Amerika

Posts Tagged ‘paranoia’

Narrative Fallacies

Friday, September 15th, 2017

Your internet clique — whichever one you have joined — is a joke.

No one is going to convert the world to their own idiosyncratic agenda.  Even if you can get a few thousand people to listen to your podcast, you still won’t have the same effect on the world that an obscure Baptist church in the middle of nowhere has.  A few thousand people showing up for a baseball game on a Wednesday night is considered a small crowd, so do try to keep things in perspective.

And why should anyone privilege an online community as being more serious for discussing politics?  The world would be a better place if people with too much time on their hands spent their free time raising chickens, fixing old cars and making rifles instead of pumping out half-baked manifestos featuring their preferred scapegoat and scheme for bring about utopia.

The common thread between the SJW activist arguing that all the world’s problems are because of white men, the socially alienated NEET who blames the Jews, and the super concerned religious person who thinks it’s the homosexuals is that they’re all falling for narrative fallacies

A narrative fallacy is any story or explanation that portrays the world in simple terms of good and bad where we, the masses who voted for all this insanity, are innocent.

There really isn’t a bad guy pulling the strings in a dark tower somewhere.  The world is a place we didn’t evolve to understand, but to survive as hunter gatherers fighting with other hunter gatherers.  People simply take a few random threads and work together a tapestry of a narrative that helps them to make sense of reality, but is in fact not reality at all.  Nothing good comes from following a map while ignoring the actual facts on the ground.

The problem with narrative fallacies is that “all roads lead to Rome,” and in this case Rome is the type of individualism that makes people both narcissistic and paranoid. Most people take the red pill only so that they can create a new narrative where they get to play the victim card, which is a simpler, easier and more convenient idea than actual analysis, so it quickly takes over any right-wing group.

What can anyone do then?

Tell the truth.

The great power of /pol/ is not in playing capture the flag with idiot celebrities or promoting any particular political agenda, but in providing a forum where information can be ruthlessly reviewed.  The value is not the funny memes, but having a place to get data about what’s actually going on.

Twisting things for purposes of propaganda doesn’t help anyone.  No one cares about your pet conspiracy theories except for your own personal social media clique.  And the only real result of your social media clique is to get into flame wars with other cliques you agree with 75-90% of the time, but with whom you disagree on as little as one minor point of political theology, so an Encyclopedia Dramatica article can be inspired.

Tell people the facts.  Call out liars and charlatans.  Don’t get sidetracked with personality cults or agendas.

We do not need conspiracy theories or narrative fallacies to explain what is going on. In fact, we need the opposite: people relentlessly tearing down the illusions until all that is left is the truth, and then we can set aside our personal drama and work together toward a realistic solution.

But that will never be as popular as the lottery of personalities that the game of cliques provides.

Dot-Com 3.0 Bust Goes Mainstream As People Pull Away From Silicon Valley Services

Wednesday, September 13th, 2017

As mentioned here before, the Dot-Com 3.0 boom — the years after the iPhone when social media took over — is heading straight for collapse, even as efforts are being made to fight that inevitable end.

The recurring problem that Dot-Com 3.0 faces is tied up with SJWs: our new media overlords have cultivated an audience who fanatically uses their product, but this is not a particularly relevant or effective audience, being made up mostly of obese blue-haired baristas, financially insolvent food service workers, committed Leftist basement-dwellers and angry minorities.

Everyone else is gradually fleeing these services as they become increasingly toxic. In the meantime, in order to curry favor with their audience of SJWs, these giant internet corporations have become manipulative and are starting to resemble Soviet-style indoctrination in their relentless advance of narrative, leading to a growing movement to nationalize them as utilities to neutralize their bias:

The new spotlight on these companies doesn’t come out of nowhere. They sit, substantively, at the heart of the biggest and most pressing issues facing the United States, and often stand on the less popular side of those: automation and inequality, trust in public life, privacy and security. They make the case that growth and transformation are public goods — but the public may not agree.

The tech industry has also benefited for years from its enemies, who it cast — often accurately — as Luddites who genuinely didn’t understand the series of tubes they were ranting about, or protectionist industries that didn’t want the best for consumers. That, too, is over. Opportunists and ideologues have assembled the beginnings of a real coalition against these companies, with a policy core consisting of refugees from Google boss Eric Schmidt’s least favorite think tank unit. Nationalists, accurately, see a consolidation of power over speech and ideas by social liberals and globalists; the left, accurately, sees consolidated corporate power.

This distrust of Silicon Valley is expressed in a recent poll which found that 52% of respondents believe that Google’s search results are biased, and 65% do not want to be tracked. At the same time, Spain has fined Facebook for privacy violations in how it collects data on users.

In the meantime, others have discovered that Silicon Valley has been inflating its usage figures — sort of like a fake Nielsen rating showing more watchers than were actually there — to the point of absurdity, and they have been doing this for years in order to evade one crucial report that showed, two years into the reign of the iPhone and mobile computing, that display ads on social media were worthless.

Silicon Valley has been dodging that one for some time, and their solution has been to cultivate a fanatical audience of SJWs instead of a broader audience of normal people. That in turn has helped enforce a split: on the internet, you are either a fanatical Leftist or someone who is skeptical of the internet. That skepticism has fueled questioning about the value of social media and internet use as an activity, especially since it represents to this generation what daytime television did to the 1980s: people with no purpose, not much hope, and very little else to do.

It is possible that the “always on” nature of social media is making us miserable:

But in 2012, when the proportion of Americans who own smartphones surpassed 50 percent, she noticed abrupt changes in teen behavior and emotional states.

…Among other things, teens are: not hanging out as much with friends, in no rush to drive, dating less, having less sex, and getting less sleep. Most alarming, despite their continual connectivity, they are lonely. And rates of teen depression and suicide have skyrocketed since 2011.

…“Much of this deterioration can be traced to their phones. It’s not just the technology, I should stress, it’s really the social media, which is the most common risk they are facing.”

One factor in this is that social media is driven by Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO) which causes people to obsessively tune in many times throughout the day and night, with many users taking their phone to bed in order to consume more media. This leads to an inability to ever detach from the narrative, which means they are not at rest even when sleeping, and a lack of sleep, which increases delusionality, hallucinations and psychotic behavior:

The primary outcome measures were for insomnia, paranoia, and hallucinatory experiences

…Compared with usual practice, the sleep intervention at 10 weeks reduced insomnia (adjusted difference 4·78, 95% CI 4·29 to 5·26, Cohen’s d=1·11; p<0·0001), paranoia (−2·22, −2·98 to −1·45, Cohen's d=0·19; p<0·0001), and hallucinations (−1·58, −1·98 to −1·18, Cohen's d=0·24; p<0·0001). ...It provides strong evidence that insomnia is a causal factor in the occurrence of psychotic experiences and other mental health problems.

Paranoia might be understood as “inverse solipsism,” meaning that it assumes a focus on the individual by wide-ranging external forces. Both posit the individual as the center of all activity, or origin of all meaning, and as such, the individual assumes that any activity out there is directed at them, in a mild form of one of the symptoms of schizophrenia.

Social media can induce this by compelling the individual to constantly interact with a symbolic representation of the world, and this token quickly obfuscates actual reality, which is both wider and less clear-cut and therefore, more ambiguous and threatening. As one writer found, this creates a pathology like addiction:

The landscape of my days has come to resemble my computer screen. The constant stream of pings and swooshes is a nonstop cry for my attention, and on top of that, everything can be clicked on, read, responded to, and Googled instantaneously. I sense a constant agitation when I’m doing something, as if there is something else out there, beckoning—demanding—my attention. And nothing needs to be deferred. It’s all one gratifying tap of the finger away.

…I am a writer by profession, and about a year ago I found myself unable to produce. I attributed my paralysis to writer’s block, freighted with psychological meaning, when in fact what I suffered from was a frightening inability to remain focused long enough to construct a single sentence.

…My therapy, of my own devising, consists of serial mono-tasking with a big dose of mindful intent, or intentional mindfulness—which is really just good, old-fashioned paying attention.

Living a virtual life means that the real life is ignored, which is why so many people seem to live in neckbeard nests where the computer is the only functional object, a gleaming device of firm lines surrounded by the more detailed organic forms of crumpled clothing, discarded wrappers, cigarette butts, detritus and dirt.

Social media requires people buy into that online life, and while many normal people use it periodically, its compulsive users — mostly SJWs — have become its focus. For those it becomes compulsive, with them fearing to go more than a few moments without checking for updates. Facebook, Google, et al. have figured that if they cannot have everyone use their service, they want to cultivate the largest fanatical audience that they can, which is why politics, lifestyle and social media use converge.

In a broader sense, Dot-Com 3.0 mindlock reflects the conditions of modernity, which are defined by control. The individual demands to control nature, especially the nature within, by asserting his individuality through equality; this creates a herd which must be taught to boo the enemy and cheer the good guys; that in turn makes the individualists enforce those boos and cheers on each other, causing a spiral where the society gradually eliminates any notice of reality and focuses exclusively on symbols.

The cart goes before the horse, the tail wags the dog, the world is turned upside-down. While we chase the One True Ring of power and control, we sleepwalk into a Brave New World style society based on what people want, instead of their suppression. Democracy, equality, pluralism and tolerance encourage us to be as weird as we want to be, and we slowly drift farther from reality, becoming more miserable as we do so, until the end seems like a good thing.

Social media just tapped into our mania for control through symbolism. If you replace the complex knowledge of the world as whole with a single interface of symbols that claim to control it all, people — or at least some types of people — become addicted. This addiction creates a hive mind for the purpose of excluding anything but what it wants to believe, and reality is pushed far away.

At this point, the populist wave has brought a backlash against unreality, and the unrelenting defense of unreality from the social media crowd is what is pushing Dot-Com 3.0 into collapse. The audience they need, the normal middle class, is fleeing, and the legbeards and blue-hairs are taking over at the same time regulators close in and investors shy away. The carnage will be delicious.

Colossus: The Forbin Project (1970)

Tuesday, August 22nd, 2017

Presaging compupocalypse films like War Games and Hackers, and possibly prescient about the problem of Silicon Valley, Colossus: The Forbin Project revealed to us the problem of too much logic, following in the lines of Frankenstein, the only book mentioned in the film. The questions it raises remain relevant to us today.

Dr. Charles Forbin, a brilliant scientist, creates a massive computer which can teach itself through heuristics, making it nearly self-aware. Designed to be so logical and omniscient that it would prevent attacks on the United States, this machine is given control of the American nuclear stockpile and access to television, radio, and telephone signals.

It quickly detects that the Soviets have made a similar machine and interfaces with that machine, forming one giant digital brain that quickly asserts control, aided by video cameras and its ability to process public information and make conclusions from it, determined to save humanity from nuclear war. But the humans will not like its methods.

Presaging other omniscient computer overlords from books like The Moon is a Harsh Mistress and later television programs like Person of Interest, Colossus: The Forbin Project plays into our fears of being illogical in a world where some of that illogicality is not only necessary, but pleasurable. If we did everything right according to a genius calculator, we might have fewer problems… but also might lose our souls.

The film starts slowly, which usually indicates an unfinished ending because it never gets to the meat of the story, and for book-readers, that might well be the case. We want to learn more about this machine and what it knows. That does not translate well to the screen, however, and so the screenwriters did their best to make an interesting film where half of the dialogue is between a digital voice and increasingly irate scientists.

Where this film triumphs is in the character of the computer: literal, logical, and relentless. Revealed to us through teletypes and computer screens for the most part, the machine develops the rudiments of a personality, which drives the story along like a mystery. Aided by some truly magnificent sets, excellent acting and many subtleties in the human characters, the movie picks up the pace and becomes engrossing.

As we stagger into the twenty-first century with a similar battle where logicality seems too unrealistic, and yet human illogicality is too animalistic, this movie raises questions that will return repeatedly in the future. It may be possible, it hints, to be too logical, and the end result of that will be a type of existence we will find appalling.

While the headlines are full of attempts by Google, climate change scientists and the media trying to force us to do what is “right” even though it is clearly wrong in the bigger picture, the staggeringly brilliant and unrelenting machine from Colossus: The Forbin Project may well be a metaphor for our time and the challenge to us to exceed it.

Conspiracy Thinking As Metaphorical Truth

Friday, June 30th, 2017

When the space shuttle blew up the first time — well, and the second time too — we became subject to what is referred to as “conspiracy thinking.” This variety of opinion depends on the improbable to argue that there is an external parasite controlling our government or society that is engineering events to herd us like cattle.

That part is true at least — that we are ruled by manipulative parasites — but in my experience, those parasites are created by the chaotic and selfish behavior of humans, and the antidote to them is not anarchy but aristocracy, or putting the smart/good people in charge to rein in the rest of the squabbling, shrieking monkeys.

A mob will always choose the simplest possible answer to any question. They resonate to emotional statements, usually ones that explain their own failings as (actually) victimhood and give them a bad guy to both blame for those failings and to aspire to destroy. This is how you unite a mob, which represents a lowest common denominator of all of the people involved.

Conspiracy thinking is almost always of this nature, but not always. There is a variety of conspiracy thinking that is best described as metaphorical politics. It represents a type of extended disbelief that things were as bad as they must have been for an event to occur, and consists of blaming something more interesting for ordinary, hum-drum, everyday mundane human tendencies toward ineptitude.

Let us tour a world of dysfunction and its conspiracy theories.

Agenda 21 may be my favorite because it is both interesting, and the metaphor is correct. Officially, United Nations Agenda 21 involves “sustainable development,” and most of its wording reflects that. To the best of the conspiracy theories, UN Agenda 21 is total world control:

This document describes nothing less than a global government takeover of every nation across the planet. The “goals” of this document are nothing more than code words for a corporate-government fascist agenda that will imprison humanity in a devastating cycle of poverty while enriching the world’s most powerful globalist corporations like Monsanto and DuPont.

…Notice carefully that nowhere does this document state that “achieving human freedom” is one of its goals. Nor does it explain HOW these goals are to be achieved. As you’ll see here, every single point in this UN agenda is to be achieved through centralized government control and totalitarian mandates that resemble communism.

The interesting thing is that the conspiracy theories are correct, if we take their concerns as metaphorical, or symbolically accurate without being literally true. In that sense, UN Agenda 21 is a symbol of what is going on behind the scenes.

Here is where it gets hairy. International law relies on a heap of treaties and precedents in law in the countries which sign them. This means that the law only goes one way: toward the direction indicated by the treaties, because otherwise, it would have to swim upstream against what has been achieved so far.

This means that once one has set a toe on the path toward Leftism, there is only one direction that can be taken, and that is to greater Leftism. In this way, the conspiracy theorists are metaphorically correct: the UN is taking over our countries because we have signed treaties, the definitions of which are in the hands of UN agencies, which will take us down a further direction toward Leftism.

Many of these treaties involve “standards,” which are rules promulgated by international bodies. We agree to obey the rule, but then there is this international committee which defines the rule, and so if the rule changes, we are still bound by it. In the same way, treaties contain clauses — such as that if 2/3 of the members agree to a change, it becomes law — allowing foreigners to write law we must obey.

None of these laws will ever reverse course. They start with certain assumptions and the correct answer favored by career politicians is always to expand upon what has already been decided. This is the safe choice. This is the career-advancing choice. And so it will never change, because people fundamentally seek what will advance them.

And so, “Agenda 21” conspiracy theories might as well be real: we have launched ourselves down a path whereby, if people do what is expected to bring them fame and acclaim, they will gradually and successively convey us toward the state described by the “Agenda 21” conspiracies. Even when they are not real… they are real.

This situation is in fact even worse than a conspiracy. Instead of shadowy forces intending evil, we have normal people doing what is necessary to succeed in society, and their well-intentioned efforts are producing the destructive force. Once you adopt one Leftist rule, more will follow, and soon every successive rule simply follows the implications of the previous. One cannot change direction at all under those circumstances, at least without saying effectively that everything done for the past century or two was wrong. And voters do not like that.

White Genocide is widely reported in our media as a conspiracy theory on the basis that no one, anywhere, has made a Wannsee Protocol about white extermination. And yet the process is happening through diversity, because when you settle groups together, they tend to interbreed, destroying the original groups over time.

This meme has gained popularity as conflicts with diversity have increased, and is often expressed in a way that is barely conspiratorial; this recognizes that replacement of unique high-performing races, ethnic groups and social castes or classes is part and parcel of the ideology of egalitarianism which is the root of Leftism and seems always to result in the higher being destroyed by the lower, which is why white genocide fits right in:

  • Moving millions of non-White immigrants into traditionally White countries over a period of years. This alone is not genocide, but the next step makes it a part of genocide.

  • Legally chasing down and forcing White areas to accept “diversity.” This is known as “Forced Assimilation.”

    A combination of mass immigration (of different groups of people) plus forced assimilation would qualify as genocide, as defined by Article II, part (C) of the United Nations Genocide Conventions:

    Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part.

Is someone who is 3/4 English, genetically, and 1/4 something entirely different still English? Of course not, in the same way that ice cream with one quarter bacon fat in it is no longer useful for its original purpose. Or beer if you add 1/4 Metamucil. But it is usually through those smaller amounts of mixture that tribes are erased.

It happens simply through the oldest of mechanisms. A tribe that could not defeat another militarily simply moves as close as possible. It starts sending its unattached young women to walk through the settlement of the other tribe, selling flowers. Soon a few find also unattached young men of the other tribe, usually the underconfident or nerdly ones.

The magic happens a generation after that. The mixed offspring look enough like the other tribe for normal members of that tribe to consider marrying them. They then bring in the hybrids, and normalize their 1/4 foreign offspring. Those genes begin circulating. The important change that happens is that the other tribe ceases to be totally consistent, and becomes something else as the trace admixture knocks out part of its genetic networks.

Was this diversity designed as genocide? Maybe, or maybe not, but either way, it creates genocide through outbreeding and when it is done, the original group no longer remains. At that point, it has fewer restrictions on intermixing because the damage is already done, so what are they preserving at this point?

If diversity is allowed to continue, the “white” people of the future will be Semites, or those who are of mixed Caucasian and Asian ancestry with some African influences. This reflects what would happen if you took all of the successful groups in a diverse society and mixed them, as is the nature of things. Mostly Caucasian, some touches of Asian especially on the paternal line, and traces of other groups who had a few fortunate members who succeeded. If the US Congress or subscribership of The New York Times became a separate community, in 100 years it would resemble Arabs (if lower social classes) or Jews (if higher social classes).

So you can see that the conspiracy theory here is metaphorically correct. Diversity is, or rather leads to, white genocide. No one knows if it is deliberate, or where they would find such a smoking gun… but it does not matter, because as Rightists, we are consequentialists or those who care about results in reality more than human feelings, judgments and desires.

Let’s look at another one.

September 11, 2001 (“9/11”) is often seen as a government or world government conspiracy where the World Trade Center and Pentagon either had bombs in them already or were attacked by cruise missiles. The sentiment is good, but the details do not add up. However, metaphorically this conspiracy theory is correct because the incompetence of government and special interest groups essentially (but unintentionally) arranged for this to happen.

The best of the 9-11 conspiracy theorists tend to take this approach:

The “mainstream media” – a complete misnomer if ever there was one – would have us believe that 9/11 truth is the domain of radical and wacky “conspiracy theorists”. These labels, however, are simply more misnomers used by the controlled media to try and marginalize the growing number of people who understand that we have been lied to about what really happened on 9/11.

The 9/11 truth movement is anything but radical. The real radicals are, in fact, the controlled politicians and media who have pushed the lies about 9/11 and the War on Terror for the past fifteen years and counting.

As written here before, the real story on 9-11 is the unions and organized crime both made shoddy construction and used shoddy materials, which is why so much of the wreckage vanished when it passed into private hands.

The bigger story might be that our government was too bloated, prone to infighting, and generally politically correct to have a clue, and so nineteen guys without combat training were able to stage the most successful terrorist attack in history on a nation that should have been able to anticipate and interdict that attempt. Nope!

Some might point to past incidents where governments provoked attacks. For example, the Americans essentially baited Japan into attacking Pearl Harbor after FDR cut off their steel supply. The Gulf of Tonkin attack, which was a symbolic version of other attacks in the past in that area, sits ill in many craws. And we remember the yes-no-maybe “weapons of mass destruction” in Iraq.

Or even farther back, there’s the Zimmerman Telegram in WWI. Perhaps the attack on Fort Sumter was triggered. It’s possible that the Boston Tea Party was an arranged provocation. We know this is possible because other groups do this sort of thing all the time at protests, being as obnoxious as possible in the hope that one of them gets shot and the real riot can be begin! (Proles friggin’ love riots.)

But in reality, there is nothing too weird about the 9-11 narrative. 757s full of jet fuel hit a building made by union labor, whose steel was obviously of an inferior grade but sold as a higher grade while the mob took the profit. The building was insured to heck and gone probably because they knew it would fall down and that the evidence would disappear as it always does in pro-union, pro-mafia NYC.

Of course, these days the mob is speaking Chinese, Korean or Russian with a Hebrew accent instead of Sicilian. But the scams never change.

So we either admit that our country is corrupt and has been for a half-century, that our government is incompetent, that our union labor may kill us and that our people are so cucked that they would sit still to be flown into an overpriced Manhattan address rather than fight back, or we can come up with a conspiracy about how government did this to fund a war it was going to be able to justify by finding “WMDs” anyway.

Right.

The important thing about this journey into conspiracy theory is that it shows us the power of symbolism. Conspiracies indicate where things are so broken and wrong that we might as well come up with a far-fetched chain of reasoning, because the actual reasons are so incompetent, corrupt and stupid that it makes our brains hurt to think about them.

The necessity of paranoia

Sunday, July 26th, 2015

hang_the_miscreants

In former years, people congratulated themselves on how much they avoided paranoia. This was at the height of the Cold War, and these people brushed that aside by saying it was not a real threat, the Russians were nice people and no one wanted war, so there was no need for paranoia.

They kept saying these even as the bodies, spy plots, assassinations and mass executions were uncovered. Conclusion: these people knew nothing about what they spoke so confidently of. They were bluffing, like most neurotics, because to them the world is a uniform maze of terrors, so why prioritize one that could actually end the world over the others? An unhappy, neurotic and socially-controlled person will always be miserable and afraid, so the particular threats do not matter to them, and give them a chance to preen some feathers and appear brave to the crowd by denying known threats.

Interesting enough, the same impetus drove the Soviet Revolution. People got tired of the actual problems, like too many people and an unstable mix of ethnic groups, and so they blamed their leaders for not having magically made everyone fall into line. A hundred years later, it is clear that the problem was not their leaders, as what followed was worse. The psychology was the same as the Western neurotics that they inspired, either the dreamers who saw “a better way” in the Soviet systems, or the nutcase suburbanites who made a name for themselves at the local bingo hall by claiming that impending nuclear death was not actually a problem.

This leads us to paranoia. In the time-honored tradition of human sleight-of-hand, paranoia contains two very separate categories which are equated to push one off the table for consideration: (1) the tendency of mental patients to see irrelevant details as evidence of a conspiracy and (2) the awareness of intelligent people that healthy and happy humans are few, and the rest are conspiring to scapegoat those few, destroy them and take what they have. The first category is literal insanity; the second one, absolute sanity and yet totally denied in this society.

If you live in the best house in your neighborhood, you may get along with your neighbors and even like them, and they you, but they will still resent you. You rose above somehow and that makes them, by the same reciprocal principle of relative motion that means a swimmer who pushes off from another sends that other in the opposite direction, feel lower. Given a chance — a situation where they are both protected from blame and have a plausible scapegoat, like a witch-hunt, anti-Jew pogrom, or Revolution — they will declare that you succeeded by cheating (or words to that effect) and demand to seize your house. If you do not immediately shoot enough of them dead to make the rest reconsider, you will lose it and probably be executed for crimes against whatever tin-pot authority they erect to oversee the seizure.

That is the face of realistic paranoia: most people are not bad, but not in control of themselves either, and thus susceptible to bad the way people catch colds. A rumor goes around, or a crop goes bad, and they are ready to find someone to blame. The price of being alive is constant vigilance, and humans — when they live in nice societies bought with the blood of their ancestors — tend to forget this. You can never relax. There is always someone plotting against you to take the fruits of your success, declare you unperson and kill you. 95% or more of humanity lives in squalor, dysfunction, poverty and tyranny because it is too clueless to create the type of civilization that succeeds. Following that pattern, they labor not on making themselves succeed, but on finding someone else to scapegoat so they can steal from that civilization. Be paranoid: it is the only realistic response.

Looking toward the future (not “progress”)

Tuesday, May 5th, 2015

looking_toward_the_future_not_progress

Leftists manufacture a constant stream of “issues” for us to look at. An experienced leader might see these for what they are: distractions.

The leftist concept grows from the idea of individual experience and wanting to be an exception to social standards. The insecure or otherwise confused individual sees society as a threat to his own autonomy, which creates a cycle which intensifies this feeling into a paranoia which eventually becomes narcissistic, and then solipsistic. The person then sees anything but his own desires and power as a threat to his very existence.

“Issues” appear when leftists, in looking for ways to attack social power, create or discover a situation where someone has been an exception to the rule, and therefore — the magic “therefore” of all bad logic — the rule is bad. This is why Western history is littered with lore about whores with hearts of gold, hard-working peasants, and impoverished princesses. We want to believe that the rules do not apply because we see ourselves in those roles, and fear having rules applied to us in that case.

This is a trick of the mind, of course. We are not in those situations because of a long chain of cause->effect events which put us in another position. But our egos resist the idea of rules and standards, because maybe we want to do something different, even though there is no reason for us to do so. Mostly it makes us feel powerful to believe that we need no rules or guidance, no values but our own whims. This is what happens when people have no direction: they collapse into themselves, like aged stars becoming black holes, and consume everything around them.

When did we lose purpose? The Christians say we lost God first; maybe they are right. Our civilization as a whole lost purpose when it succeeded. When you are striving to succeed, life is simple and caught up in the task. When you have success, the more difficult question of what to do with the power rises. Most societies collapse shortly after the peak of their power because they utterly lose direction. Striving to succeed is non-arbitrary, but when you have success, your direction becomes arbitrary because you must choose something that is not presented to you by the struggle for life itself. Few know what to do with that and, worse, in any society those who can understand the question and its possible answers are the tiny minority on the right side of the Bell Curve.

The problem becomes clear when you imagine a farm full of workers. When there is a quest to do, they are satisfied because they know they will be rewarded. When there is nothing, they fall to bickering and start inventing new causes to go chase because those will make them important and thus guarantee the reward. On the larger farm known as Western civilization, our strength has become our weakness because in our success, nothing remains to be done — and we struggle to invent tasks within what we know, which causes every person to pull in a different direction in an impulse to differentiate themselves and receive reward for having invented a unique necessary sub-quest. That desire for differentiation causes people to think in terms of how their actions are perceived, and through that to lose the ability to reason from cause to effect and back, making them blind to the reality underneath our world of linguistic categories, financial incentives, and political and moral binaries.

Luckily we have now fallen far enough that our quest has again become clear: there is one issue, and it is the health of our society, which is in doubt.

A huge farm of people who make a name for themselves suppressing this knowledge — call them denialists, apologists and compensators, most of them liberal — pander to what most people want to believe which is “Keep on Truckin’,” or that everything is fine with just a few patches here and there. Hence: issues. Do not look at the big picture, but these small details, and use them as the addict uses his shot of heroin to give himself existential purpose for one… more… day.

Our mania for “progress” reflects our lack of direction. That doctrine states that since everything is fine, our only concern remains shifting people from means to an end (that end being the health of civilization, from which everyone benefits) to ends in themselves. But ends-in-themselves makes people into little tyrants who state desire as fact and send us pursuing that at the expense of the health of our civilization. We are oppressed, yes, but by ourselves, and our refusal to acknowledge that individual self-interest is at the core of collectivism, and that collectivism makes society a servant to any special interest group that can claim victimhood, a.k.a. being an “exception.”

“Progress” once meant the advancement of industry. A good old boy might look out at a once-verdant valley now populated with factories and stores, and comment how he misses the old days when you could hunt deer on those hills and breathe fresh air. He then shrugs it off and resigns himself to “progress,” or the replacement of his old way of life by these new, better — and profitable! — ways of life. But in that expression is contained the idea that something is lost, perhaps the starting point of our existence that gives it purpose, such as enjoying those great woods and the clean fragrant air.

I will advance instead the oldest conservative argument which is that our direction needs to be two things: it must honor what is eternal, or true no matter what year it is, and it must have some direction that is “transcendent” or finding wisdom in the order of nature (substitute “God” if you are religious; nature is His brilliant work) without giving up on the ability to rise within it. We must be both practical and look toward what makes life beautiful, in other words. And in doing so, we have a new quest: make life beautiful.

A modern Moses might look out over the valleys of New Canaan and see the ugliness that most of us filter out in order to avoid hating our lives and seeing ourselves as the chump slaves of a dying society. He might realize that “Let me people go” means to free us from our own illusion that has us choose this ugliness and tedium because we see it as inevitable because most people think it is OK. He may even tell us that we are playing a giant game of follow-the-leader where each of us emulates what others do and then claims there is no other way because to admit otherwise would reveal his lack of direction. This modern Moses might tell us that we are all slaves, not to tangible things, but to ugliness. The idea that we must chase after exceptions and focus on those who are miserable and predicate our own happiness and sense of well-being (and self-esteem) on raising them up from a state they chose themselves. That we must pursue progress through issues instead of taking what we have that works and simply improving it as a whole.

Issues focus on specific groups and activities. They have two goals: first, whatever their advocates claim is to be achieved, but also, second and more importantly, distraction from looking at the health of the whole. The denialists (compensators, apologists) want to avoid noticing that our civilization is in decline and to distract us with these issues. They always look for the hopeless, the poor and miserable, to present us with something we cannot deny. Who wants to be known as against the poor, against women or against minorities? It sounds cruel and cheap. But it is a variant of the old snake oil salesman logical fallacy of begging the question: “Either you want what I promise this product can do, or you’re against having that,” which requires you to agree with him in advance that the product actually achieves that end.

We change direction when we start thinking about “our problem” instead of “our problems.” The problem is a lack of health, caused by a lack of direction, and that amorphous condition is itself caused by a lack of tendency toward beauty. We have given up on striving and settled for dividing up the pie. We have forsaken making our lives beautiful, and instead settled for defending ourselves against a constant stream of threats caused by one or another groups of people failing to thrive. A sane leader would cut the flailing ones free and focus on the health, then build a society which produces more healthy people and has higher standards across the board.

Why do we not live in cities of unbroken beautiful architecture, populated by people who are actually intelligent instead of merely having learned to appear so, where life is not a series of products and sales but a process of living toward a purpose of enhancing life itself? All of our inventions can be produced by such a system without the overtone of manipulation inherent to our products. Our social order could consist of happy people with each having a role befitting her abilities, and receiving reward in proportion. Instead, we have turned on that and created an ugly competitive landscape where each person must become a tyrant defending what he has against all others, which naturally creates a paranoid and corrupt social order. Has anyone noticed that most people spend most of their time doing things that make them hate life, and hate everyone else, even if they hide it behind politeness and tolerance?

Certain individuals — those who doubt life, and their own purpose in it — fear the idea of having a quest to civilization, even if that quest is civilization or the qualitative improvement thereof. If we have a goal, all of us are immediately subject to a social standard that measures our fulfillment of our role toward achieving that goal. This means that some will fall short, and the fearful rodent in each of us worries that it may be us. (Naturally, this is useless worry, because if the same energy were spent on achievement, the problem would vanish.) Our society fears leadership because leadership puts us all on notice to perform. And yet, without it, we are left in the ugliness and tedium of directionless, and turn to prey on each other, whether through outright opportunism or its passive-aggressively concealed variant, “progress.”

A candidate for the psychological defect behind liberalism: agency bias

Tuesday, May 13th, 2014

seance

Civilization will make you paranoid. You’re no longer doing everything for yourself; instead, you’re delegating it through others. This means some trust is required but as we see daily, people often bend or violate trust.

That paranoia can spread when combined with a basic human perceptual tendency. Like other perceptual tendencies, such as parallax motion or light bent in water, this one is troubling until disciplined. Then again, that’s true of just about every human trait. Our divine nature comes from our restraint of pure impulses.

Agency bias is the basic tendency to see events as the result of some deliberate will and not random. Naturally this has been used as a weapon against religion, arguing that the impulse to attribute variance in life to God is a result of agency bias.

But between claiming that God has done something, and that it is wholly random, a middle point exists: that often unintended consequences occur, including the consequences of unmanaged complexity. In that view, many events are not so much deliberate as they are the result of a lack of deliberate focus and attention.

From that viewpoint, we can see agency bias as the human attempt to assign intention to the chaos of life. It is exacerbated for negative events, which are more likely to be seen as deliberate:

“Negative agency bias” has been noticed in adults for a while now. A 2009 paper by psychologist Carey Morewedge provided evidence that people are more likely to cite “the influence of external agents” when explaining a negative outcome, as opposed to a positive or neutral one. If we’re displeased by something, we tend to assume something, or someone, is responsible.

In other words, when things go our way, we accept that as natural. When something doesn’t go our way, we look for someone intervening to ruin our day.

A realist might view this instead as evidence of the inherent solipsism of the undisciplined human. When the world mirrors our mind, we’re OK with it; when we get a rude awakening that reality is in fact an independent force to ourselves, we look to blame someone else for ruining our perfect solipsistic feedback loop.

Liberalism reflects this tendency. Anything good must come from the individual; this explains the pathological altruism of liberalism. But anything bad must come from another individual attempting to steal/destroy what the individual wants. There can be no negativity, because then someone has been treated unfairly by the outcome, which we must then argue was deliberate to show an injury.

In fact, all of liberalism may originate in this supposition. Some are poor, and some are kings; this must be because the kings by acting in self-interest forced the poor to be poor. Upholding that belief even after observing the behaviors of the poor, namely uncontrolled breeding and lottery ticket purchasing, requires a pathological investment in its truth before validation.

A conservative response is to see all of this as a lack of discipline. With discipline, we know that many events cause bad outcomes and they are independent from our measurement of good or bad. Further, the situation is easily cured. The secret is that people bend or violate trust in varying degrees. Thus the solution to this problem is to pick trustworthy people, minimize the lack of trust, and then to harshly punish violations of trust.

But that would offend liberals because their goal is not trust, which requires reaching outside the envelope of solipsism, but retribution when an offense occurs. Yet another reason these two philosophies are utterly incompatible.

Literary Outlaw: The Life and Times of William S. Burroughs by Ted Morgan

Saturday, January 18th, 2014


Literary Outlaw: The Life and Times of William S. Burroughs
by Ted Morgan
W.W. Norton, 768 pages, $18

literary-outlaw-the-life-and-times-of-william-s-burroughs-by-ted-morganSociety possesses us, both as individuals obligated to do things, and as iconography. William S. Burroughs for example is a “counter-culture icon,” associated with the beats and the hippies, but also the darker side of counterculture which rages against the complacency of society and threatens it with images of apocalyptic discontent and dysfunction: junkies using each other like apes in the jungle, cops predatory like praying mantises, control structures like brain-parasites that take over our will and choice.

Like all things which are touched by mainstream culture, and thus in turn by the lowest common denominator of thought which amounts to wishful thinking and personal adornment, Burroughs gets dumbed-down in the mainstream narrative. To the average chattering smile, Burroughs represents dark things for their own sake, and dropping out of society because it isn’t dark enough. Few have actually looked into the motivation and beliefs of the man, but Ted Morgan’s biography of Burroughs attempts to that in addition to chronicling his complex, circuitous and often obscure path through life.

Morgan’s method is to talk to the actors involved in extensive and probing interviews and to then assemble a mass of details, which he lays out in a roughly linear fashion and correlates wherever possible to moments in Burroughs’ work, including alluding to and quoting passages from Naked Lunch, Junky, Queer and other books. This enables him to tie together the many threads, and Burroughs as a man who wrote in vignettes using symbolic characters like a radio play did nothing if not create many overlapping threads, and from them allow a narrative to emerge which can then be commented on. In the case of the biography, the ongoing narrative is the motivations behind Burroughs’ art and chaotic personal life.

Literary Outlaw: The Life and Times of William S. Burroughs begins with a depiction of the younger years of the author, with extensive probing into childhood incidents that were revelations for him of degrees of his alienation. We hear about childhood sexual abuse, his unhappiness at school, his revelation of homosexuality, and his fascination with all things criminal and drug-related. From this Morgan builds up to his real triumph which is unpacking the years during which Naked Lunch, which is universally acclaimed as Burroughs’ best work, was written including the method of its production and the involvement of others. After this, many biographers would drop off, but what Morgan does is continue following the threads and characters in Burroughs’ life, showing where each one came to an end and contrasting its results with its initial promise. Without being judgmental, it’s a provocative picture of the Beats and of Burroughs himself, because it shows at the end of the day what worked and what didn’t, and what regrets persisted because of bad decisions made long ago.

Grafted onto the Western genre are Burroughs’ usual preoccupations with mutation and space travel. Man is like a fish about to exchange gills for lungs, but for some reason he is stalled and cannot quite make it. Burroughs wants to give him the final push, which he believes will come as the result of infection by a new virus. The antidote to the virus will help forge the new man, who will have thoughts and behavior patterns that are not imprinted or prerecorded. “Everything we have been taught,” says Kim Carsons, “all the conventional feelings, do not apply.” (593)

Those who study our crisis in the West will note similarities to others thinkers. Burroughs identifies the spoken/written word as a “virus,” pointing out how it takes on a meaning unrelated to its referent and that this meaning manipulates our ability to conceptualize it. This is strikingly similar to Nietzsche’s observations in “On Truth and Lies in an Extra-Moral Sense” where he speaks of our interrupted knowing which is reprogrammed by the corrupted definitions of words.

Further, like many in the postmodern era, Burroughs obsesses about control. Who is in control, and how do they control people who are acting through what they believe is free will? Where lesser authors wrote about imaginary totalitarian regimes, Burroughs was busy writing about how the power of human language and manipulation would create an invisible power structure that controls people without them even noticing it. The themes of control, power, addiction and manipulation run throughout all of his works but are most vivid in Naked Lunch, and Morgan picks up on those threads here and expands them.

Morgan also proves an insightful observer of the social backdrop to Burroughs’ experience:

The mutation from Beat to hippie meant a switch from grass to acid, from literature to music, from a small group of writers and artists and jazz musicians to a mass youth movement, from an anti-political stance to a coalition of antiwar, civil rights and environmental movements, a great nest into which flew birds of every feather, from yippies to radical nuns and priests. (365)

Part of the unconscious mission of this book is to set the record straight, and liberate a complex character from the public fiction about him into a space where he can be understood. That requires sacrificing the public image of him as created by industry, social pressures and the need of people to mythologize and impose narrative in a simple form where a more complex truth is actually at work. Morgan does this by tracking his threads in such a way that the actors in them come to face the public opinion of themselves, and then reject it not directly but by acting in such a way that their contrary intentions are revealed.

“All liberals are weaklings, and all weaklings are vindictive, mean and petty.” (164)

Morgan presents the heretical Burroughs in raw form as he was, both offensive to mainstream society and unyielding to the wishful thinking of others in the counter-culture who just wanted to space out and join the great vapid. Burroughs exists in this book in a steely-eyed world where every good deed is actually a manipulation, every positive gesture reveals a hidden fear, and the only game in town is power derived through control of others. While Literary Outlaw: The Life and Times of William S. Burroughs is also an excellent literary biography, its primary purpose may be to explicate the ideas of Burroughs by showing us how they influenced events during the author’s life.

From beyond

Tuesday, January 7th, 2014

from_beyond

The global liberal movement which seized power in 1789 in France has applied a perverse and subversive sense of guilt to the population as a means of control.

Control is an external force. It manipulates people through the perception that negative consequences exist for disobeying. Unlike self-discipline, where the individual analyzes a problem and, based on the desired outcome, selects a method from the past known to achieve similar results, control requires the individual to think of effects on the individual.

Where healthy thinking thus proceeds from cause to effect, the type of thinking that control induces proceeds from effects on the individual to cause. The individual is instinctively playing a game against the controller, and therefore things not of how events will play out, but how the intent and personality of the controller will apply itself to the individual.

This causes the same type of narcissism that social behavior does. There is a mediator between cause and effect, and that is the perception of others. This must be controlled; in fact, the only effects we care about are in the perceptions of others. This puts reality into second place and in fact, creates a disincentive to know reality.

The problem with this is that we have entirely reversed thought, and called it rationality. The individual judges the world by effects on the individual. These are however determined by others. Now there is nothing but human personalities manipulating each other.

In a society of this nature, it is common for people to vote into place absolutely disastrous programs and not care. If they vote in free health care and it bankrupts the country, they don’t care — they beat the controller. If they back out of a war and the country loses prestige, they don’t care — they don’t want to be obligated to participate. On and on it goes until the only thing they support are government “bennies” and freebies and passing the debt bomb on to the next generation.

The West has been in the grips of this individualistic mentality for several centuries now. It is a natural outgrowth of equality, where all of us are equally insignificant substrates upon which the collective acts. We are the collective, but we are also individuals, and the individual takes his revenge on the controller.

Ultimately however the controller wins. When societies decay, there is nowhere to go but to more power. The controller loses, and loses again, but then the social chaos takes revenge on the individual. Soon they are begging for SWAT teams, hit squads, drone assassinations, government surveillance, and anything else that can protect the individual from social chaos.

In the end, like the house in Vegas, the controller always wins. He wins by negative thinking. He can never have society when it is beautiful. He must degrade it first. He can never have a beautiful life, because he has no beauty in himself. He in fact will never be a good member of society because he is an outsider, an external controller. What he can do is tear everything down and rule the ruins. There alone his ego is immaculate.

Welcome to the surveillance state

Tuesday, January 7th, 2014

nsa_hq

I know exactly what makes a room full of people happy. If you’ve ever sold people products they don’t need, you know this trick.

People are fundamentally self-pitying. They want to be told that their failings aren’t their fault, and that what they need is not to fix those failings, but to do something totally different and get around that bottleneck.

If I wanted to get rich and famous, or at least be a widely known internet writer, I would write here about how terrible it is that the NSA is spying on us and how we should all riot and rage until this spying is over. That makes us feel like the victim, and gives us an external form of change so that we do not need to think about our internal change, much of which involves what we’re hiding and afraid others will see.

Let he without goat porn in his browser cache cast the first stone.

However, I administer the daily dose of reality, and here it is: technology has changed to the point where universal monitoring of your internet, phone and texts are not only likely, but necessary. After all, it’s not just the technology for monitoring that has changed. With the ability to communicate faster and use deadlier weapons, the bad guys have changed too.

We all agree it’s an ugly thing. But the fact is that if it didn’t happen, and some truly atrocious incident happened, we would be burning our leaders at the stake for not having done it. The only real problem with it is that the current administration is totally untrustworthy, uses government agencies against its political opposition, and is coddled by a complacent media. I’ll probably get droned for typing that.

If history shows us anything, it is that technology is a game-changer. In a time of guns, men with spears were not enough to keep order. In a time of information warfare, expect computers to trawl through your email looking for suspicious patterns. This isn’t new technology; it was used through the 1970s and 1980s as part of ECHELON, our international signals trapping and processing project that provided a good deal of valuable intelligence.

Who knows, maybe they caught some bad guys. Maybe they were simply a deterrent, making communication enough of a beast — like our drone strikes making cell phone communication impossibly dangerous overseas — that bad guys stopped in their tracks. I think it has a deeper pattern. The Chinas, Russias and al-Qaedas of this world have many agents among us. That’s the price of living in a free society. The point is to find those guys and stop them from carrying off our technology or staging attacks that could cripple us.

It’s not a popular thought. I don’t like being monitored, just like I don’t like the TSA or alcohol checkpoints. I’d probably be more relaxed on those latter two. But as far as scanning the massive traffic that flows through our data networks, and using that information to vector in on the bad guys, I’m all for it. This is the sort of thing computers were made for.

As technology increases, we’re going to see more of this. Technology creates a space for its use. We either use it, or suffer from a lack of competitiveness because others are using it. If they can block our spies, and we can’t block theirs, we lose. If they can block our agents, but theirs can nerve gas our Superbowl, we’re the ones who lose. This is just how technology is.

The drones they admit to having in public are the size of small planes or pizza boxes. The ones they’re using are probably the size of mosquitoes and fly in swarms such that they can follow you anywhere in the city. Their satellites are better than they admit in public, as are their computers processing email.

This is the nature of civilization itself. It is based in competition. Warfare is competition, so is technology. Our moral selves get righteous and huffy about such things, but the fact is that no amount of bloviation about human rights replaces the hard and cold facts of politics. We either compete, or we die out. Given that choice, massive surveillance isn’t half as bad as the alternative.

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