Since the dawn of humanity, our species has tried to get its act together enough to make civilizations that survive and individuals that are sane. The two are tied together, since a sane environment makes sane people, and vice-versa.
All of these efforts have failed.
Currently we are living through the failure of liberalism. This ideology proposed that if we stopped having rules based on reality, and instead liberalized the rules so that people could pursue self-expression, pacifism would result.
Instead we now fight over ideology.
This means that we have reached the same place with ideology that we have with other things, namely having realized that it will not save us either. We are running out of “new” things to flee toward.
Perhaps this means that our basic method is wrong. In my analysis, our problem is that we are forever reacting to our world, not trying to understand it and working within the pattern order that is there.
G.W.F. Hegel wrote his thesis that history consists of a thesis, antithesis, and synthesis but cynics like myself would say that the problem is that the thesis breaks the world down into small tasks, and does not look at the task of living itself.
That means that for each cycle — thesis, antithesis, and synthesis — we are moving farther from reality and further into a world of human symbols and emotions. The thesis itself was a reaction to nature, not a synthesis with it.
While reality moves in a curve, Hegalian motions form a zig-zagging ladder that steadily moves away from the curve into an area compromised entirely of the human mind. We start out unreal, and then keep reacting to that unreality with more.
Probably at first we were reacting to fear of the group coming apart. Fragmentation endangers early societies. However, instead of asking what would make people work together, we tried to find a way to bribe and compel them to unite.
That need for unity drives us to pander to the individuals in the crowd, making us try for pacifism and pluralism. These are the opposite of what we need. Making everyone happy means that we are pandering without asking if these people know what they need, or if happiness is what they think it is.
Again, we are ruled by symbols. Happiness is a symbol, unless you can touch it and precisely describe it, and more importantly, it varies between people, as does the potential to have it.
Some are born miserable. If you are low-IQ and have mental health problems, life will never be good for you. The best it can be is a simple job that is hard to screw up, a few drinks at the pub, and a hobby to keep you busy on the off-hours.
Symbols tie together the group and create a sense of unity so that the group can be centrally controlled, which is what people in overgrown societies need to keep the peace and be able to achieve anything.
You sell the symbol to the crowd the way you do anything else — flatter the ego and inflame the fear of missing out on something — by claiming that we can transcend and ascend by achieving peace through pluralism, and that those who oppose this are just bitter losers and bigots.
When you use the poor and miserable as a symbol, you are conveying the idea of universal acceptance and lack of social risk, most of all, to your audience. They no longer feel they will lose society points for screwing up via selfishness.
This leads to the most powerful symbol possible, namely that which triggers envy. You show your people some living in the mud and foraging for scraps and others ensconced in luxury, and the sense of righteous indignation kicks in.
People feel a sense of power through the justification that allows them to claim it is moral to steal from one group and give to another. Like a mob at a riot, they are inflated with the pretense of being morally superior.
In reality, what matters is having the competent in power. Symbolism describes how we manipulate others or communicate, but at some point, the nihilism of reality emerges. Only function matters there, and everything else is a lie.
Ideology, on the other hand, is exclusively symbolic because symbols, which use categorical logic to bind up large parts of reality into simple caricatures, inflame emotions, and emotions propel obedience more than thought.
Unless they share an external goal, all human groups become cults. Your rock band works when it is focused on producing a certain type of music, but if dissent spreads or initiative is lost, the process of politics kicks in as you try to keep the group together without sharing a goal.
That leads to the committee process by which you gather people with different goals on top of one major goal, namely staying in the band together, and try to compromise with each of those goals.
Not surprisingly, the music made by such a band is terrible because lacking a goal, it expresses nothing other than the contribution of its members, which despite talent are irrelevant if not coordinated.
Humans tend toward an equal and opposite reaction to whatever life offers us. When bears attack us, we destroy the bears. When floods threaten, we build dams. When society seems to fragment, we glue it together with symbols.
That reaction however has its own inertia and that in turn begets another equal and opposite reaction. Soon you have the Hegelian ladder leading off on a tangent away from reality and what a healthy society would do.
Since society has become egalitarianism at that point because other humans can be both bribed and cajoled (through fear of being left out of social life) with “equality” on offer, it becomes a closed circuit loop.
Equality, sometimes called “the Big Lie,” works because it produces a symbol of pure goodness. Loving and tolerating everyone in peace, who can oppose this? Therefore it cannot be criticized.
In this way, egalitarian societies become closed-circuit loops. They react to their loss of a goal by making a committee to keep everyone together, and then promptly refuse to hear about anything else.
A society dedicated to equality will tolerate anything but criticism of its false goal, equality, which really is a method masquerading as a goal because there no longer is any goal. In this way it excludes any other potential paths.
Consequently it races up the Hegelian ladder, far from reality as known, and in fact begins to demonize reality, nature, and the gods. They are the forces that would rein it in, and it wants none of that.
Naturalism describes the world through realistic assessment and pays attention to the patterns of nature, seeing them as the results of applied logic. It has no use for the Hegelian ladder of equal and opposite reactions.
In nature, systems tend to be tiered like an ecosystem, with each level taking a niche, and failure localized as much as possible. You can lose the organisms that fail to adapt and still keep the species healthy.
Even more, nature is neither conservative nor liberal. It tries almost everything continually in small doses, allowing localized failure to remove that which does not work.
Through this method, it avoids method-as-goal. It does not reward novelty for its own sake, only if it works, nor does it cling to the way things have been done simply because of inertia.
Instead, it tests every variation, and it turns that certain patterns emerge organically like tradition in cultures. For nature, there is always a goal of surviving through adaptation and then refining that process in terms of quality, efficiency, durability, and resilience.
If we started using that test on human actions and groups, most would quickly dissolve. We would see that the only innate tendency in humanity is to form hierarchy based on ability to be realistic and effective.
We have reached the end of liberalism. It was an equal and opposite reaction to some other reaction that came about through losing our goal, which we had mistranslated into the material and social rather than an inner impulse toward excellence (arete).
Now something new comes through the hallway of future history, and we will have to adjust our thinking. Maybe this time we will get it right.