Posts Tagged ‘hive mind’
Friday, January 6th, 2017
The struggle of our time has become clear: realists, who want civilization, stand against ideologues, who want to rationalize the decline by directing our attention with the false metric of “progress,” which is essentially virtue signaling for social status.
Realists face a series of tough realizations. The first is how much recent politics was bungled; after that, the time scale and scope expands. Soon it becomes clear that our society has been afflicted with deep rot for many centuries.
Perhaps the most disturbing aspect of all this is realizing that the decay runs deeper than politics. It has infested all aspects of life, including the “lifestyle” and daily experience of people, leading to existential misery. Worst of all of these realizations is the knowledge that modern society is a giant waste of time.
Most of what we do is completely unnecessary except that it allows individuals to claim they are important. Most products fail, but their launches allow ambitious little sociopaths to claim they are wizards, at least for long enough to get hired somewhere else. Most tasks at jobs are there to demonstrate the importance of the manager. Most red tape events involve bureaucrats asserting their power over you. Most social events are jockeying for positions in a hierarchy, and art, culture, literature and even friendship get used as means to that end.
In short, competition has created an infinite demand for ways to compete. As has been observed many times, every thing creates more of itself, and so when we make competition in specific areas part of our society, that takes over everything else. That we do it with money makes it mandatory that everyone join in and waste their time.
The average job could be done in a few hours a week, if we subtract out the activities done to demonstrate the importance of managers and employees, the red tape which solves no problems but creates work for everyone, the waiting around for people who are merely posing at being busy elsewhere, the pro forma meetings and emails. Jobs are mental spam for the most part, and they obscure the tasks which actually need doing.
Add to that the other great waste-of-time activities in modernity: returning the constant defective products, researching products to see which of the options are not corner cutting scams designed to get some idiot promoted to management somewhere, spending days or weeks filing paperwork which no one will see, arguing with self-important customer service representatives and waiting in line — endlessly — while someone in front struggles with understanding the simple nuances of the obvious solution to their avoidable problem.
Modern society is a trap. It will kill us off the same way every advanced civilization dies: it tolerates the stupid, who then gang up on the rest, take over and make a society designed for idiots. This exhausts the intelligent, who promptly die out, leaving the stupid in charge for a glorious generation or two before their corruption accrues and society plunges (slowly) into third-world status.
The intelligent are forced into a role by civilization that they feel obligates them to the rest. What this means in reality is that the smarter parts of our civilization are forced to babysit the rest. That group, essentially reckless proles hungry for power and wealth, is the most destructive force in any society, like a stomach that thinks it is a brain.
This exhausts the intelligent, and makes it easier for the proles to take over.
While this happens, those of mental ability are forced to either (1) stand against the ongoing decay and become marginalized, dying childless in small cabins in the woods or (2) rationalize the decline as good, make the right virtue signals and “succeed” despite it wasting all of their time and energy in the process of babysitting the insane and stupid herd.
Rationalization of a clearly sick and moribund society makes them crazy, and from these tormented souls we get our intellectuals and social elites. They tend to be corrupt because their minds are scrambled by having to accept the destruction of their civilization as a good thing, and to assuage their guilt, they tend to endorse ideas like “progress” and Utopia in order to avoid talking about the actual problem, the collapse of civilization, because it is hard to solve where Utopian plans are trivially easy.
The dying civilization of the West has tormented its intelligent people and driven them insane as they try to adapt to a world created for the crass tastes of the herd. They were aliens in their own society long before diversity, and now they are simply ghosts wandering among the others, with everyone waiting for them to die out so the prole party can kick into high gear.
As we come to grips with how utterly insane and corrupt our leaders have been for the past eight years, it is time to reflect on the fact that these acts did not occur in isolation. We The People voted for these idiots; we are the bigger idiots. But who is “we”? Our society has been hijacked by a mob which wants to destroy civilization and replace it with an endless carnival.
Until we start talking about that problem, we are merely putting band-aids on a sucking chest wound. Our civilization is dying. It has been dying for a long time, and its death will be a slow descend into third world chaos, crime, and corruption. The only way to fix it is to take power away from the proles, and restore it to the responsible people, which recent elections have indicated is a popular (enough) idea.
Sunday, October 16th, 2016
By the time democracy arrives, things are well and truly dead for a civilization and the only formalities remaining are the toe tag and the estate sale. Our ancestors knew that if you indulge the pretense of humans, or the defensive assumption that they are good, it will give them license to run amok, and that they have done.
What we have left of “civilization” is essentially an economy with cops, lawyers, judges and nagging nanny journalists riding herd on the chaos. This is predictable, because we can see that people without strong leadership behave like herd animals.
You can see the proof of my point if you work with any volunteer organization. Sit people down in a committee and they start making the same type of bad decisions that our nations are making. The cause is this bad decision-making, and the result is our terrible elites.
In cause-effect terms, the elites are the effect and our choices are the cause. They did not impose this on us; we imposed them on ourselves by selecting an unrealistic type of government, namely herd-based leadership which was inevitably capitalized on by a corrupt media, political class and lobbyist layer.
You can also see the same thing at a job, or even in personal lives. People in groups make terrible decisions. People are pretentious and selfish, generally. It is entirely logical that the end result of this process is awful government and its handmaidens, who will be massively corrupt.
The point is that, regarding leadership, we have a binary option:
The best oppress the rest. Some claw their way to the top, demonstrating exceptional ability. They then restrain the rest of the group because this restraint is needed for civilization. End result: more effective leadership, no runaway herd acting selfishly. — or:
The rest oppress the best. Strong leadership is feared, so society adopts weak leadership, which results in a slow but constant growth of many small problems which converge in a loss of social order and suicidal policies like endless war, immigration and quasi-legal corruption.
At the most abstract level, these are the choices we have in “government,” and every single possible type of leadership structure fits into one or the other of these categories. Either we put the best on top, or we have mob rule.
The Americans tried a middle ground. Their Constitution is as complicated as an Italian race car, and yet, it was dismantled in as few as a dozen years, depending on who you talk to. After a disastrous civil war, two world wars, and now endless war in the middle east as the American Leftist regime goes the way of the Soviets, the Constitution is effectively dead.
And so, like people lost in a maze, here we are again, back at the same crossroads we have been at before. Best, or rest? The last two hundred years have showed us what the rest can do, and it is ugly: horrible jobs based on attendance more than performance, cities that are wastelands, corrupt leaders, gross mass culture, and what seems to be a decline in genetic ability to think among even the upper echelons of our society.
We are not just in trouble because of our system of government, but because it is making us incompetent. First, it redirects our attention from actual issues to symbolic ones, like how popular something is or whether it plays the politics or law game well. Second, the system promotes only those who think this way.
The Brexit/Trump Revolution (BTR) has much going for it. The weak point in its armor is that it scapegoats our elites for the mess we are in. We are in a mess, but the elites are an effect of that mess, not its cause. The cause is our reliance on herd voting and buying to make decisions, instead of having actual leadership.
Francis Fukuyama told us that we have reached the end of history, which depressed everyone because while the West is wealthy, it is dead in its soul. People hate their daily existence because it is humiliating, menial and incompetent, even at the highest levels of career and social life.
What he meant to write, perhaps, was that liberal democracy had beaten down all of its competition. That does not mean it is the best system; it was fortunate in its choice of allies, and often what works in the short-term is the opposite of what is needed in the long-term.
The thought of resurrecting society from the degeneracy of the unpunished herd is daunting in itself. We are not, however, rescuing everyone. There will be a new civilization and only those who “get it” and are useful will be welcome. The rest can be cast aside. This is always how it is.
Once we wrap our minds around the enormity of this task, it becomes clear that we should not be afraid to make the decision to go all the way toward what we need, instead of taking halfway measures. We are at one of those nexus points in history where all that was considered established is now fluid. Vast change is upon us, like it or not.
As modern citizens, we have grown up listening to constant voices — television, teachers, politicians, parents, friends — telling us that certain things are cast in stone, and that as far as changing them, the ship has sailed. But now, all of these stonecast pillars are in the process of collapse. We can finally move on.
Potentially what we are seeing is the beginning of a great time to be alive. The twentieth century was mostly carnage and stupidity, and so far the twenty-first has been worst, but that means that the trend of the eighteenth century has finally peaked and is falling. We can cease repeating the mistakes of the past.
For now, the herd runs free. Its low standards, enforced through utilitarian policies, harm those who can tell the difference between mediocre and good. Its indecision has attracted all manner of manipulators and parasites. Its policies have produced horror and evil as handmaidens in everyday life, making us all complicit.
The rise of the Alt Right has shown a challenge to business as usual, which means a continuing slide into decay. People across the West are tired of living in failed states and a failed system. It is time to think the unthinkable, and move on from liberal democracy a.k.a. oppression by the rest.
Tuesday, February 4th, 2014
A revolution occurs. In theory, the justification is that the people are starving. But then, it starts to look like revenge.
For months at a time, people stream to the public squares. There, they watch the execution of whole families: men, women and children.
They cheers as the heads roll. Over time, it becomes clear that it is dangerous not to cheer. If you do not, someone might suspect that you sympathize with the executed.
Those who were executed were given trials, by the way. Their caste was enough to convict them, but to keep everyone happy, investigations were conducted and official paperwork completed. Then, to the guillotine.
This mentality lives on in our time. In fact, it has existed in every age of humanity and probably also exists among animals. When computers get smart enough to talk and explain themselves, it will exist among them too. It is eternal. It is also evil.
A great man once said:
Insanity in individuals is something rare — but in groups, parties, nations and epochs, it is the rule. – Friedrich Nietzsche
Insanity — or delusions — in groups exist because whatever is most popular in the group is selected as a replacement for reality itself.
This occurs in part because a more easily comprehended idea will be more popular. And in part because people prefer to believe what they want to be true, not what is true.
But there’s another mechanism that’s more insidious. It has two parts, a positive and a negative.
Groups determine what succeeds. The positive part of this mechanism is that if you want to succeed in a society, you need to come up with something that is popular. Then people buy it, vote for it, and demand it in social circles.
In groups, people abuse outsiders. The negative part of the mechanism is that if you offend someone within the group, they may style you as an outsider. This allows individuals to control the group, but only through styling themselves as victims of someone else’s failure to side with the group enough.
This is what happened in France — if you didn’t cheer enough when they beheaded six year old girls, you were seen as a possible enemy of the state. It can be you at the guillotine next, citizen. The execution of ideological enemies unites the group to such a degree that turning on itself is a net win. Welcome to being a cog in the machine.
If you wanted to draw an analogy, this behavior is similar to what happens when an abuser confronts a child. He or she says to the child, “Don’t tell what we’ve done here, or I’ll hurt your pet.” Maybe he threatens the parents, a younger sibling, a friend or something else sacred. But the point is the abuser is holding the victim hostage to fear.
Our modern politics is based on rule by the mob which holds us all hostage to fear. We’ve got to go along with it… or we might be misunderstood, mistaken for the enemy, and executed publicly for the amusement of others.
This is why in our society, everything gradually gets dumber and more ideological at the same time. No one wants to be out of step. Or they might be next at the guillotine.
Sunday, May 5th, 2013
Our ancient societies evolved much like a species does. Over time, they tested out their hypotheses about how the wide world out there operated. They kept the ideas that worked, and pitched out the rest. From that came culture, wisdom and even religion.
Part of this original culture was that we had social castes, which were viewed as preferable to social classes, which are ranking by wealth. Social castes were ranking by ability, and wealth came later, namely because the king would gift the most useful people with large amounts of money in the theory that they would make good use of that power.
Eventually, crisis hit. A Mongol invasion, a black plague or two, even social instability caused by the wealth of new areas to colonize. However, at the same time, the wealth of the past through innovations in agriculture, hygiene and social order meant that there were more people than ever before. The population grew, from the poorest upward.
In this instability, many people became discontented. They grumbled and agitated. The rising population had outpaced its food supply and, instead of blaming the selfishness of individuals for going forward with raising larger families despite warnings about food supply, they found a scapegoat: they blamed the kings.
Naturally, they waged a type of guerrilla war. Your goal as a guerrilla is to be passive-aggressive, or to provoke your enemy into attacking you by needling them with many small but easily hidden aggressions until they finally lash out. Sabotage became common, as did petty attacks, thefts, accusations, and so on. This brought the situation to a boiling point.
At this juncture, the nature of warfare after the rifle became clear: whoever has the most people wins. The herd overran the kings, and proclaimed a new age. Since they needed to sell this to their fellow citizens, they claimed it as an age when all individuals were equal and decisions would be made by merit not inheritance.
It sounds good, on the surface. 224 years later, we’re seeing what it actually means. In reality, we have replaced an orderly system for finding leaders, in which those who actually accomplished something got ahead, with a system by which those who “play the game” well enough get ahead. In that, we have sewn the seeds of our doom.
The average person now grows up in a world of standardized tests. Since IQ is racist and assessing critical thinking is probably classist, these tests measure memorization ability. Thus school becomes a quest for those who can memorize the most details and recite them accurately. Whoever gets the most points wins.
What this creates however is a group of “merit”-selected people who are oblivious to anything but the test, and are helpless outside a world where they are told what to know and how to repeat it. If you ever look at actions by a government, or lawyers, or even doctors and think, “How can they be so stupid in the face of obvious evidence to the contrary?” you’re seeing the end result of this problem.
The bigger problem is that our society is now entirely driven by reference to its internal conclusions. It has shut reality out of the picture. We have books and rules of facts, and those tools have now become our masters. Those who master them become our leaders; those leaders in turn do not refer to facts outside of the books, but only look at reality through that filter.
Think of the many filters — this is a concept from Immanuel Kant — that we have in our lives. There’s the moral filter of good/bad, which ignores consequences of actions, where often “bad” acts are needed to get “good” consequences and vice versa. There’s the filter of what other people make popular, and thus is worth money or votes. There’s the filter of rules, “gaming the system” versus being good at something in reality.
Currently, our society is chasing its own tail into the abyss. The books give us certain rules and facts, and we follow those; when that doesn’t work out, we redouble our efforts using the same rules and facts. Like robots, we cannot deviate from our programming because we’ve eliminated the people who can think outside the box.
In fact, our current political environment is manic with the desire to achieve power over anyone who might know better. We want only people inside of the Ideology and its approved rules and facts. Anything else is a threat, and probably Hitler or Satan. We want our warm cult-like environment inside so that we can exclude the world.
This is how civilizations die. The final double-tap may come from invaders, or overpopulation/low food supply (these are the same thing). But what causes the death is our inability to make leadership decisions because our leadership is based on a robotic obedience to a filter, and ignores reality itself, eventually seeing it as “moral” to exclude reality.
Like civilizations before us, we will do what our books tell us and follow our facts and rules until we fall apart. The wall we run into isn’t that the rules were wrong, only that they were not realistic. And so we create a little in-group, a hive-mind prone to groupthink, drop out from reality, and like robots march toward the cataclysm.
Wednesday, October 19th, 2011
Our society is essentially divided between two narratives. In one, the little guy is oppressed by big institutions. In the other, the little guy and his failings are why we need institutions.
The former view, shared by anyone on the leftist spectrum from anarchist through moderate Democrat all the way to die-hard Communist, sees the individual as always being the victim. The individual is blameless; the problem lies, instead, with these institutions (which paradoxically are composed of individuals).
On the other hand, the view shared by all conservatives from moderate Republicans through Traditionalists is that each individual faces a series of “moral” (e.g. based in consequences) decisions and the failure of most people to get very many of those right creates an unstable and corrupt society.
If we adopt the former view, we are forever watching for an external enemy. Dictators happen to us, not by our hand. Corruption, crime and social decay are more like the flu than the result of our own actions. And we should forever be vigilant for a chance to stick it to the big guy.
It all started over the weekend, when Victoria Liss was tending bar at Bimbo’s Cantina in Capitol Hill and a customer stiffed her on her tip. He also insulted her by scrawling this note on the receipt:
“P.S. You could stand to loose (sic) a few pounds.”
That prompted the outspoken Liss to post a picture of the receipt on her Facebook page. She posted the customer’s name, Andrew Meyer. Soon, an enraged mob was scouring the Internet for the man Liss called “yuppie scum,” and a picture and Facebook page was found, posted and reposted. – Seattle Post-Intelligencer
Stop right there. The narrative that ten thousand movies and books have programmed into your head is that this bartender is the victim.
However, we’ve only heard one side of the story and some of the facts.
Despite his atrocious spelling, it’s not clear whether he did anything wrong. We know nothing of the quality of her service. Does she deserve a tip automatically even if the service was bad?
Did she say anything cruel or stupid to him? How was their interaction? If a lonely guy wanders into a bar, gets snubbed and scorned by a bartender, especially if she calls him fat, his response is entirely understandable.
Interestingly, none of our media overlords — many of whom carried this story — thought to ask that. None of the forums on which it was posted thought to ask that. Any thought was in fact drowned out by the lust of a crowd for a good hanging.
And then, the unraveling:
Except there was one problem. It was the wrong Andrew Meyer.
On Monday, Liss posted an apology.
“I need glasses, I put up the picture of the wrong guy,” she wrote. “I’m a douche for that. SO SORRY. Blinded by rage.”
Her excuse is that she was “blinded by rage,” which implies that the rage was justified. Still, we don’t know — no one has asked the questions asked above. And if she behaved like a “douche” on the night before he “stiffed” her for the tip, maybe he was always the victim in this case.
But the Crowd likes to think that no individual can be wrong and so they always side with the underdog and the little guy. A bartender is always weaker than his customers, because they’re the ones with the money, goes the narrative. Yet even that isn’t necessarily so. A quiet person can be very humiliated in that situation.
We are told we need to consider the little guy more, and to give the 99% all of our money, but we don’t actually know that these people are competent at…anything. In fact, having seen the people at these protests, we can say they fall into two types:
- Young. Still living on the parental dole, and subsidized by easy but low-paying entry-level jobs, they know nothing of the world. Their sum total obligations are an apartment and a phone bill. They don’t understand economics or even how vicious a Crowd can be.
- Failed. These are people who often have a reasonable amount of money thanks to having stayed with their entry-level jobs and, despite incompetence, getting promoted sheerly by being there. They now want to know why their incompetent performance hasn’t made them champions of the world.
The mentality of the Occupy Wall Street protesters and the vindictive bartender are the same.
The motivations of American Democrats and 1917 Russian Communists are the same.
The outlook of bomb-throwing 1930s anarchists and limousine liberal “progressives” are the same.
Their goal is equality through wealth redistribution. Assume the little guy is a moral Jesus, and therefore (magically) the big guy is evil, and take that wealth and spread it around. Spread the power around too.
Never mind that like this vindictive bartender, the little guy is incompetent (that’s why he’s a little guy; he has found nothing truly constructive to do) and as a result, will become a far worse dictator.
As incompetent social policies fail, dictators increase their demands for obedience to the dogma that caused those problems. They must maintain control. This resembles our own manic cleaving to failed programs like universal education, multiculturalism, government regulation and entitlement subsidies.
When a leader is unsure of her own abilities, she tends to act like a Stalin or Mao and first lock down control and remove the ability of others to criticize her. Only when that is accomplished does she worry about whether the Army has the right caliber bullets.
The little guy is in fact a worse dictator than any Pol Pot, Hitler or Genghis Khan could ever be.
The little guy acts on impulse, and when he sees a bartender complaining, gets on his white knight horse and attacks the other person, without even considering that there are two sides to the story.
The little guy demands unrealistic things in total ignorance of biology, economics, logic and even chemistry, and punishes those who remind him that his plan is impossible.
The little guy ignores problems that are socially unacceptable, while continuing to beat the dead horse of his own ideology.
Luckily for him, the little guy is also an invisible dictator. When we think of power, we think of one Voldemort-type character ruling from a throne, not an army of thuggish food service employees, their unions, and millions of useful idiots taking out their dissatisfaction with life on the rest of us.
Worst of all, the little guy takes up all of our political time and energy with his drama, while real problems get passed on by.
Whether your service is good or bad, some San Francisco restaurant workers want to implement a 25% standard tip onto your bill for you, according to an article in the Contra Costa Times.
Is this fair? Some in the food industry say “yes, it’s about time.” However, many “foodies” are not as happy with the idea. According to the Times, for the most part, people, on average tip between 15% – 20% and the restaurant worker actually has to claim 15% with the IRS.
Those opposed to the increase noted in the article that “the whole purpose of a tip is to reward service.” – CBS
This is the little guy as dictator at work. The underdog feels that he is always the victim, so he wants a mandatory payment. This way, it doesn’t matter whether he’s competent or not. Since he’s the little guy because he’s not particularly competent at life, this benefits him.
Unfortunately, it also provides him a disincentive to perform. In addition, he will retain his status as underdog victim and so will viciously attack anyone who criticizes him. He thinks that, like government workers and people on welfare, he has finally found a way to live on easy street.
Except that only a total moron would endorse such a plan. Total morons cannot think to the moral value (measured in consequences in the long-term) of their actions. They cannot visualize the actual chain of events: service will decline, people will eat out less to avoid the hostile environment, and thousands of do-nothings will become waiters, dividing into even thinner slices an already thinned-out pie.
The little guy is incompetent, oblivious and often cruel. As a dictator, he wants only to be obeyed without question. If someone did not leave a tip, that person is guilty — no trial or even considering the facts needed. Burn that witch, drown that sinner, lynch that heretic. For equality!
While all of our Hollywood movies, Washington speeches and Brussels commandments tell us to push further down the obviously failing path of universal equality and the entitlement state (in order “fight inequality” and “smash fascism”), we should ask ourselves:
Do we want a dictator? Especially one we cannot dethrone? And one that has shown, throughout history, a predilection for bloodshed, cruelty, injustice and worst of all, a tendency to enact vindictive rage against those who are not incompetent?
The choice lies before us. We have been acting out the political drama of 1789 over and over again, with little guy underdog against the big guys, and it hasn’t worked for us. Maybe instead of enshrining incompetents as dictators, we should simply find competent leadership instead.
Sunday, May 1st, 2005
The pragmatically extremist core of the green movement has never been compatible with the mainstream of the same. Where middle of the road greenism is basically an extension of the democratic party, “extremist” (read: realistic, if we want to solve the problem) greenism has never fit into the leftist family of brands. Part of the reason for this is that, like the right, “extreme” greens refuse to praise the worker, the common man, “the people” and assume that, if power is simply turned over to these unfairly oppressed people, all things will turn out for the best. The assumption is that an elite of moneyed psychopaths holds us all hostage, and if we just overthrow them, the workers will do what is right.
Pragmatic greens recognize, like far-righters do, that in the past millennium what we’ve seen most commonly is not domination by a cruel elite, but the creation of cruel elites to control the mob that, having dominated the select few who can think, now cruises without a clue – and that always brings out the demagogues, in the same way that fresh blood in water attracts sharks. What, you have no direction? Not to speak too forwardly, but I’ll help – for a fee. And absolute allegiance. Those words, fifty years later, turn into the ruins of Soviet Russia: a once-cultured nation, now bereft of its genetics and values system, turned into a conformist machine which impoverished its population and killed the best of them. While there are signs that Russia is returning to health at the hand of Mr. Putin, there are also signs that something is missing – something which can never be recovered, a certain European-ness and also moral concept of civilization that is forever lost. It is perhaps true that Russia has forever joined the third world, not as much externally, but internally, as its own attitudes have come to have third world expectations and, lacking discipline, needs for third-world-style authoritarian rule.
It goes this way with every mass revolution. Some wise guy stands up and says, “It’s them” – the wealthy, or powerful, or good-looking, or gifted; take your pick, or combine – “they live well, while we starve. They oppress us! If we crush them, we will live in paradise!” And so the mob surges forward, and while they certainly murder a few people who deserve it, like decadent nobles and sex predator clergy, for the most part they exterminate or disable the few people with the brains to help them. Keeping your thumb on the fast-forward switch, you can see how in another generation, when the impetus of the revolution has run down, there are no more spoils left to divide, and no more excess wealth upon which one can feast. The nation is collapsing, and the revolutionaries are betraying each other in a desperate attempt to keep a grip on not wealth itself but the slippery concept of how to produce it on a consistent basis. At this point it becomes clear: being able to work a farm or factory does not imply being able to run one, from a design and decision perspective. Since the people are without direction, the demagogues rise, and soon authoritarian rule prevails.
Rightist authoritarian rule tends to be idealistic, and thus susceptible to problems because only a few people can actually understand the whole of its reasoning, thus underlings are without a clue how to make decisions until a generation has passed; mass revolts produce a different kind of authoritarian rule, close kin to “power for power’s sake,” but something closer to “power for paranoia’s sake.” When civilization comes unknit, and the rule of strength prevails, those who wish to endure take one of two courses of action: (a) hide or (b) gain more power than anyone else, and subjugate them, eliminating the constant threat. Hiding leaves one open to random predation, but becoming strong enables the group to not only survive but have a sense of planning for the future as well. It is this benevolent impulse that produces a climate of vicious leaders, and the generations shaped by this become true sociopaths, caring not about power for the sake of avoiding predation, but wielding power like a sick joke, pursuing it for the thrill of it and oblivious to consequences. When such men kill, they do not do so to make things better, as ideologues do; they do so to keep themselves from being bored.
Of course, these scenarios are extremes; what about mundane sorts of government, the day to day stuff we find ourselves dealing with in times of peace? Ah – like most mediocre things, they are hard to diagnose, as they give us few truly offensive statements and most of their incompetence is covered up by the time required for it to take effect. Much as when one works in the fields, a simple error is revealed in minutes, but a fundamental hour might not come to light until the next season, modern governments make a multitude of understandable tiny screwups and a few assumptions that create infinitely greater damage in the long term. By that time those who remember the decisions being made are dead, and the new generation knows only that something difficult happened, and endures it. There is no recollection of “we could have done it another way.” This is where one encounters the conflict that divides the green movements worldwide: they realize fairly radical changes need to be implemented to prevent the train wreck that is industrial society’s exploitation of its environment, but they also realize these changes will not fit into the realm of mundane decisions which governments and voters expect. How does one make a law that says we must expand no further, and must make thousands of decisions across the board in favor of the environment, for once?
For this reason, the greens are – like the rest of Europe and America, at least – divided by philosophy. One philosophy is the dominant one now, which says we must look after the interests of people and never curtail their rights, their desires, their hopes and dreams. The other, which is popular only in extremist circles, says that we must look not at individuals but at the effect of the whole of humanity, and only in that mindset can we see the damage and plan to control it. In this second mindset, instead of seeing uncountable individuals, we see one individual, divided up into many small organs. We don’t wish to destroy any organs that we need, but ultimately, what matters is the health of the whole, not the health of any one given organ. Organs are a means to an end, and that end is the whole. Thus individual organs are expendable, if expended to preserve or strengthen the whole. This type of thinking is completely alien to our modern society, and thus is also foreign to the mainstream greens, who are notable both for their opposition to it and their total lack of success in delaying environmental apocalypse. They won’t cross the line of the individual, and thus they cannot restrain humanity as a whole, since it is composed of – nay, driven by – individuals each seeking their own wants, desires, hopes, dreams.
The “extremist” greens have thus stumbled across the most important barrier in the modern time: like right-wing parties, they are willing to curtail the rights of the individual for the health of the whole. Further, like right-wing parties, they recognize that the worker would be something other than a worker if he or she knew anything significant about government; thus simply handing society over to “the people” is a recipe for continued selfishness, and not its abatement. They’re in a tough place, these greens, since they’ve seen enough to realize what must be done, but have no idea how to advance their political agenda. Mainstream right- and left-wing parties capitalize on this by accusing greens of having a lack of political vision. And in some ways, they’re right. Greens have an environmental vision, but in order to get to the place where they can put it into operation, they have to add to it a political vision, namely a plan for how the whole of society operates such that it can find reasons to want an environmental policy, and thus act on it. There’s another problem, too.
This problem is broader in implication and easier to trigger. It’s that one gets called a “sociopath” for endorsing any type of action that, in order to make the whole healthier, is willing to limit what any given individual can expect. If you suggest limiting population, you’re a sociopath. Euthanizing the elderly, the retarded, the hopelessly criminal – you’re a sociopath. Even telling people they cannot have giant cars, or oversized houses, is viewed as socially defective, violent, psychotic reasoning. This is how prevalent the barrier of the individual is. It does not apply to any known individual, but the idealized individual, meaning any of us and all of us. Bizarrely, the prohibition does not address outcomes but intentions; you are seen as sociopathic if you desire to use a certain method, because it is a banned mode of thought, regardless of what positive outcome it will produce. It’s blasphemy to even speak it. Naturally, in such a situation, most people give up on broader change and focus on having enough money for a house in a gated community, with air and water filters, radiation sheeting and health plans for the inevitable cancers. That is “survival,” and it’s the softer option than dominating one’s opposition, which is nearly impossible since their numbers are so great. That is, if one assumes that the rest of society is one’s opposition, something that to this writer does not seem entirely accurate.
The slur “sociopath” operates by the same principle as the terms atheist and theist: if you are not one, you must be the other, since they are opposites – correct? Nevermind that pantheists and polytheists exist, as we can group those under “theist”; this dichotomy does not admit any variation in the definition of God. If your god(s) require no belief, then you’re an atheist; if you believe, but not in gods, then you’re an atheist. In short, either believe in the singular God of the dominant religion, or be lumped in with the “non-believers.” My way, or the highway. They’re either with us, or against us. A binary worldview – this also extends to sociopathy, which is the opposite of being a good citizen. Nevermind that there are reasons to criticize society; it recognizes only one definition of good, which is its own, and any methods or ideas outside of its own method are thus seen as deviant. In our society, the founding principle is that the individual is supreme. Therefore, anything which seeks to limit the “freedom” and “needs” of the individual is sociopathic, fascist, amoral, etc. Anything which is not what already exists is by predefinition an illness which requires diagnosis and excision. For this reason, the term “sociopath,” normally applied to those who feel no concern for the consequences of their actions, is applied to those who feel so much concern for the consequences of our collective action that they are willing to limit our abilities as a whole. It makes more sense to say that the people who believe individuals should never be limited, even if they are destroying the world, are sociopathic, but no one will mention that on television.
Where did this kingdom of the individual start? To see this, we have to look not only at belief systems, but the sociopolitical shifts behind them. Clearly the highest degree of value is placed on the individual in non-idealistic, materialistic (meaning: addresses only physical reality, not a second spiritual “world” like dualistic systems) religions like Judaism, but the point of this exercise is not Judaism but the behavior of placing emphasis on the individual. It’s likely that as Christianity expanded in Europe, Judaic ideals went with it, encouraging a focus on individual drama, personal relationship to God, and expectation that if one acted well reward would come. However, this is only part of the picture, because simultaneously, other revolts were occurring. Ever since the domestication of livestock, technology had been allowing human beings to magnify their own ability through the use of tools, equalizing the war-strength of a hero to that of the hidden sniper taking aim at him. Arrows, guns, the internal combustion engine… and finally, as all open land ran out and it become required to get all items of sustenance from others, money. Each of these means narrowed the gap between the genius and the idiot, the priest and the con man, the warrior and geek. If in any society there are a fortunate few of high ability, and a large mass of those with lesser ability, this technological progress amounts to a rebellion of the many against the few.
It is the order that these people created that calls “sociopathic” anything which limits the abilities of the individual; this is because a crowd is formed only when every person thinks only for their own self-interest, and thus dumbs down the intent of the crowd to the lowest common denominator, causing it to act as if of its own accord. Crowds demand rights of the individual, because each wants to be able to hatch whatever scheme or indulge whatever weakness she is keeping hidden behind social politeness. Crowds demand democracy, because each wants to feel important but is dependent on others for his source of power, therefore gladly grants others the same rights and plans in secret to manipulate them. Crowds insist upon “proof,” that being the demonstration of something to the point where every idiot gets it, requiring that the questions to be proved be re-adjusted to deal with simpler topics. Crowds love public image displays, because every single person can see the “proof” offered by image, and agree, which allows those who can to manipulate behind the scenes. Interestingly, Plato offered this diagnosis among the ancient Greeks: democracy breeds self-importance in every individual, and thus they act as an unthinking mass, responding only to public image and demagoguery. For this reason, they’re easily manipulated, not by a conspiracy, but by the invisible but pragmatic bribes of an oligarchy of the wealthy. When the two candidates you see on TV differ by inconsequential but dramatic “beliefs,” and when all the newspapers report the same basic news, but you feel something is missing, remember Plato – he realized quickly that “sociopathy” is how a crowd labels behavior that will take away its power.
Returning to the question of environmental politics, it’s clear that there is no way to “prove” that our damage to the earth is worsening; those who don’t want to believe will pull out some “study,” however flimsy or lacking any grasp of the meaningful questions that would solve the debate, and loudly proclaim that the study has not been “disproved” and therefore the debate is open. This passive tactic is designed to outlast an adversary by insisting upon the impossible: change my mind, and then I’ll stop resisting your attempts to change my mind by reason. Because people are persistent, and act for individual reward, this behavior nullifies debate on the issue time and time again by dragging it into a standoff. And with a standoff, those who favor no radical change rule over those who do. Why? Because to brush aside the passive tactics of those who desire no change is “sociopathy,” of course.
Friday, April 15th, 2005
You won’t need to buy another one. Always golden, soft and buttery. Everyone likes it, even the slow kid on the block. 300 horsepower. A favorite everywhere. All that you wanted, and much, much more! Never a dull moment. Can’t eat just one! Show them how far you’ve come. It’s everything you wanted, and more. You’ll never look so good as with — well, whatever product it is. We’re familiar, on a daily basis, with advertising bombarding us. What defines advertising? It makes us associate a product with a lifestyle or a success; the product is the sign, and what is promised is something far beyond it. Do you really imagine simply owning one type of car, shoe, watch or jacket makes someone without power or prestige into someone with those qualities?
Of course it does not. But advertising doesn’t work by appealing to the logical brain, but to our memory, which dutifully stores the association (a brand of beer, leggy blond hotties clustered around::a car, pulling up to a class restaurant and being recognized) and, when we’re exhausted or distracted and trying to make a decision, pops it to the top of the stack and we select it. Of course I’ll prefer that brand, or, maybe I can afford a nice big car. Advertising works by targetting the part of our minds that don’t get translated into clear “I’m buying this for the following logical reasons” discourse. It hits us below the level we can even put into words.
The same is true of politics. The best product in politics is one that links together a number of things we think of as good, and puts a symbol atop them that is something everyone can remember and agree is a “good thing.” We might call it hyperbole, or overstating the effect and importance of something, or we might call it a superlative, which is attributing to something a universal degree of power and worth, but really, it’s both, and more. Advertising and politics both use universal symbols that are not anchored at all in reality, but in images, in associations, in non-logical ideas that attract our unguarded emotions but not our critical thinking. This is the power of symbols, when redirected to a base level.
In literature and art, symbols abound, but usually, their purpose is complex: to associate a certain action with a certain abstract idea or tendency. Advertising and politics are much simpler: they want you to see a one-to-one correspondence between a symbol/product and a life you can leading, if only you select that one thing. It’s a good way to get led around by your nose, because you’ll notice that in advertising and politics, no promises are made. You’re allowed to make an assumption because the advertisers and politicians are vocal about the same assumption, but there’s no followup and no guarantee. Did they explicitly promise that if you buy a certain brand of beer girls will flock to you? No, but they showed you it happening in a certain case. Same with the car. You saw one guy buy the car, and immediately be thrown into a world of success. It’s not logic, but imagery.
The modern age has done away with magic and most of religion except the most dogmatic and unworldly type, the kind that promises eternal vacations if you just do what the god in question demands (note that older religions would encourage you to sacrifice to the gods, but there was no guarantee you’d get anything out of it; half the time they were still wroth with you, and the sacrifice was in vain). Modern politics, religion and advertising thus are quite similar in that they say that if you do a certain action in this world, forces from another world will make of you something in this world. Whether that other world is the realm of gods, of the political-economic machine, or of money and leggy bimbettes, really doesn’t matter. The unstated promise, based on assumption, is what keeps you coming back for more.
We’ll take an example symbol, not for the sake of assaulting it as illusion, but for demonstrating its effects, although it is clearly one of the more destructive illusions. Why did we go to war in Iraq? Why, because once the Iraqi people have freedom, they’ll be like us. They’ll see our way of life is the better one, and give up those primitive tribal superstitions. They’ll stop being unreasonable, and see it our way. What is freedom? It starts with democracy, but it includes economic competition and the ability to earn lots of money if you dedicate your life to it. It also includes emancipation of women, and of every ethnic group and in short, equality of us all, except in our competition for money, in which we assume the best will win. It’s a one-size-fits-all solution. Freedom. And doesn’t it just sound good?
You’ll note these are not promises; they’re assumptions. And they operate like magic. When we bring freedom to Iraq, all of its previous problems (which required a series of hardcore rulers until Saddam Hussein finally unified the place and began selling oil for a fair price to the English) will take a backseat. A life of prosperity will settle. Presumably leggy Arab bimbettes will gather around sports cars, and those who drink certain brands of beer can go home with the hottie daughters of Imams. Ignorance will vanish. But does adopting “freedom” really have anything to do with sex, ignorance, or prosperity? These can come from other sources as well, and obviously have, if the fecundity of the Iraqi populace is any suggestion. We’re not telling them freedom is a better way; we’re letting everyone assume it is, and promising our lifestyle in return.
Astute readers (good to see you again) will have noticed that advertising is amazing in that it predicts inward and physical changes in response to outward, symbolic options. There is no more nutrition in one brand of beer over another that makes you smarter, sexier, etc. Nor is there anything in one brand of car that makes your breath smell better, your muscles tighter, your testosterone more vigorous or your penis heartier (that’s another product, but read the two pages of fine print, in case it kills you). Advertising and politics redirect our belief in a thought process geared toward the right answer, and supplants it with something which suggests a universal right answer, but in reality, only sells a product. It methods is this same superlative hyperbole that we see in the belief that democracy/freedom will somehow conquer the world and make it a safe, Utopic place.
You can even see this merely in how we define “freedom” and “democracy.” Democracy means government by vote; it doesn’t guarantee that those votes are intelligent, or that intelligent solutions come from it. We associate it with “freedom,” meaning civil rights, but those don’t ensure that what is best is done; they only grant us a defense against government. In short, with democracy/freedom, we’ve gone from trying to do what is right to trying to do what protects us against wrong. Our only direction is defensive. But when you package that up as a perfect cure for all ills at once, it sounds good. And then when out of the forty thousand words spoken aloud you hear daily, the loudest voices babble on about “freedom,” you follow that carrot even though you haven’t been promised any real effect. Just an image, a shining image, one that tugs at your emotions. Have you been sold an illusion?