Posts Tagged ‘ends-over-means’

Ongoing Divide Between Our Mercantile Elites And Organic Realists

Sunday, June 18th, 2017

Sometimes, different sources begin to hit on similar ideas at the same time, suggesting an idea about to burst into mainstream consciousness. Right now the West is slowly coming to realize that its elites, who are essentially bourgeois shopkeepers who got good at manipulating others, and its organic realists, or the people who keep society functional, are warring it out.

Over a thousand years ago, the new rising middle class began its war on the kings. Enriched by the rule of those kings, it agitated for more power, and took it when the kingdoms were distracted by war, revolution and plagues. Eventually it overthrew them by using the masses as its weapon and in the ensuing disorder, seized power through democracy.

Democracy rewards one thing consistently, and that is flattering the audience by using the techniques of salesmanship. Make them see themselves as wise, or rich, or even just morally good, by doing one simple thing, and then they will vote for it and the politician can do whatever he wants in office as long as he makes a token stab at the symbolic victory the voters wanted.

This is not to let the voters off the hook; they are the people who approve of this system and play it like a lottery despite realizing that the house always wins.

Now we find ourselves divided between realists and merchants, with the former emerging from centuries of being beaten back while the latter surged ahead. This battle will determine the future of our civilization. We can either be another Brazil, or become something like the West of old, but with technology this time to push us even further toward greatness.

As Melanie Phillips observers, the divide is permanent and powerful:

The recent terrorist attacks in Britain have exposed once again the enormous divide between millions of ordinary people who “get it” and the elite class of politicians, media and so-called progressives who do not.

…The great political struggle of our times is not between Left and Right. It is between those who are connected to truth, reason and reality and those who are not. It reflects a fundamental division in the West, whose fate will be decided by its outcome.

She comes very close. Matt Briggs has more, including a description that more accurately depicts the divide between realists and Utopians:

The combatants are the Reals and Progs. The Reals hold with Tradition in the metaphysic of Realism, with all its implied limits, strictures, and glories. Their flag is red. The Progs hold with Will in the metaphysic of Nominalism and say what is true is what is asserted and what feels good. Their flag are blue or a rainbow.

…Nearly all, but not all, of official (active) Democrats are Progs, while only a majority of official Republicans are Progs. Unofficial members of these political parties may fall into either camp or are non-combatants.

…As proof that most Republicans are Progs, we have a prominent one who said of the incident, “Anyone on the ‘right’ who defends the BS that went down at the play tonight is showing themselves to be tribalist, not conservative.” That, Mr French, is rather the point.

Realists believe in judging our actions by their outcomes. Merchants believe in judging our actions by the methods used. The former wants an ends-over-means calculus, where if the goal is good, any methods used to achieve it are good; the latter wants a means-over-ends calculus, where no matter how good the goal is, we are limited to certain methods of action.

This makes sense since the latter are salespeople. If you are trying to herd humans, you set certain methods off-limits so that they do not interrupt the control structure. Then, you engage in other activities which are symbolic, and this motivates the herd to complacency or stampede depending on the needs of the controller.

Contrary to what Ms. Phillips opines, this is a divide between Right and Left. The Right has always favored what has worked in the past; the Left perpetually desires whatever gives the individual more power. Interestingly, most people throughout history have been Rightist because they have known the utility of ends-over-means. To them, the more important thing was to have the right goals.

To the Left, however, ends-over-means is difficult because it clashes with the desire of each human individual to have total control of their own lives. Imagine a flood is coming to your small town; other people may force you to give up your truck so that it can transport others to high ground, or force you out of your home so that you survive. That is ends-over-means.

Until someone comes along and demands means-over-ends instead, most people think naturally in terms of ends-over-means. If your child is at risk, you do whatever is necessary by whatever means are necessary to save them. Similarly, when bad guys show up, you do not particularly care about their civil rights or feelings. In fact, you may just shoot them because they are bad and bad people do bad things.

Realists are not socially popular because they do not offer guarantees. The primal guarantee offered by the Utopians is that “everyone will be included” (equality) and “everyone will get along” (pacifism). This will always be more popular than the ideas of realists, which include the idea of doing nice things for good people and punishing bad people, as well as taking everything on a case-by-case basis.

In the evolution of civilization, we are now at the point where the people who are not able to maintain civilization — the Utopians — are visible to all, and the realists want to break away and leave the Utopians to their own doom. If society splits along these lines, the realists will go on to have advanced civilization, and the Utopians will as always end up in the third world.

Means-Over-Ends Versus Ends-Over-Means

Tuesday, May 16th, 2017

As the public tries to have a conversation about politics, tropes form. These are ideas that fascinate the public for a few weeks because they expect that, like in a self-help book, a complex process will distill down to a simple binary choice.

Naturally, their problem is this assumption in the first place.

In the meantime, it makes sense to clarify the conflict between means-over-ends versus ends-over-means thinking, as described in a recent article as “content” and “process”:

Computer scientist Curtis Yarvin applies to speak at a technical conference, and his talk is accepted in a blind evaluation process. After Yarvin’s speaking slot is announced, the conference organizers find out that he has an alter-ego as a blogger called Mencius Moldbug. His blog promotes views that much of the conference’s larger community finds abhorrent.

The content approach is to sever ties with Yarvin — because the content of his character has been judged to be objectionable. His work and their personality are deemed toxic or actively harmful. On the other hand, the process approach is to point out that Yarvin’s submission was selected blindly, on its own merits, and affirm that he will be ejected only via the process laid out in the pre-established code of conduct.

To put it in more abstract terms, content people focus on ends over means, and process people focus on means over ends. This is an imperfect way to summarize the principle, because the reason why process people focus on means is that they think this approach leads to better ends.

Let us compare the two: means-over-ends states that methods are more important than goals; ends-over-means states that achieving goals is more important than the methods used. All of us are, at the end of the day, essentially ends-over-means thinkers but we apply some filters to that, as in we are ends-over-means so long as it does not involve certain methods that contradict the goal.

For example, someone who is against crime will be happy with any way of reducing crime except those methods which seem to him to also be crimes.

But let us extend this to politics. The ultimate means-over-ends philosophy is egalitarianism, which states that the method (protecting the individual) is more important than having a goal at all. The individual is both means and ends in this case, which short-circuits the entire process, and this is why Leftists are known as means-over-ends people.

Conservatives on the other hand are more concerned with the maintenance of order and hierarchy because these are necessary for social function, and recognize that sometimes sacrifices by or of individuals are necessary. This is an ends-over-means calculus that avoids contradiction by recognizing that since goals are more important than method, method takes second priority.

Another trope falls before the axe.

Striving For Sanity, Not Intermediates

Tuesday, December 20th, 2016

With the election of Donald Trump, many who supported him are asking themselves what they stand for. Are they conservatives? Moderates? Or merely against the far-left direction that the country has taken since WWII, including the disastrous policy of diversity?

Underneath all that Trump stands for, there is a simple principle: realism. He believes in assessing his ventures by their results, not the feelings generated, and expects to see those investments functioning smoothly and making people wealthier. Otherwise entirely a moderate candidate, he differs only from the bulk of politicians in this way; he opposes politics itself, and prefers results-based realism.

Most writers remain locked in the prison created by the categorical boundaries of words. They wonder if this means that Trump is in favor of the “free market” and “freedom,” or other abstractions that serve as proxies or symbols for what we ultimately want, which is a healthy nation (and, if we are sane, a restored and self-improving Western Civilization).

What they forget is that all of these things are means to an end, and that end is the goal of a healthy nation and thriving Western Civilization. Currently we do not have that because we stopped cooperating toward that purpose, and instead focused on the human individual and its “reason” as the be-all end-all of social goals. From that, we got a society which could not remain united.

Having a purpose such as health, however, does not unite a herd. They do not all understand it, which means that it must be left to wise elders or otherwise competent people. This offends the mob. And yet, it is the only stable state of humanity because most knowledge exists in specialized domains. You do not elect your pilot on a transcontinental flight, nor your neurosurgeon, or even your arborist. You choose the competent.

Conservatism — for those of us who still use the word, knowing that “mainstream conservatives” is based mostly in the first word — is that which conserves, which means keeping up those time-proven ways of life that produce the best civilization, including a transcendental view of life such that we hold it holy and revere it. Unlike Leftism, conservatism is complex and nuanced with depth and breadth (Leftism is simply “equality now!”).

This approach requires tearing objectives down to their most basic targets, as measured in terms of results and not social appearance and emotions as Leftist “successes” are. At the end of the day, it is realism through consequentialism plus a desire for excellence and beauty in all forms. We want sanity in our society, after centuries of insanity accelerating after WWII, and we cannot point to intermediaries or proxies for that.

For example, “freedom.” Freedom from what? To sane people, we think of the ability to go about our lives and do that which is not destructive. However, when we say the word freedom, we tear down that complex idea and replace it with an unbounded abstraction. We have no idea what we are fighting for, but it can fight back, because anytime anyone does anything destructive, he will claim “muh freedom.”

Free markets are the same way. These are a means to an end; basically, everything but free markets amounts to some type of socialism and always fails so spectacularly that we want to avoid it forevermore. Wealth redistribution — this is all that socialism is, in reality — converts thriving places to impoverished ones where half of the beets on the truck are rocks and all the potatoes go toward vodka.

Conservatives need to refocus on goals and not methods. Using methods, or “means-over-ends,” in place of goals is a Leftist trope because it enables them to replace functional things with social conceits. Applying ourselves toward purpose and goals allows us to achieve the fulfillment of conservatism, which is preserving the way of life that works out best.

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