Posts Tagged ‘civilization cycle’

Civilizations Die The Same Way Musical Genres Do

Monday, July 11th, 2016


The enduring topic that fascinates those who participate in the journey undertaken on this blog is Why do all human ventures fail?

Human group and individual activities seem to perish through the same cycle of novelty-instability-genericism-irrelevance, whether those are neighborhood watches, church groups, civilizations, institutions, churches, broken families or companies.

The answer is that when humans join an established concern, they quickly overwhelm its sense of purpose with individual demands to be important and to make profit. This “tragedy of the commons” results in the interests of the many replacing the goal of the group, and it then resorts to egalitarianism to keep the peace, removing any vestige of mutual cooperation toward an effect in reality. The group becomes inward-looking and based in the needs of individuals, and as a result becomes reality-denying.

We can see this in musical genres. Black metal peaked in 1991-1993 after hardcore punk peaked in 1985-1987. Each genre started with a few innovators who went unrecognized by those around them, but once the genre became successful, all the people who previously mocked it wanted a place in the gravy train that comes with popularity. As a result, people invaded it with many different influences unrelated to its artistic goals, and turned it into a mishmash of the same stuff people could get anywhere else.

In addition, the audience was to blame. With popularity, the genre became filled with imitators, which drove away the audience that could tell good music from bad by bringing in so many people who could not distinguish those opposite states that it adulterated the constituents of the art and marginalized anyone with higher standards than universal acceptance. This in turn drove away future promising artists because those realized that their works would go unheard in an audience that cared only for novelty, irony and quirk.

This is the same way civilizations die. A few founders create something good, and then the participators arrive and impose their own needs on the group, obliterating its goal. Over time the society shifts from outward-looking to inward-looking as it tries to hold together order with methods of control. These create internal turbulence, in which each person feels a victim and uses that sensation to justify acting against the needs of the organic whole of civilization.

Black metal provides an instructive example. In 1989 there were a handful of bands creating music that might be called black metal. A second generation of artists took those early works, improved upon them and gave to their shared characteristics a general principle, and from that created excellent work from 1990 to 1992, with perhaps fifty bands participating. As that became popular, the number of groups expanded, so that by 1996 were thousands of them, and yet fewer exceptional albums than in 1990.

Civilizations perish the same way. Witness what happened to ancient Greece and Rome, both of which reached new heights for human civilization and then faded away, leaving behind a population far different than the original:

In fact, there was a good basis for the 1911 Britannica to write about blonds in Thebes. Thebes was the leading city of Boeotia, a rich agricultural region in south-central Greece. Fragments from an ancient 150 BC travelogue describe the women of Thebes as “the tallest, prettiest, and most graceful in all of Hellas. Their yellow hair is tied up in a knot on the top of their head.” Pindar, a fifth century Theban lyric poet, refers to the Greeks as “the fair-haired Danaoi,” using a poetical name for the Hellenes. Likewise, in his Partheneia, or “Maiden Songs,” the seventh century BC Spartan poet Alcman, praised the beauty of Spartan female athletes, with their “golden hair” and “violet eyes.” He also wrote of Spartan women with “silver eyes,” meaning light gray. The seventh-century BC Greek poet Archilochus praises the “yellow hair” of one of his lovers, and Sappho — also of the seventh century BC — writes of her “beautiful daughter, golden like a flower.”

As late as the fourth century AD, Adamantius, an Alexandrian physician and scientist, wrote in his Physiognominica, that “of all the nations the Greeks have the fairest eyes,” adding, that “wherever the Hellenic and Ionic race has been kept pure, we see tall men of fairly broad and straight build,… of fairly light skin, and blond.” Several centuries of mixing had presumably changed the racial character of many Greeks, but blonds still survived, and Xanthos, which means “yellow” in Greek, was a common personal name.

The Greeks and Romans were both Northern European populations who exterminated themselves through civilization failure, including the diversity that brought in the Asiatic elements that subsumed the original population.

Civilization self-destructs through social means. When there is no longer a goal in reality, the goal becomes pleasing people so that the group with no purpose sticks together. At this point, certain pleasant illusions become a religion for people because to not follow these is to invite controversy and through it, displeasure.

An even more fundamental conflict exists between those with intelligence and those who are merely clever. The intelligent are able to anticipate the results of their actions, and to limit their actions to those that they know will turn out well, where the clever are masters of justification and stating a partial truth as the whole. This allows them to endorse actions which have ultimately bad effects but which appear good in the intervening time.

People in social groups develop a pretense of being good because this is how they explain their relevance to the group. They justify this pretense with the socially popular fictions, and in doing so, compel themselves to constantly scapegoat those who violate the norms. Entire civilizations walk lock-step into oblivion not by compulsion, but by each individual competing for social attention.

Cities are destructive through the same process that killed black metal. A going concern becomes of interest, and then all the me-too people show up to demand their place at the table. In doing so, they replace the competent with the merely able to follow instructions, and so these people gradually introduce error and confusion as they hide difficult issues and pursue easy ones. The anonymity of the city makes this easy.

The cult of public appearance also creates what we might call “lowercase-c conservatism,” or a type of nanny state based on warning against potential threats. Those who warn of a threat are forgiven even if the threat turns out not to be true; those who do not warn are viewed by the herd as a threat, because the herd has become reliant on those voices to warn it of terrors.

People are fundamentally self-destructive. In their personal lives, they chase goals that are not real and ignore what is vital. In groups, they pursue any idea that is mentally convenient enough to hold the group together, whih means ignoring all real problems. The Christian concept of “original sin” holds that we are all pretty much evil stupid monkeys until we use grace, or a transcendental view of reality, to snap out of our simian fugue.

When leadership exists that can beat down the inner human tendency to be a “talking monkey with car keys,” this is not a problem. As time goes on however, the merely clever gain power through commerce and then demand a democracy so that there are fewer obstacles to selling unnecessary products. The clever monkeys doom themselves.

No human civilization has resisted this slide so far, although some have resisted longer than others. It is a degenerative condition endemic to civilization itself, and without realist leaders, all civilizations succumb to it, much as musical genres died by their own popularity and the resulting flood of me-too people.

The only way to resist decline is through the use of two unpopular methods:

  • Self-discipline. Most people observe themselves, ignoring both inner selves and world, by watching their impulses and fears. Self-discipline forces them to pay attention to results in reality and consequently, their degree of internal honesty.
  • Exclusivity. Egalitarians want society to be inclusive, so that its least useful member is equally important to its most useful and is rewarded at the same level if possible. A more sensible principle is hierarchy, which chooses those who are most useful and gives them more than the less useful.

These are massively unpopular because they require people to snap out of their movie of themselves, and also, to escape the “bubble worlds” of socializing in which everything is good and everyone is precious. Generally this requires strong leaders, in the tribal or military model. Under that principle, Western Civilization once thrived.

Like Western Civilization, black metal exists to this day. The new material is repetitive, toneless and has zero content, but the new audience — the New Citizens who replaced the Original Citizens — cannot tell the difference and likes the boring, talentless material because it does not challenge them, and therefore they never feel out of their depth.

The only way for black metal to have resisted this assimilation was for there to have been strong leaders who spoke out against the flood. But how does one oppose another person who simply wants to take part? Only the yardstick of “what will be the results of this?” can answer that question, and its answer seems cruel.

Social media as a model for the collapse of liberal democracy

Wednesday, February 24th, 2016


We are now familiar with the social media cycle:

  1. New site appears and the movers and shakers — power users, artists, thinkers — are drawn to it.
  2. “Everyone else” shows up.
  3. The site creates new policies and rules to deal with the monkeytime behavior of the everyone else.
  4. The site no longer offers information of importance to movers and shakers because it is drowned out by the flood of memes, chatter, kitty pictures and personal drama.
  5. The movers and shakers move on to a new site. Restart the cycle.

Maybe you saw this first with Something Awful, Friendster, or MySpace and are now seeing it with Facebook and Twitter. It almost looks like a whole generation of oversold internet companies are heading toward the dumpster this way.

This is analogous to what happens to civilizations. One group carves them out of the wild; we could call these “creators.” Then others show up or emerge through the process of genetic expression which produces some excellence, mostly the same, and some errors. Errors compound. This new group, which we might call “participants,” are not the movers and shakers the creators were. They are there for the easier living and will contribute only what they are compelled to.

Over time, the society changes its policies and rules to accommodate the participants, who are less disciplined and moral in personal behavior and also more random in their activity. Lacking the guiding spirit of creators, they tend to focus more on the personal, sensual and immediate. The leaders of the society shrug: the participants outnumber the creators. As a result, like a business, that society panders to the audience it has instead of the audience it needs.

But the tipping point is long in coming. People went to MySpace because the audience was there; if they wanted to promote a band or idea, all of the fans or readers were there. Even as the writing of collapse is on the wall, more people pour in. The leaders nod sagely and think their strategy is working. Their bank accounts do not lie, after all… but among those, the smart ones take the money and run. They get out because they hear the sound of crumbling.

In the same way, a dying society produces leaders like Angela Merkel and Barack Obama. Their goal is to be as popular as possible so they can gain wealth and fame and escape the dying society. As it runs itself into oblivion, they will be living in some paradise for the rich where private security protects them from the chaos. They will have used their home society as a means to the end of their own power, and then escaped the consequences.

The participants will throw up their hands. Everything seems to be bad all of a sudden. Slowly, they will begin leaving. If they are on a social media site, they will go to whatever new one their friends are using. If they are in a dying civilization, they will emigrate. The only people left watching the stove will be those with no other options, in other words, the lowest rungs of the participants.

And so the old social media site will resemble a third world nation: a mass of people behaving badly, with a few increasingly powerful tyrants watching over the herd to prevent the worst abuses, and allowing these people the freedom to behave badly on a daily basis. No one beyond the borders cares anymore. They have moved on, and the drama is complete.

Early days of Venezuela lite

Tuesday, February 24th, 2015


I hear they are rationing toilet paper in Venezuela. Military units have moved in to the grocery stores to ensure people do not take more than their share. Wealth has been confiscated from the rich and the poor are promised subsidies. In a nation holding a giant pile of potential wealth through its oil reserves, such scenes seem unusual. And yet these scenes are typical of any country going from a greater degree of organization to a lesser one, in what we recognize as a descent into a third-world state.

Our tendency in the West is to see Venezuela as a state which made “different” choices than us and ended up socialist by virtue of looking for another path. If we hit the “zoom out” button to a historical level however we see Venezuela in a different light: a decaying nation-state compensating for its decline with colorful promises and rhetoric. What is socialism but a promise to create justice? And what is totalitarianism but a response to the instability of the state and its people?

The default condition of humanity is poverty, filth and failure. Without organization to make the operation of a group of people united toward a common purpose and efficient through study of its past mistakes, humans exist as ragged mobs of subsidence farmers, scavengers or hunters who fall prey to disease, crime and warfare on a frequent basis. Humans create civilization for a reason: formalizing activity forces there to be reasons for any activity, and for all of those to conform to a standard of behavior. This avoids the worst of the chaos and facilitates learning, culture, art and architecture.

When this path breaks, civilization loses its inherent purpose, which is the furtherance of social order to the end of having those things. People become geared toward scavenging from civilization which they see as a dying beast. Into this void of order comes compulsion, usually in the form of a strong state that specializes in shooting people for minor offenses and ignoring greater ones. This is the condition that Venezuela currently finds itself in.

In the United States and Europe, we have not yet fallen to Venezuela levels, but we are on a path to that state. We have lost a sense of purpose and a belief that we can improve; we have replaced the idea of having social order, and the underlying identity as a people that makes it possible, with a political identity based on our obedience to methods such as democracy, pacifism, transparency, and the root of them all, egalitarianism. Our belief in these things is tautological, since our proof for their goodness is our assumption of their goodness to the point that we ignore their consequences.

We are the addicts of an illusion who refuse to see that the way out is to set down the needle one last time and forever. When our egalitarian ideas fail, we assume that some mystic force akin to Satan has subverted them. Perhaps it was the rich or the right-wing — they mean about the same thing, don’t they, comrade? — but we assume that our programs failed because they were subverted by an invisible enemy, instead of the plain truth… that they failed because they are illogical, paradoxical, unrealistic, badly-designed or any other synonyms for the same idea. Their failure is innate because their concept is inconsistent with the world as we know it, and even more, with the underlying mathematical order of existence itself. We cannot enforce equality; that is not how logic works. And yet we insist we must, so like the First World War, we charge into the breach yet again for something we not only do not believe in but do not believe can prevail.

The point here is that we have not found a purpose. This leads to Venezuela. There are numerous purposes we could discover, but we need to pick one. Failing to pick one leads to Venezuela or its ultimate destination, Brazil, where teeming hordes of impoverished, ignorant and larcenous proles threaten a few wealthy who isolate themselves behind high fences and armed private security. If it were not for Western investment, these states would already have failed further and returned to their pre-civilization origins. Collapse is not a yes/no, or even a series of discrete states, but like a ramp a gradual process of ascent or descent with gravity constantly working against rising.

The problem with choosing a purpose is that as stated above, people are not equal. Purpose cuts some of them out of the equation at least as they think they should be (and we should not assume that their vision is correct, since most of them lead disorganized lives marked by a lack of direction anyway). We are all afraid of being that person cut out and, looking for a reason why we should not be told what to do, settle on self-pity and victimhood, which leads us to assume we would be that person. As a result, large portions of our society resist the idea of purpose itself, even though not to have it is by definition insanity.

Decision time awaits us. Do we go back up the ramp toward classical Europe, Greece and Rome, or do we walk back down the ladder toward becoming primitive tribes living in kleptocracies under warlords and surrounded by low-IQ people as we see in Russia, Venezuela, Brazil and Arkansas? All of our “altruistic” ideas, like our egalitarian “ideas,” boil down to a lack of purpose. This decision is a binary: do we rise or continue to fall? We know what falling looks like; the only question is whether we have the will to resist it.

Blood sacrifice to the historical cycle

Saturday, December 27th, 2014


Over the years, a historical cycle tends to resemble a spiral as it extends toward one direction or the other. Just like the primeval chaos of the beginning of time of all times, the end of our world must be chaotic, dramatic, and devastating to start the wheel turning once again. We exist in an eternal circle of life and death, creation and destruction, originating in an aeonic passion coming from the nights of ancient times and expressed fractionally in every night since. Thus it has always been and always will be.

No eternal law may be violated without causing an imbalance, much as no imbalance can be eternal. Because of this, there is not such thing as an eternal chaos or an eternal order. The Trotskyist conception of “permanent revolution” is contrary to a transcendental worldview of historical order and natural hierarchy, which is the opposite of blind obedience and submission to the unworthy. A constant, eternal revolution without any meaning than chaos and no raison d’etre other than being the earthly/human dual perception of the universe is full of emptiness, its meaninglessness originating in our humanity vanity.

Within that cycle we can witness the revolution of the inferior, that is, the revolt of those who don’t dare to wage wars, and who are afraid of life and death. This kind of revolution is the one belonging to all those who exist because of random birth and dedicate their lives for begging for humanity and privileges. A pathetic cattle hungry for victim rights because it has nothing else to offer but guilt, manipulation and parasitism. These are the agents of the decay-cycle.

When matter has saturated all possible and still unknown future spaces and times, carnivorous individuals within the herd of sheep tend to punish their own herd. This mob-like group is comprised of individuals defined by the fact that none of them ever departs from the rest, and all use the rest ot justify and defend their vices, since they need the approval of the masses to feel comfortable about themselves and defend them — in the name of human rights — against those who might know better.

They rule a decadent world with an even more decadent power. Such is human nature: looking for a God anywhere possible that is convenient for the individual to see, usually in himself. Such people inevitably enthrone themselves by means of the approval of their peers, exhibiting a dubious superiority that by its lack of natural purpose shows the vulgar inferior nature of such people. Actual superiority shows itself in actions; false superiority arises from wealth, popularity, and earthly power, but has no basis in spirit, or greatness, that distinguish the best of humanity throughout history.

The herd are content with being the privileged majority, finding in that group welfare the meaning they need to fill their miserable lives. But it also happens that other individuals, those who deviate from the crowd, jaded the earthly passions and vernacular vices, decide to strike the face of this world with their own truth, which they derive from the natural state and not power achieved through popularity. No matter the ramparts they need to storm to achieve their goal, nor the parameters they need to blow up the conformity into pieces, or the knowledge that the masses oppose them, these people struggle onward knowing that their past is doomed and their present an endless struggle.

And yet they do not need your compassion because they do not need any consolation at all: they know the future is entirely theirs as the cycle returns. Those who base their power on illusions lack the natural ability to administer that power, and so they create social chaos and cause total breakdown, and in that chaos the strong rise once again.

By any means necessary.

Civilizations make rules, and rules are inferior to goals

Monday, June 17th, 2013

apocalyptic_cityConservatives see civilization as a collaborative goal, not a series of institutions. To us, civilization is not roads, government, corporations, etc. but the moral decisions and corresponding values made by a group of people that constitute their identity.

This is the mentality you would expect from someone who can make a civilization. Those people are fewer than one percent of any population, mainly because most people are so narcissistic that they make constantly delusional decisions. They are oblivious to the real questions of life.

Liberals easily confuse conservatives’ wariness about civilization for some kind of pseudo-anarchism or individualism. Neither of those are accurate. Instead, conservatives see civilization as being made up of individuals making moral decisions, not equal people-shaped robots who are regulated by rules.

Rules irritate conservatives. We like to have few of them, and to have them be streamlined and obvious so that people can remember them and derive them from basic principles. We do not like vast reams of regulations because these seem to only hamper growth, change, thought, etc.

Conservatives don’t go far enough. The entire concept of a rule-based civilization is nonsense. First, it removes the need that people actually agree and put active investment of energy into figuring out values and upholding them. They defer to written books and social institutions.

Second, rules put the onus of interpretation on the civilization’s leaders. It becomes their job to think of every possible way people can screw up, and ban them all. However, this Goedelian job is completely impossible, and this creates a mess of interlocking rules that encourage the miscreants to flout them and run free.

Finally, every rule creates a line that says “anything up until this conduct is acceptable.” This means that people immediately find a way to game those rules, and to profit off of their vagueness and the margins in their limitations.

A better solution is to have goals. Goals are not based on negative limits, but on positive achievement. If our goal is to have a civilization, we need to look at every act and say, “Did that get us closer to having a civilization?”

There’s always three categories: yes, no and neutral. Yes means it furthered the goal, and the person should be rewarded. No means it was a strike against furthering the goal, and the person should be punished. Neutral means it didn’t get closer to the goal, but didn’t move us backward either; it’s different from harmless, but in this wide band, neither punishment nor praise is warranted.

With this type of system, the onus of interpretation is on the individual. How will my act be seen? Well, guess I’d better measure that by effect and consequences, not by my intention or its social significance. At that point, mental health begins.

Even further, it keeps people oriented toward purpose in their lives. There is never a circular non-purpose; there is always a point and a direction. Life is an adventure, a quest. It is not the hubris of people who assume that because they are conscious, they are the goal of life itself.

A true conservative civilization might not have a government at all. It might not have any written rules. What it will have, however, is people who can independently interpret principles which are unique to it and define it. It will take its stand and come what may.

This not only works better, but is infinitely more satisfying than a society of details unrelated to any actual purpose except assuaging our fear by having a giant institutional complex which claims it’s looking out for our best interests.

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