One of the more poignant lyrics of the late 1990s:
All of us were taken
All that was is gone
Of this information
Shames us one and all
Wheres my compensation?
Watching others fall
Welcome to the fall
Everything is useless
Nothing works at all
Nothing ever matters
Welcome to the fall
It reflected a fear that had come out of that time, which was that now that we finally got a hippie president, we were able to see the emptiness of it all. Our decade of rebellion against Ronald Reagan had been simply teenage. We picked a part out of the whole, called it the Enemy, and then thrust our scapegoaty demonization into it. But when it passed, and we had the Obama of the 1990s, Bill Clinton, nothing was all that different. The decay continued.
And we know what lies at the end of decay: The Fall.
What is The Fall? It is what happens when a situation that requires many spirals out of control. We as individuals cannot redirect it, and we depend on others to listen to our words of wisdom and understand, in order for us to work together. But what if no one wants to listen? What if the important information becomes taboo? What if the corruption isn’t physical — like corruption of a government agency, a file, or a person — but a shared spirit of illusion among us all?
That’s The Fall. It’s what we cannot control. It’s what brings us down together because we could not work together. It happens to all civilizations at some point; the smart ones find a way to be damn near eternal, but it’s possible humans just aren’t that good, and we’re going to get filtered out like other species that went extinct when they were obsolete. It’s one of our greatest fears and one of the most taboo things to discuss.
The Fall is unique in that, unlike all of our surrogate anger and vicarious rebellion, there is no external unit to point to. It does not occur because of an oppressive dictator; he occurs because of it. It does not occur because of a government, or Goldman-Sachs, or even school shooters; they, too, are symptoms. It occurs because collectively we lost the ability, inclination and critical thinking to pay attention to reality and to separate the realistic people from the destructive, pointless, selfish jerks who currently seem to be most of our population.
It’s entropy, in other words. You either push back against entropy, that ten-millionfold manifestation of breakdown that challenges us like time and inclement weather, or it takes over. At some point, you’re too tired, self-pitying, depressed, self-obsessed to bother, and then it strikes. Soon it’s the norm. Then no one even recognizes it, just burbles on in happy oblivion. That’s the face of the fall: ignorance enshrined as wisdom, apathy praised as activism, tolerance of the stupid and destructive seen as more positive than defending the innocent, intelligent and useful from the horde of people who are basically a manifestation of entropy.
Is there a mathematical or scientific representation of The Fall? ¡Ay, caramba!
The conventional wisdom about many Web-related growth processes is that they’re fundamentally exponential in nature. That is, if you want some fixed amount of time, the content size and number of participants will double. Indeed, prior research on Wikipedia has characterized the growth in content and editors as being fundamentally exponential in nature. Some have claimed that Wikipedia article growth is exponential because there is an exponential growth in the number of editors contributing to Wikipedia . Current research show that Wikipedia growth rate has slowed, and has in fact plateaued (See figure at right). Since about March of 2007, the growth pattern is clearly not exponential.
Some Wikipedians have modeled the recent data, and believe that a logistic model is a much better way to think about content growth. Figure here shows that article growth reached a peak in 2007-2008 and has been on the decline since then. This result is consistent with a growth processes that hits a constraint — for instance, due to resource limitations in systems. For example, microbes grown in culture will eventually stop duplicating when nutrients run out. Rather than exponential growth, such systems display logistic growth.
This is the pattern itself. Right away, our audience has fragmented because most people cannot recognize a pattern. They can recognize familiar objects, and they can recognize similar situations, but they cannot spot a pattern if it doesn’t occur in the same material form as before. For those over 120 IQ points, patterns are visible and finding patterns in different situations is a necessary skill.
The pattern is that all things in life have boundaries, because otherwise they would have no form. As a result, every part of life has a logistic curve, as you’d expect. First, it expands to fill available space; then it turns inward, and makes itself more efficient. Since in a time-based system it’s difficult to predict the effect of one tendency among many, becoming more efficient occurs through a filtration process: pick more of that which works, and throw out that which doesn’t.
Humans, however, are afraid of death. We’re afraid of decay and don’t want to admit it exists. So we plan on an exponential model, where every kitten survives and gets fat in the suburbs. But for cats to be efficient, some kittens must die. This is why humans oppose natural selection, and replace it with social selection, where anyone who demonstrates allegiance to the principle of harming no one else is accepted. It’s a vast tacit conspiracy against natural selection by those who fear they are incapable, and they become agents of entropy.
Do we see shades of The Fall in our everyday lives? O yes, we do.
Logistic patterns/distributions are caused by boundary functions, or the tendency of a boundary to cause repercussions within what it contains. What are the boundaries in life? Well, besides resources, there’s our will to resist our inherent neural tendencies:
Panksepp has spent decades mapping the emotional systems of the brain he believes are shared by all mammals, and he says, “Seeking is the granddaddy of the systems.” It is the mammalian motivational engine that each day gets us out of the bed, or den, or hole to venture forth into the world. It’s why, as animal scientist Temple Grandin writes in Animals Make Us Human, experiments show that animals in captivity would prefer to have to search for their food than to have it delivered to them.
For humans, this desire to search is not just about fulfilling our physical needs. Panksepp says that humans can get just as excited about abstract rewards as tangible ones. He says that when we get thrilled about the world of ideas, about making intellectual connections, about divining meaning, it is the seeking circuits that are firing.
The juice that fuels the seeking system is the neurotransmitter dopamine. The dopamine circuits “promote states of eagerness and directed purpose,” Panksepp writes. It’s a state humans love to be in. So good does it feel that we seek out activities, or substances, that keep this system arousedâ€”cocaine and amphetamines, drugs of stimulation, are particularly effective at stirring it.
Ever find yourself sitting down at the computer just for a second to find out what other movie you saw that actress in, only to look up and realize the search has led to an hour of Googling? Thank dopamine.
So we’re wired to find any kind of seeking behavior addictive. That includes all lost causes, and political/moral assaults that lead us farther from answers and more toward… more seeking. Progressives and moralists alike are addicted to the idea of finding a better way, even if that better way exists in the past. They don’t want the lack of drama; they want more drama. This is why many ancient religions, like Hinduism, Buddhism and Christianity, emphasize a spiritual stillness or quietude — to keep us panic monkeys from running around in a frenzy trying to “fix” that which needs no fixing.
To justify this pursuit, we bring negativity into our minds. “I hate the world” is a good excuse to burn it down and try again, but because finding what you hate is a lot easier than finding what you’d like to have replace it, it’s also a purely destructive mentality, and it becomes queeny. “My soup was cold — burn the world!” is the mentality that arises in the intersection of consumerism, entitlement and negativity.
How does this karmic frenzy manifest itself? Oy gevalt:
Modern Man’s twin evils are overconsumption and overproduction. Half the world eats too much, the other half has too many babies. There is just too much of us, human flesh.
The food industry is one of the biggest causes of our planet’s pollution. The Government has predicted that half of all adults will be obese by 2050. Meanwhile, the United Nations reckons that by then the world’s population will have risen by 40 per cent to 9.1 billion. That’s a lot of extra mouths to feed, even if they don’t pig out quite as indecently as we do in the West.
So why do we keep on eating and birthing? I was preoccupied by this question last week, when, for another article, I spent a day in an NHS clinic for the morbidly obese. It was there that I read a new report on childlessness from the Office for National Statistics (ONS). I was surrounded by people made utterly miserable by their inability to override their instinct to eat. It got me thinking about the parallel with other primitive urges.
The answer is that our bodies are hardwired for life in East Africa, 20,000BC, not East Grinstead, 2009. Our problem with babies and beer bellies is thanks to how ruthlessly our DNA was then honed for success. Back in our native habitat, refusing food or refusing children would have been suicidal. Both were, for various reasons, scarce. Now both are overabundant. Refusing them is the means to our survival.
But is it even possible for humans to override their instincts like that? Of course, individuals have practised self-denial, but it’s not something we’ve ever undertaken as a collective project.
Why do we keep eating, indeed? A complete lack of control over our impulses. But if we stop considering ourselves all equal, we realize this afflicts most but not all. However, since “most” is the greatest statistical group, it overshadows everyone else. We also have to realize that over the course of a civilization’s life cycle, what “most” is differs — like all things, civilization is a cycle and with each iteration, it adds more of whatever is predominating.
Civilization destroys itself because, in bowing to what is “popular,” its leadership gives in to illusion — the illusion that natural selection doesn’t exist, that some people are good and some are bad, and that we can just let go of the steering wheel and the car (of state) will keep going good places. What makes this difficult is that all tangible signs point to success as a civilization goes off course, because it focuses on producing more comfort goods and stabilizing factors to compensate for its own off-course-ness.
It also produces its own cancer. The entropy group, which I call The Crowd, is composed of those who take civilization for granted. They are oblivious to the consequences of their actions, selfish, disillusioned underachievers. They come about through general genetic decay — once we’re no longer challenging ourselves, any idiot will do for any role — and a “civilization mentality” of entitlement, where the person in question is accustomed to having others provide goods and services on the basis of the person in question being human.
“I am, therefore I demand” is the essence of that mentality, and it rapidly progresses into “It’s just the roll of the dice that I am where I am, and others where they are” and from that to “It’s not my fault, you clean it up.” This civilization mentality creates a large group of people who are unrealistic: their self-image is higher than their abilities, and so they are always discontented and violent (the Dunning-Kruger/Downing effect plays a huge role in this: the dumb have no idea how dumb they are because they cannot understand anything smarter than they are).
This Crowd rapidly forms around a big excuse, which is that “It’s not my fault” paired with “I deserve more.” This leads to them resenting anyone with more than they: more intelligence, more success, more wealth, more beauty, more kindness. This is why we love to see celebrities crucify themselves, and why people are always moralizing whenever a rich/talented/nice person has a setback. This resentment, as both Nietzsche and Alcoholics Anonymous classify it, causes the Crowd to unite not for something better but against those who are succeeding with what exists.
This is why the Crowd is a cancer on society: it knows only how to destroy, and is on a mission to destroy. It does not create in the place of what it destroys. Rather, guided by the resentment that makes them hate life, members of the Crowd wreck anything they dislike and then construe themselves as smarter, more altruistic, more progressive and more empathic for having done so. Because they need dragons to slay, anyone in power becomes a dragon.
Watch the Crowd in action — they love it when money is taken from others and given to them:
A $200 back-to-school giveaway for needy kids sparked a mad rush for money on the streets of New York on Tuesday.
“It’s free money!” said Alecia Rumph, 26, who waited in a Morris Park, Bronx, line 300 people deep for the cash to buy uniforms and book bags for her two kids.
“Thank God for Obama. He’s looking out for us.”
Free money? Money doesn’t ever come free: it’s a token of wealth, and that wealth needs to come from something or the money becomes worthless. But your average person doesn’t know that, and thinks civilization just prints up more of the stuff, so it’s free. Even more, they know their taxes stay the same because their income is the same, so they assume they’re getting a free ride courtesy of those “lucky” (but not genetically smarter or more able) enough to have more.
Nevermind that as they devalue the currency they become more impoverished. The Crowd cannot see past their next pay period, and they are motivated more by hatred than they are by any sense of constructive behavior. They have basically given up hope: to their mindset, life just gave them a bad hand, and so now they just have to endure it and if they can screw the people who have more than them, well, let it be so!
Are they irresponsible?
A state program that put $200 cash into the hands of low-income parents of school-age children is opening the door for “rampant” fraud and should be suspended, Monroe County Executive Maggie Brooks said Thursday.
The county reports that employees at the Wal-Mart store on Hudson Avenue called the Department of Human Services to say they thought welfare fraud was going on because there was a run on high-end electronics.
Tops reported that people would go through the checkout to purchase a pack of gum in order to get cash back from their food stamp debit card and repeat the process, as only $40 is allowed at a time, said communications manager Katie McKenna. Registers ran out of money.
This Crowd behavior creates a class of people who empower the Crowd. They do this knowing they will profit from having many people thinking they’re cool. All celebrities, most politicians, and all marketers fall into this category. Those who behave this way but do not have political/economic power are hipsters.
The hipster is defined by an approach and a method.
Their approach is to invert logic; instead of finding something appealing for its own sake, they find only appealing that which they can use to adorn themselves — and make them more valuable to the Crowd. They pander to others by accessorizing themselves with art, ideology, politics, memes, anything they can lay hands on. They do nothing for its own sake, or because it is right. They do everything as a signal to others with the hope that their pandering will make them more popular.
Their method is simple: when you encounter another person, offer them a negative outlook and then vulnerability. It’s a way of saying “we hate the world and resent everyone, but our primary mode is avoiding conflict” or in other words “I’ll do anything to add another person to my ring of supporters.” Hipsters are raw realpolitik in the small, currying bands of favored people because they hate, distrust and resent life.
This is why the hipster loves the poignant, mixed-emotion and ironic: they like things without direction that are nonetheless “interesting” without drawing any dangerous conclusions or any ideology that requires they stop doing what they like doing. They are in favor of anything that appeals to The Crowd, and that group likes nothing more than a clarion call to inaction.
As the Crowd becomes more powerful, a group arises with the sole purpose of cutting the umbilical cord between productive, positive, creative, responsible, reverent people, and the vast horde of people going nowhere who hate everything (although they conceal it behind “progressive” and “positive” ideals).
Plato notes this:
Their victims attempt to resist; they are driven mad by the stings of the drones, and so become downright oligarchs in self-defence. Then follow informations and convictions for treason. The people have some protector whom they nurse into greatness, and from this root the tree of tyranny springs.
Now the counterreaction:
After years of mainstreaming and idealizing antiwar protesters and marches supporting illegal immigrants as “grandmothers with canes, parents with children in strollers,” dissent against a president’s policies is no longer cool at the New York Times.
The Times finds the newest batch of protesters against Obama health care to be “angry,” “irritable” crowds of whites taking marching orders from conservative talk radio and web sites.
Many seemed concerned about issues that are either not in the health care legislation or are peripheral to the debate in Washington — abortion, euthanasia, coverage of immigrants, privacy.
It is the modern religion. People are literally brainwashed, but by their own choice, so they illogically defend their viewpoints. Never hurt anyone, even criminals. Never say that some are unequal in a pejorative sense; it’s fine for you to be more equal if you have money, but dont’ denigrate anyone. Everyone has the right to everything good.
It’s misplaced pacification combined with politeness. When we are polite, we offer absolutes of acceptance to others so they feel OK or good being around us. When we pacify, we let others do whatever they want so we avoid conflict. Peace in our time, indeed. More likely a straight course to decay, third world status, true tyranny, and finally, irrelevance and becoming a technologyless, cultureless, disorganized fragment of a once-great nation.
And finally people are starting to take notice of The Fall:
We know there were social tipping points in earlier civilizations, points at which they were overwhelmed by the forces threatening them. For instance, at some point the irrigation-related salt buildup in their soil overwhelmed the capacity of the Sumerians to deal with it. With the Mayans, there came a time when the effects of cutting too many trees and the associated loss of topsoil were simply more than they could manage.
The social tipping points that lead to decline and collapse when societies are overwhelmed by a single threat or by simultaneous multiple threats are not always easily anticipated. As a general matter, more economically advanced countries can deal with new threats more effectively than developing countries can. For example, while governments of industrial countries have been able to hold HIV infection rates among adults under 1 percent, many developing countries’ governments have failed to do so and are now struggling with much higher infection rates. This is most evident in some southern African countries, where up to 20 percent or more of adults are infected.
This crazy teabag/tax and healthcare protest we’re seeing now how little to do with healthcare. It’s about a fundamental split in viewpoint.
Normal, healthy people want natural selection.
Insane people fear natural selection, and make up a religion of “progressive politics” in order to deny it. This group, formed of The Crowd and hipsters, will say anything to try to convince you otherwise, but if you look into their motivations, their desire is to have society stand in for natural selection and take care of everyone, no matter how screwed up, just because they’re human.
Normal, healthy people recognize that not everyone needs to come to the party. Some, if not many, people retain evolutionary vestiges of unproductive behavior. They will destroy good things and good people if given a chance. Pedophiles, criminals, rapists, opportunists, and simply lazy and irresponsible people all fit into this group. Hipsters defend the Crowd; the Crowd defends itself; they want universal tolerance because they fear their own incompetence and are bitter at those who have more of anything than they do.
“Why should he be ahead of me? We’re both human, right?” — that’s the voice of hatred. That voice hates the idea that anyone rises above the Crowd, or has moral or personal standards above the lowest common denominator. If you fail at life or just think you might, you are filled with this fear and hatred.
Here’s a theologian on that group:
“The pretensions of the self therefore can be maintained only by willful deception, for which Tertullian had the very accurate description of ‘willing ignorance.’ This deception does not require a conscious act of dishonesty in each individual instance. The deception of sin is rather a general state of confusion from which individual acts of deception arise. Yet the deception never becomes so completely a part of the self that it could be regarded as a condition of ignorance.”
“The desperate effort to deceive others must, therefore, be regarded as, on the whole, an attempt to aid the self in believing a pretension it cannot easily believe because it was itself the author of the deception. If others will only accept what the self cannot quite accept, the self as deceiver is given an ally against the self as deceived.”
— Reinhold Niebuhr, The Nature and Destiny of Man
He’s talking about the tendency for justification, or backward logic. Like the hipster, many people use justification, which is finding ways to explain themselves after they’ve already acted, instead of acting toward a goal. It’s a way of deferring responsibility and shifting it to others. They love to blame government, corporations, etc. but not blame themselves and then simply fix the problem by forcing themselves to be disciplined, responsible and socially active. They are those who make the best excuses and still do nothing.
The tendency of average people to blame some external force, but not take responsibility for themselves, is summed up by Immanuel Kant’s philosophy of “radical evil”:
Before Kant offers an answer to this question in Religion, however, he provides a more extensive account of the obstacles to right willing and right conduct than he offered in his earlier critical writings on moral philosophy. Central to this account is the development of the notion of “radical evil” in human moral life and of the moral conversion that is needed to overcome it. He presents the notion of radical evil in Book One of Religion under the guise of a philosophical counterpart to the Christian doctrine of original sin. His discussion of moral conversion in Book Two then parallels the Christian doctrine of redemption. Kant places particular emphasis upon human responsibility for both radical evil and moral conversion. Unlike original sin, which Christian belief has understood as inherited, radical evil is self-incurred by each human being. It consists in a fundamental misdirection of our willing that corrupts our choice of action. In Kant’s terminology, it consists in an “inversion” of our “maxims,” which are the principles for action we pose to ourselves in making our choices. Instead of making the rightness of actions — i.e., the categorical imperative — the fundamental principle for choice, we make the satisfaction of one of our own ends take priority in the willing of our actions. We thus inculcate in ourselves a propensity to make exceptions to the demand of the categorical imperative in circumstances when such an exception seems to be in our own favor.
Overcoming radical evil requires a “change of heart” — i.e., a reordering of our fundamental principle of choice — that we are each responsible for effecting in ourselves. Effecting such a change, however, leaves unsettled our moral culpability for those choices that were made under the inverted maxim of evil. In the language of traditional Christian theology, what happens to the “old man” [sic] — and to the consequences of choices made under that guise — when conversion makes us “new”? In answer to this question, Kant reinterprets the Christian doctrine of the atonement through the death of Jesus Christ. He rejects the view of “vicarious atonement” — that Christ takes away the guilt of previous evil conduct by standing as a substitute for all of us — in favor of an “exemplary” one. Christ thus provides a model in which we recognize steadfast adherence in both word and action to the principle of moral rightness which we already possess in the categorical imperative as the principle for the exercise of our practical reason.
It’s easy to claim Satan causes all bad news in the world, all while acting irresponsibly because other people do it and get away with it too. Instead of acting as one should, the irresponsible person hides in The Crowd and makes as many excuses/justifications as necessary to avoid moral attention, which is the idea that tolerating bad behavior creates more of it, and not supporting good behavior makes good behavior rarer.
It’s easy to blame Satan, just like it’s easy to blame government, corporations, The Right, etc. when the problem is us — the problem is that we have too many irresponsible people, and a social outlook of tolerance for all people just because they’re human makes more of them. There is no compromising with this split. Either you want us to support everyone, or you accept natural selection.
The latter — natural selection — is the province of the honest right wing, and the new right (Nietzschean conservatives), even if in America they’re under assault from within by religious fanatics and covert liberals.
The former — support everyone — is the province of the Crowd, the undifferentiated majority, the bitter, the failed, some lunatic conservatives and many religious fanatics. Indeed, Jesus Christ’s declaration that “the meek will inherit the earth” and his calls for equality are completely in line with the communist and socialist ideologies among us, or their parent ideology, which is The Crowd justifying itself.
I think healthcare will end up being a small issue in the big picture. What people are fighting over is the principle. The responsible middle class, whether they’ve been voting Democrat or Republican, is finding itself pushed toward the conservative (natural selection) viewpoint, and the left is gathering its friends among the discontented and priming them for more free money.
This is part of our progress through The Fall, which has been going on for longer than I’ve been alive. But we all know that we stand a chance of reversing this. If we go toward a natural selection viewpoint, we can stop ecocide, stop overpopulation, and stop the general crappiness of our civilization, which seems more concerned with supporting irresponsible idiots (there are more of them to buy our exciting products!) than it is with promoting the best and setting new standards for excellence, most of all in personal and moral behavior. O no.
If we decide to take a stand against entropy, The Fall, and the Crowd and its hipster lapdogs, we will have to make a single hard decision: do we cut people off because although they are human, they are not the right kind of human for us? For some reason, we have trouble doing this politically, although we have no problem calling the cops if one of them shows up and threatens our homes.
Why is this? The root of the problem: we are thinking socially, or like hipsters being concerned with how our actions look to others, and we’re not concerned enough with that ultimate judge of all things, which is how well our ideas work in reality. Reality is, after all, not polite and not social; it ranks us by ability, and points out that some people are just destructive, irresponsible and useless, even if they are human.
When we are afraid, of death and of our own inability, we turn to this idea that everyone who is human should be accepted — so that we are “guaranteed” acceptance. But that acceptance only occurs because of the wealth of civilization, and if civilization collapses, goes away. Instead of worrying so much, we should be brave and surge forward in the only way that matters — making ourselves as individuals better, and casting out the dysfunctional in favor of the functional.