but the effects are not apparent to us because our pesticides make us Gods over the new ecosystems we create. Animal husbandry is likely to be affected as well, as studies find that under conditions of high amounts of nitrogen in the soil, atmospheric CO2 enrichment to 450 parts per million causes endophytes to produce toxins in amounts that lead to reduced growth and milk production in cattle.
The Neolithic revolution is a relatively new development in the history of our species and the climatic window in which agriculture provides a survival advantage over tribes of hunter-gatherers may be relatively limited. Hunter-gatherers are after all more mobile, physically stronger, healthier, not bound to wheat fields and grain storages they are forced to defend against vandalism, more self-sufficient and less threatened by seasonal weather fluctuations.
It should be noted that the boundary between hunter-gatherer and agriculturalist can be vague. In Europe, cereals as a portion of the diet increased from one third in the eight century, to three quarters by the eleventh century. Even within agricultural societies themselves there are large differences, with East Asia as one arguable extreme, where rice agriculture gave birth to societies that require continual intense labor, whereas European societies up until the French revolution had long periods in which people were free to spend most of the winter procrastinating.
Overall however, we can expect to move away from our present conditions, simply because climatic conditions will not allow us to maintain the type of cereal based diets that our ancestors subsisted on for thousands of years. How far we will move away from those climatic conditions is difficult to state in advance, as it largely depends upon how much more greenhouse gases will be emitted in the coming decades, although some processes have been set in motion already that are now effectively impossible to stop.
The burden fell upon our shoulders to be born in an era where it is no longer possible to go further, but not possible to go back anymore either. We face a future that is fundamentally different from any conditions we have witnessed in recorded history. We have burned every bridge behind us and now face an enormous deep cliff ahead of us. Our only option now is to move sideways, into the unknown.
Saturday, December 13th, 2014
The herd hates it when people break away. If it has a single idea, hidden behind the rationalizations it gives for its power, the herd follows one code above all else: everyone must be included. Everyone must get along. All are part of the group.
A common argument made against any dissidence from this totalitarian standard is “But we all bleed red.” Notwithstanding the fact that this is nonsense — all mammals bleed red — it violates the most fundamental human right, which is that of exclusion. We have nothing approximating “freedom” or “liberty” until we can keep others out of what we create.
Human history shows us a repeated pattern in which a problem exists which no one can solve because their thinking is organized around an assumption that is shared through social means, e.g. “everyone agrees that the Sun revolves Earth.” Then up stands a lone dissident who sees the situation differently and comes up with a better idea. He or she is then opposed by the herd.
If you let them, the herd will destroy all good ideas in this way. Not just different ideas or new ideas, but good ones. Realistic ones. Ideas derived from observation of reality and comparison of its patterns. These ideas are frequently known — as it was known that Earth revolves the Sun — at the time when they become controversial, but are mostly hidden because most people choose to ignore them. They filter out these ideas because such ideas are not sociable, and they want to do what the others are doing.
All of human advancement comes from opposing the herd. Every society that has failed represents a victory for the herd, which promptly shouts down any good/realistic ideas and replaces them with sociable illusions. If you want your society to die, hand control to the herd. But the herd will attempt to control you with guilt, using pithy but meaningless phrases like “we all bleed red.”
The grim fact of the matter is that we as individuals are more different than we are similar, but we are not sui generis. What makes a great individual is that this individual having attained a degree of mental and moral organization that makes them powerful, not something specific to their personality. This is the opposite of individualism because the source of greatness is not in the individual, but in the surrendering of the individual to reality and absorption of the patterns of reality into the behavior of the individual. We call this process “learning.”
Most people on the other hand are narcissists. For them, reality exists to serve their idea of self, so they want to impress themselves upon reality. They tend to do this by vandalizing it with vainglorious monuments or by forcing others to conform to their vision, which allows them to pretend that their idea is objective truth. They demand equality because it protects their narcissism from being revealed for what it is, which is a negative personality trait.
With that in mind, we have two choices. We can accept everyone and watch as negative personality traits become the norm. Or, we can refuse everyone except those who have gone through the maturation process and become mentally capable enough to see narcissism for the illusion that it is. Nature does not tolerate stagnation and so we are either rising or falling. With “we all bleed red,” we are always falling.
Monday, June 23rd, 2014
If you have followed my last few posts, you know that I possess a pessimistic outlook for the future of the United States. Economic collapse is inevitable. I do not look forward to the collapse and I do not enjoy the decline. However, I believer there is a glimmer of hope for the future.
Demographics is destiny. Even if the Republican Party wins in 2016, they will not deviate from the last 30 years of following a mellowed version of the Reagan agenda. It would make too much sense for them to uphold the law, deport all illegal immigrants, secure the border and reform the Immigration Act of 1965, so they will not do it. Instead, like the businessmen they are, they will try to re-invent past strategies for the future while maintaining a “bipartisan” compromise with Democrats, which means that Democracts will define the agenda.
Thus the GOP will pander to the multiculturalists. They will fail: You cannot defeat the Democrats at their own game. Democrats have a forty-year history of importing new populations or enfranchising old ones so that they can be given government benefits, put under government protection, and otherwise made into lifelong dependents on the liberal program succeeding. To anyone with an IQ above their sock size, this was a vote-buying scheme from the beginning.
The GOP could win with a massive immigration overhaul. Red Staters are winning the breeding wars versus the Blue Staters. The Democrats are dying out, hence their need to flood the country with immigrants. So far the GOP has been unwilling to commit to their party base, the middle class American family. The American middle class would be content with us returning to the 1790 Naturalization Act. The GOP instead chases the great delusion that it can take imported Democratic voters and convince them to vote for the white party even though it offers fewer benefits and no status as a protected, privileged group. This has never worked and never will.
However, the GOP’s failure on this issue may not necessarily be the nail in the coffin for Red State Americans. It is likely that illegal immigrants will be granted amnesty. If not, they’ll have some anchor babies in order to secure their spot in their newfound homeland. They won’t be leaving and they’ll be breeding. The southwest corridor of the United States is already heavily “Mexicanized.” As their numbers grow, so will their nationalistic fervor. Welcome to the Republica del Norte.
Ask yourself this question: Do you think the Republica del Norte — a new ethnically Central American state in the Southwest — will take kindly to the laws being put into effect by Washington, DC? This area will attempt to break away, which will then smash the idea of a Federal America, and prompt the country to divide up into regional authorities who do not collaborate. Superpower America will be dead, replaced by a cluster of smaller states who collaborate on nothing. The vast powerful economy of USA, Inc. will be gone; so will the powerful military. In fact, the USA will cease to exist, and we will return to the issue that prompted the writing of the Constitution and the American civil war: the tension between states’ rights and federalism.
The good news of a return to a confederacy of states/states’ rights model is that no state will be required to subsidize another. Thus Republica del Norte will no longer get tax dollars from the Midwest, and the almost-certain breakaway states of Silicon Valley and the New York Corridor will pay import prices for goods from the midwest. Neither group can rely on the historical American majority, the middle class Western European family, to support its interests in foreign wars. Life will get more expensive. States will be squeezed out of existence by failing economies or whatever wandering forces choose to invade, secure in the knowledge that a local invasion will not trigger retaliation from the whole former USA.
With the growth in the national debt, outlook for entitlements, and debt-shackled Millennials expected to pay the bills, an economic collapse of epic proportions is inevitable. This is where the Red State man comes in. Like a tiger in waiting, as soon as the collapse happens, various nationalist movements will pounce at this opportunity. The federal government will be weakened financially. They will simply be unable to prevent pan-secessionism. Imagine a Dixie nation, a Texan nation, the Republica del Norte, a Midwest nation, a South Florida/Cubano nation, a New England/East Coast nation, a Hawaiian nation, an Alaskan nation, a Mountain West nation, and a Northwest Pacific/Cascadia nation.
All of these various regions have very distinct cultures and some of them even have their own languages as well. Dissolution of the union is probably the best strategy for right-wing men to find a nation that they identify with. This would also provide the best opportunities for liberals to have a nation they can be proud of as well. It provides the best possible solution for everyone involved. So when the opportunity arises, let’s just go our own way. America, you had a good run but we all need to prepare for a future without you.
Wednesday, June 11th, 2014
Some posit that Adolf Hitler took the form of an avatar of Kalki. The “annihilator of ignorance,” Kalki essentially raises flags in history for observers to see where humanity went off track. By waging destructive war with industrial weapons and committing genocide, they argue, Hitler showed us the raw core of modernity: ugliness and destruction.
While such comparisons may be off the mark, the meaning of someone’s actions can be greater than they understand them to be at the time. We say more than we intend. Our acts reveal what we are reacting to and the paradoxes of our age that remain inscrutable to us. The same can be said of the Allies. They certainly didn’t have sweetness and light in their hearts, and yet they may have been unknowingly serving a higher purpose.
Consider that the 20th century was marked by a fundamental clash that would define it. This clash brought into conflict those trying to hold on to the tiny fossilized fragments of past truths and those less spiritually developed but more in tune with new conditions. While the ancient past was a more spiritually developed age (but one of lower consciousness) the newer age possessed no such wisdom and yet provided great pragmatism in how it responded to present — and not eternal — conditions.
In the end knowledge in its essence cannot be destroyed, but it often must be torn down in its external manifestation to grow again from scratch in a new form. The grandparent must age and die for the infant to be born and flourish. Otherwise we would be doomed to stasis.
We stand on the edge of a great awakening. Take away easy prosperity, have a little more visible mortality and destroy the moral prestige of liberal democracy and political correctness: people start to think when that happens. They can no longer rely on these ideologies as reflecting practicality, but see the new age as now being as out-of-touch as Hitler was. Where Hitler was trying to restore the past with modern methods, we are now trying to perpetuate the post-modern era with modern methods that were more appropriate in 1789.
Unpacking this requires we look at the difference between form and spirit, much like the split between avatar and essence. The old traditions were eternally true in their original spirit but in their form were not suited to the ultimate destiny of the world. The light had gone out of them many centuries previously, and you simply had to see a winter before the spring. Their form and spirit had become confused, and people like Hitler were trying to make a static form out of an un-static spirit, and the result was disaster.
How else could you have seen a revival of civilization in regions that had gone dark and its introduction into areas that had never been civilized? Without a loss of nerve by the English, I don’t see how India could have begun to flourish (again). And because the mass of people are how they are, the only way to do it was for them to believe something that was false but served the purpose of providence, such as political correctness and liberal modernity. A dead zone needed to be created, much as a forest fire turns once-great trees into decay to nourish the next generation.
A return never happens. Even the fascists and national socialists did not attempt this and they were highly modern. Hitler notably pioneered equality of opportunity more than England or the USA in the 1920s and 30s. After death, renewal occurs, breathing new life into culture and institutions by taking the best from the past. This does not happen through mimickry, where wholesale imitation of spirit results in an inferior form that makes a mockery of its intent.
We see this unfolding already before our eyes currently. The Kali Yuga — the age of death and deceit comparable to the Norse ragnarok — is already over, and we are already in a transitional period. If you wonder why so much confusion afflicts us, look to this transition. The past served horror and death as a means of exiting a world where eternal truths no longer had relevance, and now in the ashes of the ruin and the toxic rain, we are the seedlings that rise toward the sun.
Wednesday, March 14th, 2012
Equality is not a god that accepts and ministers to failure, like Christ, nor a god that prefers moderation, like Siddartha’s dharma. Nor is it a god satisfied by material offerings, like the ancient spirits of the world.
Equality is a god that demands perfection, punishes weakness, and calls for the destruction of unbelievers. It is heretical to claim there are “different paths to Equality”, for there is only one, unquestionable path, that has many pillars which must all be followed. Its holy warriors must always be pure, must work twice as hard to cleanse themselves if any flaw is detected, and are always open to any practice that could improve their purity. It rewards those who fight for its cause, although its adherents argue over whether violence is an acceptable form of battle. Yes, Equality is a Muslim God.
Many things are evil in the eyes of equality. Equality implies the elimination of any discrimination between levels of ability, worth, or desire– that is to say, any judgment of a thing whatsoever, except for determining its equalness. For example: Force is evil, for its sole use is to dominate other people, which is unequal. Strength is evil for the same reason. Leadership is evil, for it implies following. Mutual exchange (“capitalism”) is evil, because extensive research has proven that this involves inequality. Beauty is evil, for it implies ugliness, and judging people or things in this way makes them unequal. Chastity is evil, for it implies that loose morals are bad, etc. Pride in one’s own heritage is evil, because it implies that there are Others and that they are not as good as you. These evils are given different names by adherents, that is classism, racism, sexism, ableism, ageism, speciesism etc. To an unbeliever, being accused of one of these things should be treated like an accusation of shirk or dhanb, but the forces of Equality are strong.
It should go without saying that obedience to anything besides equality is evil, for there is no God but Equality. However, the recognition of this evil is not widespread but takes stages. Obedience to the state, the state being the dominant power system of the 21st century, is the first to go for equalists; and for the most part, this is their most noticeable trait. For the more fervent, obedience to one’s superiors at work is also abandoned, and the true extremists find that obedience to a religion, to one’s parents, or to anything else besides equality itself is unacceptable.
Now you may ask, what is good in the eyes of the equalists? This is simple, as simple as it is for the Muslims. What makes people more equal is good. This is not a faith that allows moderation, or a variety of different virtues. There is only the one scale of righteousness, which has at its top Equality and at its bottom something called “hatred”, bizarrely so for such an all-hating faith. There is no halfway, since complete Equality is desired, and if we agree that there is nothing bad about things that we once judged, we can bring human beings closer to this divine perfection. Therefore, celebrating disorder, disobedience, weakness, ugliness, sluttiness, and so on are all good things. For the covert unbeliever, this has the discomfiting effect that celebrating respect, tradition, beauty, etc. will get you eyed with suspicion. But this is nothing compared to condemning disrespect or disorder; these things will quickly mark you as a heretic, and you will have a fatwa placed upon you. As with Islam, defection from Equality is the most heinous possible crime.
It’s the radicals you need to worry about, and many of them have gathered on the Internet, waiting to stone to death anyone who dares to mock Equality. It is these radical extremists who remain in the Occupy movement itself long after it has lost its critical mass. They will excuse any rape or theft as a necessary sacrifice on the way to Equality. Like extremists of every stripe, they are dangerous and can be pushed to violence and murder. Like Islamic terrorists, they will even burn down public buildings at the expense of their own lives.
But most of those who vote for the left-leaning parties are what we ought to call moderate equalists. They may do some of the rituals, they will certainly speak highly of equality when they hear it mentioned, but they have not yet been educated about the full extent of the faith. Their awareness, so to speak, has not been raised. Some of them, Equality help them, may even condone unequal relationships between themselves and others, through thoughtlessness of course. They are all inspired by the selfless jihadis, the Occupiers who are fighting fiercely against the vague menace of inequality. If you ask them whether they condone violence in the name of their god, they might outright deny it, or they might hem and haw. “Violence was good sometimes, you know. Like when the Nazis were threatening us with inequality, we beat them and showed them that equality was good… although, I sometimes wish we had beaten the Nazis as a gender-neutral, non-hierarchical autonomous collective…”
Because Equality is a jealous god (and is indeed the favored god of the jealous), it proclaims that all institutions either seek it or lack it, and does not admit the complexity of the world. The world is full of diverse cultures and endless social situations. People are not always fighting “for equality” or “against equality”, and in fact that is more the exception than the rule, although Marx’s command to rewrite history has obscured this fact. Adherents of the mature religions, those authorities written on tattered parchment and ancient stone, understand that human beings have endless motivations which cannot all be answered with “more equality”. In the 20th century Equality was a good leader to us; in the 21st it will not prove so helpful, and people shall abandon it for a stronger god.
Most of the Right is engaged in simple religious struggle against Equality. Although they might not realize the nature of their enemy, they see the single-minded, intolerant, Muslim nature of Equality and they know that it is a false god. Their gods are indeed more merciful than Equality, and although the equalists celebrate every teenage defection with raucous applause, the private defections by adults to the side of Tradition are just as common. We in the New Right are in a more precarious state. We have the insecurity of atheists, and like Evola, we may be constantly searching for a truly powerful Tradition that can provide us secure refuge from the tyranny of equality. But in the meantime, we have the logical upper hand of atheists as well.
For the New Right, at least, the process to refute a believer is simple: tell them to make a list of all the gods they don’t believe in. Then add just one more: Equality. Now they may see the consistency of your position.
Tuesday, January 31st, 2012
Liberalism is the core of a snowball. Its one concept is that the individual is equal, therefore can do whatever they want independent of shared cultural values or reality itself.
As a result, liberalism takes on any value that is compatible with a rejection of allegiance larger than the self. It can for example embrace capitalism, in its consumerist form that says all business exists to serve the individual’s whims and fancies.
Ironically, because individualism is based in the individual, it tends toward groupthink because it unites people who have nothing in common except a desire to be “free.” This idea of being free implies two things: (a) a desire to have no goal and (b) someone or something obstructing that non-goal.
This creates a mob of people linked by their desire to not be part of a group. One of the reasons liberalism is so hard to diagnose and remove is that it is fundamentally paradoxical. “We’re all individualists, so we formed a lobbyist group called Liberalism, now you must obey!”
As time goes on, even the descendants of the most dim-witted peasants are starting to realize that like the advertising on television, liberalism is not telling us the whole story. It’s telling us what it wants to sell us (freedom) but forgetting to mention that the cost of freedom is slavery.
Before the Great Crash, critics of globalisation were isolated on the loony fringe: tear-gassed in Seattle and whacked with truncheons in Prague, as the west’s leaders gathered to congratulate themselves on reaping the benefits of unfettered world trade.
…From the Indignados in Spain, who have espoused the cause of the 50% of young Spaniards now out of a job, to the Occupy movements that have sprung up in New York, London and scores of other cities around the world, to the villagers in Guangdong, China, protesting against government land-grabs, many thousands of discontented citizens are making their anger felt about the way the system has failed them.
The demands of these inchoate groups may not be fully formed; but they have noisily identified the fact that there is something deeply wrong with today’s world economic system, which puts unfathomable riches in the hands of an unaccountable elite, while millions are trapped in unemployment and poverty. – “We can now see the true cost of globalisation” by Staff, The Guardian
In a double irony, the editorial above shows the problem with most revolutions: they imitate the order that went before as it is all they know. This editorial argues for an end to globalism by using the ideology that created globalism.
Our problem is not elites. It’s not proles either. The problem is equality itself, which when applied to human populations inevitably creates a breakaway group of “individualists” who then insist on a destruction of all shared purpose, value or goals. It is the anti-civilization, the ego out of control.
It is also inevitable that liberalism would create Internationalism — sorry, I used the 1930s word for it; I mean Globalism. The essence of globalism is the notion that national borders and customs should not obstruct the individual from fulfilling its whims and fancies, and if we have to unite global business to do this, well so much the better. It is after all more efficient to have a Wal-mart or Taco Bell than a local Mom n’ Pop shop.
Taken together, the 1% and the 99% form a political entity that systematically eliminates anything but itself. It wants government to protect the individual from any obligations but its own whims, and to balance that with commerce so everyone has money, because money is freedom. It consumes all in its path.
Mr Obama described his programme of using higher taxes on the wealthy to bankroll new government spending as “a recipe for a fair, sound approach to deficit reduction and rebuilding this country”. To which we who come from the future can only shout, “No‑o-o, go back! Don’t come down this road!”
As we try desperately to extricate ourselves from the consequences of that philosophy, which sounds so eminently reasonable (“giving everybody a fair share”, the President called it), we could tell America a thing or two – if it would only listen. Human beings are so much more complicated than this childlike conception of fairness assumes. When government takes away an ever larger proportion of the wealth which entrepreneurial activity creates and attempts to distribute it “fairly” (that is to say, evenly) throughout society in the form of welfare programmes and public spending projects, the effects are much, much more complex and perverse than a simple financial equation would suggest.
It is probably obvious that the people from whom the wealth is taken will become less willing to incur the risks that entrepreneurial investment involves – and so will produce less wealth, and thus less tax revenue. But more surprising, perhaps, are the damaging changes that take place in the beneficiaries of this “fairness” and the permanent effect this has on the balance of power between government and the people. – “Barack Obama is trying to make the US a more socialist state” by Janet Daley, The Telegraph
In the name of the meek, and penalizing the strong, we re-create the order which defies us all by destroying the civilization we need to actualize our dreams. We need stability that comes from having culture and values and a shared goal. We need it as a backdrop, as a support system and as a common language. Without it we can be individualists, sure, but in a meaningless cardboard existence.
It’s time we stopped beating around the bush and started to admit the obvious. Liberalism is globalism; globalism is liberalism. Our efforts in the name of the poor and downtrodden have created the most oppressive system of government ever envisioned. Our justifications in the name of the individual have created the most monstrous groupthink ever conceptualized.
In fact, all of politics is a ceremony of opposites. Individualism creates groupthink. Liberalism creates calcification. Freedom creates slavery. Justice creates the police state. Every time the human mind intervenes, we seem to create the opposite of what we wanted.
We need to pick a new path. Every time someone says that, the “wise” pundits trot out the same old justifications of individualism and the meek/poor. I suggest our new starting point should be designing a society for the 100%, not the poor, who inevitably become an empty symbol for the next generation of authoritarians.
Friday, January 6th, 2012
Humankind can act quickly based on its own notions, but then we wait for nature and its natural laws to shape the end result. Even when we control the material means of our future, consequences are governed by the non-material interaction of forces, like information or mathematics.
Starting with The Enlightenment, European society went liberal with the idea that each individual’s thoughts, desires and judgments were equally valid. Mankind became more important than nature. This meant that our thoughts were more important than the consequences of our actions.
It took several centuries to see this, which was only appropriate, because it took several centuries to reach that stage of degeneracy. The root of liberalism was probably a prosperous society which sheltered its incompetents, malcontents and manipulators.
From that view, the following article takes on a different tone:
Eighty years on, it would be easy to sit back and reassure ourselves that the worst could never happen again. But that, of course, was what people told each other in 1932, too.
The lesson of history is that tough times often reward the desperate and dangerous, from angry demagogues to anarchists and nationalists, from seething mobs to expansionist empires. – The Daily Mail
They are telling us that when times are bad, the bad come out of the woodwork.
An alternate history: when times are good, the bad are able to rule because of the complacency of most people, who can’t think past when their next paycheck will arrive.
In fact, what we see through the last 2000 years of history is a process of overcoming. The intelligent rise despite the others dragging them down, and societies survive because when things are bad, the people who have been pointing out the incompetence of our social system are able to temporarily win out.
Think about the people you know. Which is more likely, that they live in denial, or that they’re magical geniuses who have everything under control until they are periodically interrupted by violent realists?
With the hazy years of The Enlightenment, we declared that each human being is more valid than nature, which is a way of talking about natural laws and the consequences of our actions determined by such laws. This legitimized denial of reality and endorsed illusions.
It just took a while to play out. Eventually, it found a voice in modern liberalism/leftism in 1789. This movement snowballed and when war was declared on the nationalists — the archetype of right-wing ideas — in China, Japan, Germany, Austria and Italy during WWII, the left found itself on top.
Its only problem after that was Communism, which is an extreme form of leftism like fascism is an extreme form of rightism. Communism was the new bogeyman.
Communist theory teaches them to believe that the most effective way to break the will of the opposition is to de-legitimize its ruling class, degrade its culture, destroy its confidence in its own institutions and its own way of life.
Hu Jintao believes that the West is waging a conscious memetic war against Communist China – because he knows that Communists including himself have been waging a conscious memetic war against Western civilization since the 1840s. Sadly, this is not yesterday’s news.
What Jintao can also see, and the reason he is actually right to fear memetic warfare, is that the West has been seriously damaged by Communist successes at memetic subversion. The damage didn’t end when the Soviet Empire collapsed, because too many people in the West internalized and naturalized Soviet attack propaganda. Many of its tropes have become tribal shibboleths of major Western political tendencies, despite being just as wrong and just as toxic as when they were first uttered. – Eric S. Raymond
The leftists pondered this, and then introduced Marxist ideas in a new way — through culture. This culminated in the West in the hippie revolutions of 1968, which showed a cultural and social force overcoming knowledge of history, politics, economics and even common sense.
When the Soviet Union finally collapsed in 1991, the cultural Marxists reached out to their most promising allies, namely those in the commercial world. They did not ally themselves with the established industries, but “alternative” service industries like entertainment, media and art.
Eventually they expanded into other industries. The two were ideal pairs: consumerism and commerce benefit from having zero standards so they can sell whatever they want to an audience that, lacking a cultural or moral center, needs lots of products to fill the void. And leftists want permissiveness.
This new movement coincided with the 1968 generation making it into their 40s and 50s. During the 1990s, it seemed that hippie ideals had grown up, put on suits and won out over everything else. At least, they were more popular by the numbers.
After a brief interruption for a Republican president in the United States, this movement made a bold move to seize power in 2008 with the election of Barack Obama. But then a curious thing happened: leftist ideology requires the notion of an oppressor, or an opposing force, holding it back.
As of 2009, nothing held it back. It implemented its grand designs and in response, people in society began to endorse its ideas. This coincided with the results of the grandparents of those ideas, put into motion a half-century before, becoming apparent.
Results did not match promises.
As a result, in 2009 the reign of 1789 unofficially came to an end. World liberalism collapsed because its ideas simply did not work. Most people are still unaware of this, but like all truly profound social shifts, this one is occurring underground.
It is now widely accepted that the years of New Labour government were an almost unalloyed national disaster. Whichever measure you take – moral, social, economic, or the respect in which Britain is held in the world – we went into reverse.
Nevertheless, historians may come to judge that these 13 years of Labour misrule served a vital purpose. In retrospect, the Brown/Blair period may be seen as a prolonged experiment which taught the liberal Left that its ideas cannot work, do not work, and have no chance of ever working.
…So rampant and all-pervasive was the influence of this liberal-Left elite that by the end almost every meaningful action taken by the democratically elected John Major government could be sabotaged or blocked outright by a progressive alliance, which stretched through the Civil Service, the BBC, and the universities.
…A sea change is at work. In practically every area of British public life – state spending, the economy, education, welfare, the European Union (where Ed Miliband refused to condemn Cameron’s pre-Christmas veto), mass immigration, law and order – Conservatives are winning the argument and taking policy in their direction. – The Telegraph
Right now, world liberalism retains one primary strength: it is still very popular. Liberalism offers the idea that we can change our world by altering the effects of our actions without changing our actions, and that is a pleasing notion. It suggests we can keep doing what we want and turn out OK.
However, an increasing group have recognized that like drug addiction or other forms of denial, liberalism will destroy our society just as all denial has destructive effects. As a result, a backlash has formed and while we must be very patient, the downfall of liberalism has begun.
Saturday, December 10th, 2011
When we go through life, we feel a schizophrenic disconnect between what we think we’re doing and the results we see in reality.
Think about the political programs you read about in the news. Almost none of them achieve their desired effect; some do, “on paper,” meaning that they meet some arbitrary targets but don’t fix a problem.
Most of our worst problems are with us perpetually. Crime, poverty, war, incompetence, corruption, filth, and a seemingly endless stream of people willing to do anything for cash, to themselves, others or the world at large including our environment.
Are we out of touch?
Perhaps the answer lies in how we approach the world. We sample from it, then make a “hypothesis” or agreement to study only some details of a situation with many thousands of details. When we find a way to manipulate that subset of the details, we declare ourselves in control.
Yet no one talks about the context, the forgotten data and that which is not considered because it is not what our big human brains are interested in at that moment:
Ken goes on to point out that:
Cigarette smoking has been shown to increase serum hemoglobin, increase total lung capacity and stimulate weight loss, factors that all contribute to enhanced performance in endurance sports. Despite this scientific evidence, the prevalence of smoking in elite athletes is actually many times lower than in the general population. The reasons for this are unclear; however, there has been little to no effort made on the part of national governing bodies to encourage smoking among athletes.
Now at this point I assume that people are wondering how something this insane came to be published in a respected medical journal (as of 2010, CMAJ was ranked 9th of out 40 medical journals, with an impact factor of 9). The answer, of course, is that the point of Ken’s article was to illustrate how you can fashion a review article to support almost any crazy theory if you’re willing to cherry-pick the right data. Here is the paper’s abstract:
The review paper is a staple of medical literature and, when well executed by an expert in the field, can provide a summary of literature that generates useful recommendations and new conceptualizations of a topic. However, if research results are selectively chosen, a review has the potential to create a convincing argument for a faulty hypothesis. Improper correlation or extrapolation of data can result in dangerously flawed conclusions. The following paper seeks to illustrate this point, using existing research to argue the hypothesis that cigarette smoking enhances endurance performance and should be incorporated into high-level training programs.
While people might be able to spot the implausibility of smoking improving distance running performance, it’s a lot harder to spot with more specialized topics. – PLOS
In the past, people have submitted fake articles to humanities and science journals to see if they got through. Often, they did. We have also seen a recent rash of article retractions as scientists have been caught “cherrypicking” data, which is what happens when you keep the results that prove your point and throw out the ones that don’t.
But now, we’re seeing criticism of the scientific method itself. It’s like a cartoon related to reality, a simple primary-colors representation of what goes on out there, with no consideration of context or change over time. An experiment in a lab produces one result and that’s all we care about. Any side effects are not our problem.
That approach works great for the basics of science. For example, does aspirin decrease fever? Does gasoline light on fire when you use a spark? Can we overclock our CPUs to 4x their original clock cycle? But it doesn’t work so well for broader questions, like social questions and our understanding of the nature of reality itself.
Hints of this have even crept into politics:
SPIEGEL: Chancellor Angela Merkel has said that the environmental crisis and the financial crisis have common causes. Is this true?
Röttgen: I totally agree with the chancellor. The great crises of our time arise from a mindset and a political approach that knows no tomorrow. Countries and financial markets live on borrowed money, the world’s social systems — even in Germany — are not sufficiently sustainable, and we derive our prosperity from resources that should actually be available to future generations. We run up financial debts, social debts and environmental debts. This adds up to a life on credit that ignores our responsibility for the future.
SPIEGEL: It sounds like saving the euro isn’t our biggest challenge.
Röttgen: The euro crisis is difficult enough, but it’s only part of a wider problem. We are dealing with a systemic crisis. Our lifestyle of the past few decades has revolved around a dangerous egotism, which only focuses on our present needs, and which we now have to overcome. – Der Spiegel
We have a “dangerous egotism” mainly because of equality. If every viewpoint is equal, there is no plan. Each person becomes his or her own self-approving world and idea. It’s no wonder egotism spreads through the society. Equality itself means approval of the ego is enforced upon society at large.
Naturally, egotism manifests itself in a disconnection from reality. Call it narcissism, self-esteem compensation or my favorite, solipsism, but it’s a secession from reality and a withdrawal into the human mind. Judgments, feelings and preferences predominate over hard fact and logic.
It’s possible this mentality is born of the same impulse as our mis-use of science as described above. Both may have an origin in our desire to control our world, coupled with an awareness of how to game the system.
We game the system through social consequences, or by manipulating the opinions of others instead of achieving results in reality. For example, if a product is crap but you invent a catchy line to sell it to others, you win vast profits even though technically you’re in an inferior position.
That’s a reversal of nature, where the best function prevails, even if it’s ungainly or perhaps a bit weird. Equality creates a society based on image and appearance, since we assume that the structure beneath is all the same since all individuals are equal. There can be no difference in structure, or equality itself is upset.
In suggesting that the most intelligent people tend to use IQ to over-ride common sense I am unsure of the extent to which this is due to a deficit in the social reasoning ability, perhaps due to a trade-off between cognitive abilities – as suggested by Baron-Cohen’s conceptualization of Asperger’s syndrome, including the male- versus female-type of systematizing/empathizing brain . Or alternatively it could be more of an habitual tendency to over-use abstract analysis, that might (in principle) be overcome by effort or with training. Observing the apparent universality of ‘Silly Clevers’ in modernizing societies, I suspect that a higher IQ bias towards over-utilizing abstract reasoning would probably turn-out to be innate and relatively stable.
Indeed, I suggest that higher levels of the personality trait of Openness in higher IQ people may the flip-side of this over-use of abstraction. I regard Openness as the result of deploying abstract analysis for social problems to yield unstable and unpredictable results, when innate social intelligence would tend to yield predictable and stable results. This might plausibly underlie the tendency of the most intelligent people in modernizing societies to hold ‘left-wing’ political views  and . – Bruce Charlton
More intelligent people use IQ in place of common sense because they do not trust the world around them. To a mind of two deviations above average intelligence, our declining civilization seems like a place of disorder, corrupt motivations and confused goals.
Even more, once the principle of “science” is understood and manipulated, it infects the mind with its narrow type of thinking. After all, thinking that way is how you get ahead. That type of narrow thinking, combined with paying attention to social rules more than reality itself, is what makes modern society: an egotistic wasteland in which people pursue symbols of reality instead of connecting with the outside world.
As the years go on, and our problems not only stay with us but thrive despite our “best efforts” to quash them, we are starting to realize that the real problem is in the assumptions we use to approach the world. All of our thoughts are corrupted because some underlying notion is corrupt.
Perhaps this is what we mean when we say our society is “out of touch.”
Monday, December 5th, 2011
As mentioned here several times, the founding illusion of modernity occurred in 1789 when people decided that they could do without specialized leaders.
Instead, it was declared that we are all equal. This means that we pick leaders from among us by voting. 222 years on, it seems this has not worked out so well. Corruption is rife. Leaders lie and are totally detached from what their citizens need.
Even worse, our society has run itself on a collision course with doom. We lowered our standards, dumbed down every test, and now are inundated in stupidity and the stupidity by its superior numbers determines who gets elected, what products will be in stores, and how our cities and jobs are designed.
In short, “freedom” and “equality” brought us servitude to the lowest common denominator.
One thing and one thing alone keeps this sick ship afloat: growth. Since equality is a popular notion, meaning that it appeals to the lowest common denominator in all of us like a catchy but moronic pop song or a McDonald’s “hamburger,” people want in to our society and this makes business grow.
However, this is not business of a solid nature. This is consumerism, or the art of selling stuff to ourselves. We are not exporting or generating wealth. We are selling products to each other, and then making products out of the debt and expectations of the companies that sell the products to us.
If you want a model for the death of a civilization, this is it. It cuts itself off from reality, uses its own internal opinions and desires to keep itself afloat, and grows based on this false wealth — or at least grows until it all comes crashing down.
The most recent recession is not the end-of-the-world most people think it is. Instead, it’s a warning hiccup: our economy is unsustainable because it is based on consumerism, which itself is based on the impulse control issues of our least intelligent citizens.
Economics has developed along a single line of thought, in which individuals, isolated from society, have “preferences” for a collection of goods and are motivated by self-interest to pursue the acquisition, at the lowest prices, of the most goods that their economic circumstances allow. Competing businesses, likewise, pursue maximum profit. Economic theory then “proves” that “markets” will establish prices that lead to the most “efficient” allocation of scarce resources. This will maximise growth for the economy as a whole.
Mainstream economics claims to be “value-free”. Students are cautioned not to mix normative propositions with their “positive” analysis. But self-interest is itself a value. This fact is cleverly disguised by putting forward the theory of consumer choice as a uniquely rational response to economic information such as prices, interest rates, tax rates and the like. Any behaviour not conforming to this theory is deemed irrational; other motivations such as altruism, love, the greater good or aesthetic appreciation are not considered: they are not the province of economics.
Such a value system might be just about tolerable if economics were restricted to a narrow sphere of inquiry. But over the past few decades economics has colonised not only much academic inquiry in the social sciences, but also public debate as a whole. Most notably, it has colonised politics. By giving “scientific” support to programmes of deregulation and privatisation over the past 40 years, it has managed to transform our economic structures to conform to its ideal of free markets, in the belief that competition between rational consumers and producers would enforce “correct” prices and lead to an economic optimum. – The Guardian
Before leftism, the idea that “everyone is equal” was viewed as being about as reliable as a ghost story, superstition, idle gossip or snake oil salesman. It was recognized as wishful thinking, not reality. Early critics pointed out that the idea of equality succeeded because it was vague. What does “equal” actually mean?
Its adherents insist that it means equality of opportunity. In reality, that translates into dumbing down of the entry test to any activity, so that the less equal can keep up with the more equal. Even worse, it means a coarsening of standards so that all can participate. Instead of being able to pick from among smart and complete people, we’re picking whichever of the random citizens can complete tests and file paperwork.
People don’t like to face this, but the “solutions” to this problem offered by Occupy Wall Street (and others) are in fact the same “solutions” that created it. Every aspect of OWS philosophy was first parroted by the French while they were busy guillotining enemies of the state. There is nothing new there.
In fact, consumerism/capitalism and equality/socialism are in bed with one another. Equal people buy more products. Equal people are more willing fodder for the machine. They tell you you’re equal, which is another way of saying you’ll only be accepted as more than irrelevant when you slave away in the machine for awhile.
Growth is fueled by this combined assault of leftism and consumerism. By letting people choose which aspects of reality they prefer, instead of making them face reality, we empower them to make terrible decisions and expect the collective to support them. It does, then regulates, opening loopholes that are exploited.
Estimates on the amount of derivatives out there worldwide vary. An oft-heard estimate is $600 trillion. That squares with Mobius’ guess of 10 times the world’s annual GDP. “Are the derivatives regulated?” asks Mobius. “No. Are you still getting growth in derivatives? Yes.”
In other words, something along the lines of securitized mortgages is lurking out there, ready to trigger another crisis as in 2007-08. – Forbes
You can blame bankers for their conduct, but they’re trying to do the same thing everyone else is doing: get out of this system by becoming more equal enough to be wealthy. When you have real money, you can stop 9-t05ing it and putting up with jerks and boring meetings just to get through a day. You have actual freedom, not just political “freedom.”
Even more importantly, what put bankers into this position to make this crazy wealth? First it was the population in hysterics after the last big recession, demanding that the banks be regulated. Next it was the politicians and bureaucrats promising to keep an eye on them. Finally, it was the banks — squeezed out of some of their other practices — turning to new ways to make money.
Why might they do that? Among other things, because that’s what consumers and stockholders, who are regular folk like you and me who ran out and bought some stock, wanted and continue to want. They want profit. Owning BOFA stock can make money. Having an account at BOFA is cheaper if they’re taking fees from someone else.
We constantly look for a bad guy in our society. This bad guy, ideally, is not one of us. He’s someone driven to do evil and if we can just find him and crush him, all will be good again. Yeah, we’ve tried that. A few hundred times. The bad guys crop up again, usually because our rules encourage them.
The evil is within. Growth is a symptom of the evil, but it also justifies the evil and supports it. As our modern dreams do not turn out as rosy as we expected, people are re-thinking modernity. Part of that is a rejection of growth and equality, and a desire for selectivity and quality instead.