Posts Tagged ‘ends-over-means’

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.