Posts Tagged ‘formalism’
Tuesday, April 25th, 2017
Western man is externalizing himself in the form of gadgets. – William S. Burroughs, Naked Lunch
Civilization is an uncertain bet. Like the oxidation that allows us to breathe, it also creates secondary effects which must be managed, such as free riders and calcification. Most societies try to manage these through external control, and this proves to be a fatal mistake, but it remains popular because it avoids questions of natural selection, namely evolution toward higher self-control.
Externalization appears tempting because it involves no change in the individual. Instead, centralized forces dictate standards and rules, and the herd equally obeys them, which provides the least friction because no person is disciplined more than any other. This allows mental convenience and attracts people to the idea.
The process of externalization occurs through proxies, or external symbolic “games,” which serve to both represent and obscure reality. Instead of doing what is right, we do what the moral code says we must. Instead of finding a place where we contribute, we measure salaries. Laws take the place of values, and gadgets and entertainment take the place of meaningful time expenditure.
Replacements for reality are comforting because they take a vastly complex target and reduce it to the comforting tangibility of numbers and rules. By making this lawless world comprehensible to our minds, they take away fears and give us direction, but it is not a positive direction — toward something — as much as a selection from what already exists.
For this reason, externalization is naturally backward-looking and navel-gazing. Without some forward purpose, humans have nothing to define their lives except personal convenience, and this removes meaning from existence and leaves individuals in a circular process of wanting more and then being unsatisfied with it. The addict finds himself lonely when the drug effects wear off.
Like other types of formalization, externalization occurs by creating a procedure for every aspect of life and limiting choice. This in turn makes people passive and dependent, since they rely on the external source for the list of options available to them. None of these choices have existential or spiritual meaning, so they become mostly interchangeable, varied only in amount of money or status.
The ugly hyper-competitive social scene common to modern society arises from this externalization. When we measure our lives in terms of gadgets and artificial targets like workplace performance, there is nothing to do but compete for those, and because they are unsatisfying, to keep competing until it exhausts us. This is a perfect method of control.
Those who compete in limited spheres such as these games fear any who do not play by the rules. This gives rise to a manic need to limit inclusion in social groups, and through them the rest of society, through those who are obedient to the basic assumptions that allow the games to exist. Such societies look for ways to exclude people, and force mass activities on the group in order to indoctrinate them.
For example, in schools in the modern West, it is considered common practice to ask students to “share” or tell to the group a personal experience. This opens up the individual to judgment by the herd, and if the individual passes that judgment, makes them feel some debt to the group. The moment of inclusion produces a squirt of dopamine in the brain and safe, happy and comfortable feelings.
In turn, the focus on inclusion and competition for acceptance creates dark organization by encouraging people to manipulate appearance, symbolism and the rules of the game in order to succeed as efficiently as possible, which means with the least amount of risk or exertion to the self.
Our pathological altruism is one form of this behavior. It is easy to very publicly give money to a charity for blind disabled retarded transgender third world orphans; doing this a few times gives the individual status points. It is harder to every day act in a moral way that encourages qualitative growth within individuals and civilization.
This shows us the appeal of virtue signaling: to signal once is more efficient and mentally more convenient than trying to make every act we do into a morally correct action. Doing the latter is a lifetime commitment that requires near-religious levels of commitment, while the former involves a few public relations events plus anarchy.
Pathological altruism is one form of dark organization. It happens when a group within an organization turns against that organization, but uses the methods of that organization to achieve its goals. This only occurs when the goals of the group are corrupted by creating a proxy instead of measuring results by reality.
This trap ensnares human civilizations time and gain. Our best intentions lead to us creating proxies, and then the tool becomes the master and those dominate us, destroying our civilization. Democracy, equality, Leftism, diversity, feminism, liberty, class warfare and freedom are just subsets of this failure that like the best euthanasia, creates a warm sensation before the infinite coldness of death.
Friday, April 7th, 2017
Welcome to American paranoia in the style of 2017. We know we cannot trust the media; we realize democracy is out of control; we want to trust Trump, but most are skeptical of at least one of his advisers, whether Steve Bannon, Jared Kushner, Kellyanne Conway or Reince Priebus.
The recent attack on Syria coupled with the somewhat emotional response to a picture of allegedly gassed civilians also gives us pause. This is the same stuff that conned us during the Bush and Obama years, and is reminiscent of Bill Clinton era appeals to justice and a sense of fairness to all worldwide. It reeks of globalism.
At the same time, it also reeks of America first. America wants to control the oil fields that the Russians also want to control that are situated in the middle east. Syria, as the real loose hinge in the region, is important. With Syria buddying up with the Russians, Trump wanted to slap the Russian wrist without targeting Russia directly.
The New York Times, who always lie, claim that the Trump camp is fragmenting into factions, with Bannon-Priebus in one, Kushner-Ivanka in another, and Conway orbiting somewhere quietly after public slip-ups. The Alt Right seems to have the same opinion and thinks that the neocon camp of Kushner and Gary Cohn has somehow won out.
This is always possible. However, let us consider that Trump has followed his cagey instinct so far and triumphed where highly paid Cathedral fools have failed. In addition, he is experiencing struggles with a “Deep State” (more likely: vested interests in government and private employment) and even the voters themselves, who are now expecting him to deliver on his promises.
His first big problem is that while he can keep his promises, there are some inevitable problems that he may not want associated with these promises. First, there are the Obama time-bombs, both from bad policy and deliberate sabotage. Next, there is clearly a yuge recession coming up as we transfer from demand-side to supply-side economics, in addition to the other bubbles popping.
Next, there is the seemingly intractable nature of Washington in opposing him, not just the “Deep State” but the careerist parasites that Trump wants to drain from the swamp. If the same people who opposed Obamacare fifty times will not vote for a compromise replacement, then Trump is not just facing adversity, but blind adversity.
Finally there is the media. Whatever he does, they seek to destroy, and while he has greatly diminished their public credibility, they still wield power. He specializes in distraction, sending the media running in one direction while he acts in another, but this does not work when he must drive publicity to what he is doing.
On top of that, he has foreign problems as well. The world was accustomed to Obama, who never got on top of an issue and so watched them unravel before him. The Russian seizure of Crimea, which looks like a propaganda operation with subversion followed by a sponsored rebellion, slipped right past Obama, as did the downing of MH17. Trump needs to prove America is not a wimpy Obama creation.
Thanks in large part to the power vacuum created by Obama’s foreign policy ineptitude, bad actors across the globe have grown confident that the United States would back down when challenged. That is what Obama did when the Chinese captured our drone, and as he watched ISIS rise from the ashes of third world leaders deposed by the US through “color revolutions.”
As a result of these, Trump faces a situation where public statements are signals, as is the norm in democracy, and he has to act privately. This is somewhat different from the business world in which he forged himself, although a tactic he does well. His acts are starting to resemble a duality with an unambiguous public face and private ambiguity.
Trump is removing the formalized nature of his administration. In a formal structure, which tends toward weak power, public statements correspond to intention as filtered through rules and prior decisions; in an informal structure, which tends toward strong power, public statements exist to distract from the case-by-case judgments made about complex situations.
Consistency can be the enemy of clarity because it induces repeated behaviors. In the same way, having rules and laws as a guide limits options, as Trump has seen while working with the Washington establishment. Whatever he announces publicly will begin the long hazing of being gradually eroded as it passes through these filters.
In addition, formal leadership structures are easily manipulated because it is clear who the actors are, and so they can be subverted with political means, a force against which Trump struggles with his own leadership persona. The much-publicized removal of Steve Bannon for example can be seen as removing Bannon from a position where he is on the record in order to make him an informal leader.
Among other things, Trump most likely realizes that since he will be accountable for all orders he issues, there is no advantage to having underlings suggest them first. These ideas will lose meaning if entrusted to the political establishment. As a result, Trump is relying on an anarchic strategy where he listens to ideas and not titles. This keeps ideas safe from Establishment and public alike.
De-formalizing the white house advisory staff allows Trump to act independently and to conceal his private intentions. For example, through a missile strike on Syria, he has divided the opposition once again, and misled many into seeing him as compatible with the neoconservative agenda.
In reality, it is more likely that he chose the agenda on a case-by-case basis as a method, and not a policy. His unpredictability makes him a hard target for enemies both domestic and foreign. He may be trying “appearance strategies,” or different ways of presenting himself so as to be an evasive target.
He has portrayed himself as a candidate willing to compromise and listen to the best plan no matter where it comes from. He also knows that Machiavellian prison ethics are the language of international politics. To fail to respond to a threat would validate future threats of that nature, which leads directly to war because then a much larger situation must be corrected.
Trump may not be perfect, but he has always spoken as a moderate with a strong realist bent. For this reason, he finds comradeship in the Alt Right, where ideology is rejected in preference for results-based morality. While he will never be fully Alt Right, he is the first of many small steps toward where the Alt Right needs Western Civilization to go.
In addition, while he confounds the world on the public policy stage, he continues to advance his domestic agenda which is very much Alt Right friendly, including the crackdown on immigration. This scares immigrants, who come here because it is easy and there are social welfare benefits, into either not coming or thinking about leaving.
We may never know the truth of what happened in Syria. The evidence for a nerve gas attack ranges from strong to weak, depending on who you talk to, but the public is chary of evidence of WMDs in the middle east after it was bungled during the lead-up to the last war. Trump’s strong response however has re-asserted the American position not as world policeman, but defender of its own interests.
For now, it is too early to see what is happening. Trump is playing perhaps not “4D chess” but an elaborate game of inducing existing power groups to reveal themselves. By taking his administration to an informal level, he is also setting a cultural standard that is consistent with the Alt Right ideal.
We distrust ideology and democracy because they are based on appearance. In those realms, appearance differs from reality but pretends to be the reality; in the Trump version, appearance does not pretend to be a reality that we can trust, and decisions are made based on realistic probabilities of favorable outcomes and not political agendas.
In formalized orders, rules become a game that is won by groups like the Deep State who are able to manipulate appearance and hide a private impetus toward power and profit. By choosing informal order, Trump is reversing this tendency, and if he has to use a few test balloons to do it, the ultimate outcome will benefit those who want a shift toward more realistic power structures in the West.
Saturday, March 18th, 2017
Neoreaction basically offered two ideas which arose most likely from Samuel Huntington’s The Clash Of Civilizations And The Remaking Of World Order: patchwork, or officialized balkanization, and formalism, which is a libertarian principle taken to its extreme hybridized with the Fascist idea of government as a corporation.
However, it probably should have gone further after that, and instead of viewing the world through an economic lens, viewed it through an informational one. That is: we exist in constant memetic warfare, with culture wars the norm, as a species which is trying to produce its first enduring civilization after many have burned out. There is new ground to cover there.
In information science, we apply economic principles to the change in information that details patterns in our world. As such, we think more in terms of which ideas create momentum and win out, and how this changes the filters humans use to perceive the world, than the downstream of that, which is economics which is guided by human preference.
This leads us to an analysis of information monopoly as a way of locking ideas into civilization, and the context of this in herd dynamics which are divided between oblivion and stampede:
The notion of “radical monopoly” plays an important role in Illich’s critique of professionalism:
A radical monopoly goes deeper than that of any one corporation or any one government. It can take many forms. When cities are built around vehicles, they devalue human feet; when schools preempt learning, they devalue the autodidact; when hospitals draft all those who are in critical condition, they impose on society a new form of dying. Ordinary monopolies corner the market; radical monopolies disable people from doing or making things on their own. The commercial monopoly restricts the flow of commodities; the more insidious social monopoly paralyzes the output of nonmarketable use-values. Radical monopolies . . . impose a society-wide substitution of commodities for use-values by reshaping the milieu and by “appropriating” those of its general characteristics which have enabled people so far to cope on their own.
Professions colonize our imaginations; or as Michel Foucault (whom Illich’s language sometimes recalls—or anticipates) might have said, they reduce us to terms in a discourse whose sovereignty we have no idea how to contest or criticize.
In other words, society tends to formalism in the older definition, which means using explicit rules and procedures instead of being based in principle and the abilities of those who rule it. Each part of it, like every ethnic group, can be counted on to act in self-interest, which begins with seizing control and achieving monopoly.
Monopoly is not always bad… but usually, it is a path to entropy. When there is only one way to rise in a system, the conditions imposed by that method take the place of reality itself, and so a feedback loop begins that drives that dialogue farther from reality and more into the terms of the system.
Formalism creates dark organization in this way. By removing incentives from real-world results and defining them in terms of the system instead, it encourages manipulation of the system, and “inverts” all definitions and goals to reflect individual human needs instead of the goals of civilization, principle, meaning, purpose, future, past and other abstract intangibles.
If Neoreaction had understood formalism in this manner, it would have understood what a disaster formalism actually is, and instead advanced formalism a general theory of not entrusting power to any self-interested groups whose self-interest does not reward the self-interest of the civilization itself, and through that, its human ecosystem and its members.
Wednesday, January 4th, 2017
When a smart person thinks of a really new and cutting-edge idea that person can be described as brilliant or deranged. The person is brilliant if a lot of people can actually understand and genuinely like the idea. If either or both forks of the and conditional above go unmet, the smart person gets tagged as eccentric if the mob is in a good mood. So naturally, the smart person will do some lobbying on behalf of the new and cutting-edge idea.
One way to lawyer on behalf of the brilliant idea in a manner that seems detached and scholarly is the case study. The case study is designed to look fact-based, impartial, erudite and a whole bunch of other things it isn’t. A clear and well-written case study is typically a masterpiece of card-stacking propaganda. It should be long enough so that nobody is willing to out-lawyer you and blunt enough so that average readers get the point like a 2×4 squarely across their balding pates.
The truly smart person we’ll discuss today is none other than Good Old Moldbug. The new idea, formalism, is almost a decade old. Thanks to recent events, it’s worth dusting off and oiling like a loyal, old shotgun. And we’ll even cut him some slack on the case study. He could write the heck out of one, and you won’t be any younger chronologically by the time you get done reading it. Plus, he doesn’t need to write one. Pointing to George Soros and his Orwellian Open Society makes the case in favor of formalism for him.
I won’t point to George. It’s impolite and George is evil. If I pointed to him, he’d find out who I was. It would then probably suck to be me. So I’ll just remind folks of what Moldbugian Formalism was exactly and then demonstrate why George Soros makes it a commendable idea.
Formalism is a way of unifying power, authority and responsibility. Owners are in charge of their property, enjoy all the gains and losses thereunto accruing and every Tom, Dick and Harriet knows exactly who the boss is. Think of it as a giant industrial-standard burn-barrel in which to fry all the subversive political bull feces that currently lends pungency to our political and social order. It would shine a giant light on to all the K Street, Wall Street and any other cabal of wire pullers controlling the puppets holding office in your typical corrupted Democracy.
To a formalist, the way to fix the US is to dispense with the ancient mystical horseradish, the corporate prayers and war chants, figure out who owns this monstrosity, and let them decide what in the heck they are going to do with it. I don’t think it’s too crazy to say that all options – including restructuring and liquidation – should be on the table. Whether we’re talking about the US, Baltimore, or your wallet, a formalist is only happy when ownership and control are one and the same. To reformalize, therefore, we need to figure out who has actual power in the US, and assign shares in such a way as to reproduce this distribution as closely as possible.
Thus sayeth Moldbug. Anyone worth a monkey’s buttwipe gets a few stock certificates with which to wipe his hind parts if he so chooses to endeavor. Do that, the theory goes, and you get an Open Society. George Soros should throw a party and spring for all the Singapore Slings. But he wouldn’t, because he is a corrupt offspring of Belial who would fare about as well in the sunlight as any other typical Nosferatu. He recently pinged the progressosphere with a whinge-a-thon worthy of Grima Wormtongue the day Gandalf and Aragorn paid Rohan a visit. He gets straight into the lying below.
I distinguished between two kinds of political regimes: those in which people elected their leaders, who were then supposed to look after the interests of the electorate, and others where the rulers sought to manipulate their subjects to serve the rulers’ interests. Under Popper’s influence, I called the first kind of society open, the second, closed.
So far, so good. You could just openly designate Occupy Wall Street and BLM as your corporate holdings and Warren Buffett could just openly oppose The Keystone Pipeline in order to boost his railroad monopoly. And while we are at it, Twitter could just openly ban all points of view that give Jack Dorsey ideological heartburn. Stalin and Beria would be fine; poor, old Trotsky would still get it with a meat axe. But that would be too simple and honest for a guy who made his killing arbitraging the Thai Bhat.
I find the current moment in history very painful. Open societies are in crisis, and various forms of closed societies – from fascist dictatorships to mafia states – are on the rise. How could this happen? …. Quite simply, many people felt that the elites had stolen their democracy.
Well yes, George. Elites had stolen their Democracy. Turned loose mobs on it in Ferguson, Baltimore, Chicago,…But that didn’t just happen at random. It had to be directed by very powerful people from behind more than a few veils of secrecy. It was a job for either the Evil League of Evil or The Tides Foundation. Essentially, elites arbitraged these democracies the way you used to turn on currencies.
They arbitraged them via information monopolies known as Dark Organizations. Dark Organizations, whether they are the KKK at the height of its powers, the MSM before Wikileaks, or just a dishonest cabal of real estate and banking swindlers all make their money and instill terror in others through information asymmetry. They all flourish in closed societies. Like the current university campus for example.
In an open society, every bum on the Soros plush would be known. BLM would bear the Soros corporate logo. Exxon would have its banner flying proudly over anti-frakking environmentalist propaganda. The game powerful corporatists like Soros play in such an oleaginous fashion would crash and burn. Dark Organizations would have a hard time existing under formalism the way The Mafia, The Hells Angels and The KKK all have trouble doing business in a legal code with RICO statutes.
In a society violently pried open via the imposition of formalism throughout its legal and social institutions, Soros would be defanged. In the absence of an information asymmetry, the man is useless and unable to produce anything. He is thus the perfect case study for why methods of instituting greater formalism in modern Amerika should be seriously studied and pursued.
Saturday, July 2nd, 2016
A great post from Outside In presents the best summary ever of Neocameralism:
A Neocameral ‘neostate’ is not owned by its residents or its agents. Its ‘monarch’ (or ‘CEO’) is an executive appointment. (90% of all confusion about Neocameralism, and Neoreaction in general, stems from a failure to grasp this elementary point.) Note: ‘subscribers’ (plural).
Under Formalist doctrine (which is a subset of and tangentially related to formalism) the separation between government as self-interested party and government as service is closed, and government essentially follows a “subscription” model. Citizens sign up for the government that offers them the most.
This is what we might call “post-Libertarian” theory, as it flows out of Libertarianism. Its primary aim is to reduce government from being able to operate behind an ideological aegis which allows it to commit parasitism that cannot be criticized because its goal is theoretically noble.
However, Neocameralism has a fatal flaw: it experiences the same problems as current consumerism. Subscriptions are a form of “voting with dollars,” and are left up to individual choice, which succumbs to the same problem as other demotist systems (consult The Bell Curve and The Blank Slate for more detail).
When people vote with their subscriptions, they will flock to that which is more mentally convenient, thus ending up at liberalism. After all, right now people know that voting Leftist results in them paying more taxes and receiving less, and still they do it — why? Answer: because government is not the cause but the effect, and the cause is that under social systems, egalitarianism is the way to advance. Again, the problem is us. Government and decline are the result of human individualism, or hubris a.k.a. exaggerated sense of self-importance, not the other way around.
To all who wish to venture in the world of post-Leftist thought, it is important to remember a golden rule:
The problem is equality
Do you yet see where this goes? The ego demands to be equal so that it cannot be criticized. In groups, that becomes collectivized individualism or “Crowdism,” of which Leftism is but one variety. Until we get rid of the notion of equality, and replace it with culture and hierarchy, we are doomed.
There are no ideological answers. Ideology, like politics itself, tends only toward the Left. It does so because it is inherently based in equality, much like any subscription-purchasing model of government. While I admire and enjoy Mr. Land’s spirited defense of this viewpoint, I must disagree that this presents us with any kind of future.
Monday, June 6th, 2016
Tyler Cowen over at Marginal Revolution offers up a critique of neoreaction that is at first baffling:
Or perhaps I should rephrase that question: what would neo-reaction be if it were presented in a more coherent analytic framework?
His point is: if we treat the term “neoreaction” like language and not a specific brand, we can see that it has two parts, “neo” (new) and “reaction.” This would imply any form of reaction that has occurred after the rise of Leftism. His list of neoreactionaries confirms this analysis:
Those who come immediately to mind are Aristotle, Hobbes, Montesquieu, Jonathan Swift, Benjamin Franklin, John Calhoun, James Fitzjames Stephens, Nietzsche, Carl Schmitt, Martin Heidegger, and Lee Kuan Yew.
In other words, as opposed to the branded movement advanced by Mencius Moldbug and others, neoreaction is just another form of reaction, when used in the generic sense. Since this generic sense is what motivated adoption of the name, Cowen’s approach is logical: understand a political movement by its ancestry.
Neoreaction might be seen by some of us as “extremist neoconservatism.” Its basic idea is that if you replace ideology with commerce, and formalize the relationship of government as a business providing freedom services to its citizens, then society will work out better than where motivation is concealed behind the double-blind of ideology, exemplified by politicians kissing babies that they will two decades later send to war. It dodges the question of restoring civilization through its pillars: race, culture, aristocracy, elitism, hierarchy, moral rectitude, responsibility and at the heart of it, consequentialism, or measuring value by results and not feelings.
If anything, this is why the alt-right will swallow up neoreaction: the alt-right thinks in terms of rebuilding civilization, where neoreaction is still caught in the individualism trap of modernity. Like other forms of rebellion/rejection based theory however, neoreaction opens a door by showing that Leftism is not “the only way” possible for us to live, as the myth of Progress tells us.
Several of Cowen’s individual points bear scrutiny from a Raging Realist™ point of view:
1. “Culturism” is in general correct, namely that some cultures are better than others. You want to make sure you are ruled by one of the better cultures. In any case, one is operating with a matrix of rule.
Culture and race are inseparable. Not only is culture genetic, but the ability to appreciate a culture varies with ability. Most people do not “get” classical European culture because they are not wired for it.
2. The historical ruling cultures for America and Western Europe — two very successful regions — have largely consisted of white men and have reflected the perspectives of white men. This rule and influence continues to work, however, because it is not based on either whiteness or maleness per se. There is a nominal openness to the current version of the system, which fosters competitive balance, yet at the end of the day it is still mostly about the perspectives of white men and one hopes this will continue. By the way, groups which “become white” in their outlooks can be allowed into the ruling circle.
This is a lot of sweaty circumnavigation around the ideas that (1) white males built something no one else could build or maintain and (2) the methods developed by Europeans are distinctive in that no one else in the world emulates them. And yet, these arise from culture, and the Western European outlook on the world, formerly called “Western civilization.”
Other groups may want to experience the benefits of this, but probably not live under it. To have self-esteem, a person must belong to a majority group that rules a land by its own cultural mores and values, and if it adopts foreign methods, it must do so slowly in order to make them its own. Diversity cannot work.
Today there is a growing coalition against the power and influence of (some) white men, designed in part to lower their status and also to redistribute their wealth. This movement may not be directed against whiteness or maleness per se (in fact some of it can be interpreted as an internal coup d’etat within the world of white men), but still it is based on a kind of puking on what made the West successful. And part and parcel of this process is an ongoing increase in immigration to further build up and cement in the new coalition. Furthermore a cult of political correctness makes it very difficult to defend the nature of the old coalition without fear of being called racist; in today’s world the actual underlying principles of that coalition cannot be articulated too explicitly. Most of all, if this war against the previous ruling coalition is not stopped, it will do us in.
Very accurate. The core to this is what he calls “an internal coup d’etat within the world of white men,” or in other words the class warfare agenda of the Revolution. Diversity exists because Western Leftists needed it in order to justify and propagate their war against hierarchy and moral standards.
4. It is necessary to deconstruct and break down the current dialogue on these issues, and to defeat the cult of political correctness, so that a) traditional rule can be restored, and/or b) a new and more successful form of that rule can be introduced and extended. Along the way, we must realize that calls for egalitarianism, or for that matter democracy, are typically a power play of one potential ruling coalition against another.
Here Cowen shines. Egalitarianism is always manipulation only; those who take it at face value are lobotomized robot-zombies. Therefore, we must desist from this path and restore traditional rule so that “a new and more successful form of that rule can be introduced and extended.” Translation: realize we took a wrong turn, go back to where we turned off, and develop that instead.
That all said, I think it is a category mistake to dismiss neo-reaction on the grounds of racism or prejudice. There exists a coherent form of the doctrine perfectly consistent with the view that different races are intrinsically equal in both capabilities and moral worth, even if such a variant tends to get pushed out by the less salubrious elements.
This is a more vague statement, but he seems to be describing nationalism: each group rules itself, and exists on its own terms, expecting every other group to act in self-interest and keeping them at arm’s length. He disguises this statement as if it were an endorsement for multiculturalism/diversity/internationalism/globalism, or all ethnic groups living together in the same nations, where borders are merely political constructs.
Overall, “What is neo-reaction?” is a masterpiece of cryptolinguistic exploration of forbidden topics. He has to tuck & cuck at the end:
On top of that, the overwhelming empirical fact is that people are far too willing to go tribal when it comes to politics. We don’t need to encourage that any further, nor am I excited by the notion of setting tribe against tribe.
The center of neoreaction, if you ask me, is “formalization”: the idea of uniting text and subtext, or public “face value” meaning and private intended meaning, so that manipulation is less possible. In our modern society, the text is egalitarianism and the subtext is seizure of power and draining the carcass of Western civilization by people who are no more than parasites, which usually coincides with merchants, lawyers, politicians and other bloodsuckers.
Per formalization, we recognize self-interest as inherent and inalienable in every individual and group. For this reason, all tribes — ethnic, sexual, cultural, religious, political, class/caste — are inherently tribalistic and acting in self-interest. The difference is that when more competent tribes act in self-interest, they beat back the less competent who normally hold us back, and all of humanity becomes more prosperous, sane and stable.
Tuesday, July 15th, 2008
You know the score: you’re hanging with some friends, the night is winding down and groups have separated, so a few pull away from the eternal kitchen confab (kitchens are, apparently, the place for candid dialogue in modern society) and plump up the sofa for some video entertainment. “Let’s try a foreign film someone says,” and you, camping out to rest those feet for a few before checking out the porch scene, groan inwardly and think, I hope to forsaken gods that it’s not British.
Oh, but it is. “Look, it’s a bomb,” mutters the disillusioned-and-so-realistic detective. “No, it’s macaroons! The package says macaroons!” nasals the authority figure protagonist. Huge explosion, ceremonial gardens ruined. Someone actually does groan, which stirs you out of mentally composing Why I Hate British Cinema: An Ongoing Meditation (Book 71). These characters are plastic cut-outs, heck, the whole society seems to be.
To Americans, British people in television and film seem to be so nerdly and useless we can barely watch to the halfway point as they struggle with the obvious. Things aren’t what they appear to be, so we have to go talk to everyone who vociferously insists they are, and finally a crack appears, and the mystery unravels and it’s time for tea and another endless talky scene to make sure we understood that, in this movie, things are as they appear to be. Americans can’t believe how proper, how stodgy, and how endlessly nerdly the British seem to be.
What is it about nerds and the British that make them almost conflatable? If we fall into the trap of the movie, we try to look at their external appearances and derive formulas based on clothing, tea, prancing gaits and pinchy-nosed dialects. But really it’s the outlook on life that sees reality as even divided into square blocks, equals signs, and paths of proper behavior from which deviation cannot occur. Nerds get sand pushed in their face by jocks because a true nerd never quite gets it; he’s always trying to take something or another at face value, and so confronts reality with an awkward akimbo mentality that makes us all inwardly shudder.
If you ever wonder why software sucks, and most of it really does once you push it beyond the most standard use cases, you see this mentality in action. There is a specification, which in order to communicate between people, makes generalizations and then makes rules based upon them. Then they pass it to nerds, who generally use computers for nothing but nerd-tasks, in which there is always an archetype and a response in the code. These then create software that works great if you use it in laboratory-conditions isolation with perfect data, which almost never occurs in the real world.
They are afflicted further by marketing types, who whether the software firm is for-profit or not, want to promise everything to everyone, because if The People see it says it can do something on the box, they buy it — they want their macaroons to be XML-compliant. So features creep in, and nerds plop them into the software, without concern for the ecosystem formed of operating system, other stuff running on the computer, and the user. They ship it out to the world, crashes occur, and phone support people are left to tell us that they “didn’t consider that situation.”
Nerdism (and Britishdom) if you look at it carefully is a product of the modern mentality of “ground-up” construction. Ground-up is the idea that you make little parts interact, and then an order forms itself. People love ground-up construction because it is the fastest and easiest way to answer that one question or demand, right now, without having to fix integral problems with the ecosystem in which they’re building. The principle of ground-up construction is that you ignore the ecosystem, and you ignore all consequences beyond the immediate a + b = c of your plan, so that you deal with the smallest set of data and let the system build itself.
This idea gets applied universally. In literature, it’s the workshop method: you start with a character, invent one aspect of a scenario, and let the interaction between character and scene create a story. In software, you reduce your problem to the simplest set of use cases, build categories and build objects to address it. In society, you find a popular consensus on a problem and create a bureau to handle it. All of these responses work great, if we only look at the problem in that arbitrary form of abstraction which removes context; once we open our eyes to reality, and look at the whole, we see we’re creating rigid rules that contradict each other and ensure that our nerdly, proper solutions clash with reality in a collision between tangibly solid, square thoughts and an organic, gritty reality.
Nerdism is one of those great emergent properties of life that doesn’t happen, if we supposed life took itself as face value, with the creation of a law or a social policy. It’s a mirror of society itself. Nerds get it first because they are shaped by the machines they use, and can either struggle mentally against the disorganization or accept it and succeed; the British are infected by the class conflict of their small island and the desire for social climbing it creates. When society wants to destroy its elites, it first creates false elites through external appearance. They, and everyone else who wants to succeed, behave rigidly according to that appearance.
These two groups are similar because they are both people who have adapted to rigid social constructs which reward ground-up construction because they fear leaders. Technology grows rapidly when there are only a few loose standards, and then rapidly diverges into many incompatible standards, until some massive force like Microsoft unifies it through smart business logic. Then that big force itself becomes confused, because its goal has occurred, so it seems defunct, but now as market leader must spend more time defending itself — and there are many attackers, and one defender. Rome in the burning mist? Nerds succeed by acting like this situation and not pointing out its many flaws, because you make more profit by lying about a product than by pointing out what it can’t do.
In the UK, similarly, a populist rebellion took over the country through politics and created an environment where anyone could be whoever they appeared to be, and so acting properly, and having the right nasal accent and correct method of pinching your scones as you daintily munch them, superseded having a clue about reality outside of these social constraints. In both technology and the UK, a consensual reality based on the appearance of life to a disorganized group of others emerged because of this ground-up construction. Say what you want about the caprice of kings, but they are good at setting goals and standards.
The consequences of this mentality of ground-up construction (not design) for both nerds and the British has been a waste of their best energies. They follow a society that itself is following a notion based on the appearance, and not actual use, of its products; they have marketed themselves into oblivion and now find it hard to reconnect with reality. This is why societies go through spasms of revolution in 1968 or with the open-source movement: people are aware that reality is far away, but have no idea to reconnect with it because, like revolutionaries, they know they want something different but use the methods of the past and so arrive at their own version of the past, not a new society.
Of course, with humanity there’s a catch, and that is that we listen to each other and in a flexible society where everyone is competing to be popular, get rich and retire, it’s hard to find any thought-leaders. Even worse, because thoughts that are unpopular get smashed down, most thought leaders stay very quiet, until you get blatant suicides like Jesus who are so frustrated with the tedium they’d rather die as a big middle finger on a cross. Ground-up construction is popular, unlike top-down design which requires a consensus and hard work to make every part of the system work together, because it is accessible to everyone.
However, since ground-up construction works with the rigid square boxes of one problem at a time, it inevitably causes chaos, which in turn strengthens the governments and corporations who remove that chaos through blind illogical (and profitable) force. Freedom makes oppression, because freedom creates pleasant illusion which creates problems that require oppressors. We as individuals are our own worst enemy when we are interpreted through the filter of many individuals at once trying to agree on some order (like “freedom” and other ground-up constructions) that will protect us individually.
None of us like the cruelty of jocks, and in this country, jocks are generally idiots who are oblivious to everything but the social pecking order. Yet in us as we grow frustrated there’s something of this mentality, which is an urge to smash every bureaucrat and marketer who tells us that a turd is a macaroon and we’d better like it or we’ll end up in the jobless line. These people are acting innocently to advance themselves, but the order that permits that advancement is destructive, and until we create a contrary impulse by smashing a few faces, it’s going to ride us until we quite properly die wondering why the macaroons are ticking.
Wednesday, May 18th, 2005
Conservatism has painted itself into a corner in the context of modern democracies because it tends toward the political stance that there is one right way of doing things, and that all must either follow it, or society shall collapse. Two immediate disadvantages arise: first, society does not collapse visibly, but decays slowly, and thus this warning appears to be an empty threat; second, when faced with someone who does not fit the correct order, conservatism must either exclude them, and appear draconian to the crowd, or include them, and erode its own order.
What may be more sensible for conservatism in the future is to discard this sense of absolute, one-size-fits-all government and to embrace instead the concept of pluralism, but to modify it from parallel pluralism, where we all exist according to our own individual schemes in the same society, to serial pluralism, where individuals of similar belief aggregate into societies within a larger society, and are free to conduct the local operations of their civil unit according to their beliefs. A parallel pluralistic society would be one like modern-day California, where postmodernists rub elbows with Romanticists, but a serial pluralistic one would be like medieval Europe: individual tribes and communities define their own ways and exist as neighbors with no intention of establishing a dominant, absolute standard for all subdivisions of the civilization at large.
Although this realization sounds similar to the populist utilitarian rhetoric of the left, it is not equivalent to a belief in cosmopolitan multiculturalism, nor an abandonment of the moral and cultural imperative that we reach for the traditional heights and disciplines of Indo-European society. It is however a more complete formulation of these traditional beliefs, and a way for us to achieve them in a world where we are massively outnumbered, yet wish to hold on to what we have created and are creating for ourselves: our way of life, and our ideals. The way one upholds such ideas is by relinquishing the concept of proving them, in the sense of an absolute such as one way of life by which all must live, and turning to the idea of asserting them independently of all other beliefs, such that the conservative belief system is based upon preference as a means of establishing uniqueness. Under this view we live as one society among many, but like the other societies we see lauded in National Geographic or The New York Times for “fightingly valiantly to preserve their way of life against encroaching modern society,” our cause is no longer one of attempting to control, but trying to carve out an enduring place for ourselves.
This does not at first appeal to the warlike and assertive spirit of the Indo-Europeans, but when we consider that we have always been a minority, and have lastingly been the civilization builders who succeeded by isolating themselves in areas where the power aspirations of others did not influence, we can see this as a restatement of historical and ethnographic fact. Further, to say “I prefer” is a stronger statement than some “proof” which uses the tokens of popular culture in order to attempt to justify its view; our “I prefer” requires no justification, and is irrefutable as a statement in itself, as it is the binding concept of our order, in that we are the ones who have selected themselves by belief in this type of system. Being defined by our belief in this, our position is longer one of authority where we are forced to deny others membership and thus see ourselves as draconian, but one where we remove ourselves from among others by our beliefs in a higher ideal. This ideal, as one of many, needs no dominant social system to support it, and therefore is not open to criticism by others, and since membership is elected through belief in it, they cannot request to be part of it without having accepted it – including its emphasis on traditional Indo-European values such as heroism, discipline, naturalism and ethnoculture.
When conservatism embraces such a belief, it will have moved from trying to create a centralized “objective” bureaucratic order into the world of “subjective” idealism, and thus will abandon the dead weights of trying to save the current society, or force all of current society to obey a saner order. This idealism — the belief that life is transacted in concept and structure via the means of material, for which material is a means and not an end in itself — is a classical Indo-European philosophy and spiritual system. It rejects the idea that there is a single order for all of life, and by freeing itself from having to justify itself in those terms, returns to the process of achieving ever-greater ideals, whether in tangible things such as art and architecture, biological ones such as race and good breeding, or abstractions such as spirit and heroism. Of even more longstanding implication is its rejection of the idea of objectivity in choosing governmental systems, as this inherent rejects passive methods, such as “studies” and democracy, in favor of a heroic leadership process, one that affirms biological factors by upholding the idea that our degree of vision is dependent upon our inborn character, and thus that what seems apt to one individual will be either cryptic to one of lesser character or mediocre to one of greater character.
If we take a historical view of conservatism, it is clear that it has failed in its aims; while it has picked and stabbed at various “issues” within the political spectrum as normally defined, it has done nothing to make dominant traditional civilization within our nations, and has become increasingly reactionary and defensive as time has gone on. This is a direct result of its appeal to an absolute, both in the form of a rulesystem it believes we should each and all follow, and in its desire to prove that belief system to the broadest mass of society. Such an approach will never work, because it is passive, and tries to point to some external, objective factor and then justify its beliefs as necessarily arising from that. However, the consequences of any change in civil organization outlive the individual, and thus are not provable, and the degree to which the largest mass of society can understand the long-term implications of actions varies, meaning that it settles on the lowest common denominator (material) instead of opting for an ongoing evolution of ascendant order (ideal). Idealism bypasses the absolute, as it is clear that not all can understand a higher ideal, or will want it, and strikes out instead for a warlike and independent spirit, that of “I prefer” which naturally leads to “I will, and I do as I will.” Only in this mindset do we reverse the consumption of our traditional civilization by modernity, and for that reason, it is high time conservatism change tactics toward this traditional and eternal way of thought.