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Posts Tagged ‘consequentialism’

How The Left Misunderstands Conservatism

Thursday, November 10th, 2016

leftists_are_unhappy_people

The Left has never understood conservatism because the Left has never wanted to. To them, their ideology of egalitarianism leads directly to Utopia, at which point there will no longer be conflict between humans and everyone will be accepted. Any deviation from this is a moral sin punishable by death, in their view.

That explains why the Left does not want to understand conservatism: they have zero room for it in their pantheon of ideologically-tinted symbolic representations of reality. This is because while conservatism is voiced as an ideology, fundamentally it is anti-ideological because it bases its perceptions on reality.

Conservatism comes from the term “to conserve,” which means that we preserve successful means of achieving excellence. In human terms, nothing can be preserved in a static sense, but must be regenerated anew in each generation, so “conservation” means not physical things but principles, methods and ideas.

As written here before, that means that conservatism has two attributes:

  1. Consequentialism. We judge success by end results and side-effects, not by human intent, feelings, judgments, universal symbols and emotions. Reality is external to us; internal focus is solipsistic.

  2. Transcendence. There must be some goal higher than material reaction, like excellence, beauty, goodness and truth, and we discover it through intuition, which is within but not personal.

This contrasts with Leftism, which has only one attribute: egalitarianism, or the equality of people, which is presumed to lead to pacifism and universal acceptance, and from there to Utopia. Leftism works through negative actions, or things it wishes to remove; conservatism requires restructuring society around positive goals, or things we want to achieve.

For this reason, in our Leftist time, our Leftist media has trouble understanding why conservatism does not translate into Leftist terms. First they want to make it an ideology; then, they try to import egalitarianism — the core and principle of Leftism — into it, despite for conservatism, egalitarianism being at most a means to an end and not an end in itself.

As a recent article demonstrate, our society is now struggling to understand conservatism which is as distant as a foreign land to a society brainwashed in two centuries of Leftism:

Nash presented an influential portrait of conservatism as a river fed by three tributaries of thought: Christian traditionalism, anti-Communism, and libertarianism (or classical liberalism). Although each could be rendered as a popular impulse or unthinking reflex of the mass mind, Nash insisted that all three were fundamentally intellectual traditions, nourished by a cast of characters who deserved both respect and extended study, among them James Burnham, the former socialist turned anti-Communist; Friedrich Hayek, the Austrian classical economist; and Russell Kirk, America’s answer to Edmund Burke. In Nash’s telling, these were the men (and they were almost all men) who created conservatism in the postwar years.

This article is patent nonsense. Conservatism is not a material ideology, but a timeless principle. It can be found in “Christian traditionalism, anti-Communism, and libertarianism (or classical liberalism)” but they are not its constituent components. Rather, as a principle, it is found many places, and those are the ones we recognize — “observer bias” — because of their recent relevance.

A conservative is someone who likes what works. Because the question then arises “How well does it have to work?” he has to pick either bare minimums (utilitarianism) or best case scenarios, and that latter leads him to the goal of excellence. That in turn picks out the principle of nature: all works to produce a hierarchy that advances the best over the rest, and this extends to metaphysical principle.

For all that modern people know of conservatism, the above passage might as well be in ancient Greek. However, as we enter into a conservative area with Brexit rippling across the USA and Europe, we might want to understand the path out of the Leftist mental ghetto and how we can use it to save ourselves from the moribund inertia of liberalism.

If Einstein Were Applied To Evolutionary Pysch It Would Turn Massively Consequentialist

Wednesday, September 21st, 2016

genetic_determinism_lets_hope_not

I appreciate it when somebody knows all the answers. It makes being lazy less costly. You don’t have to discover the truth, you just have to contort logic and reason in its defence the way a dextrous Yogi can turn themself into a pretzel while enhancing the inner calm. Luckily for all us chickens, the real smart Smart Guys from UCLA have arrived with the veritable Lamp of Wisdom to dispel our pitiable ineluctibility.

According to this orthodoxy, all of the specific content of the human mind originally derives from the “outside” — from the environment and the social world — and the evolved architecture of the mind consists solely or predominantly of a small number of general purpose mechanisms that are content-independent, and which sail under names such as “learning,” “induction,” “intelligence,” “imitation,” “rationality,” “the capacity for culture,” or simply “culture.”

According to this view, the same mechanisms are thought to govern how one acquires a language, how one learns to recognize emotional expressions, how one thinks about incest, or how one acquires ideas and attitudes about friends and reciprocity — everything but perception. This is because the mechanisms that govern reasoning, learning, and memory are assumed to operate uniformly, according to unchanging principles, regardless of the content they are operating on or the larger category or domain involved.

I can respect a kernel of truth in the quote above. It explains, in part, why good, effective teachers, schools and churches are both good and effective. However, it isn’t quite safe to till-deer these academic guys. The screed really doesn’t get too theological until that run-on sentence at the end of Paragraph II. It could do with a snappy re-write. The Koran was much more snappy in declaring Mohammad The Seal of The Prophets.

As we evaluate the sacred verses of scripture, we find that environment is literally everything. Every young mind that enters the world is… dare I say it? A Blank Slate. I’ve preached against the other, Hard Determinist extreme. However, these guys at UCLA are no closer to reality than the Calvanist Edict that only the Elect will end up being saved.

So what I propose is a truce on this stuff. Anyone with the courage to give this John Derbyshire piece a fair and impartial reading would have to concede that genetic hard-wiring based on race, nation and family impacts the life of all children born into the human species. We start with a subtle but important edit to Paragraph I of the sacred scripture above. “Ceteris Paribus, all of the specific content of the human mind originally derives from the ‘outside’…”

Once we’ve inserted the necessary lawyer clause above, we can then get down to the dirty business of explaining how ceteris ain’t always paribus in the brutal and unfair game of life. As Einstein once put it, Newton’s Laws hold true within a closed frame of reference. Outside the specified reference frame, relativity degrades the predictive power of this model. When examing human cognitive development, we replace frame of reference with human bio-diversity. We are all equally blank slates when we lie there dead on a slab.

Now that this superior model has been kicked into play, we can no longer just assume stupid things about societal development and cultural history based upon assumption without loss of generality from The Standard Social Science Model preached at us by geniuses from UCLA. Once we’re all just Blank Slates, Guns, Germs and Steel presents a defendable view of human history. It implicitely posits that if Shaka Zulu had gotten his hands on Mongolian Horses instead of Zebras, he could have eventually invaded Poland like the Mongols.

The Blank Slate Theory totally fails to explain what happened just two centuries after the functionally illiterate Apache Tribes in Texas and Arizona got their hands on some decent ponies. They tied the US Cavalry into knots and utterly terrorized the early Mexican settlers in Texas. The Apache were somewhat kinder and gentler than their hard-partying neighbors The Comanche. Somehow the poor, underpriveleged Comanche figured out the finer sadisms of torture with no cultural access to Fifty Shades of Grey whatsoever.

The Blank Slate Theory of Human Evolutionary Psychology spawns from the delusion born of drinking the nasty bong resin water of equalitarianism. God does indeed play dice with the universe. Human races are cognitively different. The world of human genetics is inherently unfair and Mr. Logic could truly care less if that hurts your feelings.

Hard Determinism is laziness. God offers you certain oportunities. Only once did Jesus offer anyone a free lunch. In the end, you are responsible for what you make of yourself, your family and your culture. IQ, physical measurables and other genetic traits never won anyone a Rugby World Cup or a Fields Medal. A lazy idiot’s “Clean Slate” will get totally covered with profane grafiti. Life is consequentialist and much of the life you live will result from your personal endeavors regardless of your environment or genetic heritage.

Why A Christmas Carol is consequentialist

Friday, December 25th, 2015

why_a_christmas_carol_is_consequentialist

Charles Dickens was early in developing the character traits necessary to be a dominating fekelord. He understood how to communicate to the alien species that is the conditioned Western mind. In his famous holiday novel A Christmas Carol, he tells us exactly what forms of communication fail and which forms succeed when attempting to tell Moderns they need to change or die. One can demur or accept his actual call for greater generosity towards others. It’s a message that can argued pro or con. What the reader should take away from the story is what messaging finally got through to Ebenezer Scrooge and unplugged him from The Matrix.

Dickens tells the story of how Jacob Marley is attempting to earn parole from some awful purgatory by convincing Ebenezer Scrooge to arrange a DNA swap with somebody with a sense of common decency. It’s by no means an easy task. Changing people older than 35 is generally a time-waster for the medical, psychiatric or religious professional. People who receive at least some measure of food, wealth, respect and sexual gratification generally continue doing the things that get them what they have. However, it’s not impossible to change people’s mind and Dickens shows us how.

Marley tries initially to appeal to friendship. He appears to Scrooge as a ghost, weighed down by chains and tells Scrooge that he will end up the same way if he doesn’t change course. This approach fails for several reasons. Scrooge is more powerful than Marley in the hierarchy. He’s running the show. He’ll never wear the chains. That happens to the Beta Male who isn’t a big, old swinging dick. Marley rattles his chains, pisses off Scrooge by disturbing his nap, but does nothing to scare Ebenezer straight.

Marley then attempts to appeal to the joyful innocence of childhood by sending the Ghost of Christmas Past. He shows Scrooge memories of what it was like when Christmas was fun and Scrooge had buddies and a great boss. This fails because Scrooge has no time for silliness and as a good Modern he is entitled to good Christmas parties and all the best albums and movies. These are his just due because Scrooge is a special snowflake just wafting on down from heaven. Scrooge just grumbles about how all those ingrates don’t throw him good enough Christmas parties. Marley has once more failed. Bah humbug!

Next comes the Ghost of Christmas Present. Marley endeavors to convince Scrooge that he isn’t really happy or doing well in comparison to The Ghost of Christmas Past. This utterly fails. Scrooge is a good Modern and only cares about material exteriors. Scrooge drives the Jaguar; Marley drove the used Lexus. Marley wasn’t even still part of Scrooge’s golf foursome. The Ghost of Christmas Present can’t say “Boo!” to a great success like Ebenezer Scrooge.

Marley has finally reached a point of desperation and exasperation. He wants to just write off Scrooge as incorrigible old hater. But he can’t or else the hell fires could be perpetual. The time has come for Marley to eschew niceness and mainline the harsh drug of reality. It’s time for consequentialism. It’s time for The Ghost of Christmas Future.

By using Consequentialism, Marley finally spoke a language Scrooge still understood. The Ghost of Christmas Future was bleak and horrible like the rewards of Modern Society to the soul that doesn’t rebel. Scrooge could still manage to understand that if he played a stupid game, he would win stupid prizes. When he was shown what would happen to him personally, he understood that the herd of moderns would no longer be there to protect him. When Scrooge was made to see that his safe space was truly an illusion. The chains of false modernity could not be wished away by an advertising jingle or a political slogan. In the vacuous glare of the malignant haunt Scrooge saw the empty, desolate evil of his own, personal Desert of The Real.

In showing Scrooge what was real, Marley gave him a better gift than he could ever have received. Thus it is my holiday wish for my five or six constant readers that they receive that gift of perception. No matter how ugly each of our Ghost of Christmas Futures may appear, embrace them. The Ghost of Christmas Future is that bad-ass uncle with the Kawasaki that may or may not bathe once a week. Nobody in the family really likes him, but every last one of the tossers secretly envies him his freedom from pseudo-erudite BS. That uncle sits you down as he kills a beer and murders a Marlboro. He tells how it really is even if it scares your little face off. He is the real spirit of generosity because he tells you what you need to survive in the brave, new world. To all of you brave enough to be Americans instead of Amerikans; Merry Christmas and New Year. (And Io Saturnalia just for good measure!).

Liberalism is inhuman

Tuesday, August 18th, 2015

liberalism_is_inhuman

Good advertising pitches a simple formula: use this product and be successful. Liberalism promises a similar process, but in its case, social success is what is sold. Use the product named liberalism, and you will be popular or at least, fit in.

Unfortunately — as is well known — advertising does not equal reality. In fact, most advertising is strategically vague lying. Much is the same case with liberalism, which makes grand promises based on its intentions, but does not care to assess its intent relative to reality, which will show the results of those intentions. As Lloyd Marcus writes:

Liberals wrongfully get high marks for compassion. The truth is real compassionate leadership makes wise responsible decisions. Liberals define a compassionate nation as how long that line is of people showing up for their daily allotment of free fish. In America today, 94 million Americans are unemployed. And yet, they have all the necessities and many of the luxuries of working Americans. Forty-seven million Americans are on food stamps. Millions of capable Americans are receiving disability.

Conservatives define compassion as liberating citizens from government. Government handouts are always accompanied with government dictates and controls. There ain’t no free lunch.

Real compassion consists of achieving good results, not good intentions. After all, as our grandparents knew, “the road to hell is paved with good intentions.” This leads us a to further conjecture: advertising induces us to buy products in lieu of fixing bigger problems in our lives. What is liberalism distracting from?

A short list: ecocide by humanity, the declining amount of open space balanced against our rising population, the decay of our civilization, the foolishness of voters as individuals and as a mass, the rising third-world which wishes to exterminate us, a decaying infrastructure, corruption infiltrating our institutions, and visual pollution in addition to noise pollution and litter, toxins and rotting abandoned human settlements strewn across our natural land.

Those are actual problems. Liberalism presents distractions.

Confusing consequentialism with utilitarianism

Wednesday, August 12th, 2015

stentorian_shoebill

Few people recognize just how deeply liberal reprogramming goes. Any term of importance will be subtly altered so its meaning is lost in such a way that suggests the dominant paradigm is in fact correct. Since these alterations occur at a very low level, they go unnoticed and, because most people are generally thoughtless and vapid, get repeated millions of times by “well-intentioned” selfish little beasts.

You can see an example here in the wild from WIRED magazine:

Researchers generally use these scenarios to see whether people hold a) an absolutist or so-called “deontological” moral code or b) a utilitarian or “consequentialist” moral code. In an absolutist code, an act’s morality virtually never depends on context or secondary consequences. A utilitarian code allows that an act’s morality can depend on context and secondary consequences, such as whether taking one life can save two or three or a thousand.

This writer has correctly summarized mainstream opinions on the issue of consequentialism, but if we look at the terms by their meaning, it becomes clear that there is a paradox here. He equates utilitarian and consequentialism, but what do the two mean? In theory they are similar because they are based in results, but with a little sleight-of-hand to keep them crowd-friendly. Utilitarianism means choosing what is “best for the most” but this is assessed, in classic EnlightenmentTM style, by what those people think is best for them.

Consequentialism — in theory — means measuring by results. But in the hands of the Crowd, this becomes utilitarianism, or what most people think they want just as in democracy and consumerism. The definition has literally be reversed from “results” to “intentions.” How clever! How subtle! And yet how completely illogical. It is comic, just as one might expect if rhesus monkeys suddenly discovered language and made themselves a political system.

Under the reign of the Crowd, every term gets redefined to what they want because it makes a better product that way. Results, responsibility, accountability and objectivity? No one wants to buy that. But the idea that if you do what most people will nod at, which generally gives you free rein to deceive them and offer token substitutes for what has been taken from the oblivious herd, will always be popular. Simple, ego-flattering lies never fail to find an audience, but truths remain just as unpopular as ever.

On claiming that certain things are not political or ideological

Tuesday, April 21st, 2015

happy_birthday_mister_hitler

On the right, it is popular to disclaim “ideology” and “politics.” There is truth to this, since the right is consequentialist and thus not based in should-be thinking like the left, and neoreaction is not populist, so it does not fall under politics which is itself a creation of democracy.

However, there is also a fallacy here. Ideology can mean any doctrine or philosophy with an end result of changing the world. Politics means any thought or thought process which addresses political change. Trying to step out of these things that way, and claim to be a theory above it all as some in Tradition and Neoreaction do, despite being well-intentioned, leads to confusion because it is not wholly true.

Any belief, even if a reality-based one as all consequentialist ones are, becomes both ideology and politics because it competes with ideology and intends a change in politics. To play a categorical game of denying this seems clever at first, until one realizes that by doing so, the belief system has stated itself as personal preference alone, and thus, has no application beyond how you order your lawn and 401(k).

While the corporatist line of Neoreaction is tempting, in which people sign on to managed communities where a corporation returns value and is accountable for its services, in reality these places show the downside of capitalism unchecked by culture: crass commerce, mixed-race social chaos, and a need — as time goes on — for increasing internal security as in the style of leftist states.

New Right introduced new “thought methods” just as Neoreaction and Tradition did. All of these beliefs fall under rightism not because right-wingers claim them, but because their ideals fit into the basic rubric of the right: consequentialist, or results-based, with a transcendental aim for “the good, the beautiful and the true” or “the perennial things” (Huxley) or “Tradition” (Evola).

While these new intellectual methods give us better ways to discuss the need for a society based on the above, they do not escape us from their intent: to change politics and counter ideology. It is best that all be honest about this, as otherwise we fall into the traps that allow leftist entryism, namely making our philosophy solely a “personal preference” or series of choices made while shopping for goods and services, and allowing entryism by making the method more important than the aim.

Wellbeing

Sunday, June 15th, 2014

wellbeing

Conservatism suffers when liberals attack because conservatism is forced into a defensive role. This occurs both because liberals carry with them an attitude that they are good and their opposition by reciprocal implication advocates bad, and because liberalism rests on a single issue: equality. This is a shift in quantity from what exists to a “new” alternative.

On the other hand, conservatives do not advocate alternatives but improvement. In our view, the human problem arises from a lack of focus on consequences of our actions and a failure to approach life with a reverent transcendental outlook. Thus people look toward the immediate, do a halfway job, and then when it fails claim that the problem wasn’t their own moral bankruptcy but the lack of a “new” system that prevents these problems.

Imagine a farm. New ways of doing things that you already do are important, no doubt. But there is no need for a new farming system. The basics have been known since time immemorial and the “new ways” are generally taking existing ways and making them more effective, which is a quality-based improvement. There is no need for a new quantity, but more diligent application of existing knowledge.

Those of us who are non-liberal generally find 80% agreement on our beliefs. We do not think that quantity-based reforms are needed. We do not think institutions like government are the solution. We believe in culture, self-reliance, allowing the best to rise and the worst to fall, and in having a society that is targeted toward more than transient immediate self-gratification. But how to phrase this as a single issue?

Such beliefs arise from the duality of conservatism, which focuses on both consequentialism and existential experience. Consequentialism means that we measure our acts by their results, and take responsibility for those results not only after they happen, but when making our next choice. History serves as a laboratory and we can pick what works and keep advancing it through the ages, improving it qualitatively without adopting a new quantity alternative. Existential experience reflects whether the whole of our lives seems to be headed toward a place of beauty, truth and goodness, as these are long-term goals for any mentally alert person with enough experience. We value time with family, introspection, wrestling for moral goodness and doing the right thing.

I suggest we can combine those two prongs into a single measurement which we might call “wellbeing.” As Nietzsche asked, we should also inquire: how healthy is our society? This requires we look at the dark underbelly of human existence and all that we (personally) push out of our minds. Are people headed toward a good place, or bad place? Are we making beauty or trendy ugliness?

With a single issue, we can counter what the left advances which is the implicit “equality = good.” Our response is that equality is one tool in a large set and that it does not address the core of the issue. Two centuries of democracy have given us lots of equality, but a sick society rotted to the core. Wellbeing can turn this around, and point us instead toward healthy improvement in who we are.

Flipside

Friday, March 2nd, 2012

As part of an ongoing attempt to find the germinal core of conservatism, the article “Consequentialism” explored this philosophy: that the results of an idea in reality are more important than our moral, social and personal assessments of it.

Delving further into that idea, we should look at the flipside of consequentialism. Normal consequentialism measures the effects of a specific cause; the flipside measures the cause that should respond to certain effects.

The old cliche “Judge, he needed killin'” comes into play here. Conservatives measure our moral values by their results; however, if we encounter bad results, it’s our job to fix those and to measure our fix in terms of its results in turn.

For example, if a pedophile is randomly wandering around my neighborhood, a conservative will seek to have this person removed. A liberal will talk about basic equality and how the pedophile does not “mean to” rape children and ruin their lives with brutal psychological scarring.

Unlike liberals, conservatives are less sensitive to method. To us, that the prison has comfy showers where the pedophile does not get raped are not important; nor really is it whether we jail the guy, execute him or exile him. The point is to remove the bad cause (pedophile) before bad effects (child rape).

In other words, by measuring consequences, the results are worse if the pedophile continues to live among us than if he does not. Further, he’s not a giver in our society; he’s a taker, a parasite and a predator.

People, if we measure them by the opinions of a group, which tend to not reflect what individuals think and especially not what the thoughtful ones think, disapprove of consequentialism.

They would prefer to measure the worth of their actions by feelings and rigid right-angle justifications like “rights” that permit no one else to interrupt them.

They would also prefer to measure who fits into a society by the lowest standard possible, which is the wholly subjective “intent” of that person, as they tell it to us, because this standard that means just about anything is permissible.

Like most intelligent animals, most people are oblivious to much outside of their own self which they see as formed of their feelings, intentions, judgments and desires. As a result, it never occurs to them that the enforced feeling-ism and tolerance of anti-consequentialism might backfire.

For example, if you have the freedom to do just about anything, so do the pedophiles. And we know from history that for every good person made, there’s at least a chance that somewhere a bad one is being born as well. Nature tries all combinations and throws out the ones that fail only later.

But as said above, most people live through sentiment. This is easier because it starts and ends inside the brain. Their sentiment tells them that what they need is liberation from consequences, and that with the ensuing tolerance, a state called “peace” will reign, even though such a state would mean a cessation of all change and striving for excellence. Their sentiment is based in fear of change, and not a desire to surpass what they know.

Consequentialism will never be popular, for this reason. With one exception: it will always be popular among those who feel the weight of leadership. If your job is to make sure people make it through the night, you no longer care about their feelings, only results.

In real terms, life is not about what you feel but what you achieve. It’s not about what you opine, but what you build. How you organize yourself and others to make something beautiful and powerful, like the societies of the ancients that still awe us.

The essence of conservatism is found in that thought, which unlike sentiment is a logical one. Consequences matter more than our feelings, theories, moral judgments and social trends. What matters is what result we pass on to the next generation. Even if they don’t understand why.

Consequentialism

Tuesday, February 28th, 2012

The worst aspect of mass politics is that none of the basic terms are defined. “Conservative” is a loose grouping of likes/dislikes, and liberal is a social identity.

From that, each person tries to abstract out some heuristics in order to make an educated guess as to any issue. Since appearance is separated by reality through a complex interaction with context, these never quite match up as one might think they should.

As a result, we have so-called “conservatives” voting for all sorts of problems that their ancestors would think were straight out of Red China, and many liberals such as Barack Obama confused on the nature of their foreign policy. It’s chaos, a level removed.

However, it’s important to remember that leftism and rightism are essentially different, even if the examples of them are confused. We might call leftism a form of humanism, or the idea that human notions, feelings and judgments come before all else. And we might call conservatism a form of organicism or integralism, or the notion that life as a whole is more important than our subjective impulses.

Another important concept in conservative thought however is consequentialism. This is a powerful idea and like most of those, is very simple at its essence. Because of this, it has been attacked by those who try to add conditions to it in order to reverse its meaning from the original. (This is common behavior for neurotic humans.)

Consequentialism is a greater concern for results than methods. It’s more than a “by any means necessary” however. What it means is that we look first to how our actions will affect the world around us, and only secondarily turn toward moral, emotional, social and political notions, because those are constructions of the human subjective mind and do not necessarily correlate to reality.

A definition from a source that normally produces analysis of quality:

Part 1
Consequentialism, as its name suggests, is the view that normative properties depend only on consequences. This general approach can be applied at different levels to different normative properties of different kinds of things, but

Part 2
the most prominent example is consequentialism about the moral rightness of acts, which holds that whether an act is morally right depends only on the consequences of that act or of something related to that act, such as the motive behind the act or a general rule requiring acts of the same kind.

“Consequentialism,” Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

This definition is separated for your convenience. The first part is the real definition; the second part is the socially-acceptable fix that was put in to make this definition pleasant-sounding to many people. Philosophers of the modern sort seem to be only a selective form of consumer.

Consequentialism is paying attention to the results of actions. This makes sense. However, in the second part above, the writers modify that clear definition into a muddled one. How do moral concepts, which do not exist in science and nature, get included as “results”?

As Plato was fond to point out, the human mind is like a projection screen. We project onto our world what we are thinking and then claim that our feelings, judgments and desires are “inherent” to reality. Such is the case with morality, which was never more than a choice for decent people to elect.

If we critically analyze the above definition, it becomes clear that the second part of it is entirely a non sequitur to the first. There is literally no relation. We go from paying attention to consequences to paying attention to our feelings about those consequences, which quickly translates into our feelings about the methods used.

Morality does not regulate consequences, after all. It regulates our actions and makes the assumption that a bad method equals a bad result, when that is only sometimes true (think of how we murder to keep murderers off the street, or kidnap kidnappers to keep them from kidnapping, or even make rules in the name of freedom).

The reason for this clever sleight-of-hand becomes clear later in the definition:

The paradigm case of consequentialism is utilitarianism, whose classic proponents were Jeremy Bentham (1789), John Stuart Mill (1861), and Henry Sidgwick (1907). (For predecessors, see Schneewind 1990.) Classic utilitarians held hedonistic act consequentialism. Act consequentialism is the claim that an act is morally right if and only if that act maximizes the good, that is, if and only if the total amount of good for all minus the total amount of bad for all is greater than this net amount for any incompatible act available to the agent on that occasion. (Cf. Moore 1912, chs. 1–2.) Hedonism then claims that pleasure is the only intrinsic good and that pain is the only intrinsic bad. Together these claims imply that an act is morally right if and only if that act causes “the greatest happiness for the greatest number,” as the common slogan says.

Thus we see that the point of the definition of consequentialism as practiced in modern philosophy is to support the definition of utilitarianism. But the disconnect still remains: even the definition above admits that utilitarianism is a subset of consequentialism called “hedonistic act” consequentialism, and its definition is as much hedonism as anything else.

In a stricter sense, human emotions (which is what morality, hedonism and aesthetics are) have absolutely zero to do with consequentialism, which is the study of effects. Consequentialism measures whether our well-intentioned welfare policy produces more drug addicts or fewer.

It measures whether our environmental regulation leads to more barrels of toxic waste being pushed into rivers, or fewer. It measures whether our moral intentions translated to action, and whether those in turn translated to the changes we claimed they would make.

That is a dangerous philosophy, right there. People do not want accountability for their actions; they want accountability for the image of their actions as filtered through their social group. But that is a form of leftism, and like utilitarianism, is a reversal of the consequentialist principle.

Conservatives make decisions by consequentialism because it always works. Instead of using the laboratory of human emotions and social feelings, we use the laboratory of life itself, and test every factor at once. What was the result? That result will occur again if we do the same action.

As views go, it is an accurate one. It will never be as popular as the idea that whatever we mean in our minds translates to a method which then translates to an identical outcome. But as they’re fond of saying among the intelligent, the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

Return to beauty

Friday, November 11th, 2011

Our society has focused on utilitarian aspects for too long: what the average person wants, how to compromise and get along, what will not offend anyone, what one size might fit all, and what sort of standard allows the average person to succeed.

The result is that we have forgotten beauty.

Unlike function, beauty does not deconstruct. If you take one pixel of a great and famous artwork, you get a color of some dubious shade — it will not be, by itself, beautiful. With several million of its compatriots, it forms an image which emerges from the effect of the colors taken as a whole.

However, managerial society does not like taking many details together as a whole. It likes simple and straightforward: deconstruction to isolate a single factor, then comparing different methods of achieving that factor, then finally making an industrial process to make that factor increase in quantity.

The other option, then, is quality.

One of Edmund Burke’s famous quotes from Reflections on the Revolution in France sums up the contemporary official attitude to architecture and planning: “I cannot conceive how any man can have brought himself to that pitch of presumption, to consider his country as nothing but carte blanche, upon which he may scribble whatever he pleases.” This is the universal versus the particular.

I am promoting a Conservative view of architecture and town planning which advocates the design of new buildings by developing from the traditional styles that already exist in diverse towns and cities rather than forcing incongruous buildings into a round hole: the exploitation of cities across the world for a Global style of architecture. There is enough disjuncture in British urbiscapes as it is after the Second World War blitzes and sixty years of depredations by local councils without adding incongruous excrescences to it.

It is difficult to get a hearing for a non-orthodox idea. The Liberal-Marxist online journal Spiked would not use an article I wrote as an alternative view to an article praising The Shard. They complimented it but asked me to chop it down and send it as letter! Why suppress a different point of view? – New English Review

Universalism is deconstruction. In order to make something fit into every situation, it must be wholly generic and without any unique characteristics. This means simplifying, standardizing, utilitarian redesigning, dumbing down, averaging, conformity, uniformity and loss of distinct features. Boring.

However, universalism is “fair” because each individual likes to think of himself or herself as a universal. They want to be able to fit anywhere, and so they think there should be no obstacles. They know the world entirely through their minds, so the inability to fit into the mental construct they have of the world in any way strikes them as paradoxical.

The problem with universalism is that with the loss of these unique traits we lose everything but the utilitarian. All is function; all is isolated, considering as if in a laboratory in a single abstract moment with no thought to the consequences.

If you wonder why our world has become ugly, and slave like and functional, this is why.

As conservatives we defend free markets and capitalism against the onslaught of socialists and their deranged managed economy brethren. This does not mean that our ultimate goal is capitalism by itself. Our ultimate goal is a sane society, of high quality and producing people of high quality.

We know too well that without such a society, markets take over. Just as when you have a hammer everything looks like a nail, when an economy or government knows nothing but itself, it soon dominates everything. Ideas do this, trends do this, and even our social systems (like economics) can do it.

The economist Richard Layard is one of many who claim that unemployment is one of those misfortunes, like divorce and chronic pain, that most affect long-term happiness. Work is good, he says, because it gives people meaning, self-respect and the chance to make a contribution; unemployment is bad because it robs them of all this.

But unemployment is by no means the only work issue to affect mental health. Any significant discrepancy between our wished-for and actual work reality can be corrosive to our wellbeing. Some find their work soul-destroying but don’t have ready alternatives, while others flit from job to job in search of “the one”. Since the perfect blend of fulfilling and well-paid work is not always attainable, many people face the challenge of concocting the next best thing.

It may help to remember that paid employment is not the sole provider of purpose, self-worth and engagement. A job can work against us if it is experienced as tedious and irrelevant. Even Layard qualifies his praise by saying that work is vital if that is what you want, and if it is fulfilling. Tying too close a knot between meaningful activity and paid employment can be perilous, as we know from people who lose all sense of meaning when they retire. – Financial Times

Certainly we did not set out to make an empire of slavery, and in fact, we tried hard not to.

However, by making all individuals equal, we created an intense competition for resources. Nothing is given except to those who are used ruthlessly by our commerce; thus, we all compete by packing off to work. The old style jobs, where you inherited a role and unless incompetent kept it, are gone.

The resulting instability makes a society constantly at war with itself. True, it’s in the name of a good cause — but the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

Despite population growth, the number of Americans with jobs fell again last year, with total employment of just under 150.4 million — down from 150.9 million in 2009 and 155.4 million in 2008. In all, there were 5.2 million fewer jobs than in 2007, when the deep recession began, according to the IRS data.

The figures are just one more indication of the toll that the worst downturn since the Great Depression has taken on the U.S. economy. – The Washington Post

If you add more people to a society, competition becomes more difficult and good jobs more scarce.

Since 1965, we have imported people from impoverished countries to be our cheap labor, and we have outsourced much of our own cheap labor to other countries.

The result is a concentration of wealth toward the top. However, we did this in the name of equality, fairness, morality and “freedom.”

Could it be that motivating ourselves by deconstructed ideas like “freedom” ends up making a cheapened, spread-too-thin, broken down and mediocre version of our past society?

It seems like that’s what we are living in now.

Let’s do away with these linear ideas, and replace them with complex ideas like beauty, honor, adventure and quality.

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