Civilization creates its own fatal disease which is the predominance of popular notions over realistic ones. This disease proves difficult to diagnose because it is invisible, intangible and omnipresent. Like a virus in a computer network, it spreads through any and every program, elusive in its lack of a center to attack.
If these writings seem to rage too much against scapegoats — The JewsTM, “thugs,” The Rich, government itself instead of the voters who empower it — it is to avoid falling into the pitfall of popular notions, which perpetually prefer a tangible and easily-understood target to the more complex task of unraveling different threads and separating truth from lies.
Other popular illusions get short shrift sometimes but merit our attention, with two of them being the “fact”-based narrative and the obsession with details that demands lengthy research and vocabulary to merely discuss an item at a deeper level than “insight porn,” the pop culture styled contrarianism that creates a Thomas Kinkade level of philosophy: bright colors, simple scenes, and essentially a pleasant illusion avoiding the deeper problems within.
Many of us distrust the “fact”-based narrative for a simple reason:
There are no facts, only interpretations. – F.W. Nietzsche
That is to say: our language cannot convey wholly what is in reality, so it is inherently selective. This extends to fact-finding itself, which must choose facts to fit a narrative instead of assessing all facts and then looking to see what remains. A selective narrative produces a 300-page book of compelling ideas, where an assessment of all facts would produce a 10,000-page spacy analysis that few would read, until a final chapter appears which seems to magically make broad conclusions.
The left will always attack with the idea that conservative ideas are not “fact”-based, because the left specializes in cherry-picking data especially within a recent time frame, mainly because their goal is to explain away the unbroken historical record of failure to democracy, egalitarianism and subsidy-based economies (“socialism”). They have more to conceal than they have to say, so they specialize in generating “facts” that are in fact a very selective reading of reality, transferred into narrow categorical containers to produce a binary, and then spun into broad universal conclusions derived from relatively thin evidence.
Over the course of my life, I have seen both popular wisdom and the latest scientific studies fall. Not just arrive at a state of doubt; outright fail. This is because there are numerous levels of selection bias. Paul Krugman, a talented writer whose conclusions are often wrong because they are based on false assumptions, hits the nail on the head — broken clock right twice a day, perhaps — with this statement:
It doesn’t matter that the skeptics have been proved right. Simply raising questions about the orthodoxies of the moment leads to excommunication, from which there is no coming back. So the only “experts” left standing are those who made all the approved mistakes. It’s kind of a fraternity of failure: men and women united by a shared history of getting everything wrong, and refusing to admit it.
In other words, there is a selection bias among those who have become recognized leaders in their field, and it is not unfair to assume that much of this consists of destroying any ideas which conflict with their own. Their careers are based on their ideas; unlike even fifty years ago, when people were promoted based on their character and generalized abilities, in the current time people are vaulted to the top of their profession for attracting public interest. This leads to the second form of selection bias.
Crowd selection bias exists as a positive distinction, meaning that the masses reward what they find appealing. Note that these are not the masses as a whole, but the specific plurality which consumes news and intellectual products (usually books and movies). They ignore anything which is too complex or offends their conventional wisdom, but if they find a champion for an idea they find compelling, they will lift that person up through their purchases and attention. These heroes are the talk of the town for a few years, then are forgotten because their theories did not redefine the world. Thus Thomas Piketty passes into history and joins a list of other names I could cite here, but none of us would recognize them. They are past favorites, now comfortably serving as heads of departments or laboratories across the West.
In addition to the above selection biases, a type of negative selection bias exists which is fear of offending. We on the realist fringe are familiar with this one! Any idea that is too dangerous, or too insane — and the opposition likes to conflate these two much as the Soviets did — will be viewed as potentially incurring risk of offending either a plurality that is vocal or worse, a group or individual with protected pity-status. Those are dangerous and must be avoided, and so these are filtered out before they reach the surface.
Those three alone guarantee that “facts” as released into the mainstream will rarely provide useful information; “useful” is a better test than crowd favorite “valid,” which merely means placed in a form that is coherent. More likely, the facts issued forth will take the form of the far wall of an echo chamber, repeating what is already believed by excluding anything which does not fit that narrative.
Some useful facts make it through. These are either advanced by those who know their importance, or sneak past in a variety of guises. The best guise is insignificance, or the noting of a small detail and allowing others to interpret it. Another is as internal criticism within already accepted theory or ideology. Yet another is the infamous backwards attack, in which the researcher or writer advances a terrible argument in favor of an idea in order to show how hollow the idea is. These different types of guises are generally employed by those who work for the crowd heroes who run the departments.
None of these filters however disguise the raw problem with “fact”-based reasoning: the facts are chosen in order to be popular, and the method is bad. Modern science consists of surveying data, picking a factor to look at, and implying a causative relationship through statistical means that address only the data itself. Inherent in that are a number of assumptions which rely on universal tendencies to data, or similarities between context based on the form of information and not the specifics of its derivation, and these fail time and again. No one cares: this is an industry, not a moral crusade to be realistic.
On the other side from the “fact”-based narrative is another narrative which seems to be different: the detail obsession of specific domains of knowledge and vocabulary, which hold that to discuss a topic you must have read thousands of pages of dense material and mastered many small nuances. If humans retained their ancestral intelligence, they would see this for what it is, which is job protection through obscurity. Remember “security through obscurity,” the idea that if you make your computer products cryptic enough no one will hack them, despite the fact that hackers specialize in the cryptic because much like regulation offers more options to cheat, it offers more different wrinkles to exploit? Job security requires that specialized workers make their tasks so obscure and rife with tedious detail that outsiders cannot critique, oversee or redesign them. This perpetuates “the way we do things around hereTM” in perpetuity, guaranteeing jobs but reducing competitiveness. The same is true of academics and other thinkers, who want to claim ideographic space on the great blueprint of known ideas, and the defend it by making entry impossible, and forcing those who would enter to adopt enough of the language of the discipline as to force them to accept the specific precepts of its owners.
Within this topic, I side with the philosophers: all ideas reduce to a very simple core, and there are not many actual ideas, so generally what one finds is a variation on a previous idea. What is needed is not an in-depth look, but a clarification of the basic concepts in as few words and specialized terms as possible, or discussion is moved into a domain controlled by the specific knowledge which makes extrusion to other domains of knowledge nearly impossible. Academia hates this idea because it would put the philosophers and literature teachers back in charge, and since the best of those tend toward realism, they would focus on collapsing the empty spaces of rhetoric and domain-anchoring dogma and replace it with simpler, clearer concepts. Compare The Republic or Reverence to the average book of academic writing and the difference leaps from the page: good thinking expresses itself clearly in few concepts and then reveals their depth; bad thinking expresses itself in a nearly flat hierarchy of specialized concepts, hiding meaning within, then explains it through examples which only gradually reveal what is actually being said.
As always, the problem of humanity chases us here. Why is it that all of our knowledge is corrupted, all of our leaders are bad, and all great civilizations extinguish themselves? The only smart money says that a similar pathology, or repeated behavior that is indifferent to its results, explains all three. We got a hint of this in the news this week when attention whoring made the news:
Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) on Saturday backtracked from recent comments in which she seemed to suggest that Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) was getting more attention than she deserved by admitting what’s widely known about Washington: everyone seeks attention.
So that we all catch the tacit admission here, let us look at the normal, healthy leadership. A good manager seeks what must be done to succeed and then works to accomplish it. But as McCaskill says, democratic Washington acts on the opposite principle: it seeks what is popular, and then finds a way to justify it by arguing toward some recognized policy goal. In other words, we are no longer in the domain of leadership, but in entertainment, except that it uses the mantle of authority given to leaders to grant itself gravitas and extort money from us all. People, she said that politicians make their careers by attention-whoring; no one mentioned leadership or acting on what is important here. Grab headlines and win, just like the “fact”-based studies, and do what is right and be ignored.
In this light, our society resembles a closed circle: each of us does what is popular, so that we may become popular, based on what has been popular in the past. Surface-level alterations, such as what hipsters excel at like adding tubas to indie-rock bands and proclaiming it “a new sound,” are in fact affirmation of sameness in the same way the exception proves the rule: if the only differentiation possible is aesthetics only, then no other idea is possible, which affirms the predominance of the idea. This closed circle means that we as a society are like a dog chasing its own tail, entirely self-referential and oblivious to the larger reality around us. “Fact”-based argument, and argument from detail-obsessive specialized domains of knowledge, are methodologies which endorse and promote this outlook. Its end result is that reality is ignored and supplanted by social reality, or the collective consensual hallucination formed of what people desire, judge or feel — in other words, what they wish were true instead of what they deduce or induce to be true. This is the end result of all crowd selection algorithms, whether democracy, consumerism or simply social popularity, and constitutes a revelation of the implicit goal in those methods which is to obscure difficult truths by re-directing our focus elsewhere.
All of this leads to the point of the essay you are now (still?) reading: universalism creates subjectivity. Our theory is that in order to find objective truths, we must create an objective truth which is shared among people. However, by doing so, we grant a weight to that objectivity which guarantees it will be manipulated, and because people have different levels of the power of discernment — this is distinct from subjectivity; it suggests that we have different degrees of the same abilities, not different abilities which produce different truths — they will then use the same objective symbols and tokens but mean different things, gradually poisoning the objective truth by redefining its tokens. A better approach is to reject the objectivity/subjectivity dichotomy and instead take an esoteric approach, which may be summarized as “the truth reveals itself to those who are ready, in varying degrees according to readiness.” With esotericism, we expect no objective truth to be universal, and correspondingly guard against poisoning by cherry-picked facts (in “scientific” “studies”) and biased language controlling specialized domains of thought alike.
Nihilism, in a nutshell, argues that life is without objective purpose or value. This philosophy is something that has always seemed to cause controversy, as it seems society has always a some sort of fear when it pertains to Nihilism. Briefly describe what Nihilism means to you, and its relation to Parallelism.
What is Nihilism?
Nihilism is a philosophy based on the idea that reality alone is important. It rejects belief, faith, wishful thinking, ideology, morality and socialization as in any way a form of reality and/or “inherent”; these are human projections. All potential actions are choices we can make. However, nihilists are not relativists. We do not say all choices are equal, because equality is also a human projection. All choices are simply whatever their results are, because intentions exist only within the human mind and are not important.
Most people want to read into nihilism the typical kiddie-rebellion fatalism that infects the industrialized nations: “Nothing matters, so do whatever you want!” This is broken, because nihilism eschews the yes/no question of “matters,” since even having something matter at all is a choice. Nihilism also avoids the “do whatever you want” because to prescribe that is to give it a value. The only statement nihilism makes is that nothing is real except reality. Human projections are irrelevant because they are unrelated to outcomes.
Every action we undertake on earth is a choice. Do I eat the red-spotted mushroom? The utilitarians will say that if most people like eating them, you should do it; the formalists will say that if it’s socially approved, you should do it; the instrumentalists will ask if the goal of eating the mushroom is moral; the materialists of course will say that it depends on what comforts or wealth it gets you. A nihilist says to use the scientific method and look at what the whole of the results are. Will it poison you? Will it mislead others? Will it harm the forest? Will it bring about any gain of any kind? These are all choices, and must be considered in turn.
Nihilism is not a morality. Morality is what comes between humans and making choices. I can choose to commit crimes, but if morality exists, I will be reacting to the moral judgment of right/wrong instead of the consequences of my actions. This puts us back to measuring our acts by intentions, when we really should instead look at what the results will be. We then have to confront those results and say, “The result of this crime is that I’m going to force this person to work another 40 hours to pay for what I took, and my reward will be 10% of the purchase value, and it’s likely that more people will follow my example and commit crimes.”
That sort of measurement is emotionally heavier than saying some action is bad or good. If an action brings about good results, we can talk about those anticipated results by looking at past similar actions and pointing out the similarity. In the same way, if a proposed action is likely to bring about bad results, we need to only compare it to past events. “Last time we lit our cigarettes off the propane tank, we blew up three houses and a dog. Is that the result we want again?”
Nihilism is not negation. If there is religion in a nihilist world, it is esotericism, or the discovery of religious principles from patterns in our environment. If there is morality in a nihilist world, it is unceasing awareness of consequences. These things can exist, but they, too, are choices. However, as mentioned above, nihilism is not relativistic, so “it’s a choice” doesn’t mean “it’s accepted” as it does in pluralist moralist societies. It means instead that the burden of consequences is upon the person who makes a choice.
Nihilism is also not anarchy. Anarchy is a moral judgment that a leadership structure should not exist. A nihilist will reject the idea that a State is necessary, but by recognizing that leadership is a choice, forces us to consider the consequences of types of leadership versus no leadership. Nihilism does not choose what “ought” to be; it chooses what works. And so the first nihilist question to an anarchist would be, “Where can I find a successful anarchist community?”
Unlike ideological political systems, nihilism does not view wishful thinking — what “ought” to be, what society “should” do, or a moral jihad for equality — as useful. It questions causes->effects and by looking at effects, chooses to pick the corresponding cause (action) that can be undertaken to achieve those effects. As a result, it is pragmatist, or non-utilitarian consequentialist. This makes it more like the paleoconservative right and less like modern post-1789 state/ideology-based systems.
As a philosophy, nihilism recognizes that rejection of all values negates itself because it is in itself a value. Instead, nihilism views all values as choices. When these values are based on aspects of reality, they are nihilistic, but the creation of values like morality is dangerous because it removes us from thinking about reality and instead has us thinking about the words, symbols and relationships that comprise those values. A nihilist would suggest that the healthiest human system is one where we look at consequences alone.
Nihilism is ultimately a philosophy of affirmation. When we clear the human projection out of our heads, we are like children again, and can instead of reacting blindly to social projections, choose what we want out of life. As a conservative nihilist, I choose what Plato found to be the apex of human existence: the good, the beautiful and the true.
Why society fears Nihilism
I no longer believe that society exists. I should say instead that it’s a moving target. Societies have a life cycle just like humans. If you take care of your society, it can last for a really long time. If you do not, it self-destructs quickly. The remnants of destroyed societies are what we call third world nations. In each of these, there was once a prosperous society led by intelligent and noble people. These people pitied others, and so made life more hygienic, safer, abundant and easier for them, which resulted in incompetents outbreeding competents and dooming the society to failure.
During the early days of a civilization, there is no need for formalization. People recognize a shared purpose and set of values to achieve that purpose. It can be as simple as adaptation to a geographic area, but only if it includes an added dimension, which is the desire to not just survive but to thrive. Essentially, the best human value is laziness, because it causes us to want to improve our knowledge and self-organization such that we have more time to relax, ponder, create music, wage war, fall in love, etc. You know of Mazlow’s pyramid of needs; in my view, civilization begins in the upper parts of this pyramid where emotions and the need to use the mind like a weapon are found.
Unfortunately, over time, the aforementioned process of “helping others” leads to a proliferation of incapable people. These people do not mean badly, but they have a fatal flaw, which is that they are thoughtless. They will either overpopulate their geographical area or cause some other tragedy of the commons (an event where a public resource is exploited unto destruction because its cost to each individual is free) and as a result, will find themselves starving, diseased or in wars they can’t win. At that point they turn on their leaders, who are usually the people who had been trying to stop the decay and getting beaten back by the crowd of people who want to believe in what they wish were true, not what they can discern is true.
As a result, wishful thinking predominates up until the very end, where there is a sudden and conclusion confrontation with reality itself, and the civilization falls apart. It doesn’t just explode, but all the levels of civilized behavior drop precipitously until it is corrupt, dishonest, whorelike, ugly, dirty, commerce-ridden, violent, and directionless. It is usually ruled by warlords or a military junta because such disorder requires authoritarian government to keep it in line.
During this process people attempt to enforce their wishful thinking because (a) they want to stay in denial about the collapse and (b) this enables them to control others and get ahead through manipulation. As a result, they invent the myth of inherency. These words we use to describe things are not just token symbols we exchange in their view, but are the actual names of things. Our religions are not interpretations of metaphysics, but the whole truth. Government and collective approval are the only legitimate ways to make decisions. Good is a certain list of things; bad is anything that opposes it. Soon we are living in a world of “inherent” symbols that are human-created and often either arbitrary or deliberately controlling.
This is the origin of modern control. Unlike ancient control, which was cooperation based on having a hierarchy, or a decent authoritarian state, which is essentially paternalistic pragmatism (a form of consequentialism — the idea that we measure our actions by their results, not their intent — that, unlike utilitarianism, is based on reality for society as a whole and not the approval of a majority of its members, a subjective…or should we say “wishful thinking”….measurement), modern control is individuals controlling one another to keep any of us from upsetting the fragile balance created by a civilization dedicated to equality. In practical terms, “equality” means pluralism or that there is no right/wrong except for what is proscribed by the dominant ideology which we see as giving us equality and thus “freedom.” To a modern person, freedom and equality mean the same thing, which is pluralism or no social standards, which is naturally extended to diversity/multiculturalism/internationalism (these terms mean the same thing) and approval of every underdog group that doesn’t violate social/political norms.
Nihilism shatters this control by attacking inherency. As a nihilist, you realize that everything is indeed a choice. You can choose to deny reality. You can choose to eat feces. You can choose to shoot yourself in the head. All of these are possible choices, and there’s only two ways to make such choices. The first way is wishful thinking; the second way is reality-based thinking. Since we know wishful thinking varies with the quality of the individual, and it can be easily observed that most individuals (I’ll add the Southern hybrid between good-will and pity, “Bless their hearts!”) make most decisions poorly, it makes zero sense to pick wishful thinking, or a subjective standard. Instead, it is logical to pick a reality-based standard. The prole has trained themselves to say “but who decides?” and the answer to that is obvious: we pick the best among us. However, to a non-nihilist, that answer seems dangerous. Someone is more than equal? There are differences between people? But you can’t say that in polite conversation! You will never get laid!
This is why nihilism is controversial. It destroys control, but unlike anarchy, does not affirm the necessity of control through picking an opposite model. Instead, it tells us we have choices. We can choose a rising society, or by making a different decision, choose to have a dying one. The results of our decisions are clear because similar types of decisions have been made in the past, and we can compare cause->effect and see what effects our actions are likely to have. Most people get freaked out by that “deterministic” view of life, so choose to believe that they can choose an effect, and then assign to it any cause they want, thus they can do whatever they want and claim they “intended” to have a certain effect. Tee hee, aren’t they clever! Logicians will know this as a B->A error: If all A->B, then all A are B, but not all B are A (B->A). Mistaken cause->effect reasoning is the foundation of our declining society today.
On a simpler level, nihilism is controversial because people prefer pleasant/easy lies to complex/difficult truths. They want to hear absolute and universal guarantees, like the talismans of an ancient religion: just slaughter a lamb to Baal, and you will get rich. Don’t worry about your decisions, and trying to figure out if you do the right one; get the right symbol on there, and everything will be OK. Social decision-making works this way, interestingly enough. If I say nice things to my friend, and then answer with wrong information when she asks me a factual question, I don’t get blamed or seen as having failed because the link in the friendship is the social kindness, not accuracy. People want that level of acceptance-without-challenge extended to all portions of their lives.
What is Parallelism?
Parallelism is a solution to linear thinking. Nihilism has us thinking in terms of choices; parallelism has us realizing that to make these choices, we need to compare more than one factor out of many to consider the before-state and after-state of our decision. Humans tend to project their own arbitrary choices onto situations by choosing one factor out of thousands or millions to look at when evaluating a decision.
For example, “Will this new car produce more or less carbon output than my old car?” If you look only at that one factor, you’ll go buy a Prius, but then there’s the question of what environmental damage is caused by the batteries in the Prius and the energy required to make it. There are other questions to be asked as well: am I more likely to be in a wreck, and thus send both cars to the junkyard? Will this be as reliable as a “regular” car? Is a better use of the money required to pay for its higher cost to simply purchase a few acres of forest land? Can I drive less with my existing car? These questions involve the assessment of environmental impact only.
Parallelism suggests that decisions are made according to indicators found in parallel between multiple factors. This reduces the arbitrary nature of linear decision-making. As a corresponding notion, parallelism also suggests that structures exist in parallel throughout the universe. This includes the vertical dimension of complexity and the possibility of metaphysics. “As above, so below,” would be an expression of parallelism; another way to view it is that there are no structures in the cosmos which are radically incompatible with any others.
As such, parallelism is an attack on how most people conceive of religion. The average person is either (a) a materialist, believing that there is nothing but physical matter and thus enhacing physical comfort for people is the best goal (utilitarianism), or (b) a dualist, believing that there is some “other side” where all things are pure and clear and people will live in perfection in the order of God or gods. Parallelism suggests instead that any additional metaphysical dimension will resemble what is here, because in all aspects of reality, nature uses mirrored structures to create an architectonic or self-balancing order. The greatest is found in the least and vice-versa. It is a perfect design.
In addition, parallelism points out another structure in nature, which is a natural selection-like mechanism that is found in nature, but also in mathematics and thought. Roughly speaking, for any possible action there are many parallel impulses, and each one reflects a certain degree of maturation toward completeness of organization. The most organized tend to form a parallel harmonic level — imagine the parallels themselves as verticals, and a horizontal line being drawn where completeness of order occurs — and thrive, while others go away. Our thoughts are like this: we have many impulses in response to stimulus, and our brain selects those which are the most complete and which do not trigger any negative feedback loops.
Parallelism also has political implications, notably that it’s nonsense to base a society on a single arbitrary idea (equality, finance) when many other things need to be considered. We need to consider happiness, and more importantly, being a rising society where we’re constantly getting better at what we do, instead of a declining one. Physical health needs to be considered as well, as does environmental impact, as does social consequence. There is no “freedom” from any of the consequences of our actions.
Further, parallelism suggests that different civilizations go through the same patterns if they use similar forms of organization. This ratifies Plato’s “civilization cycle,” by which nations are born, age and die. Every nation that undertakes the attitude and organization typical of a senescent nation will become senescent; any nation that adopts the attitude and organization typical of a new nation will be reborn. Further, parallelism suggests that the fortunes of our societies are not caused by geography, but by where in the cycle we choose to put our effort. In addition, parallelism would have us thus separate these societies so that each can evolve according to its choices.
A parallelist worldview also includes that idea that we cannot divide leadership by separating it into different subject matters. For example, financial decisions have effects on the same things that legal or social decisions do, but so also do non-government actions like those of the media, religions, social groups etc. It makes more sense to organize government by the things upon which we are having effect, than by the flavor (religious, economic, social, political) of activity undergone.
As such, parallelism is an entry point to the birth stage of the cycle of civilizations, called Tradition, and is utterly incompatible with modernity. However, since parallelism is reality-based, it explains the consequences of choices rather than formulate an ideology toward their ends. For this reason, it is a useful tool for diagnosing modern stumbles and finding ways to work around them.
What are some important figures in history that have shared the same viewpoint, to some degree?
Every great leader in history has recognized these principles to some degree. Nihilism belongs to strategic realists like Niccolò Machiavelli and Kautilya, but also to clear-minded thinkers like Siddhartha and Eckhart. Parallelism has to my knowledge never been articulated as such, but was an understood (which is better than written down — it lives in the culture and, as culture shapes its population through natural selection according to Race-Culture Theory, becomes part of the genetics of that population) part of ancient cultures.
Because these viewpoints are more descriptive (analysis of cause->effect decisions) than prescriptive, or ideological and moral values imposed on a population to control it, they do not comprise an ideology per se but are methods that can be applied by anyone. Josef Stalin can be said to be a nihilist with his pronouncement “no man, no problem”; then again, Bill Clinton also displayed nihilistic thinking when he adopted the practice of creating his current political platform by reading the polls and selecting any idea that polled highly as something he would support. However, none of these consciously adopt a nihilistic or parallelist viewpoint.
I would imagine that artists share a good deal of these philosophies because artists are naturally outsiders, since their job is to notice what society cannot. Further, artists are naturally realists, because in order to portray life accurately, one must notice how it functions and not the type of social statements that can be made to gloss-over that or make it sound appealing. Finally, art is inherently meditative; meditation is the root of all understanding, since it calms the mind and allows exploration of all factors at once. To be an artist, you must find what is hidden in plain sight and style it so that it and any solutions needed to it are appealing, making people want to engage with it. Artists fight back against numbness induced by social conformity of behavior which in turn exhausts the mind of any possibilities other than obedience and reward.
In our New Agey and left-leaning time, people look toward justifications for their beliefs. The core of almost all of them is altruism or egalitarianism, which holds that we achieve the best social order by lifting up the lower so they are “equal” to the rest.
Notwithstanding the grim fact that equality appears only in mathematics and never in reality itself, this belief — which is likely merely marketing of oneself through a process like advertising through highly public good works to conceal private acts of selfishness — often seeks justification through the “golden rule” as in theory formulated by Jesus Christ and later Immanuel Kant. Usually this is described as “One should treat others as one would like others to treat oneself” or a similar reflexive self-referential, and thus modifiable, standard.
That simplistic look, like most simplistic looks, misses several important distinctions between these two formulations and conceals the greatest secret of all, which is that the golden rule is not the “golden rule” as interpreted by most of the ham-fisted narcissistic self-interested manipulators out there.
Kant’s statement occurred in three different formulations, the second two clarifying the first as is the tendency among philosophers:
Act only according to that maxim by which you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law. Foundations of the Metaphysics of Morals, 422
Act as though the maxim of your action were by your will to become a universal law of nature. Foundations of the Metaphysics of Morals, 422
Act so that you treat humanity, whether in your own person or in that of another, always as an end and never as a means only. Foundations of the Metaphysics of Morals, 429
The immediate difference that leaps to the eye here is the first statement, which does not say “treat others as you would like to be treated” as widely assumed, but speaks of “universal law.” In other words, as the second statement clarifies, treat others how you think nature should treat them, i.e. according to behaviors that you think should be defaults and constants of the world, like gravity, temperature and the like.
Kant being somewhat more aware of how easily language is misinterpreted than Christ, but not yet to the point where he recognizes that a rabbinical or monastic tradition is the only defense of any language against the tendency of the herd to project themselves into it and corrupt it for their own ends, does not speak of a self-reflexive interpretation “as you would like to be treated.” He knows that this will rapidly devolve to changing preferences about how the individual wants to be treated, adjusting expectations to fit reality instead of holding higher standards. Refining this to a law of nature removes the personal utilitarian interpretations.
On his third formulation, Kant introduces one of the questions that lives with us today on a regular basis: means versus ends. He states a parallel between the individual and other individuals, and suggests that they be treated as ends alone. This does not, as widely assumed, suggest that treatment be equal or that it facilitate what any individual does; this statement exists within the context of universal law, and so becomes convergent on Plato’s “good to the good, and bad to the bad,” because a universal law would not allow bad to be done to the good, thus must dissuade and remove it with an equal and opposite reaction.
At that point, Kant has moved very far from the populist statement of the golden rule, which is “treat others as you would want them to treat you” and yet has amplified it greatly, by adding the corollary “such that this treatment would be fair to anyone.” The populist golden rule takes a self-referential look, which makes it a matter of “subjectivity” (a fancy term for adjusting expectations to results). The Kantian formulation speaks instead of to the individual to fairness itself.
As explained long ago by a college professor, the classic test of the categorical imperative is when the secret police of the State knock on your door at night. “Is Dave here?” they say, and you know that they mean to haul him away and imprison him. In the nitwit populist viewpoint, the golden rule has you saying “No, Dave isn’t here” and shutting the door, because you (the glowing, golden ego composed of yourself as seen through the eyes of others) would not wish to be revealed in that situation. But Kant adds another wrinkle: what is fair? For example, if Dave ran into your house after a night of rape, murder and mayhem, it might be a horrible idea to shield him. Then again, if he was raping, murdering and beating horrible people, perhaps it is best to shield him because what he did was in fact good or at least permissible.
The Bible establishes a similar clarification but phrases it in entirely religious language, which makes it inscrutable to most:
Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets. Matthew 7:12
Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
This is the first and great commandment.
And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
Translated, this says, “What you wish others would do to you, do to them.” This formulation phrases the question in reverse from the populist rule which begins with the act of doing and extends it to the reflexive “as you would have them do to you.” As a result, this formulation reads more like a general prescription than a reaction to the necessity of another acting on your person. It is clarified by the second set of statements, which refer to it in the context of loving God; Christ draws a parallel between the two but places the first as supreme. Loving God with “all thy heart/soul/mind” leaves no room for loving self, and suggests as an addendum that one should also love the neighbor in the same way. In other words, be selfless and treat them as if they were selfless too. This reverses the self-full populist golden rule which seems like a mandate for generous treatment, and restores it to the Kantian domain of universal roles, but transfers the ends from human beings to God. For those of us who see God as more of a natural order and divine pattern underlying all of existence, this means to honor the order of reality more than the human wishful thinking perceptions of what it is.
In this light, Kant’s statement looks like typical Enlightenment fodder: remove the focus from the patterning of the world, or its mechanical and informational order that makes it function as it does, and shift it to human preference. He puts a band-aid on that with his own references to natural law (universal maxim of nature) but leaves judgment of it in the hands of the individual. The Christ message starts instead by affirming natural law through God and demanding that all humans serve the same role underneath it, which is not a description so much of method of treatment as of treating humans according to their place in this divine order. In that formulation, it is a maxim to minimize the human ego, not enhance it like the populist golden rule by giving domain to the ego.
What is fascinating about this comparison is that it occurs between three versions of what is “in theory” the same idea but turns out to be radically different. Here is the populist conception of the golden rule:
Treat others as you want to be treated.
This places moral authority in the individual, who can simply say that he prefers anarchy where people steal whatever they can find and that he prefers this because it is reality and thus what he accepts and has adapted to, therefore his theft is not only permissible but moral! A fascinating inversion but entirely predictable giving the vesting of the moral choice in the ego.
The Kantian imperative counters this with the idea of universal law, so that it is no longer a question of how you want to be treated but what humanity would look like if this rule applied to all people everywhere. We are now approaching the domain of the wise Moms who, when their offspring justify an infraction with “But Johnnie did it first!” will say wisely, “If Johnnie jumped off the Empire State building, would you follow?” In this case, the question is whether an individual preferring to jump off the Empire State building — “as you would like to be treated” — should apply to all others and the finding is that common sense (a surrogate for natural law) should trump personal preference.
At the end of our investigations, the Biblical interpretation of this law takes this natural law predominance even farther. Love God; be selfless, and treat others as selfless. In other words, entirely cut out the dated and moldy Enlightenment-era advertising and go for the order that has worked for time immemorial and always works because it is logical, instead of what you or someone else wishes were true. Together these formulations provide a fantastic contrast to what is popularly regarded as the golden rule and reveal it for the masturbatory excuse and justification for bad behavior that it is, cloaked behind a masquerade of warm fuzzies and happy feelings.
What process kills every civilization? Degeneration, or the genetic adaptation to lower conditions by its population, precipitating a collapse into third world status. Too much inclusivity normally causes this, which leads a civilization to value its least productive and moral citizens along with others, and that quickly leads to disastrous policy including unnecessary wars and diversity.
Every effect has a singular cause, however, and the cause of too much inclusivity is a lack of direction. Without purpose, societies become subsidy engines through easy work, producing hordes of parasites who think that by showing up to a job and reaping the benefits, they have participated in society. The “bourgeois” attitude of more than laissez faire but “out of sight, out of mind” applies there.
Lack of purposes emerges from an unwillingness to strive for more than the material. In turn, that originates in a lack of belief in the physical world and withdrawal into mental worlds, including personal religion. When people reject the goodness of our world, they reject a purpose to life itself by passing off their human judgment as absolute truth, which then creates a ghetto where only human desires, judgments and feelings are accepted as real, which creates a very real neurotic hell.
Darwin rightly points out that degeneration occurs naturally to any population without the strength to resist it:
Those who marry early produce within a given period not only a greater number of generations, but, as shewn by Dr. Duncan,19 they produce many more children. The children, moreover, that are born by mothers during the prime of life are heavier and larger, and therefore probably more vigorous, than those born at other periods. Thus the reckless, degraded, and often vicious members of society, tend to increase at a quicker rate than the provident and generally virtuous members. Or as Mr. Greg puts the case: “The careless, squalid, unaspiring Irishman multiplies like rabbits: the frugal, foreseeing, self-respecting, ambitious Scot, stern in his morality, spiritual in his faith, sagacious and disciplined in his intelligence, passes his best years in struggle and in celibacy, marries late, and leaves few behind him. Given a land originally peopled by a thousand Saxons and a thousand Celts—and in a dozen generations five-sixths of the population would be Celts, but five-sixths of the property, of the power, of the intellect, would belong to the one-sixth of Saxons that remained. In the eternal ‘struggle for existence,’ it would be the inferior and less favoured race that had prevailed—and prevailed by virtue not of its good qualities but of its faults.” — Charles Darwin, The Descent of Man
Evola shows, in turn, that degeneration arises from lack of purpose toward the transcendent:
If we look at the secret of degeneration from the exclusively traditional point of view, it becomes even harder to solve it completely. It is then a matter of the division of all cultures into two main types. On the one hand there are the traditional cultures, whose principle is identical and unchangeable, despite all the differences evident on the surface. The axis of these cultures and the summit of their hierarchical order consists of metaphysical, supra-individual powers and actions, which serve to inform and justify everything that is merely human, temporal, subject to becoming and to “history.” On the other hand there is “modern culture,” which is actually the anti-tradition and which exhausts itself in a construction of purely human and earthly conditions and in the total development of these, in pursuit of a life entirely detached from the “higher world.” — Julius Evola, “On the Secret of Degeneration”
Conservatism is what conserves. What is conserved? That which is excellent. Conservatism has two prongs. The first is consequentialism or measurement of all things by their effect in reality in full scope, meaning for all time and in all contexts. The second is transcendental purpose to life itself, based in — if nothing else — our ability to establish an order above the default, and achieve “the good, the beautiful and the true” and “the perennial things” (Huxley) or “Tradition” (Evola).
We define ourselves by that toward which we strive. With a physical goal, we become more physical things; this includes physical goals like equality and pacifism. With a transcendental goal, we push ourselves toward what is not just reacting to life, but what is enhancing it, and in that power we see the reason to ascend to greater clarity of consciousness and through that see the wisdom of nature and any gods in which we believe.
Until that point is achieved, all discipline is “outward in” meaning manipulating manifestations in appearance of inward tendencies, not the tendencies themselves. Very few humans achieve this point, and only later in their lives, and even then they see in varying degrees. This is why the ancients put their best people into aristocracies and kept them in sheltered, introverted, and meditative states of contemplation and surrounded them with other wise people, to produce leaders who were fully aware and capable.
Without leaders of this nature, we succumb to degeneration because of the inevitable compromise and eroding of standards and through that purpose over the years, and so we end up degenerating within and having that manifest itself in declining genetics. At that point, our civilization becomes moronland, the outright stupid and thoughtless becomes the approved norm, and anyone with a brain flees to the hills, leaving behind a third world level of disorganization and venality.
If I had a billion dollars sitting in a bank account, I would buy up a small town in middle America. Someplace green, with fresh air and clean water, and well out of the way. Far from major freeways and big cities. Isolated.
There I would build normal-sized houses and invite people I esteem to set up home life. Money could purchase new infrastructure and set up businesses for them to have jobs. The town could quietly incorporate and stay out of the news.
There, their children would grow up in normal homes on normal streets. Dads would be home in mid-afternoon and not much of anything would happen. People would live in a silence of themselves and the woods, and have to invent their own fun and purpose in life.
But what they would have would be the ultimate wealth: healthy normalcy. They would grow up without doubt, seeing the best of life, and by the abundance of unstructured solitude they experienced, they would come to know themselves and their world in a depth that has not been experienced by more than a handful of people in centuries.
Their lives would be filled with beauty and not the ever-present self, like a cancer demanding to be so important the world must retreat to a place within the self, like a small ghetto where every concept is reduced to bright primary colors, simple numbers, and yes/no judgments of its safety.
Most would not say that this is wealth. To them, wealth means living in the downtown of a big city, in a condominium or urban house, without much exposure to nature or anyone but those like them. In this life, the ego takes center stage by being important, but health and knowing oneself, much less knowing the world, take a distant secondary importance.
We have many wealthy people, but few have actual financial power. They have a position that they rent with their time in order to maintain a lifestyle, and they are dependent on that lifestyle like an addict on heroin because it supplies their self-esteem.
In the meantime, out among the birds and trees, others live normal lives and are richer than any of the suited charlatans and credentialed miniature kings that are held up to us as an ideal by those who benefit from our conformity.
Over the years, a historical cycle tends to resemble a spiral as it extends toward one direction or the other. Just like the primeval chaos of the beginning of time of all times, the end of our world must be chaotic, dramatic, and devastating to start the wheel turning once again. We exist in an eternal circle of life and death, creation and destruction, originating in an aeonic passion coming from the nights of ancient times and expressed fractionally in every night since. Thus it has always been and always will be.
No eternal law may be violated without causing an imbalance, much as no imbalance can be eternal. Because of this, there is not such thing as an eternal chaos or an eternal order. The Trotskyist conception of “permanent revolution” is contrary to a transcendental worldview of historical order and natural hierarchy, which is the opposite of blind obedience and submission to the unworthy. A constant, eternal revolution without any meaning than chaos and no raison d’etre other than being the earthly/human dual perception of the universe is full of emptiness, its meaninglessness originating in our humanity vanity.
Within that cycle we can witness the revolution of the inferior, that is, the revolt of those who don’t dare to wage wars, and who are afraid of life and death. This kind of revolution is the one belonging to all those who exist because of random birth and dedicate their lives for begging for humanity and privileges. A pathetic cattle hungry for victim rights because it has nothing else to offer but guilt, manipulation and parasitism. These are the agents of the decay-cycle.
When matter has saturated all possible and still unknown future spaces and times, carnivorous individuals within the herd of sheep tend to punish their own herd. This mob-like group is comprised of individuals defined by the fact that none of them ever departs from the rest, and all use the rest ot justify and defend their vices, since they need the approval of the masses to feel comfortable about themselves and defend them — in the name of human rights — against those who might know better.
They rule a decadent world with an even more decadent power. Such is human nature: looking for a God anywhere possible that is convenient for the individual to see, usually in himself. Such people inevitably enthrone themselves by means of the approval of their peers, exhibiting a dubious superiority that by its lack of natural purpose shows the vulgar inferior nature of such people. Actual superiority shows itself in actions; false superiority arises from wealth, popularity, and earthly power, but has no basis in spirit, or greatness, that distinguish the best of humanity throughout history.
The herd are content with being the privileged majority, finding in that group welfare the meaning they need to fill their miserable lives. But it also happens that other individuals, those who deviate from the crowd, jaded the earthly passions and vernacular vices, decide to strike the face of this world with their own truth, which they derive from the natural state and not power achieved through popularity. No matter the ramparts they need to storm to achieve their goal, nor the parameters they need to blow up the conformity into pieces, or the knowledge that the masses oppose them, these people struggle onward knowing that their past is doomed and their present an endless struggle.
And yet they do not need your compassion because they do not need any consolation at all: they know the future is entirely theirs as the cycle returns. Those who base their power on illusions lack the natural ability to administer that power, and so they create social chaos and cause total breakdown, and in that chaos the strong rise once again.
Overpopulation is the West’s fault. Although controversial like any apocalypse theory, overpopulation occurs when we have too many people to take care of them all. With so many starving and resource wars breaking out on a regular basis, we are clearly above our carrying capacity. This leads to the question of how this condition occurred and what can be done about it. The first part is easy: overpopulation is taking place exclusively in developing countries, and it is the direct result of Western policy toward these countries.
Sometime during the last century, the West out of a misguided white guilt made it a priority to create genetically-engineered crop strains bred to withstand harsh conditions in “developing countries,” which is a shorthand for countries which have always been third world and did not magically hop on the technology bandwagon like whites and Asians. The West gave advanced agriculture to people who could not have developed it for themselves, and not only did not understand it, but had no reference point or ability to understand the type of social, political and economic infrastructure necessary for first-world societies.
Western people saw African babies covered in flies on television, and demanded that a solution be found immediately. Western politicians, always eager for a distraction from our ongoing collapse, quickly leapt at the chance to send everyone off on a new crusade that would keep them from looking at the decay at home. They funded and encouraged the “Green Revolution” which started in the 1960s and resulted in third-world countries being able to feed themselves more efficiently, to which third world countries responded with rapidly increased breeding as the exponential nature of r-theory genetic reproduction revealed itself. Countries that had a few million starving now had tens of millions who would rapidly starve. The West redoubled its efforts in response.
While the West — occupying itself with careers, social status, education and other individualistic traits — not only kept its breeding in check but in fact reversed growth and experienced a population decline, the rest of the planet began breeding like yeast. With the Green Revolution crop strains, the internal combustion engine, and the work of Western medics and aid agencies, these populations bloomed to new levels far beyond what is sustainable for those land areas. Westerners, who devote much of their time to wondering whether their cars and lunchmeat are “sustainable,” never gave much thought to the effect of dropping masses of food into already unstable populations.
This process is reminiscent of another natural phenomenon, the algal bloom. When fertilizer runoff or other raw nutrition makes its way into ponds and lakes, it has the effect of dumping food aid on the local algae, who promptly breed out of control. They then choke the life in the pond, cutting off the food sources they need as well as all other species, leaving behind a dead pond with rotting algae on top. This is similar to how bacteria will expand in a Petri dish to consume all the food and, after limited success consuming each other, die off in near-unison. Similarly humanity has dumped food on itself, causing its population to skyrocket with no end in sight and no mechanism by which it can be checked, which awaits just one tragedy before self-consumption and die-off.
The white race is Prometheus who stole the fire of Mount Olympus to give it to mankind, except while Prometheus was sentenced to be picked apart by vultures for all eternity, we get to sit and watch the whole earth swell, burst and finally rot away in a great Malthusian Holocaust of our own making. We have created populations dependent on us who live hand-to-mouth. They are one crisis away from experiencing a mass population collapse. When that tragedy hits, they will first deplete their own resources, then blame us for not giving them more than we already have. After that, it will get ugly. They have someone to (accurately) blame for their predicament and will turn on that group with larcenous vengeance.
When the food wars hit, then the water wars, and then finally the hordes of starving third worlders are pounding on your gates demanding food, water and shelter that they have no idea how to make for themselves, Western society will finally re-assess this program. The ugly truth is that we caused a world population explosion in the name of pacifying our own TV-watching consumer-oriented voters, who do not understand that just because someone will provide a service for money does not guarantee a lack of consequences of that service. As the third world explodes into the first, cannibalizing families just to fend off starvation for another week, the West will finally see that through our own short sighted foolishness and “good intentions,” we brought this on ourselves.
It is a scientific fact that 99.9999% of all life forms will be eaten alive, or will eat someone alive…Life is a struggle for survival. — Ren Höek, “Life Sucks,” unpublished episode of The Ren & Stimpy Show
Despite the unorthodox nature and complete lack of scientific rigor to the quote above, it provides a useful reflection of the reality of life through a reductionist, realist perspective.
Avoiding the type of pleasant motivational platitudes that show up in personal development courses and self-help books, the truth is that life is a constant struggle against death, an eternal battle that both the individual as well the species have lost before they started to fight.
Both individual and species struggle to extend their lives into the immensity of death, from which there is no way to escape, but only the ability to prolong the duration of survival. The individual may obtain a few more years, and the species, if it manages to adapt to its environmental conditions, thousands of years.
Materially — i.e. in the realm of the tangible and verifiable — there is no probability that eternal life can be achieved, and life in itself is nothing more than a flash in the blackness of the eternal night sky, virtually insignificant in geological and cosmological time scales of which man cannot perceive even their minimum expression.
In the same way, human creations are even more ephemeral than life itself, and the pathetic attachment of modern humanity to everything what gives it comfort, tranquility and satisfaction is the anchor which binds it to the deciduous and empty: the illusory emptiness that seeks to hide the endless Void from which nothing escapes.
“It’s only after we’ve lost everything that we’re free to do anything.” — Tyler Durden, Fight Club
Durden talks about the meaning of freedom, which is the life liberated from the chains of social norms, from the respect for rightness and from the absurd network of cynical morals that tie humans to an idealized vision of reality.
Nature, being manifested fleetingly through life, lacks all sense of piety and goodness. It simply exists, with no other objective than being. Nihil verum nisi mors.
This essay is titled this way not due any kind of plaintive emotional manifesto of a teen idol, but it should be taken literally: life stinks. It stinks of death, since the death of one’s life is necessary so the life of another one can challenge, for a moment, its own inevitable death. Despite the horror of some people facing the death of individuals of other species, death cannot be avoided at any level, because, even in microscopic form life constantly perishes for the benefit of others.
Today, when the most of traditional religion has been surpassed by the indifference of consumer society indifference, as it has been subjected to the rigor of scientific research, it seems surprising that the Sacrifice (the offering) transcends the merely religious and it is manifested at all levels of life: from cell to organism.
Is it not a sacrifice that a plant has to perish so an animal can live? The ancient cultures offered smoky sacrifices to their gods in a reflection of what is happening at all levels of the food chain.
Life stinks of death, and wherever life is found, will be surrounded by the insistent and constant threat of an implacable death. It is man against the abyss.
Whether he has to confront the void with or without a blindfold in his eyes, it will depend on him. Only him.
And the will therein lieth, which dieth not. Who knoweth the mysteries of the will, with its vigor? For God is but a great will pervading all things by nature of its intentness, Man doth not yield himself to the angels, nor unto death utterly, save only through the weakness of his feeble will. — Joseph Glanvill
That which has infinite need will consume infinite amounts of what is around it. Not only black holes but many objects in your life fit this criterion. Alcoholism, rage, misery, self-pity… the list goes on. But the most common void is the self.
When leaders proclaim equality, they have created a cause. A cause then in turn creates effects. The effects of declaring equality are the destruction of any common social standard between people and as a consequence the opening of the void of the self.
Before equality, each person had a part of the team as a responsibility and received reward to the degree that they were able to administrate it. Someone has to be quarterback, and some have to be linemen, and there are more of one than the other, so it receives more reward. But the reward alone was not the focus. The part they played was.
With equality, government basically says, “Do whatever you want, and we can’t tell you it’s wrong unless it violates equality itself — you know, murder, rape, kidnapping, assault type stuff.” They cannot tell you that the way you are living your life is wrong even if it is wrong as measured by its negative consequences on society at large. This re-assures many people who are uncertain of their own role or abilities. For them, life represents a fearful place where others might disapprove. They dedicate most of their energy to being approved.
Equality means everyone is approved. Nothing is wrong. Thus the self directs the self. With most things, this would not be a problem. But the self is infinite void. You can throw everything that exists into it, and it will still want more. More distractions: products, politics, sex, drugs, alcohol. More power: social power, money, job titles. More attention drawn to itself. And yet nothing will be enough, so there is nowhere to go but down, but only after you have created a mountain of landfill and failed interpersonal relationships in your wake.
Ancients knew better than us how to avoid emptiness so profound that it draws everything else in. For them, the self was a means to the goal of living life well, which did not mean merely materially but something akin to being an example among all humans. They saw their lives, not themselves, as a form of art. Themselves they were glad enough to cast aside for the right moment that gave epic significance to the act.
When we lost that sense of forward direction, we came to a standstill. And then we looked for a new goal, and looked within. We have found only emptiness and no amount of throwing products and sensations at his has done anything to fill it. Thus like zombies we wander the land, desperate for something to eat but “equally” certain we will never be satisfied.
Conservatives must feel the temptation to join the religious movement opposed to modernity. It withdraws from the world, has unity and a clear purpose. Many are tempted to state that the origin of conservatism rests in religion.
I discourage this approach and encourage instead that we remain secular. Secular, in the oldest sense, means simply “religion is not required.” It does not assess the truth-value of religion at all, or encourage anything less than full acceptance of it. But it does say that you do not need to be religious to participate.
This approach is distinct from that of atheists, who take the position that religion is illogical, and agnostics, who believe in the possibility but not certainty of a metaphysical presence.
A workable conservative position needs to be proved via common sense, fact and observation of the world through history and human nature. It cannot rely on religion. To do so not only excludes many good people, but creates a single weak point of attack. That encourages people to flip polarity when they have doubts and turn on the whole package.
Instead, conservatives should make the point that religion and common sense agree: conservatism is the most realistic response to life. It not only provides true answers, but provides a way to produce a society that rises above functional to levels of beauty, awe and goodness.
Any other basis puts us into the camp of manipulators and clubhouse doorkeepers. People can join us simply by understanding reality and applying what they learn. We are those who conserve: learning, culture, heritage, nature, values and spirituality. We do that by not requiring spirituality first.
History is our laboratory. We have 6,000 years of human nature on record and every type of government that can be invented. We have studies of great personalities and philosophy that analyzes moral questions. What we need is well known, it is simply denied. The only way to crush that denial is to go to the root of the issue, which is that conservatism is realistic and everything else is wishful thinking.
This does not say that we should be hostile to religion. Rather, we should be welcoming to it. However, if we make it a requirement for our belief, we enfeeble conservatism and replace it with a social group. That will inevitably lead to small-mindedness, self-enforcing dogma and circular firing squads.