About twenty-five years ago, your author began writing about the harmful nature of herd wisdom. Unlike other writers, he did not choose to frame this as the herd versus the individual, but as herd behavior as a mentality that corrupted all things and its basis individualism, or “me first” contra reality.
This arose from a series of meditations on the difference between underlying structure, including cause/effect relationships, and appearance, or the human gloss placed on events and objects by our emotions, judgments, sensations, and social needs.
From that came the realization a few years later that diversity was doomed not because certain groups are bad, but because difference itself creates instability by giving in to the entropy of human individualism. Those who embrace individualism adore chaotic events like diversity because it serves as camouflage for their own dubious behavior.
Out of that emerged a study of Crowdism, or how human individualism binds people into groups through herd behavior, and how it infiltrates and destroys any and all institutions. If a civilization becomes successful, its reward is not resting on its laurels but facing more difficult internal challenges, Crowdism first among them.
All human societies perish either by failing to get to that point, or by Crowdism beyond it. It is the source of our human Fermi Paradox:
According to these eyewitnesses, they were chatting about a cartoon in The New Yorker showing cheerful aliens emerging from a flying saucer carrying trash cans stolen from the streets of New York City, and Fermi asked “Where is everybody?” Everyone realized he was referring to the fact that we haven’t seen any alien spaceships, and the conversation turned to the feasibility of interstellar travel. York seemed to have had the clearest memory, recalling of Fermi:
… he went on to conclude that the reason that we hadn’t been visited might be that interstellar flight is impossible, or, if it is possible, always judged to be not worth the effort, or technological civilization doesn’t last long enough for it to happen.
Both York and Teller seemed to think Fermi was questioning the feasibility of interstellar travel—nobody thought he was questioning the possible existence of extraterrestrial civilizations.
While most people use the Fermi Paradox to argue against the existence of other forms of life, it presents a more difficult question, namely the possibility that life is abundant but self-destructs or reverts to an earlier, pre-technological form because of the difficulty of maintaining stable civilization.
On Earth, we have seen this many times. With organization comes wealth and power, and those lead societies to become reality-denying in order to appease their own citizens, who promptly go insane from the lack of structure in their world. They get lost in the zone of appearance, exist in a bubble, and self-destruct in navel-gazing inanity.
Plato wrote about Crowdism in the nature of democracy, Tom Wolfe wrote about it through the phenomenon of social status (virtue) signaling, Nietzsche scripted it in our will to power, Tolkien embodied it in the ring as supernatural individualism, and William S. Burroughs described it as the urge to control.
To that, your author adds something else, which is that this individualism arises from the tendency of socializing to insulate us from actual results and instead to suspend us in a false consequentialism based in what others think because in complex societies, our survival is dependent on pacifying, placating, pandering, and deflecting others.
That creates an echo chamber which applies a type of feedback loop where each person attempts to demonstrate loyalty to the principle of equality that bonds the Crowd together, and in doing so, creates a “market” for a statement or action more extreme than the norm. This causes a death spiral of ideological fanaticism.
Over at Quillette, a former SJW provides insight into the addictive nature of the Crowd and how it acts like a cult, gang, or trend in weaponizing social cruelty:
In my previous life, I was a self-righteous social justice crusader. I would use my mid-sized Twitter and Facebook platforms to signal my wokeness on topics such as LGBT rights, rape culture, and racial injustice.
…Every time I would call someone racist or sexist, I would get a rush. That rush would then be reaffirmed and sustained by the stars, hearts, and thumbs-up that constitute the nickels and dimes of social media validation. The people giving me these stars, hearts, and thumbs-up were engaging in their own cynical game: A fear of being targeted by the mob induces us to signal publicly that we are part of it.
…Then one day, suddenly, I was accused of some of the very transgressions I’d called out in others. I was guilty, of course: There’s no such thing as due process in this world. And once judgment has been rendered against you, the mob starts combing through your past, looking for similar transgressions that might have been missed at the time.
The former SJW styles his transgressions as being specific to social media, but these behaviors occur in any form of social interaction. They are the ultimate “first world problem” in that societies which have conquered material want tend to remove the leaders they need and then focus on internal competition.
Internal conflict of that nature accelerates with the introduction of special interest groups, class warfare, and diversity. Cynical leaders take advantage of this, but their fuel originates in and is perpetuated by the herd, which eventually self-destructs because it has no positive goals.
Herds form solely of negative goals or a desire to remove certain things that are scapegoated for the problems of the herd. Rather than admit society is divided, they blame a lack of tolerance. Instead of seeing that many people are not good, they point the finger at a lack of equality. This intensifies the cycle.
In the contemporary West, we are seeing the death of the post-war order in which liberal democracy with socialist-style welfare states was viewed as the best possible option for civilization and the ultimate evolution of human society. That order revealed that it has made us contentious, narcissistic, and self-destructive, so we are moving on.
Choices of our potential future await us. Many simply want to remove the worst excesses of liberal democracy and leave it standing, but philosophically, liberal democracy and equality are aligned with herd behavior. If humanity is to survive its own Fermi Spiral, it will do so by rejecting any justifications for herd behavior