Some of you might have recently heard that the Chinese government in considering changes to its one child policy. While many see this as a reasonable attempt to reverse the demographic decline, a few commentators have expressed doubts about whether such a change would have any effect on the willingness of the Chinese to have more children. They point out that ethnically and culturally similar neighboring countries have fertility very similar to those in China, even though they lack an official one-child policy. If anything, China has a slightly higher fertility rate (1.6) than more affluent east-asian countries such as South Korea (1.2), Japan (1.4) and Taiwan (1.1). Even many culturally similar but not that affluent countries in the region have pretty low fertility rates; Vietnam (1.8), Thailand (1.6). Only the war-ravaged, poor or extra-religious countries (Laos, Cambodia, Philippines and Malaysia) in East-Asia have fertility rates above 2.
So what is going on? Why do so many east-Asian countries have such low fertility-rates in the modern era? Was it always so? When did it start to change and why?
Conventional explanations for this phenomena have tried to spin this low fertility rate as evidence of East-Asian intelligence, thoughtfulness, conscientiousness or degree of investment in their offspring. There is however a very big problem with any such “positive” explanations for this precipitous drop in fertility in that region. For almost all of recorded history, fertility rates in East Asia were freakishly high. Furthermore the general living conditions, levels of over-crowding, frequency of food shortages and mortality from infectious diseases etc were much bigger problems in the past than they are today.
Any hypothesis based on the idea that East-Asians are devoted parents would have a hard time explaining why so many of them are having no children or just one token child. But aren’t we all told that East-Asian parents are very devoted to the welfare of their kids and deeply involved in the lives- maybe a bit too deeply? Why would a socio-cultural-ethnic grouping with such a strong tradition of having children and raising them “properly” stop having them at the very time in human history when doing so has become very easy and safe?
Even more curious than the low-fertility rates of East-Asians in modern times is a look at what factors are associated with having the least number of kids. Other than higher levels of education, it is wealth and status that are associated with few or no kids. While this correlation has been previously observed in other developed countries, it is especially striking in East-Asian countries where the combination of a first-world lifestyle and high levels of education almost always translate into one or no kids. So what else can explain the precipitous drop in fertility rates in East-Asia in the last 60-70 years? Why haven’t the rates stabilized or recovered to levels of around 2- even in countries which have enjoyed reasonable economic stability? Why are economic incentives so ineffective at getting them to have more kids?
There is another way to look at this issue. However taking that route involves killing many ideological ‘holy’ cows and beliefs about what human beings are and are not.
Most of us want to believe that human beings are fundamentally intelligent, thoughtful, reasonable, capable of objective thought and largely rational in their actions. However a brief reading of human history or even short interactions with a few people around you will show that it is not the case. I could write entire books on why the self-image of human beings is so at odds with reality, but that is something for another day. For the purpose of this post, let us concentrate on the effects of such self-delusion on humans and the societies they live in.
While most human beings want to have children of their own, the mix of reasons and beliefs that drive them to have kids is sensitive to their circumstances and true motivations. People who used to live as hunter-gatherers or in small agriculture-based communities wanted kids for company, help, status and future care. Since accumulation of money was either absent or irrelevant in such communities, their motivations for having and caring for kids were not tainted by such extraneous considerations.
“Civilization” changed that.. Large scale agriculture, even in the pre-industrial era, created highly hierarchical societies which depended on a constant supply of naive and disposable workers who could be conned into working hard with the promise of a better future. While slaves and indentured laborers were one option, having more children was a much better option. It is not an exaggeration to say that people who belong to long-lived civilizations are far more likely to see other humans, but especially their own kids, as the principal means of improve their monetary and social status regardless of the cost of such behavior on their kids.
A lot of the ‘peculiarities’ in East-Asian parenting styles make sense if you are willing to consider the possibility that the relationship between parents and their children in those cultures is far closer to an employer and their employees.
The ‘tough love’, striving for higher productivity and ‘quantifiable’ achievement at all costs, enforced conformity and obedience, unspoken rules and protocols in everyday behavior that seem to characterize relationships between East-Asian parents and their children are exactly the things you expect in work relationships. This commercialization of the parent-child relationship is however not without its drawbacks and problems. For one, it creates damaged and very unhappy human beings who require constant threats and external pressures to behave “properly”.
The system worked for as long as it did because of the lack of effective contraception. The introduction and spread of effective contraception made it easier for unhappy and dysfunctional people to avoid having children. Also women can now make decent money by working and can thus achieve all of their material goals without the inconvenience of having kids. Since East-Asians, more than any other group, have seen kids principally as a means to attain their own material goals- it stands to reason that they would have far fewer kids if other (and easier) avenues to reach those goals were available.
What do you think? Comments?
In a previous post (Cults, Religions and Ideologies Merely Unmask Human Nature), I asked why remarkably similar organized religion-type ideologies arose across different cultures and in all historical eras. Towards the end of that post I said..
Maybe the default mental settings for a majority of human beings are very different from what we want to believe. Maybe most human beings are NOT thoughtful and reasonable creatures with any hard-wired concepts of what we call ‘humanity’. Maybe most humans are more like poisonous and invasive weeds than sentient apes who might evolve into something “better”. Maybe most humans, especially the so-called ‘high IQ’ morons, are actually incapable of rational thinking given that they expend their “intellect” into creating newer scams to do steal, abuse and kill others rather than elevating their own capabilities.
Most people tend to see humans as either ‘fallen angels’ or ‘risen apes’. I propose a third view, namely that humans (or at least the vast majority of them irrespective of intelligence) have more in common with poisonous and invasive weeds bent on choking and killing each other than anything that approaches sentient creatures. While I do not dispute that humans posses some degree of sentience and the ability to reason, any alien intelligence studying humans would correctly deduce that there is very little in human history or the present that suggests anything beyond a very limited use of those faculties.
It is especially ironic that the very humans who consider themselves ‘high IQ’ possess the most regressive and zero-sum ‘minds’ and exhibit the most bizarrely retrograde behaviors.
So what is the basis for my claim that those with ‘High IQ’ are the most regressive and parasitic humans. One of my older posts (What the Behavior of Physicians, Academics and Lawyers Says About IQ) talks about this at some length. The gist of my argument is that ‘high IQ’ people are selfish shysters who display extreme conformism and lie with every breath while slavishly worshiping tradition. They have no interest in any innovation that does further their cancerous motivations. If you don’t believe me, ask yourself- why didn’t all the struggles, wars, genocides and other changes in the entire history of human civilization not improve the life of the average person save the last hundred-odd years. I mean.. why did not all the empire building, agriculture, slavery, torture, murder and genocides throughout human history improve the lives of most people- even those who did all those things.
Isn’t that a lot of effort for essentially no gain?
The more delusional and ‘educated’ might say something about ‘thermodynamics’ and ‘availability of technology’. So let us dissect the argument that it was circumstances and not the nature of humans which led to a zero-sum world view. Once again, an older post by me (Why didn’t the Industrial Revolution start Earlier?) tackles this question and concludes with..
Maybe civilization is not about making things better for most people. Maybe it is about making things worse for most people. Maybe civilization is about impoverishing, killing, starving, abusing and torturing others. Maybe it is about depriving people of happiness and human decency. Maybe civilization, as we know it, is about a few getting lucky and screwing others just to feel a bit better about their own pathetic lives.
Let me give you one easy to understand example that illustrates my point. The western roman empire at its peak (100-200 AD) had the minds, size, organisational infrastructure and technological know-how to start the age of “enlightenment and discovery”. They possessed the necessary know-how to build concrete structures, centrally heated buildings and swimming pools, glass making and had a good grasp on mechanics and rudimentary chemistry which could have easily allowed them to build telescopes, microscopes, print books, build better cities, mine and burn coal, build machines that could replace or at least supplemented slave labor.
But did they do any of those things? No.. they just went on doing what they had done before. It is as if they could not imagine a world that was better than their own. Some of you might see this as cultural inertia and institutional rigidity- but was that really the case. The Romans certainly had no problem with changing emperors who lost popularity through assassinations nor did they have qualms about assimilating new religious ideas- so why were ideas on improving human existence so few and far between? Can you seriously say that no person in the roman empire ever considered the possibility of microscopic life-forms causing infectious diseases, methods to mass produce books or mine coal on a large scale? In contrast to that- new ideas about invisible buddies (new gods), new ways to kill and enslave other people (fight wars) and steal from others (unfair laws) found willing and enthusiastic audiences.
Remember that this occurred in an era when the effects of infectious diseases, poor sanitation and energy poverty dominated the lives of most people and affected even emperors. Yet the roman people and their leaders spent a lot of effort in creating bigger gladiatorial spectacles, building bigger arenas, bigger palaces, bigger walls, fighting bigger wars and generally expending their effort into things which did not improve their lives. It was if they were willing to do anything and everything as long as it did not make their lives better. But why? Is human stupidity, shortsightedness and the inertia of tradition sufficient to explain this behavior? In my opinion, the historical record of human civilization only makes sense if a significant majority of people are functionally closer to mindless poisonous and invasive weeds than sentient apes.
Cults, religions and ideologies should therefore be seen as pathetic justifications and self-rationalizations for acting like poisonous and invasive weeds.
The pseudo-rationalizations provided by belief systems are great for people who are too cowardly or somewhat ashamed to act as they really want to. Plus people are narcissistic and want to be seen as doing the ‘right’ thing even when they are not. Believing in ideological bullshit allows people to pretend that killing and robbing ‘unbelievers’ is an act of piety performed by a ‘good person’ rather than what it really is. It allows people following ‘orders’ to commit horrible acts and still maintain their self-image as decent ‘law-abiding’ human beings.
Some of you might still think that is possible to reason with people who have uncritical faith in any belief system. I believe that is not possible and possibly counterproductive since these people REQUIRE those belief systems to justify their sad and pathetic existence. The only way to really stop such people (and their progeny) is to make them disappear- forever.
What do you think? Comments?
As many of you know, my model of the human mind and psyche is based on a rather negative view of human beings. There are those who consider my views to be excessively pessimistic, but the course of events usually vindicates my model. With this in mind, let me tackle something that is rarely talked about in ‘polite’ circles.
What does the mental image of ‘god/s’ say about the human mind- especially as to how humans really perceive, think and feel about the world around them.
While I am an atheist, of the agnostic variety, my knowledge about various religions and religious-type belief systems is almost always superior to those who claim to practice them. With this in mind, here are some of my observations about commonalities of all belief systems based in blind and unquestioning faith.
Religions and similar belief systems are disturbingly similar- irrespective of the era of their origin or ethnicity of the people who practice them. There is not much difference between believing in faiths based on a burning bush, Kolob, Gaia or the invisible hand of the market. In each case, the ‘faithful’ are believing in something that is based on hearsay rather than something which can be measured or quantified. Belief in “credentialed experts”, “upstanding members of society” or the integrity of any profession is also a religion unless the belief can be objectively measured and quantified. Even believing in something like the social contract becomes a religious belief- if you cannot see it in action. We can therefore say that uncritical and unquestioning belief in anything is a religion, especially if people are unwilling or unable to test its authenticity.
But what about the ‘god’ or ‘gods’ that form an important part of the base narrative of all religions? What does their image, as portrayed by those belief system, say about us?
Look at the creation myths of any religion. Most of them go something like this- ‘X’ decided to create the universe and he/she/they did it through some anthropomorphic process. Even those religious faiths which accept the possibility that the universe might have just come into being spend inordinate amounts of time explaining why or how ‘god/s’ shaped things after creation. Here is my question- If you were an all-powerful and immortal being, would you really create anything at all? But lets say you did- Why create one particular version if you can create all possible versions?
In my opinion, the involvement of ‘god/s’ in creation myths is driven by a human desire to justify the existence of the physical reality they inhabit. The rationality of any given explanation is largely irrelevant to its purpose. Which brings us to the next question- Why do humans require justification for the existence of something that can be measured and quantified? How many of you have seen ‘god/s’ and how many of you can see the sun and moon? Do you require faith to believe that fire is hot or ice is cold? So why are humans obsessed with having a firm set of beliefs about how the universe came into being, or who controls it? The lives of humans are rather mundane and pathetic compared to what exist beyond our immediate surroundings- even on earth. People are born, they ‘live’ and they die- just like every other living organism. So why make up outrageous tales about how the universe was created? What is the advantage in claiming that you know the creator/s or his/her/their will? Would you disbelief in any creation story destabilize the universe? Why defend your version of the tall tale against a competing tall tale?
It comes down to celebrity name dropping and elevating your status through such an association.
Believing in any creation myth is no different from saying that you are childhood friends with a famous or powerful person. The best part of this particular scam is that nobody can verify if your famous or powerful buddy actually exists- and you can keep on pulling the scam on gullible rubes until you start doubting your own story. Belief in invisible but powerful buddies is however just the beginning of an elaborate shakedown scam, as you will soon see.
One of the other hallmarks of religions is that those believe in them anoint themselves as the ‘chosen people’. Throughout history- everybody from Hawaiian Islanders, Arabs, Jews, Western Europeans to Indians and the Han Chinese have believed that they alone were the ‘chosen people’. But what is the whole point of believing that you are among the ‘chosen ones’ if you are not better off than ‘infidels’ who believe in another god who has apparently told them that they (not your group) are the chosen people. It seems very fundamentally irrational- doesn’t it? especially given that your all-powerful but suspiciously absent pal cannot beat up the other one’s all-powerful pal. Why would grown adults believe in such utter and obvious crap?
It comes down to creating a justification for scam, theft, treachery, rape and murder.
The easiest way to get more of any physical good is to take it from someone else. But doing that to other individuals in your group might cause a lot of problems. They might stop cooperating with you and even kill you in an unguarded moment. However doing that to people outside your group is relatively much easier to get away with. Plus other members will often join in and assist your ‘actions’. Who does not want a share of the loot- even if it is unfairly distributed? Belief in a different invisible all-powerful celebrity is just an excuse to do what you really want to do in the first place. It is therefore no coincidence that the ‘god/s’ in almost all mythological narratives are portrayed as doing thing that are arbitrary, obviously cruel, grossly unethical and sometimes just plain bizarre. Contradictions in religious texts or narratives should therefore be seen as the result of appending the older fairy tale to justify a new type of crime. Apparently rewriting old narratives to make all stories coherent and tie up the loose ends is really hard.
The image of ‘god/s’ in each religious belief systems is therefore really a projection of the deepest desires of those who profess faith in that particular system.
Will write more about this topic in a future post. What do you think? Comments?
I was originally going to title this post- “On the mental inadequacies and deficiencies of whites, iranians and other assorted morons”. However that title would have been a bit too long and hard to read. Anyway, this post is my brief analysis of the contents of three threads on rooshvforum.com. They are:
Before we go any further, let us be clear about a few things.
Firstly- I do not dispute that the person who is the subject of those three threads is a troll. As some of you may know, people have been trolling the internet before Netscape 1.0 was released. I would go so far as to say that the presence of trolls is a good proxy for popularity of a website or bulletin board.
Secondly- while I prefer to pay for quality pussy, I do not have strong feelings about people who like spend their time trying to get it for “free”. If you believe that an average woman is more honest than a whore, I am quite happy to let you live in that delusion.
This post is not about ‘game’, travel sex, the “quality” of women of different ethnicities or the “deeper meaning” of life. It is about what the various posts in those three threads reveal about the mental inadequacies and deficiencies of whites, iranians, arabs and other assorted things. But before I start dissecting those threads- here a simple question.
Why are people interested in learning to pick up chicks for sex spending so much time talking about what Indian men are or are not?
I mean.. how does that discussing about that particular topic improve their odds of getting laid for “free”? Face it- commentators who frequent, and post on, that forum don’t exactly have a harem of chicks fighting over rights to have sex with them. In any case, it appears that the reason behind these threads is an old post by Roosh about the racial totem pole for dating in north america. While you may, or may not, agree with its premise- I see it as good an explanation as any about the racial dynamics of dating in north america. But that is not what resulted in three fairly long threads about some guy who was ‘trolling’ that forum. While I am not going to critique each and every message in those threads, I will give you a quick overview of what these “people” are saying in the first thread.
Gmac says on 05-06-2012 at 07:42 PM
Based on my own experience, indian (and east asian) guys are some of the most insecure, introverted men on the planet when they are out of their element (or country) – these are usually the guys who understand that stereotypes exist and can’t get over that fact. I’m not really surprised. Ah well, what can you do?
Sounds like an personal observation.. and that is fine by me.
Neil Skywalker says on 05-07-2012 at 04:24 AM
Most Indian guys i have met abroad were anti-social,very very cheap, nerdy,needy,creepy and very unhygienic. The ones in hostels were hated by most people there. I remember one in Sao Paulo who disgusted the whole hostel with his eating habits and how he left the toilets behind.
Hmm.. isn’t that odd. Surely a person of the commentator’s high sociability, big expense account and immaculate hygiene should have no problem getting chicks. So why is he on that forum? To be clear, I am not implying that all comments are unreasonable..
P Dog on 05-07-2012 at 08:54 AM
The thing is: brown guys put the pussy on the pedestal to the max. In that regard they blow any other group out of the water and this is especially more so for white girls. Meanwhile brown girls are just like Jewish and Persian girls in that they’re more status seeking and materialistic except they’re not as attractive (that’s not me being biased against other brown people, everybody here agrees that brown girls on the whole aren’t hot) which makes the attitudes they sport hard to put up with.
But for some reason, that thread (Indian troll in the wild) continues for 18 pages.. I cannot but help wonder why something as trivial as some guy trolling a forum would cause that sort of discussion. Anyway.. at some point in time Roosh started two more threads ( A private email from our favorite Indian and The Indian Race Troll revelaed) about the same guy. One of those threads supposedly has his ‘real’ photo.. though I suspect it is really more trollbait.
So how far has the troll succeeded in what he set out to show- namely, that north american society is seriously racist towards Indian guys?
After going through a few pages of comments in each thread, it is hard to deny that the attitudes and mindset demonstrated by Roosh and his followers in all three threads totally vindicate what the troll intended to show. The very fact that there are enough racist comments to fill over 29 pages (at last count) of the bulletin board shows that the troll had a valid point.
Now you can say whatever you want about his looks, actions or behaviors- but it is hard to deny that all of those would have been far smaller issues if he was white. You can also say that “life is unfair”, but then don’t complain when some Indian guy screws you over in business or at work.
What do you think? Comments?
To the moron who was trying to hack into this WordPress install, here are a few things you should know-
1] The login attempts limit is ‘ON’ by default.
2] I back up this blog two times very week- without fail.
3] Find someone less security conscious than me.
and now back to regular programming.
One of the more peculiar fetishes of the CONservative mind is it obsession with the world as it used to be. Somehow they believe that things, institutions and mores are good simply because they have ‘stood the test of time’. As some of you might realize, this is a form of circular reasoning whereby people justify something they want based on the belief that it used to always exist.
It is as if the prior existence of something, however undesirable, legitimizes its existence in the CONservative mind.
These disingenuous morons are however oddly selective about labeling something as good based on its prior existence. So according to them rule by assorted kings, nobility and hereditary elite is fine but living in cities without a functional sewage system is not. Given that the rise of greedy assholes and the poor sewage disposal are both consequences of urbanization and agriculture, why celebrate one but reform the other? Surely the best way to enjoy the former is to live in an era where half-starving people crap/piss everywhere and bathe once a month (or less).
But why stop there.. what about trying people for witchcraft and killing them? Since accusations of malicious witchcraft have been a part of human society for a few thousand years and across lines of race or religion, bringing back public trials for witchcraft should provide entertainment while maintaining a long-beloved tradition. Witch trials just fits in so well with slavery and indentured labor- practices which the USA is returning to anyway. While we are at it- What about rehabilitating Pederasty a most beloved institution of the greco-roman world which is supposed to the fountainhead of western ‘civilization’. Why let Afghan warlords have all the fun?
Then there is the issue of religion based wars. What was so wrong about crusades, jihads and other assorted religion-based wars? Since killing people because they believe in the ‘wrong’ voice in your head was OK for most of the last few thousand years, what is wrong in bringing such things back. We cannot forget mass murder based on race or ethnicity.. wasn’t that stuff very popular right into the last century. Or what about stealing land from other people? For all the talk of “property rights” and “western civilization” it is hard to imagine the world of today without the genocide of indigenous populations in the Americas and Australia.
What do you think? Comments?
In my previous post in this series, I had mentioned that the next one would be about how the rise of ‘free agents’. Now most of you might be wondering- “how can individuals get anything done?”
Throughout history, humans have primarily relied on collective actions to get things done. Even today most of you think that any ‘real’ change will require mass demonstrations, occupy type protests, wars or revolutions. I however think that we have reached a point where asynchronous individual actions are far more disruptive to the system than collective actions. But that is not my only objection to collective action being an effective agent of change.
The real problem with using collective action to achieve anything is that most human beings are dishonest cowards who will delude themselves into believing that are otherwise.
You might have noticed that mass movements, protests, wars and revolutions often replace one group of assholes with a marginally better versions of them. It is as if mass actions, for all the sacrifices of their members, fall far short of their goals. Conventional explanations for this phenomena talk about betrayal of the cause etc.. conveniently forgetting that all people who want to be leaders are remarkably alike.
You cannot replace one defective structure with another one based on the same basic plan and expect change.
Any real change requires destroying the defective structure without building a replacement. However most people will not do that because they are afraid of an uncertain future and will always choose a recycled shitty world over one that truly breaks from the past. But why do people choose a guaranteed shitty existence over a reasonable chance of change and/or nonexistence? Some of you might say that people are afraid of death, but that is only a partial explanation at best. Pretty much every human understands that they and their creations are mortal and perishable. Furthermore, we have no shortage of people who will indulge in activities and enter professions with a realistic chance of premature death.
So what has stops most people from destroying the system that makes their lives miserable?
To understand what I am going to talk about next, you have to start looking at human history and societies as a real outsider- almost an extraterrestrial alien. One of the most well-known, but often ignored, aspect of human beings is that they are social animals who require others of their kind to exist for reasons beyond basic needs. A lot of the stupid, bizarre and self-destructive behavior of humans only makes sense if you factor in the need to belong to a group.
But is this need to belong to a group independent of the result of previous efforts to do so?
Will you keep on going back to the same people who exploited your desire to belong? While people might continue trying to play nice with shitheads upto a point, everybody has a breaking point beyond which they have no interest in belonging to that group. It does not help that modern neo-liberal societies continuously try to abuse the desire to belong for short-term profits. Today belonging to almost any group or participating in any social institution is an act of stupidity as you will lose far more than you get from such interactions. You might have noticed that almost everything from marrying, buying and living in your own house, working hard to move up in life or belonging to any ‘real life’ social group is a big fucking waste of time with negative gains for the individuals who indulge in such activities.
We live in a ‘stranger’ society where everybody pretends to be friendly but is secretly to stab each other in the back- and we all know it. Social atomization is a rational response to living in a world where even your own kith and kin are almost guaranteed to betray you for negligible gains. We have reached a point where there is no reason for individuals to care about the effect of their actions on other people around them. Throughout most of history, people stopped acting out on their innermost desires for vengeance due to their concern about how society might perceive them. While that was rational in eras where at least a few people cared about you and would stand behind you, that is no longer the case.
The hope that restraint would be rewarded in this life, or the mythical next, is gone.
I would recommend that you read a series of articles (13 to date) tagged Hello from the Underclass at gawker.com about the personal stories of unemployed people in the USA. While that site is famous for tabloid type news and stories, this series about the chronically unemployed is probably one of the better attempts at serious journalism. One of the unspoken but recurring themes in the series is that many people never expected to end up like that or be treated by society and society as worthless pariahs. Almost all of these people are articulated, educated, with decent incomes and lifestyles for many years to decades and still ended up as virtual untouchables with no hope for the future.
A couple of years of chronic instability and utter neglect/abuse from people and institutions they believed in made them see the world in a very different light.
While such chronic instability and material deprivation is not new, its combination with an absence of a social support network is unprecedented. Furthermore, people are not capable of normalizing their condition by believing in the old bullshit.. I mean religion. It certainly does not help that a low birth rate greatly reduces the number of new suckers to use, abuse and exploit. Consequently a rapidly increasing number of people have become ‘free agents’ in that they have no loyalty, obligations or consideration for anybody but themselves. Periodic and recurring stints of unemployment and social ostracization only reinforce this realization.
So why do I find ‘free agents’ so interesting?
Well.. for one they are a rapidly increasing minority in modern societies. However my interest in them is linked to how they act under stress. Historically, societies could defend themselves against disgruntled but still ‘attached agents’ through a variety of means from fake hope to lying and treachery. However the information revolution has made many of these means obsolete as it is much easier for people to see that most humans beings are crap and hope is largely a scam. Social atomization has done the rest by ensuring that people who hate society and humanity in general can do so and easily reach extremely high levels of misanthropy.
To put it another way, we now live in a world with a rapidly increasing minority of people who are highly misanthropic, extremely cynical and devoid of expectations for a better future.
It does not take a genius to figure out that such people might be interested in ways to ‘repay society’ for all the things it had done for them. Given the numbers involved and the organization of modern societies, even a small number of people who ‘repay society’ will destabilize the system- even if such repayments are asynchronous.
But how can asynchronous behaviors by a few individuals destabilize large systems? The answer to that question lies in understanding how the response of society to such behaviors greatly amplifies the effect of the primary events and will be the subject of the next part of this series.
What do you think? Comments?
As I have stated in numerous previous posts, such as this one, there is really no way to fix human problems because they are largely self-inflicted and based on modes of behaviors that are irrational. You cannot fix what does not want to be fixed, but that does not mean you should let it keep on existing. I would like to tell you that there is a magical way to separate otherwise OK people from sociopaths, drones and assholes. But there isn’t such a method or algorithm nor could you implement any such strategy on a scale large enough to reliably rid the world of such people, their kids, grand-kids etc. But there is another way to approach this problem..
Make all humans disappear… the keyword is ALL.
Now you might be skeptical about whether something like that is even possible and more importantly feasible. I mean how do you get rid of people who want to live. Would they not try to do anything to keep on living? Ironically, it is possible to use this very willingness to live at any cost to make humans extinct.
But first let us understand what methods of making human disappear won’t work. Methods based on natural disasters, energy starvation, nuclear wars, comet strikes, epidemics (natural or artificial) might destroy entire civilizations but they are unlikely to reliably cause human extinction. They are also complicated, involve too much work and have single points of failure. The other problem with such methods is that an external threat might make human beings temporarily come together and find a way around that problem.
The best way to cause human extinction is to use certain features of the human psyche, present day society and technology to make things fall apart at an ever-increasing rate.
I am certainly not the first person to wish for human extinction. However I and others who wish that today have some advantages over those who wished something similar even 30 years ago. We now have many of the enabling conditions and technology to complete the job.
Those enabling conditions and technologies are:
1. A globalized and connected world where news, ideas and events spread in ways that are beyond the control of anybody. In previous eras, even the utter collapse of one civilization would often not transmit to another on a different continent. Today we can daisy-chain the whole process and use one node to amplify the damage at another node (and so on) till the whole thing comes apart.
2. In previous eras people could not act on their worst impulses because they were part of some social structure or order around them. Today, we have a rapidly increasing number of people who have no real connection to the society around them nor any hope of benefiting from playing by the rules- and they know it.
3. Our societies, in-person behaviors, customs and expectations are still based in a world that used to exist. We still act as if the social changes and technological possibilities which have occurred over the last few decades had no real impact on who we are. While living in a previous era can work for some time, the shift underlying realities will ultimately interrupt the trip.
4. We have run out the spare human beings! In previous eras, it was possible to cover all sorts of horrible things and mistakes with a new crop of naive humans. Today, you can no longer do that and that affects the amount of bullshit a society can get away with before experiencing irreversible collapse.
5. Newer technological possibilities and older socio-economic mores have made it easier to put some space between us and the damage we cause. Today a billionaire, celebrity, CEO, manager, lawyer, bureaucrat or doctor can cause far more damage without a realistic threat of immediate retribution. Since human beings, especially the ‘clever’ ones, are the most short sighted- the lack of immediate retribution can make people cause far more damage than they had originally intended.
It is relatively easy to make people do something that can start a whole series of secondary and tertiary events whose eventual impact is far more than the primary event.
But how can one translate that into initiating a process which will eventually, but certainly, destroy all humans. Now I fully understand that almost nobody would willingly take part in something along those lines- if they saw it like that. But why advertise it as such? I am not suggesting that lying is the way forward, but what if you presented it in a way that appealed to the needs (rational/irrational) and ego of human beings.
Almost every human being desire to keep on living is linked to some combination of external validation, social acceptance, respect from others, power over others, ability to harm others, make others suffer etc.
Now all of these reasons are not truly rational- even at our current level of technology and knowledge. But then again, human beings are not rational. This is especially true for those who pretend to be “intelligent”, “rational” and “objective”. A truly rational human would spend all of their waking hours trying to get away from the slow-motion disaster also known as the rest of humanity. Therefore I do not expect the very few truly rational human beings will care about what I am talking about- one way or the other.
My idea relies on using the consequences of social atomization and mass personal communication mixed in with simple probability to create a set of circumstances that will elicit a disproportionate and increasingly counterproductive reaction from the rest of people. Fortunately developments within the last two centuries, and especially the last few decades, have made my task much easier than it would otherwise have been.
In the next part of this series, I shall discuss the single most important social phenomena that will allow my vision to prevail- the rise of the ‘free agent’.
What do you think? Comments?
My previous posts on social atomization focus on its large-scale effects on society. But what about the so-called “elites”? Are they not adversely affected by social atomization? Or does it benefit them to the detriment of others?
I believe that the so-called “elites” do suffer the consequences of social atomization, in more ways than one. However their position in society allows them to temporarily insulate themselves from its worse effects- without changing the final outcome.
Let me start by pointing out two odd and interlinked features of present-day “elites” all around the world. Unlike their predecessors throughout recorded human history, they have very few kids and they work even when doing so is not essential and damaging to their ability to enjoy life. The kings, emperors, warlords, high priests, landowners and rich merchants of previous eras used their ill-gotten resources to eat, drink, fornicate and party till they dropped. Today their equivalents go to great lengths to keep on “working hard” and generally act and look like faceless rich drones. Most of the “elites” today are involved in shitty low-sex marriages and generally under the thumb of one or a series of aging miserable cunts who drain their money and sap their happiness. Few of them have more than a kid or two, who generally turns out to be mediocre at best.
So how do you explain people worth billions of dollars living such pathetic lives, when they have the resources to do have much better lives?
The sophists among you might claim that they choose this pathetic lifestyle because it is morally superior, indicative of ‘high IQ’ or long-term priorities. However “elites” throughout human history have always been opportunistic sociopaths who got lucky, and the same is true today. Nor is it due to the present being a “meritocracy” since merit plays a minor role in determining your “place” in society. Furthermore, humans beings don’t live forever so anything that occurs after your death is inconsequential. In my opinion, the progressively odd behavior of “elites” over the last 200 years cannot be explained by invoking conventional explanations such as the ones given above.
I believe that the direct and indirect effects of social atomization are behind the increasingly peculiar behavior and lifestyle choices of the so-called “elites”.
So how did I come up with this explanation? What drove me to associate social atomization with anhedonic behavior? The answer lies in first being honest about what motivates people as opposed to what makes them happy. While we like to believe that the same factors which motivate people also make them happy- that is often not the case. Fear of status loss, fear of material loss, desire to dominate and hurt others are often the strongest motivators. However going down that road takes you away from any chance at achieving any worthwhile degree of happiness or satisfaction with your life. Some morons might see happiness and satisfaction as the desires of an “inferior” and “unambitious” mind, yet they cannot explain the self-utility of a “hard workers” effort after his death.
Any conscious action which lacks self-utility is well.. stupid. If it does not make you happier, “better off” or keep you alive till the next realistic chance at escape- why are you doing it?
Which brings us the question of why “elites” live increasingly pleasure-less lives. To understand the reasons behind this change one has to first appreciate how “elites” become “elites”. In the past, people became “elites” because they were born to the right parents at the right time. They justified their position in society by claiming that they descended from gods or were chosen by gods- and used religion and greedy priests to support their claims. Those who challenged them were usually murdered- though sometimes the challengers murdered the previous “elites” and replaced them. To put it another way, their position in society could not survive even a marginally literate populace with a basic level of critical thinking. Which is why the enlightenment and the effects of the industrial revolution made it hard for the old “elites” to remain relevant, let alone command power or respect. They were ultimately replaced by the new “elites” who justified their position in society by claiming “merit”. While there was some truth to that claim, it did not justify the level of social inequality that exists and used to exist. However there was another little noticed side effect of this shift- loss of social cohesion among the “elite”.
Throughout history “elites” have defended their power through collusion with people related to them. Doing so was very easy in previous eras when you could fill all the important posts in your fiefdom with your progeny and relatives. But it is much harder to pull that off today because intense competition and the lack of good extended family protection means that conventional nepotism will almost certainly cause loss of status, money and dimunition of the ability to dominate/hurt others.
Today people have to work hard or put up a convincing appearance of hard work to justify their “elite” status- even if doing so is a losing proposition at multiple levels.
Therefore they cannot do stuff that would actually make them happy. Nor can they allow other “elites”, with whom they don’t share any deep personal bond, to do something that would make them happy. The “elites” now have more in common with a bunch of brain-damaged dogs who hate each other and are constantly fighting each other in a conflict that no one can win. Yet, they would rather prefer to keep on fighting over who is top dog than come to some form of agreement and live in relative peace and enjoy life- because nobody can trust nobody else. Even the “elites” are too atomized to act as a coherent entity.
Consequently they spend all their waking hours on posturing and fighting an unending war, rather than enjoying a relaxing and luxurious life. It does not take a genius to figure out why such people also have few, or often no, kids. On the bright side, social atomization has finally made the lives of the “elites” almost as miserable as the people they dominate and abuse every single day.
What do you think? Comments?
The last two years have seen a flurry of posts about why ‘Gen Y’ is not that interested in cars. In a previous post, I had summarized my views on that topic as-
The lack of interest in cars (and automobiles in general) by Gen-Yers is the rational result of a combination of long-term trends and the profit hungry short-sighted mindset which characterizes the later stages of capitalism.
While that post listed and briefly explained the main long-term trends that make autos less desirable, it did not really go into the other part of the problem (short-sighted capitalism) in any worthwhile detail. So let us fix that..
Evangelists of capitalism and its numerous minor flavors such as free-market capitalism, libertarianism, fascism, corporatism etc keep on telling us that capitalism is self-correcting. But what does such “self-correction” lead to? Do social or economic systems really have a stable equilibrium? While we can certainly engage in sophistic arguments about what capitalism is or isn’t; such talk is no different from trying to say that soviet- and mao-style communism wasn’t “real” communism.
I am going to use the response of contemporary society and its institutions to the “new car owner crisis” to demonstrate that capitalism-based systems are not self-correcting. Indeed, they have a very strong tendency to destroy themselves and damage the underlying social fabric.
The responses of car companies to this emerging crisis comes in two forms-
a1. Trying to find new car owners in emerging markets such as China, Brazil, Russia and India. They hope that they can get enough new customers to make up for the stagnation and decline in western countries. While the idea is not without merit, it assumes that whatever is causing the crisis in developed countries won’t occur in these emerging markets. While that assumption might have had some merit a few decades ago, that is no longer the case and trends from female fertility, rates of marital discord and other socio-economic trends spread much faster today than they used to. But let us ignore that for a moment and move on to the next response.
a2. They are hiring “trend consultants” and “designers” to create “hip” and “quirky” cars that will hopefully appeal to ‘Gen Y’. While doing so will make a few consultants wealthy, it does not address why things have gone downhill. Designing “hip” cars is about giving the appearance of action. It is similar to putting a colorful band-aid on a cut artery or giving aspirin to a person suffering from a serious infection. In both cases, it allows people to shield themselves from accusations of inaction.
The auto-makers response seems to be a combination of abandoning ship and casting spells to entice new car buyers. What about the government? Are they any better?
Now you might think that people in the government would be interested in keeping the status quo, if only to ensure the continuity of their scams. While they are aware of the potentially disastrous effects of declining rates of car ownership and use on their bottom line, it is apparent that they cannot get their shit together and act rationally. But why not?
b1. A government is a ever-morphing collection of scamsters and vested interests- just like any corporation. While the older version of this institution (from 1935 to say 1985) had some interest in ensuring their future through keeping the underlying society healthy, the newer version is full of rent-seekers. The governments of developed countries are now largely made up of factions and groups that have absolutely no interest in solving problems or building a better future. Indeed, they try hard to create more problems and opportunities to use legal coercion to collect rent. Consequently they spend most of their time trying to collect more and ever larger traffic tickets, build toll roads in preference to public access roads, and write rules and regulations to makes car ownership more expensive and onerous.
b2. Another factor that affects the government’s ability to respond meaningfully is that they employ an ever-increasing number of people to regulate and micromanage rather than do something useful. While this trend was a response to decreasing opportunities for employment in the private sector due to capitalism, it has created lobbies and cliques that want to justify their jobs, expand their domains and abuse others. While doing that is equivalent to killing the goose that laid the golden eggs, most people are too short-sighted to think (let alone act) otherwise.
OK, so the government is solidly into rent-seeking and kicking the can down the road. But what about society in general? How are people trying to address the problem?
c1. The first and most predictable response is denial as most humans believe that reality requires their explicit consent to manifest itself. The strategies to deny this particular problem range from seeing it as good for the environment, a sign of the end of suburbia to seeing it as a reversion to the mean of ‘impoverished’ existence. While I have hate suburbs, I can see that they were about reestablishing racial and economic segregation. Cars just made the process a whole lot easier. The aggregate sum of the pollution caused by cars pales in comparison to that put out by coal powered electric generation in China. Furthermore, comparing our age with any previous one in human history is as meaningless as comparing a fish to a rat.
c2. Then there are those who hope and pray for a second coming of job based prosperity. But is that possible in a world where automation and machines increasingly do most important jobs? Face it, most jobs today are about scamming, bullshitting, zero-sum competition to do tasks that have a net negative utility to society. We can pretend that jobs in education, law, medicine, management, human resources, sales and other sectors are about creating a better world. But is it true? It is also important to understand that automation, technology and machines are increasingly replacing human labor in even these areas.
c3. We cannot also forget the CONservative, and often older, subhumans who try to convince everyone that they are lucky to alive as slaves. These are often the same asswipes who never try of telling others how they bought and worked on their first beater in the 1960s and 70s. They conveniently miss out the part about relatively stable jobs, low (or no) student debt and living under a less predatory version of capitalism. Some of you see such behavior and beliefs as an example of a simple misunderstanding, but I do not. Many of the morons who exposure such beliefs are just greedy cynics who believe that they are ageless and immortal.
Did you notice something common to every major point in this article? Institutions and people are letting boundless greed, delusional beliefs and absolute self-interest rule their very existence. Some many say that doing so is human nature, but is it just human nature? Isn’t that how capitalism really works?
What do you think? Comments?
I had once written a post suggesting that the real reason behind the lack of communication with extra-terrestrial beings has a lot to do with the fact that humans are primitive and unstable scum who revel in zeros-sum contests of no particular significance. It is unlikely that any sane trans-human intelligence would reveal its presence to humans, let alone interact with them.
The sad reality is that humans, especially the “civilized” type, are too delusional and fucked up to transcend their pathetic existence.
Every large-scale attempt by human beings to transcend their sad existence is either based on outright delusions and lies (traditional religions) or clever rationalizations (capitalism, communism.. any -ism) of their zeros-sum mentalities. It seems that humans in large groups are incapable of being anything other than psychotic apes. There are those who believe that human beings can change for the better. My observations of human beings suggest otherwise. Furthermore, it is simply far easier to get rid of all human beings than try to reform them.
Achieving human extinction is easy since people throughout human history have spent most of their ingenuity at finding better ways to con, steal from, abuse and kill each other. However, for most of that history people also lacked the means and opportunity to do so. Today we have much better technology to kill each other and a far more fragile socio-economic system. Of course, I am not suggesting that one could openly recruit people to kill each other till the last human is dead. Most people would not participate in something so upfront.
The trick is to give humans very useful tools and technologies that will cause their downfall.
You have to understand that most human beings are driven by ego, greed, status seeking and sadism. They have no interest in uplifting themselves in a manner that does not involve screwing over someone else. You just have to give people the means to engage in intractable and continuously evolving conflict.
Give people the means to destabilize the lives of others in a milieu of social atomization, and make sure that every group and individual can screw over every other group individual.
Such enabling technologies and behaviors can be disguised with appeals to ego, “profit” and vanity. While a minority of non-delusional people will see through such traps, human history suggest that most will not. Indeed, the majority will create new ideologies, belief systems and hierarchies that celebrate their own downfall. Even serious setbacks and damage will not stop them for destroying themselves as each shrinking group of survivors will think they are that much closer to claiming the “grand prize”.
Some of you might wonder if the not-totally nuts minority might spoil such a scheme. However human history suggests that human ego, greed, status seeking and sadism will always win over rationality. The dominance crazed majority will most likely persecute and kill those who points out the flaws in their designs, because most people have fragile egos and tons of insecurities.
What do you think? Comments?
In my previous post about the negative effects of ideological and other mental filters on the accuracy of predictions, I said the following-
Of course, all predictions are also based on the continued existence of human beings in a familiar biological and social form.
Almost every single person who makes a prediction or hears about one makes the implicit and largely subconscious assumption that human beings and civilization will continue to exist in a form not too different from the one around us right now. I call this assumption the ‘hidden precondition of continuity’.
It might seem rational to assume that people similar to us will exist in the near, if not the distant, future. However this belief is based on what occurred in the past. If we go back even further in the past, it is apparent that many now extinct creatures were around for far longer than us. Even Neanderthals were around for atleast half a million years, before they became extinct or were assimilated by anatomically modern humans. Trilobites thrived and diversified for around 300 million years before disappearing within a very short time, right down to the last sub-species. Megalodon, a very successful species of shark big enough to make the one depicted in ‘Jaws’ look puny in comparison survived for almost 28 million years. Then there is the case of theropod dinosaurs which dominated the terrestrial world for over 200 million years, constantly adapting to changing conditions and filling new ecological niches until something happened and caused their extinction.
A history of success and positive trends is no guarantee to continued existence in the future, let alone success.
While extraneous forces and events could always human extinction, either directly or indirectly, there is another class of scenarios. Humans might willingly or unwittingly evolve into something else, even something that is not quite biological in nature. Would a human derived entity or “species” that could exist in a multitude of forms, biological, augmented or otherwise, be anything like us? Would they care about jobs, work ethic, a suburban house, an ivy league education or even sex in the manner we do? Would a society of such entities be driven by anything even close to the social dynamics that drives contemporary human societies? Would they even have a society as we understand it?
But why go that far.. how many of the 20-30 something guys today are similar to their contemporaries a generation ago? Can you really say that exposure to a diversity of views on the internet, very negative experience with corporatism and feminism, the availability of ubiquitous HQ porn and social atomization has not changed them?
Once we agree that they are different, the next question is- how much? While I am not suggesting that Gen-Y men are a new species, it is quite clear that a significant and growing minority of them cannot be modeled by extrapolating existing assumptions about human behavior and society. While we could wish away the impact of such a change if the population was growing at a faster rate or the world was still a happy and optimistic place, that is not the case.
However all social systems depend on the type of human beings they are optimized for being and remaining the absolute majority.
While societies go to great lengths to maintain the status quo and create or bully people into becoming the type of human being that system is optimized for, they are powerless against large-scale changes. Nor are they willing to accept those changes and adapt to them. Indeed, a retreat into orthodoxy and tradition is the most common and consistent reaction to systemic changes which threaten the status quo.
What do you think? Comments?
It seems that we can hardly go a week without some quiet, lonely and otherwise law-abiding guy shooting up a few people. Such mass shootings have created an outcry among morons who think that guns kill people. There is however considerable evidence that killing lots of people without guns is actually quite easy, if the persons doing it is so determined. Moreover there are excellent contemporary examples, such as the ongoing drug wars in Mexico, that show the inefficacy of legal gun control in preventing people from acquiring guns.
Now I don’t know whether these weekly mass-shootings will become more frequent (likely) or deadlier (somewhat less likely), but that discussion is best saved for another post. But there is another and far more interesting trend that I predict will emerge regardless of whether lawmakers try to pass more restrictive laws about gun ownership. I have partially tackled this issue in a previous post.
People who are unhappy with the system, and see no viable future, will increasingly kill others through means that are not gun or explosive linked.
If you think about it, guns are actually a pretty inefficient means for killing lots of people. There is a whole series of logistic issues starting with how many people you can reliably kill until your guns jam or other armed people intervene. The medical treatment of gunshot wounds has improved considerably and almost all those who don’t die until they receive medical care will survive. Under most conditions you can expect anywhere from 5-40 deaths per incident and maybe double the number of wounded people. In my opinion, it is not too efficient and lacks plausible deniability.
Many other methods are far more efficient and have the advantage of plausible deniability. For example: it is hard to ascertain whether a low level health-care worker who administered the wrong drug, forgot to prevent cross-contamination or acted in any other manner which results in the death of many patients is malicious or just incompetent. Similarly a worker in a meat processing plant whose actions allows millions of tons of highly contaminated meat from entering the food supply killing dozens of kids in a horribly painful way can always plead incompetence or poor training. A low-level guy in a company that makes or packages medicines whose actions cause entire batches of medicines to be contaminated or poisonous can always plead incompetence and bad direction from superiors. The same goes for underpaid and unhappy people running machines and systems whose malfunction can directly and indirectly kill scores of people and cause billions, if not trillions, in secondary and tertiary damage.
Ultimately all complex human systems depend on the non-human components to be well maintained and run by people who do a good job and are proactive. But you cannot motivate people to do that (beyond a few years) by putting a gun to their head or otherwise constantly threatening them with poverty and hunger. This is especially true in an age when even poor people do not have enough extra kids to play against each other or use as fuel or disposable for capitalism. Furthermore the complexity and inter-connectedness of our systems is so great, and redundancy so low, that seemingly small incidents of bad faith could easily amplify and destabilize the whole system.
It is far easier to stop a guy with a gun, than one who is using his trusted position and knowledge of a system to destabilize it in a lethal way.
The current levels of unemployment and underemployment in youth combined with social atomization and the general loss of faith in the ability of society to fulfill its end of the deal make the widespread emergence of such behavior a matter of when, not if.
What do you think? Comments?
I will begin by asking a simple, yet often ignored, question which has an odd connection with the title of this post.
What are we referring to when we use the word “I”?
As many of you already know, I have no inclination or desire to engage in sophistic arguments about what different religions, philosophies or ideologies have to say about the nature of the self. A mode or regime of thought which cannot achieve anything worthwhile beyond empty debate is utterly worthless and delusional- whether it is Buddhism or Christianity. Moreover you do not have to believe in any particular school of thought to use and understand the concept of self.
So, is “I” a property of the body or the mind?
A person who has lost multiple limbs or received organ transplantation is still the same person and retains the previous self-identity. Since the mind and hence all mental processes such as self-identity are resident in the brain, you could say that “I” is partially a property of the brain. However, a brain under deep anesthesia while alive and functional does not posses self-identity.
Self-identity is an emergent property of one or more states of brain function.
Therefore pretty much everything and anything you do to remain alive is linked to the continued survival of those states of brain activity. Even the so-called higher functions of consciousness such as desire, ambitions and aspirations exist to serve a few states of brain activity. But there is an odd facet to being aware of your own self.
Humans are also aware that they are mortal.
So how do humans reconcile awareness of their own inevitable death and the conflicting need for their ‘self’ to keep on surviving? A few just ignore it and go on, but most try to compensate for the inevitable demise with their physical form by creating something that will outlast them. This takes many forms- from having children, organized religion, art and architecture, wars and nation building, exploring the world , creating new knowledge etc. But doing all of these things requires a seldom discussed but crucial precondition.
People must believe that their actions have a reasonably good chance of success.
Since it is hard to measure success after death, people have to rely on proxy indicators that their actions are in the right direction and not in vain. The lives of those who have lived before you are the commonly used and important proxy indicators for the success of your own actions. Therefore people who have seen their parents become more affluent through hard work are far more likely to follow a similar path and approach to life than those whose parents have become poorer over the years inspite of hard work. Similarly, people who have been part of functional families where grandparents are cared for by their own kids (parents) are far more likely to keep that tradition going when their own parents reach that stage of life. Most people will therefore keep the system running as long as it delivers a reasonable chance at non-corporal immortality and sense of purpose to life.
Our concern for the long survival of humanity is therefore dependent upon the belief that doing so helps us achieve non-corporal immortality.
For thousands of years, the majority bought into the whole premise of non-corporal immortality for a number of reasons. Firstly, it offered a sense of purpose and reason for living under conditions that were frankly pretty shitty. Then there was the lack of rational schools of thoughts or open debate and doing something because everybody else was doing it seemed like the easiest course of action. However the most important reason for maintaining the status quo was that it often worked and provided enough of the basic needs and incentives for people to keep on going.
So what happens when the system fails to deliver enough of the basic needs and incentives? What happens when it is seen as the obstacle to doing so?
Now, you might think that the system is delivering because ‘average’ people can check Facebook updates on iPhones, get fresh looking vegetables at the supermarket or buy a 3 dollar chicken sandwich from some fast food restaurant. But is that really the case? Are we not confusing shitty simulacra to satisfy urgent necessities with real needs and incentives? If these simulacra were sufficient, why are so many people dissatisfied with their lives? Why are so many people living by themselves? why are husband-wife and parent-child bonds so weak? Why do we prefer to check twitter updates and Reddit posts over talking a bit more to people we have sex with? Some of you might see such behaviors as “inevitable” consequence of people getting more affluent or something along those lines. I see them as strong evidence that people are actively disengaging from “civilization” because it is not satisfying the needs of the “I” within them.
Throughout human history “civilization” always tried to satisfy the needs and desires of “I” to remain viable. However a series of technological and social changes has resulted in a rapidly increasing divergence between the two to the extent that the “I” within each of us perceives “civilization” as the problem and not the solution. While “civilization” has the power of apparent numbers and inertia, it cannot win a conflict in which its supporters simply choose to gradually disengage and stay away. You cannot have a party if nobody shows up or barely talks with each other.
We now have a society full of people who are very aware that they is no real purpose or meaning in their existence, nor any reason to contribute to it in any meaningful manner.
What do you think? Comments?
Have you ever wondered why Chinese, Indians and Italians are generally less honest than Germans, Swedes or even Russians? Some of you might think that this difference is somehow linked to latitude, amount of sunlight in winter or genes. I have a different theory based on an old observation-
The general level of honesty prevalent in any group of people is inversely proportional to the time their ancestors lived under a large, centralized and highly hierarchical state based on violent coercion.
The first “civilizations” (aka ponzi schemes) started in the lower (and warmer) latitudes. Therefore parts of the world such as the Middle-East, Mediterranean Coast, Mesoamerica, India, Egypt, China had towns, cities and large kingdoms a few thousand years before anything comparable arose in Northern and Western Europe. It is my belief that the development of “civilizations” based on intensive and static agriculture based under a centralized and hierarchical regime is the single biggest reason behind the widely varying level of dishonesty across different cultures.
Here is why-
Humans beings have lived as hunter-gatherers for most of their history as a species. For all its supposed faults, this particular life-style had some major advantages over those of people in ALL pre-industrial agricultural societies. Apart from a low incidence of malnutrition and endemic infectious diseases, these societies had a very shallow hierarchy and those at the top of that hierarchy were in the same boat as their followers. Coupled with the inability to accumulate and transmit wealth over generations, these groups were remarkably free of people who were dishonest to their followers. Even the introduction of transient and semi-permanent agriculture did not change this situation to a significant extent.
Then large-scale static agriculture happened.
While this mode of food production and social organization had many differences from its predecessors; I am going to concentrate on one of those differences- effect on settlement size. While previous groups of humans rarely exceeded a few thousands, static and intensive agriculture allowed that number to routinely reach into the tens or hundreds of thousands. The leaders of such large groups (first kingdoms) were increasingly able to isolate themselves from their followers and potentially exploit them in ways that were hitherto not possible. The need to administer and efficiently exploit such groups also necessitated the development of needlessly complex and ‘tall’ hierarchies with all sorts of sociopath-friendly laws and regulations.
So here is my question- What type of personality would gain power in a very hierarchical society with many laws and regulations?
The answer is obvious, but seldom discussed in “polite” society. Such socio-economic systems would select, concentrate and reward people with significant sociopathic tendencies. This unnatural concentration of sociopaths near the lever of power has two knock on effects.
1. To survive under such a regime people would adopt the behavior and attitudes of their “elites”. Therefore such societies would quickly become cesspits of backstabbing, treachery and generalized dishonesty.
2. If sociopaths are successful and sociopathy is partly inherited- it is possible that older civilizations might have a higher percentage of sociopaths just because more offspring of sociopaths survive and attain power.
Now you might wonder- Is it possible to reverse dishonesty in cultures? The answer is.. Yes with one caveat. The process of doing that is kinda messy and involves destroying all major institutions (and their members) in a given society which translates into about 10-20% of the population. Only a fairly deep social reset, be it through natural disasters, war, or internal collapse can reliably make a society less sociopathic.
What do you think? Comments?