Amerika

Horseshoe Theory: Large Corporations Behave Like Communism

The theory of Crowdism states that our problem as a species is not a particular ideology, but any behavior in which humans become a goal in themselves. This is equivalent to a means-over-ends analysis that selects for methods which do not harm, inconvenience or embarrass any individual.

Since the dawn of our species, humans have been self-destructing in groups because at a certain point, the herd wins out. The innovators, leaders and pioneers are always few and the herd many, and the herd takes over and makes the activity about the herd, instead of about its ostensible purpose.

And so a business becomes a support system for its workers (unions, socialism); a government becomes an industry for lobbyists and bureaucrats; a church group becomes a social opportunity for bored middle class ladies; a gang becomes a cult centered around a leader who tells people what they want to hear.

This is the real horseshoe theory: at any point, human endeavors become their opposites because the need of the herd to be a goal in itself inverts the purpose of the organization.

Witness the similarities between monopolistic businesses and Communism:

Look at how Google games searches. A study reported in The Wall Street Journal found that in 25,000 random Google searches ads for Google products appeared in the most prominent slot 91% of the time. How is that not the unfair leveraging of search dominance and the abuse of algorithm? All 1,000 searches for “laptops” started with an ad for Google’s Chromebook — 100% of the time. Kim Jong Un would be envious of results like that at election time.

And then there are the recently launched Google snippets, which stylistically highlight search results as if they were written on stone tablets and carried down from the mountain. Their sheer visual physicality gives them apparent moral force. The word “Orwellian” is flagrantly abused, but when it comes to the all-powerful algorithms of Google, Amazon and Facebook, “Orwellian” is UNDER-used.

As for news, institutional neglect has left us perched on the edge of the slippery slope of censorship.

Interestingly enough, Mencius Moldbug picked up on this years ago by noting that organizations who desire a monopoly no longer act out of need, but out of aspiration to total power and total control:

Sometimes I get an almost Soviet feel off Google. After all, what was the Soviet Union but a whole country run by a single company? Of course, Google is much better managed than the Soviet Union. But give it a few years.

When you are writing a large piece of software in order to just give it away, it has to be a labor of love. If it’s not a labor of love, the task becomes Brezhnevian. Google will do just fine if everyone in the world accesses their servers via Apple or Microsoft phones. The commercial justification for writing Android strikes me as quite thin.

While this passage argues against his own theory of Neoreaction — if big corporations running a country end up like the Soviet Union did, then Anarcho-Capitalist Libertarianism is not an escape from the human problem described in the first paragraph of this essay — he makes a good point: we either act toward ends for the sake of those ends alone, or we become the ends, and then regulate method until we invert ourselves from ends-over-means to means-over-ends and filter out anything that offends the herd. That in turn produces the entropy that takes down every human group from a cluster of friends through a civilization, namely that internal division predominates over cooperation because the meaning of the activity has been lost through inversion.

Any corporation, if it becomes large enough, comes to serve itself, just like any government without hierarchy and culture becomes a parasitic predator determined to use its people as a means to the end of itself. Without some kind of cooperative goal, as is found in culture and transcendent appreciation of life, the activity becomes merely technical and then, becomes a purpose in itself.

Plato noted this in his own account of the end of a golden age and the degeneration to the point where democracy “seemed like a good idea” to the round-headed herd:

When discord arose, then the two races were drawn different ways: the iron and brass fell to acquiring money and land and houses and gold and silver; but the gold and silver races, not wanting money but having the true riches in their own nature, inclined towards virtue and the ancient order of things. There was a battle between them, and at last they agreed to distribute their land and houses among individual owners; and they enslaved their friends and maintainers, whom they had formerly protected in the condition of freemen, and made of them subjects and servants; and they themselves were engaged in war and in keeping a watch against them.

You either do things for their own sake, or they become masters over you. You can feed your people because you love them, strive for excellence, fight for supremacy, and try to build the greatest civilization ever, and fortune will shine on you. But when you are doing things because of the things themselves, like “we gotta keep the corporation running” or “the Party demands sacrifice,” then everything falls apart. That is the horseshoe in effect: whether Communist or Capitalist, you will end up in the same place without some kind of transcendental goal.

Plato calls it virtue. Christians call it holiness, but that seems too serving of itself as well. To the ancients in The Odyssey, it was a sense of putting the world to right, both morally uncompromising in a way that the Christians wish they could be, and geared toward balance more nuanced than the silly yin-yang that every teenager puts on their bedroom wall next to the dreamcatcher and Che Guevara poster.

Without this transcendental goal and people smart enough to keep us focused on it, every one of our ventures comes to serve itself and then self-destructs. This even applies to Metallica; when they were out there to make the best music they could imagine, the band had quality, but as soon as the goal became making the band more successful, the quality dwindled and popularity surged. This is the sign of an entropy bloom: like a red tide, at first the algae seem to be successful because their numbers have increased, but then there is a population crash. Like yeast in a bowl of syrup, or lemmings in a field of grain.

That transition from cooperation to control is what wrecks human endeavors, even solitary ones.

Consider the church. First it came to save the souls of men, but then it started competing with pagans and other sects, and acted toward its own power and control. This made it corrupt. That then removed the value it offered — salvation by inducing people to do what was necessary to save their minds, souls and logical ability — and it went into decline, but first it became wildly popular because it had lowered standards to the point where the herd could participate. Profiteers surged in and made themselves famous, but now, it is basically a dead institution in the first world. So it goes.

Power serves only itself unless you have an aristocrat — a philosopher king, in the sense of Marcus Aurelius and Meister Eckhart — to intervene and redirect things toward intangible and immutable but ongoing goals, known as the transcendentals. These are exclusively qualitative and relative, such as the classic formulation “the good, the beautiful and the true,” and also include the Bill And Ted’s Excellent Adventure sense of just wanting excellence, a form of benevolent elitism. Make everything the best of everything.

As the old saying goes, you either struggle upstream or are swept downstream. Civilizations either reach for constant improvement or are swept into the third world mentality of subsistence living, essentially dishonest people, and warlords to act as fences to keep the herd from running loose and harming itself.

So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.

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