A civilization in downfall can be charted by what it forgets. The ideas we use everyday and consider simple and obvious rarely get written down since there is no need to encode what everyone knows.
One trend or political purge and they fall out of use, at which point they are forgotten by the next generation which cannot read about them. Such things happen to terms like realism.
Forgotten by mortals, this term refers to the belief that results in reality matter more than human opinions about them. It rejects utilitarianism, or the idea that what most think will make them happy is the most moral.
Realism simply looks at what changes in reality. If your program to end Satanism results in more Satanists, or in something worse taking their place, a realist would say that it has failed even if most people support it.
Utilitarianism comes to us from bureaucracy. Whatever most people think will make them the happiest produces the fewest complaints and the greatest compliance, so you buy them off with a symbol of goodness instead of actual good results.
In a utilitarian society, if you create something that many humonkeys like the idea of, even if it makes life worse, you win. This creates an incentive structure for lying and manipulation.
Eventually this society tends toward control because since all of the popular notions have made things worse, order fails, and a “market” arises for opinions claiming the opposite of reality.
These opinions claim that what is failing is succeeding, and not only that, represents a better choice than all other options. This process is called “rationalization” or reversed cognition.
In normal cognition, you decide what is needed and work toward that end; in rationalization, you look at what exists and find a reason to explain why it is good or necessary.
Reversed cognition confuses cause and effect, method and goal, and morality with complacency. The effect and method are what you have, and rationalization argues for these so that no one needs to change.
If we had a symbol for humanity, it might be an armchair issuing endless complaints about the trivial while ignoring the big picture of actual needs in reality.
Once upon a time, a committee formed at a local business. The business was broke and needed to save money by cutting costs and raising revenue. This topic proved unpopular.
Instead, the committee spent almost all of its time discussing fanciful notions that involved spending more money to target relatively trivial problems. This is like Republicans discussing abortion or Leftists talking about “racism.”
Zooming out to the big picture, we can see that rationalization acts by making the symbol, appearance, and emotion more important than reality. If people look like they are unified, everyone feels safe from having to change.
Rationalization is a way of accepting doom. People who cannot handle the ambiguity of the future, meaning that their fate depends on their actions, want everything settled now, and choosing suicide works better than being in suspense for them.
As a result, the rationalizers come to adore doom and destruction. Possessed of a need for power over a world that they do not believe they can influence for the good, they choose destruction as a way to feel a momentary sense of strength.
Consequently, they accept palliative solutions. Instead of aiming for success, we aim for comfortable failure, and utilitarianism allows us to ask everyone if they are “happy” as they go merrily into their end.
Perhaps all of humanity is on a spiritual morphine drip because we have disconnected spirituality from realism, and only with realism do you have a sense of what you can influence for the better.
People love to talk about “confusing the map for the territory” but the map here is the symbol of happiness and the territory is what is required to actually make things good. Most will not rise from their armchairs out of fear.
They fear the risk of failure. If you accept failure as a given, you can never fail. You can instead quest for the unachievable “happiness” and claim some success, since there is neither success nor victory.
I propose replacing our moral landscape with a simple measure, improvement in actuality. Not whether people are happy, approve, feel good about, or have fond thoughts and symbols about the act. Does it improve things?
For example, we could look critically at anti-poverty programs and realize that we have more poverty than ever before. Anti-drugs, more drugs. Anti-racism? More ethnic animus. Religion? More doubt, because our religion is symbol not reality.
Once a society gets established, it loses the innate goal of forming a permanent civilization. Lacking a goal, it settles on everything else — the details — and the symbol of unity that allows it to administrate and manage those.
A good leader finds goals that are invisible to the rest and mobilizes people to achieve them even if they are boring, like storing grain in case of famine. Really good leaders are often ignored because they avert crises rather than publicize them.
A manager, on the other hand, keeps everyone in line doing the right procedure that is assigned to them so that the group looks like it has unity so that it seems to be productive even when it is not.
With the rise in management instead of leadership, a change required by the lack of goal, people shift focus from realism to symbolism as part of the process of moving from affirmative goals to rationalization of the situation in order to keep unity among the group.
Symbolism is tangible. We feel we can control it in our minds. Over the past few centuries, the gradual rise of optics, symbol, token, feeling, imagery, and other proxies have replaced any concern for how our actions turn out in reality.
These proxies are not the event. The map is not the territory. Nor is the commentary track the movie. These are more of our projected mental state, a constant dialogue of rationalization, and they are designed to obscure reality.
During this time, we have seen a gradual replacement of inner/natural worlds with outer/social worlds. In the latter, we worry about what others think, how to manipulate them, and therefore, how we can rationalize our fate.
The former on the other hand offers us the ability to change ourselves and adapt to our world so that we come to understand it. This is the basic act of participating in life by bonding with it in a unitive sense.
Realism means that we recognize that how things turn out in reality is more important than how we can regulate our feelings by rationalizing our situation and forcing others to obey so that we feel as if we are in control.
The philosophy of realism simply means that we value the change in events, the cause-effect activity that produces it, and the learning we can take away from that more than our ability to have opinions on it that manipulate others.
A realist does not concern himself with tactics such as how to corner and maneuver other people into doing what he wants. He is interested in what actions produce the results he wants, and in making those the goal.
The more our civilization has drifted from realism, the further it has gone into insanity and Utopian thinking because these are ways of disguising the self-destructive nature of the utilitarian mental state.
If we are to pull out of this tailspin, it involves changing what we are doing that is perpetuating the decay, and this begins with removing our focus on “happiness” and instead seeking mere reality.
Tags: rationalization, realism, self-destruction, utilitarianism