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Archive for July 26, 2011

Breivik and ‘V for Vendetta’

July 26, 2011 14 comments

As I have previously mentioned, CONservatives of all stripes seem to be very eager to dissociate them from the ‘Breivik legacy’. The most supportive posts by CONservatives say something to the effect of:

The guy had genuine grievances, but his method for expressing them were uncalled for.

So let me play Devil’s Advocate, as I often do, and ask you an unpleasant question-

Can you think of an effective AND acceptable way to publicize his views and ideologies?

He could not have gone via the mainstream media route, because of the politically incorrect nature of his ideas. While an internet based approach would suffice for getting some people to listen to his ideas, it would not give him the mass audience necessary for ultimately changing anything. Career politicians and established parties would never say such things openly for fear of public and legal censure. Almost nobody in the “elite” of that country would want to be caught within shouting distance of such ideologies.

So what were his options? realistically?

He could do what he did or kept talking about it on the intertubes- like he had done for almost a decade. If you ignore morality or ethics, his actions were infact rational and logical. He chose to do something that would guarantee two outcomes.

1. Widespread notoriety and exposure to his ideas, which were well laid out.

2. A government security-law overreaction which will end up pushing moderates into extremism.

To put it another way, he chose the ‘V for Vendetta‘ approach right down to bombing the prime minister’s office and his verbose manifestos. You know something else- he might ultimately succeed even if he does not live to see that day.

Coming to think about it, didn’t the events and reaction after 9/11 expose the inadequacy and shortcomings of the american way? Can you really argue that the subsequent fuckups in Iraq, Afghanistan, TSA, Homeland Security etc have made people less willing to believe in the ability of government to act in a competent and reasonable manner.

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Sexual Jealousy and Breivik

July 26, 2011 8 comments

I have always suspected that sex, or the lack thereof, had something to do with Breivik’s actions. While we don’t know much about his recent sexual life, I cannot help but listen to this interview with an old high-school friend of his and wonder whether the seed of his ideology was planed by events in his teenage years.

h/t to Martin for the video.

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Categories: Current Affairs

Why Authoritarian Societies Flounder and Fail

July 26, 2011 6 comments

Many people believe that the West progressed because of some magical combination of race and other special ingredients. I think otherwise-

The main reason behind the rise of the West (after the renaissance) and the stagnation of Asian societies for hundreds, if not thousands, of years comes down to the degree of authoritarianism in those societies.

To put it another way, the ability of a society to progress is inversely proportional to the degree of authoritarianism within it.

While authoritarianism can provide stability in the short term, it carries a particularly nasty feature that sacrifices the future of that system. Human beings can be motivated by reward and fear, however using fear to run systems results in a particular set of problems.

Fear can only motivate people to do the bare minimum necessary for survival. Hence, societies which use fear are characterized by low productivity, paranoia, hoarding and lack of cohesion. They are very unpleasant places to live in and ripe targets for attack by outsiders as there are many in that society who would like to see it fall. Even rich authoritarian societies such as Japan, Korea and Taiwan are not known for innovation, personal happiness and only survive because of massive ritualized coercion supplemented by mercantile policies. These societies would be rapidly impoverished and destabilized if countries who buy stuff from them did not do so.

Since ruling with authority has little to do with actual competence and everything to do with making others fear you, they are also optimal for the rise of impressive but incompetent sociopaths. If you don’t believe me- look at large corporations and businesses which are often run into the ground by such impressive but incompetent snake oil salesmen. Authoritarian societies are almost always ruled by petty despots and their ass-kissers until they run out of luck or resources.

Another problem associated with authoritarianism is its negative effect of law, contracts, trust and resource allocation. Because these societies are full of paranoia and strong arm tactics, concepts like ‘rule of law’ and ‘independent and effective contract arbitration’ are effectively meaningless. Since each despot tries to use their power to maximize terror and rent extraction, laws are frequently altered or are effectively tilted towards the ruler’s ass-kissers and supporters. Similarly, contracts are meaningless if the system is not seen as a generally fair arbitrator between two parties. These societies are also characterized by low interpersonal trust and rampant power abuses. Consequently commerce is difficult and unstable under the best of conditions.

Authoritarian societies are also characterized by excessive rent-seeking by rulers and their supporters. However money gained through rent-seeking is often removed from the system, rather than recirculated, it results in a shrinking real economy and even more intensive attempts to extract rent. Such societies are also prone to divert an ever increasing proportion of their income into the security and coercion apparatus. Ultimately the only ways to become rich in such a society are: be the rulers, their ass-kissers, supporters or part of the security-coercion apparatus.

It does not take a genius to figure out that such societies are doomed to fail or flounder (if they are lucky) while destroying the lives of most people living in them. On a related note, aren’t most western countries (especially the USA) moving towards Authoritarianism?

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