Posts Tagged ‘tragedy of the commons’

Wikipedia Discovers Crowdism

Wednesday, February 15th, 2017

As it turns out, crowd-approved group blog Wikipedia reveals the Crowdist pattern in its “objective” articles and comments:

They concluded that “significant progress could be made by moderating a relatively small number of frequent attackers.” But at the same time, in Wikipedia’s comments “less than half of attacks come from users with little prior participation; and perhaps surprisingly, approximately 30% of attacks come from registered users with over a 100 contributions. These results suggest the problems associated with personal attacks do not have an easy solution… the majority of personal attacks on Wikipedia are not the result of a few malicious users, nor primarily the consequence of allowing anonymous contributions.”

In other words, the wrong people got in power… again. Funny how this happens. In business, in social groups, in volunteer groups and even among fellow employees heading out to lunch. When there is not a clear leader and hierarchy, the snarling Simian ancestry of humans comes forth and we sabotage ourselves by fighting for power like preening animals, “talking monkeys with car keys.”

The problem is us. Crowdism is the theory of what happens when individualism becomes collectivized, and inverts definitions by removing the unpopular complex and unpleasant concepts from within the bigger concept, leaving us with something like a cross between Disneyland and the Soviet Union.

Humans ruin everything they touch. Someone starts up a new idea, and this idea will be powerful so long as it is not widely understood, so that the idea selects its audience. But when people start coming in for demotic reasons — politics, commerce, popularity — then they want to use the idea as a means to the end of their own personal advancement, and they destroy it.

This is why nothing persists in the human world. As soon as something good is formed, it is destroyed. Wherever people gather, they consume whatever they find so that they can advance themselves. Unless this herd instinct is formed, humanity becomes the source of the death of anything good and devolves into squabbling, pretentious rodents who soak up all the resources and leave a wasteland.

We talk a good deal about virtue signaling on this blog, but the fact is that virtue signaling is one method of bullying people out of the way. There are others, but generally, people use language to manipulate each other, not to communicate. As a result, they are like worms creeping through computer data, changing everything into gibberish by redefining it.

Wikipedia provides an interesting model for this because it seems that it would be free of the commercial pressures that are commonly blamed for corrupting everything in the human world. In fact, commerce is just one of the ways that a “tragedy of the commons” occurs, with people acting in self-interest against group interest.

Could Wikipedia be saved? Yes, but only if: it had strong leaders, a caste system, and a strong culture that rewards the honest and punishes the bad. That is the opposite of what it has now, which is a popularity contest. We can see reflections of our society in Wikipedia, and in neither case is the prognosis very good.

The Fall Of Democracy Becomes Plausible

Sunday, August 7th, 2016


The American Interest asks a vital question, citing this study (via Outside In:

But it does highlight the fact that the democratic discontent of 2016 is not just a temporary episode can be allayed by rebuffing Putin’s shenanigans or hectoring voters about their irresponsibility or putting the right technocrats in charge. The dark specter of illiberalism across the West is symptomatic of a deep and broad-based decline in confidence in democratic institutions and ideas that has been taking place for two decades.

Liberalism (the early stages of Leftism) rose to power because of a simple promise: pacifism. Leftism surmises that by making people equally included in society, we can avoid the ravages of the class warfare that devastated Europe in the middle of the last millennium.

However, it has failed to deliver: inequality is ever-increasing, and our new elites are both incompetent and seemingly evil in their capacity to relentlessly advance destructive non-solutions to imaginary problems while ignoring real ones. The economies of the world have reached their end-stage, overpopulation threatens, social instability and decay are raging, and our leaders have no suggestions except to double down on what brought those problems in the first place.

As a result, people are rethinking the supposition that enabled Leftism, which is that we can use external control — an idea inherited from technological processes — to treat people like interchangeable parts and shape them into perfect citizens with rules, incentives and threats. Control is the idea that a centralized authority can use force to organize essentially identical units, which is the opposite of the ecosystem model that nature uses.

The end result of this poor thinking is that we operate by a simple rule: if it is human, it is good; this form of revenge on the natural order leads to promotion of incompetents and a proliferation of regulations which make daily life choking in its tedium and frustration.

Instead, people are looking toward natural-style (organic, ecosystemic, gradual) orders such those described in the four pillars: tribalism, aristocracy, positive incentive systems and some kind of purpose, goal and objective which by its nature is transcendental.

Tribalism means that culture and its values systems take the place of government and economy in regulating a society:

Jewish identity since the days of the Kingdoms of Judah and Israel had always been a tribal/national peoplehood. While tribal practices and customs (which are often incorrectly referred to as “Judaism”) and a strong biological link between many of the members are certainly present, Israelite identity was never based on either of these. Israelite identity has always been a tribal membership that goes by lineage (being born into the Tribes of Israel) or tribal acceptance (which is incorrectly translated as “conversion”). The identity Ashkenazi Jews have today is identical to that of King David whose great grandmother was a Moabite convert, but was nonetheless a Jew by virtue of being born into the Tribes of Israel by lineage.

Aristocracy means a reversal of the idea of external control. Instead of seeing who masters the system, we look at who is good (moral, intelligent, strong leadership) and give them power and wealth to manage. This gets us off the treadmill of needing constant growth and the resulting “tragedy of the commons”.

Having a goal also removes control. Control exists for itself, alone, although it justifies its power by claiming that it preserves social order. This fails because people become focused on satisfying the needs of the System instead of acting toward what is needed for civilization; control replaces goals. The modern West and the Soviet Union have both failed because the needs of the System replaced the goals of civilization.

In this change from a Francis Fukuyama-styled “end of history” where liberal democracy with market-supported socialism is the final state of humanity, we see the refutation and affirmation of the Unabomber’s thesis that industrial technology is our undoing:

The Industrial Revolution and its consequences have been a disaster for the human race. They have greatly increased the life-expectancy of those of us who live in “advanced” countries, but they have destabilized society, have made life unfulfilling, have subjected human beings to indignities, have led to widespread psychological suffering (in the Third World to physical suffering as well) and have inflicted severe damage on the natural world. The continued development of technology will worsen the situation. It will certainly subject human beings to greater indignities and inflict greater damage on the natural world, it will probably lead to greater social disruption and psychological suffering, and it may lead to increased physical suffering even in “advanced” countries.

Instead of industrial technology forming the root of our problem, we see that the theory of industry — take in raw materials, process them, and produce identical units — became the basis for the idea of equality, which because it replaces social order, requires strong State power to implement. Technology itself is not the problem, but treating civilization like a factory is.

As liberal democracy fails people will turn toward alternatives. As always, what people think in groups is wrong. One half will want Communism, and the other half, a capitalist dictatorship of the fascist nature. Instead, we should reverse the very core of our thinking, which is that Systems — themselves an idea arising from equality — can save us. We should look toward putting our best people in power instead, ruling ourselves by culture, and finally, having a goal other than keeping the group together through pacifism.

StrangeLoop: no one “owns” a conference

Tuesday, June 9th, 2015


When the StrangeLoop conference banned Curtis Yarvin because of his political writings, they opened up a terrible can of worms. By excluding people with the “wrong” opinions, a conference selects out all but those who have the “right” opinions, and rapidly becomes blind to anything but its own assumptions.

Conformity becomes assured when one must have the “right” opinions to be part of a community. This means that everyone will be two-faced: say what is expected in public, and think something different and radicalized in private. StrangeLoop has become such a community: its agenda aims not for innovation, but participation in the “right” ways, which creates a giant circle hug dedicated to avoidance of the parts of reality that might be scary.

The debacle introduced a conversation that we need to be having about online spaces. Specifically: who “owns” them.

Online communities and conferences share a salient attribute: although the means of producing them are owned, the event itself is a form of commons, or resource shared by all that is dependent on the participation of others. In the best times, they are entrusted to those with the wisdom to govern them. In the worst time, they are handed over to the mob, which creates a race to exploit and destroy them (this is what Garrett Hardin wrote about in “The Tragedy of the Commons”).

One critique brought up this point in the context of the Yarvin exile (TYE):

The conference is the property of its organisers, who can invite and uninvite whomever they like.

I would like to challenge this point.

No one owns a conference. A culture, a conference or an online space belongs to those who use it. The means of its production — the server which hosts it or the hall which houses it — are not equal to the conference or virtual space itself. They are physical elements which facilitate the virtual space, which can be viewed as an intersection between users and ideas. A virtual space, including some physical spaces united by ideas like conferences, is not a physical thing. Like a conversation, it is the interaction between people. Conformity out of fear threatens that interaction.

Conferences belong to the community they serve. This does not mean, as StrangeLoop asserts, that it is appropriate to disinvite a speaker for unrelated writings because some of the attendees might be offended. The grim fact is that we are always surrounded by people who hate at least one thing we love, or love at least one thing we hate, and thus there are no “safe spaces” until we reduce standards to such a lowest common denominator that we exist among fluffy clouds and warm pillows, with reality — and the challenges we need to address to live full lives — spaced out far away. A community does not consist of people who agree. It consists of people who are willing to disagree, but focus their thoughts on the same goal, and have those disagreements be related to that goal and not personal pretense, which is the other option.

The community is not healthy if it consists of people who think exactly the same things, nor does it thrive if people have nothing in common. It must have a tension within which causes the re-teaching of old truths through renewal via conflict. This is why no happy community either (1) squashes dissent or (2) enables people to post low quality garbage that drowns out the dissent with inanity. These extremes reflect a lack of ability to look at the community as an organic whole with different internal needs.

Users can manipulate any forum which is dedicated to avoiding conflict. A small group of them will simply agree that one specific category of content is unacceptable to them, and raise a ruckus when it is posted. They will then swarm and attack all who fail to condemn it. At this point, the online community is heading toward rapid death as all normal users flee the scene. That fact will go unnoticed because the caretakers of the forum look at numbers and not who is leaving. If they did, they would see long-time users heading for the hills and being replaced with a new group: the friends of the small group who initiated the decline, invited from other areas to do the same thing they did there, since they have found a new host.

The expulsion of Yarvin shows what happens when leadership is weak and unable to resist even such a small group. Any sane person would point out that with a thousand attendees, there are bound to be dozens of people who endorse certain ideas that some hate and fear. This is a necessary condition for a thriving community. When people insist that only some of those ideas are worth focusing on, that is not them defending themselves against scary ideas; it is them using the pretense of being afraid as an offensive weapon against anyone who disagrees with them. This kills the community under the guise of protecting property.

StrangeLoop has essentially isolated itself to only those who think in such terms by excluding all others, even if they did not agree with Yarvin. The same process happens over and over again as social groups, companies, industries and nation-states self-destruct by their inability to realize the community itself is worth defending against incursions by politically correct agitators. The ultimate loser here is everyone, because a thriving but sometimes offensive community was replaced by a game of office politics that no one can win but the cynical, sociopathic and narcissistic.

Burning Man in New York

Thursday, November 3rd, 2011

Occupy Wall Street contains the seeds of its own demise. It is not going to be a happy ending, like the transformation of the Tea Party into a powerful wing of the Republican Party, but a sputtering out that will leave the movement’s allies with a feeling of distaste. I know a frequent response to these sorts of friendly criticisms is that the critic should go down to his local occupation and discuss his ideas himself, but in this case this would be unproductive, since the flaw is not in the way the idea is being handled but in the very concept of occupation itself.

For some, the sole purpose of this protest is to make their feelings heard about income inequality. These people may show up for a day and say hello, or express sympathy from the comfort of their suburban Massachusetts homes, but they will not make the movement any more powerful. For the core of believers, the draw is that this protest is different from anything that came before it: it is not one day’s march through New York, but a new community separate from evil, corporate New York that represents a new way of living to the world. It is this permanency, the act of taking over a public space for an endless Teach-In, that has fascinated the liberal mind. As core organizers of the movement wrote on its secret mailing list, “We are building the community we WANT in this world. One that feeds, shelters … and cares for all [its] members. A community that hears every voice.”

This is Burning Man in New York. By entering the protest space you renounce the protection of and slavery to the police and the banks, and enter an agreement that you are going to build a community where everyone is equal and will avoid any problems of the old, evil world by being nice and respecting each other. When my sympathetic Facebook friends visit their local occupation, they come back glowing with energy from this step into the sacred sphere: the people are so diverse, everyone has such good intentions, there’s so much creativity and potential here.

This cult mentality allows them to blind themselves to what the protest is really like. At Burning Man, disruptions have prevented total freedom as the population grows– and this event lasts only a few days a year. Imagine trying to sustain 40,000 artists in the desert… permanently. Ludicrous? Well, at least Burning Man is utterly inaccessible. If you want to be disruptive there, you have to drive most of the day through empty desert and pass through a gate where they want a $300 ticket. At Occupy Wall Street, you’re a few metro stops away from millions of people, and admission is free.

Only with this background can the jaw-dropping record of crime at occupations around the country over the past few weeks can be believed, although not totally understood. How many sexual assaults and rapes were there at the Greensboro sit-ins? How many police cars were defecated upon at Selma? I don’t have a complete record, but I’m almost certain this is the first time a married couple has sold heroin at a political protest as their 6-year-old child watched. And this is certainly the first political protest in America that a sex offender has registered as his permanent address.

That this idea did not fall apart immediately is thanks to some clever quirks about the way it is marketed. First, because the protests are held in cities where participants can easily go to and from their homes and jobs, maintaining the protest is more of a hobby than a commitment, like a broken radio you tinker with in your basement for the hell of it. If you get burned out you can walk away at any time without losing much. Second, many Americans are used to giving money to political causes, and so a society was created without scarcity. If you as an individual or business owner consider Occupy a demand for reform, then it makes sense to support it with money. (If you realize you are giving your money to a utopian commune, then you may second-guess your decision.) Finally, due to the culture of leftist protests, any police crackdown will only renew support for the occupation.

But cracks are starting to show in this structure. Everyone is allowed to choose the job they want to do, which naturally leads to stifling bureaucracy from overcrowded committees and out-of-control kids who just want to do their thing.  Money is bound to dry up as long as the occupiers are not producing anything of value themselves. And the constant influx of the actual 99%, homeless beggars enjoying the free food and shelter, will surely be an entertaining disruption in the weeks to come.

Perhaps it should be disbanded before things get too bad. They’ve made their point, after all. But agreeing to stop fighting the police and to go home turns Occupy into just another protest and a failure as a new paradigm, as Slavoj Žižek indeed said when he visited Zucotti Park. To be “successful”, as they are now, the protesters must try to maintain their little society indefinitely. And that spells ruin.

The problem is not in the way the protest is being run; it’s in the entire concept of the protest. What is the good about the masses whose interests they are trying to promote? Why do the 1% lack this goodness? As Irving Babbit wrote in Ideas and the World, “The democratic idealist is prone to make light of the whole question of standards and leadership because of his unbounded faith in the plain people.” The 99% are the people, and are thus inherently good; the 1%, on the other hand, has not just been bad recently, but is inherently untrustworthy because it is such a small minority. If 99% of the mob before Pilate wanted to crucify Christ, these protesters would have no choice but to approve. They are unable to choose any particular strain of American culture over the other, even if one kind is dangerous to civil society, and another is the foundation of society itself.

To be allowed to join the camp of Occupy, the only creed you need affirm is political. The scholar Claes G. Ryn has recently observed that in modern American intellectual life, “issues of cultural decline are discussed as if the key to reversing the trend lay in the hands of politicians.” The reality is always, without exception, the inverse. The way people conduct themselves and interact with each other determines what they can achieve together.  Culture dictates politics, and a culture that believes otherwise is going insane. The failure of Occupy Wall Street is not in its political goals, but in the culture its structure inherently creates. Notice the utter chaos of their art and architecture, the formless, artless madness of the crowd. It could only have been dreamt up in a society that believes politics can come first and culture afterwards, and without understanding how either of these things arise.

An “occupation” can last centuries in the right hands. In the 4th century, some stray radicals wanderered out of the cities and occupied Kadisha Valley in Lebanon. Their descendants are still occupying it, based on the same principles: Christian monasticism. It takes a stronger bond than faith in the goodness of the mob to keep people together through the hardships of life and supporting each other indefinitely.

The court of public opinion

Wednesday, July 6th, 2011

Forgive me for intruding with stupidity, but it makes a good talking point.

Unless you are living under a rock (where I hear it is quiet and peaceful) you have been inundated with propaganda about the Casey Anthony trial. It’s a veritable media gold rush because it has all the elements that make the crowd stand up and howl: a dead child, a dead cancer patient child, a reckless mother, etc.

The moral indignation rings out loudly as we all try to hide our own moral failings. We love Casey Anthony because whatever we’ve done, she’s done worse. She takes the pressure off us, even if it’s just internal pressure.

Her trial is in fact the ultimate extension of democracy.

  • If you’re a feminist, you can rail at her treatment by men.
  • If you’re a masculinist (MRA), you can rail at how the justice system coddles crazy women.
  • If you’re a conservative, you can rail against the failing of traditional values.
  • If you’re a liberal, you can rail at how our social services fail children.
  • If you hate America, you can use this to prove that Americans are morons.
  • If you love America, you can praise our fair-minded justice system.

The best thing about the above: they’re all true.

True, that is, as part of the whole picture; they don’t tell you the whole story, but they’re true in that each of the above is logically valid.

But if we look at this story from a legal angle, we see that partially true isn’t enough. The case presented by the state did not directly link Casey to the murder of her child. An unproven crime should not result in a conviction, even if many people out there think it should have.

A second defense attorney for Anthony, Cheney Mason, blasted the media in a statement, saying, “I hope that this is a lesson to those of you who have indulged in media assassination for three years, bias, and prejudice, and incompetent talking heads saying what would be and how to be.”

Are Baez and Mason right? Has the media that followed the trial, which became the nation’s obsession as it played out on national television, gone over the top in their overwhelmingly negative response to the verdict? – WAPO

The Crowd is wrong on this one, because the Crowd bases its feelings on appearance, emotion, reaction and effect — not cause/effect logic. The Crowd does not understand that despite feelings, we must use facts to prove a case, and that not every murder case will result in a conviction.

We should not be convicting people in a court of public opinion.

However, our media wants us to and they are outraged that someone has rebuked them.

The court of public opinion is like a lynch mob composed of daytime television watchers — people whose uninteresting lives bore them, people who have no particular accomplishments, people filled with resentment that others are having a good time or making a go of it. If you want angry busybodies, they’re the daytime TV audience, which is something our media panders to.

Just like in the French Revolution, we find out that it’s easy to be popular — just find someone to blame for everyone’s failings. A scapegoat, an enemy, or a symbol. Convince us all that we’re innocent and someone else did this to us. Casey Anthony is after all a perfect scapegoat for our own failings as people, as parents, or as unemployed alcoholics throwing food items at their televisions.

There is also a more logical reason for our outrage: legal justice systems also only tell partial truths.

Casey Anthony is not guilty of the charges presented against her. I am convinced the jury did a good job here, because the case against her was weak.

However, there’s another issue that cannot be packaged up as a legal case: Casey Anthony is unfit to be a parent. She is the type of person most middle class people do not want in their neighborhoods.

Our law doesn’t let us say that we should spay Casey Anthony, or that we should be able to exile people like her from our towns and cities. After all, she has the “right” and “freedom” to be wherever she can afford to buy, and to conduct her disaster of a life however she wants — even the dumbest American learned this at school.

But we don’t have an outlet for what she took from us. She took away our ability to live in a community where a child’s life is sacred, and we think people who think otherwise need to move along to somewhere else. She took from us the ability to set community standards.

All of the media outrage is fake, and the “solutions” like “Caylee’s law” are stupid. We don’t need more laws; we need more common sense, and fewer stupid people. Fewer rights and more responsibilities. Fewer politicians and media manipulators telling us we need more rights and laws.

Caylee was a doomed child. Of bad genetics, born into a bad family, in a bad situation. Casey Anthony is a failure. Her life is a constant disaster and will continue to be a constant disaster. Both Casey and Caylee would be better off dead.

If we listened to our common sense, we’d oblige them, and turn around and put all of our energies into constructive things instead. But because we’re afraid to break the “rights” and “freedoms” taboos, we just sit back and watch as a million Casey Anthonys rip away the social fabric of our lives, leaving chaos and possibly a faint odor of death.