Posts Tagged ‘horseshoe theory’

Escaping The Two-Party Paradigm Requires Realizing That The Left-Right Division Is Real

Tuesday, July 18th, 2017

The wires of the internet are alive with bloviation about a “horseshoe theory” and “false Left-Right paradigm.” As with anything popular and trending, these too are stupid and illusory, but they refer to something else we should pay attention to which the herd has poorly articulated.

So what are we missing?

Andy Nowicki gives us part of the vision with a look into the futility of mass politics:

For in casting one’s vote for or otherwise throwing one’s weight behind one side—be it the yin or the yang—of a binary, duopolic, Manichean paradigm, one is in fact not only selling one’s soul (which is to say, serving a master who is not God), or supporting evil in order to oppose what one takes to be a greater evil… no, one is not merely guilty of these betrayals ; one is also in a sense propping up the other side, the side one recognizes as being the worse of the two factions.

For in a world ruled by a duopoly, each side of the yin-yang spectrum parasitically feeds off the other for its own sustenance. One side could not be what it is without the active contrivance of its supposed opposite, and vice versa. Both yin and yang are fortified by the other’s scorn, contempt, and hostility; each digs in all the more when it perceives itself being threatened, and by digging in, thereby causes the other side to feel threatened, which in turn enhances the other side’s sense of righteous hysteria, leading to a never-ending cycle of rationalized provocations and self-justified aggressions.

What he describes is a feedback loop, or what occurs when there are two or more entities in a system interacting with one another. The first does something, the second reacts to it, and then the first reacts to that, perpetuating a cycle. The classic feedback loop as described by William Gibson is a child playing a video game, with computer and human both responding to the other and then triggering the next iteration of responses.

When we support one side of a duality, it strengthens the other by making it necessary, since the first is based on its relationship to the other. The two are defined relatively. This even applies to multiple parties, in that if all participants in a system adjust their behavior based on what others do, to support one is to cause interaction with the others.

However, this model fails when we step outside the democratic paradigm and as a result, stop treating politics like a conflict between football teams. The goal of politics is not to fight the other guy, but to assert what is the right type of society to have. This is why Leftists and Rightists are incompatible: we want entirely different types of civilizations.

The difference between Left and Right comes down to a war of ideas:

The very idea of a political spectrum fosters the illusion that if two schools of thought are both on the Right, they must be just two versions of the same thing, differing only in matters of degree. But of course Right and Left are on the same political spectrum as well, and we do not think they differ only in degree. Political philosophies differ fundamentally in terms of their basic principles and their political goals. This is true of Left vs. Right, and it is true of one Right vs. another. The only thing that really unites the different camps of the Right is a negative belief, namely rejecting the idea that equality is the highest political value. (The camps of the Left are more unified because they all affirm a positive, namely that equality is the highest political value.)

…ultimately White Nationalists believe and want very different things than the civic nationalists, classical liberals, neoconservatives, and Christian conservatives who oppose us. They have different philosophies and goals. They don’t want to be like us. They have nothing to gain from us — except looking more moderate and reasonable to centrist eyes, which is really the only reason they mention us at all.

…We will be a lot more effective if we stop being threatened by principled intellectual disagreement and start taking ideas a bit more seriously.

The basic argument above — that this is a war of ideas, and we must discuss ideas to clarify them, even through argument and debate — is a healthy and sensible one. There are a few points upon which elaboration is necessary.

First, most people do not understand that in a war of ideas, each idea is a sub-archetype of some fundamental philosophy that represents more of a direction/purpose in life and an explanation of how life works than a distinct and new direction in itself. Even if we accept that Rightism is not a spectrum, we can see how all Rightist beliefs are unified by some ancestor in thought.

On Amerika, we have identified the Right as consequentialists who also strive for transcendental goodness. To be an extreme realist like a consequentialist is to believe that we get anywhere only by understanding our world in detail, but that tells us method, and we then must know toward what we should strive.

The answer comes from reality itself: like Darwinian evolution, or even self-discipline, we strive for qualitative improvement based on our lot in life “as it is” according to realism. To do that, we must seek that which is good and beautiful in life, exploring our own capacity for virtue, so that we know what to do with what we know of how reality works.

It is not as simple as saying that the Right opposes equality. We do oppose it, but mainly because it is unrealistic. It is also moral sabotage, but that is minor compared to the fact that equality clashes with the mathematics underlying our universe and, as a result, leads to accelerated entropy and decrepitude.

More importantly, the Right desires a society that is based on an order higher than the individual; this is part of consequentialism, or measuring our actions in terms of their results and not how humans judge them. The other extreme, egalitarianism, figures that whatever is popular is right, simply because it is what the individual wants. This is the secret meaning behind equality: no one can rise above the herd, and whatever the herd desires, is presumed to be right, especially if it contradicts what more intelligent, honorable or wiser people know.

So while the “official” Leftist and Rightist parties — or even a host of parties including Greens, Communitarians, and other permutations, all of which boil down to one ideological ancestor of the other — are engaged in a football game of Red Team versus Blue Team, the battle between Rightist (realism) and Leftism (individualism) is real.

Those official parties are allegorically similar to the difference between a McDonald’s cheeseburger and the abstract notion of cooked meat. The Right-wing parties sometimes do something vaguely Right-wing, true, but most of the time they are buying votes just like the Left-wing party. The difference is that buying votes and other attributes of democracy push further toward the Left, because democracy itself as the political wing of egalitarianism tends toward the Left. Whether this is done through elections, judges, shifts in meaning to common terms or all of the above is irrelevant at that point. Any participation in democracy strengthens the Left.

In addition, democracy is doomed because it always favors what is not real. In a democracy, those who offer the words that make most people feel warm and happy inside become the winners. There is no obligation to follow up. That means that we are choosing actors, not leaders, and that they will do as little as possible to change the course of history because doing so would endanger their personal place within the hierarchy. In addition, there is no accountability for the people making the decisions in question, because the voters cast their lot like throwing dice and then blame everyone else for whatever they get.

Now let us return to the horseshoe theory which states that at their extremes, Rightism and Leftism resemble each other because both become authoritarian. Looking at this more sagely, it is clear that “government” — as opposed to leadership as in a monarchy — itself is a creation of modernity, which is the time period that arose after the individualism of the Renaissance™ became the egalitarianism of the Enlightement™ and finally, mutated into a collectivism and conformist version of those.

Equality is the root of modernity and government. However, government does not work; it is a self-serving corporation that becomes parasitic to the nations in which it holds power. As a result, it becomes unstable over time and must become authoritarian in order to remain in power by retaining control. The “horseshoe theory” applies to government, not political inclinations.

Rightism, as you no doubt recall, was the name given to those who liked the way things were before the French Revolution. All conservatives have this in common, and the use of time-honored methods represented a variant of the Rightist idea of extreme realism plus existential well-being through qualitative improvement. Kings are the only stable method of leadership; this can be improved qualitatively, but not changed.

If you are not an egalitarian, you are most likely a Rightist, but this is because of a lack of other options. You either believe in an order above human intentions, or an order of human intentions. You can avoid the question entirely, but there is no “third front” or “third way.” The Egalitarianism Question (EQ) divides all theories into these two camps.

We know that government is doom; how would a rightist pick something… better? One answer comes to us from civic engagement and social capital, which are both not-government and not-anarchy:

Especially with regard to the postcommunist countries, scholars and democratic activists alike have lamented the absence or obliteration of traditions of independent civic engagement and a widespread tendency toward passive reliance on the state.

…When Tocqueville visited the United States in the 1830s, it was the Americans’ propensity for civic association that most impressed him as the key to their unprecedented ability to make democracy work. “Americans of all ages, all stations in life, and all types of disposition,” he observed, “are forever forming associations. There are not only commercial and industrial associations in which all take part, but others of a thousand different types–religious, moral, serious, futile, very general and very limited, immensely large and very minute. . . . Nothing, in my view, deserves more attention than the intellectual and moral associations in America.”

Recently, American social scientists of a neo-Tocquevillean bent have unearthed a wide range of empirical evidence that the quality of public life and the performance of social institutions (and not only in America) are indeed powerfully influenced by norms and networks of civic engagement. Researchers in such fields as education, urban poverty, unemployment, the control of crime and drug abuse, and even health have discovered that successful outcomes are more likely in civically engaged communities.

These civic engagements only exist for so long as they are protected by a conservative social order, however, because the “me first” individualist order of egalitarianism erodes them by demanding attention to the individual, and not the shared social space. In effect, when each individual can take power, a “tragedy of the commons” results where each person seizes power for themselves, and none is allowed to remain shared between the citizens; the paradox of this is that for power to remain shared, it must be owned by someone so that there is actual accountability, because otherwise people take what they want and then blame others or the group for the collective tragedy.

This tragedy of the commons takes effect anywhere humans go, and constitutes part of The Human Problem, which is how every human organization decays. The goal of the group is eroded under waves of individual need. As individuals exploit their own need, they see no reason to be limited in doing so, because if they do, others will win out. Only when a factor like a shared goal or higher order intervenes can people be induced to stop competing with one another and cooperate, but at that point, those who do not cooperate — “free riders” — gain power.

Ironically, success brings about this condition. A society that is thriving has extra wealth that it can squander on various forms of non-productive or even destructive behavior. In societies where every moment and morsel count, there is less tolerance for getting it wrong, and so the individuals in those societies develop social codes based on long-term thinking, honor, fidelity and shared goals. Where there is tolerance for getting it wrong, The Human Problem accelerates. This may be why the original Western Civilization originated in people who emerged from the Arctic Circle, where sloppiness or parasitism resulted in death, and were punished accordingly.

Egalitarianism, on the other hand, says that sloppiness and parasitism are just fine because everyone is equal and therefore, should be accepted even if they are unproductive, screw up a lot or have bad faith participation. Leftism is the philosophy of egalitarianism, much as democracy is its political arm. For that reason, the West cannot be Leftist:

The Alt-Right certainly doesn’t believe the West is “liberal values.” Western civilization existed for centuries before the Enlightenment. It was the product of a particular people, their religion, history and culture. It used to be a very illiberal place in Antiquity, the Middle Ages and Early Modern Era. The Left admits this by saying we should be ashamed to be Westerners because we weren’t always so liberal.

We believe that liberalism is destroying Western civilization. It has led to this crippling sense of racial guilt and cultural malaise. It has opened our borders to the ongoing Third World invasion. It has unraveled and debauched our culture. We’ve degenerated to the point where we celebrate the death of our own children as “freedom.” We can’t even reproduce ourselves anymore or assert our own identity and interests. It will suffice to say that liberalism is the philosophy of Western suicide.

In other words, the West is its people, and those people only thrive when subjected to natural selection, such that those who are productive, intelligent and morally good are advanced above the rest and keep that herd under control, because otherwise the herd discovers egalitarianism and promptly exploits civilization in a tragedy of the commons.

So now we come full-circle. The horseshoe theory is nonsense if applied to Left and Right, but describes exactly what happens as government decays. The Left-Right paradigm is not false at all, but taking sides based on the parties and not the philosophies that they in theory espouse, is in fact nonsensical and merely strengthens the Left-leaning system. And Leftism, like all forms of herd morality, is our death.

Horseshoe Theory: Large Corporations Behave Like Communism

Tuesday, June 20th, 2017

The theory of Crowdism states that our problem as a species is not a particular ideology, but any behavior in which humans become a goal in themselves. This is equivalent to a means-over-ends analysis that selects for methods which do not harm, inconvenience or embarrass any individual.

Since the dawn of our species, humans have been self-destructing in groups because at a certain point, the herd wins out. The innovators, leaders and pioneers are always few and the herd many, and the herd takes over and makes the activity about the herd, instead of about its ostensible purpose.

And so a business becomes a support system for its workers (unions, socialism); a government becomes an industry for lobbyists and bureaucrats; a church group becomes a social opportunity for bored middle class ladies; a gang becomes a cult centered around a leader who tells people what they want to hear.

This is the real horseshoe theory: at any point, human endeavors become their opposites because the need of the herd to be a goal in itself inverts the purpose of the organization.

Witness the similarities between monopolistic businesses and Communism:

Look at how Google games searches. A study reported in The Wall Street Journal found that in 25,000 random Google searches ads for Google products appeared in the most prominent slot 91% of the time. How is that not the unfair leveraging of search dominance and the abuse of algorithm? All 1,000 searches for “laptops” started with an ad for Google’s Chromebook — 100% of the time. Kim Jong Un would be envious of results like that at election time.

And then there are the recently launched Google snippets, which stylistically highlight search results as if they were written on stone tablets and carried down from the mountain. Their sheer visual physicality gives them apparent moral force. The word “Orwellian” is flagrantly abused, but when it comes to the all-powerful algorithms of Google, Amazon and Facebook, “Orwellian” is UNDER-used.

As for news, institutional neglect has left us perched on the edge of the slippery slope of censorship.

Interestingly enough, Mencius Moldbug picked up on this years ago by noting that organizations who desire a monopoly no longer act out of need, but out of aspiration to total power and total control:

Sometimes I get an almost Soviet feel off Google. After all, what was the Soviet Union but a whole country run by a single company? Of course, Google is much better managed than the Soviet Union. But give it a few years.

When you are writing a large piece of software in order to just give it away, it has to be a labor of love. If it’s not a labor of love, the task becomes Brezhnevian. Google will do just fine if everyone in the world accesses their servers via Apple or Microsoft phones. The commercial justification for writing Android strikes me as quite thin.

While this passage argues against his own theory of Neoreaction — if big corporations running a country end up like the Soviet Union did, then Anarcho-Capitalist Libertarianism is not an escape from the human problem described in the first paragraph of this essay — he makes a good point: we either act toward ends for the sake of those ends alone, or we become the ends, and then regulate method until we invert ourselves from ends-over-means to means-over-ends and filter out anything that offends the herd. That in turn produces the entropy that takes down every human group from a cluster of friends through a civilization, namely that internal division predominates over cooperation because the meaning of the activity has been lost through inversion.

Any corporation, if it becomes large enough, comes to serve itself, just like any government without hierarchy and culture becomes a parasitic predator determined to use its people as a means to the end of itself. Without some kind of cooperative goal, as is found in culture and transcendent appreciation of life, the activity becomes merely technical and then, becomes a purpose in itself.

Plato noted this in his own account of the end of a golden age and the degeneration to the point where democracy “seemed like a good idea” to the round-headed herd:

When discord arose, then the two races were drawn different ways: the iron and brass fell to acquiring money and land and houses and gold and silver; but the gold and silver races, not wanting money but having the true riches in their own nature, inclined towards virtue and the ancient order of things. There was a battle between them, and at last they agreed to distribute their land and houses among individual owners; and they enslaved their friends and maintainers, whom they had formerly protected in the condition of freemen, and made of them subjects and servants; and they themselves were engaged in war and in keeping a watch against them.

You either do things for their own sake, or they become masters over you. You can feed your people because you love them, strive for excellence, fight for supremacy, and try to build the greatest civilization ever, and fortune will shine on you. But when you are doing things because of the things themselves, like “we gotta keep the corporation running” or “the Party demands sacrifice,” then everything falls apart. That is the horseshoe in effect: whether Communist or Capitalist, you will end up in the same place without some kind of transcendental goal.

Plato calls it virtue. Christians call it holiness, but that seems too serving of itself as well. To the ancients in The Odyssey, it was a sense of putting the world to right, both morally uncompromising in a way that the Christians wish they could be, and geared toward balance more nuanced than the silly yin-yang that every teenager puts on their bedroom wall next to the dreamcatcher and Che Guevara poster.

Without this transcendental goal and people smart enough to keep us focused on it, every one of our ventures comes to serve itself and then self-destructs. This even applies to Metallica; when they were out there to make the best music they could imagine, the band had quality, but as soon as the goal became making the band more successful, the quality dwindled and popularity surged. This is the sign of an entropy bloom: like a red tide, at first the algae seem to be successful because their numbers have increased, but then there is a population crash. Like yeast in a bowl of syrup, or lemmings in a field of grain.

That transition from cooperation to control is what wrecks human endeavors, even solitary ones.

Consider the church. First it came to save the souls of men, but then it started competing with pagans and other sects, and acted toward its own power and control. This made it corrupt. That then removed the value it offered — salvation by inducing people to do what was necessary to save their minds, souls and logical ability — and it went into decline, but first it became wildly popular because it had lowered standards to the point where the herd could participate. Profiteers surged in and made themselves famous, but now, it is basically a dead institution in the first world. So it goes.

Power serves only itself unless you have an aristocrat — a philosopher king, in the sense of Marcus Aurelius and Meister Eckhart — to intervene and redirect things toward intangible and immutable but ongoing goals, known as the transcendentals. These are exclusively qualitative and relative, such as the classic formulation “the good, the beautiful and the true,” and also include the Bill And Ted’s Excellent Adventure sense of just wanting excellence, a form of benevolent elitism. Make everything the best of everything.

As the old saying goes, you either struggle upstream or are swept downstream. Civilizations either reach for constant improvement or are swept into the third world mentality of subsistence living, essentially dishonest people, and warlords to act as fences to keep the herd from running loose and harming itself.

So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.

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