Amerika

Posts Tagged ‘trends’

Meme Versus Fact

Tuesday, September 27th, 2016

pelican_lives_matter

Maggie’s Farm Blog gives us a look at the dissonance peddled over the riots in Emerald City.

From somewhere, re oppression in Charlotte:

There’s a Black President
There’s a Black Congressman
There’s a Black Chief of Police
There’s a Black District Attorney
There’s a Black Mayor until 2014 (Jailed)
There’s a Black Officer who pulled a trigger
There’s a Black Man Dead of that gunshot wound

In Tulsa, OK we have a case of a female officer shooting down a black man she thought might have been carrying a firearm. Or as Candidate Trump put it, she choked. Yet clearly, it’s the White, Cisgendered Male Oppression.

So much so that a UN Panel has volunteered to lecture us on American morals and Civil Rights. Yes, the international body that can’t bring itself to condemn the forced clitorectomy of teenaged girls is here to tell us all how Amerikan Cops are just porcine oppressors savagely recreating the murder of Emmett Till in the very streets.

Police killings of black people in the United States are reminiscent of lynchings and the government must do far more to protect them, a United Nations working group says in a report that will be debated at the U.N. Human Rights Council on Monday.

If we look at the composition of the UN Human Rights Council, I can’t help but laugh at the pompous, hypocritical bloviations that eminate from this body like GHG pollution from agricultural herd animal flatulence. Current members of this august body include Cuba, China, Congo, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, South Africa and Venezuela.

Needless to say, it’s been over 150 years since the US has traded any slaves like UN Human Rights Council Leader Saudi Arabia. We may charge our females with manslaughter when they panic and shoot somebody who may or may not be reaching for a gun, but we’ve never had our Federal Religious Police deliberately barricade the doors on a room full of women and burn them alive for getting too uppity. I haven’t noticed anyone getting necklaced by a US police force lately. Nor has the US ever quite managed a Cultural Revolution for disagreeing with the overarching zeitgeist.

The people supporting and pushing Black Lives Matter and accusing the City of Charlotte of systemic racism are detestable hypocrits who all deserve to have their souls become Beezelbub’s hot dogs. They could be toasted in the hereafter over a bonfire of their own pathetic pretensions. That goes for the wealthy white, cisgendered males who fund this terrorist organization as a leftist stalking horse against sane American communities.

Anatomy Of A Hive Obsession: Multitasking And Diversity

Wednesday, March 30th, 2016

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Late stage empires are rootless. People have no fixed pursuits because they have no consistent values. As a result, they pursue novelty to distract themselves from the emptiness. This spills over into policy because whatever the hive is excited about becomes an opportunity for marketers, advertisers, politicians and celebrities to use in their own appeal.

These “obsessions” happen periodically and sweep through like a desert wind, then depart and are forgotten. The fear of eggs as a source of cancer was one, back in the 1980s. For several years, the news was filled with scientific studies about how eggs were linked to different cancers and were probably killing us all right now. There were calls for increased taxes and regulation of eggs.

Then, it all vanished. Someone put out contrary data, or discovered some common sense, and they bucked the herd. Once one person had stood up to the great wall of conformist neurosis, others did the same and the wall came tumbling down. It had always been a phantom of our minds, as it turned out, but for most of a decade people accepted it as ironclad fact.

Another nonsense freakout was the AIDS epidemic of the 1980s. If you listened to the media, and the scientists who apparently wrote studies hoping to get picked up by the media, AIDS was going to wipe us all out. It was going to become airborne and you could get it from doorknobs if you had a cut on your hand. And then, poof!, this attack of fear also disappeared.

There are other great freakouts. From the 1940s through the end of the 1980s, people were just about certain that humanity would perish by nuclear warfare. Admittedly, there was a greater chance of this threat than eggs giving us all AIDS, but it also made little sense given that the risk was widely known. Panic and obsession crowded out good sense as usual.

Since that time, we have had global warming and now global terror. Neither of these are an actual threat, but with a twist: they are visible manifestations of bigger problems. “Global warming” consists of lumping together observations of some of the impacts of overpopulation and blaming gasoline for them; terrorism is just the tip of the iceberg of the many problems of globalism, a stupid Tower of Babel project for our elites and their fawning egalitarian useful idiots.

On the flip side, some obsessions are positive. When something succeed, all the monkeys imitate it slavishly. The best example of these is multitasking, an illusion which is failing. Back in the 1990s, someone came up with the idea that the ideal dot-com employee could multitask, which originally meant that they could be on hold on the phone and still get stuff done elsewhere on their desk.

Then the idea of “multitasking” became a trend. Employers were asking janitor candidates if they could multitask. Articles and books were written about the importance of multitasking, and motivational speakers earned a living by teaching people who to multitask in daily life. And then, the first people bucked the trend. They pointed out that multitasking meant lower attention to each task, thus less depth and quality.

And now, the multitasking trend is vanishing into silence, just like all the other panics and fads.

Let us look at diversity. In the 1970s, the West was looking for allies to stop the spread of Communism through the third world. We came up with the idea of forcing them to be linked to us by economics. So we started importing them into Europe and the USA as cheap labor, enjoying the luxury of newly-affordable goods and services that provided, and the notion of the healthy mixed population — a goal of Leftists since the French Revolution at least — was born.

Over the last four decades, diversity has always been the answer. It is a form of pacifism which entails no longer struggling to rise above the lower, but mixing everyone into one big happy pool so that there is no longer racial strife and class warfare. It makes women swoon and men think about golf. The illusion being pitched is that with this problem of racial strife out of the way, we can all go back to what we were doing.

And yet the reality starts to dawn. Diversity does not mean that people are here to live elsewhere; it means they live among us. It means our children, who are still not neurologically mature, will bond with them and want to marry them. It means that they will always be given preference in jobs and customs, since we are trying to show how nice we are. It means endless costs and slowdowns making life so miserable normal people want to die.

Look for this trend to die this year. Like the others, it will blow away, forgotten in our embarrassment and irritation at having been duped for so long.

How the culture war was won

Sunday, June 7th, 2015

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The news will give you a headache because reading it requires separating the unimportant but overhyped from the actually relevant, and only then reading between the lines. The big event last week occurred when media realized that the culture war was over and that the left won. This came not as a huge surprise to anyone, since the left specializes in validating as altruism the desire of individuals for greater narcissism, licentiousness and obliviousness to actual opportunity and threats.

When they raise the headstone over leftism — and it is not long now, despite appearances of strength — the epitaph will read simply “Here lies a FALSE HOPE.” Liberalism specializes in convincing people that actual problems are not problems at all, and with the energy saved fighting real threats, they can set aside some to fight imaginary threats and invest the rest in themselves. Liberalism sells a product called justification. On the surface, it takes the form of altruism, but more in-depth exploration finds that this was just advertising like the promises of a used-car salesman. The left resembles the guy at a party who tells you to not worry about the thirteen beers you have had because he needs you to drive him to the convenience store. And if a car crash or arrest occurs, it will not be his fault, but you will pay the price.

The recent culture war pronouncements remind me of the history of rock and roll. During its earliest years, it was simple and functional, but then with The Beatles it discovered pretense, and flowered into many directions as others interpreted that, some improving it and others making it more like the usual. At some point, everyone figured, it would just keep on going to greater extremity and intensity. That did not happen; instead: rock moves in circular patterns, rediscovering old influences and mellowing those instead of delivering intensity. It, like liberals, specializes in novelty or appearing to have new ideas all the time while it recycles very old ones. Yet it stalled sometime in the 1980s when, having exhausted its arc of discovering its logical variations and incorporating new technology, it collided with the brick wall of its own lack of ideas. There simply was nothing going on other than the variation of surface sound, and so instead of trying to change itself to grow toward new variety, rock settled for being a known quantity. Like properties on a busy drag or roles at work, it thrived less but kept the money flowing on the basis of not rocking the boat. It manufactured a series of trends, like using certain scales or guitar sounds over others, but kept all of this at the surface so everyone could participate.

Similarly the great leftward shift of American attitudes resembles not new terrain, but a circular motion achieved by a lack of space to expand. As detailed by The New York Post, American liberalism comes at a price — it is designed to encourage others to self-destruct so that valuable resources can go to those who do not follow destructive paths. In other words, this tolerance is not altruism; it is the exact opposite, which is competition so intense that you celebrate the self-destruction of anyone who might be an adversary. The culture war was won by schadenfreude:

Americans are simply, broadly, more tolerant of others who are unlike them. As a general trend, that’s heartening. On the other hand, what comes along with this mass departure of moral judgment from public life?

Let’s say we grant that it’s morally acceptable to smoke weed. Is it morally acceptable, then, to spark up a joint every day at lunch? Sure, as long as you’re not endangering others. It’s still not terribly wise, though.

This shows us America at her most cynical. Each of us derive benefit from having our potential competition strung out on drugs, obsessive about gay marriage, or otherwise taken out of the loop for actual competition. Even more, we get social success points for approving of the latest ideas that media, government, big corporations and all of our friends also approve of. In this we see the paradox of non-conformity: if most people conform to a single idea, changing the ideal just creates a different form of conformity. Only finding a different direction avoids the endless loop of trying to stay cool, keeping up with the Joneses, following trends, chasing fads, and other ways of keeping “relevant” that people who do not believe in themselves depend on in order to like themselves.

Social justice viewpoints are a way to show that you are “above” others. They are ignorant, primitive, unthinking and impulsive. You are enlightened, altruistic, egalitarian, tolerant and compassionate. This puts you above them, even if they have bigger genitals, smarter brains, heftier muscles or more money. You have a reason to sneer at them and treat them like the people who should be picking your cotton. Social justice makes heroes and tyrants out of underconfident people, and does so in the same moment.

What we see now playing out in the last days of the culture war is the same stuff we were introduced to in the first days of elementary school on the playground. People will do anything for power, short of achieving it by being actually useful and contributing to society and nature, and they become horrible bickering chimpanzees who drag each other down in order to rise above the herd. The nonconformity and iconoclasm of the gay marriage and pro-pot people is in fact the ultimate form of conformity, which is not behaving as others are, but having the same motivations as they do. Americans are trying to be cooler than each other by embracing whatever weirdness has come to them from above, and finding ways to both be obedient and appear “different” at the same time, and the result is the loss of the culture wars to the attention whore era.

Guilt transfers from Crowd to individual

Friday, August 15th, 2014

nobodys_fault

“There’s strength in numbers.” Among humans, the belief that membership in a group conveys lesser culpability finds great popularity from age to age. People like to believe that when the teacher leaves the room, and children revert to the ways of their simian ancestors, guilt attaches to no one.

Similarly when adults bind together into groups and commit some act, whether hanging a witch or voting themselves benefits from the public trust, they treasure their anonymity in the group. This enables people to watch the disastrous results of whatever they have done unfold and transfer the blame from themselves to the group. Invariably, someone else can take the blame: the plan was good, but executed poorly, they say; alternatively, the plan was ruined by the opposition. This allows people to choose a delusional idea, take no blame for it, and transfer blame of its failure to another.

No society allows individual members to do this for individual acts. If in clearing your field you create a fire that burns down half of the village, you will be held accountable. Something in us holds us back from the same kind of blame if a group decides that burning a field is necessary, and then this fire consumes the village. The group lends an atmosphere of legitimacy through universal consent, and besides, when enough people are involved, it becomes difficult to punish them all because they hold a numerical plurality. For example, a burned village may need them to rebuild.

I propose a different view for humanity: those who join any kind of Crowd, mob, herd, trend or party inherit the whole of the blame individually. Those who form the group from which someone pulled the trigger each get treated as if they individually fired the kill shot. With this mentality, people will think harder about what they do in groups since safety in numbers will not save them. That in turn will have them see what has been concealed for so long: the decision to join the mob is in itself a moral act from which all consequences are inherited by the individual.

Imagine the consequences for democracy. Those who vote for a party become accountable for fixing the mistakes it makes, instead of being able to blame the party, its opposition and “the voters” as a generalized bloc. Those who join in a group screaming for some entitlement or another get treated as if they alone caused the bad consequences of that action. The jeering mob around the guillotine are not seen as participants or supporters, but murderers each.

Until humanity adopts this (opposite) rule to its socially instinctive maxim of safety in numbers, most human actions will continue to be drive-by events. Voting requires a half-hour of time and can then be forgotten; public protest is a weekend activity for bored and purposeless people. These popular pursuits allow people to inject a momentary opinion to signal their intentions to others and then skip out on the consequences. With a change in our outlook, they would for the first time feel the fear of being wrong that any honest decision-maker does, and their trivial and often vandalistic participation would take on a new weight for them.

Popularity contests like democracy, consumerism and socializing itself create a moral proxy that shields the individual from the consequences of his actions. Where human society went wrong can be seen in that very fact: we have separated cause from effect with a layer of social sentiment and individual freedom. Predictably, our decision-making and leadership have faltered after that point because a Crowd appears, frenzies around whatever idea flatters it the most, and then forces it upon the rest, retreating long before the consequences are seen. Something to put on humanity’s tombstone, at least.

SOPA a distraction

Thursday, January 19th, 2012

The hysteria sweeps the country like a giant wave. If you do not join it, it threatens to crush you with its weight.

Almost literally everyone you know has participated. The peer pressure is immense. Equally huge is the need to have some kind of response when people talk about it. The correct response is “I signed the petition and I’m really worried about this.”

Like most panics, it is designed to be something you cannot refuse. You look bad for not taking part. As a result most people join in, repeating the exact same phrases and the same dire warnings. This could be the end of all good things, they warn.

The hysteria itself is infectious. In a time that prides itself in safety, very little happens. In fact, we’re so safe, regulated, managed, administered and overseen that life is generally boring. We are always ready for that great hype that could rocket us into full-on feeling like we’re alive.

But even more, the people around us want a reason to be important. They want to be the brave revolutionaries standing up to a vile government, or fascist corporation, or even diabolical king or religion. Even more, they want it to be easy to do so, like signing a petition.

There is defiance in their eyes, but it is the kind of defiance that fills the eyes of a bully who knows that there are no real consequences for his actions. People are distracted. Soon it will be over, with no witnesses. Instead here, people relish the chance to act like rebels with no penalties to pay.

People on the internet adore pseudo-activism like this. It makes them feel huge and important. It has zero actual consequence. It’s a talking point. The novelty of it makes them seem like good people and morally upstanding citizens to their social groups. Even for just a few clicks.

SOPA/PIPA are reputed to be the start to George Orwell’s 1984. The government will gain the ability to shut down websites, and so the censorship will begin, with the next stop being telescreens and secret police.

Except that George Orwell’s vision was government-approved. It fit right into the narrative that the West needed during the Cold War: the other side were authoritarian, controlling, paranoid and against fun, love and freedom. Therefore, fight back against government power!

What they didn’t tell you of course is that acting in that way made government more powerful. An official list of impermissible acts had been agreed on, so people would stop looking for other violations. And any time government needed a distraction, it could offer a sacrificial Orwellian gesture to distract us.

SOPA/PIPA are government bills to allow the USA to shut down websites that are pirating warez/media or selling counterfeit goods. The government already has the ability to do this through the DMCA; it can submit a ton of those and force a site offline, if it’s in the USA, or encourage major providers to block external sites.

Even more, the average citizen has this ability. If you spot an offensive website, call up the hosting provider (easily found) and complain about the offensive content. If enough people do it, the web site goes away.

True, there are now free speech and semi-free-speech hosts. If you take your $200 down to a courtroom and have your lawyer fill out some papers, you can initiate a lawsuit that will cost that website more than it can afford to keep running. Censorship has always been the way of the internet.

Of course, it’s not government doing it, and that’s what they’ve trained you to look out for. If a news source claims it’s not from the government, you trust it. If a political movement claims to be fighting the government, you join it. If ideas get censored because they’re unpopular, you’re OK with it.

Right now the hype is at epic fever pitch. The Crowd is swarming and wants to ensure that you join. However, they’re hyping a non-issue and the whole point is to force you into their circle, so you start doing what they want. How easily you are controlled.

Tweebo

Monday, October 17th, 2011

When a civilization dies, the culture goes first and what is left is hypocrisy.

People become really disgusting, and false and hollow, and they spread that like a disease among themselves. They are manipulative and insincere. And why not? It’s not like they live in a society that works for their benefit. Instead, they’re trying to hold on to the parts of a disintegrating mess that tells them they’re “equal” and then treats them like chattel. They have nothing to their name except some job, a car, and a place to live. Almost none of them believes that will mean anything because there’s always someone richer, so people start “posing” and using lifestyle choices to make themselves seem more important than everyone else.

It’s not personal, but it ends up being personal, because they see everyone else as potential competition. If you want to know why men belittle each other “in fun” and women are catty, this is it. There is no social order or morality in common to give their lives meaning, so they’re trying to one-up each other by being more important in different ways: moral posturing (I give to Greenpeace), social status (I know the owner of that trendy club), elite possessions (I have an iBrain), and even rank (I’m executive vice president of doing nothing). As said elsewhere on this site, it’s “keeping up with the Joneses” but it’s not limited to material possessions or socioeconomic status. It’s just pure status.

Because of this nasty “crab bucket” tendency to try to climb above everyone else, each person ends up searching out an identity. If you’re thinking of the first week of high school, a prize for you. Remember when kids split off into groups like theater kids, goths, jocks, preppies, druggies, partiers, gangstas and nerds? That exact same process is going on in society at large, all the time. People are trying to find an identity, and they build that identity out of things they own but more importantly, public attitudes or stances.

Unfortunately these people destroy anything they touch. Their goal in joining your non-profit is not to achieve the goal of the non-profit, but to show others how benevolent, altruistic, compassionate, gentle and insightful they are. This is why most volunteer organizations fall apart. People are too busy posing and being self-important to get anything done, which they don’t care about anyway. They are there to look good to their friends and to remind everyone else that we are not as cool as they are.

This attitude has a schizophrenic character because they know, barely under the surface of their personalities even, that their pose is not true. They are faking it and they fear you’ll find out because it’s easy to see. They become really afraid of you finding out. As a result they are constantly passive-aggressive, which is a tough term to define but roughly means unreasonably putting themselves in your way, and then claiming you attacked them first, and using that as a justification to attack you. It’s like the kid in elementary school who kept poking you all class long and when you finally had enough and punched his lights out, he claimed you were bullying him and got you sent to federal prison. That’s how modern people think, and this is why T.S. Eliot and others have indicated our present historical age as a “Kali-Yuga” or end-time in which no one is to be trusted. It sounds misanthropic but if you pay attention when you go through life you’ll find that maybe 10% of the people out there are well-intentioned and the rest are purely selfish and not all that much fun to be around, which is why they band together with other idiots to force you into jobs and other social circumstances where you have to tolerate them.

There are many modern poses or justifications. The most obvious is the Steve Jobs style Californian messianic type, but equally devious are the hipsters, hippies, anarchists, soccer moms, Christian evangelicals and tree huggers who try to give their empty lives meaning through an ideology that allows them to drama-queen around in public and feel as if they matter. It gets even worse when you get on the internet. To make a long story short, I’m going to talk about one of these personae today, and that’s Tweebo.

“Tweebo” is a portmanteau of “twee” and “Rambo” because that describes the mentality of tweebos. On the surface, they are classic beta males: sensitive men, compassionate pushovers, feminists, freethinkers, liberal, etc. (it doesn’t matter what they claim, as they believe none of it and lack the biological intelligence to analyze and understand it). They will fall to their knees for any underdog or lost cause as long as it is a socially popular one, meaning that it panders to the individuals out there who are miserable and are sure they are victims of an unfair and horrible world and something should be done about it. Tweebos do not like for honest people who fall on hard times. They really don’t care if a tornado killed your family, destroyed your home and broke off your legs. They care if you’re a drunk homeless guy who was “just never given a chance, dude” or some other pity target. You have to be a pity-target because otherwise you don’t serve their pose, which is as wise benevolent rich altruistic and compassionate geniuses who are riding in to save the day. This is the paradox of tweebo: it is both twee, or immersed in the kind of self-pity that projects outward and has them seeking out victims and hopeless cases to coddle, and a sense of “white knighting” like Rambo to save those same cases from anyone who is not also twee. The twee is the passive, the Rambo is the aggressive. Tweebos are passive-aggressive moral posers.

They have several traits:

  • Low self-esteem leading to victimhood mentality.
  • Both social and practical incompetence which causes them to hate people who are succeeding in any form.
  • Vast self-pity leading to identification with other victims.
  • Cognitive dissonance “white knighting.”
  • Bored, slovenly modern existence causing interest in the plight of pity objects.
  • Absorption of massive doses of anarchist, Marxist and hippie faux ideology but underneath that strong tendencies toward consumerism.
  • General depression and dysfunction leading to a desire for uplifting images, memes and propaganda.
  • Hatred of their own origins and thus posturing, pretense and moral superiority and righteousness posing.
  • A tendency to be smarter than average, but not smart enough to realize that minor achievement does not make them Omnipotent Geniuses (this is the Dunning-Kruger effect of illusory superiority).
  • A fascination with all things twee, failing, pitiable, sad, miserable, lonely, weak, dying and dysfunctional.
  • A constantly repeated lie that if society would just get off their back they’d turn out great, somehow launching from their entry-level jobs in IT and food service to the top of the ladder.

Tweebo kills all discussions with groupthink, and because he sees his view as the one universal and absolute moral path, is intolerant of any deviation from that view.

As a result, tweebo is excessively “conservative” in the sense of eliminating all but a very narrow “way we’ve always done it around here” but tends to adopt morality based in the individual, or humanism, as his shield. Tweebo standardizes discussion and brings conformity.

For this reason, tweebo is especially active in media. They like to get jobs in media so they can push their dysfunctional opinions (that they don’t even believe) upon you. They are also very active on the internet, especially chatty communities like Fark, Reddit, and MetaFilter. You will know you have hit a tweebo hive when there is an unstated opinion that everybody obeys and defends, and when they’re hostile to outsiders about the same. It’s a way of being addicted to the same vapid hivemind while pretending to be iconoclastic individualists, man.

Tweebo is also irritatingly self-righteous and deplorably ignorant, but cannot understand why that is so, thus represents a giant mob of people who repeat identical opinions at top volume and strangle any deviation from the norm, crushing any thinking “outside the box.”

Tweebo, in the name of non-conformity, is the ultimate conformist.

Remember that tweebo is an unstable combination of self-pity and white knighting (“moral vigilanteism” through a keyboard). They do this to hide the fact that they are overwhelmingly single, lonely, dysfunctional, socially alienated, week-willed people in their 20s whose “ideology” consists of equal parts self-pity and revenge on the more successful.

What makes tweebo dangerous is that he is a distraction and a false ideology. Millions of spoiled fat first-world children gather together and go tweebo, and this means they act outrageously in public for lost causes but won’t lift a finger to help an actual problem. It is not uncommon to see tweebo drive his prius past a girl getting gang-raped, or for tweebo to come home from a green party protest and throw a whole bag of recycleable items straight into the trash. Tweebo uses ideology and politics for his own convenience, and doesn’t care about anyone else or whether his ideas come to pass. It’s just a pose, like everything else tweebo does.

If you look out your window and see someone making a big deal about the rights of the homeless to defecate on your lawn, or whether we are doing enough for starving orphans in some tiny place you’ve never heard of, you are probably seeing tweebo in action. My lawyers say I can’t tell you to open fire, but if you did accidentally shoot all the tweebos in your neighborhood, you’d do more to improve humanity than all the tweebos since the dawn of time would ever do. They don’t see it that way however. You’re either tweebo, or you’re part of the problem, in their view. While this has no relation to reality, it does make tweebo feel better for a few moments, and that’s all he cares about anyway.

Unplanned obsolescence

Tuesday, March 8th, 2011

At any given time in history, most people are oblivious to what is happening because they are focused on what has just happened. They are after all doing what is normally the smart thing in civilization, which is to look at what has succeeded and emulate it.

Their problem is that the events that transpire are the result of an ongoing process, so any time you emulate those events, you have missed the timeless part (the process) in favor of a signal of its existence, a result specific to a certain time that has now passed. We can see this in current politics.

Most people out there are following the cues they get from movies and pop stars. These people suggest that the same values that people trotted out in 1968 are still valid. Even more, they hint, the only way to stand out in a crowd is to be different, progressive, fair-minded etc. by accepting this stuff.

But even the 1968 values were backward-looking. A society wracked by two hot wars and a cold one was scanning over its past mistakes, trying to find an easy way out. It took many years for people to realize the situation was not as simple as appearances suggested, and that a solution would require not dodging unresolved issues but tackling them head-on.

However, in 2011, the 1968 values endorsed by politicians, entertainment figures and television commercials are even more backward-looking. Those endorsing them are looking for symbols of the hip, the young, the good and the exciting. They can’t invent something new; they need something we already know.

And so the propaganda rolls on. Any time they want to sell a car, for example, as being hip and young, they trot out the same stuff and hope we all jump at the mention of something so obviously socially promoted. Yet because they’re looking backward, they’re missing the real story.

A new report from the Military Leadership Diversity Commission says yes. It argues that the battle lines in Afghanistan and Iraq have been so blurry that women basically are in combat, but don’t get the formal combat credit needed to advance in rank. That’s because of a 1994 Pentagon ban — the so-called “combat exclusion rule” — that keeps females out of small units where most combat takes place. The rule should be junked, the commission says.

The panel, created by Congress in 2009, spent 18 months coming up with ways for the Pentagon to improve the promotion of women and minorities as the nation becomes increasingly diverse. “The armed forces,” it warned Monday, “have not yet succeeded in developing a continuing stream of leaders who are as demographically diverse as the nation they serve.” – Time

The writers of this article, and this report, are attempting to be good guys. They want us to think that they’re including everyone and being fair to everyone equally, so they’re on the side of the right and progressive. There’s only one problem: their crusade has absolutely no bearing on the quality of our armed forces, e.g. can they win wars.

It’s like being at a job where they insist the new client team have members from every floor. While that makes the team more representative of the workplace, it has zero bearing on how well it performs. Often the best teams don’t represent the organization behind them faithfully, but show a specialized ability. Even more, other factors determine the effectiveness of the team: its organization, training, equipment and direction.

1968-logic is to make a shiny happy symbol out of everything. Make sure everyone is included. Results? — err, not our department. We need to make everything fair, everything new and exciting, everything different. The rest will work itself out, or not, but at least we did the right thing, and gained social popularity, votes or product buys from it.

Social democratic parties across Europe are losing elections on an “unprecedented scale”, according to former foreign secretary David Miliband.

He said the parties were “fragmenting as the right is unifying”. He named six countries – Britain, Sweden, Germany, France, Holland and Italy – that he said had a “good claim to represent the historic heartland of European social democracy”, but that are no longer run by the centre-left.

“Not since the first world war has there been this kind of domination from the right. The whole era of democratic suffrage,” said Miliband. – The Guardian

How could this be? The right wing is future-oriented, even if it uses the methods of the past. The right cares about results, and about having goals in common, where the left is about individualism and fond notions that may or may not be true but sure are interesting.

While they want you to think that leftist thought is new and exciting, the truth is that it’s old. Not only is it a calcified ruin held over from 1968, chaperoned by the now white-haired burnt-out hippies who tell us in drooling repetitive detail about their glorious victories, but also, it’s irrelevant. We face a new world in which no absolute morality exists, or even any shared culture. Instead, people want results and stability.

Let one of the leading thinkers of the 1990s, who proclaimed that liberal democracy had taken us to the final stage in history before recanting that progressive Utopian theory, show us what’s replacing our “moral” and social judgments:

Dr. Fukuyama, a political scientist, is concerned mostly with the cultural, not biological, aspects of human society. But he explicitly assumes that human social nature is universal and is built around certain evolved behaviors like favoring relatives, reciprocal altruism, creating and following rules, and a propensity for warfare.

Because of this shared human nature, with its biological foundation, “human politics is subject to certain recurring patterns of behavior across time and across cultures,” he writes. It is these worldwide patterns he seeks to describe in an analysis that stretches from prehistoric times to the French Revolution.

Previous attempts to write grand analyses of human development have tended to focus on a single causal explanation, like economics or warfare, or, as with Jared Diamond’s “Guns, Germs and Steel,” on geography. Dr. Fukuyama’s is unusual in that he considers several factors, including warfare, religion, and in particular human social behaviors like favoring kin. – NYT

In the past, we took one thing out of thousands and called it a cause; more accurately, it would be called a symbol of that cause, or a subset of factors representing all other factors.

Now we need to look at multiple causes at once and figure out that rather than being puppets to whatever political aspect strikes our fancy, nations are organic. They operate as a result of multiple causes and with multiple results, simultaneously.

This negates the idea that a social or symbolic factor could trump all others. Morality and popularity are just one factor of many, and they are explained by other things. Morality is a means to an end for these civilizations; they decide what they want, and backfill the moral charge to make it stick.

For those in 1968, or even in 1996, this would have been unthinkable. It’s a reversal of all they have worked for, which is a moral society, and replaces it instead with a practical society that adapts to realistic expectations of the world in response to its actions. Such a society is consequentialist, or concerned with results more than feelings/popularity/symbolism.

Time has marched on, yet many people remain stranded in 1968-think, probably because they’re accustomed to using the 1960s as a marketing flavor. Want it to be edgy? Put Bob Dylan on it, or Jane Fonda if you dare. Want it to be fun? Led Zeppelin or hippies with a giant doobie. Profound? John Lennon or Pink Floyd.

It’s just like adding a little cream flavor to your cheap bread and calling it “Dutch style,” or covering a normal chair in chrome and calling it “urban style.” It is just as false as the advertising we distrust, the speeches of politicians we know are lies, and the little white lies people tell in social situations that we know are false (the stripes do make you, or anyone else, look fat).

A whole generation is about to be caught unawares as they continue to spout the hide-bound, calcified and stale ideas of the past and insist they are new. We have real problems instead:

Government payouts—including Social Security, Medicare and unemployment insurance—make up more than a third of total wages and salaries of the U.S. population, a record figure that will only increase if action isn’t taken before the majority of Baby Boomers enter retirement.

Even as the economy has recovered, social welfare benefits make up 35 percent of wages and salaries this year, up from 21 percent in 2000 and 10 percent in 1960, according to TrimTabs Investment Research using Bureau of Economic Analysis data.

“The U.S. economy has become alarmingly dependent on government stimulus,” said Madeline Schnapp, director of Macroeconomic Research at TrimTabs, in a note to clients. “Consumption supported by wages and salaries is a much stronger foundation for economic growth than consumption based on social welfare benefits.” – CNBC

Our economy is a circular Ponzi scheme. We depend on importing new workers and paying them nothing so we can all rise, and then pay everyone through the government, robbing the active parts of the economy to put money directly in the hands of the citizens, who spend it in ways that generate no further wealth. Dead ending it, in other words.

The result is predictable:

Cities across America are facing dire financial distress. Meredith Whitney, a banking analyst turned independent adviser who correctly predicted the banking meltdown, has issued an Armageddon-like prediction of mass municipal defaults. Others — notably Newt Gingrich — have suggested that state governments as well as cities should be allowed to file for bankruptcy. Congress held a hearing to examine the idea.

These forecasts of apocalypse have touched a nerve. Americans, still reeling from the devastating impact of the mortgage debacle, are fearful that the next economic disaster is only a matter of time. To anyone reading the headlines of budget deficits and staggering pension liabilities, it takes little imagination to conclude that the next big one will be government itself. The problems of cities are everywhere. – NYT

These are real problems. They are bigger than economics; you don’t get into such radical debt spending unless you’re also having trouble with leadership, or at least leaders who refuse to make the tough decisions and instead pander to the crowd by offering “free” bonanzas. These problems are the sign of a civilization veering out of control, careening off the walls of its own problems, yet unable to plot a course away from inevitable collision.

And yet the people who are accustomed to getting popular, rich and acclaimed by pandering to us using the played-out symbols of the past keep at it. They keep hitting us up with that 1968 symbolism, forgetting that most of us were not alive back then and have no allegiance to being hippies, at least if we’ve seen past the marketing and realize being a hippie doesn’t make us cool, it makes us a perfect consumer.

On the tapes, Schiller wastes little time before attacking conservatives. The Republican Party, Schiller says, has been “hijacked by this group.” The man posing as Malik finishes the sentence by adding, “the radical, racist, Islamaphobic, Tea Party people.” Schiller agrees and intensifies the criticism, saying that the Tea Party people aren’t “just Islamaphobic, but really xenophobic, I mean basically they are, they believe in sort of white, middle-America gun-toting. I mean, it’s scary. They’re seriously racist, racist people.”

Schiller goes on to describe liberals as more intelligent and informed than conservatives. “In my personal opinion, liberals today might be more educated, fair and balanced than conservatives,” he said. – Daily Caller

It would be threatening if it weren’t so simplistic. He’s used to saying such things and having a crowd of people applaud him, so he keeps saying them, like everyone else whose acquaintance he has made. Even more, he will refuse to get to know someone who feels differently, so it’s the only perspective he’ll see.

And right now, the circular favoritism continues unabated. But it is a small group, and while they keep themselves occupied, the world is pulling away from the tired and washed-out ideas of 1968. It’s not enough to just call your opposition racists anymore; you need a practical plan instead.

If history follows the usual patterns, these folks will keep bleating the same obsolete dogma up until they are removed from power by popular will or political crisis. They have shut their minds, and are using expired symbols to manipulate each other, but are not looking to the road ahead. The future belongs to those who can focus on that path.

Trends

Sunday, May 28th, 2006

no_fun-no_core-no_mosh-no_trends

Science suggests that socialization has an evolutionary effect on animals: it makes their brains more complex, perhaps bigger, to deal with the infinite interdependent details of manipulating other individuals. All things in nature however fit onto a kind of bell curve where too little is not enough, but too much becomes not enough of other necessary things, and leads to a collapse of the system. It is not unprecedented to assume that too much socialization might make individuals oblivious to anything but socialization.

Those who are familiar with this balance come to distrust trends. A trend can be defined as any behavior which is transmitted on the basis of its popularity, and not its inherent value. People select it by proxy; because others do it, it must be smart. Some trends are not destructive: if one sees a crowd fleeing a predator, it is not entirely unwise to follow, but a crowd fleeing an imaginary fire will trample those who join it. For this reason it is wise to suspect any trend which has no corresponding stimulus in reality. We who have grown up among the socialized look for smoke when someone calls “Fire!”

Most trends are simple behaviors that keep those with no capacity to think or lead busy, and the worst thing they generate is landfill (piles of Emo CDs, “Baby on Board” signs, Kewpie dolls dot the nation’s garbage heaps). However, in a socialized system, trends tend to pile up and while it is easy to recognize the new ones, it becomes hard to see the more pervasive ones — these tend to be the broadest and most fundamental assumptions of those one meets on the street. The greatest trend of the last two thousand years has been utilitarian individualism.

Utilitarian individualism is the idea that we must please ourselves with what exists instead of striving for an abstraction that not all can see; like all forms of government or social principle, it is a control mechanism. It starts from the principle that material obligations liberate the individual, and progresses to the idea that the individual pursuit of pleasure is more important than the pursuit of an accurate abstraction of reality and the tendency to master it such as to create an ascendant civilization: art, philosophy, science, religion and heroes of a higher level than would be expected from the simple material needs of life. Descending civilizations concern themselves with what exists right now, and how to divide it up, where ascending civilizations direct themselves toward conquest through creation.

From this materialistic individualist perspective comes a morality of the physical such that we judge actions by their potential material consequences on individuals, and are blind to the impact of individual actions upon the whole; the individual has become sacred, and what inconveniences an individual — even if a higher state for all of civilization is to be gained — is viewed negatively if not outright made taboo. Our morality is materialistic in that we think it “exists” as an absolute categorization, where the ancients saw morality as a matter of motivation and the significance of acts in the physical world. To an ancient society, to intend evil was the same as having a poor philosophy of the world, and intent naturally led to acts which would be seen as evil. The modern view of the world sees only the act, classes it as evil, and therefore attributes an evil mindset to the doer. Ancients believed evil was mental error, but now we believe it is an inescapable category and thus refuse to see how our ideas might be mediocre and thus destructive — evil.

In the ancient system, evil and good were like heaven states of mind, and the gods were personificiations of nature, not some powerful deities existing in a space that like technology acts on our physical world from an abstraction and is mechanically consistent. Modern people think of religion and morality like machines: the act originates from a desire toward a function with no necessary mirror in reality, a pure arbitrary “evil” that can have no worth in life. Gone is the idea of evil as an extension of predation or parasitism. We in our modern wisdom need to make up reasons for the fundamental categorical altering of the evil individual, so we see them as motivated not by logic but trauma from child abuse, financial gain, etc. We believe to do evil is to intend evil, or to be of an evil machine-function, but choose not to notice evils which may arise simply from bad logic.

All of this supports the over-arching trend of looking away from the world as a whole, and accepting time as a series of moments with cause and effect, to instead see it as a matter of what already exists and how individuals will exploit it. Translated loosely through the filter of motivations, this can be seen as a desire to back away from rising above our fundamental obligations — eat, sex, sleep — and to legitimize them as goals. The modern trend is a shattering of goals beyond function and the pursuit of the comfort of the individual. Translated from the perspective of the single human to that of all humans, it is utilitarianism: that which most people consider in their interests is right; forget all those abstractions like better art or ideas, or even comparing ideas at all. Everything is an arbitrary choice.

Of course this trend has its defenders. “It’s simply human nature,” they say waving a hand in that dismissive coffeehouse gesture normally reserved for mention of Republican candidates. Or: “But it’s what I want.” Even worse is the moral argument, which is utilitarianism translated to religion — the only moral right is allowing most people to pursue what they see as the fulfillment of their interests. And what if they’re wrong? Well, no choices are wrong you see… it’s all machine function… unless you disagree, in which case you’re evil (abused child, mental illness, drug addiction, service in Viet Nam, or even greed are to blame).

Where the ancients saw a world of both positive and negative attributes, and determined to accept those as method so they could transcend them in order to achieve the greater positives — art, culture, religion, learning, heroism — that life has to offer, the modern trend-person is stranded at acceptance of negativity. We don’t want to accept it. We want only the positive, but since we cannot accept the positive, we achieve only the material positive, the here-and-now, the limited to the individual… we forego the greater positives that can be had by accepting the negative as part of the mechanism of life, and thus using it for the purposes of achieving those higher positives. We just don’t want to see the dark side, whether it’s death, aging, fatness, baldness, hemorrhoids, war, chaos, sodomy.

The ancients did not have a science of mechanical logic, or acting upon the world to produce uniform results. Their science was inseparable from the world, as was their religion. This bonding with the world and acceptance of its nihilism (one must kill to eat, other things may kill you, some are stronger/smarter than others, some ideas are wrong because they conflict with reality) was what enabled them to stop struggling against the darkness in reality and to start looking past it toward transcendence and the creation of greatness. In their view, this entire world is a machine, and it enables those who understand it — like a paintbrush, a musical instrument, logic and martial skills — to choose what they wish to render. In that was the spark of transcendence, or a rising above material circumstance to see the creative aspects of life and to embrace them. Modern trend-people remain stranded in material circumstance, and consequently have no culture to speak of.

Still not all have joined the trend. It is encouraging to see a Kraftwerk record or Tom Wolfe book join the bestsellers, because it means those who understand the eternal philosophy of life are still out there. These are the people who see the genius in nature and let that override their fear of becoming prey or dead; these are the people who live not for what exists now but for what creativity, hard work and genius can provide. They are transcendents, like the ancients, and although there are fewer of them every year they persist in the knowledge that illusion always leads to a downfall, and that this modern world has a clock ticking over its head like the culled characters in the video game “Lemmings.” Their transcendence is the mark of a higher culture, like that of the ancients; as a whole society, we have abandoned this worldview, and our fortunes have waned in consequence even if it has taken 2,000 years to see.

Superlatives

Friday, April 15th, 2005

You won’t need to buy another one. Always golden, soft and buttery. Everyone likes it, even the slow kid on the block. 300 horsepower. A favorite everywhere. All that you wanted, and much, much more! Never a dull moment. Can’t eat just one! Show them how far you’ve come. It’s everything you wanted, and more. You’ll never look so good as with — well, whatever product it is. We’re familiar, on a daily basis, with advertising bombarding us. What defines advertising? It makes us associate a product with a lifestyle or a success; the product is the sign, and what is promised is something far beyond it. Do you really imagine simply owning one type of car, shoe, watch or jacket makes someone without power or prestige into someone with those qualities?

Of course it does not. But advertising doesn’t work by appealing to the logical brain, but to our memory, which dutifully stores the association (a brand of beer, leggy blond hotties clustered around::a car, pulling up to a class restaurant and being recognized) and, when we’re exhausted or distracted and trying to make a decision, pops it to the top of the stack and we select it. Of course I’ll prefer that brand, or, maybe I can afford a nice big car. Advertising works by targetting the part of our minds that don’t get translated into clear “I’m buying this for the following logical reasons” discourse. It hits us below the level we can even put into words.

The same is true of politics. The best product in politics is one that links together a number of things we think of as good, and puts a symbol atop them that is something everyone can remember and agree is a “good thing.” We might call it hyperbole, or overstating the effect and importance of something, or we might call it a superlative, which is attributing to something a universal degree of power and worth, but really, it’s both, and more. Advertising and politics both use universal symbols that are not anchored at all in reality, but in images, in associations, in non-logical ideas that attract our unguarded emotions but not our critical thinking. This is the power of symbols, when redirected to a base level.

In literature and art, symbols abound, but usually, their purpose is complex: to associate a certain action with a certain abstract idea or tendency. Advertising and politics are much simpler: they want you to see a one-to-one correspondence between a symbol/product and a life you can leading, if only you select that one thing. It’s a good way to get led around by your nose, because you’ll notice that in advertising and politics, no promises are made. You’re allowed to make an assumption because the advertisers and politicians are vocal about the same assumption, but there’s no followup and no guarantee. Did they explicitly promise that if you buy a certain brand of beer girls will flock to you? No, but they showed you it happening in a certain case. Same with the car. You saw one guy buy the car, and immediately be thrown into a world of success. It’s not logic, but imagery.

The modern age has done away with magic and most of religion except the most dogmatic and unworldly type, the kind that promises eternal vacations if you just do what the god in question demands (note that older religions would encourage you to sacrifice to the gods, but there was no guarantee you’d get anything out of it; half the time they were still wroth with you, and the sacrifice was in vain). Modern politics, religion and advertising thus are quite similar in that they say that if you do a certain action in this world, forces from another world will make of you something in this world. Whether that other world is the realm of gods, of the political-economic machine, or of money and leggy bimbettes, really doesn’t matter. The unstated promise, based on assumption, is what keeps you coming back for more.

We’ll take an example symbol, not for the sake of assaulting it as illusion, but for demonstrating its effects, although it is clearly one of the more destructive illusions. Why did we go to war in Iraq? Why, because once the Iraqi people have freedom, they’ll be like us. They’ll see our way of life is the better one, and give up those primitive tribal superstitions. They’ll stop being unreasonable, and see it our way. What is freedom? It starts with democracy, but it includes economic competition and the ability to earn lots of money if you dedicate your life to it. It also includes emancipation of women, and of every ethnic group and in short, equality of us all, except in our competition for money, in which we assume the best will win. It’s a one-size-fits-all solution. Freedom. And doesn’t it just sound good?

You’ll note these are not promises; they’re assumptions. And they operate like magic. When we bring freedom to Iraq, all of its previous problems (which required a series of hardcore rulers until Saddam Hussein finally unified the place and began selling oil for a fair price to the English) will take a backseat. A life of prosperity will settle. Presumably leggy Arab bimbettes will gather around sports cars, and those who drink certain brands of beer can go home with the hottie daughters of Imams. Ignorance will vanish. But does adopting “freedom” really have anything to do with sex, ignorance, or prosperity? These can come from other sources as well, and obviously have, if the fecundity of the Iraqi populace is any suggestion. We’re not telling them freedom is a better way; we’re letting everyone assume it is, and promising our lifestyle in return.

Astute readers (good to see you again) will have noticed that advertising is amazing in that it predicts inward and physical changes in response to outward, symbolic options. There is no more nutrition in one brand of beer over another that makes you smarter, sexier, etc. Nor is there anything in one brand of car that makes your breath smell better, your muscles tighter, your testosterone more vigorous or your penis heartier (that’s another product, but read the two pages of fine print, in case it kills you). Advertising and politics redirect our belief in a thought process geared toward the right answer, and supplants it with something which suggests a universal right answer, but in reality, only sells a product. It methods is this same superlative hyperbole that we see in the belief that democracy/freedom will somehow conquer the world and make it a safe, Utopic place.

You can even see this merely in how we define “freedom” and “democracy.” Democracy means government by vote; it doesn’t guarantee that those votes are intelligent, or that intelligent solutions come from it. We associate it with “freedom,” meaning civil rights, but those don’t ensure that what is best is done; they only grant us a defense against government. In short, with democracy/freedom, we’ve gone from trying to do what is right to trying to do what protects us against wrong. Our only direction is defensive. But when you package that up as a perfect cure for all ills at once, it sounds good. And then when out of the forty thousand words spoken aloud you hear daily, the loudest voices babble on about “freedom,” you follow that carrot even though you haven’t been promised any real effect. Just an image, a shining image, one that tugs at your emotions. Have you been sold an illusion?

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