Thursday, March 9, 2017
The Gnostic Failure Mode
Every time I try to argue with someone who has not been red pilled about democracy I inevitably encounter Gnosticism.
Of course it isn't actually Gnosticism. The real thing died thousands of years ago. I'm just using the term as a catchall for "anyone who prefers pleasant lies to harsh truths," which I guess is everyone. It seems especially prevalent in politics since politics is one of those subjects that you can't do controlled experiments on, and because the human brain is uniquely evolved to believe anything it wants where politics is concerned.
In politics, Gnosticism is any behavior that involves arguing from morality, principles, ideals, etc. These things simply do not exist in the physical universe. Nothing in your head is actually out "there" in the real world.
Let me clarify, because this sounds like a pretty radical statement.
What you see is not reality. It is a symbolic interpretation of reality. Your eyes cannot see ultra-violet light or infra red, radio waves, gamma rays, x rays, etc. What you see is just the visible spectrum.
Your ears do not hear above or below certain frequencies.
The reality you experience is a tiny fraction of what actually is there, and, you experience it from only one tiny small viewpoint on a small planet in an average galaxy of no significance, on the distant edge of a spiral arm of that galaxy. Your experience of reality is vastly limited by scale, and you experience only a minuscule fraction of it.
On top of all of this, you corrupt everything you see by running it through a symbolic delusion called thought. You misinterpret it with language, since all language lies about reality by grossly oversimplifying it. Words are basically categories for things. The word "chair" refers to all objects that fit the archetype of a chair. It is a category of objects.
Every noun is a category of objects.
Ever verb is a category of actions.
Each adjective is a category of modifiers that modify nouns.
Each adverb is a category of modifiers that modify verbs.
All that is really there is atoms and void. (Though a physicist might quibble with that statement a little.) The categories are NOT REAL. Only the pile of atoms is real. The object "chair" is just a category humans have assigned to the pile of atoms known as chair. The word is not really real. You probably think in language, right? So you think in a system of categories that grossly over simplifies reality. This is what is meant be saying that language corrupts our understanding of reality by oversimplifying it. Words are categories and categories are oversimplifications.
To add insult to injury, in the realm of politics, people lie compulsively. They don't even use the correct words to describe things because they have agendas. They ignore facts. They present biased accounts. Even their memories of political events can change to suite agendas.
So in politics the vast majority of stuff that you and everyone you know talks about isn't even real. Even when it is real, it can't help but use language, and language oversimplifies things.
Many of the words you use don't refer to anything physical: "existentialism," "freedom," "logic," "love," "hate," "racism," "liberty," etc. A huge portion of vocabulary is not even real. It's abstract.
Thoughts may exist in your head, but electrical signals in your brain are all that actually exists in the physical universe. Thought is a symbolic delusion — a kind of programming language for biological robots. it is NOT REAL. Only atoms, void, and electrical signals in your brain are real.
The electrical signals are real. The thoughts are not real.
To understand this let's compare the word people use to describe something with the physical object it describes, if any. The word is the referent. The thing it refers to is called the object.
Referent Object (what it refers to)
Chair-------------->A class of objects in the real world
Table-------------->A class of objects IRL called "table"
Dirt---------------->A substance IRL called "dirt"
House------------->A thing IRL that you live in
Now let's do this for abstract concepts.
Referent Object (what it refers to)
Equality---------->An idea in someones head, just a brainwave
Love-------------->An idea in someones head, a brainwave
Liberty------------>A brainwave in someones head
Racism----------->An idea in someones head, just a brainwave
Equality is just a brainwave.
This may seem comical. But yes, all of those abstract ideas only refer to brainwaves. What else could they refer to? They aren't real. There is no "thing" in the real world called "equality" or "racism." Now of course that doesn't mean there isn't police brutality, discrimination, violence, etc. Nobody would deny that a violent act is violent. Obviously if the cop is beating you with a nightstick the truncheon is very real. Violence is very real. Just ask Antifa.
So why do these concepts exist? Why are humans capable of abstract thought? Why do we have word-categories for things that are unreal?
Well some word-categories are for planning purposes. Math is abstract (non-real) and yet can be applied to the real world. That's why engineering calculations work. So some abstractions serve a purpose. But these aren't like that. The ones I have listed above are all feelings and religious words.
Yes. Religious words.
Imagine that you have a tribe in the jungle thousands of years ago. Everyone in the tribe is related genetically by some distant relative. How could they not be? In a group of about 300 people simple math dictates that after about 5 or 6 generations absolutely everyone is going to be a distant cousin to someone else. It's going to be massively inbred.
So anything that harms your tribe harms your own genetics one way or another because you are related to everyone there. Even the most distant guy there is like your 3rd cousin or something. So ideas that unify your tribe against a common enemy have an inherent advantage where inclusive fitness is concerned. Any bullshit idea, no matter how ridiculous, which unifies the men and fends off a common enemy that threatens to wipe you out is going to have an advantage from an evolutionary standpoint. And this is why religious notions exist, why religions exist, why political religions exist, and why people believe bullshit ideas as long as they unify them into a tribe-like solidarity.
"Racism" is a tribal signifier with a religious and political meaning. It translates roughly as "mortal enemy of our tribe." "Racist" basically translates as "demon outcast loser."
The point here is not to bash the left, thought that's always fun. The point is to understand how adults think politically.
This is how human society works. People form common religious ideas — Schelling points basically, around which they can hang tribal cohesiveness. Humans need an outside. They need an Other. They also need an inside, an Interior. But they also want to maximize their power. Small coalitions have little appeal, so they group into two large factions, two large tribes, "left-wing" and "right-wing." It allows them to simultaneously indulge their tribalism while having the largest possible coalition. That, and the mathematics of first-past-the-post systems.
And they construct make-believe ideas for that purpose. Childhood make-believe is actually preparation for adult political and religious make-believe. We don't grow out of our delusional childhood state — we grow into it. And as adults we substitute political and religious delusions for the games we played as children. Those games we played; cops and robbers, cowboys and Indians, were all preparation for adult "us" vs "them" games.
The difference is that unlike children, adults will actually murder you if you don't share their make-believe ideas.
Don't believe in equality? Get murdered.
Don't believe in Allah? Get murdered.
Don't believe in democracy? Get murdered.
Don't believe in women's rights? Get bombed.
The beliefs change from one era to the next but the "get murdered" part is eternal.
And there's always a perfectly MORAL sounding reason for the "get murdered" part, and it is never legitimate. No, you may not murder racists.
Gnostic thinking is pathological in the human species where politics is concerned. This is because politics originates out of the human capacity for make-believe. What everyone is really doing in politics is tribal make-believe. This make-believe serves the purpose of making solidarity. It is a legacy genetic impulse, a legacy code of human DNA.
When someone makes a moral political argument they are assuming that what they want is even achievable. Most of the time it's not. They think this way because they are misapplying an ancient tribal tendency to the modern world. Obviously, the current society is way too large to be governed at Dunbar scales. It is entirely too complex.
Democracy encourages Gnosticism by telling everyone they have a voice and it matters. It doesn't. This is like telling everyone that they get a vote on how to build the Golden Gate Bridge. Since everyone is not a trained engineer they can't possibly know what they are talking about.
So an argument with a typical voter is me telling them that x delusion is not possible or y delusion will destroy everything, while they hyperventilate and shake uncontrollably because I am inadvertently counter-signaling against their tribe. That's evil, and they shake uncontrollably because people who don't subscribe to the myths of their tribe are literally Hitler and must be gassed.
When you counter-signal against someone's tribe they simply do not hear what you are saying. Fight-or-flight takes over. Their morals and beliefs are bound to their survival. Even now, hundreds of years into the Industrial Revolution, and thousands of years after society has exited tribalism in most places, this impulse still persists. Morality is tribal.
Oh, and speaking of morality. Chew on this principle; all moral assertions are hidden pleas for political violence, whether the speaker knows it or not, because implementation of a moral principle always leads there, and because moral arguments that are not backed by state force, (law), are physically meaningless signaling.
To fully understand this aspect of human nature we must realize that all of these things; politics, make-believe, religious ideas, religious political ideas, morality, and signaling, are all outcomes of inclusive fitness. They are all all manifestations of the same thing. There is no such thing as morality outside inclusive fitness, which is why people don't really feel moral emotions towards their enemies.
Morality is like an onion.
You feel the greatest connection to your family, especially your spouse and children. That's called love. With the next layer you feel attachment to your friends and community. After that comes your nation and race, then the species, and the biosphere. Natural human morality is thus nepotistic, chauvinistic, racist, nationalistic, etc. It is interesting that English has a shame world for all behaviors of natural human morality. Equality is pretty much an inversion of natural morality.
Modern morality turns inclusive fitness against itself. This serves the interests of capitalism and universal franchise democracy, where all are interchangeable commodities or interchangeable votes. Since conformist morality flows downhill from the power system, and the power system is against natural morality, socially correct morality is against natural morality.
The virtue of capitalism is that it forces a person to serve society in order to serve their own genetic interests. The need for money makes your serve society through labor to get it. Also, serving strangers allows society to exit tribalism, and the extreme violence of the ancient world.
The sin of capitalism is that it makes a person serve strangers rather than their own inclusive fitness. This feels oppressive, and it is. It alienates the man from not just from his own labor but from his neighbor. He serves an endless parade of strangers in a customer service job instead of his community or family.
There is no such thing as "objective morality." And if there were it would be irrelevant. So-called objective morality would have no way of forcing itself on the world, and the attempt to do so would make the person doing the forcing into Hitler Mao Stalin. Trying to make the world objectively moral is indistinguishable in the physical universe from operating concentration camps, mass mind control, etc. There is no difference. The thought delusion of universal morality always results in the concrete murder of millions in physical reality, because thought reality has no way of imposing itself on the world.
There are only billions of subjective moralities, (plural), and so when we say that Hitler was a moral man this is not a joke, and not a compliment to Hitler, but an indictment of morality. From his perspective he was moral. And what other perspective is there? There is no morality outside of the mind of the man who creates it. If you are moral in your mind then you are moral to you. Does any real chance of dissuading you from your horrific plan exist if you are utterly convinced? No, of course not. And this is the problem with morality. It motivates such horrible things. It is fundamentally connected to the tribal urge. It is inseparable from it. There is no morality without a powerful lust to exterminate the wrongdoer/outsider. None. Not even leftist bromides about tolerance. No exceptions.
Morality is subjective and has no way of imposing itself on the world. Morality is inseparably connected to tribalism.
Morality evolved to defend the tribe in an environment where both total equality towards insiders, and genocidal hostility towards outsiders was the norm. You will never disentangle moral inclination from genocide because there is no functional emotional difference between the actions of cheering the downfall of evil, wishing for justice, and desiring to exterminate. The same essential sentiment and psychological construction fuels them all. Oh yes. Analytically we all know there is a difference. But morality does not come from reason. Attempts to confine it to the reason box will always fail. Robespierre was a bastion of reason. In the end, it is an animal sentiment. Morality is gene guarding. That is the emotion that drives it. To pretend that it can be separated from racism, tribalism, nationalism, is to fundamentally misunderstand its nature. Even Richard Dawkins is sneering like a xenophobic monkey when he ridicules religious people. The notion that there can be some dictatorship of reason is hopelessly foolish and doomed to failure. It's monkeys all the way down.
It gets worse.
Because the need for sanctimony exists independently from the existence of evil in the world. Sadism is pleasureful to people when they think they have a moral excuse. Because when they don't feel guilty about it. So they search for that moral excuse high and low and are always looking for a non-conformists, a scapegoat — someone they can use for the masturbatory pleasure of tormenting. Someone who "deserves it" — and the outsider always deserves it. There is no moral sentiment for the outsider precisely because morality was designed by inclusive fitness to destroy the outsider.
The proof of this assertion lies in the fact that millions of people sit in front of their televisions every week to watch police procedurals with terrible acting just so they can feel the rush of sadism when the "bad guy" "gets what is coming to him." It is this need for pleasure in applying the jackboot to another that earns billions for the studios and employs thousands of actors. Entertainment is a litany of appetites. "Comedy" laughs at the suffering of others. Detective stories gratify sadistic moralizing. Soaps give women the drama they wish they could create in their relationships. Action lets men act out fantasies of violence they only wish they could exercise against the innocent. The other stories involve a tribe of people flying around in a starship, or killing zombies, or being incels together, or doing other tribalist things. TOGETHER. Of all these categories, tribalism sells best, especially when combined with action.
Evil can never die. The market for sanctimony will not let it. People need to feel morally superior to others, and they need to take sadistic pleasure in the destruction of the "bad guy." Thus, if bad guys are not forth coming they must be invented. Someone must be made into Hitler.
The problem with the world is not that there are Nazis and racists, but that there are not nearly enough to sate market demand for hysterical moral sadism. Monkeys need Others. They need enemies. We will make them up if they aren't there.
So there will always be evil in the world. As "real evil" (whatever that means) slowly dies under the relentless advancement of capitalist-induced peace, morality itself will become the source of evil. The craving for sanctimony will cause ever larger displays of hooting and prancing. The last Nazi will never be gassed because they will never stop finding Nazis to gas. They will invent them. And ironically, to think that a Nazi is subhuman is to agree with the Nazi that some are inferior, and that some deserve to be gassed.
And the moral people of the world will ensure the continuation of evil forever. If there were no evil in the world morality would have to invent it. That which is your highest virtue will always be your hottest oven. There is no escaping this. You are damned to a hell created of your own morals. Because your morals are a legacy code.
And nobody is ever going to get it. Thinking about politics from an engineering perspective is an alien concept to people because it defeats the purpose. The whole purpose of politics is tribalism. If people didn't want tribes, they would have subsumed the entire function of government to the marketplace years ago, and we would have a private law society. Without tribalism, it is perfectly possible to have private rights enforcement agencies, private law, private courts, etc. Anarcho capitalism actually works really well without tribalism, and government simply becomes the "governance marketplace," a la Jennifer Government. You wind up with a society the way it is described by David Friedman.
So the task of anarcho capitalism is to discover how to force the tribal impulse into subordination to the governance marketplace, either by selectively indulging it as a market choice, or by suppressing it successfully. Assuming that you want to suppress tribalism instead of embrace it. For that see nationalism.