Posts Tagged ‘herd behavior’

A Contradiction At The Heart Of Democracy

Friday, March 17th, 2017

As the era of the individual fades, liberal democracy finds itself collapsing. People in groups just make terrible decisions, and then individuals are afraid to stand out from the crowd, so they just go along with the insanity like teenagers succumbing to peer pressure. This is how democracy ends societies.

Another fundamental problem with democracy is that it is based on self-image. When we vote, we are not asked what we actually do, but what we think we might do, or want to do, or how we see ourselves through the mirror of others. This leads to pretentious, unrealistic decisions. Even lobotomized entertainment horde nexus Netflix is finding this out:

Switching to a binary thumbs-up / thumbs-down system might seem less granular than offering five stars, but Yellin said there’s an implicit understanding with thumbs-up / thumbs-down that people are doing it to improve their own experience rather than trying to rate it for the rest of the world. And at the end of the day, it’s really about just getting more people to rate things.

“What’s more powerful: you telling me you would give five stars to the documentary about unrest in the Ukraine; that you’d give three stars to the latest Adam Sandler movie; or that you’d watch the Adam Sandler movie 10 times more frequently?” Yellin said. “What you do versus what you say you like are different things.”

What you do is more important than what you say you do. In this sense, the best single factor Netflix could use would be to see what videos you watched again or recommended to friends. That reflects what people do, not how they view themselves. How many documentaries have been voted up because people think it makes them look cool, hip and profound to like “Last Flight Of The Dodo” in HD?

The last thousand years or so have seen us in the West trying to make a leaky boat sail. First we created a middle class, figuring that if we gave the clever-but-not-intelligent a voice, they might stop agitating on the national level. Then with The Enlightenment,™ we told everyone that their feelings were more real than social order, known truth or nature.

Finally we came to democracy, at which point it was clear that the West was dead and had been replaced by an angry mob of self-important little proles. Now everyone voted for what they thought would benefit them, spending the money of society as if it were theirs, and adopting policies that made them feel special. We see the results of that disaster every day.

The American Constitution was the most ambitious effort yet to plug up the leaky ship. It introduced many rules and concepts which people fought over until they beat them into an unrecognizable mass of lost meaning. Poll taxes, votes correlated to tax paying, local representatives and other schemes all failed as well.

There is no way to fix mob behavior. Even smart people, and especially clever-but-not-intelligent people, make terrible decisions in groups. There are only a few among us fit to lead, and they cannot be assessed with standardized tests, income statements and rules. You have to put them in small positions of leadership, and let them rise by succeeding in the real world, not the theater of public opinion.

Across Europe and the USA, “populist” movements are blooming, but these are more a reaction to hitting rock bottom than political movements in the usual sense. They are anti-populist at their core in that they aim to get us away from the politics of pretense, and to focus on the question of leadership, which demands strong gravitational forces like powerful leaders, tribalism and enduring culture.

Some people think we can fix democracy by having people vote on every issue in real time over the internet through their television sets. In reality, this would be nothing but an insanity amplifier, wrecking the remnants of a once-great civilization even faster than our current neurotic voting habits. Instead, we should do away with the votes entirely, and look at what actually works.

Antiwork Is A Quest For Civilization Reform, Not Job Subsidies

Thursday, August 4th, 2016

An insightful author wrote a letter to the editor of an antiwork publication, Processed News, describing how the standard Left-influenced approach to reforming work is insufficient:

Too many groups in the past have been unable to move past the point PW is at now. Instead they’ve ended up liberal or doctrinaire or just burned-out. All the activism of the ’60s and ’70s has ended in apathy and disappointment with political movements that have assimilated to the mainstream.

This apathy, even though an obstacle to the goals of PW, is a valid feeling and we should accept it. Within the apathy is a potential for a genuinely radical position. That is, people are apathetic because they realize how much is wrong with society. Old political formulas aren’t good enough anymore. The potential is for this feeling to become a willingness to consider new alternatives, to question one’s stake in the system.

PW has done a good job of tapping into this feeling among office workers. But can this alienation be translated into a desire to resist social control and to work for something better? The issue of how to relate to the labor movement and unionism is a good example. Can unions address the alienation office workers feel today?

I don’t think so. Unions always assume that we accept our roles as workers. But we don’t! And that’s what PW has been pointing out. Even if the wages were better, we’d still hate office work.

But unions, by definition, limit their scope to the workplace and issues of workers. For those of us who’d like to see work itself redefined, to unionize is almost a contradiction in terms.

Is there an alternative? A way to move beyond the worker role, to address the socio-economic control that jobs exercise over our daily lives?

I emphasize the idea of daily life because I think we’ve been asked too often to give energy to movements on the basis of abstract or theoretical goals. We’re always talking about the “workplace” or the “voting booths” or even the “streets”. But these are abstract metaphors for political processes and not concrete situations in our daily lives. We may demonstrate for the human rights of people in a country we’ve never been to. But we often don’t even know the people who live in the apartment next door. This contradiction ultimately tends to negate our political work.

My point is that these abstract political arenas can never help us achieve our goals. Processes based on the use of power (that is, coercion), from the marketplace to the halls of Congress, are what creates alienation. We can’t use them to end alienation!

…We need to think about political change in a whole new way. We can’t accept issues in the terms that corporations define them. They want to talk about productivity and wages. But we’re concerned about the value of work and the quality of life. They want us to define our needs in terms of salaries and benefits. We want to meet human needs without money.

Our concerns today are not as workers or producers (which has always been the basic premise of the labor movement). We want freedom from work that is useless and alienating. But what forces us to remain workers is our role as consumers. Despite all the abundance and over-production of our economic system, we’re still forced to pay money for basic survival needs, as if these things were scarce. And as long as we need money to survive, we’re forced to sell our labor.

…But today, the corporations are determined to co-opt all our needs into the cash economy. If we don’t address these needs ourselves, they will soon have a price tag on them and we will be all the more dependent on the economy. Dropping out of the cash economy, its laws and its values, is a genuine act of resistance.

The whole thing is worth reading, but these excerpts provide the clearest insights. The Left-influenced mass culture tends to look toward making work better by passing more laws/regulations and by providing direct subsidies, with both efforts amounting to subsidies for the workers, at the expense of high overhead. Perhaps a more direct approach is needed.

Our entire way of life is inhuman and illogical. It is based on the idea that we can control people, or shape equal units into little droids that we command by our intentions, instead of looking at how people quality — moral, intellectual, character and inclinations — matters, and how our intentions are often unrealistic both as individuals (evil) and as groups (collective insanity).

Jobs are the effect; the cause is a civilization without purpose that is caught in the grips of dangerous illusions. These illusions arose because they flatter something within us that we want to give in to, because it is more mentally convenient, despite it contradicting many known aspects of reality.

Conservative antiwork activists tend to focus on this existential, or quality of life in the soul, aspect to modern life. It is soulless and soul-crushing. The herd rushes toward distractions, but is afraid to face the core problem, because it indicts our individualism which becomes selfishness and insanity in groups.

How the culture war was won

Sunday, June 7th, 2015

keeping_up_with_the_joneses_social_justice

The news will give you a headache because reading it requires separating the unimportant but overhyped from the actually relevant, and only then reading between the lines. The big event last week occurred when media realized that the culture war was over and that the left won. This came not as a huge surprise to anyone, since the left specializes in validating as altruism the desire of individuals for greater narcissism, licentiousness and obliviousness to actual opportunity and threats.

When they raise the headstone over leftism — and it is not long now, despite appearances of strength — the epitaph will read simply “Here lies a FALSE HOPE.” Liberalism specializes in convincing people that actual problems are not problems at all, and with the energy saved fighting real threats, they can set aside some to fight imaginary threats and invest the rest in themselves. Liberalism sells a product called justification. On the surface, it takes the form of altruism, but more in-depth exploration finds that this was just advertising like the promises of a used-car salesman. The left resembles the guy at a party who tells you to not worry about the thirteen beers you have had because he needs you to drive him to the convenience store. And if a car crash or arrest occurs, it will not be his fault, but you will pay the price.

The recent culture war pronouncements remind me of the history of rock and roll. During its earliest years, it was simple and functional, but then with The Beatles it discovered pretense, and flowered into many directions as others interpreted that, some improving it and others making it more like the usual. At some point, everyone figured, it would just keep on going to greater extremity and intensity. That did not happen; instead: rock moves in circular patterns, rediscovering old influences and mellowing those instead of delivering intensity. It, like liberals, specializes in novelty or appearing to have new ideas all the time while it recycles very old ones. Yet it stalled sometime in the 1980s when, having exhausted its arc of discovering its logical variations and incorporating new technology, it collided with the brick wall of its own lack of ideas. There simply was nothing going on other than the variation of surface sound, and so instead of trying to change itself to grow toward new variety, rock settled for being a known quantity. Like properties on a busy drag or roles at work, it thrived less but kept the money flowing on the basis of not rocking the boat. It manufactured a series of trends, like using certain scales or guitar sounds over others, but kept all of this at the surface so everyone could participate.

Similarly the great leftward shift of American attitudes resembles not new terrain, but a circular motion achieved by a lack of space to expand. As detailed by The New York Post, American liberalism comes at a price — it is designed to encourage others to self-destruct so that valuable resources can go to those who do not follow destructive paths. In other words, this tolerance is not altruism; it is the exact opposite, which is competition so intense that you celebrate the self-destruction of anyone who might be an adversary. The culture war was won by schadenfreude:

Americans are simply, broadly, more tolerant of others who are unlike them. As a general trend, that’s heartening. On the other hand, what comes along with this mass departure of moral judgment from public life?

Let’s say we grant that it’s morally acceptable to smoke weed. Is it morally acceptable, then, to spark up a joint every day at lunch? Sure, as long as you’re not endangering others. It’s still not terribly wise, though.

This shows us America at her most cynical. Each of us derive benefit from having our potential competition strung out on drugs, obsessive about gay marriage, or otherwise taken out of the loop for actual competition. Even more, we get social success points for approving of the latest ideas that media, government, big corporations and all of our friends also approve of. In this we see the paradox of non-conformity: if most people conform to a single idea, changing the ideal just creates a different form of conformity. Only finding a different direction avoids the endless loop of trying to stay cool, keeping up with the Joneses, following trends, chasing fads, and other ways of keeping “relevant” that people who do not believe in themselves depend on in order to like themselves.

Social justice viewpoints are a way to show that you are “above” others. They are ignorant, primitive, unthinking and impulsive. You are enlightened, altruistic, egalitarian, tolerant and compassionate. This puts you above them, even if they have bigger genitals, smarter brains, heftier muscles or more money. You have a reason to sneer at them and treat them like the people who should be picking your cotton. Social justice makes heroes and tyrants out of underconfident people, and does so in the same moment.

What we see now playing out in the last days of the culture war is the same stuff we were introduced to in the first days of elementary school on the playground. People will do anything for power, short of achieving it by being actually useful and contributing to society and nature, and they become horrible bickering chimpanzees who drag each other down in order to rise above the herd. The nonconformity and iconoclasm of the gay marriage and pro-pot people is in fact the ultimate form of conformity, which is not behaving as others are, but having the same motivations as they do. Americans are trying to be cooler than each other by embracing whatever weirdness has come to them from above, and finding ways to both be obedient and appear “different” at the same time, and the result is the loss of the culture wars to the attention whore era.