Posts Tagged ‘power’
Saturday, December 3rd, 2016
Back in the days of suffering through what passes for “education” in our declining civilization, you were probably told about “top-down” and “bottom-up” orders.
Leftists — most teachers and professors are of this variety, because it makes them feel powerful — fetishize bottom-up orders, or those which have no guiding principle except self-interest of their smallest particles. For them, self-interest means individualism, and they draw the line at capitalism, which they see as limiting the self-interest of other particles.
On the other hand, top-down orders occur with a plan in mind that is used to arrange all those little particles so they work together.
Professors tend to point to nature as an example of bottom-up order. Bacteria form, evolve, and become higher organisms, which then exist in ecosystems, where each particle serves one of many different roles, unequally, and together through acting out those roles, achieve a balance to the whole.
What they do not tell you is that this arrangement demonstrates all of the attributes of a top-down order, only done indirectly and not in the human method of carving things up with large machines. There is some kind of plan inherent to the order of nature where some are granted more power and form different levels of a hierarchy, much like eagles and sparrows are both birds.
This natural hierarchy is what Leftism seeks to abolish.
If you went further on in “education,” you probably encountered the equally mystifying concept of vertical and horizontal hierarchy. In vertical hierarchy, some end up potters and some end up coopers, and the coopers tell the potters what to do. In horizontal hierarchy, everyone is a potter, and some are acknowledged as better potters than the others.
If Leftism has a message with its one ideological pillar, namely “egalitarianism” or the idea that everyone is “equal” (whatever that means), it is that we should have horizontal order alone, and that this will magically create a bottom-up order through competition. This extends from classical liberals (“libertarians”) to Communists; all want everyone equal, and then to see a magic calculation emerge from this.
Only traditional society offers actual social order, which is both top-down and bottom-up as well as both horizontal and vertical. Part of this is aristocracy, which includes social caste or its modern depleted equivalent, “class.” The classes are ranked in vertical hierarchy, but within them, there is horizontal hierarchy. This allows those who are good at making pottery to be ranked alongside their companions in caste, but also, for them to be limited from rising above their level of competence, where they will make decisions without having any idea how to do so.
Social caste is important because it liberates each group from competition beyond what is appropriate to it. Sparrows cannot compete with eagles nor can eagles subsist on grain and grubs as sparrows do, but both are needed. Without the eagles, the sources of grain up which sparrows depend would be unduly depleted by others, such as rodents. In this way, the unequal roles of the ecosystem hierarchy preserve health and happiness for all.
The difference between the ecosystem we had with traditional society and what we have now is that the past was based on authority, and the present is based on control. With authority, those in power are accountable for their decisions, and to that end, given more power. As soon as we regulate their power, they are no longer accountable, because those regulations have hampered their ability to act directly. Instead, we get Control: making everyone do exactly the same thing in order to eliminate deviation so that those in power remain in power. It turns out to be less hospitable to human flourishing.
Tuesday, September 27th, 2016
The technician represents the final elevation of human consciousness to a position of control. He wields the new magic, technology, and by his membership in the secret society of those who know how things work, is given power over others, who he views as inferior to himself.
He must constantly assert, for example, how simple certain technologies are. Once you know the principle, you see, it is all very simple. That is, if you have learned all of the background material and tools and are comfortable with the environment, which most people are not. Therein lies the key to his power: he has mastered what makes others uncomfortable, and therefore, his incentive is to make it even more uncomfortable.
As a result, the successful geek or nerd specializes in telling us how simple technologies are while making them as alien, awkward, counter-intuitive and joyless as possible. This protects his secret world in which he is master by driving everyone else out, sort of like a bacteria producing ammonia to ensure that it alone can enjoy a food source that it has poisoned for every other type of life-form.
Through this power — and he experiences it as power — he elevates something other than intellect. He mistakes it for his will, but really it is his personality’s desire for stability. Much as our thoughts tend to ratchet between fully coherent and stable and incoherent and threatening, our personalities contain a mental model of the world which is carefully constructed to assert order and reason to everything around us. We feel a sensation of power (but not power itself) when we are able to control the world in consistency with our model, reinforcing our perceptions and eliminating doubt, ambiguity, risk and uncertainty.
Among nerds, this power is most highly realized — and most specific. They have no power on the playing field, or the battlefield, and most likely not in social circles, but they have power over the secret world of gadgets and how to shape the behavior of others by using them. A nerd can make his gadget lower garage doors halfway so people must crawl under them, call a SWAT team to your house in the night, or delete your credit record. It makes him feel like a King for a day.
The problem with technology is that this mentality becomes infectious. People who work with technology are both exhausted by the sheer weight of tedium and detail-oriented memorization they must undertake, and also possessed of a desire to humble or humiliate others with their power. As a result, they set up illogical models which are deliberately inhuman because this gives the most power to the nerd.
Consider how inhuman our gadgets are — and not in the good way that is emotionless logic:
‘[B]eeps are one of the most stressful noises humans can be exposed to.’ She explains: ‘The human brain is designed to respond to sound. Every time it hears a sound, it is deciding whether there is a danger, or whether this sound is something you need to pay attention to, and how to react.
…Lisa says that single tones, such as beeps, are called tonal sounds and ‘go through our brains like a laser beam’. They are difficult to ignore even when not very loud.
‘Not only might the brain not easily understand what the sound is, it also finds it hard to tell where the sound is coming from,’ she adds. ‘This causes the release of stress hormones.’
Who on earth would design something in this way? Let us return to the heart of geek power, the laboratory.
There, all is divided into procedures. The procedure for using a microwave, for example, is that the user reads the manual, inserts food, and then goes to sit in a rest area until it is done. When they hear the beep, signifying that the food is done, they return to the laboratory test kitchen and extract it from the gadget, then eat it right away.
The nerds who run the department have a concern: what if the person becomes distracted? Well, we had better make the device beep every fifteen seconds until they come get the food — because, you see, in our laboratory there is only one activity, and that is using a microwave. Everything else in life is forgotten. We are here to microwave, and so if the user becomes distracted, well, what the heck is wrong with them? Force the idiots to get back in here and get their food. Control their behavior.
It is for their own good, after all. The food might get cold.
But when every gadget is designed this way, soon you have an army of egotistical gadgets who are all screaming for your attention, creating a cacophony:
Indeed, research has shown that beeping hospital machines actually slow down patient recovery.
American research has also found – alarmingly – that staff can become so desensitised to alarms they don’t react in emergencies. Schools have found that pupils also find it hard to concentrate when there is a lot of background noise.
…‘John Lewis did some research that found that more than 50 per cent of people wanted their household appliances to be less noisy ,which is why they have just started marking quieter machines with a special “Quiet Mark” label.’
And welcome to the nerd non-solution. Being masters of details, they will never redesign the system from the ground up, so they instead add optional sanity as a luxury purchase item. If you would like sanity with your device, buy this special kind of device, they say, which is like saying, “If you insist on defying our authority, here is a short bus device for you to use so we know you are retarded.”
If nerds and geeks wonder why they get punched in the mouth on a regular basis, this attitude — this pretense, this unwarranted arrogance — could well explain it.
Unfortunately our whole society is based on this pretense: that every action occurs in a vacuum, that humans can control outcomes, and that our superior intellect (monkey howl goes here) enables us to anticipate every situation. This makes us into permanently pretentious, manipulative people with a pathology that insists on subjugating reality to what is mentally convenient for us.
The ancients saw this as hubris, the root form of evil. When mankind thinks he is above reality, the apple that God designates as forbidden becomes a temptation, or an otherwise sane man insists on baiting the gods with knowledge of how he has deceived them. The human drive to feel the sensation of power creates this impetus. The “individualism” commonly lamented in my writings is a form of hubris, one that is inherent to the human consciousness.
When nerds look at civilization, they see something that they can “manage” with rules, incentives and punishments, forgetting that people will not be in a laboratory and will simply change the definition of those things to suit themselves, just like they selectively interpret everything else. Nerds cannot believe life is beyond their control and handy little mental formulations like that.
Now that Western civilization has shown its failure, and democracy being the late stage of that has revealed its toxicity, people go questing for “new” ideas. If they can claim an idea is new, it means they did not overlook perfectly decent options out of a sense of personal pretense; instead, they have discovered what everyone else did not know, and this makes them feel profound and brilliant.
In reality, the human animal and the questions of civilization — leadership, culture, incentives and non-tangible goals — have been known for nearly 6,000 years. Nothing is a mystery. The only question is whether we accept life for what it is, and adopt the time-honored practices that have always worked best, or keep looking for novelty in order to flatter our pathological need for the sensation of power.
Monday, March 28th, 2016
Longtime readers know that the magical formula for restoration of the West — aristocracy, nationalism, capitalism and transcendental experience — becomes controversial in any group because almost everyone objects to one of its pillars. Let us look into capitalism.
Your task is to design a country. You have two basic choices for economies: you can let the economy sort itself out through the actions of individuals, or you can set up a power structure to command it. This most importantly functions in assessing how many or how much of each product or resource will be available at any given location.
Implicitly, the “free market” option is reward-based: where reward exists, someone will find a way to meet it, and so — this is the bottom line — the need will be met. It may be more wasteful than an absolutely ideal system, and it creates rich people along the way, but it ensures that needs are met. This means that its weakness is everything else.
The “command economy” option however is punishment-based. Central command sets up targets; you either do that, or something bad will happen to you, because there is not a reward structure in place. This mirrors the fundamental problems of all subsidy states, which is that performance above the minimal becomes optional while ideological compliance becomes mandatory.
From that view, it becomes hard to want to adopt a command economy because free markets work. That does not mean they are without problems. In particular, Free Northerner picks up on the problems of a broken reward structure:
The current socio-economic system is designed by rootless, soulless, high-IQ, low-time preference, money-/status-grubbing homo economicus for benefit of those same homo economicus. It is a system for designed for intelligent sociopaths. Those who are rootless with high-IQ and low-time preference can succeed rather well in this system, but it destroys those who need rootedness or those who are who are low-IQ or high time preference.
What makes these people powerful? Others want to buy their products. How was this accomplished, through voodoo or hypnotism? No, through the inherent tendencies of a herd of humans. So, we have created a false elite of people whose success results from their popularity with the largest segment of our society, the clueless and neurotic quasi-competents who make up most of our species.
In this, there is a weakness in capitalism: unless the audience is controlled, it will create a demand for products that match its (moronic) level of taste and ability. The result is not Wal-mart, but McDonald’s: for the price of a pound of beef at the grocery store, you get a half-pound burger made mostly of soy, but there are celebrities and cartoon characters drawn on the bag and thirty-two ounces of flavored carbonated sugar water!
Contrast that to the 1930s, where everything was more elevated. What was the difference? The buying power was in the hands of the upper castes. Is it surprising, then, that the commercial elements of our society wanted it to grow and to become bottom-heavy? No: they wanted the easy audience to expand, marginalizing the hard audience, who now find that 99.99% of what they encounter in public is insufficient for their needs.
Capitalism has always revealed the queasy relationship between proles and commercial interests. Commerce loves morons because they will pay high markups for cheap items rebranded with novelty, popularity or self-image boosters. Proles love commerce because it makes them feel powerful; someone finally cares what their opinions are. Commerce requires them, in a bondage-style relationship, and for their dollars, it gives them control. They can command what product thrives and what dies. They can tell someone else what to do. They have power.
In that way, capitalism is in their view a replacement for social order. Social order ranks people above one another; with capitalism, all are equal, provided they have dollars in their little fists. Even more, in this form, capitalism works as an equalizer, reducing all to the same level as consumers of the same products. This is why even our wealthiest end up drinking soft drinks and eating fast food: whatever becomes available and succeeds, quickly crowds out everything else.
Capitalism becomes suicidal through this process. Whatever succeeds generates clones, and then the market must kill them off. The race downward means that at some point, innovation is killed and replaced by a circular pursuit of customers who are the least discerning, eventually creating the type of economic curve we see in the third world: a few companies own nearly everything, nothing new is invented, and most small businesses are marginal.
There’s another problem with capitalism of this sort. Like other forms of demotism, including peer pressure and democracy, it cripples decision-making, as libertarian sources notice:
What about Americans’ right to “preserve their culture”? I’m tempted to call it the nativist version of a “safe space,” but cultural preservation is far more totalitarian. A “safe space” is but an enclave – a small corner of the world where politically-correct norms prevail. To “preserve a culture,” in contrast, requires a whole country to impose traditional norms on everyone. And this is crazy: You don’t even have the right to force your culture on your adult children, much less millions of strangers.
The problem with libertarianism is its liberal heritage. “Classical liberals,” like liberals today, believed in the rule of equality and the “invisible hand” of markets and popularity which would choose the best. This is just not so, and if anything, the herd always chooses the worst and does so on the basis of the individual, which precludes any social change that is not optional just like performance under socialism.
So why do I support capitalism?
For two reasons: first, it works and the option fails every time; second, no System of any form can be trusted to run a society by itself. There are no “invisible hands.” There need to be highly visible hands, namely strong leaders and strong culture. The other three in the magic bullet list — aristocracy, nationalism, and transcendental goals — take care of that. Nationalism protects a group so that it can have culture at all. Aristocracy creates good leaders. Transcendental guidance places the fancy world of shiny material objects far away and focuses on the existential quality of life instead.
In fact, the best thing about aristocracy — which necessarily includes a caste system — is that it arrests the endless quest for growth and social mobility, replacing it with stability. As Anomaly UK predicts:
The key point is that nobody in the system has the aim of destroying society. That is an incidental byproduct of the competition for power.
The competition for power, not power itself, is what corrupts. When power exists, it is either in the hands of the good or not. That is easily fixed. But a condition of endless competition for power corrupts everything, including capitalism. Millennials and others should note that our current “capitalism” is far from being capitalistic, having been merged with the welfare state, and also lacks these forces above it. Our crisis is of that making, not capitalism.
Wednesday, March 16th, 2016
Your grandmother may have told you that “birds of a feather flock together.” You probably ignored it. Folk wisdom was for old people, you thought, perhaps, and it was not very clear. What do these gnomic, naturalistic-metaphor sayings mean anyway? You moved off to the city.
Fifteen years later, you’re noticing that your neighbors look like you, earn like you and have similar tastes. How did that happen? You wanted to escape your white-bread, one-note suburb or small town. As it turns out, people naturally segregate without meaning to:
In Schelling’s model, individuals prefer to have some similar neighbours, but they do not discriminate against different neighbours – in short, they are tolerant. If individuals are unhappy with their neighbourhood, they can freely move to a neighbourhood with a more preferable composition.
In the example below, the yellow individual is unhappy about her assigned location because she does not have enough yellow neighbours, so she decides to move to a new neighbourhood. But when she moves, the composition of both her old and new neighbourhoods change. As a result, an old yellow neighbour and a new blue neighbour also decide to move.
This causes a domino effect that leads neighbourhoods to separate into yellow and blue ghettos. In the end, although no single individual prefers it, everyone ends up in segregated neighbourhoods.
What you are seeing is evolution in action. Within a group, different subgroups form; each of those has its own way of doing things. Those then separate and isolate so that they can improve those methods of doing things without interference by other groups. They are not acting against the others; they are acting in self-interest, and for the best interests of future generations. And so, in an inverse of the Tragedy of the Commons, the groups separate as if by a saltation process like sorts the stones in the river. A new order prevails, despite the human desire for power that makes us wish otherwise.
Wednesday, January 27th, 2016
For leftists, other people exist not as means to an end but as tools for the achievement of the perfect project, like “Lawn of the Month” but far more iconoclastic. Leftists seek power above everything else and for that reason they embrace an ideology which says they deserve power and must use others to create it.
I am speaking of “equality” which is a paradoxical notion by design. When someone says they want us all to be equal, what they real mean is that they want to be equal, which is another way of saying “never wrong.” If they do something crazy, they cannot be criticized because “that’s just like, your opinion, man” because every act is only an opinion. No one is better than them if all actions are equal, and no one bad.
Equality sounds like a collectivist notion, and yet it is an individualist one. But wait, there’s more: individualist notions are inherently collectivist because the individual can only get power through the acts of a large group of people, so individualists unite into big needy sticky balls that roll through civilization demanding equality.
Ye are not other men, but my arms and my legs; and so obey me.—Where’s the whale? (423)
This is the secret to liberalism behind which it hides. It pretends to be a mass movement dependent on the individual when really it is an individual movement dependent on the the masses, who serves as its implements. Each person in the crowd is using every other and, in the time-honored nature of mobs, is relying on safety in numbers and hoping not to be the rare sacrifice who pays the price symbolically for the mob.
Currently Europe is about to self-deconstruct because its voters have momentarily risen from their slumber upon noticing thousands of jihadis pretending to be refugees so they can subjugate the brain-dead Europe, starting with a campaign of impregnation (and, apparently, pool defecation). The voters are stunned; they did not vote for this! How can it be?
Let me explain:
You, dear voters, are not the recipients. The recipients are your leaders.
This means you are the tools through which they create what they receive. That is your taxes and the power you can convey.
But we receive more than we give! they say, referring to their social benefits, forgetting that what they receive also contains a negative quantum, namely the debt factor. Socialism works by convincing Useful Idiots (UIs) to be selfish so they vote themselves a share of Other People’s Money (OPM), at which point socialists stay in power forever and when the money runs out… they borrow! Europeans talk proudly of how their social systems “work,” but they get nervous when someone points out that every one of their nations is deep in debt and failing to reproduce. That is not the result of happiness. That is misery disguised as having free stuff and thinking it makes up for having a functional nation.
EU-ites are also fond of talking about “Americanization” which is simply their way of insisting that an American be involved in order for changes to be bad. In reality, Americanization is the process by which national cultures are replaced by the proposition nation, in which the country is united by political/economic methods instead of culture and heritage. When the EU imports millions of raging mujahiedeen and calls it refugee immigration not an invasion, their goal is to Americanize Europe by removing its national cultures.
That means no Germans, no French, no Dutch and no Austrians. Just international citizens who happen to live in the European state market with a political boundary which is mostly arbitrary anyway. If you are Zambian in the morning, you can be German by nightfall! Europe, which is very proud of its national cultures, is naturally resisting this.
And yet they have forgotten: the goal is not doing things for them, but using them to do things. They are the dolls in Ms. Merkel’s dollhouse, the arms and legs of Ahab, and to the average liberal, merely convenient warm bodies in the crowd who follow instructions blindly for the promise of “equality.” They vote for the promises, but the results turn out differently, because the goal was never to serve them but seize power, wealth and control from them.
The voters never understand this. They assume that they are in a neighborhood shop with a THE CUSTOMER IS ALWAYS RIGHT needlepoint sign behind the register. No: they are in the realm of con men because the only rule in democracy is to get votes. Those who succeed at it go up there and promise the moon, using OPM, so the UIs pull that lever and transfer power.
Years later the voters are stunned at all the other stuff that happened. Why didn’t the nice salesman mention these? Oh: he has no obligation to. It’s the small print, dummy. And even more, he has no obligation to do anything. Promises are just advertising with the caveat that nothing ever really gets done, at least not to change direction. It’s all the same direction in slow steady compromise toward oblivion.
But not yet have we solved the incantation of this whiteness, and learned why it appeals with such power to the soul; and more strange and far more portentous – why, as we have seen, it is at once the most meaning symbol of spiritual things, nay, the very veil of the Christian’s Deity; and yet should be as it is, the intensifying agent in things the most appalling to mankind.
Is it that by its indefiniteness it shadows forth the heartless voids and immensities of the universe, and thus stabs us from behind with the thought of annihilation, when beholding the white depths of the milky way? Or is it, that as in essence whiteness is not so much a color as the visible absence of color, and at the same time the concrete of all colors; is it for these reasons that there is such a dumb blankness, full of meaning, in a wide landscape of snows – a colorless, all- color of atheism from which we shrink? And when we consider that other theory of the natural philosophers, that all other earthly hues – every stately or lovely emblazoning – the sweet tinges of sunset skies and woods; yea, and the gilded velvets of butterflies, and the butterfly cheeks of young girls; all these are but subtile deceits, not actually inherent in substances, but only laid on from without; so that all deified Nature absolutely paints like the harlot, whose allurements cover nothing but the charnel-house within; and when we proceed further, and consider that the mystical cosmetic which produces every one of her hues, the great principle of light, for ever remains white or colorless in itself, and if operating without medium upon matter, would touch all objects, even tulips and roses, with its own blank tinge – pondering all this, the palsied universe lies before us a leper; and like wilful travellers in Lapland, who refuse to wear colored and coloring glasses upon their eyes, so the wretched infidel gazes himself blind at the monumental white shroud that wraps all the prospect around him. And of all these things the Albino Whale was the symbol. Wonder ye then at the fiery hunt? (193-194)
And with that, we come full circle. The point of democracy is to give the individual power which, like the white whale, they pursue to feel in control of lives that are mostly mystery and not flattering to the ego. In groups these people take over and then put horrible, cynical opportunists at the helm. Then they go on to ruin everything with the slow process of compromise to the lowest common denominator, which yields Americanization.
What Europe is awakening to is a taboo thought. They are realizing that as long as equality and democracy are in play, politicians will always find enough UIs — and remember UIs outnumber sane people 4-to-1 or more — to make promises to them and get in power, at which point they will resume the agenda of destroying national identity and replacing it with Americanization. Like Ahab, they are obsessed; this power is how they stave off knowledge of death and insignificance, and how they make themselves wealthy and powerful despite vast inner doubt.
America is awakening to the same thing as well. We all know what the Bell Curve looks like; there are more people who are easily fooled than those who take a second look. And so, any time there is an election, sense and wisdom lose. The UIs carry the day and then find someone else to blame when it works out poorly. But either way, it still happened!
Europe has so far refused to face the grim truth of reality which is that through our quest for power, we have become like Ahab. We The People must have power… we must use it to banish any mention of parts of reality that do not flatter us… we use others to this end, and if we must sacrifice a few, who cares? We have achieved our goal using others, which makes us the smart ones… right?
But this psychology cannot last. The shocked faces of Europeans who insist they never voted for this will give way in time to strong leaders, whether benevolent or not remaining a factor of how badly the decay hits before we transition away from democracy. History has made it clear however: democracy and equality are dead men walking, and with each rape and attack in Europe, that is becoming more clear to the sailors on that doomed ship.
Thursday, August 21st, 2014
Thanks to a five decade association between the two in the West, environmentalism and liberalism seem to be joined at the hip. This was not always so, and the original “green” movement would never have approved of what liberalism has converted it into.
Green criticisms of liberalism start with the realization that liberal policies create results contrary to green interests. Liberalism, based in appearance of intent more than consequences, will counter that it wants to help green interests by adding them to its agenda. Unfortunately the rest of the agenda contradicts those green interests.
If we are serious at all about reversing ecocide, our thinking will direct itself as keeping population low so that most of the land can remain in its natural state and not be over-exploited. Since pre-technological times, humans have exterminated species and created wastelands by the simple presence of too many humans. Overfishing arises from a need (and a financial opportunity) to feed more people. The same is true of cutting down the forests which absorb most of our pollution and return to us fresh oxygen.
Even the global warming debate entirely misses this point. What could reverse the presence of atmospheric carbon? Millions of acres of trees absorbing it, for starters. But we as humans follow our individual desires, which means that if we can sign the dotted line for the loan to get the suburban house, developers will bulldoze another thousand acres and make a subdivision. Then, since those developers need to stay employed, they will find more people who might want such housing and offer it to them at a lower rate. Like most things human, our tool has now become our master.
Ideally — from an environmentalist perspective — humans would view nature as an equal partner because we depend on it for air, water and food. Creating nature as an equal partner however would require us setting aside half of the land for nature alone and leaving it in its pristine state, much as happened when aristocrats owned exclusive hunting preserves. This would require humans to leave half of all of the continents in their natural state in all ecosystems and climactic types, not just the ones we cannot use for suburbs. This alone would reverse alleged global warming and ecocide. It would also directly obstruct leftist objectives such as immigration, welfare and social mobility.
Naturally this offends our tail-wags-dog modern myth that (economic) growth is essential. Instead of creating growth by creating new opportunity, like space travel or new technologies, humans have opted to create growth by population surge which produces more dependents and thus strengthens our ability to enforce control through public opinion. Against this I raise an example from literature.
In The Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien writes about a mysterious ring that essentially dominates the minds of those who possess it. Many theories have been written about the ring and what it symbolizes, including that it is a metaphor for technology or even language itself. I suggest that Tolkien told us exactly what the ring meant: it is referred to as “the ring of power,” and power is what it wields. We might describe power as meaning the ability to control without a natural parallel, or power for its own sake. This separates the type of power the ring wields, which is a freedom from natural consequences, from the might of a king which involves nurturing what exists and improving its prospects. The ring allows a person to detach from the rules of nature and in secret — because its power hides them from view — doing what they wish for themselves alone.
Power is the ability to control others, to grow civilization and to have wealth and money. By going down this path we enter into an age of things for their own sake: economy for its own sake, military strength for its own sake, control of citizens for that purpose alone. This detaches power from its objects and makes it an isolated commodity that can be sought to fill the void in our souls rather than to create that which might do so. This power represents a fundamental truth of civilization as a managed, directed process: it’s a trap.
Civilization kills populations. Where the reign of kings provides a stable life, civilization inevitably advances for its own sake. Almost no one will be willing to argue against “benefits” to society at large that come from expanding its power. And so people stop pursuing quality of life and start pursuing power itself. They can be wealthier and stronger by expanding civilization and so they do it; they can control nature and others with technology and so they exploit it. Civilization leads people into power at which point they become reckless because the only standard is what pleases other people by telling them what they want to hear. But that, too, is power; the oldest form of power is the nocturnal mob assembled to force a single issue on others and retreat in anonymity before daylight makes the consequences known.
By the nature of trying to please its citizens in order to create power, civilization becomes oppressive. Success at manipulating others is a salesman’s game, a merchant Reich. And yet it improves nothing, but the human ego prefers feeling strong to knowing that life will turn out well. What humans need is not growth but stability, safety not chaotic but “interesting” social life, and freedom from worry instead of liberty to engage in self- and socially-destructive behaviors. Power contradicts all of these needs because it must make people subservient, much as the forces of Mordor do in The Lord of the Rings, and thus compel them to need their leaders. This enables leaders to use these people as fodder for power, whether growing industry, war or simply making them neurotic and automatically obedient.
We should look at our human needs first and then make our methods serve those. We need less time at the job and more time making our families stable and happy. Kids need mothers at home and safe neighborhoods. These do not happen with political objectives which are the root of power. They happen when culture values sanity over power and we put leaders in charge who can restrain us from our own impulse control issues. Otherwise, like fat people with gift cards at a donut shop, we become our own worst enemy.
Wednesday, April 10th, 2013
“Absolute power corrupts absolutely,” they told me in high school, with stern expressions to let me know I had been exposed to profundity.
I have a different supposition: Power is a virus. If not taken out of the hands of individuals and directed toward some abstract but realistic goal like the growth of a civilization, power serves only itself — but it does so through the individualism and self-importance of unorganized people.
This is where politics leaves politics itself, because now we’re talking about the nature of power, not values (right, left) or manipulation (compromise, spin, ideology). We’re talking about how the human herd organizes itself, and not what it intends, but what corrupts its intention.
Now, all of this is out the window if power has a goal. Power with a goal is a three way switch — did it: (a) come closer to achieving the goal, (b) move farther away from the goal, or (c) do nothing? For all practical purposes, #b and #c are so close together that they get measured the same way. This is what holds power in check; comparison to the objective.
However, where there is no goal or only a vague maintenance-style goal like we have in the modern west, power has nothing to check it. Like a government employee or non-profit, it has no measurement of its success or failure; it just is. It keeps meeting its own internal goals, and so it assumes it is OK.
Wherever this kind of power goes, it expands. This can be a volunteer group, a friend group, a government, a non-profit, a corporation or even one aspect of your own mind. Once power exists, and has no outlet (goal), it starts working to further itself — because if it doesn’t do that, or stagnates, it declines (options #b and #c above).
Bureaucratic institutions never get smaller, only bigger. When a need arises, a bureaucracy is created. It begins addressing that need. Unless it can fix the situation immediately, it sets in for the long haul. At this point, it starts working to perpetuate itself. The situation is removed, and replaced by internal goals and external appearances.
Each year, the bureaucracy needs to find a way to justify itself. It can almost never do that by pointing to what it has been doing all this time and saying, “Yep, we’re just doing the same stuff, year after year.” People mistake that for option #c, stagnation, even though for most non-immediately-solvable problems the answer is to keep doing the same stuff that is known to ameliorate them, or do nothing about them and design around them (this is difficult).
As a result, the bureau must come out with a new initiative ever year. It’s doing that to defend the jobs of the people who work for it. A consequence of this however is mission creep, or the tendency to keep tacking on new goals as “sub-items” of whatever ostensible goal it was founded to have.
This means that every year, the bureau gets bigger, hires more people, and does more stuff. This is a form of entropy because it is becoming less organized, less effective, and more likely to be internally “gamed” by people who are fulfilling its internal demands, which are a step removed from actually addressing the problem. If the managers are check-writers are happy, the organization has succeeded; the actual problem is a secondary concern.
You might then ask, why does government turn leftist over time, and why are most government agencies leftist in outlook? The answer is that barring agencies which deal with specific reality-based concerns, like economics or the military, government agencies need to perpetuate themselves.
Conservative politics favor results over intentions, and as a result, will never expand government or give infinite job security to its employees. Conservatives are neither pro-government or anti-government, but favor the right tool for the job. The minority of problems are best served with permanent government agencies, hence most people see conservatives as “anti-government,” even though that’s illogical in a government-based system.
The result is that government turns leftist because leftists favor intentions over results. Intentions are what bureaus do best; they announce the new initiative, hire more people and spend more money, and when the problem goes unsolved, they haul out their mission document and show they’ve met their internal targets, even if their external ones went unaddressed.
Leftism builds more government. It allows government to justify itself by intention, and thus to grow itself. Power is a virus, and it is expressed by finding more dependents that require it so that it cannot be removed. This is a fundamentally defensive strategy.
Think about government welfare programs. When does the number of welfare recipients decrease? Never, if the welfare program can help it. If the number drops, so does the number of employees, the budget, the perks, and the job security. So any welfare program will find new dependents every year and if they aren’t there, it will invent them by expanding its mission. If society ever runs out of poor, the welfare agencies will quickly expand to covering people with mental stress, exhaustion, compulsive masturbation, etc.
Power likes to be leftist and have good intentions because that lets it expand. This seems to be why all governments except monarchies quickly plummet into oblivion. Even the totalitarians come to love their dependents, and soon they have converted society into a trough with no visible means of support. Shortly after that, the bill comes due, and it collapses.
Saturday, October 6th, 2007
When you were a kid, you may have been fortunate enough to have one of those tedious, blown-out old guys down the block who would always compare any current event to some distant dusty greyed-out happening in ancient times. “You know kid,” they’d rasp in those death warmed over voices, “Every time they raise gas prices, it reminds me of the Punic wars!”
Your job as a child was to make fun of them of course. That’s how you do what all children need do, which is differentiate yourself from your parents, because this is how children become self-conscious.They need that self-consciousness so that they can master it, and if they go far enough, discard most of it except the useful factual parts.
When we learn things, we have to go overboard first, and then find a moderate ground, upon which we can then heap more learning. Crotchety old men are on the far side of this cycle, which is that they sit on a heap of learning and are trying to remember back what it was like to be trying to build that mountain of knowledge. They’re upset you don’t understand how the Iraq war re-iterates things we in theory learned as a species during the Punic Wars.
They’re right but presenting themselves badly, because a raspy figure of death does not communicate reliability to the young. It communicates fear. What is missed in this lost chance for communication is a building block of understanding your world so profound that it changes the way you will view politics and society entirely. When children, we view our world like ourselves, as a linear history from birth to eventual death, and presume it to be inherent and unchangeable, a product of nature.When we get more experience, we stop seeing history as a timeline and start seeing it as a cyclic process which occurs in the linear space we call time.
Much like our own lives have birth, life, and then death, history contains similar cycles, but does not itself have them. Time is eternal. But for each entity in history this cycle persists. When we know this, we are no longer fooled by the heady propaganda from our governments, media, and moronic social partners that we are somehow “evolving” as a society. We are advancing through a life cycle which ends in death. The only thing that evolves is the design of individual humans and of course, the design of specific functions within a society.
Left to its own devices, the average civilization will cycle through its lifespan over a couple thousand years and then depart into physical, biological and intellectual ruins that resemble the results of at least a thousand years of dumbing down,compromise, palliative social placation, and of course, commerce dominating values. Is it any wonder the globe is covered with civilizations where dirt-covered people labor in ignorance at the bases of vast, impressive ruins? The original inhabitants are gone, both departed and absorbed into the remainder population.
This is what the old would tell the young if they could. It is also what great philosophers have attempted to tell us for aeons. Before we begin congratulating ourselves on one mechanism or another we have adopted to deal with the ongoing decline, we should ask ourselves: are we experiencing decline? Smart leaders and strong-willed populations can overcome this life cycle or prolong it, just like smart human beings can exercise and eat right and not become walking ruins of humanity before their time to depart this earth.
In movies it is popular to zoom out of a scene, show its larger context,and then return, with the juxtaposition (a product of time) showing how the small events of our lives are both iconic indicators of the larger cycle and contributing to it. Now that we have zoomed out from the events of our day, let us return to the Punic Wars, and the Blackwater scandal currently fading out in Iraq. What the media and government and well-meaning bloggers see is abuse of a system by a rogue mercenary company; what people with historical context (zoom enabled) see is the inevitable product of a declining empire forced to rely on mercenaries, who by definition share few of its actual values.
The real transgressions of the Blackwater people, it turns out, are more than one incident. Where US soldiers tried to blend with the population and reinforce a positive presence, for Blackwater, their contracts are a job and Iraqis are just in the way. Think of the killing of millions of buffalo, the wholesale removal of trees for replacement by concrete, or the billions of pounds of paper not recycled by businesses every year. When you’re on a job,you tacitly recognize it’s a form of control and resent it, because you’re not there as a result of agreeing with the mission. You are there for the money and because, since you’re forced to get money, you picked the least offensive career for you. But resentment is the periphery of that focus.
People at jobs (in my experience) tend to carry that chip on their shouldering a barely-hidden way that makes it even more present wherever they go. They do not act out overt aggression, but instead make thousands of tiny acts of sabotage. They borrow your stapler and don’t return it. They leave messes around the office. They accomplish only what exactly is stated in detail for any assignment, and ignore obvious implications. Job-logic is what gets us people being wasteful, and then running home without a care. Job-logic is what causes sloppiness that reaches epidemic proportions at the big corporations.
Job-logic is someone painting a floor, then storing flammable paint next to a water heater because it’s conveniently close to the door and no one told them not to. We joke at our jobs about how much we like weekends and can’t wait to escape, but under that joke is a simmering resentment which expresses itself in, “I will do what you tell me to, and not a god damn thing more,” which creates a kind of obliviousness. Our product works OK but breaks after a few months, or dumps oil on the floor?Well, we did what it said here in the Working Specification.
When an empire has to hire mercenaries to do the work that its Army cannot for political or logistical reasons do, you know the end is peeking around that next corner, and he’s winking. You know the game, he says. You fear death and death comes for you, but if you’re so goal-directed and conscientious that you seek an ideal more than you fear death, death cannot catch up to you until you are so old your body simply gives out. Our society has not found such a goal and has instead focused on making its members comfortable via material wealth and social esteem, which has made them fat,neurotic, emotional and ineffective. All they know how to do now is hire others to take care of them.
That old guy in the corner is telling you about the Punic Wars because the same thing happened to Carthage. While Rome was a virile and young civilization bustling with blondes and redheads and auburn-haired people,Carthage had become a marketplace for the dramatic international jet-setters who follow money but have no use for culture. They were a Semitic culture,formed from the intersection of Berber and Asian and Caucasian societies,and according to some accounts dyed their hair and painted their faces to excess. Carthage was like Los Angeles at its worst: ostentatious, but quick to humble someone else by pitying them and tossing aside a pittance of alms,and completely useless except for paper-shuffling, re-financializing money shuffling, desk-bound “earning money” without making anything better. In other words, a society in its final years, when it no longer has any ideals to live for.
Rome called their bluff. Unlike the Carthaginians, called Punic from the Latin term for Phoenician, the Romans were united by a common goal of power according to their ideal, and spreading that ideal through an empire.They were conditioned to practical labor as much as theory, and their theory was not landlocked by social constraints like marketing, as the Carthaginian theory was. They were rising, and Carthage was falling, and over the next three Punic Wars they proved it to the world, eventually laying siege to Carthage and literally erasing it from the map. Of course, that was before their own civilization aged, lost its consensus of ideals, and collapsed.
Despite the cries of media charlatans, Blackwater’s recent Iraq debacle is a small detail. Some guns for hire screwed up because in their job capacity there is no requirement that they care about the broader implications of what they do. So it is with all jobs, and jobs as labor without the context of ideals are a product of dying civilizations. The media is performing its job by whipping a detail into a frenzy, and at the same time, overlooking the inevitable truth of our decline. We’re all just doing our jobs, but no one is watching the overall direction on which we’re going. We can fool ourselves for a little more time by calling this progress, and in that time we can make some money and hopefully get away from the mess, so we will.
What it comes down to, when you look at civilizations as life-forms in themselves, is that there are two stages of society. In one, normally the youthful stage, the society is organic, meaning that consensus of values motivates its people toward accomplishment in accord with the ideal that represents the mental derivation that produced those values. In the other stage, usually the later, the society has become self-conscious but has not transcended that self-consciousness, so it imposes Control upon itself from some presumably absent but always oligarchically-controlled leadership faction. Conservative societies rule with a top-down order, emphasizing the production of a leadership caste, and liberal societies rule with a bottom-up order that seeks to neutralize leadership castes by empowering those at the bottom.
Both are methods of control that because they are imposed,create a job-mentality, and so do not fit the bill for saving a civilization.If we want to thrive, there is only one way, and that is by starting at the origin of leadership in a successful society, which is a mental and moral consensus according to some ideal that transcends self-consciousness. We must shoot for something that is not within the self, and is not defined within the society itself. It must be an ideal. Without such an ideal, we are like the Blackwater people just fulfilling rather frustrating jobs, and sometimes we too will freak out and shoot up the innocent from what might be sheer boredom.
Friday, December 30th, 2005
In the common parlance, it is often said that power corrupts, but this generally applies to people who are personally unstable and spiritually undisciplined, and so once they escape the corset of social obligation, they act out their suppressed inner fantasies with deranged results. The flip side of power is that it teaches a form of compassion, a “tough love,” that comes from the necessity of motivating people, because motivating people is both a matter of strict external force and gentler internal reward. If you’re going to lead people into battle or business or a volunteer effort, you need to show them that their task is just and there is no other way, but also make them feel a sense of empowerment and world-remaking importance in their job, so that they see it as not only necessary but beneficient to society and self.
People are raw material. They come to you a mixed bag: they have strengths, and weaknesses, and fears as well as ambitions. Most of them do not know how to channel their ambitions, so if not given reason to think otherwise, will become egocentric and either seize power, or disclaim it entirely and retreat into personal worlds of amusements and fetishes. On the other hand, if their ambitions are given a clear path and a reason to exist, they can exponentially increase their productivity and acumen simply by the fact of being inspired toward their task. Among other things, this explains how throughout history small groups of men and women have changed the world radically, and how sometimes a smaller army or business can crucify its competitors: its people are more focused and believe in their task more than the opposition.
Although amplified by the modern world, throughout history most people have spent their day to day existence in a state of slight depression. The simplest reason for this is that very few of us get to live a life where we are a constant focus of attention, and so we labor mostly unknown except to a few close friends and our families, whose praise means a lot to us, yet, we would prefer to be more widely influential. Further, because life is a long and winding road in which it is necessary to make errors in order to learn the foundations of successes, all of us will have some failings and embarrassments lurking in the past. We prefer not to mention them in public, but whenever we consider our next move, doubt arises in the form of these past memories, much like beating a dog with a stick when it soils the carpet will convince it in the future to remember pain and associate it with that act. Our own histories literally condition us to depression.
What amplifies this depression in the modern time is the sheer size of our society, and its general course downward, which even the dumbest among us seem to have noticed. We notice such things on a subliminal level more than an articulated one, since to understand the situation in structure and words requires knowing more of it than most lives will see let alone analyze. Since our society is huge, and seems so far beyond our control or even understanding that it is inexorably going to do what it does, most are slightly depressed by their lack of influence on changing a worsening situation. Among the intelligent, it is recognized that masses of morons will undo whatever they achieve, or worse, turn it into a dumbed-down version of itself, missing meaning but preserving appearance (if you’re thinking of what Metallica did with the “black album” here, you’re on the right track). This keeps even the best among us depressed.
The catalyst of change for this situation can be a seemingly miniscule change in belief. People now believe they cannot change themselves or the world, and that things will continue as they have been; if given the knowledge that not only are things invisibly changing, but that the future favors this change, and that they can be the implements of such alteration, people will become inspired and find belief in the future. The same energy that fuels their depression can propel their hard work and brilliant invention in remaking the world. Another way to view this is that depression is the result of one’s energy having no outlet, thus it works against the individual by creating internal chaos. Give people an outlet that they believe will have positive results, and they will move the world. It is for this reason that stubborn assholes such as this writer believe that as has happened in the past, a small group of determined people will change our world yet again. People of the world, your time is coming.
And time is on our side. Every day we grow stronger and more disciplined, the errors of society bear it and its lackeys further into oblivion, crushing them under the weight of a design which is doomed by its own contradictions to failure. Each day that we do not give in and do not parrot their rhetoric, ours is seen more clearly by others, and more respected. And with each passing day, more of the failures of our current civilization come to light, and more people look for alternate answers, perhaps not to act on directly but to support covertly or simply as vessels for their hope of a better future. When people become inspired, they gain a nearly godlike status in their ability to think clearly, act decisively, and make each choice correctly the first time. In this state, the errors and stumbling confusion that hampers us in daily life is minimized, and replaced with a state of pure function that comes of a lack of spiritual doubt about one’s course. People of earth, your fortunes are changing.
If you’ve got a modicum of intelligence, you are probably depressed, and you were probably born depressed: society is against you, as it wants to dumb down every aspect of its function to the point where you will be a misfit and your best efforts will not be appreciated even when successful. You are surrounded by idiots, and thanks to democracy and consumerism and popularity, they do have greater power than you – for now. You have no faith in the rotted process of our society, or its calcified judgment, or even life itself, perhaps, for it has delivered you to this state. Yet this is changing, and the same force of life – call it nature, God, or chance; your pick – has brought this cycle toward the beginnings of a close. You must have faith in the process of living and the change it can bring, because at that point, you can see yourself as an agent of this change. As a wise man once said, “I don’t know if what I’m doing will make things better, but I feel better working toward something in which I believe.” That outlook requires leaving behind the comfort of feeling you cannot change anything, so contenting yourself with distractions like television, drugs, novelty music and social pressures.
We live in a world of a lack of absolutes. We cannot “prove” what we’re doing is right any more than those who oppose us can, but we can make a firm stand with statements of personal experience and wisdom such as “I prefer” and “I believe.” Nature takes her time, but our environment has changed to the point where it will no longer favor the foolish with excess, and all of the things that smarter-than-average people have dreamed of as a means to restore meaning and beauty to our world are returning. The forest will reclaim the cities, the wilderness our moral souls, and intelligence will storm the walls of our civilization and plant the banner of “ever upward” over the ruins of contentment, gluttony and placating the crowd. Our time is coming, and our victory is a choice of our hands and our hard work. Our depression is obsolete, and the time of our triumph newly dawning. Where will you stand: with those who give up their comfortable depression and sloth, and take charge toward the future, or those who will through inaction defend the dying? For me, I prefer to believe. And the more I see, the more I realize that the age of great change is coming, and the era that has oppressed all the fine things is life is ending in flames and smothering decay. People of earth, you can similarly be inspired, but you must choose it.