Posts Tagged ‘reactive’

Western Civilization

Thursday, February 16th, 2017

Human minds can quickly come to accept things as normal and push them to the background of consciousness. For example, we do not usually wake up and think about the fact that we are riding a ball of rock through space by the grace of a large ball of fire which warms us. Nor do we think about our hearts beating, or an asteroid plummeting to smite us.

Civilization fits into the same frame of mind. To paraphrase the neurotics at Apple computer, as long as “it just works” we sort of forget about it, and because it is bigger and more complex than us, we assume it is just working until we see clear signs of its failure. Those usually come long after the problem can be fixed.

And yet, like all things crafted from a design whether intentional or accidental, civilizations start from an idea and work outward. This idea is what ideology intends to replace; the idea is functional, where ideology is compensatory, or designed to work around the idea so that the individual can be powerful despite potentially not living up to the standards set by the idea.

The idea of the West is that of the reflective being: alone, he needs no stimulus, but can reach deep into his intuition to see where it pairs up with the natural world around him, and by deriving similar patterns, understand the cosmos beyond the physical. This is a hybrid of intravert and extravert that creates the feral beast which can also conduct logical analysis.

Most civilizations are reactive, or stimulus-driven, in other words purely extraverted. The third world is this way. People go about routines and react to events. When there are no events, they go somewhat crazy, so pointless drama is more valuable than silence. Even their analytical thoughts are like reactions, and their music, syncopated and color note heavy, reacting to the imposition of structure.

This explains the frenetic nature of the third world. There must always be entertainment. If there is not, the dark acid of existential questioning eats away the framework of the illusion and a void is revealed into which gravity pushes people without mercy. When that happens, those who have power are in danger, so it never happens.

Reactive civilizations are simpler and easier to set up than reflective ones. One needs only a group and a schedule of events, such as that there is always something happening — “what’s going on?” — to suspend the existential terror that is the actual default state of humanity. When the people are occupied, they are oblivious to direction.

This shows us the power and pitfall of reactivity as a psychology. It is easy to maintain and avoids the difficult questions in life like meaning and death, but it also makes the people who are caught in it oblivious to anything outside of themselves, to the point where when things do not turn out as they expected, they tend to be angry at life itself.

Most people even within reflective civilizations choose a reactive outlook. It is existentially more convenient because it does not confront disturbing questions, or require the individual to make hard choices. However, it leads to the type of solipsistic outlook that if predominant enough converts the society as a whole into a reactive one, at which point it slides into third world disorder.

If one thing could be identified as being responsible for the rise of the West, it is our salient attribute as reflective people: we look both within and without, searching our intuition and developing our knowledge of reality in parallel, to know what is true. This is a rare trait and it alone explains the results our civilization has achieved.

Please, No More Revolutions

Wednesday, February 15th, 2017

The Alt Right and Neoreaction are casting about for a future they can visualize as successful and comfortable. For the most part, ideas like “patchwork” and “formalism” have been recognized as thought-experiments, not realities, and it has simultaneously become clear that liberal democracy is in full collapse. So what comes next?

Some argue for some type of revolution, but there may be reason for skepticism:

Our education system is state church making everyone go to church and attend religious festivals. In other words, degree inflation To deal with this, needs a full on attack on priestly power. We need a revolutionary transfer of power analogous to the dissolution of the monasteries.

Let us dial it back a bit and review the events that have led to this point. Several thousand years ago, the society Plato described as ideal shifted from inside-out to outside-in; that is, it went from deciding what would enhance the divine in reality, and using material power as a means to that, to desiring material power in itself by assuming that such power was divinely ordained or did not require the divine.

Since that time, we have been trying to find material reasons for striving for something beyond the material, and failing by gradual degrees to the point that our civilization has slipped into partial third-world status. This occurs because while idea can influence the material, the converse is not true; material is a method, and the tool becomes the master in absence of a purpose independent from the tool.

Revolutions occurred because the kings, the last vestige of inside-out reasoning, were thwarted by the bourgeois and peasant revolutions. This replaced clear power with unclear power. Instead of having a single point of decision-making, it was done in almost an ad hoc manner based on what the herd was trending about at the time, which made individuals feel important just like playing a lottery did, but failed to produce any clear direction.

To understand this, we must look at the nature of revolutions. Revolutions say that the methods used by society are wrong, and so must be replaced. This is done to argue that the current system cannot be reformed because it is limited to methods that do not work. The consequence of it is that a semi-functional system is discarded and then recreated.

In this way, revolutions are like tantrums. People do not like how things are going, but have no idea of where else to go. They have a tantrum, and depose those in power, then recreate society as they know it. Since what they know was the previous regime, they rebirth it but without certain methods, which means that its fundamentals remain unchanged.

The real revolution we have to experience is not swatting away things we find wrong in the present system, but looking to where this system has mistaken purpose and fixing that. Bad methods arise when the goal is confused, and that occurs when society has no inherent purpose but randomly acquires goals in response to threats.

We might characterize the last few thousand years as the “reactive” era. Instead of thinking of divine goals, people reacted to problems on the material and methodological level. This contrasts the fundamental nature of the West, which I posit as “reflective,” or prone to look within for an understanding of the world outside, a variety of inside-out thinking based in finding transcendent ideals.

This is not limited to a religion, or religion itself. Rather, it is an approach to life that requires us to discipline our internal selves to the order of nature — avoiding hubris, or the all-too-common human solipsism that makes us think our intent is more real than the world around us — and then according to that structure, to find ideals that make life rewarding on an existential level.

Is education ruined? Perhaps, but all things can be fixed with a basic method, which is to replace the purposelessness of class revolt with a sense of purpose to our civilization, and then to apply Plato’s formula of “good to the good, bad to the bad.” This creates a Darwinian filter that promotes the best over the rest, improving quality and through that, finding clarity.

We need no more revolutions, or any other reactive approaches. We need a creative approach. This can only be found through the reflective principle, and the idea of gradualism or qualitative improvement that has guided us in the past. It is this seemingly unconventional but ultimately sane answer that guided us in the past, and the spasms and tantrums of revolution that interrupted it.

The leisure imperative

Wednesday, June 18th, 2014


Conservatives in the 1980s struck me as somewhat terrifying. They answered just about any question with “just work hard and get ahead.” Three decades on, I can see that they answered this way because they saw no solutions on the political front. The general idea was that society had gone to hell, so all we could do was enrich ourselves and live moral lives on our own.

With the advantage of looking back over that gap in time, we can now say firmly that these conservatives were wrong. Working hard and getting ahead makes it easier for the left to surge in, take over all levels of politics, and run the country into the ground. Then they’ll take whatever you have and repurpose it to serve the victims-of-the-day: poor, minority, gay, foreign.

Keeping that in mind, it’s time for conservatives to re-visit the mania for “hard work.” Specifically: time. From reading the biographies of not just great authors but greats of all stripes, I ascertained a common theme along the lines that six hours of solid work a day is about what most humans can do. The rest is peripheral time, doing repetitive simple tasks, but not anything too essential.

I don’t think it makes sense to give all of those hours to a career alone. People should always have interests outside of a job. After all, a job is a means to an end. You work to keep society alive and to sustain your family. If work replaces life, people become bitter, distracted, envious, petty and mean.

People around the internet seem confused about why others in their country do not feel any unity or commitment to improving society. The answer is that it’s every man for himself out there. Any obligations you make to others are a loss for you, and take time out of your already overburdened day. The best control mechanism ever may be keeping everyone busy.

The average office worker around here has no time to think much less rest. They wake up, get ready, and get to work; this takes an hour at minimum. They work eight to ten hours, sometimes more, usually because he who sits at the desk longest gets promoted. Then they go to the gym, dinner at a restaurant, and then maybe get a drink. Then it’s to home for a couple hours of TV before bed.

Nowhere during this day did this person experience a thought of their own creation. Their brain filled itself with reactions entirely. At work, they are given work to focus on; at the gym, they are listening to headphones; at the bar, talking to others; watching TV, their brains are awash in the visions of others. Are we even individuals if we have no individual thoughts?

This is not asking people for profundity, but familiarity. People need to learn who they are and to think about what they really value. They need to contemplate their use of their own time and their role in the universe. Right now they lack even the moment for this. In addition, they need more quality time with family, hobbies, friends and community.

“Work hard” defines not a plan, but a compromise. The unstated bargain allows us to tolerate the insanity around us instead of pushing back. Even worse, it makes us into people who are too busy to think and thus are without depth or insight. We need to slow this society down, spend more time on life itself instead of means to that end, and rediscover what our real values are.