Posts Tagged ‘atomization’

Living In A Dying Age

Monday, March 20th, 2017

Witness a microcosm of tragedy through the loss of traditions as atomized individualism takes over from culture:

“Young couples starting out don’t want the same things people used to have,” says Susan Devaney, president of NASMM and owner of The Mavins Group, a senior move manager in Westfield, N.J. “They’re not picking out formal china patterns anymore. I have three sons. They don’t want anything of mine. I totally get it.”

Buysse agrees. “This is an Ikea and Target generation. They live minimally, much more so than the boomers. They don’t have the emotional connection to things that earlier generations did,” she notes. “And they’re more mobile. So they don’t want a lot of heavy stuff dragging down a move across country for a new opportunity.”

And you can pretty much forget about interesting your grown kids in the books that lined their grandparents’ shelves for decades. If you’re lucky, you might find buyers for some books by throwing a garage sale or you could offer to donate them to your public library — if the books are in good condition.

In other words, we now live in a society where the individual is obligated to nothing greater than the individual, which we might see as the ultimate democratic ideal. People live only for themselves, and this has produced a dying age where nothing remains, and all is disposable like Ikea furniture and fast food.

Generation X saw this one coming. We realized that the old traditions represented obligations that the contemporary job market and social situation did not support. As such, we could crucify ourselves trying to keep up the habits of the past, or acknowledge that this society has failed and move on to a minimal, transient life where we obligate ourselves as little as possible to the decline.

The sadness hides in the margins here. Nothing you do will last. Nothing you do will have meaning, either, because you are dedicated only to yourself, and work, of course. You work like a good worker in the worker’s paradise. Everyone is equal, which means no one has anything more than themselves and a dollar amount on the paycheck.

Meaning dies when we become so focused on ourselves that we reduce our thinking to materialism in order to avoid exploring those areas where we are not strictly equal. The nation fades away, replaced by an endless row of apartment buildings and strip malls. Now we are truly equal, entropy has won, and in the absence of meaning we sit and wait for death.

Why The Alt Right Are “Loners”

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2016

typical_alt-right_member

From another human groping for cause among a field of correlated effects:

Their other theory is that smarter people are more aspirational, and want to spend more time working towards their goals, rather than socialising.

The study found that more intelligent people actually had lower life satisfaction the more frequently they socialised with friends – spending time with friends actually made them unhappy. But the researchers discovered that these highly intelligent participants actually spent more time socialising with friends.

This one becomes easy when you realize that there are two basic options: either we focus on ourselves and each other, or we focus on some aspect of reality, including the transcendent like an unattainable but ongoing order such as “excellence.”

Most people, like our Simian forebears, are focused on their own emotions, feelings and judgments and those of others, and consider this to be reality as far as it is important to them.

The people of the future — who should eliminate the rest — focus on ideas and realities. These two cluster because much of reality is not tangible. We cannot touch gravity, or the inevitability of death, but it is more real than the objects we cling to in order to avoid the big scary thoughts of what our future might be.

Humanity is separating in two as Nietzsche predicted. Most people wish to remain within the “talking monkeys with car keys” world, where all they must do is convince their social group that they are right, and they are given status and importance.

The rest of us however, and we are not the majority, are heading away from the Simian. We are appalled by human origins, and realize that “tolerance” only means that we will head back down the ladder to that origin. Instead we want to rise above.

This leads to an isolated personality. People of this nature are alone because they have things to accomplish, not because their “social” choice is to be alone. They have purpose, which separates them from the rest, and so walk alone.

Alt Right movements represent this archetype. Our entire society is chasing trends and products to distract itself, and we are here instead, arguing that we should aspire to heights greater than any achieved before.

This naturally baffles the rest of humanity. That is them announcing their obsolescence. Those who ask “But who decides?” in questions of state, and those glued to their TVs, are the same obsolete form of human being.

It is possible to be entirely social as an isolated person. In fact, they seek others more than most. However, this is because they see the purpose in civilization and in brotherhood among others, not because of personal “need.”

For us, indulging in the same distracting and time-wasting nonsense that most people use to fill the void is a depressing prospect. There is much to do; the future of humanity hangs in the balance. And since most cannot, we do what we can.

Many people require nonsense, distraction and lies in order to live. The Alt Right desires life in its strongest form, isolation and all, because we believe that life is worth living.

The rest of humanity fears this prospect. For them, unless life is filled with silliness, it is not worth living. This kind of fatalistic outlook is what leads to destruction of all good things, and the Alt Right rejects it.

The humans of the future will not need distraction. They will be happy with life itself, and will always strive to improve it, but never to reject its essence. As a species, we have for too long ventured from this sensible path.

Dying In Vain

Monday, July 4th, 2016

dying_in_vain

My partner Shank and I shot the breeze a bit while gearing up. It was like that after Watch Assembly at precinct. Shank and I talked family, then bitched about our evening’s assignment. It was proper social grooming. It got us into work mode and ready to roll and pull our shift out as partners.

“Hey Reg, they seriously named it Playn Street? That’s a misprint if I ever saw one.” Shank informed me.

“Nope, it’s pretty much just a cul-de-sac off Hull Street Road. Fun place. It’s near the biker place SWAT got called over to last Thursday. That’s why Coop told us to go park there all night and keep an eye on things.”

“You say so, man.” Shank shrugged and put another wooden toothpick between his teeth as he adjusted his tac-gear. “I guess that curve in the road keeps both them and us from having LOS. Do we just listen for about twenty bike motors and send up the Bat-signal if we hear them?”

“Pretty much. I think that’s what SGT Cooper wants from us.” I responded as I got my stuff squared away and picked up the keys and vehicle log from the Motor Sergeant. We always rode Alpha One-Fower_Zeerow. After being partnered with Shank in the same ride for six months, it had the familiar feel of a car we actually owned. On those rare occasions we drew someone else’s ride for some reason, the cars didn’t smell right and it bothered us. It was like every partnership in the precinct marked their car as a territory of sorts.

So we drove out of the precinct garage, across Redneck Road as we referred to Jefferson Davis Highway. We rolled slow and easy down Hull Street Road, past the facades of dying small businesses. The pawnshops, payday loan sharks and laundromats teemed with a verminous underclass. I remembered riding this stretch and recognizing a fourteen year-old girl I’d run in for blowing domes over in the industrial park the previous week. Hull Street Road ran through the worst of HUD City.

We reached our spot and settled in. We found a spot to parallel-park with a good, clear run for rapid egress. We settled in for the night. Shank, formally known as Patrol Officer Igor Larianov Shanskirov, got out a bottled water and his empty Planters Peanuts jar. We were there from 7:30 to 5:00 AM. Coffee after 6 PM was something you’d come to regret on an assignment like this one.

“This sh!t gets old, Man. Even with a special partner like you. They should take those bikers.” I offered after an hour and 30 minutes of boredom.

“Did you forget your porn, Young Reginald?” Shank asked.

“Yeah, I deleted every one of those videos of your mom off my cellphone. Just like you asked. But they should seriously send in the fvcking armored cav the next time they hold the Texas No-Look Hold ‘Em game and cut their product. If even *I* know this sh!t goes down Sunday Night after the last NFL game, Vice has to be on to it.”

“You just say that because they’re the only whites on the whole stretch and it pisses off the natives. More calls, more ambulances, that sort of sh!t.”

“Wouldn’t so bad if they were just whites like us. They’re fvcking Vikings on meth and they deliberately stir sh!t up. The place is on edge every time The Eastern Shore Pagans roll in.”

“Gotta’ love the fvcking overtime.” Shank quipped. “Diversity is Southside Richmond’s strength.”

Another four hours passed. Shank whistled lullabies as he idly scratched his crotch. “I went to the Suicide Prevention Training the other day. Sitting through that class was the hardest part.”

“You’re still with us. I’m happy it worked. I went to Substance Abuse Training two weeks ago. They taught me I’m not supposed to hang by my knees from the chandelier while I drink. It might not go down quite right.”
Shank sat up straight. “The fvck? You see that old Buick, Peters?”

“Yeah. Been there five minutes. What’s that kid doing tossing something in the window?”

The Buick fired up and started to roll. Not really fast. Not like he knew we were a police cruiser. We had sat dark since early evening and were under a pretty big shade tree. An oblivious fool wouldn’t have made us five minutes ago.

Shank had the mic and talked quietly. “Quarterback, this is Alpha One-Fower-Zeerow. The dog is off the leash. Out.”

“Nice of you to consult me, partner.” I said as I started the cruiser and prepared to follow the Buick off of Playn Street. Once we’d called in about the dog being off the leash, dispatch would know a required stakeout just went uncovered. I fully expected Cooper to call us up and read us the Roberts Rules. This didn’t happen. I rolled in blackout mode, slowly behind a Buick as it approached the T Playn made at Hull Street Road.

The Buick didn’t signal by design or neglect, but the vehicle bore rightward and would have risked a Darwin Award to whip around for a sudden Louie. I went headlights, but no sirens. The Buick had a driver and no passengers. The right side rear window was about two and a half inches ajar. He rolled out to the right, about five or so miles above the speed limit. I held back for a count of five and let one car intercede between us before I followed.

The Buick would roll a block or two and hang a right. We’d skulk back a car or two behind. He’d keep making rights on side streets. He’d turn around and stop for a couple of minutes. People would drop things through his window. It looked like plastic bags. Product or money. Shank wondered aloud. “Where the fvck is his security?”

His license was dirty and missing some paint. Perhaps it was deliberately as opaque as could be and still pass as legal. Shank had called in. “Bravo, Two-Niner-Fife. Um, ah, Mike or November. Unsure which. Tree-One-ah,..Papa or Foxtrot, again unclear on that last digit.” The Buick’s driver had taken five of these bags through his window and we were waiting for the ID to come back.

Shank called in a phase line and notified Alpha Fife-Zeerow-Fife we were crossing their patrol territory and were tailing a suspicious brown Buick. Still no notification on the plates. The Buick then turned right and took an abrupt left into a grass-invaded driveway next to a rundown old rambler. I slowed and looked for the address on the mailbox. “One-Tree Hoover Avenue, Shank.” Shank called Quarterback for permission to interrogate. The hand-to-hands were probable cause with an Oak Leaf Cluster.

“Let’s ring the doorbell and tell him Amway sent us.” I remarked. The radio had just come back with a list of possibles on the tags. One was a City Councilman’s son named Brock Handlemann. It was the only one who matched a Brown Buick. The Sonovabeach giving us PC was the enfant terrible of one of the most powerful men in Richmond’s Municipal Government.

Alpha Five-Zeerow-Fife drove up. A tall, almost Zulu-dark Officer named Hopkins approached our cruiser. “What’s the poop?” He asked.

“Single, Caucasian, male. Five hand-to-hands with the locals down Hull Street Road.” Shank explained pointing to the old house. “Dispatch tells us to check it out. We’ll do standard front and back. I’ll knock and ask to speak to the owner of this Gentleman’s Establishment. Oh, and its Councilman Handlemann’s adorable son Brock doing the trappin’.”

“Fvck me.” Hopkins sucked air through his teeth and responded with his countenance grave. “McCourty and I have got your Six. You heard any dogs on the property? How many are in the house?”

“We think just the Handlemann Spawn.” I answered.

“If you lyin’, you dyin’.” Hopkins riposted.

I was not happy camper, but I had my role to play in this takedown. I oozed myself against the side of the house, working myself around back and hoping Hopkins hadn’t prophesied anything by asking about dogs. It would be a nice night to die, except that dying, like, you know, sucked.

Shank approached the front of the house the way a calm and fearless warrior approached the possibility of final fate. He knocked on the door. “Police. Ope…”

BLAM!BLAM!BLAM! “Arrghhh…oh, God, arragghhh,,,”

“Flash! Flash! Flash! Quarterback, this is Alpha Fife-Zeerow-Fife. McCourty speaking. Officer down. Code Tree. One-Tree Hoover Avenue. Shots fired. Backup requested. Over.”

Around back I heard the blast. I felt like we had been left for dead. My immediate instinct was to run to where my partner was. I also knew I couldn’t leave the back open or the perp/perps would escape. It had started happening before I had a good angle on the back entrance. It consisted of a wooden door, a screen door, a stoop and three small steps. The doors flew open.

I saw the shotgun before the perp. I got low, drew down and shot. The round was just rear of center mass and the person who it hit went rolling with a cry of great pain. Sirens began to resound in the distance. Dogs took up a cacophony throughout many of the neighboring yards. Lights went on. The downed perp rolled to his weapon and tried to maneuver it in my direction. I fired again. He was finished.

While I had dispatched Thing #1, another individual crashed through the door and fired a handgun in my general vicinity. One round kicked dirt on top of my head. Another ricocheted off one of my pouches and ruined a portion of my gear belt. I turned to address him with my service weapon and this exposed me to the door.

Thing #3 emerged. His weapon discharged in fiery anger. The sirens faded. Light disappeared. The pain was awful, but blissfully fleeting. It became quiet and peace overrode all….

EPILOGUE: after investigation of the tragic incidents occurring on the night of October 19th, 2016: It was determined Officers Reginald Kalb Peters and Igor Larianov Shanskirov had violated numerous tactical protocols and had no permission or probable cause to be on the property located at 13 Hoover Street. Furthermore, they had abandoned a stakeout against the orders of Watch Sergeant Nathaniel Brainard Hoover without any notification. Proper dispatch logs were surprisingly illegible and poorly kept. What was learned came from the testimonies of Officers McCourty and Hopkins. The case was moved expeditiously and wrapped up in record time under the intense pressure and guidance of Council Algernon K. Handlemann.

Validate me

Friday, September 25th, 2015

validate_me

In 1981, the German pop group Kraftwerk released the album Computer World in which the song “Computer Love” featured prominently. A lonely, haunting, wistful and solitary melody pervades the song, underscoring the somewhat PTSD lyrics:

Another lonely night
Stare at the TV screen
I don’t know what to do
I need a rendezvous

They speak to the anomie, which Random House defines as “a state or condition of individuals or society characterized by a breakdown or absence of social norms and values, as in the case of uprooted people,” with Greek and French origins as if tracing the path of democracy, of the modern time. People are isolated because there is no longer something shared in which we participate.

In former times, we had culture and under its wing, religion. Certain festivals marked the passage of the year, rites delineated the progress of lives, and regular events joined people together. At least there was one place where everyone met, at church, and communication was not so wordy because people shared similar points of reference, intent, and methods.

What defines the modern society is democracy, which starts — like a tear in silk — as the simple idea of one person, one vote. This expands because it needs to justify itself, both explaining how such an obviously silly idea could work, and to argue that it is good. Anyone with moderate experience knows that most people have trouble making decisions in the simpler parts of their lives, and that in groups, even smart people start to behave like a panicked flock. The mathematics of a crowd favors the ideas that transmit clearly and reflect a social safety, meaning that they offend No One, over complex ideas including those that challenge the status quo or its conventions.

Democracy justifies itself by arguing that these one-person-one-vote individuals are in fact each equally capable of making decisions. This was the basis of modern democracy which emerged from The Enlightenment™. As time goes on and it becomes clear that for many individuals, their “equal” decisions end in unequal or outright bad results, the hue and cry rises for a welfare state. Call it socialism, or socialism lite, the welfare state separates people from the consequences of their decision, much like voting in a herd bloc absolves every individual voter of accountability.

As part of this justification, all opinions must become personal. If you hold an idea, and it contradicts what someone else believes, that pokes through the curtain of justification that makes them seem equal. Like the man behind the curtain in The Wizard of Oz, the inherent and omnipresent inequality of people must be hidden, and to reveal the Emperor’s lack of clothing is to, in their view, assault them personally. An attack on an idea is perceived as an attack on that person and, since equality works by declaring all opinions are equally valid, it is seen as an attack on the validity of that person. Since “validity” is the insincere term we use to mean socially approval, or accepted into the peer group, invalidating them by accident functions as a sort of exile, and they respond by trying to destroy the critic (and they never, ever address the validity of his points).

This leads me to some observations on blogging. I will admit that this is a field in which I can never succeed because I lack the personal flair for drama and simplification that makes a popular blogger able to project a vivid world that is nonetheless easy because it has been distilled to a few elements. People do not like bloggers for their great variety of opinions but the lack of it: popular bloggers take a complex world, boil it down to a few tangible and appealing things, and then generate personal drama that makes repetition seem novel and unique. This dramaticism carries a high cost: early bloggers like Justin Hall and Jorn Barger both went through tough times, struggling both with collapsing lives and personal instability, as a result of their time in the spotlight. Perhaps converting a personal life into a public tableau — like reality television or what a stripper does on stage — is not the best idea after all.

In my view, the problem lies in the conversion of ideas into personal events. Much as democracy makes all ideas into personal validations and thus personal attacks when contradicted, making a personal life into a public spectacle means that failure to approve of that spectacle is seen as a personal attack, when really it is a criticism of the idea suggested by that personal drama. In this way, bloggers serve the democratic agenda of removing any focus on the bigger picture and shoehorning each of us into small atomized and isolated worlds where we do not affect each other, and thus nothing is ever decided beyond the realm of the personal where it does not threaten the power structure. Democracy neuters people by convincing them to take important ideas and make them into hobbies, collages, or personal rants, which removes those ideas from the public space. This means that the Narrative can “keep on keepin’ on” and is safe from criticism, mostly because if you criticize it, millions of people who feel suddenly invalidated will turn on you like a crowd of attacking monkeys.

And yet, the counter-attack never solves the nagging doubt. Our society exists as a public Narrative which is designed to conceal reality, but details keep peeking through the façade and illuminating how little that narrative actually describes reality. When we say all people are equal, and then someone obviously more equal or radically less equal staggers across the stage, the camera averts its eye because that event has debunked the leading narrative. Similarly when someone points out that an idea is foolish, and this provokes ruffled feathers and angry counter-attacks, no one feels really complete about the issue. The bogeyman has been shouted down, the scapegoat banished, the talismans erected and the cargo cult prayers uttered, but the situation still feels unstable.

We can see this in progress with the recent train wreck between mommyblogger Elizabeth Harrell and her associated critics. She lives her life as if in a glass cube, she assures us, but she has a carefully-crafted Narrative of her own which only selectively admits the parts of her world that support her vision of herself. This became revealed when her marriage collapsed, her career took a dive and she moved to New York to marry a Mr. Nathoo and re-start herself. The positive, pro-self propaganda never stopped. Then trolls attacked, but they were attacking her as a means to attack the ideas that justified her decisions, because they saw those ideas as undermining society.

She fired back:

But since the divorce it’s turned into a different kind of trolling. It’s been far more personal. These trolls have an agenda. Just this weekend it happened again.

The general consensus among most of us bloggers is, “Ignore it. Don’t feed the trolls.” And that’s what I’ve done. This past year I’ve hit the delete button on all those “anonymous” comments coming from IP addresses in Houston (although don’t they know by now there’s no such thing as anonymity on the internet). Not only is what they say hateful, it’s misguided and misinformed, they don’t know me. They’re people operating off hearsay, a mob-bullying flying-monkey mentality, with an excessive amount of time to navel gaze, and some deep personal anger that would drive them to take the time to read the blog of someone they dislike for the simple joy of leaving jagged barbs behind their wake.

As an aside these jagged barbed comments usually contain terrible grammar. This always makes me smile.

Her response is 100% bog-standard mainstream media response to trolls, itself part of the Narrative: “Those are just dissatisfied people, losers if you will. They are angry because their life is not as refulgent with interest as yours. If they were happier, they would not post such things.”

Like all great lies this one has a grain of truth: on the internet, there are many angry people. Their lives seem to be miserable and consist of Ramen in the basement and dingy, sweaty pornography from distant shores. They will tear down anyone who they see is happy or successful, much like the crowds during the French Revolution executed aristocrats and Bolsheviks shot intellectuals over open mass graves. But it is too convenient to invalidate all of their criticism on this basis, or insist they are all the same type. Even more, no individual is uniform in behavior, so someone who is lashing out angrily in one moment may be saving orphans or designing nuclear reactors in another.

The problem here is that the streams are crossed: the idea that it is a sane lifestyle to abandon a marriage, move across the country to marry a man from a different background, religion and heritage and then self-praise about it is confused with the person who has done this. In the classic style of democracy, the personal becomes the political. That functions to make the political “off limits” to criticism.

This post does not exist to attack Elizabeth Harrell. Her struggles, and their origins in modern neurosis, will be familiar to readers here, who will be sympathetic. This is a message to the trolls: you are doing it wrong.

Attack the ideas, not the person.

An assault on the person plays into the Narrative by appearing to be a classic Simian behavior in which one monkey grows resentful of the other, and uses seemingly unrelated criticism to achieve social dominance over that other monkey. The assault also nicely fits into the backscatter of angry people furiously typing attacks on one another through the internet. It misses the point. Hit the ideas, and the point is made.

For example, our mystery troll could have typed the following:

This may seem old-fashioned, but in my experience, human nature has not changed one whit over the years. In fact, people are making the same mistakes in the same ways they did several thousand years ago, but now we have better cover-ups. Specifically people like to claim that their errors are victories, and then attack anyone who criticizes the thought process which led to the error as an attack on the person himself or herself.

It seems to me that if a marriage fails, it is because one or both people decided to make a bigger commitment to themselves than the marriage. It also seems to me that if you marry outside of your heritage, you have opted for an easier solution because you lack the confidence to find someone on your level. It also seems to me that children should not be made into reality television, personal lives should stay offline or at least separate from ideas so the person does not get touchy at criticism, and that we should be able to discuss these topics without someone being personally “offended” that I and others did not accept their bad behavior as equal and validate it with our approval.

Yes, no one will read through all that; I already said I am a failure at blogging, which apparently consists of Very. Simple. Sentences that feature a lot of huff and puff but focus on minimal concepts. I specialize in analysis, and hope to build wisdom, instead of trying to be interesting at the cost of all else, which is what most successful bloggers do. Where bloggers take complex ideas and reduce them to simple images, I pull apart simple images, reveal the complexity of the ideas behind it and then try to associate it with a number of core concepts necessary for human survival. The advantage of my approach is that it is not personal, nor does it fit within the Narrative and thus validate that narrative. While it will never be popular, is harder to read, and less spicy as a cognitive experience, it may provide a basis for understanding human civilization and how to live it.

But in a time of trolls, and when even the people counter-attacking the trolls use the same techniques as the trolls (the link is from Harrell’s post), it is important we regain basic civility. The personal is not the political; the political is the political, and if that overlaps with the personal, perhaps the personal should take advantage of that knowledge and quit hiding its head in the sand. Even more, just like it is cuck to attack a racial group when you want to attack diversity, and ultra-cuck to scapegoat an ethnic group when the real villain is liberal democracy, it is foolish to troll by attacking the person. Attack the ideas and win the debate, because not only is that the sensible behavior, but it leaves the personal-is-political types no option left but to angrily smash keyboards in return, appearing to most as merely discontented trolls and not intelligent, relevant social critics.

The drama

Wednesday, December 21st, 2011

In our society, what you see depends on what role you have.

If you are the CEO of a bank, you may “know” that traffic exists but never experience driving through it. If you’re an urban intellectual, you will “know” how farms work, but have no concept of the actuality involved.

All of us “know” many things about daily life and yet have never analyzed them except in that detached academic method where we consider them as if they were sitting on a laboratory table. They do not exist except in that moment, to be tested and then forgotten. They are not part of life as we know it.

In this same way, we are completely oblivious to those around us and their needs.

As you drive through the city, or navigate a grocery store, go to the library or even hit the convenience store for a half-gallon of ice cream, you encounter other people. Very often they are pushy, even rude, sometimes cruel, usually oblivious to you and whatever needs you may have.

What makes people behave in such a way? None of these people are having their needs met. It is important to distinguish these as emotional and social needs, not physical. Very few of us have found ourselves in the unfashionable parts of Maslow’s pyramid for quite some time.

But think about the psychology of someone with unmet needs. They now have a secret that others cannot know, because it will make them look weak; they also have a reason to be hurt and feel bad about themselves. Finally, there is someone responsible for these unmet needs, whether they know that person or not. They take it out on the world.

The next time someone elbows ahead of you at the store, cuts you off on the road, sneaks ahead in line, zips up in front of you to steal the pizza slice you wanted from the box, etc., turn the cold hard eye of analysis onto these people. What motivates them toward such petty symbolic victories? A sense of having lost, and of being hopeless. They have given up on actually enjoying life. To them, life is a life sentence.

Now, there’s an ugly little secret with a core of pure gold. If they knew the pro-active principle they would be able to escape their emotional paralysis. This secret is simple: even if everyone fails you, and everyone does you wrong, it’s still your responsibility to figure out a solution.

Think of being stranded on a desert island: no government, no other people, no gods and no charities will come to your aid. You either figure it out or become another dehydrated anonymous corpse. Why would your experience in society be any different? It isn’t, but they’ll tell you it is.

They will do that because most of them are bitter. The dream of a bitter person is passive-aggression. They either want to wreck what you’re doing in such a way that they are technically blameless, or to provoke you into wronging them in such a way that they are not the aggressor. This enables them to act as both victim and conqueror, although for dubious microscopic “victories.”

But it is amazing, when you look out over the span of a city that conquers earth from floor to horizon. All of this power, technology and wealth, and yet we have so many bitter and lonely people. Everyone else is to blame. Perhaps that is our society’s dirty secret: for all of our science, we cannot analyze the problems that originate within.

A day in the life

Friday, December 16th, 2011

It showed up one morning. Right there on the deck.
“A rabbit!” Exclaimed my wife. “Where did that come from?”
She promptly did what she always does, when strange fauna turns up unexpectedly:
Digs out a plastic container, fills it with nourishment suited to the newcomer, and labels the top with the name of its species. There have been many of these containers, along the way:
Cat. Fox. Raccoon. Deer. Crow. Mouse. Pigeon. Deer-mouse. Wasp. Mealworm…
‘Rabbit’, proclaimed the vessel. And by this small ritual, the creature became part of the family.

It turned out to be an outstandingly tame rabbit. And one that more closely resembled a Hare, than a Rabbit. Maybe it is a Hare. Whatever it is, it comes right up to my wife, scales her leg and looks adoringly into her eyes, while it either gets fed, gets scratched behind the ears, or both.

We worried, that first day, that one of our numerous raccoons might take a sudden fancy to rabbit-steaks, and decided to bring it inside for the night. That was the end of our sound system. When next I tried to get the thing to emit sound, I discovered the remains of the speaker wires, neatly segmented into a great many two-inch lengths, right up to the speakers, themselves. No big deal, you might think. Simply replace the wiring. But the infra-red remote cable had also been munched apart, blowing something up, inside the control-center, and no amount of soldering would ever fix it again.

So we let the beast outside, to fend for itself, slightly nervously. We had, after all, in addition to the platoon of raccoons, three cats: one of which more closely resembles a Lynx, rather than anything domestic. And almost as large.

Ever since, we have been nonplused, and vastly amused, to see the incredible spectacle of an ultra-tame Hare, chasing both cats and ‘coons around the garden. All accomplished without any sign of aggression. The hare simply approaches another creature, gets in its face, and out-stares it, until the creature bolts and runs. Cue the chase!
There’s something in that for me. I need skills like that. I observe closely, and learn.

But the big thing about this credibly crepuscular creature, is the casual abandon with which it runs its life. Even the casual observer would instantly be aware that the thing is happy. Incredibly happy. Not in the way of incredibly happy humans, of which there must be about eight, but in the way of a hare, in March, delightedly racing around, leaping and spinning, guilelessly terrorizing any nearby carnivore, pausing only to consume every green thing in sight.
There’s something in that for me. I need skills like that. I observe closely, and learn.

All of which causes me to ponder the stellar gulf that separates the human from the non-human.

Every trip to the village, come time to replenish the food-for-humans stock, is fraught with the reality of running into other humans. Not just any humans: Really, incredibly, horrendously depressed humans. Of which there are very many, hereabouts. And apart from being so very depressed, almost all of these humans are Left Wingers. Which makes me do a bit of dot-connecting, pondering, and concluding…

This particular island is known, Canada-wide for its left-winged-ness, and general degree of lunacy.
In fact, there is a joke about it, that one may hear, far, far away from the place itself. It goes like this:
“Colonel Sanders is going to open a special chicken outlet on that island.”
“Oh yeah?” you enquire, innocently. “What’s special about it?”
“It’s only going to serve left-wings and assholes!”
“Har har har”, etc.

Well. It’s not that far from the truth. And the truth is: almost everyone here is depressed. To the point of requiring medication with which to cope with it. A conversation with the local GP is illuminating. He will always enquire, as he does of every one of his patients, how much dope you consume. When you blink in surprise and ask him why he asks this, and that you don’t, he will explain that practically everyone here smokes dope and is depressed. The village pharmacy does a roaring trade in Citalopram, Prozac, Bupropion, Seroxat, etc…

And this is odd. Odd, indeed. One of the most obvious things about this place, and its population, is the utter lack of humor. Yet almost everyone wears this weird, oblique smile, that is not a smile, pasted on to their faces. They all say, as they approach – in a squeaky, grating, ear-splitting voice – “How are you today?” And when you say nothing, they brush past you with: “Fine thanks”, as if you had asked.
And, all in all, there gets to be ever less reason to deal with these sick, sick excuses for humanity. These unreal, insincere, mindless, ostentatiously charitable, hyper judgmental disaster-areas. I kid you not: this is leftist-land. And this is how it is.

Dope. Paranoia. Unreliability. Lethargy. Insecurity. Depression. Anti-depressants. Save the world.
These are the people who vote for the left. To get the maximum free-stuff, and send the maximum amount of other people’s money to distant lost-causes, in order to feel worthwhile. All while contributing nothing to anything except the growers of dope, and labeling anyone who is not like them as ‘Nazis”.

Oddly, I am not depressed, although being immersed in a horrible non-culture such as this might suggest I should be. Why am I not depressed? What is my secret?
Walk in the woods. Clean up a ton of wind-dropped debris. Make a path. Cut some firewood. Grow a garden. Build a shed. Chase raccoons. Meet a Hare. Smile at the bond you share. Exult!

And stay well away from humans, unless you meet one who does the sort of things that you do.

Out of touch

Saturday, December 10th, 2011

When we go through life, we feel a schizophrenic disconnect between what we think we’re doing and the results we see in reality.

Think about the political programs you read about in the news. Almost none of them achieve their desired effect; some do, “on paper,” meaning that they meet some arbitrary targets but don’t fix a problem.

Most of our worst problems are with us perpetually. Crime, poverty, war, incompetence, corruption, filth, and a seemingly endless stream of people willing to do anything for cash, to themselves, others or the world at large including our environment.

Are we out of touch?

Perhaps the answer lies in how we approach the world. We sample from it, then make a “hypothesis” or agreement to study only some details of a situation with many thousands of details. When we find a way to manipulate that subset of the details, we declare ourselves in control.

Yet no one talks about the context, the forgotten data and that which is not considered because it is not what our big human brains are interested in at that moment:

Ken goes on to point out that:

Cigarette smoking has been shown to increase serum hemoglobin, increase total lung capacity and stimulate weight loss, factors that all contribute to enhanced performance in endurance sports. Despite this scientific evidence, the prevalence of smoking in elite athletes is actually many times lower than in the general population. The reasons for this are unclear; however, there has been little to no effort made on the part of national governing bodies to encourage smoking among athletes.

Now at this point I assume that people are wondering how something this insane came to be published in a respected medical journal (as of 2010, CMAJ was ranked 9th of out 40 medical journals, with an impact factor of 9). The answer, of course, is that the point of Ken’s article was to illustrate how you can fashion a review article to support almost any crazy theory if you’re willing to cherry-pick the right data. Here is the paper’s abstract:

The review paper is a staple of medical literature and, when well executed by an expert in the field, can provide a summary of literature that generates useful recommendations and new conceptualizations of a topic. However, if research results are selectively chosen, a review has the potential to create a convincing argument for a faulty hypothesis. Improper correlation or extrapolation of data can result in dangerously flawed conclusions. The following paper seeks to illustrate this point, using existing research to argue the hypothesis that cigarette smoking enhances endurance performance and should be incorporated into high-level training programs.

While people might be able to spot the implausibility of smoking improving distance running performance, it’s a lot harder to spot with more specialized topics. – PLOS

In the past, people have submitted fake articles to humanities and science journals to see if they got through. Often, they did. We have also seen a recent rash of article retractions as scientists have been caught “cherrypicking” data, which is what happens when you keep the results that prove your point and throw out the ones that don’t.

But now, we’re seeing criticism of the scientific method itself. It’s like a cartoon related to reality, a simple primary-colors representation of what goes on out there, with no consideration of context or change over time. An experiment in a lab produces one result and that’s all we care about. Any side effects are not our problem.

That approach works great for the basics of science. For example, does aspirin decrease fever? Does gasoline light on fire when you use a spark? Can we overclock our CPUs to 4x their original clock cycle? But it doesn’t work so well for broader questions, like social questions and our understanding of the nature of reality itself.

Hints of this have even crept into politics:

SPIEGEL: Chancellor Angela Merkel has said that the environmental crisis and the financial crisis have common causes. Is this true?

Röttgen: I totally agree with the chancellor. The great crises of our time arise from a mindset and a political approach that knows no tomorrow. Countries and financial markets live on borrowed money, the world’s social systems — even in Germany — are not sufficiently sustainable, and we derive our prosperity from resources that should actually be available to future generations. We run up financial debts, social debts and environmental debts. This adds up to a life on credit that ignores our responsibility for the future.

SPIEGEL: It sounds like saving the euro isn’t our biggest challenge.

Röttgen: The euro crisis is difficult enough, but it’s only part of a wider problem. We are dealing with a systemic crisis. Our lifestyle of the past few decades has revolved around a dangerous egotism, which only focuses on our present needs, and which we now have to overcome. – Der Spiegel

We have a “dangerous egotism” mainly because of equality. If every viewpoint is equal, there is no plan. Each person becomes his or her own self-approving world and idea. It’s no wonder egotism spreads through the society. Equality itself means approval of the ego is enforced upon society at large.

Naturally, egotism manifests itself in a disconnection from reality. Call it narcissism, self-esteem compensation or my favorite, solipsism, but it’s a secession from reality and a withdrawal into the human mind. Judgments, feelings and preferences predominate over hard fact and logic.

It’s possible this mentality is born of the same impulse as our mis-use of science as described above. Both may have an origin in our desire to control our world, coupled with an awareness of how to game the system.

We game the system through social consequences, or by manipulating the opinions of others instead of achieving results in reality. For example, if a product is crap but you invent a catchy line to sell it to others, you win vast profits even though technically you’re in an inferior position.

That’s a reversal of nature, where the best function prevails, even if it’s ungainly or perhaps a bit weird. Equality creates a society based on image and appearance, since we assume that the structure beneath is all the same since all individuals are equal. There can be no difference in structure, or equality itself is upset.

In suggesting that the most intelligent people tend to use IQ to over-ride common sense I am unsure of the extent to which this is due to a deficit in the social reasoning ability, perhaps due to a trade-off between cognitive abilities – as suggested by Baron-Cohen’s conceptualization of Asperger’s syndrome, including the male- versus female-type of systematizing/empathizing brain [22]. Or alternatively it could be more of an habitual tendency to over-use abstract analysis, that might (in principle) be overcome by effort or with training. Observing the apparent universality of ‘Silly Clevers’ in modernizing societies, I suspect that a higher IQ bias towards over-utilizing abstract reasoning would probably turn-out to be innate and relatively stable.

Indeed, I suggest that higher levels of the personality trait of Openness in higher IQ people may the flip-side of this over-use of abstraction. I regard Openness as the result of deploying abstract analysis for social problems to yield unstable and unpredictable results, when innate social intelligence would tend to yield predictable and stable results. This might plausibly underlie the tendency of the most intelligent people in modernizing societies to hold ‘left-wing’ political views [10] and [20]. – Bruce Charlton

More intelligent people use IQ in place of common sense because they do not trust the world around them. To a mind of two deviations above average intelligence, our declining civilization seems like a place of disorder, corrupt motivations and confused goals.

Even more, once the principle of “science” is understood and manipulated, it infects the mind with its narrow type of thinking. After all, thinking that way is how you get ahead. That type of narrow thinking, combined with paying attention to social rules more than reality itself, is what makes modern society: an egotistic wasteland in which people pursue symbols of reality instead of connecting with the outside world.

As the years go on, and our problems not only stay with us but thrive despite our “best efforts” to quash them, we are starting to realize that the real problem is in the assumptions we use to approach the world. All of our thoughts are corrupted because some underlying notion is corrupt.

Perhaps this is what we mean when we say our society is “out of touch.”

Love and Nihilism: A Parallelism Primer

Friday, September 25th, 2009

love_and_nihilism

As social animals, we get our information from others. This includes morality, or a group behavior code based on a sense of value and purpose inherent to humanity.

In contrast, nihilism denies value and purpose and in turn, denies any special role to humanity. Like emotions, value and purpose are human judgments which do not exist in the outside world.

By denying value and purpose, nihilism forces us see physical reality as a mechanical process in which our part is small. When we are walking in winter, falling snow appears to be coming toward us, but in reality we are moving forward as it falls.

Where morality deals with how things appear to us, nihilism addresses reality as a design and encourages us to learn how to adapt to it. Morality is withdrawal from natural selection; nihilism embraces it, and describes the world as a complex machine.

I. NIHILISM

We frequently talk about “human nature.” It’s more sensible to talk about the challenges facing any animal with higher intelligence. Any smart animal will face the same challenges using roughly the same methods.

While having a big brain is an asset, it is also a liability, in that if a big brain has to re-analyze its surroundings, it will move very slowly. Instead, big brained animals analyze once, create a mental “map” of their world, and update as needed.

In theory, we update our maps when new data comes about. But if this data is incorrect, our knowledge of the world gets corrupted. We act expecting certain outcomes and are stunned when things do not go as planned.

What corrupts our minds is when we reverse the causal process of understanding. Instead of looking to the world, making conclusions and updating our maps, we update our maps based on what we wish were happening — or what others tell us.

If we withdraw into our own maps, and change those instead of reality, we can no longer predict reality. This is a problem because we are responsible for our fate. If we screw it up, no one else is going to bail us out.

CORRUPTION

Values and purpose are human inventions designed to be shared between us. Like language, values and purpose only work if we all know and agree on what they mean. They are easily manipulated by changing meaning without changing the symbol for it.

The world around us is consistent and non-judgmental. It functions and leaves thinking to us. If we do not make sense of it, the response will be bad. If we adapt to it, the response will be good.

Individuals using goodwill as a cover story have re-defined our values and purpose. They do this to benefit themselves, but as a result, corrupt the realistic outlook of society around them. This process takes centuries to fully show itself.

We cannot see evidence of our corruption in a single fact, but can measure it from multiple points of view and find what they have in common, like we triangulate to find radio signals. Our measurements are:

  • Ecocide. Our inability to constrain our numbers and our desires has resulted in human expansion which eliminates natural habitats, and both pollutes the environment and takes resources from it beyond what it can replenish.
  • Boredom. Society and jobs cater to the lowest common denominator, and so lapse into a utilitarian modernism that produces ugly architecture, mind-numbingly micromanaged tasks, disorder and dysfunction.
  • Selfishness. A culture based on individual desires makes it easy to manipulate one another, but produces no great art, and leaves us with commerce and political dogma that constrain not liberate us.
  • Neurosis. Value and purpose, when used to convince others that we are altruistic, good people, create a social reality that steadily drifts farther from the many factors of reality into a single, social or commercial factor. Our minds split between social reality and physical reality.
  • Depression. We compensate for a failing civilization through surrogate activities. These are ineffectual symbolic acts that we do not expect to make change, but they “uplift” us for a few moments so we feel better about ourselves.

2400 years ago Socrates recognized that individuals prefer how things appear — or can be made to appear — to their intelligible form, which requires knowledge of their context and consequences. Appearance is tangible and public.

Civilizations have a life cycle from birth to death. Each stage in this cycle has a distinct philosophy and psychology which corresponds to the type of government people in that time believes is best. These united patterns are “designs.”

From the day a civilization is founded, it drifts farther from reality and further into the world of appearance. People manipulate each other to get ahead, and the side effect is a corrupted image of reality.

People use wishful thinking to manipulate each other. Wishful thinking pretends that humans are omniscient and not part of nature. It avoids all mention of death, conflict, unequal abilities or eventually, reality itself.

Nihilism can restart the life cycle by removing wishful thinking. Seeing reality more accurately changes our assumptions, and from that like a row of falling dominoes our institutions and values change to be more realistic.

II. MODERNISM

The opposite of nihilism is modernism, which is our name for the later stages of a civilization if it also has advanced technology. Modernism is defined by the use of linear logic and the belief in technological progress overcoming nature.

The last thousand years of Western civilization have been defined by a steadily-increasing modernism, and the previous thousand were expended on conflict allowing that modernism to happen.

RATIONALISM

The philosophy that came to be called rationalism emerged from our use of tools. Where previously we had to seek out a situation that matched our needs, now we needed only a single factor: the tool.

For example, instead of finding a location where fruit trees grew, one hauled out the plough and made a field, then planted the trees and later harvested the fruit.

When someone does a new task for the first time, they work from cause to effect, and figure out how the process works. Another person seeing them sees the result first, and only later figures out the steps involved — or uses a tool instead.

This linear logic, that lets us work backward from desired result through our tools, convinced us that we had conquered nature, which we saw as an external thing independent of us. It also simplified our thought process.

Modernism would not exist without linear logic. Linear logic is the idea that in a complex situation, a single factor can be extracted and manipulated, achieving a desired result. All other factors become ignored details.

Instead of killing a creature for food, and taking the skin for clothing, we would kill a creature for its skin — and write the rest off as details.

EXTERNALIZATION

This thought process became an underlying assumption of all of our logic. In politics, we assumed that whatever most people thought was good was right. In economics, whatever made profit. In social situations, whatever was popular.

More importantly, we externalized ourselves by making ourselves dependent on what others agreed was the truth. This meant that appearance took precedence over reality, because if enough people were fooled, others would act as if it were truth.

In every situation, linear logic was used to extract an “essence” or “truth,” and all other factors are denied as details. This is convenient since some people can read those details and see imminent disaster others cannot, causing conflict.

SOCIALIZATION

As part of the process of specialization of labor, we must make others understand why our needs are important, so they can help us. In order to convince them, we use externalized social pressures to make ourselves look good.

Rationalism tells us to pick a single factor with which to measure a situation. In social situations, we choose self-preservation, and in order to achieve it for ourselves, we demand it for all people equally.

We demand the same rights for others just as ourselves because of the specialization of labor. When you must convince others that you ought to be helped, you need to first show them that you have goodwill toward them — without judging them.

The best way to do this is to suggest that the human form, and not the unique abilities of the human, makes this person entitled to being treated well. This way, no matter what they think of you, they will feel good for helping you.

We achieve this false goodwill through altruism, or the belief in helping all others universally and without judgment. We call this an absolute context, because it is the rationalistic single factor we choose in all situations.

In this, we have applied our backward logic to getting ahead in life: we must convince others through appearance that we are good, and that like a tool will achieve the results we desire. We convince others by pretending wishful thinking is reality:

  • Equality of all humans
  • Ability for anyone to do whatever they want
  • Peace, nonviolence, tolerance are good
  • Freedom from criticism on the basis of reality

In a rationalistic outlook, if social instability is bad, then social stability must be achieved — and we do not consider any secondary consequences. As a result, we make aggressive behavior taboo and reward those who avoid conflict.

To avoid conflict, we must compromise any idea where others will object to it. We ignore the consequences of our actions and focus instead of showing goodwill, which eliminates conflict, but causes us to compromise.

Since these compromises must avoid that which will cause conflict to any one person, we create a lowest common denominator response to reality of the inoffensive, benevolent-sounding, and easy, and ignore reality.

INDIVIDUALISM

Since linear logic convinces us to pick one factor of many in our thinking, when approaching the question of life itself we pick a single factor: ourselves.

In order to make ourselves more powerful, we act so we appear altruistic, but we also act to appear independent and unique so we attract others to our personalities. This causes us to act entirely through social thinking.

Through this method, individualism creates a “social reality” or a conspiracy between people to manage reality with social factors. Since we need others, thanks to specialization of labor, we use this more than reality itself.

This has two effects: first, we become neurotic because we see reality in the details but are encouraged to ignore it; second, since social reality ignores secondary effects, disorder spreads and the cost is passed on to us.

This in turn encourages us to try to break away from social obligation, since we feel it is parasitic to us, and so we break away using more individualism. This does not work, so we turn to our leaders and ask for more control.

Control is the external imposition of what some people agree is true. Unlike an organic order, or one arriving from agreement and cooperation among people, it requires force and small rewards to function.

In this way, we can see how individualism leads to disorder which requires more control, in a process and cycle that gains intensity over time, causing civilization to collapse.

UTILITARIANISM

The public display of altruism became a powerful tool. It could get you elected, or make others follow you as a leader, or make them work for less money. It could get you ahead at the expense of others.

Civilization through its wealth makes it possible for us to be far enough removed from nature that we pretend there is no reality except human reality. We withdraw, and we do so in a group which defends itself against critique.

When illusion is rewarded and realistic ideas punished, the bad guys always win. The crowds, accustomed to being manipulated, run between one abuser and another, always believing the promises but then forgetting conveniently so the lie is not revealed.

This triumph of unreality brings consequences but because it is anti-social to mention them, those who bring them up are ostracized and kept out of jobs, relationships, friendships and public favor. The dogma overrides reality.

Since the dogma reaches deeply, to the level of our assumptions, children grow up brainwashed in this ideal and are afraid to consider any other possibilities. Those who tell the truth become “bad” and the lies become “good.”

At this point, the tail wags the dog. We no longer do things because they are realistic actions. We do them to make ourselves look good, so that we can leverage services out of others with our perceived altruism.

This is how civilization destroys itself. Modernism is this self-destruction process, couched as “freedom” and “justice,” but really a slow decay while those few cynical enough to know it’s a lie and still lie make record profits.

Because the civilization is based on the idea of individualism, or each person being able to do whatever they think is right, it soon becomes utilitarian. “What most people think is best is best” defines utilitarianism.

The social institutions designed to implement our grand plans are always failing because the plans are unrealistic, so we blame them. A perpetual struggle between people, markets and governments manifests itself in increasingly rare consensus.

Like a society of drunks, civilization gets ugly but it is not permitted to notice. Behavior is disorganized, and the only plan is one based on linear logic, or removing the “bad” and assuming what’s left is the good.

The only things people can agree on are that they want to be able to earn money, and that they do not want other people interrupting them. They call these agreements “freedom”,”equality” and “justice” and crush any who oppose them.

TOTALITARIANISM

We are all acquainted with centralized authoritarianism. More scary is the tendency of crowds, through constant rebellions for more “freedom” which cause negative social consequences, requiring more control, to create totalitarian states.

The first part of this process is “distributed” totalitarianism, or the tendency of crowds to enforce dogma by ostracizing those who do not repeat the dogma and depriving them of the benefits of specialized labor.

In this stage, individuals gain power by pandering to the desire of the crowd to see appearance triumph over reality. Individuals can find others lacking in altruism, point it out, and be rewarded with higher social status.

The second, when disorder rises enough at the same time the civilization becomes more disorganized, is where the oligarchs who have profited from its decline choose a tyrant to enforce a brutal, simplistic and effective order.

This is how freedom, equality and justice create tyranny through control. Because they are imposed orders, derived from linear logic which picks one factor of many to be absolute, they conflict with reality and require more not less power.

III. PARALLELISM

Reversing this process of decay is surprisingly easy. We need to change our assumptions and method of thinking. Nihilism will change our unrealistic thinking and lead us to another philosophy called parallelism.

Parallelism replaces linear logic. Where linear logic says to pick one factor of many, parallelism says we consider all factors at once and look at their impact.

In parallelism, instead of killing a buffalo for clothing, we determine how many buffalo we can take without destroying the herd, and figure out how to use and store their products so we are efficient.

HOLISM

Most political control structures create a partial truth of reality, define obedience to it as good/evil, and rapidly control people using that. The dogma of equality, freedom, peace, tolerance and nonviolence is no different.

Parallelism reverses this pattern by forcing a description of reality as a whole, and then pointing out what actions will bring negative consequences from reality itself — with no need for the evil/not-evil artificial reality of control.

Unlike idealistic and utopian systems, parallelism recognizes that there is no way to avoid tragedy, conflict, horror and decay, but that they can be limited if people are vigilant toward keeping each other on track toward reality.

Where most political systems define what is bad, and assume the rest to be good, parallelism defines a goal and works toward it through whatever methods work. We call it a “whole” philosophy since it does not divide the world into bad and good.

BEYOND GOOD AND EVIL

Parallelism recognizes that bad and good do not exist, but are our judgments of outcomes. It also recognizes that the ultimate outcome of life, its perpetuation, requires both good and evil, so we call it “meta-good.”

Once we see reality as meta-good, we do not need false positivity and false inherency as offered by other “worlds” created through human judgment. Whether secular (social reality) or religious (heaven), these other worlds corrupt us.

Denying inherent value and purpose removes this false positivity and with it the means of mental control of individuals that in turn empowers the control of the state. When the good symbol appears, people rush toward it, into their doom.

When the thought process of justification is reversed, people stop looking for inherent or social reality proof, and instead turn to the scientific method — observing reality, and testing their knowledge of it, to see what patterns emerge.

IMMANENT

By denying the inherent, nihilism orients itself toward patterns that emerge from situations. This moves away from universal or absolute truths. Patterns do not exist, but every time certain conditions are met, “emerge” in different forms.

Emergent conditions require an entirely different type of logic. While we could call it non-linear, it more accurately resembles many linear logics — for all factors of a situation — considered simultaneously. We call it parallelism.

One aspect of parallelism is noting that patterns occur in parallel between the forms of matter, energy and thought. Patterns are a type of design or organization which can appear in all three of those forms.

Where linear logic and control structures demand a single absolute path, in parallelism, nothing is absolute. Objects and situations do not have inherent, fixed properties. What makes patterns appear is the organization of many factors.

Parallelism arises from nihilism because in order to deny value and purpose, one must have a logical basis for doing so, and in order to show they are not part of reality, we must know how reality assembles itself and what its parts are.

Philosophers describe emergent properties as “immanent,” or distilling out of a situation rather than being inherent to one of its parts. While inherent properties are products of judgment that must be absolute, immanent properties are neither.

We can describe immanent properties as “organic,” because like life itself, they grow from a few conditions into a diversity of objects formed from similar patterns under slightly different circumstances. Control, on the other hand, must be imposed.

TRANSCENDENT

Because nihilists believe neither in religious other worlds (heaven) or secular other worlds (morality), we are independent from the principle of absolute and universal dogma that denies the importance and beauty of reality.

As a result, nihilism can be said to be a transcendent philosophy. Values and purpose are things we impose based on our observations of what will succeed in adapting to reality, and yet also give us a sense of “meaning.”

Meaning is interpreted by the individual but derived from reality, so realistic individuals have similar ideas of what is importance. Meaning reverses withdrawl by connecting us with the world around us.

Philosophers call this transcendental, from the Latin “climb over,” because it encourages us to accept reality including its negative aspects. Instead of denying the negative, we find a greater positive goal in reality itself, the “meta-good.”

When we transcend, we no longer need false absolutes. Instead, we delight in reality because it is a space of potential. Good and bad are methods we can use to make that potential happen.

SCIENCE

Since nihilism is ultimately an affirmation of the scientific method and the need for logical decisions, we can act outside of morality to see what is the best adaptation to reality a civilization can offer — and pick this design for our own.

We do not have to like the answers we find. These are not choices, preferences, or beliefs; they are deductions from using our logical skills. They are too complex to be “proved” by experiments, but our sense of logic can help us see truth in them.

IV. ORGANIC SOCIETY

Every civilization needs a narrative. This consensus describes the origins of the civilization, its ongoing but unattainable goal, and what its values and methods are to achieve that.

The best goals are not tangible ones, but goals that can grow over time, like we compete against ourselves with our personal goals. For most, the goal is tied to a land, a worldview, a values system and people like themselves.

Immanent goals are patterns which naturally make sense given a certain situation. These do not change over time because humans do not change. When these occur as a part of the growth of a civilization, we call them “organic” goals.

Organic societies are logical responses to their environments. They exist on a “whole” level, or one that considers all factors at once. They are the opposite of linear modernist societies, which consider only one factor at a time.

Where control societies encourage us to think in terms of one condition being true at a time (logical OR), parallelism encourages us to see how many can be true at once (logical AND). Organic societies are cooperation, not control, based.

Parallelism tells us there is no one way all people should live, but that different societies should use different methods toward the same goals. Those that adapt to reality using their specific method will thrive over time.

Further, parallelism does not attempt to repeat the past nor does it throw away learning. History is our laboratory and science is our method. Parallelism encourages us to accept modern society, centralization, technology — and use them wisely.

PRINCIPLES

As parallelists, we believe that we can establish a handful of principles that modify our current liberal democratic capitalist society, and that these will “organically” grow into a whole concept:

  1. Localization. We do not need to live in big cities, and are happier in small communities. These can manage their own affairs, and an overlapping hierarchy of county, state and national governments can address bigger issues.
  2. Culture before commerce. If we change our outlook to think in terms of cultural demands which commerce should serve, instead of the other way around, our society will have more consensus.
  3. Organic, whole society. In everything that we do, we consider whole factors. It may benefit a few factors to have another McDonald’s on a busy street corner, but we must think of all factors and make decisions accordingly.
  4. We have a clear consensus and everything else is permitted. We can approach values two ways:
    1. use negative logic and try to avoid evil, which implies that everything else is good, leading to lack of direction;
    2. use positive logic and try to achieve good, which implies that all not leading to that goal is not useful.

    We should approach values through method (b), as it means that more things are permitted.

  5. Direct our resources toward constructive goals. We can spend our time, money and effort on fears, or we can build up the best hopes we have. We should do the latter.

These attitudinal changes alone will produce a parallelist society from what we have. They are easy to implement and require only the agreement of minority of people in society who are leaders in their communities.

V. MANIFESTATION

The possibility of action confounds the modern person who does not want to engage in “activist” politics, or those which empower certain groups at the expense of the whole. How to change a society dedicated to distraction?

Among us, there are 2-5% of people in our society who are leaders in a practical sense. This means that whether they have an official title or not, they lead the community in business, spiritual, community, academic or social settings.

These are the people that your average person trusts. They trust information from these people more than from the government, their televisions, or casual friends. They respect the judgment abilities of these people.

Our goal is to inform these leaders of our values, get them to form consensus that these should be adopted, and then send them forth to implement these values in all that they do and to demand them from politicians.

This occurs in three steps:

  1. Identify, brand and promote an ideology via the internet.
  2. Bring the discussion of this ideology to mainstream media.
  3. Unite the people who find it meaningful to aggressively push it to others.

In modern societies, having a large number of vocal supporters counts, but you do not need “most” of the population or anywhere near it. Successful revolutions are generally championed by 1-2% of a population. That’s all we need.

As we approach step III, it makes the most sense for us to find candidates to take local offices and show that our ideas can succeed, gaining more trust from the general population. Ours is not a revolution but a peaceful transition.

You can help by joining us, and convincing others who are leaders in thought in your community to take a look at what we have to offer.

A parable.

How We’ll Move Into Tyranny

Thursday, March 19th, 2009

Plato predicted that democracies, by splintering the consensus that founds a civilization into atoms formed of individual wills, become so chaotic that at some point, tyranny is desired by the citizens and so comes to pass.

Every civilization has a life cycle, from birth to death, says Plato. At birth, it has the simplest form of rule, which is aristocracy, or a hereditary group of its morally best and smartest people. When they run down or are overthrown, in comes military rule. After that, it’s oligarchy, which roughly corresponds to a libertarian ideal — those who have money rule, like a Southern Plantation culture. But that gives way to democracy, he says:

The oligarch changes into the democrat in the following manner: — The youth who has had a miserly bringing up, gets a taste of the drone’s honey; he meets with wild companions, who introduce him to every new pleasure. Plato, The Republic

As soon as democracy comes about, Plato writes, there are numerous changes in the attitudes of the population that end up being a complete fracturing of the consensus that holds that society together. Instead of one set of values, rules, customs and goals, there are now as many as there are citizens. We call this process atomization.

And if any offer of alliance or parley of individual elders comes from home, the false spirits shut the gates of the castle and permit no one to enter,—there is a battle, and they gain the victory; and straightway making alliance with the desires, they banish modesty, which they call folly, and send temperance over the border. When the house has been swept and garnished, they dress up the exiled vices, and, crowning them with garlands, bring them back under new names. Insolence they call good breeding, anarchy freedom, waste magnificence, impudence courage. Such is the process by which the youth passes from the necessary pleasures to the unnecessary.

Plato is critiquing the psychology of the democratic man at this point. He describes something not unlike the Norse vision of Ragnarok or the Hindu vision of Kali-Yuga: an end times where trust is impossible, people are corrupt, everything is crass and gross and commercialized, and in this whoring all values have been inverted and replaced with an ethic of convenience that leads to long-term destruction.

Let us now inspect the individual democrat; and first, as in the case of the State, we will trace his antecedents…Necessary pleasures are those which are good, and which we cannot do without; unnecessary pleasures are those which do no good, and of which the desire might be eradicated by early training…the drone, as we called him, is the slave of these unnecessary pleasures and desires, whereas the miserly oligarch is subject only to the necessary.

The distinction he’s drawing here is between first-world and third-world behavior. First-world people can put off pleasure until after they’ve accomplished something; third world people are slaves to the short term, and to their pleasures, and so never build infrastructure, develop learning, etc. That sounds more un-PC than it is, because if you read Toynbee and Spengler you will see that third world states are basically failed attempts at first world states, and that the reason they seem exotic ethnically is because they are remnants of cosmopolitan mixed-race populations blurred into a monoculture.

Plato describes a neurosis we can observe in our current society:

After a while he divides his time impartially between them; and perhaps, when he gets older and the violence of passion has abated, he restores some of the exiles and lives in a sort of equilibrium, indulging first one pleasure and then another; and if reason comes and tells him that some pleasures are good and honourable, and others bad and vile, he shakes his head and says that he can make no distinction between them. Thus he lives in the fancy of the hour; sometimes he takes to drink, and then he turns abstainer; he practises in the gymnasium or he does nothing at all; then again he would be a philosopher or a politician; or again, he would be a warrior or a man of business; he is ‘Every thing by starts and nothing long.’

Ever notice how our time is choked by New Age-y pursuits? People are looking for that Next Big Thing, whether it’s Yoga or fire-walking or Acai berries or whatever; they want to find the one thing to give their lives meaning, because they’re adrift in the meaningless void of having no direction, no script, and no narrative to move them forward, because they’re in a time that has inverted all values.

Plato’s description of democracy is unflinching in its critique:

The manner of life in such a State is that of democrats; there is freedom and plainness of speech, and every man does what is right in his own eyes, and has his own way of life.

Hence arise the most various developments of character; the State is like a piece of embroidery of which the colours and figures are the manners of men, and there are many who, like women and children, prefer this variety to real beauty and excellence.

The State is not one but many, like a bazaar at which you can buy anything.

That’s his description of atomization: every person trying to do something different and special, thus there’s zero consensus.

The great charm is, that you may do as you like; you may govern if you like, let it alone if you like; go to war and make peace if you feel disposed, and all quite irrespective of anybody else.

In dysfunction, there is no accountability. That feels good until you see the consequences.

When you condemn men to death they remain alive all the same; a gentleman is desired to go into exile, and he stalks about the streets like a hero; and nobody sees him or cares for him. Observe, too, how grandly Democracy sets her foot upon all our fine theories of education, — how little she cares for the training of her statesmen! The only qualification which she demands is the profession of patriotism. Such is democracy; — a pleasing, lawless, various sort of government, distributing equality to equals and unequals alike.

Whether you’re right or left, you have allegiance to the ideals of your state, and so you are patriotic — which is the only requirement. You do not have to actually engage in society at large. Just wave the flag, even if a flag of protest, and you’re accepted into the group.

How does democracy come about?

The sturdy pauper finds that in the hour of danger he is not despised; he sees the rich man puffing and panting, and draws the conclusion which he privately imparts to his companions,—‘that our people are not good for much;’ and as a sickly frame is made ill by a mere touch from without, or sometimes without external impulse is ready to fall to pieces of itself, so from the least cause, or with none at all, the city falls ill and fights a battle for life or death. And democracy comes into power when the poor are the victors, killing some and exiling some, and giving equal shares in the government to all the rest.

Sounds like the French and Russian revolutions, or the bloodless revolutions of 1968. Plato then sounds a note of warning about how democracy leads to the next stage, tyranny:

Tyranny springs from democracy much as democracy springs from oligarchy. Both arise from excess; the one from excess of wealth, the other from excess of freedom. ‘The great natural good of life,’ says the democrat, ‘is freedom.’ And this exclusive love of freedom and regardlessness of everything else, is the cause of the change from democracy to tyranny.

This is Plato’s description of what is going to come. It’s a subtle “meta-thesis”: that by focusing on freedom, and ignoring other vital parts of society, people encourage downfall. It’s like the farmer who thinks the vital thing is to get seed in the ground, and then is dismayed to find a conspiracy of details like drainage, pests, drought and other things not related to planting bring down his crop.

Plato then describes the mentality of late stage democracy — a demand for “freedom” bordering on anarchy:

The State demands the strong wine of freedom, and unless her rulers give her a plentiful draught, punishes and insults them; equality and fraternity of governors and governed is the approved principle. Anarchy is the law, not of the State only, but of private houses, and extends even to the animals.

Father and son, citizen and foreigner, teacher and pupil, old and young, are all on a level; fathers and teachers fear their sons and pupils, and the wisdom of the young man is a match for the elder, and the old imitate the jaunty manners of the young because they are afraid of being thought morose. Slaves are on a level with their masters and mistresses, and there is no difference between men and women.

At last the citizens become so sensitive that they cannot endure the yoke of laws, written or unwritten; they would have no man call himself their master.

This state of duality is completely neurotic: people are in a civilization, which requires collectivism, but they insist on anti-collectivism as their organizing principle. Even more, since their principle (freedom) sounds positive but really is a negative (freedom from x, y or z) they are prone to strike against those who do not support freedom as the absolute goal. Like most universals, or absolute and contextless demands, freedom obscures the need for other parts of a civilization, like a goal, order, learning, culture and so on. In fact, by the very nature of its negative inclination, “freedom” is opposed to ever having a goal.

Such is the glorious beginning of things out of which tyranny springs. ‘Glorious, indeed; but what is to follow?’ The ruin of oligarchy is the ruin of democracy; for there is a law of contraries; the excess of freedom passes into the excess of slavery, and the greater the freedom the greater the slavery.

You will remember that in the oligarchy were found two classes—rogues and paupers, whom we compared to drones with and without stings. These two classes are to the State what phlegm and bile are to the human body; and the State-physician, or legislator, must get rid of them, just as the bee-master keeps the drones out of the hive. Now in a democracy, too, there are drones, but they are more numerous and more dangerous than in the oligarchy; there they are inert and unpractised, here they are full of life and animation; and the keener sort speak and act, while the others buzz about the bema and prevent their opponents from being heard.

And there is another class in democratic States, of respectable, thriving individuals, who can be squeezed when the drones have need of their possessions; there is moreover a third class, who are the labourers and the artisans, and they make up the mass of the people. When the people meet, they are omnipotent, but they cannot be brought together unless they are attracted by a little honey; and the rich are made to supply the honey, of which the demagogues keep the greater part themselves, giving a taste only to the mob.

Plato introduces two psychological archetypes here and two social archetypes:

    Psychological archetypes

  • Drones: clueless, perpetually impoverished people who cannot plan for the future and so squander whatever they have and then need a bailout. Trailer parks and urban ghettoes provide a modern example.
  • Rogues: these are passive aggressive thieves, or wolves in sheep’s clothing, who act for their own selfish gain in every situation, and so wreck civilization by sewing distrust and socialized costs. Modern examples might include Bernard Madoff and Rod Blagojevich.

Plato thinks a healthy society will remove both rogues and drones, because drones through stupidity empower rogues with their greater numbers, and rogues through their single-mindedness victimize people with more ambitious, whole views of life. Too much of these people and a society collapses, as Jonathan Haidt explains.

What has happened is the laying of a foundation for class warfare. Let’s look at the two class distinctions:

    Social archetypes

  • Bourgeoisie. Plato says “respectable, thriving individuals” and by this he means the middle class, conventionally called bourgeois because at this stage their entire morality is to earn money and buy their way out of social decay. If you’re reading this and understanding it, your parents probably belong to this group.
  • Working classes. These are called labourers and artisans, but nowadays we’d know them as people who work in factories, restaurants and with machines at semi-skilled jobs. This group is often confused with the drones because there is so much overlap between the two; one way to view it is that some of the working classes are drones because of their psychology, while all of the working classes end up laborers and artisans because it is the kind of work to which they are drawn.

So about that class war: the drones and rogues conspire to mobilize the working classes to demand free stuff from the government, a process called entitlement. It is this class war, coming up against the boundaries of a civilization that demands freedom but not order, that shapes the tyrant:

Their victims attempt to resist; they are driven mad by the stings of the drones, and so become downright oligarchs in self-defence. Then follow informations and convictions for treason. The people have some protector whom they nurse into greatness, and from this root the tree of tyranny springs.

The nature of the change is indicated in the old fable of the temple of Zeus Lycaeus, which tells how he who tastes human flesh mixed up with the flesh of other victims will turn into a wolf.

Even so the protector, who tastes human blood, and slays some and exiles others with or without law, who hints at abolition of debts and division of lands, must either perish or become a wolf—that is, a tyrant.

Class war drives the upper half of the middle classes — in modern terms, this is households clearing more than $140,000 a year — into a defensive position, at which point they start to be winner take all. A modern example is the bonuses on Wall Street that are most of each employee’s salary; they reward themselves handsomely because they know that without a half-million-dollar house, private schools for the kids, private medical plans and organic food, they’re going to get dragged down into the social morass of the drones.

During this class war, because the crowd comprised of drones and labourers, egged on by rogues (demagogues), will demand everything it can get, the bourgeois start to fight dirty. They start hiding money and hiding behind private security. It’s slowly dawning on them that the crowd of irresponsible people hates them for being responsible, and they’re going to do their best to take the fruits of that responsibility and throw out the responsible people if not outright kill, rape and maim them.

I call the bourgeois reacting to a class war second-stage oligarchs. They’re not like the oligarchy stage that precedes democracy, which I equate to something like the Mafia or Southern Plantation style living: although the big boss takes a lot, and may spread corruption in the “official” government, the official government is useless and the big boss gets stuff done and takes care of his people. In Sicily, the Mafia at least used to be a net positive; in the South, the planter social hierarchy kept everyone fed, which was not the case after the war (skipping for a moment other questions and concerns about the South’s political structure).

At that point, The People appoint themselves a guardian and protector who promises to bring equality — or revenge upon the rich, since they have something to lose where no one else does. Of course, the wealthier people don’t take this lying down, and so the protector is unable to protect himself, and asks for a private army:

Perhaps he is driven out, but he soon comes back from exile; and then if his enemies cannot get rid of him by lawful means, they plot his assassination.

Thereupon the friend of the people makes his well-known request to them for a body-guard, which they readily grant, thinking only of his danger and not of their own.

Now let the rich man make to himself wings, for he will never run away again if he does not do so then. And the Great Protector, having crushed all his rivals, stands proudly erect in the chariot of State, a full-blown tyrant.

Bang.

In that final step, you have reached a Soviet/French Revolution style state. These in turn collapse because, since all of their goals like freedom are negative, they have no actual plan and end up dividing up the wealth and infighting while the country collapses around them.

However, since the tyrant already has the power… well, there’s not much chance of him or her being overthrown. In fact, The People have put him in power and for at least the first few decades find it hard to admit they’ve screwed up, which gives the tyrant a free ride to strengthen the centralized power of the state.

Modern people, who have the attention span of gnats and cannot think past a two-week period (paycheck to paycheck), imagine that a tyrannical state comes about because the state demands more power to accomplish the goals of the state. What is important about the knowledge Plato brings us is that it shows that tyranny comes about through the state being divided, so that its two parts can play good-cop/bad-cop much as the Democrats and Republicans, respectively, seem to in our media.

Are there any signs of aggressive protectors on the horizon?

James Hansen, a climate modeller with Nasa, told the Guardian today that corporate lobbying has undermined democratic attempts to curb carbon pollution. “The democratic process doesn’t quite seem to be working,” he said.

Speaking on the eve of joining a protest against the headquarters of power firm E.ON in Coventry, Hansen said: “The first action that people should take is to use the democratic process. What is frustrating people, me included, is that democratic action affects elections but what we get then from political leaders is greenwash.

“The democratic process is supposed to be one person one vote, but it turns out that money is talking louder than the votes. So, I’m not surprised that people are getting frustrated. I think that peaceful demonstration is not out of order, because we’re running out of time.” – The Guardian

This is just one such example. Other recent threats have included: Hitler-like dictators, racism, drugs, and Communism.

Hansen is speaking in code. Peaceful protests are legal and socially acceptable; he’s hinting to his fellow scientists and listeners that democratic process is not working and is not going to work. Why? Well, those second-stage oligarchs are tired of the drones massing together and making grabs for their wealth, so they’re doing their best to pollute and neutralize public opinion. In many ways, welfare lines next to fast food joints and liquor stores are the ultimate weapon of the second stage oligarchs; keep the drones stoned, fat and spaced out on television. Our country would probably run a lot better if we advertised incorrect voting dates on television.

It’s possible global warming is a power grab. It’s possible it’s not. Even more likely is that it’s both: one group is ready to grab power, and gets an opportunity that, by blowing it out of proportion or demanding unreasonable action, can be used to corner the populace into a state of revolt. The above statement by Hansen would be setting the stage; if we get some weird hurricanes or ice storms in summer that kill lots of people and make life inconvenient, the rogues are going to start bloviating about how it’s global warming and we need to overthrow the bourgeois.

Here’s another part of that hammer:

Growing world population will cause a “perfect storm” of food, energy and water shortages by 2030, the UK government chief scientist has warned.

Demand for food and energy will jump 50% by 2030 and for fresh water by 30%, as the population tops 8.3 billion, he told a conference in London.

Climate change will exacerbate matters in unpredictable ways, he added.

“My main concern is what will happen internationally, there will be food and water shortages,” he said. –
BBC

It’s the resource wars, he’s saying. There’s not going to be enough water and food, and with our growth in the third world (the industrialized world has negative growth) there will be a Malthusian conflict between the number of people we have and the resources available to sustain them. This will bring about struggle, which will in turn bring about population bottleneck.

Example of struggle: 2,000,000,000 starving Asians charge into Eastern Europe looking for resources. 1,000,000,000 starving Africans surge into the Middle East. All of central and south America explodes up through the Yucatan Peninsula toward Texas. That kind of thing.

Common sense tells us, of course, that Malthus was right: Earth has a fixed output capacity that we can’t dicker with too much. Even more, common sense tells us that this same limited capacity causes us a pollution problem: if the Earth can process so much pollution, and we don’t know that number, at some point as we grow and dump even more in, we’ll reach that point and then excess pollution will pile up. This points back to our real environmental problem, which is overpopulation, specifically by those without any strategy toward a lasting, forward-moving civilization.

Common sense also tells us that there’s a secondary problem, which is that no scrap of earth is untouched by humanity. This means habitats are disrupted, divided by roads and fences, limiting the flexibility of animal populations and ecosystems. Even more foreboding is that since we have made an ethnic of convenience for ourselves, we don’t mind calling utilitarian consumerism “capitalism” and ignoring the fact that we’ve put a price tag on everything. The only thing that keeps a piece of ground from being developed and its trees cut down is that no human yet has the money to do it. Frightening, isn’t it? There are no brakes on the human growth cancer.

The European Environment Agency…released a report yesterday warning that Europe is “living beyond its means” when it comes to water use.

Increasing demand and prolonged periods of low rainfall and drought have helped reduce river flows, dry out wetlands, and lower lake and groundwater levels, the report says, predicting that “climate change will almost certainly exacerbate these adverse impacts in the future, with more frequent and severe droughts in Europe.”

Meanwhile, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development said yesterday that by 2030, about half the world’s population — 3.9 billion people — could be living in water-stressed areas. – NYT

Here you see the wonderful paradox of democracy and consumerism, which both being utilitarianism have a common ancestor: we will ignore a problem for decades and then, by making it trendy because it empowers the have-nots to hate the haves for producing carbon, suddenly we can’t get away from it. It inundates us. Even if it doesn’t succeed because people cannot react to it, we are saturated in it, dripping guilt and foolish pretense.

Check this out:

“We are responsible,” Loïc Fauchon, president of the World Water Council, said during opening ceremonies Monday. “Responsible for the aggressions perpetrated against water, responsible for the current climate changes which come on top of the global changes, responsible for the tensions which reduce the availability of fresh water masses so indispensable to the survival of humanity.”

Drama! O rich drama!

Plato’s words ring true for us today: we are facing a corner. On one side is the damage we’ve done to our environment; on another, a burgeoning population, most of whom are irresponsible; on another, a political tendency to mobilize the irresponsible against the responsible for a power takeover the likes of which we’ve never seen before.

The origin of this, of course, is globalism. Where Plato wrote about Athens, we’re now writing about the world. Our drones may live in Africa, Asia and Latin America, but they have planes and rifles now, too. The pattern will occur in staggered loops: China will have its transition to tyranny, become a drone state, and then enforce tyranny on the bourgeois states, and so on.

We’re all in one society now. Our economies, politics and militaries are linked. When we fall, we fall together. Luckily, individuals and small groups will — as they did when Rome and Athens fell — sneak out and make their way to safer but less convenient places to live. More on that later this week.

Atomization

Wednesday, March 11th, 2009

An Allen Township man accused of driving drunk wore a Coors Light sweatshirt to court today and offered a novel defense.

The law doesn’t apply to him, Scott A. Witmer said, because he is a “sovereign man.”

“It means I live inside myself,” Witmer, 44, told a curious Northampton County Judge Leonard Zito. “I don’t live in the state of Pennsylvania.”

The Morning Call

Instead of thinking of a civilization as buildings and laws, think of it as an agreement between people. When that agreement is strong, people know what behaviors will be rewarded and have psychological support for engaging in those behaviors. They’re defined as right; others are defined as wrong; and then there’s a third category that’s not either other category.

For example, building a new irrigation channel is right; murder is wrong; masturbation is — well, if it doesn’t interfere with anything else, probably not our business.

As this agreement is diluted by the introduction of people who cannot connect cause and effect, civilization decays. That’s the first part of a cycle; the second is that, as civilization decays, so does the agreement. The two — civilization and agreement — are one and the same.

With this decay, people no longer feel like they will get rewarded for doing what is right, so they take to rewarding themselves at the expense of others. Further, they withdraw into their own value systems and their own mental reality. The French writer Michel Houellebecq calls this “atomization,” and it seems to me an apt description.