It is time to acknowledge that the enemy of all sane people is modernity, because modernity is insane. The conventional view of modernity is that it is related to technological progress, but this is backward. Modernity is the condition that turns technological progress into dystopia by mismanagement.
What is modernity? Some time ago, I wrote:
This is the face of modernity. Thereâ€™s no way to tackle a specific issue in it, because the whole thing is wrong. Sure, we could make rules about stopping at intersections, but then you need a cop in every intersection to enforce that rule, or people learn they can get away with it, most of the time, thus they donâ€™t change the behavior. Similarly, weâ€™d have to assign an infallible cop to every single person out there to prevent littering, toxic waste dumping, or sodomizing rape. Even worse is that no matter how many rules we write, there are always new ways to do something that is technically legal yet completely devoid of moral consideration for society and nature as a whole. You can make sodomizing rape porn illegal, but someone else will find something legal thatâ€™s similar and will market it, and theyâ€™ll be cheered on by those around them because hey, everyone loves money.
Modernity is the cause of this. We often think that our time suffers because it has no unifying philosophy, but the situation is even worse: our unifying philosophy is one of making no decisions. Instead of having a government you trust, you have the â€œfreedomâ€ to escape actions by your government, since it is assumed that you and the government will never come to accord on a sane way to live. You wanted a sensible job? Too bad â€“ itâ€™s more important to have competition so that if your job sucks, you can devote the next month to finding a better one. Let the jobs that suck continue to exist, so long as we have the freedom to choose a lesser degree of suck. Weâ€™re so afraid of legislation that we resist any restrictions on development, so if people destroy your neighborhood by covering its forests with concrete, your can move to a less-destroyed neighborhood.
Inevitably, such systems spiral out of control, because of two principles: relativity, and time. Relativity is a problem in that you can find something that sucks less, so you pick that instead instead of fixing the problem. Time compounds that by introducing a succession of greater suckstates, and you keep picking the lesser suckstates, until at some point the less-sucks sucks as much as the original, and you still have no recourse to change it â€“ youâ€™re looking for something that sucks less, instead. Everything affected by this model is a vortex of decreasing standards that eventually culminates in either apocalypse or third-world-style anarchy. But remember, you need that â€œfreedom,â€ because instead of fixing the problem and creating a sensible government, we want you to be able to defend yourself against all governments.
This is clearly diseased reasoning, if looked at from an architectural perspective, but since such things donâ€™t pay, no one does. No one is willing to target the whole of modernity, for at least the simple reason that it makes change a seemingly large task. I think it makes it a simpler task, as when weâ€™ve found out where we went wrong, we can systematically replace those beliefs with something healthier. But in a modern time, weâ€™re used to external ways of change. Use money as a carrot, and the law as the stick; â€œeducateâ€ (brainwash) people, or make them sign off on decisions like bureaucrats. We understand force, and treating humans and nature alike like machines, but we donâ€™t understand internal motivation, or how we could actually make people understand what they do and why. Reversing this attitude would alone undo modern society, and would give us a clear and relatively easy path of change.
William Faulkner treated this subject tangentially in his Nobel Prize acceptance speech way back in 1950:
Our tragedy today is a general and universal physical fear so long sustained by now that we can even bear it. There are no longer problems of the spirit. There is only one question: When will I be blown up? Because of this, the young man or woman writing today has forgotten the problems of the human heart in conflict with itself which alone can make good writing because only that is worth writing about, worth the agony and the sweatâ€¦Until he does so, he labors under a curse. He writes not of love but of lust, of defeats in which nobody loses anything of value, and victories without hope and worst of all, without pity or compassion. His griefs grieve on no universal bones, leaving no scars. He writes not of the heart but of the glandsâ€¦I decline to accept the end of manâ€¦.I believe that man will not merely endure: he will prevail. He is immortal, not because he alone among creatures has an inexhaustible voice, but because he has a soul, a spirit capable of compassion and sacrifice and endurance. The poetâ€™s, the writerâ€™s, duty is to write about these things. It is his privilege to help man endure by lifting his heart, by reminding him of the courage and honor and hope and pride and compassion and pity and sacrifice which have been the glory of his past.
The gestalt we find by combining the many details of societyâ€™s failing shows us that things are not well; things are diseased and destructive. We are oblivious to them not because we ignore the details, but because we pay attention only to certain details, and we do this because modernity more than being a â€œthingâ€ is a state of mind. We look at the external forces we can impose, the qualitative measurements we can use, or the ways we can manipulate each other and thus feel clever about ourselves. These are passive ways of looking at the world, and as they donâ€™t encompass all of it, they constitute only a certain segment of its detail, and leave us oblivious to the larger picture.
In other words, modernity is a mindset, not a thing or a specific process, including technology. It is a human system of organization that corresponds to the later stages of civilization, at which point its strength — a reflection of concentration of resources in areas like technology, military and economic might — is at a peak, but it is highly internally divided and likely to hit the pavement soon.
Another way to describe this mindset is as a pathology, or a repetitive behavior which is triggered independent of its results, so that it is repeated even when it fails:
Modernity is not tangible. It is an idea, thought or notion, like the worst of our afflictions. Obesity starts with ignoring the consequences of calories. Alcoholism starts with a denial of the effects of alcohol. All insanity begins with the thought that reality follows our minds, not the other way around.
Any number of false enemies will come your way. These fakes rely on your frustration and difficulty articulating why you are upset. Their goal is to make you fight them, so they gain through guilt and necessity a place at your table. These are parasites, but not the cause of our misfortune.
The real enemy is a thought. Other mistaken notions resemble it in that they are not immediate in result. You can get away with the deception for some time. You may even be able to fake it on a regular basis. Eventually, the disastrous results come due.
Modernity is now showing us its ugly side. Across the globe, governments have bankrupted themselves in pursuit of liberal programs. Societies have become dysfunctional, families ruined, daily life a miserable imitation of TV shows, and jobs and commerce have taken over souls.
Leftism and modernity are inseparable. As Bruce Charlton writes:
The way I would conceptualise matters is that government and politics will always be based on some view of the Human Condition. This may be implicit rather than explicit. At present, all mainstream politics works on the assumption that what is important is hedonic (in one way or another) and confined to mortal life.
A â€˜Religiousâ€™ society is to be taken as short-hand for a society built on the assumption that this is *not* the bottom line, but a means to an end which extends beyond pleasure and mortality â€“ although of course religions vary widely as to what that might be.
Your description fits into the Religious category â€“ although I suppose it is more like an individual spirituality than what is normally considered A Religion â€“ nonetheless its scope is religious.
Here he refers to the same psychology that Faulkner identifies above. Healthy societies worry about moral purpose, and whether or not their actions are producing a benevolence toward life itself or not. Unhealthy societies focus on people and keeping the group together by offering inclusion in exchange for obedience; we call this control.
Control denies our inner traits in order to focus on ways to manipulate us so that everyone is doing the same thing. This assumption of identical motivations, which is closely related to equality, forms the basis of social control or control by the appearance of our actions to the judging minds of others, which determines whether we can be part of the “in” crowd or are ostracized and left with fewer options, since people advance each other socially.
This leads to a situation where all values are externalized:
While our society is divided into left and right, its fundamental impetus has been from a liberal viewpoint, in philosophical terms. This viewpoint is the idea of fundamental human rights and equality, meaning that we all get treated the same way regardless of wealth or quality, and from that, we get â€œjustice.â€ Both Republicans and Democrats embrace this view, and even far-flung parties like Greens and Nationalists seem to, which means that in our political outlook, there is no deviation from this assumption. We view equality as the highest good, the individual as the highest pursuit, and wealth as the means of that pursuit, and anyone who doesnâ€™t agree with that is worse than a Commie or a Nazi, theyâ€™re a failure and probably a sociopath.
In our desire to be equal as people, we have denied the person within: the internal traits and preferences that make each of us who we are. We can be measured by our wealth, or our height, or our wish list on amazon.com, but what defines us as individuals has nothing to do with these external factors. It is a combination of personality and abilities. We want to be remembered not only for our skill at guitar playing, but for what the songs we wrote conveyed and made real to others. We want to be known not just for participation in public beach cleanup programs, but our own private choices and sacrifices that helped keep waste out of the world. Even more, we want to be known for how we treated our friends, how we raised our families, and the things we valued enough to die for them, as a life is looked over when the living is done. These are all internal factors, and they are denied by modern society in its desire for external equality.
And so what is the root of modernity? There are two types of civilizations, at the most basic level:
Forward motivated. In these societies, people decide what is right and then do it. In this world, the cause is a moral or aesthetic need, and the effect is translating that principle into action.
Reversed cognition. Societies of this type argue from convenience, looking at what is already present — materials, humans — and find a compromise that includes all of those to hold the society together.
The latter approach may be referred to as rationalism, because it rationalizes from material and social reactions instead of planning what might be ideal.
The difficulty with this approach, as people brainwashed in modernity see it, is “Who decides?” They are accustomed to “systems” or control structures where all people participate in formalized, universal activities and when they demonstrate exceptional obedience to the principle of control — equality — they are chosen as leaders.
In saner times, people realized that inequality of ability is a fundamental aspect of life itself, and that learning is esoteric or dependent on the ability of the person and how much cumulative knowledge they have already mastered. For this reason, such a society is hierarchical or based on leadership structures like the military.
That in turn implies an interesting quandary: when we need the best, we must ask the best who to choose, because per the Dunning-Kruger Effect, only the best will recognize others of that ability, just like only geniuses recognize other geniuses.
In such a group, the process is started when a threat troubles the tribe, and someone makes it go away through heroic or insightful action. At that point, this person becomes selected as one of the best, and can choose others to form part of a leadership cadre or caste.
These societies have existed for time immemorial. Their order is not older, but simply more evolved than what we have now, which is mob rule plus lots of regulations to try to make equally insane people sane. This order has four cornerstones and is how, in any age or place, one produces a healthy civilization.
Modernity is the inversion of this. It was crafted by those who wished to seize power. Their goal was to abolish hierarchy through equality and then, by using the same tactics of snake-oil salesman, conning the herd into doing their bidding. Hillary Clinton and Angela Merkel are contemporary versions of this psychology.
Ironically, such people come about because of the success of a civilization. When societies succeed, they implement order and institutions which then allow those who could not survive without civilization to survive. The more brain-dead labor is needed, the more deleterious mutations accumulate in people who cannot exist without a narrow path of instructions guiding them.
This tells us what society must do if it is to avoid downfall: it must constantly produce more of the intelligent people, and pare down or eliminate those who are foolish, or cannot survive on their own without civilization. This requires a society willing to be more like the Spartans, who sacrificed defective children to avoid contaminating their gene pool.
An ideal way to do this gently is hierarchy keeps power in the hands of the best, and limits the options of the worst, encouraging them to leave the civilization and try their luck elsewhere. All orders break down over time, which is why “systems” do not work; what does work is keeping quality of citizenry and thought high to discourage the lower.
Modern people — to those who have crossed the abyss of thought that separates modern people from reality — seem robotic and confused on this point. They cannot conceive of anything other than a system which makes guarantees based on universal, formalized action.
In fact, the path to health is like that of nature. No universality, because people are not equal; no formalization, because systems are easily gamed by the cynical but defective. This is the natural order to which our ancestors aspired, and if we are to reverse modernity, it is what we must target again.