When the dust settles, this site will be remembered for having pointed out what others would not: successful societies breed hordes of individualists who act for their own interest against that of the group, inverting it so that it avoids its goal and redirects its power to them.
In any human group, this tendency arises once sufficient wealth exists to disconnect people from reality at the same time they forget why they do certain things, and focus instead on either repeating the past or ironically rejecting it.
Every human civilization to date has been burned down by this; at one point one shall arise that avoids the problem, and it will take over the rest of the species. Until that point, every human society — especially the most promising — will die of Crowdism:
A group of people – an electorate, a committee, a mob – gets together, and soon a once-promising idea has through compromise and censorship (the removal of that which might offend, or shock, or be contrary to already-well-established tastes) become distilled down to something completely acceptable to every member of the crowd. The only problem is that, in the process, it has come to resemble every other action that the crowd has been known to take.
It is as a pathology much like overeating, in which case one confuses the signal for being full, which eliminates psychological doubt, with the process of eating, and hopes that by eating again and again to banish doubt (which increasing doubt in direct proportion to girth!). If they had faith, or belief in doing something which does not immediately reward them, or the vision to see the benefit in doing things which help the community as a whole but in the distant future, they would not have this gnawing emptiness.
They are cynical enough to realize that the “ideology” of the crowd is nothing but lies, and its actual agenda is power. They recognize that the crowd loves gaining power through revenge on those with more talent, intelligence, beauty and character than itself, and these manipulators create bogeymen and justifications faster than the crowd can decode them. However, to be a manipulator in a crowd is to be acutely conscious of belonging in the crowd; after all, if one did not need the crowd, something else would have been the path.
One wonders how Crowdism arises, and the answer seems to be that when a society becomes successful, it loses its old goals and moves on to a new level where its goals need to be abstract and future-focused, but this is a hard transition to make.
Even more, its middle classes become weaponized. When society grows quickly, it generates many opportunities for commerce; there are too many to be managed. As a result, a shopkeeper caste grows, becomes important, and buys its way into power by sponsoring opposition to the aristocracy.
Aristocracy, after all, is the natural state of humankind. Any functional society has social hierarchy where the best people are on top and gradually moves its very best into permanent leadership roles, where they are bred to produce more, and serve for their whole lives.
The public fairytales we tell one another tend to portray kings as having opulent lives, but the reality is that being an aristocrat means never being off-duty, and facing the judgment of history instead of some voters or warlords to con. It is a thankless, underpaid job.
As Plato points out, civilizations run in lifecycles from monarchy through tyranny, moving in the middle through the decay wrought by Crowdism in a historical arc which ends with their fall and decline into irrelevant, impoverished, corrupt, and idiotic third world status:
Like Aristotle after him, Plato maps out a political cycle by which one type of government gives way to another. However whereas Aristotle’s overview is dry and prosaic, Plato spices his up by wrapping it in the guise of a Greek tragedy.
Just as the tragedies of Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides often dramatized the fall of a great house (that of Atreus or Oedipus or Theseus), so Plato’s non-dramatic prose tragedy illustrates the natural cycle of political decay from aristocracy to timocracy to oligarchy to democracy to tyranny in terms of a five-generation royal family. In Plato’s telling, an aristocratic father is followed by a timocratic son, who is himself succeeded in turn by an oligarch, a democrat, and a tyrant.
The Platonic Civilization Cycle maps out how people forget the why and turn toward means-over-ends thinking through The Committee Effect: groups of people defer to the group by tailoring their individual choices to what they think the group will support.
Therefore, once initial discord occurs, pluralism arrives in the form of pluralism and private property:
When discord arose, then the two races were drawn different ways: the iron and brass fell to acquiring money and land and houses and gold and silver; but the gold and silver races, not wanting money but having the true riches in their own nature, inclined towards virtue and the ancient order of things. There was a battle between them, and at last they agreed to distribute their land and houses among individual owners; and they enslaved their friends and maintainers, whom they had formerly protected in the condition of freemen, and made of them subjects and servants; and they themselves were engaged in war and in keeping a watch against them.
Essentially, any society has relatively few people who understand the why (“not wanting money but having the true riches in their own nature, inclined towards virtue and the ancient order of things”) and once these are outnumbered by others — represented here as the iron and brass races, roughly corresponding to the European caste system of jarls (gold/silver: 1%), carls (brass: 9%), thralls (iron: 90%) — they can hold their own in battle but not prevail, so you end up with the idea of society being privately owned instead of dedicated to purpose as is done in Traditionalist societies (“they agreed to distribute their land and houses among individual owners”).
This sets the stage for the middle class revolt that overthrows the power of the kings, having already dispossessed them of total lordship of all lands. Interestingly, in the Traditional society, the “freemen” were not “subjects and servants,” but also did not own any lands. They were allowed to serve their role because doing so was consistent with the goal of the civilization.
We talk a lot on this site about dark organization and how it rises in any group when self-interest outweighs the goal of the group. Its origin seems social, in that socializing with others allows individuals to gain influence outside of simply being effective at their jobs, making the social group another collective reward scheme like unions, insurance, or socialism.
Pluralism represents a choice geared toward socializing and not results. When people agree to disagree, they never resolve the issue, and so fragmentation occurs, which then spurs manipulation toward unity, almost all of which involves redistributing wealth and power toward egalitarian ends.
The same problem occurs in parallel among civilizations, corporations, non-profits, and even friend groups. Organizations move through a life cycle based on this decay and how well they counter it, with an arc that stretches from promising competitor to a cash cow for milking by others:
- Introduction Phase
The introduction, or startup, phase involves the development and early marketing of a new product or service. Innovators often create new businesses to enable the production and proliferation of the new offering. Information on the products and industry participants are often limited, so demand tends to be unclear. Consumers of the goods and services need to learn more about them, while the new providers are still developing and honing the offering. The industry tends to be highly fragmented in this stage. Participants tend to be unprofitable because expenses are incurred to develop and market the offering while revenues are still low.
- Growth Phase
Consumers in the new industry have come to understand the value of the new offering, and demand grows rapidly. A handful of important players usually become apparent, and they compete to establish a share of the new market. Immediate profits usually are not a top priority as companies spend on research and development or marketing. Business processes are improved, and geographical expansion is common. Once the new product has demonstrated viability, larger companies in adjacent industries tend to enter the market through acquisitions or internal development.
- Maturity Phase
The maturity phase begins with a shakeout period, during which growth slows, focus shifts toward expense reduction, and consolidation occurs. Some firms achieve economies of scale, hampering the sustainability of smaller competitors. As maturity is achieved, barriers to entry become higher, and the competitive landscape becomes more clear. Market share, cash flow, and profitability become the primary goals of the remaining companies now that growth is relatively less important. Price competition becomes much more relevant as product differentiation declines with consolidation.
- Decline Phase
The decline phase marks the end of an industry’s ability to support growth. Obsolescence and evolving end markets negatively impact demand, leading to declining revenues. This creates margin pressure, forcing weaker competitors out of the industry. Further consolidation is common as participants seek synergies and further gains from scale. Decline often signals the end of viability for the incumbent business model, pushing industry participants into adjacent markets. The decline phase can be delayed with large-scale product improvements or repurposing, but these tend to prolong the same process.
From analysis here, something goes wrong at the growth stage. With corporations and small business, this inevitably comes with growing too fast. Managers cannot keep up with the rate of change, and new people come in who do not know the why behind stated goals.
Sudden wealth creates a need for growth. Taxes make this problem worse, since without deductions, suddenly growing companies can find themselves in the hock. In societies, sudden growth means that people are anonymous because there is not enough time for others to get to know them.
When a society grows slowly, each member is vetted and understood as having a niche. The bad identify themselves over time through transgressions, inept or lazy performance, or acting by the letter of the law against trying to achieve the actual goal.
In a slow-growing society, people pay attention to the need for sorting of the population. A social hierarchy based on the quality of people, on an intellectual and moral level (character), allows the best to rise while the worst fall and move away. Those are the waste humans.
When society grows quickly, immediate profits become more important than the goal, and consequently the goal is sacrificed to address rising marginal costs including the need to please everyone in the group who has a share in it, creating a false unity based on self-interest.
That false unity based on self-interest underlies all economic systems, especially socialist ones, since people are motivated not by trying to fit within and exemplify an order (Traditionalism) but materialist short-term benefit (individualism).
Plato describes this above as the fragmentation of the gold, silver, bronze, and iron races. When the why is lost, people settle into self-interest and begin using each other for personal aims, at which point all unity is false and the goal has been replaced by mutal self-interest.
To avoid this decline, societies must reduce the chaos by focusing on holistic order, meaning the whole of their operations. This requires implementing a hierarchy where the goal is on top and management tasks like pleasing those with a share are of lesser importance.
This is the opposite of managing the group in order to keep unity; instead, by focusing on the goal, the system ensures that it can reward those who do good by helping achieve that goal. That means that people can trust in a simple equation that doing good leads to reward and lack of worry.
When societies become anonymous through fast growth, a larger group of waste humans is formed simply because they are not removed. Most of them have something wrong with them on a biological and genetic level, and they pass on this high mutation load to their offspring, making more waste humans.
Waste humans create disproportionate impact. When they victimize others, those others start to have a grievance against society for letting the problem exist in the first place. In addition, victims develop mental problems that spread as their behavior is accepted.
For example, a community will adapt to people among it who are paranoid and take additional security measures because they were victimized. Soon the place looks like a crime zone and people treat it as one, mirroring the broken windows psychology.
Societies must have a primary rule: there has to be a goal, and all those who help achieve the goal must be protected and rewarded. Secondarily, societies must remove those who are working against the good people who are achieving the goal.
When societies grow too fast, they focus too much on externally enforced unity, which requires treating the good and the bad the same way. A saner approach is the Traditionalist one of “good to the good, bad to the bad” which includes removing the bad (exile, asylum, jail, execution).
Western Civilization took a gentle approach through its caste system, moving waste humans into roles as serfs and peasants with no rights, but this simply allowed waste humans to proliferate. This was the failure of Western Civilization: it did not practice rigorous enough eugenics.
Sensible eugenics means allowing the good to keep their money instead of taxing them, so that they have more children, while removing the worst of the population permanently. When wise elders can oversee a village and spot the psychopaths and sociopaths, this works best.
Among other reasons, this is why we need aristocracy. Kings remove bad lower leaders; local lords can remove bad actors among their population without these people having to victimize others repeatedly in order to get convicted and jailed, creating disproportionate collateral damage in their wake.
Societies based on enforced external unity treat conflict as a risk and become pacifistic and pluralistic when they need to see internal conflict as necessary in order to find better answers and identify waste humans for removal.
Even more, victims need to see swift justice to those who have wronged them, preferably some kind of public exile, commitment to asylum or prison for life, or execution. We mock the medieval era for its killings, but seeing brutal justice for brutal crimes makes victims feel the world is sane again.
Nature works by producing infinite variation and keeping what functions best. Human societies remove nature from this role, and need a corresponding solution, which involves promoting the best and removing the worst. Waste humans would be prey animals in nature.
When not removed, waste humans proliferate and soon overwhelm the population of sane, at which point society becomes a giant cash-in for whoever is selfish enough to exploit it. In the same way, aging corporations hire all sorts of compliant idiots who steal from them and alienate the good workers.
As a company or other human group goes on, it includes too many people and these people act against it, inducing others to behave similarly. This is why our ancestors in the West were nomadic: each season, they invited those who were good to join the caravans, leaving behind the waste humans.
For us to restart the West in the “Introduction Phase,” we need to repatriate all ethnic Other, then filter our own population to remove the waste humans. At that point, we can focus on breeding quality people who can identify the why behind our goals again and make us grow in quality not in quantity alone.