Amerika

Posts Tagged ‘the tragedy of the commons’

Doing The Wrong “Right” Thing

Thursday, December 7th, 2017

At the start of a journey, the end remains shrouded in mystery. Adventures tend to be cumulative, with each stage dependent on the previous one. When the explorer finally looks down on the objective, it may not resemble at all what was anticipated way back when the journey began.

Frequently people discover that what seemed like the right path at the start of the journey was clearly a wrong path as they approach the end, even if they were able to get to a better path from that wrong path in the first place. Something of this nature currently embroils the West as we realize that modern civilization, or maybe just civilization, is killing us.

Our species struggles with The Human Problem, which is our tendency to adapt to the audience instead of the goal. Humans are social animals because other people are closer to our understanding than the world outside of humans out there, but this creates a trap in that in order to accept others, we must broaden our standards to include both lowest common denominator and any outliers or exceptions.

That in turn forces an inversion, or removal of some truths that are not socially acceptable, which reduces our mission from what must be done to the simplified version consisting of what others can understand and what does not offend anyone. Over time, this turns the mission from its original purpose to something which fits all members of the group comfortably.

We can see this in action in all areas of human life:

  • A rock band. They finally got some recognition after their first demo. The drummer wants to be more like what he hears on the big internet stations. The bassist wants to be more arty and obscure. The guitarist wants to become jazz-fusion with a surface covering of their old style. The vocalist wants to continue doing what they did. Agreement cannot be found, so they mix it all together. The songs get more pop, with more jazz technique, but arty touches when possible, and they double down on the tropes in their music that reviewers noticed. Six months later, no one remembers them.
  • A church. The old roof leaks; a new one is needed. The elders of the church gather. They determine that it will take them years to achieve the funding for a full roof replacement, but patching the roof will take only a few months of fundraising. They also note that laying on a plastic sheath will take a few more months, and will cost half as much as a new roof, but is modern and fashionable although it does not fix the underlying problem. The group takes a vote, and it is decided that the sheath is the best option, because it is both acceptable and achievable. In six months, the roof leaks again.
  • A corporation. The old product is doing well, but competitors offer competition. Some in the committee room argue that the company should adopt something more like what the others are doing, while many say it should stay with what is true. Finally a compromise is reached: the company will offer its old product, but tweaked to be more like the competition. This pleases no one and fails, which means that within a year it is no longer on the company website.

In each case, the mission migrates from what is possible to what the group will accept, and everything else is filtered out, resulting in the choosing of a lesser option.

Our human world contains the idea of “doing the right thing” which is usually interpreted to mean ensuring that every person has a stake in what is done. However, when everyone has a stake, no one has a full stake, which means that decisions are assigned as a responsibility of the nebulous collective, and no one faces any real accountability for their actions. They blame the herd.

As we see it, “doing the right thing” involves supporting our society: first, getting a career and money; second, giving money and time to institutions; third, trying to choose the right option of many in politics, society, culture, and socializing with others. What we do not realize is that these seemingly-correct paths are in fact journeys to doom.

Consider the job. We go, because we need money. It takes up all of our time and we neglect our family, culture, learning, and souls. The job bores us because most of it is make-work nonsense. We become frustrated, and take that out on our families and neighbors, because there — unlike at the job — there are no consequences.

Much as drowning people at night often become disoriented and swim downward instead of toward the surface, in our society we are blinded by a desire to do right according to the definitions of the Herd, and so we pursue our own doom as if it were goodness and mercy.

We go off to jobs. We work hard to get ahead. We pay those taxes to support the parasite state. On Saturday, we get up and mow the lawn so that everyone else in the neighborhood sees us as respectable (for the record, neither this blog nor this author are “respectable”). We fritter away the rest of the day trying to catch the sales at the grocery store, find replacements for failing gadgets, adjust our computers into working order, cleaning the house, organizing all the stuff that piles up, and engaging our kids in respectable activities.

Then on Sunday, we rush off to church to be told how to be good and moral to the “less fortunate,” then come home and find out we have no idea what to do with the remaining time, so we turn on the television or Facebook and farm our brains out. Then we do it again, and one day we wake up at age 65 and find that the world no longer needs us. It used us and threw us away. And it took our best years for its own purposes, mainly for the eternal social goal of subsidizing the lower by taking from the higher so that an external administrative force — the State and its Leftist constituents — to have a perceived necessity.

The Human Problem manifests in this way: the smart people do what seems to be the right thing, which consists of what appears to our blocky human intellects to be an order that beats back unruly nature and substitutes a universal, level, fair, and organized system that succeeds because it makes everyone in the social group nod along, thinking that this is a good idea. We forget our purpose, and instead focus on the methods we perceive as necessary for that purpose, along the way losing our direction and souls.

Those methods inevitably involve deconstruction; human intellects favor isolated institutions with single-issue functions, which divides up the question of “civilization” into a series of disconnected roles, like the thought of a neurotic mind raging on in their own monomaniacal intent without ever correlating the whole or acting in parallel. We never look at the whole picture of survival and adaptation, and consider last if at all the question of the existential, namely whether we are living in such a way that makes us see the beauty in life and work to enhance it.

Our mania for this false type of order leads us to create cities where every person has a narrow function, jobs where we perform so that those above us approve without regard for what is actually needed, tolerance of those who are dysfunctional such that the individuals in the group are not threatened by the possibility of being noticed for their own failings, and a sense of stewardship of society as defined in terms of human individuals, such that we perceive that what is “right” is what subsidizes every member of society instead of obeying the selection instincts of nature and focusing only on those who are the type of people we want to be in the next generation.

In other words, what we think is right is in fact incorrect, which means that it is not wrong because it is morally wrong, but wrong because it consistently does not work out well in reality. Our minds are not perfect replicas of the world; in fact, we know the world only through interpretations of it, and these vary among people. If the “Bell Curve” that applies to IQ is consistent with other abilities, this implies that in fact very few of us are very good at all at understanding the world, with perhaps 5% having a mostly-clear picture, another 5% having a reasonably clear picture, and everyone else existing in a muddle.

This divides humanity into two groups, a 10% who basically “get it” and a 90% who essentially do not. As human societies grow, they become dedicated to managing people externally, or control, which basically consists of setting up an organization outside the social order in order to enforce rules, like an administrator or manager. This group is external because it is appointed or hired to do so, giving it the gloss of “objectivity” and “neutrality” that allows the vast majority of individuals to settle in like pleased chickens because they believe they are safe from loss of face, prestige, social status, and the good will of others, for their mistakes and character flaws. That external group then, because its mandate is to enforce unity, uses the 10% who are reliable as a means of subsidizing and stabilizing the 90% who are not. In defiance of evolution, it sacrifices the good in order to keep the rest in line for minimum function.

If the 10% were to cut itself free from the 90%, it would experience an exponential growth in happiness and a proportionate massive reduction in tedium, crime, vandalism, cruelty, vice, and passive aggression. However, the 10% likes to hold on to the 90% because if another society attacks, having a large number of warm bodies who can wield weapons is more important than having a few experts. This was the lesson for Europe of the Mongol Invasions, re-learned by Germany when she fought against the Soviet Union, whose quarter-Asiatic citizens fought in human waves much like is common in Asian land warfare.

Traditional societies sequestered the 90% in lower castes, kept them comfortable but without much disposable income, and limited their political, social, cultural, and economic power to avoid their bad behavior from corrupting the core of social order. These societies understood civilization as an organic whole, or not as a group of people to be managed, but as a living thing in which each person served a role. Organic civilization is only aided by doing what keeps the civilization healthy, which takes a higher precedence than trying to save each person, especially trying to save them from themselves. This allowed the 10% to prosper and the 90% to live as they always do, in a miasma of selfishness, self-sabotage, attention whoring, drama, confusion, greed, incontinence, and self-destruction.

When our civilization decided to be egalitarian, or dedicated to preserving the individual at the expense of civilization, it created the type of environment we recognize from the modern job: an external source of control managing individuals through enforced conformity so that everyone stays within the lines of the minimum required of them, and thus unity is upheld. This made the 10% into slaves of the 90%, since the 10% both contribute more and have specific mental needs, such as freedom from uniformity, tedium, conformity, and the type of ugliness that mass culture, popular architecture, and government pamphlets have in common.

Jobs serve not actual needs but the need for people to gel together like a slime mold. While businesses address needs, or at least consumer demands, jobs are partially creations of regulations, politics, and social attitudes, and as such they serve more to keep everyone busy and feeling self-important than to achieve actual end results in reality. In fact, for most people, going to work is a social event, which is why they keep going. Driven by a need to be recognized, they use the workplace as an extended social group.

This social basis creates groupthink through rampant extroversion. Extroversion, or allowing oneself to be guided by what others are doing, leads to a desire to achieve good feelings by making the group feel good. Class clowns know this; when they make others laugh, they feel better about themselves. In a group, where people are managed based on external appearance, extroversion proves to be a winning strategy because those who are getting along with the group are automatically seen as not a threat; introverts, or those who are entirely self-directed, are seen as unpredictable and therefore threatening to the group, in addition to being less present in social events so prone to be overlooked or forgotten when a time for promotions and awards comes around.

Groupthink in turn creates the worst condition of a dying civilization, namely its self-referentiality. Instead of paying attention to the results of its actions in reality, it exclusively looks inward to see what other people think of any action, which occurs because rewards to individuals come from whatever pleases the group. Like a group of people so intent on their conversation that they then walk off a cliff, civilizations in the grip of groupthink self-destruct by pleasing themselves at the expense of doing what is necessary in a reality-referential context. As with all instances of The Human Problem, the group adapts its purpose to the group instead of adapting to its environment, and so dies out like any delusional species.

In the grips of this self-referential social order based on control, people become domesticated, infantilized, and atomized, or entirely separated from anything larger than their own self-interest. From this comes many of the behaviors which are blamed on anything other than the group — capitalism is blamed for greed, under-socialization is blamed for apathy, atheism is blamed for immorality, and nihilism is blamed for lack of faith in the group morality — which form intractable social problems because the same means used to “solve” them are the methods that perpetuate them. This places the civilization in a death spiral where it will keep pathologically repeating the same behaviors and expecting better results, when it is in fact swimming downward toward a cold and lonely death.

To solve this problem, our only recourse involves ceasing to take society at face value, and also, to apply the same treatment to ourselves. What we think we want is usually a path to our doom; what we actually need, more than personal needs or social needs, is stability through a thriving organic civilization. With that, we will be rewarded for doing what is good, and those who do bad will be encouraged or forced to move on. This replicates the role that natural selection served among humans before we formed fixed, organized civilizations.

We can see that instead of worrying about Leftist ideals on the basis of face value, and concerning ourselves with whether this plan or that plan would fix our issues and problems, we should be concerned about the environment we provide for ourselves because civilization shapes us. The type of civilization that we select will in turn make us into the ideal citizens for that type of civilization, and if we choose one that indulges the group instead of striving for adaptation, we will end up becoming obese tattoo-vandalized blue haired neurotics. If we choose adaptation, all of what we see as “good” will be that which produces good results for organic civilization as a whole, and so we will make ourselves stronger, smarter, healthier, and of greater moral character.

A healthy civilization rewards the good and punishes the bad; an unhealthy civilization equates good with bad so that all are equal, and therefore that they can be used as a mass for purposes of warfare, profit, or staying in power. This is the difference between noble rule and tyranny, more so than methods, because one can have a good dictator or a bad democracy, and in fact, all democracies rapidly and inexorably become bad.

Human minds work through symbols. As with the difference between religion and a cult, at some point in every human group the symbol for the goal replaces the goal itself, and this inverts the value system so that instead of rewarding productive behavior, it penalizes it by forcing the productive to serve the unproductive. This occurs through social means because we try to motivate the group to stay together so that it works as a mass, and therefore control remains uninterrupted, instead of realizing that power is rare and is the property of those who have the intelligence and moral character to use it well, because if not used well, it self-destructs.

Motivating the group toward a hierarchy naturally enforces a focus on purpose because this is how more intelligent and moral people operate: they measure the results of our actions in reality, and select the best, so that they further beauty, excellence, and realistic thinking (“truth”). When a society orients toward hierarchy, it creates what is best called “the genius pump”: a constant upward pressure that produces people of great ability because their contributions are recognized, instead of used as a weapon against them as happens in egalitarian societies. If the good are rewarded and the bad punished, this creates a sorting mechanism where those who consistently do good — the 10% — rise above the rest, and then are further rewarded for doing well in their new capacity, so that the most competent and best ascend toward the top of the hierarchy. This intensifies competition among the best, elevating those who are genius at leadership and ensuring that they find mates of similar ability. From this comes a healthy aristocracy not impoverished by property taxes to pay for the 90% and a sane society encourages such people to have large families, and the best of those children then rise further, creating a constant stream of better people to keep the rest in line and drive the group not as a mass but as many unequal roles working toward the same goal toward greater degrees of qualitative excellence, or gradual improvement in the details of what the organic civilization already is, instead of looking for new methods on the broadest level, or the opposite of details.

To appreciate this type of society, we need to accept that we live in a relative universe. As Plato points out, a drawing of a circle is never a circle, only an approximation thereof; Schopenhauer says that we experience life only through layers of interpretation, since we never make contact with the thing itself, being removed from it by intellect and the distance inherent to perception; Nietzsche tells us that there are no truths, only interpretations. This means that there is no subjectivity or objectivity, only an ability to have greater precision in approximating what we know of reality. In this esoteric view, people are not equal in their ability to perceive the world, and knowledge is cumulative and relative to the individual, so only those with the ability and the drive to be more accurate in their perceptions will achieve greater levels of approximation of understanding reality, creating a hierarchy of accurate perception that parallels the hierarchy of the good.

In the traditional view, we each are part of a whole living thing known as the cosmos, and civilization emulates that in order to be as efficient and excellent as possible. We serve our roles like cells in a body, not focused on making the cells happy, but on achieving the goal that they share despite each having a different place in the hierarchy, both vertically by ability and horizontally by location and competition between those on the same levels. In contrast, the modern view holds that life is something we manage from outside as if we were hired in a job to administrate it, independent of our own connections to the world or inner traits like excellence and intelligence. The traditional view makes us active participants who take responsibility for their actions; the modern view delegates all thinking to an external party, the State, and designates obedience as our only obligation.

That viewpoint descends from government through society. We treat ourselves as means-to-an-end at jobs, and we condition our children to be defensive and neurotic by treating them as products to be managed. Husbands treat wives as tools, and wives see men as managers, eliminating unity and even actual love between them. We treat nature as a substrate to be exploited, and instead of making our cities into a glorification of beauty, we create ugliness as if it were the fundamental design goal. All of this flows from equality, which makes the individual the focus and civilization the means-to-an-end, at which point inner traits are denied, and therefore hierarchy is forgotten, reducing us to a mob that consumes everything in its path through a tragedy of the commons comprised of individual wants, desires, needs, and assertions of authority.

At the time of this writing, The Age of Ideology is ending, putting to rest the egalitarian delusion. In the final calculus, ideology was the product of individuals using civilization for their own ends, and this conditioned people to be less thoughtful and more destructive. We are now searching for a new or at least different civilization design, one that puts the goal first and the audience second.

When we look back over this time through the lens of history, we will see a broader scope than ever before. Human civilizations will be seen like rocket tests, where each time a design is tested and it blows up on the launching pad, it is redesigned. Every human group so far has detonated because of The Human Problem sabotaging it from within, and it has become clear that for our species to explore the stars, we will need a civilization design based in hierarchy and transcendental purpose, or a type of purpose that is ongoing and immutable, meaning that it can never be fully achieved but we can always more closely approximate it.

Humanity has suffered from exhaustion for some time. Our rockets keep blowing up, but we have been unable to change the design at a low enough level to make it succeed. Instead, we keep applying the same bad theory and seeing the same sad results. When we finally get to the root of that theory, we find (as always, with bad things) the fear that human individuals have for themselves has unreasonably swayed us toward denying the need to be good. When we overcome that fear, nothing holds us back; the stars await.

Recommended Reading