Humankind can act quickly based on its own notions, but then we wait for nature and its natural laws to shape the end result. Even when we control the material means of our future, consequences are governed by the non-material interaction of forces, like information or mathematics.
Starting with The Enlightenment, European society went liberal with the idea that each individual’s thoughts, desires and judgments were equally valid. Mankind became more important than nature. This meant that our thoughts were more important than the consequences of our actions.
It took several centuries to see this, which was only appropriate, because it took several centuries to reach that stage of degeneracy. The root of liberalism was probably a prosperous society which sheltered its incompetents, malcontents and manipulators.
From that view, the following article takes on a different tone:
Eighty years on, it would be easy to sit back and reassure ourselves that the worst could never happen again. But that, of course, was what people told each other in 1932, too.
The lesson of history is that tough times often reward the desperate and dangerous, from angry demagogues to anarchists and nationalists, from seething mobs to expansionist empires. – The Daily Mail
They are telling us that when times are bad, the bad come out of the woodwork.
An alternate history: when times are good, the bad are able to rule because of the complacency of most people, who can’t think past when their next paycheck will arrive.
In fact, what we see through the last 2000 years of history is a process of overcoming. The intelligent rise despite the others dragging them down, and societies survive because when things are bad, the people who have been pointing out the incompetence of our social system are able to temporarily win out.
Think about the people you know. Which is more likely, that they live in denial, or that they’re magical geniuses who have everything under control until they are periodically interrupted by violent realists?
With the hazy years of The Enlightenment, we declared that each human being is more valid than nature, which is a way of talking about natural laws and the consequences of our actions determined by such laws. This legitimized denial of reality and endorsed illusions.
It just took a while to play out. Eventually, it found a voice in modern liberalism/leftism in 1789. This movement snowballed and when war was declared on the nationalists — the archetype of right-wing ideas — in China, Japan, Germany, Austria and Italy during WWII, the left found itself on top.
Its only problem after that was Communism, which is an extreme form of leftism like fascism is an extreme form of rightism. Communism was the new bogeyman.
Communist theory teaches them to believe that the most effective way to break the will of the opposition is to de-legitimize its ruling class, degrade its culture, destroy its confidence in its own institutions and its own way of life.
Hu Jintao believes that the West is waging a conscious memetic war against Communist China – because he knows that Communists including himself have been waging a conscious memetic war against Western civilization since the 1840s. Sadly, this is not yesterday’s news.
What Jintao can also see, and the reason he is actually right to fear memetic warfare, is that the West has been seriously damaged by Communist successes at memetic subversion. The damage didn’t end when the Soviet Empire collapsed, because too many people in the West internalized and naturalized Soviet attack propaganda. Many of its tropes have become tribal shibboleths of major Western political tendencies, despite being just as wrong and just as toxic as when they were first uttered. – Eric S. Raymond
The leftists pondered this, and then introduced Marxist ideas in a new way — through culture. This culminated in the West in the hippie revolutions of 1968, which showed a cultural and social force overcoming knowledge of history, politics, economics and even common sense.
When the Soviet Union finally collapsed in 1991, the cultural Marxists reached out to their most promising allies, namely those in the commercial world. They did not ally themselves with the established industries, but “alternative” service industries like entertainment, media and art.
Eventually they expanded into other industries. The two were ideal pairs: consumerism and commerce benefit from having zero standards so they can sell whatever they want to an audience that, lacking a cultural or moral center, needs lots of products to fill the void. And leftists want permissiveness.
This new movement coincided with the 1968 generation making it into their 40s and 50s. During the 1990s, it seemed that hippie ideals had grown up, put on suits and won out over everything else. At least, they were more popular by the numbers.
After a brief interruption for a Republican president in the United States, this movement made a bold move to seize power in 2008 with the election of Barack Obama. But then a curious thing happened: leftist ideology requires the notion of an oppressor, or an opposing force, holding it back.
As of 2009, nothing held it back. It implemented its grand designs and in response, people in society began to endorse its ideas. This coincided with the results of the grandparents of those ideas, put into motion a half-century before, becoming apparent.
Results did not match promises.
As a result, in 2009 the reign of 1789 unofficially came to an end. World liberalism collapsed because its ideas simply did not work. Most people are still unaware of this, but like all truly profound social shifts, this one is occurring underground.
It is now widely accepted that the years of New Labour government were an almost unalloyed national disaster. Whichever measure you take – moral, social, economic, or the respect in which Britain is held in the world – we went into reverse.
Nevertheless, historians may come to judge that these 13 years of Labour misrule served a vital purpose. In retrospect, the Brown/Blair period may be seen as a prolonged experiment which taught the liberal Left that its ideas cannot work, do not work, and have no chance of ever working.
…So rampant and all-pervasive was the influence of this liberal-Left elite that by the end almost every meaningful action taken by the democratically elected John Major government could be sabotaged or blocked outright by a progressive alliance, which stretched through the Civil Service, the BBC, and the universities.
…A sea change is at work. In practically every area of British public life – state spending, the economy, education, welfare, the European Union (where Ed Miliband refused to condemn Cameron’s pre-Christmas veto), mass immigration, law and order – Conservatives are winning the argument and taking policy in their direction. – The Telegraph
Right now, world liberalism retains one primary strength: it is still very popular. Liberalism offers the idea that we can change our world by altering the effects of our actions without changing our actions, and that is a pleasing notion. It suggests we can keep doing what we want and turn out OK.
However, an increasing group have recognized that like drug addiction or other forms of denial, liberalism will destroy our society just as all denial has destructive effects. As a result, a backlash has formed and while we must be very patient, the downfall of liberalism has begun.
Over the years and centuries, as the failure of the first world to discover inner stability continues, it has become increasingly popular to talk about the “many problems” of humankind. I submit that this is euphemism of the first order.
This species does not have many problems. We have a singular problem, which is dishonesty: we do not talk with intent to communicate about the issues in our world. Aside from all of the possible problems of language itself, or even of different people using different terms, we do not wish for clarity.
For centuries thinkers have assumed that the uniquely human capacity for reasoning has existed to let people reach beyond mere perception and reflex in the search for truth. Rationality allowed a solitary thinker to blaze a path to philosophical, moral and scientific enlightenment.
Now some researchers are suggesting that reason evolved for a completely different purpose: to win arguments. Rationality, by this yardstick (and irrationality too, but we’ll get to that) is nothing more or less than a servant of the hard-wired compulsion to triumph in the debating arena. According to this view, bias, lack of logic and other supposed flaws that pollute the stream of reason are instead social adaptations that enable one group to persuade (and defeat) another. Certitude works, however sharply it may depart from the truth. – The New York Times
When we do not intend clarity, we argue to raise our social status above that of others. He’s wrong, I’m right; pick me. Whether we’re searching for mates, business partners, friends or even conning salespeople into helping us despite the huge backlog, social status makes us “important” and so we get ahead.
This is not to say that all people act this way. In fact, the scientists in the article above are probably wrong. Most people argue to win, while a small minority use logic to find answers. Not coincidentally, a small minority is responsible for most of our discoveries.
However, as the majority tends toward deception, and the majority tends to win out, the human pattern is for dishonesty to triumph. This is probably most intense in societies with higher intelligence people, as the spread between “smart enough to fake it” and “smart enough to know the difference” is wider. This is why the places with the smartest people, like Scandinavia or Germany, are the most internally screwed-up despite their great material and technological wealth.
We are raised in post-1789 liberal democracies, which means plurality is the order of the day. That is to say, those with the most votes make the laws, and everyone else circumvents those laws until the facade collapses. In theory, we all tolerate each other, but in reality no one gets what they want.
We thus experience constant internal upheaval and political infighting. Honesty at the political level is secondary to its source, which is honesty at the personal level. When confronted with information we do not like, we can deny it, choose to stop arguing or discussing it, leave the room or simply re-program our minds to not consider it.
Denial beats conscience. With denial of reality on a personal level, an audience for pleasant lies is created, and they then shower wealth and acclaim onto those who codify the lies as science, law, logic or morality.
Since some date long ago when we lost sight of reality, this cult has been gaining strength. Now few truth-tellers remain. They are buried under a mountain of lies, starting with the notion that we have more than one problem.