Amerika

Utilitarianism

When we talk about restoring the West, we embark on a hefty project. We intend to take a society which has taken a wrong turn, rip out the rot, and with the smaller group that remains, rebuild without making the same mistakes that got us here. This requires a philosophical examination.

Approaching politics through philosophy allows us to get to the roots of ideas and to see how deeply they reach. When we discover an idea that is wrong, we back-trace it to the thought which was its origin, since thoughts cause one another and thus that seed will re-grow the same wrongs if not removed.

This saves us from the flag-waving football match of mainstream politics, in which “gotcha” comments are highly prized and detail is ignored. Mainstream political discussion does to politics what it did to food when it made it into fast food, giving us a flavoring of the original grafted onto flavorless, nutritionless gunk.

With philosophy comes a difficulty, however: nothing is as it appears. This arises from the simple fact that there are causes, and each unique cause has one effect; what we see of the world consists entirely of effects, with most of the causes being invisible because they require a pattern of objects and events to be in place.

This means that the enemy we see is not the enemy we seek to defeat. We see the appearance of what that enemy does, but we have to dig deep for what it actually is, much as we dig to the roots of ideas to see why people actually follow them and what they will actually do, as opposed to what people say they will do.

We live in a society that, like Rome and Athens before it, is fading away into the grave. We can tell what our future will be like: a futuristic Brazil, where a few very wealthy people attempt to escape the utter chaos of a third world population living in sprawling, toxic favelas forming gigantic, impoverished mega-cities.

If we can find out where we went wrong, we can stop doing that and then begin to reverse it, but this requires us to look into where our thinking went wrong, because ideas manifest in action and until you find the root idea, you will simply repeat failed actions in forms that are new on the surface but unchanged in essence.

When we look at our ruined society, our first instinct is to think that someone wanted to ruin it, like a primal Satan urging on destruction. As we look further, however, we see that it was unintentionally sabotaged in pursuit of what people universally thought were good things, like “getting along with others” and “making everyone feel good.”

When we peer into that, we see one of the dark regions of human psychology. If you want something for yourself, the only way to defend against criticism is also to offer it to everyone else. Therefore, you are not asking for yourself, but for the group, and therefore have zero accountability and will receive zero blame.

In turn, the group assumes responsibility, but since “the group” is an abstract entity which does not exist in reality, only as a perception, no one assumes responsibility. They can all blame the group for its bad decisions even if they actively supported the making of those choices.

That reveals to us the core of an unhealthy relationship: individuals using the group for their own ends, and the group using them to make it more powerful, because it benefits other selfish individuals.

In this way the group spreads like a cancer, taking over previously independent individuals and, when those become parts of other institutions, using them to corrupt those institutions. It behaves like a cult or a gang in that its members have loyalty to it first, and so anything else they join, they subvert.

Realizing this allows us to see that the group is made up of individuals. Much as the bad behavior of corporations comes from shareholders demanding more value and employees demanding more security, most of the actors we see in the human world are fronts driven by the wants, needs, emotions, and fears of a herd of people behind them.

We might describe our time as utilitarian because it endorses this behavior. Utilitarianism refers to any system where we ask people what they need, and whatever option the largest number of people select is assumed to be right and good.

Utilitarianism applies to three key areas: socializing, markets, and politics. In social circles, whatever is popular wins, obscuring whatever is true. In markets, whatever a plurality buys wins, concealing actual quality. In politics, the greatest number of votes wins, which commands people to chase pleasant illusions instead of complex realities.

In other words, utilitarianism is humanity endorsing herd behavior, or the tendency of groups to act in unison on extremes of panic and inertia because most individuals in the group support this. Herd behavior shows individuals using the group as a shield to increase their chance in the lottery of survival:

Flocking is a striking example of collective behaviour that is found in insect swarms, fish schools and mammal herds. A major factor in the evolution of flocking behaviour is thought to be predation, whereby larger and/or more cohesive groups are better at detecting predators (as, for example, in the ‘many eyes theory’), and diluting the effects of predators (as in the ‘selfish-herd theory’) than are individuals in smaller and/or dispersed groups. The former theory assumes that information (passively or actively transferred) can be disseminated more effectively in larger/cohesive groups, while the latter assumes that there are spatial benefits to individuals in a large group, since individuals can alter their spatial position relative to their group-mates and any potential predator, thus reducing their predation risk.

We used global positioning system (GPS) data to characterise the response of a group of ‘prey’ animals (a flock of sheep) to an approaching ‘predator’ (a herding dog). Analyses of relative sheep movement trajectories showed that sheep exhibit a strong attraction towards the centre of the flock under threat, a pattern that we could re-create using a simple model. These results support the long-standing assertion that individuals can respond to potential danger by moving towards the centre of a fleeing group.

In other words, many animals in groups behave according to herd behavior, which follows the “selfish-herd theory” instead of the “many eyes theory.” These animals are not herding so that they can get a better view of the predator; they are each in panic, fleeing toward the center of the group in the hope of not dying.

Ironically, this makes them easier to pick off, as it constantly forces new animals to the outer edges of the herd. Obviously, humans form herds too, but we do it through utilitarianism. No one wants to be closest to a dangerous idea, or the failure of a product, or even an unpopular candidate, so people glom together on the simplest option.

This defeats us because the simplest option is not the most realistic in most cases.

In some cases, it works. The doughnut (sometimes spelled donut) conquered the American landscape because it is the simplest confection one can enjoy on a job site. Similar to other confections, it consists of bread and sugar that have been fried, but it is easier to make, cheaper for the consumer, and requires no complex appreciation.

Beyond the world of fast food however the herd is always wrong. Worse, it creates its own feedback loop where people flee from whatever might be unpopular, building an inherent censorship to the entire process. No one wants to be stuck with a loser, so everyone flees from the unknown toward the same old popular notions.

If you wonder why civilizations die, this then is your final answer: they run away from any of the information they need to recognize that they are dying, everyone goes into denial, and so the most obvious problems are the least recognized, up until the very end when suddenly people place their attention on them.

This is how nature keeps its creatures in check. A herd will never do anything great because it is focused not on the task, but on how individuals can use each other to avoid what they fear, and this never has much to do with reality. If the sheep charged the wolves, the wolves would be destroyed by the stampede, but the sheep never do.

Most likely, this is also how nature keeps technological species from destroying anything other than their home planets. If you wonder why we have not been contacted by intelligent aliens, it is probably because we are still “primitive” in their eyes because we have not figured out how to limit our herd behavior.

Every species which remains in the grip of herd behavior self-destructs, sort of like the ancient Romans or Greeks, or even Angkor Wat or Easter Island, or perhaps the Maya or Aztecs. Herd behavior destroys our best hopes. That is how nature keeps us from becoming too powerful.

Now we see an effect, herd behavior, and its cause, individualism or “me first at the expense of the shared task” mentality, a type of dark organization. How does individualism make its way into our minds and take over them? Like all evils, it cloaks itself as a good and then appeals to our sense of righteous weakness.

Inside all of us lurks a great weakness, which is our sense of powerlessness. Here we are, little creatures in a big world, and what we want is often if not almost always what does not happen. This causes us to think of our way as better in order to hold onto it as an idea, because otherwise we must admit that it is irrelevant.

That holding on to our idea makes us feel persecuted by life itself; this persecution mania in turn makes us see our idea as morally better than reality itself (nature, the mathematics of life, history, and the physical world).

We see our morally better idea as a form of righteousness, and therefore see ourselves as victims of life itself, which gives us the sense that we are sacrificing ourselves to be right when the world is wrong. This form of self-pity leaves us open to any suggestion that what we want to believe is true is in fact true.

Inevitably, someone invents a variant of the idea that “whatever you want to believe is true, is true.” This takes many forms — dualistic religion, relativistic political theory, social acceptance and tolerance, markets for “scientific” confirmation of illusion — but always converges on the same idea.

This allows the sheep to claim that predators are wrong, according to the rules of sheep, and therefore that sheep are all victims of predators, which entitles sheep (then) to take a form of primitive revenge upon the world by being selfish and hiding behind other sheep.

When we strip aside the illusion of humans, we see that we follow the same pattern as the sheep. We flee from not just predators but the notion of predators, an idea which quickly expands to include all unpopular notions. To get away from those bad symbols, we cluster in the middle of the herd where illusion is strongest.

This reflects how herds behave, which shows a constant jockeying for central status by individuals before the predator appears, and even the emergence of social class based on position, which causes complex maneuvering to avoid the possibility of a predator — analogous to the idea of a predator — even when an attack is not underway:

We demonstrate that initial spatial position is important in determining the success of different risk-reducing movement rules, as initially centrally positioned individuals are likely to be more successful than peripheral ones at reducing their risk relative to other group members, regardless of the movement rules used. Simpler strategies are effective in low-density populations; but at high density, more complex rules are more effective. We also find that complex rules that consider the position of multiple neighbors are the only rules that successfully allow individuals to move from peripheral to central positions or maintain central positions, thus avoiding predators that attack from outside the group.

To those who are thinking forward in time, the possibility or idea of a predator is more important than whether a predator is actually present because those who are prepared will stand the best chance of avoiding that predator and making some other guy take the fall.

Among humans, this manipulation consists of seducing others with the idea that “reality is as you see it, not how it is out there” so that these others feel content in their positions, allowing the individual animal to sneak into the center and avoid whatever the herd fears. Individualism creates herd behavior.

Utilitarianism serves as the theory that legitimizes this social behavior. When what most people want to believe is true is considered true, those who know the difference get to the center, and the clueless find themselves fighting over trivial advances in position on the fringes. Utilitarianism is individualism.

Nature uses this trap to make animals more intelligent. Those who can easily manipulate are most likely to succeed and reproduce, so they quickly become the norm; however, this also presents a trap, in that those who might instead command a fix for the problem of predators — like attacking them — are even smarter.

In other words, nature selects for the middle, not the peaks, and by doing this, limits the herd from becoming too powerful. In the same way, a historian of the universe might record that almost all technologically-advanced species self-destructed by focusing on jockeying for position within the herd instead of, say, space travel.

As the classic Ray Bradbury book The Martian Chronicles reminds us, space travel is not a technological question alone. Unless we solve our dark herding behavior, we will simply take our problems with us and self-destruct on distant worlds instead of on Earth. Natural selection rewards those who become stable for the future.

Ironically, herd behavior attacks the most intelligent societies and rots those from the top down. The clever animals are the ones who game the herd, but this backfires by making their societies a game of jockeying for position, while the dumber animals just stand around and accept fate. Their societies are more vital and less neurotic as a result.

The West embarked on the path of utilitarianism only because it succeeded. Success meant that many who could not survive on their own were able to survive in society, but because they lacked vital skills, they invented other roles for themselves in commerce, bureaucracy, entertainment, prostitution, politics, and crime.

This created a sort of “red tide” of the lower echelons. This fits another natural pattern, that of yeast, which is that unthinking animals will simply reproduce without limit and then consume all available resources, resulting in them — and everything around them — dying off in a mass holocaust.

Nature limits simple species from growing too powerful through these mass die-offs:

Harmful algal blooms, or HABs, occur when colonies of algae—simple plants that live in the sea and freshwater—grow out of control while producing toxic or harmful effects on people, fish, shellfish, marine mammals, and birds.

…One of the best known HABs in the nation occurs nearly every summer along Florida’s Gulf Coast. This bloom, like many HABs, is caused by microscopic algae that produce toxins that kill fish and make shellfish dangerous to eat. The toxins may also make the surrounding air difficult to breathe. As the name suggests, the bloom of algae often turns the water red.

HABs also include blooms of non-toxic species that have harmful effects on marine ecosystems. For example, when masses of algae die and decompose, the decaying process can deplete oxygen in the water, causing the water to become so low in oxygen that animals either leave the area or die.

When human societies fail, they are following the pattern of this second type of red tide: they outgrow their resource supply, die off, and kill off everything around them. In the same way, species that spend their time fighting over herd position eventually grow too numerous and self-destruct, obviating space travel.

This tells us that for both restoring Western Civilization and finding a way for our species to survive, job number one involves beating herd behavior and replacing it with some type of reality-oriented behavior. This requires that we look at what makes herd behavior seem legitimate.

Flowing from the idea that “whatever you want to be true, is true” is the notion of universalism, or that all human perspectives are equally accurate and therefore, we can have one set of rules for all humans. With one set of rules for all humans, individuals can obligate other individuals to conform to what the first group claims that it is doing; in other words, universalism sets the stage for manipulation.

Cracks emerged in the theory of universalism with the writings of Friedrich Nietzsche, specifically “On Truth and Lies in An Extra-Moral Sense,” in which he argued that truth is only as accurate as the mind of the beholder, and so humans are unequal and therefore have differing degrees of accuracy in perception.

The notion of universal “truth,” values, or communication was thus in doubt; this actually targeted The Enlightenment™-era notions of a universal truth that applied to all humanity, instead of a need for a hierarchy of people based on their degree of accuracy of perception, a measurement which is as much aesthetic (what is good, beautiful, and true to natural form) as it is factual or logical (the realm of “logical fact,” misunderstood and ignored by most).

In the ensuing years, other writers tried to make sense of this, with most defaulting to the dominant paradigm of universalism or the idea that what most people think is true/good must be true/good. Postmodernism, like Romanticism before it, fights an internal battle of the universalists versus the hierarchicalists.

Those of us now who look toward the future have awakened in a wasteland. Our time is wasted on useless pursuits; corrupt and horrible rules control our daily lives; society is run by selfish goons who manipulate us; our future consists of descent into “Brazil 2.0” as our society shapes itself toward a third-world norm instead of a first-world order.

This divides our population into two groups: those who want to remain in denial, and those who want to overcome denial by escaping its root in herd behavior, and actually fix the problems. All of our public “issues” conceal the actual problems lurking beneath the surface.

One thing remains clear: we will not find any victory in utilitarianism, and it will hide in many places, since it is a cause that can take the guise of many potential effects. Only by understanding the philosophy behind politics can we root it out and oust it.

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