There is nothing that indicates failure of a belief about society than when its advocate must propose the given end be pursued “at all costs.” This point in the negotiation, where it is literally admitted that, must one choose between any other possible thing which might be had, all these would be expended in pursuit of the end.
A good thing pursued at all costs becomes evil. Consider an anti-racist. It is all well and good that they should like people to not exercise undue racial prejudices, and that if possible schemes of mutual understanding and interaction be formed. These are benign sentiments, and certainly no neoreactionary would object to some sense of this. However, such a good becomes evil when even greater goods are sacrificed for it. If we suppose we had to make a choice between a world that was more racist and a world that literally blew up (absurd it may seem), it seems better to tolerate a little more racism than to tolerate a lot of death. Go to your priest and have yourself absolved however you must for exercising a utilitarian method, but this seems at least common sense. No one is saying it would be fair for the negatively affected races, but as you must realize, life isn’t fair. No, really. Good and evil might not roughly equal out. We can hope that there will be in sum more good, but we should plan as though there would be in sum more evil. It exposes us to fewer risks.
Fairness is only one good amongst others. It is a value worth upholding where possible and when just, but it is not always just to institute certain understandings of “fairness.” It seems permissible to give a higher income to someone who sacrifices more for society, which is an inequality. This can, and should, be done in the name of excellence.
The problem with modernism is its all-too-easy insistence on achieving its vision at all costs. If we suppose that the African-American population could’ve been brought to an economic parity with the majority white population with a one time public expense which would have no significant effect on government debt or taxes, it would be hard to argue against such a proposal except from concerns relating to problems particular to government, not the issue per se.
But what if we don’t live in that world? It is tempting to think we live in such a world; just throw money at your problems, and they’ll go away of their own accord! Suppose you knew, for ironclad economic reasons, that such a policy would make everyone significantly worse off. You wouldn’t be a racist to oppose the policy, given your grounds.
It doesn’t matter whether you believe such a scenario is practically impossible. Perhaps you happen to believe a well-executed public program could reverse institutional racism. The point of this is to diagnose how your morals operate in systems that follow different material laws. The neoreactionary perspective is very nearby ultimately, it only requires the right focus. And to turn the lights on.
It is like having made your way to the light, only to find that the reason it is so difficult to persuade those still in the cave is that the world above you tell them about doesn’t fit their preconceptions. What if, in a certain way, it was worse outside?
Humans naturally exercise prejudice. Every age thinks they do not, and particularly their own age. That they thought they weren’t beholden to any unjust prejudice is evidence precisely of how in the thrall of prejudice all these people were.
Have we escaped the meaner depths of our nature? We believe ourselves to be free of prejudice, which is prime evidence that we are subject to massive prejudice. What are our prejudices in this day and age, save that of anti-racist and anti-sexist sympathies? We are, in other words, prejudiced against racists and misogynists. This may not seem to you the greatest evil, and perhaps it is not, but that makes it no less a prejudice. That we excuse our prejudice with an insistence on the prejudice is proof of its grip. “Well, they really are like that!” Prejudice is prejudice, whether rightly or wrongly exercised.
The point is not that this prejudice is somehow worse, only that we naturally exercise prejudices. The tendency of humans to stereotype is instinctual. We can help but think about the world through stereotypes. We can recognize the limitations of our stereotypes, but that does not mean we adopt a heuristic of stereotypes in our snap decisions. We must think our feelings and thoughts as being adaptive features in the same way our bodies are evolutionarily descended on the basis of its adaptiveness to its environment. We have a physiological frame as we do because it is adapted to our environment. What does not contribute to survival and sexual reproduction is wasted resources. Thoughts and feelings are the same; the reason we evolved an inner life is because it proved more adaptive given the environment compared to those with a dearth of inner life. In other words, you have the feelings you do about yourself and others, and these typical feelings tend to be felt by everyone, because they prove more adaptive overall to the perpetuation of those genes. If the emotions of happiness, sadness, boredom, and so on did not promote the survival and reproductive success of the individual, evolution would never have produced them.
The software of our inner life then must have proved adaptive value. This should make us stop and think. If the troglodyte survived because he exercised more prejudice, and we call people who more obviously exercise prejudice troglodytes, aren’t we essentially saying they are exercising a proven strategy for survival and reproductive success? Exercising prejudice is as natural as smiling when we’re happy. We don’t think there is anything intrinsically wrong with smiling, yet smiling has noticeable failure modes, such as when it lets on to others that we’re lying or they succeed in making us laugh when we stubbornly wished to refuse to do so. What is so different about prejudice? It would not have evolved in us unless it had provided some net benefit in terms of evolutionary success.
It doesn’t tell us that we’re fatalistically inclined towards perpetual violence and warfare. We are, but that has less to do with our natures than with the varying strategies available to groups who would both prefer their own existence over the others (and there isn’t always the possibility of peaceable compromise that doesn’t still leave one certainly worse off). When we are afforded the conditions that do not put distinct groups in competition with one another, we can form cooperative ventures with each other to beneficial ends. But sometimes, due to the accidents of history or geography, groups come into conflict.
The appropriate response to the knowledge that we are subject to these evolutionarily-descended psychological heuristics is not to give in to it in the most vulgar fashion, nor to ignore them, but to inquire as to information the possession of a prejudice-forming psychology indicates about the world we live in. If perfect cooperation had always proved most adaptive, we would have evolved to it. (Likewise, if perfect competition had proved most adaptive, we would have evolved to it.) Human evolution is pitted against itself. Those people who are able to fulfill some social role are able to survive individually, indicating the prevalence of a number of distinct personalities according to a roughly adaptive ratio (e.g. so many INTP’s and so few ESFJ’s). This indicates, furthermore, a spectrum of psychological types which have stronger and weaker correlations to political sympathies. Some people just are biologically liberal, some just are biologically conservative. This won’t be an exploration of how political views are influenced by psychological type, but the fact that there is a specific variability should indicate there is a group benefit to the back-and-forth of conservative and liberal types in the social dynamics of the tribe. We might see how much is lost due to the competitive nature of man, but what would there be to see if man had no competitive nature at all?
Human nature is not only a brute fact we should design our systems around, it also provides valuable information. That a definite and specific behavior has psychologically innate qualities indicates it provides some level of adaptedness by being exercised. This is a fact that by necessity cannot be integrated into an ideologically which essentially rejects the potential for prejudice to ever be compatible with optimal outcomes.
The God of Biomechanics is a stern taskmaster. His only goal is your survival and reproductive success, and he has designed your feelings to optimize your behavior to these ends. You feel happy or sad as accords whether feeling positively or negatively at certain times influences your behavior in certain ways. The God of Biomechanics is a moral idiot savant; he maximizes only for the maximal perpetuation of genes, and must be balanced among the other Nature’s Gods as to our optimal end. But he never lies, and his dictates provide valuable information we cannot profitably discard.
Originally published Dec 2nd, 2013