Growing up, I was always a bit different.. OK.. a lot different. Most of it came down to how I perceived, or mentally modeled, the world around me. This alternate model the world in turn affected how I saw the actions and behaviors of other people around me.
Case in point- As a child, I was unable to understand why most people had such strong, yet almost always unreciprocated, obsessions about celebrities. I also found it odd that most people were so enthusiastic about belonging to groups or institutions that either did not care about them or cynically used them as slaves or worse. Similarly the ability of ideologies (religious and secular) to repeatedly attract millions or billions of faithful followers without delivering on their promises in an objectively verifiable manner made me question the ability of most people to think rationally.
In contrast to that, I never cared much about what people who were not helpful to me thought about me. I was also unable to obsess about the lives of sport-stars, musicians, actors or other “famous” people. I never felt the need to ‘truly’ belong to any groups or institutions. I just could not commit myself to any cause or ideology. That is not to say I was ignorant or oblivious of the world around me. I was very well-informed about what others thought about me and had a better understanding of current affairs, trivia and ideologies than pretty much anyone around me. Nor was I oblivious to the supposed benefits of group or institutional membership.
Yet I was unable to care about any of that stuff beyond the level necessary to be appear normal.
Some might see this as lack of drive, motivation, positive-thinking or any of the other fairy tales most people keep telling themselves. I, however, saw things differently. From my viewpoint, people who exhibited “mainstream” behavior were the real suckers and morons. But how did I come to this conclusion? and why did I reach it at a much younger age than most who eventually get there?
Well.. It comes to careful observations.
I realized early on, by looking at the lives of people around me, that being kind and helpful to people was almost never rewarded- especially on a quid-pro-quo basis. Now one can certainly extend this observation and decide to become ‘extra’ evil and manipulative, but maintaining minimal and very conditional connections to others is a far more effective and practical response to living in a generally unreciprocative world. Face it.. we live in societies where even ‘close’ relatives and friends are unlikely to help you in any substantial way. So what is the point of caring about, assisting or even spending time with them? Do you really think people spend all that time on FB, Twitter or watching TV because they are somehow magically addictive?
I simply understood this fact much earlier than most. It also helps to be born in an age where technology finally made it possible to reduce personal contact with useless or malevolent people without becoming too lonely.
Then there is the issue of how most people spend lots of time following the lives of “celebrities” or trying to somehow get into their inner circles. Even as a child, I could never understand why so many people worshiped movie stars or sportsmen. What is the point of caring so much about people you will almost never meet, let alone reciprocate it? But where does one draw the line between enjoying the performance of an actor or musician and going into the hero-worship or obsession mode? In my opinion, something like say.. trying to find more information or material by some performer on IMDB or YouTube, is about personal entertainment. However buying a product or service because some celebrity endorsed it or wearing a jersey to express support for some sports team clearly crosses the line into unrequited hero-worship.
My cynicism about group and institutional membership was also based on what I saw as a child. It was obvious to me, even then, that most members of groups or institutions never benefited from their commitment, effort or sacrifices for the “greater good” of those groups or institutions. In almost every single case, a small percentage of people at the top of those groupings took away almost all of the gains obtained through the hard work and sacrifices of their rank-and-file members. We can see this dynamic all around us in groups and institutions as diverse as non-profit organisations, small businesses, large corporations and universities to the armed forces of modern nation states. I would go so far as to say that the “normal” mode of operation for pretty much every single type human grouping or institution is identical to a ponzi scheme.
Let us now move on to the topic of religions, ideologies and other belief system. Once again, I was never able to understand how anybody could believe in something as ridiculous as a god that cared about human beings. I mean.. look around you. Do you see any evidence of a trans-human entity or entities that gives a damn about human, animal or any other kind of suffering or pain? Does believing in god improve the materiel quality of your life? Does it feed the hungry? Does it cure the sick? Does it make you a “better” human being? Does it address or correct obvious injustice? I could go on.. but you get the point- belief in god or gods does not achieve anything for true believers. It can however provide a cushy livelihood for priests and provide a justification for looting those who believe in other invisible sky-dudes or dudettes.
Secular religions, such as capitalism, provide another and more modern example of this phenomena. Why are those who slave for, yet never benefit from, capitalism its most ardent and vocal supporters? Why are people getting ass-fucked by the invisible hand of the “free market” often its biggest cheerleaders? Why are all those white knights who support feminism and defend the honor of women not getting laid? Conversely, why are those who support a return to traditional masculine values so eager for female approval, even if comes from a chubby and mentally unstable groupie?
So.. did you notice a common theme running through all of the examples mentioned in this post?
OK.. let me spell it out. In every single example, the majority of people seem to enthusiastically keep on doing something they “know” will benefit them- inspite of a wealth of evidence and repeated reminders that it won’t or is incapable of doing so. So what drives the majority to people to keep on doing something that does not work or cannot deliver on its promise? Are they all suffering from permanent brain damage? Or is something else behind this odd pattern of behavior?
I believe that the answer to this apparent paradox lies in understanding the nature of loyalty and its linkage to the human urge to hurt others even when doing so is not profitable.
I shall explore this issue in an upcoming post.
What do you think? Comments?
This post continues from the previous one in this series and exposes the very deep roots of human self-delusion about their real motivations. Let us start with a very topical example. We are now nearing the “official” start of the holiday season. It is therefore almost certain that you will encounter multiple requests to donate to some charity, food-bank or some organisation that claims to help the less fortunate. Some of you might even give some money or resources to such outfits, if only to make yourself feel “better”.
But have you ever wondered why charity is necessary in this day and age?
While that might sound like an odd question to many, it is probably one of the most important rational question people never ask themselves. Charity makes sense if we lived in an era of real scarcity or resource limitations. But do we live in such an era? Look around you.. Are we constrained by technology or resources in our ability to produce, store and distribute enough food? What about houses or automobiles? What about computers and other gadgets? What about medicines?
The resources and technology to provide a very good lifestyle to every single person on this earth have been around for the last 4-5 decades.
Why do we still have public drives to fill food-banks with semi-toxic crap that nobody wants to eat? Why do department stores sponsor food-bank drives yet routinely throw away much more food of far better quality? Would it not be more rational to just give away good food to those who cannot afford it? How does giving away food that will never be sold affect the profitability of the corporations that run department stores? It is not like we live in times where every woman had 8-9 kids. So what is going on?
A partial answer to this question can be found in understanding the true implications of a news item that recently garnered some attention on the intertubes. You might have read that Walmart was soliciting donations to a foodbank intended to feed its own employees. The slightly neglected part of this news story is that they were soliciting these donations from their own employees. Yes.. you heard that right! Walmart was trying to get its own slightly better-paid employees feed its not-so-well paid employees.
But why can’t Walmart pay its employees well enough to shop at their own stores? It is not as if they are running that corporation at a loss. Nor are the multi-billion dollar fortunes of “Walmart Heirs” in any imminent danger of diminishing. I should also add that their stock is not generally bought or held with expectations of high growth. And where does all that money they don’t pay their employees end up anyway? It is clearly not being recirculated in the general economy and is therefore a net loss to the system.
Walmart is clearly not behaving like the rational profit- and future- obsessed entity that shills.. I mean “economists”.. claim it (and other corporations) are. It is maximizing its very short-term gains through deception and manipulation even if doing so destroys its future customer base.
My point is that the operational model of Walmart, and every other corporation and most businesses, is almost identical to those of cancer cells and viruses. Yet they pretend to be the very embodiment of normality. But why, for whom and to what end? The first part of that question, the ‘why’, is the easiest to answer. They behave the way they do to keep on doing what they are doing- from parasitizing society to avoiding detection and removal. The answer to the next part, the ‘for whom’, is slightly less obvious. While the continued existence of corporations such as Walmart clearly benefits their major shareholders, being rich beyond a certain level lacks positive utility.. To put it another way- being a billionaire cannot make you incredibly handsome, wildly desirable by women (or men), ageless or immortal. And this brings us to the third part of that question- to what end?
Towards the end of my previous post in this series, I made two claims.
1] Human beings are predisposed to hurt others even if doing so is not profitable in anything but the short-term.
2] This predisposition is somehow connected to the human ability for self-delusion about their real intentions.
Let us try to explain the behavior of corporations and businesses, especially their owners and employees, through the viewpoints of these two claims.
How would you go about abusing, impoverishing and damaging others while still maintaining the self-delusion of being a decent, caring and honest human being. Well.. there are two ways. You could start an organisation that purports to provide a useful or important social service while consciously (or subconsciously) structuring it to achieve the opposite. Alternatively you could join an organisation that purports to provide a useful or important social service while consciously (or subconsciously) working to achieve the opposite while ignoring or denying the obvious. To put it another way- you could either become a leader, capitalist, owner.. or the enthusiastic follower, worker or drone. The later routes are easier and offer more plausible deniability.
My point is that pretty much all of what you consider as normal, from business models and corporate hierarchies to institutional structures, exist for the sole purpose of abusing, impoverishing, damaging and killing other people. Any real reform of these institutions, structures and hierarchies would remove their very purpose for existence and popularity.
In the next part of this series, I will explore the origins of the human urge to hurt others even when doing so is not profitable.
What do you think? Comments?
Towards the end of my previous post in this series, I had suggested that most human behavior and almost everything created by it (groups, societies and institutions) were driven by an irrational and overwhelming sadism despite of all claims to the contrary.
Have you considered the possibility that the primary intent behind almost all “normal” human interpersonal interaction is to somehow con, swindle, abuse, hurt, maim or kill the other party?
Now some of you might say.. “That is such a stupid idea. Why would people, especially the ‘smart ones’, devote their lives to screwing each other over than rein in their worse impulses and reach some sort of detente – if only to make their own lives better.” My answer to that question is- aren’t you assuming that humans are rational and logical rather than irrational and logical? There is a lot of evidence (link 1, link 2) that people will actively ignore opportunities to vastly improve their lives if doing so requires them to lighten up on screwing other people. This irrational sadism pervades all aspects of human interactions from those between parents and their kids, two (or more) long-term sexual partners, the smallest social group to the largest human organisations and societies.
It is as if all “normal” interactions between two or more humans were designed to deceive and screw over the more vulnerable and naive party or parties.
To be clear- I am not claiming that every single human being is like that. But it is very clear that most people are like that and have always been so. But why is it so? Well.. the full answer to the ‘why’ will take a couple of more posts because humans lie to themselves the most. We can however start down that path by going through a few examples of human behavior that are considered normal but are blatantly irrational. As I will show you in this and the next few posts in the series, a lot of human behavior is not what it seems to be.
Example 1: We have all read hundreds, if not thousands, of blog posts and comments about the unrealistic standards and qualifications demanded of men by average women. But why are average women so demanding in the first place? Why can’t they be more realistic about their expectations? The conventional answers to that question involve some version of hand waving about fragile egos, rank status, evolutionary psychology, cost of sperm versus egg and other assorted bullshit. But are any of them true? If any of them were true, how do you explain the fact that women become more bitchy, demanding and demeaning as they lose their looks through aging and having kids? Shouldn’t relative stability and/or a decrease in their market value make them less bitchy, demanding and demeaning? What does a woman in a financially secure situation and functional relationship with a guy really gain from being an abusive, insufferable and duplicitous cunt? and why is this behavior so universal?
A possible answer to that question can be found by looking at the effects of her behavior on those negatively impacted by it- specifically those who treat her well. But why would a person expend so much effort on screwing over their closest and most useful human contacts while simultaneously sucking up to people who detest them. As I will explain later on in this post, and series, understanding the reason underlying this behavior requires us to abandon a lot of what most people believe about human beings. Moving on.. here is another example.
Example 2: Have you ever noticed that devout followers of all religions and ideologies are very enthusiastic about spreading their version of the “good word”. But what is the point in getting more converts and believers of one particular collection of fairy tales. Why believe in a god if such an entity will not intervene on your behalf at a statistically significant level. Throughout human history- the lives of average people were almost equally miserable once you adjust for temporary booms caused by benefiting from genocides, conquests and other forms of looting of other groups. No divine entity has ever intervened to save people from famine, epidemics, conquests or genocides. Neither has such an entity ever helped people who were in physical or psychological pain.
Yet there is no shortage of people who desperately want to believe in some type of god and anything that even vaguely resembles religious doctrine. But why? One answer to that question can be obtained by observing what the most overtly faithful members of a religion focus on. Have you noticed that devout Christians talk a lot about the supposed inhumanity of abortion while ignoring or trivializing the quality of life of kids after they born. Such people also spend an inordinate amount of time trying to censor and interfere with the sexual lives of other people. But why? What do they gain from it? Or what about devout Muslims who get upset about alleged misrepresentations of their belief system by ‘infidels’ while ignoring the very real abuses, extreme inequality and poverty in countries where the sharia is enforced as law? Why are they so eager to fight for the cause of a religion that in many cases cannot even provide them a semi-decently compensated livelihood or sexual partner of the opposite sex? Could it be that all this religious or ideological zealotry is a cover for facilitating and normalizing the abuse of even weaker members of your own group. And this brings my next example.
Example 3: Academics and “credentialed” professionals provide yet another example of this almost universal human urge to hurt others for reasons that are clearly not rational. Academics talk a lot about fairness, humanitarianism, merit, personal and scientific integrity. But how do they treat their graduate students and post-doctoral fellows? When is the last time you saw an academic trying to raise the salary of people who work under them? How many care about the future prospects of those who slave away for them? Why not? Credentialed professionals such as physicians provide yet another example of this issue. How many physicians are interested in at least trying to give their patients the most optimal treatments for their ailments. Now compare that to the number who will prescribe newer drugs regardless of their efficacy, treat ailments to maximize their income or minimize their work. It is rather obvious that a majority of physicians perceive their patients as money-making annoyances and most would kill their patients if the financial incentive to do so was greater than not killing them.
So what are the common themes running through all these examples?
Well.. in all of the above stated examples, “conventional” or “normal” behavior patterns are clearly the less profitable ones in all time frames except possibly the very short-term. Also, so-called “smarts” do not have any measurable effect on this intrinsic sadism as a barely literate bible- or koran- thumping zealot is as likely to engage in it as the supposedly “smart” and secular academic or physician. The sex of the person also appears to have no significant influence on the willingness to engage in irrational sadistic behavior.
We are left with the disquieting possibility that there is something fundamental about human beings that predisposes most of them to hurt others even if when it is not profitable for them.
So what drives most people to consistently act in this manner under a variety of circumstances? Instinct alone cannot explain such complex and persistent behavior patterns in self-aware creatures with a rudimentary ability to reason. I believe that the answer lies in the human predisposition for self-delusion and will explain it in the next part of this series.
What do you think? Comments?
Here is a two part documentary on the effects of emasculation in developed countries. I am not sure if some of you have already the documentary, but do watch it if you have not already done so.
and here is part II
What do you think? Comments?
Have you ever wondered if capitalism could become a victim of its own “success” in ways other those put forth by Marx over a century ago. While it is certainly possible that the effects of declining profits and progressive impoverishment of the majority will derail capitalism in a world where there is not much left to plunder or conquer in an economically viable manner, there is an alternative (and possibly synergistic) pathway for things to fall apart.
The reason you have probably never heard of this ‘other’ pathway is because the conditions that made its existence possible are relatively new. Even today- most economic thought, literature and analysis is the product of people mired in the mindset of previous eras. It also helps that doing so keeps the rich patrons of these sophists (economists and intellectuals) happy and thereby ensures a steady stream of table scraps.
So how did I stumble across this pathway? Well.. it comes down to an extension of one of my observations about human beings. We are often told by “intellectuals” that human beings do things because they are naturally competitive. But how many people would jump through all the hoops and cripple themselves in ways that are considered “normal” in developed societies if they were really doing it for themselves?
What kind of moron would slave away for a house in the suburbs where he would be subject to the simultaneous tyranny of his aging hateful wife and municipal zoning guidelines? What kind of idiot slaves away to live his life surrounded by superficial and scheming people at work (colleagues) and home (neighbors)? What idiot would slave away in occupations that involved high stress or high levels of insecurity? What moron would enter vocations with decade long education and internship requirements but not much in terms of job security?
It is clear that the mindset, worldview and behaviors of the average blue- or white-collar person in all developed countries are blatantly irrational. So why do they persist, or more accurately- why was that behavior so prevalent in the past?
In one of my previous posts, I had put forth the idea that civilization as we know it is a ponzi scheme. I chose that particular term since it best describes the overall structure, mode of functioning and life-cycle of civilization. But it also describes how they grow and become bigger. Civilizations, like ponzi schemes, require a continuous influx of new naive members to scam, exploit, enslave and sacrifice. But why? Well for one you have to pay off the higher ranking (but non-apex) members in the scheme. But there is another reason especially relevant to the fate of capitalism in developed countries with low rates of fertility.
A significant minority of people who cannot move up the pyramid will eventually understand the true nature of the system, even if that realization occurs at a subconscious level.
Civilization always results in a significant minority of its members becoming cynical, disloyal and self-serving once they wise up. There is therefore a constant and unrelenting need for more naive suckers to replace and possibly help eliminate those who have wised up. Finding such new suckers was very easy in the pre-contraception era when the average women has more than two kids who lived to adulthood. But barely or below replacement fertility makes that much harder and hence we had immigration for decades. But today even countries like Mexico and India, not to mention China, have fertility rates that are close to or below replacement.
But what does any of this have to do with an alternate pathway for the demise of capitalism?
The answer to that question lies in the high level of similarity between civilization and capitalism in one area – producing cynical burnouts with nothing left to lose. However capitalist societies are also far more efficient at producing such individuals as they burn the inter-personal goodwill and institutional loyalty of their lower ranking members at far higher rates and levels than their pre-capitalist counterparts. Furthermore, the continuous and ultimately counterproductive competitions that characterize such societies are unsustainable in the absence of high level of growth and some wealth redistribution. The high ambient instability of careers in such societies, even those which involve a lot of personal investment and sacrifice, do not make things any better.
Many societies with these features attempt to stabilize themselves through social welfare programs and regulations to improve career/lifestyle stability. While such measures can be partially effective in the short to medium term, they fail in the long-term for reasons linked to human greed and short-sightedness. Moreover they do not produce fewer cynical burnouts- only slightly less bitter ones. There is a reason why even countries as ordered, stable and affluent as Switzerland, Germany and Japan are not full of highly motivated and enthusiastic people.
Now some of you will say.. but what about the USA? isn’t it an exception to the pattern of capitalistic societies having a significant number of burnt out and cynical people? and isn’t the per woman fertility slightly above replacement or something like that? Well.. let us go through each point.
Firstly the USA is not an exception to the pattern of capitalistic societies having a significant number of burnt out and cynical people. It was just a late comer to that club for reasons I shall explain in a moment. As I have previously said, ponzi schemes can grow and appear stable as long as they can afford to pay off the higher ranking (but non-apex) members in the scheme. So things looked great as long as those born between 1930 and 1945 were getting excellent jobs and enjoying the fruits of rapid and fairly egalitarian post-WW2 expansion. They started dimming a bit when those born between 1945 to 1961 started their working lives but things still looked good and the overall system had enough inertia to keep the real party going into the 1990s. The fall of the USSR, opening of low wage countries like China and India, low interest rates on credit and the housing bubble helped the USA stretch it into the mid-2000s.
But the real cracks were visible as early as the mid-1980s. It was the beginning of an era where wages of average people stopped keeping pace with productivity or inflation. It was also the beginning of a breakdown in the implicit social contract that had existed in the USA since 1933. Lifetime job and stable careers slowly became a thing of the past, as did the formal and informal social welfare system. While this trend initially affected only the blue-collar workers, by the early-1990s even white-collar workers started feeling its effects. While the tech boom in the later half of 1990s and housing bubble in the first half of the 2000s masked the decline somewhat, it was obvious to many that something fundamental about the system had changed.
But which age group is most observant about such subtle but fundamental shifts? Is it the people who grew up before the 1980s and 1990s or those who were born and grew up in those decades? My point is that the mindset, worldview and behavior of those in their 20s and 30s today is a far better indicator of where things will go. So what do we see in that group?
Do we see tons of optimism in that age group? How many of them believe in a stable livelihood or the possibility of lifelong relationships? How many of them have kids, let alone one or two kids? How many will eventually have more than two kids? How many of them trust institutions? How many of them believe in a bright future filled with endless opportunities for growth? How many of them are crushed under student debt and working part-time jobs that don’t require degrees? How many want to move to faraway cities? and if not, why not? and most importantly- are things getting better or worse?
My point is that people in that age group have, throughout the developed world, become cynical burnouts. Even more importantly- the system has far less leverage over them than their parents generation.
Now there are many minor yet highly publicized reasons for this lack of leverage, from the growth of the internet, game consoles and smartphones etc. But the two major reasons are seldom mentioned so let me do that for you. First.. you cannot threaten what does not obviously exist (their children) or things whose existence is a matter of blind faith (secure livelihoods, meaningful relationships). The threat of sudden job loss, intermittent poverty and a generally uncaring and cruel society cannot extract enthusiastic compliance from somebody who sees that as inevitable even if they play by the rules. You cannot threaten a long-term homeless guy with lifelong poverty, especially if he knows that his compliance does not guarantee you will honor your end of the deal.
Secondly- social pressures don’t mean a lot in societies where almost every relationship is superficial, adversarial or mercenary in nature. This is especially so in an era where less fucked-up alternatives are readily available. People are no longer restricted to interacting with those in their immediate physical vicinity and now often prefer those who are not. Who wants to hang around people they don’t trust, despise or don’t care about.
But what this have to with capitalism, especially its american incarnation? Let me put it this way.. capitalism requires the majority to work hard and sacrifice for the enrichment of a small minority. However getting the majority to keep on playing this rigged game requires a decent chance of mediocre rewards (real or imagined), skin in the game (future of their children, family, friends) and social reinforcement. Without them- even the best lies, propaganda and marketing become useless rather quickly.
In the past capitalism could get around such problems by tapping into the then almost limitless supply of naive young suckers and desperate wannabe-american immigrants. However we no longer have a surplus of naive suckers or desperate immigrants who want to be american- and that is not going to change anytime in the near future.
What do you think? Comments?
More than a few of my previous posts have centered on, or around, an odd but rarely asked, question.
“What is the point of accumulating money beyond the ability to spend it?”
Now, stupid sophists defending the status quo might say that its is impossible to determine what is enough. Curiously these sophists are seldom well off, let alone truly rich, making their defense of the status quo a bit odd. Perhaps they believe that their incessant barking on behalf of the rich might get them get a few more table crumbs or leftovers. But who knows..
Anyway, back to the question at hand. I have previously written that the reasons for accumulating money beyond the point of usability cannot be rational. But what if they are still logical. Confused? Let me explain. An action can be simultaneously logical and irrational, because logic is a mechanistic process in which the inputs don’t have to be factual or real.
For example, burning women accused of having sex with the devil requires that particular entity to exist in the first place and is therefore irrational. However it can be perfectly logical if you were one of those perpetually fearful and greedy semi-retards who believed in the existence of the devil, especially one interested in having sex with human females.
Coming back to our era, a closer look at much of what we think is ‘normal’ and ‘right’ just does hold up to rational scrutiny. Many of my previous posts are about the sheer irrationality underlying a wide variety of systems- from the basic structure of “civilized” society, the bizarre illusion of money, the worthlessness of supposedly important inter-personal relationships to the futility of loyalty to institutions that demand it. To put it another way- most conventional expectations, norms, rules and behaviors are not rational. But what if they are still logical? and more importantly- what does that say about the real nature of the human mind?
One of the main feature of conventional models for the human mind, be they religious, secular or “scientific”, is the assumption that human beings are intrinsically good, rational, caring or at least capable of all those things. Even religious models that portray human as sinful and fallen, or whatever their secular equivalent are, allow for the possibility of being saved, lifted or “enlightened”.
But what if that is not the case? Could it be the vast majority of humans, including the supposedly smart ones, are fundamentally incapable of being rational.
This question is best answered by looking at the entirety of available evidence (aka historical evidence from multiple sources) factoring in the inevitable underlying contexts and biases. Throughout most of the last 5,000 odd years (aka the age of civilization) the general standard of human living was very low and even the very rich were an infection, poisoning or puncture wound away from death. To make things easy and clear, let us temporarily ignore the actions and behavior of insecure and desperate people under constant stress or duress.
We will therefore, for the time being, willingly ignore most of human history- even though it strongly suggests humans are highly irrational.
Let us focus on societies where a combination of resources and technology make it possible to deliver a very high quality of life to all their members. In case you are wondering, I am talking about the situation in developed countries after WW2- especially after the early 1960s. Studying such societies allows us to eliminate the role of scarcity on human behavior or the ability to reason.
Does the functioning of these societies suggest that humans are capable of rational behavior when not under any real resource constraints?
The answer to this question is complicated. From the end of WW2 to the late 1970s, the socioeconomic changes in these countries suggested that human beings might be capable of rationality- at least under certain conditions. Those times were characterized by very significant technological progress and considerable improvement in the living standards of the median person in those societies. This era was also characterized by fairly low income inequality and a realistic chance to improve ones position in society. It was as if after millennia of screwing around without anything to show for it, human societies had finally found the ability and institutional structures to provide a safe, stable and reasonably good existence for almost all of its members.
But there have been many changes since the late-1970s and almost all of them have taken those developed societies increasingly further away their early post-WW2 vision. But why? It is very clear that we do not lack the technology, resources, productivity or ability to extend the general socioeconomic improvements that occurred within the first three decades after WW2. But every single developed society has abandoned the path of improving the lives of its median, let alone its poorer, members.
How can we account for the rise of neo-liberalistive/neo-conservative (neo-feudal) ideologies throughout developed countries since the early 1980s?
There are those who see this is the result of clever propaganda, institutional capture or mass media-driven brainwashing. While this line of thought might sound appealing to those who see average humans as fundamentally good and therefore gullible victims, there are reasons to believe that it is not the case. You might have noticed that a lot of the ideas recycled by neo-conservatives or neo-liberals, from “personal responsibility” to “work ethic”, are actually old lies and fairy tales.
So what makes people want to believe in obvious lies such as “work ethic”, “meritocracy”, “invisible hand of market”, “creative destruction” and “personal discipline” while discarding other equally old and popular lies about the role of divine entities in human affairs.
Are people really that stupid, unobservant and innumerate? Then there is the troubling question of why the middle class is so eager to believe in the lies, scams and bait-and switches which trick, hurt and abuse them the most. Surely, they are not that retarded or unobservant. I also don’t believe that this behavior is due to learned helplessness. A rational person who understood his lack of control over events would not strive for the benefit of those who were abusing him.
Could it be that most people believe in or play along with norms, rules and paradigms that are against their rational interests because it provides surreptitious satisfaction of much deeper urges in their minds?
In a couple of my previous posts (Link 1 and Link 2) I had suggested that hoarding money beyond ones ability to spend it was irrational as it offered no real objective benefits to the hoarder. But what if hoarding money was about depriving others of resources, security and happiness rather than improving your own existence. Furthermore, what if the behavior of the rich is merely an exaggeration of how most humans relate to each other.
Have you considered the possibility that the primary intention behind almost all “normal” human interpersonal interaction is to somehow con, swindle, abuse, hurt, maim or kill the other party?
In upcoming parts of this series, of which there will be many, I shall demonstrate how my model of the human mind is a far better fit for available evidence on human behavior in a variety of situations.
What do you think? Comments?
Most regular readers of this blog are aware that I have an extremely low opinion of human beings in general. But don’t mistake my general disdain of humans as misanthropy, because it is not.
Misanthropy is the end result of an unbridgeable gap between an initially positive image of humanity and the pathetic reality.
I never had a positive image of humanity. At best, I was hopeful about finding a few more people who were not completely consumed by greed, pettiness, stupidity and useless malice. This is also why I have never fallen for many of the scams that occupy the minds of most people, especially the so-called “smart” ones.
I was also always aware that my views about humans were very different from almost every single person I knew in “real” life.
You might think that my mindset has a lot to do with a generally “negative” view on life in general. This is especially likely if you grew up in a culture that celebrated mindless “positivity” and conformity masquerading as individualism. Some of you might even claim that my worldview has to do with my lack of “achievements”. Let us talk about that for a minute.
I have had more (paid) sex with more sexually attractive women than almost of you will ever have, unless you take the paid sex route.
And though not in the thousand-plus league, I crossed the hundred mark many years ago. And yes, almost all the sex I have had in the last 10 years has been of the pay-by-the-hour variety. But why did I take this route in the first place? Why don’t I spend all my free time ‘gaming’ women? As I have said before, I have nothing against the basic concepts of ‘game’ and it is good to possess a spine and self-respect. It comes down to the logical consequences of my views on other people and humanity in general.
I live to make myself happy and lack any significant interest in impressing other people.
But why live for yourself and ignore or barely acknowledge other people in “real” life? Wouldn’t that have a severely negative effect on the quality of life? What about having long-term relationships, friends, acquaintances and a supposedly rich social life? Wouldn’t living for yourself be kinda dangerous, sad and pathetic? OK.. here is my counter question.
Have you objectively analyzed the quality of life of those who live to impress other people?
Engaging with other people beyond the bare minimum or accepting hardships to gain their supposed admiration or respect would be worthwhile IF there was a proportional payoff down the line. But does it work like that in contemporary societies? Do the vast majority of those who play by the rules, try to impress others or sacrifice for others get anything worthwhile for their investments?
What about those who enter outwardly lucrative careers such as medicine or law? While they are materially better off than many others, it is very clear that most are not quite happy with their lives. Those who entered careers such as medicine, law or academia had to spend many years, probably the best ones, slaving away towards obtaining papers which allowed them to enter rent-seeking professions.
The worst part of their Faustian bargain is that almost all sexually attractive women would rather have sex with a drug addict in some minor cover band than a doctor, lawyer or academic.
The same is true for those supposedly honest CONservative, and suspiciously white, blue-collar workers. Not only are they seen as totally disposable widgets by the capitalist they worship but the women they cherish would rather have sex with a local small-time drug dealer than a supposedly honest, family-minded man aka a drone. Here is another question.. would a woman like to have a sex with a stupid mercenary (the guy who joins the armed forces) or the sly asshole who dodges authority. I have always found it odd that veterans can’t figure out that they are just washed up and damaged mercenaries who have no power to enforce the contracts made by their employers (armed forces) who in turn are a front for bunch of ultra-rich sociopaths.
I have a strong suspicion that the majority of women understand, at some level, that most of the guys they are supposed to be happy with are actually nothing more than credulous and easily manipulated morons.
Most people (especially men) are stupid suckers who get conned, fleeced and exploited and yet they will never accept they were conned in the first place. They will just vent their cognitive dissonances online and call it the ‘manosphere’. Now some of you might say.. “But what is so bad about such people. Aren’t they otherwise decent human beings who got scammed?”
Let me answer that in two parts.
1] Idiots, drones, assholes and other assorted human scum are problematic even if they are the ones left holding the empty or shit-filled bag. Their very existence allows more specialized sociopaths to flourish and inflict misery on others.
2] Most people (especially men) are solipsistic, stupid, short-sighted and selfish. They would gladly sell you out for a 20 $ bill or less. It is very unlikely that they will they ever help, or be able to help, if you required any real assistance. To put it another way, most people are reliably useless and borderline sociopaths.
Therefore there is no reason to ingratiate yourself to them, try to impress them or care about them in any way beyond the minimum necessary to keep them out of your way.
Why invest your time and effort into endeavors that don’t pay? Why play along with people who want to see you fail and suffer anyway? Why work for assholes who will get rich of your well-intentioned sacrifices? Working together and caring about each other meant something when humans lived in much smaller groups where all those things mattered and were rewarded. We don’t live like that anymore. Screw the opinions, tastes and egos of all the transient and useless people who pretend to be something they are not. Talk and promises, both explicit and implicit, are just worthless simulacra of what they used to be. Don’t get fooled by outwardly friendly and anodyne behavior that is based in deception, greed and ritual rather than anything real.
In my opinion, the most rational way to make important decisions is to constantly ask yourself- “Will this course of action increase my chances of getting what I really want, irrespective of the opinions of all those other useless people around me?”
What do you think? Comments?
As many of you know by now, I detest anything that is justified by words such as laws, rules, civilization, culture, religion or ideology. All of those respectable-sounding words are simply different versions of the same basic scam – abusing, exploiting and impoverishing people under the name of diffuse and seemingly trans-human authority.
The ephemeral nature of these supposedly trans-human concepts is especially obvious when you study the aftermath of systemic failure in older civilizations and nations.
How many of people still worship the supposedly all-powerful gods of various older civilizations that went extinct or were destroyed? What about their supposedly perfect and divinely ordained system of governance of failed civilizations and nations? What about the inherent ‘correctness’ of their belief systems, customs, rules and lifestyles? A skeptical reading of history shows us that all subjective mental models of the universe are adult versions of fairy tales. All contemporary and historical civilizations or nations (that we know of) are, and have always been, pathetic ponzi schemes.
But how is this connected to my contention that the concept of vacations helps perpetuate voluntary slavery in contemporary societies?
Before I go any further let me say this; I am not anti-vacation or pro-work by any non-sophistic definition of those terms. Doing something you don’t care about, or hate, to justify a deceptive social system paying you barely enough to live is slavery in all but name. It is especially reprehensible for this to continue in an age where increases in non-human productivity make it possible to provide universally high standards of living without everybody working hard or in many cases, at all.
Almost all modern jobs, occupations and vocations are therefore nothing more than sophistic names for voluntary slavery. They do not serve any purpose or have utility beyond making a small percentage of equally pathetic and rapidly decaying human beings feel in control.
It is about paying people to torture themselves doing largely useless stuff they don’t care about.
But what do dystopic systems based on paying people to torture themselves have to do with vacation time. Well.. it has to do with the nature of torture. See, if you torture people continuously they might stop caring or just die. That means you have to find a whole new set of people to torture. Finding new subjects for torture was easy in the old days when almost every woman has 7-10 live births. However the rapid advances in medical sciences within the last 100 years coupled with the widespread availability of contraception had caused a severe and irreversible reduction in the number of naive newcomers who could be tortured through work.
Therefore it became necessary to create concepts like vacations to allow the tortured voluntary slaves to partially recover and retain some hope for their future.
It is no coincidence that countries with multi-generational low-fertility tend to have more vacation time that relatively primitive ones such as the USA. The substantially longer duration of vacations in west-european countries is therefore not about any real moral superiority than their inability to find enough naive newbies to torture through work. It is worth noting that the USA has entered that zone (low fertility + vastly reduced total immigration) within the last five years.
What do you think? Comments?
Experience has taught me that there are many proxy markers for quickly determining the overall gullibility and stupidity of any given person or group of people. Some markers of gullibility, such as intense religiosity and following professional sports, are reasonably well-known. Other are either not well-known or seldom talked about. This article is about one of the most important and relevant markers of low functional intelligence in the modern world.
Patriotism is probably the best marker for gullibility and stupidity in modern secular societies.
But why is that so. What makes patriotism a better marker of gullibility and stupidity than belief in undead reformist rabbis, skydudes and guys with pointy tails? Well, there are many reasons.
For one, many people just don’t believe in skydudes and anti-skydudes like they used to- even a hundred years ago. Advances in science and technology combined with social changes have moderated belief in traditional religions even among those who openly profess to being extra-religious. You just can’t throw virgins into volcanoes, sacrifice animals and humans or claim to hear clear voices in your heads without looking especially stupid or mentally ill. While your basic hardcore religious moron can still selectively quote scriptures to discriminate against gays or the poor, it is obvious that their number and influence is on the decline.
But this does not mean that people have stopped believing in, and looking upto, make-believe authority.
The rise of belief in credentialed experts who speak in clever sounding mumbo-jumbo is the modern version of believing in priests, faith healers and shamans. Similarly those who believe in the goodwill of someone just he or she happens to wear expensive suits and speak politely is as gullible as someone who believed in the benevolence of luxuriously attired nobility of previous eras. Is there any difference between corporations hiring consultants and old nobility hiring shamans or fortune tellers? My point is that blind belief did not disappear with the demise of traditional religions and belief systems. It simply migrated into supposedly more modern and secular institutions.
The hyper-patriotic americans of today are as gullible and stupid as their distant ancestors who lived their lives according to the heavily-edited writings of people who heard voices in their heads.
The same is true of ethnically ‘pure’ Japanese who believe in the specialness of their race or the Koreans who also believe in something similar. West-european nations are no different. A majority of germans do actually believe that they are somehow chosen or special, not unlike scandinavians who actually believe that they are better human beings. But in spite of all their geographical and racial differences, all these morons have one thing in common.
Since they have nothing to show for themselves as individuals, they grab onto any group (real or fake) whose membership makes them feel special or less un-special than before.
This same dynamic is also seen in grown men wearing the branded gear of sport teams whose mercenary players will not even acknowledge their existence in real life. It is also visible when couples who buy expensive homes in the ‘right’ communities and then work their asses off for decades to pay for what they cannot enjoy. Also, paying more for brand names without a guarantee of proportionally higher quality is dumb.
While human existence is intrinsically meaningless, slaving to impress or enrich someone who does not care is not the rational way to make it appear meaningful.
And that is part of the reason why patriotism is so problematic. It is always about what you can do for your country and not what your country can do for you. It is about what the group (actually just a few people in that group) can extract from you for nothing in return. The peddlers and true beneficiaries of nationalistic patriotism rarely lose a fingernail while benefiting from the misguided and delusional sacrifices of stupid sheeple who lose their lives, health and much more.
Even worse, patriotism is heavily promoted by the government and all its institutions unlike traditional religions which enjoy no significant state support in most modern societies. But make no mistake. Patriotism is the modern secular version of older traditional blood-letting religions. It is about creating a fake identity brand whose cost of membership is your freedom and basic decency as a human being.
Would you willingly enter a supposedly trendy nightclub that wanted you to sign away your freedom and basic human dignity as the cost of entry? What would you think of those who did so? Would you retain membership of a social club that demanded your voluntary and enthusiastic sacrifice for enriching its elite members? Would you lose your life, limb and more to momentarily impress people who would just walk by you if you were dying on the side of a road?
All those “U-S-A, U-S-A” chants and flag-waving wont get you decent and accessible health care or job security. Patriotism wont even protect you from terrorists. It won’t stop “american” cops from shooting you dead in the streets even if you are unarmed. It wont stop various departments of the government AND its many private partners (aka corporations) from screwing you for every last dollar. And what do you get in return for all this blind trust and faith?
… anything special? anything?
Continued loyalty to groups and institutions only makes sense if they have reciprocated your initial gestures of goodwill. There is far more dignity and profit in living for yourself, even if you are an unremarkable person, than buying into some fake group that wants your blood, happiness and soul as its membership fee.
What do you think? Comments?
In the past few years, media has spent a lot of time focusing on a small but rapidly growing number of parents refusing to follow the ‘expert’-approved vaccination schedules for their children. Even many self-proclaimed normal people (stupid morons) like to demonstrate their “normality” by condemning parents who do so without trying to understand what is the major driving force behind this newish phenomena.
But why is the modern anti-vaccer movement a newish phenomena? Haven’t there been anti-vaccers since the original smallpox vaccine was introduced in the 1800s?
And this brings me to my first point. While there have been ‘anti-vaccers’ as long as there have been vaccines, the traditional ones opposed vaccinations for reasons that are quite different from most of those who do so today. The traditional anti-vaccers saw vaccines as un-religious, un-traditional, immoral or somehow opposed to their mental model of the universe. While people like that are still around, the majority of anti-vaccers today are driven by a very different set of concerns about vaccinations.
These concerns are based on a very realistic assessment of the intentions of those who promote an ever-expanding vaccination schedule than pleasing an imaginary skydude.
The real conflict is not about the science behind vaccination. Sure, you will always come across a few especially loud and fervent believers in invisible sky-dudes. But the majority of anti-vaccers today are not scientifically illiterate or any more delusional than the ‘experts’ who oppose them.
The conflict is about which vaccines are suitable for general use based on a realistic evaluation of the risk-benefit ratio of that particular vaccine.
Let me explain that point with a few examples. How many of you have been vaccinated against botulism (all subtypes), anthrax, epidemic typhus or yellow fever? Effective human vaccines against these diseases have been around since at least the mid-1940s. So why don’t we vaccinate everybody against these diseases along with diptheria, tetanus, whooping-cough, chickenpox etc? Or what about rabies? We have multiple extremely effective human vaccines against that disease, yet they are used almost exclusively as post-exposure prophylaxis. People who work with lots of wild or domesticated animals such as veterinarians or people who hang around bats are among the few who take it pre-exposure. Or what about smallpox? Why did we stop mass vaccination against smallpox once the disease was eradicated?
It is about the benefit-risk ratio of a given vaccine versus the probability of encountering that pathogen in the real world.
For example, the bacteria that cause tetanus or diptheria are found in soil and can survive without human hosts. We simply cannot eradicate them. In the absence of vaccination they can cause life-threatening and often fatal disease at a level serious enough to prominently show up on the mortality statistics. The same is true about whooping-cough, though it is more about the morbidity than the mortality. Even less problematic diseases without an inanimate reservoir (chicken pox, measles, mumps, rubella) can be problematic because of their hyper-infectiousness and ability to travel across the world inside their human hosts.
But what about pathogens (Neisseria meningitidis, Haemophilus influenzae type B) that are uncommon? what about pathogens that are not endemic (Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B) to entire countries? Should we vaccinate everybody against these diseases or just restrict ourselves to epidemiologically defined high-risk groups? It certainly makes a lot of sense to vaccinate teenagers attending university or joining the army with the meningococcal vaccine. Similarly vaccination against HepA and Hep B make a lot of sense if you are going to visit a country with low levels of sanitation. But why everybody?
Then there is the issue of partially effective vaccines such as those against especially pathogenic stains of Streptococcus pneumoniae, HPV and rotavirus. While few doubt that vaccines against the worst rotaviral strains reduce the risk of severe diarrheal illness in children, they are often pushed by the medical profession to be far more effective than they really are. The same is true of vaccines against HPV. While the vaccine will certainly reduce the incidence of cervical cancer it won’t have much effect on the less problematic stains of HPV that also cause genital warts. However it is frequently pushed as an anti-genital warts vaccine rather than as one to reduce the risk of cervical cancer.
Let us also talk about vaccines that work as designed, but not as well as intended. Vaccines against Influenza A are the best example of this peculiar and problematic class. While they do indeed elicit a good immunologic response against the strains utilized in their creation, the antigenic drifts characteristic of influenza epidemics make many of them partially or totally ineffective by the time the epidemic reaches the vaccinated individuals. Sure, you can get some cross-protection if the strain infecting you is similar to the one you were vaccinated against- but that is about it. Yet each year, we spend tons of money and resources on vaccinating people against influenza. It certainly does not help that a lot of people vaccinated against influenza go on to later fall ill from strains they were not vaccinated against.
The problem with the public image of vaccination has little to do with the science behind it. Instead the problem lie in human follies such as trying to make the maximum amount of money by pushing vaccines for uncommon diseases and promising stuff that is based in marketing rather than hardcore science.
It certainly does not help that the healthcare education system is some countries, such as the USA, selects for people who make decisions based in monetary and legal considerations to the exclusion of patient welfare. It is a game of who can extract the most money while still looking good and legal, irrespective of whether they are helping the patient or not. While not all physicians are like that, the ones who end up on committees and expert panels are frequently the worst suited to be on them. The defensiveness and misplaced elitism of physicians also does not help the cause of promoting evidenced based medicine, including vaccination.
In conclusion, the modern anti-vaccination movement is a reaction to the almost exclusively profit driven and legalism ridden medical systems seen in countries such as the USA.
What do you think? Comments?
While some events deserve a prompt commentary, others are best explored once the proverbial dust has settled down. I am sure that all of you are familiar with the Washington Navy Yard shooting in which Aaron Alexis fatally shot twelve people, and injured three others, inside the Washington Navy Yard in Washington, D.C.
Though I had initially considered posting my thoughts about that event within a couple of days after it occurred, it seemed prudent to wait until a clearer picture of that incident and the guy who did it was available. In any case, the new bits of information have only bolstered my original views about Aaron Alexis. So let us begin by dissecting the first and most widespread belief about the shooting incident, namely that Aaron was suffering from a serious mental illness.
By now, most of you have heard media accounts of his supposed short temper, beliefs, odd behavior and demeanor. Many talking-heads in mainstream media are expressing feigned outrage at how an individual with his “history” could obtain a security clearance. However the idea that Aaron had serious mental illness is problematic for a very basic reason.
A diagnosis of mental illness, serious or otherwise, is highly subjective and dictated by prevailing socio-political fashions rather than any interest in the welfare of the diagnosed individual.
While I do not dispute the existence of depression, schizophrenia or hypomania that is severe enough to require medical treatment for helping the affected individual, it is all to clear that a lot of what is diagnosed as mental illness is anything but that. Antidepressants are routinely to people whose mental state is a normal reaction to a fucked up world. Kids with anything other than highly conformist behavior are diagnosed with ADHD. Male sport stars who sleep with many hot and willing women are diagnosed with “sex-addiction”. Nor is the trend new of labeling otherwise normal behavior new. Some of you might be aware that homosexuality was, as late as the early-1970s, considered to a mental disease.
The label of mental illness is therefore largely about an individual being someone other than a mindless, conformist, willing and disposable slave.
Face it.. would we be questioning the sanity of Aaron Alexis if he was a famous musician, actor or sportsman? Or what if he never shot those 12 people? What fraction of short-tempered introverts who believe in some conspiracy theory end up shooting a dozen people? Society is certainly not interested in the mental state of a white guy who wears an “official” uniform and ends up shooting some unarmed black guy because he matched the “description” of a suspect. Or what about some white guy serving the american armed forces who ends up shooting civilians in a country invaded by the USA to supposedly spread “democracy”?
Is there really a fundamental difference between a black guy killing 12 people in the USA and some white guy killing a similar number of civilians in some occupied middle-eastern country?
In both cases, the people killed were innocent. None of the victims were asking for it nor did they personally know the guy who killed them. Yet one event is seen as a great tragedy, a sign of poor vetting, inadequate security precautions and so on. The other event is just seen as an unfortunate accident in the supposedly altruistic projects of spreading “democracy” in the world.
So what is going on? Is someone mentally ill because they did not wear the right “uniform” when killing a dozen people? Or could it be the skin color of most victims? What about the skin color of the shooter? Or what about those who followed orders to kill hundreds or thousands of civilians who had never previously harmed them? Were the soldiers who followed such orders good soldiers, mass murderers, sociopaths, morons, mentally ill or all of the above? What about drone jockeys who blow up children unfortunate enough to be at the wrong wedding party in some godforsaken middle-eastern country?
It is clear that a lot of our supposedly cherished beliefs about “right” and “wrong” just don’t hold up under scrutiny.
Some of you might say “but.. but that guy believed the government was using radio waves to keep him awake at night and mess with his head. Isn’t this proof that he was nuts?” OK, let us look at some other beliefs that are considered normal and healthy. Take religion.. Christian evangelicals often talk about hearing or talking with a voice nobody else can hear. Are they widely seen as mentally ill? What about devout Muslims? Surely, interpreting two books written in an archaic form of Arabic years after the death of the guy who supposedly said all those things should create some doubt. But don’t many of that particular faith exhibit an unusual certainty about the divinity and veracity of what was written in those books, even if they are functionally illiterate. The same is true of Christian bible literalists and Hindu traditionalists who are sure about the validity of their beliefs even if most have not read the books they claim to believe in.
Believing that the government is using radio waves to keep a person awake at night is no more insane that living you life according to the words of some thousand-year old manuscript of dubious authorship.
This is not to say that the mental state of Aaron Alexis had no impact on his actions. Clearly the guy had ongoing problems with insomnia and may have suffered from infrequent hallucinations. However the intensity of his mental issues was not sufficient to affect his ability to perform his day job. The guy was not retarded or otherwise of sub-average intelligence. Nor was he particularly confrontational for a black guy. The shooting cannot therefore be explained away as the work of a seriously mentally ill individual. It was not especially random or poorly planned and he clearly wanted to go out after he had killed as many people as he could. His actions were rational, even if they were not conventional.
So what was going on in his mind?
Here is my analysis of the factors that might have led him to do what he did.It comes down to extrapolating the two dominant pathways in his life before the shooting. Note that they are not mutually exclusive. You may or may not agree with it and that is fine.
Pathway 1: He was becoming more mentally ill, but well enough to understand that.
Where do you draw the line between sanity and insanity? Is the distinction between the two that clear? Maybe he felt his mental stability was deteriorating and that this was his last chance to do what he always wanted. He was like almost all Americans, certainly aware, that we do not treat people deemed mentally ill well- especially if they are not rich, male and non-white. He was all three. How many of you would care for those you pretend to love if they were mentally ill, broke or homeless? Countless men like him are routinely left to allowed to wallow in poverty, prison or die. Maybe he understood his lack of good options and decided to take a few others out with him. Sure.. his victims did not deserve to die but neither did he deserve the almost inevitable and totally avoidable suffering inflicted by a profit-minded society on people like him.
Pathway 2: He was tired of life and wanted to exit on his own terms.
Everything we know about him to date suggests that he was a lonely and somewhat socially awkward guy. Whether this was due to his personality or mental illness is anyone’s guess. Maybe he felt that his life was at a dead-end and he had no future worth living for. It is not as if he was going to get a stable job, meet the love of his life and live happily ever after. Some might say that a guy “like him” should be grateful for having a job, any job, in the first place. Well.. as it turns out, he thought differently and there is not much anybody can do about it now. Those of you who feel he was an ungrateful black guy are certainly welcome to go and tell that to him in the afterlife.
In conclusion, the primary motivation for his actions were rational regardless of the secondary precipitating factors.
What do you think? Comments?
The interactions of human motivations, capitalism, perverse incentives, fake jobs, technology and system inertia have been the subject of many of my older posts. It has been clear to me, for some time now, that nothing good can come out this mixture- except perhaps by accident. However most people still do not subscribe to my worldview largely because it is somewhat depressing. They would rather keep on believing ambient comforting lies than think for themselves. But I am not giving up and here is another attempt to make a few more people question their beliefs. It starts with a simple question.
Why do professions created to solve problems often end up causing more damage than the problems themselves?
Here are a few contemporary examples to better illustrate my point. Take school teachers.. why has increased funding and employment in the pre-university education sector not increased the quality of education? Why do teachers keep on insisting that more money, power, rules and guidelines will solve the problems? What is the problem anyway? Are human beings naturally not inclined to learn new and personally useful skills? Are children not naturally excellent observers, very curious and enthusiastic? So why do most of them hate school? Could it possible that schools, in their current form, discourage learning? Is it a coincidence that school architecture and procedures increasingly resemble prisons?
Or consider the legal profession.. why has public perceptions about the level of judicial dysfunction gone up in parallel with the number of people employed in that sector? Shouldn’t an increase in the number of people employed to solve a set of problems result in their diminution? Shouldn’t spending a larger fraction of your financial resources on legal costs make things flow more smoothly? So why do we end up with an ever-increasing number of laws, bylaws, rules and regulations whose sole purpose is to make things stickier? Why has the size of even simple contracts exploded within the last 30 years? Why are most ‘criminal’ convictions in the USA based on plea deals and mandatory minimums rather than something old-fashioned like a trial?
The medical profession provides more examples of this problem in action. Why has most of the money invested and spent within the last 30 years on medical care and research not yielded any large-scale improvements in outcomes? Why is most of the health care money spent on procedure and equipment of dubious efficacy, while we ignore problems such as development of newer antibiotics, better vaccines and truly innovative ways to treat diseases that are as yet untreatable? Why has all the money spent on finding a cure for various types of cancers, Alzheimers, Parkinsonism etc not yielded anything worthwhile after two or three decades? Why have rates of obesity and other metabolic illness gone up at the same rate as people adopting the dietary guidelines created by credentialed “experts”? Why are medical mistakes officially the 3rd and probably the 2nd largest cause of death?
Professions involved in maintaining “law and order” provide yet more examples of the problem. Why do we keep hiring more cops and other assorted law-critters when the rates of minor crime have been falling for over two decades- almost all over the world. Why are people not involved in gangs more likely to killed by a cop than a criminal belonging to some gang? What about all those barely reported unnatural deaths in judicial custody or jail? What about property forfeiture of innocents, rigged red-light cameras and a host of other rent-seeking behaviors? Does any of this increase the safety of most people? What percentage of simple property crimes do cops solve anyway? Do they protect people from large-scale financial fraud and economic crimes?
But is this a relatively new phenomena?
Certain vocations and professions have, since the beginning of human history, almost always worsened the problems they were supposed to solve.
Emperors, kings, dukes and feudal lords have been promising protection and peace to their subjects since the beginning of history. Oddly enough, things almost never worked out that way. Recorded history is full of accounts of constant skirmishes, mass persecutions, disastrous wars, endless palace intrigues and the construction of costly palaces or tombs. It is very doubtful if the presence of rulers improved the security of their subjects and the converse is likely true. Yet all these rulers claimed divine, semi-divine or otherwise special ancestry and fitness to rule.
Priest are another example of a professional class that promised people everything from a great afterlife to seeking divine intervention for stopping plagues, preventing earthquakes and ensuring bountiful harvests. Today we know that all those sacrifices, prayers, chants and other assorted bullshit were utterly useless and often counterproductive. Let us also not forget the role of the priestly class in supporting wars based on whose invisible sky-friend could piss further. Did I also mention that priests became priests through a lengthy process of being born to the ‘right’ parents, having the ‘right’ mentors and spouting the ‘right’ brand of lies and bullshit.
Scholars, philosophers and intellectuals are yet another example of a group that has not delivered. Under the guise of investigating the human condition, these sophists came up clever arguments to justify the oppression and abusive behavior of whoever paid their salary. The world would be no worse of if every ancient philosopher of every single tradition never existed. The same can be said about ancient scholars who were the PR guys and talking heads of their eras.
So, is there a link between the politicians, bureaucrats, teachers, physicians and cops from our era with the various rulers, priests and scholars of previous eras?
Yes, there is and it is called credentialism. Vocations and professions that require extensive credentialization and approval from prior members almost always tend to create far more problems than they are supposed to solve, if they can even do that. But why is that so? Isn’t credentialism meant to keep incompetent people out and promote people from within based on their merit?
While the founding myth and official story line about credentialism often portray it as the best way to keep incompetent people out of important and financially lucrative professions- it is anything but that in real life. To understand the “why” let us have a brief look at the psyche of people who crave endless amounts of power, prestige and money. Such individuals are typically the most self-centered, narcissistic and sociopathic individuals in any given society. They are also the least altruistic and humane in that system.
The very idea that such people are even capable of caring about anybody but themselves is laughable.
Credentialism is therefore just a scam to protect rent-seeking vocations by making them look official and natural. Insiders to any credentialism-based scam have no interest in actually solving problems or making the lives of other people better. It largely exists to put a pleasant facade on what would otherwise be seen as parasitic extortion and abuse. It allows the parasites to maintain the status quo and keep on exploit their position. The money and status obtained through credentialism also allows them to temporarily insulate themselves from the adverse consequences of their actions.
At this point, I can almost hear some of you saying- “but.. but would you let an unlicensed surgeon perform surgery on you?” Here is my answer.. when I talk about credentialism I am also referring to restricted admission in the vocation or profession. You cannot compare somebody who barely has some experience to someone who was admitted and trained in that vocation or profession. Furthermore, as I said before, medical mistakes are the 3rd or 2nd largest cause of death. So the original question is meaningless.
A far better question would be- “Is a surgeon trained in a well-funded medical program in India as competent as one trained in a similar program in USA? and my answer to that question is – Yes. The same is also true of individuals who got their degrees from a state university rather than some ivy league institution. The presence or absence of specific paperwork is really about optimal rent-seeking rather than the ability of an individual to perform a particular job.
Having said that, a larger problem still remains. How can you get people to reduce the incidence of problems if their remuneration is linked to the number of problems they supposedly solve? Wouldn’t eliminating problems also eliminate their cushy jobs? Furthermore, creating new problems is the easiest way to increase your income- regardless of their effect on the rest of society.
What do you think? Comments?
One of my biggest issues with supporters of the alt-right, CONservative and LIEbertarian viewpoints is that they are almost always the least likely to benefit from real-life implementation of the viewpoints they so enthusiastically espouse. The average supporter of such viewpoints is typically a redneck, working class or barely middle-class white guy without a lot of education, connections, real life experience and analytic intelligence. Eventually some of them grow up and get smart, but most do not and keep on supporting and helping those who oppress them- aka false class consciousness.
Let me show you two recent examples of this phenomena, as taken from the recent tweets of Matt Forney.
The first example involves the exposure and dismissal of Pax Dickinson. The story, as far as we know to date, is that some douchy fratboy who got his highfalutin job through having the right contacts spent a lot of time tweeting about women, gays, blacks etc. Some of you might say, but.. but.. wasn’t he some ‘brogrammer’ and CTO of some media outfit? Doesn’t he have to be competent at something to get that job in the first place. My answer is sure.. predominately administrative jobs require one to be very good at deceiving, backstabbing, cheating, scamming and gaming others. The hard skills are however pretty much optional, even if you are a CTO.
Now let us see how Matt responded to this news. Here are some of his more relevant tweets.
#standwithpax because you shouldn’t lose your job because of your completely unrelated political views. 3:31 PM – 10 Sep 13
#standwithpax because if you can’t exercise freedom of speech without a lynch mob coming after you, then freedom of speech does not exist. 3:34 PM – 10 Sep 13
#standwithpax Seriously you morons, you think Nick Denton cares about you? He and Valleywag just wanted to hurt a competitor. 3:44 PM – 10 Sep 13
@rooshv “First they came for the anti-feminists, and I did not speak up because I was not an anti-feminist…” 4:13 PM – 11 Sep 13
Matt also re-tweeted some stuff by RooshV in support of Pax, but that is beside the point. Here is my problem with all this support for Pax- Is it really about the freedom of speech? Let us be clear about a few things- no one has arrested Pax, slapped him with some heavy fine or otherwise fucked him over.. yet. There are no calls for actual human sacrifice and so far no body has shot him or beat him up. It is also not as if Pax is some poor marginal guy who lives from one paycheck to the other. Furthermore, his tweets were relevant to his job function as he was also supposedly involved in recruiting new talent for that company. And this brings me to my real problem with Matts support for Pax.
What is in it for Matt?
I can totally understand if Matt supported the unpopular opinions of a fellow blogger or somebody he knew in person. I can also understand support for a cause greater than a person. But Pax? Seriously? The only way Matt and Pax would ever meet is Matt chauffeuring Pax around a golf course or resort. Or maybe Matt working as a security guard in the building where Pax worked. The unfortunate reality is that Pax and Matt are never going to meet as equal human beings under the current system- even if Matt is smarter and more competent than Pax. Ya, all that talk about meritocracy in silicon valley is bullshit. Sure, merit can get you an entry-level job so that you slave away to make some connected fratboy even richer. But that is about it. You will never rise beyond a certain level in any company, irrespective of your work ethic, competence, intelligence or creativity.
Simply put, Matts support for Pax is as rational as a concentration camp Jew supporting Nazis. It might buy you a few extra days or weeks, but it won’t change the eventual outcome.
Moving on, Matt also tweeted about Bill de Blasio winning the democratic primary for the upcoming mayoral election in NYC. So let us have a look at some of Matts tweets about that bit of news.
Bill de Blasio for Mayor: because who needs safe streets and low crime rates anyway? #NYC2013 #crockthevote 10:23 PM – 10 Sep 13
Bill de Blasio for Mayor: because why should we let Chicago and Detroit have all the murder and mayhem? #NYC2013 #crockthevote 10:30 PM – 10 Sep 13
If de Blasio becomes mayor, watch for an influx of vapid HuffPo/Daily Beast columns about Chirlane’s “beauty” and “style.” 11:25 AM – 11 Sep 13
Let us, for a moment, imagine that electing Bill de Blasio will somehow result in NYC returning to the ‘exciting’ 1970s and 1980s. Let us also imagine that ‘black crime’ goes up and the streets of NYC suddenly become more grittier. My question is – so what? Does the destruction of Bloombergs financial elite and police state favoring legacy really make things any worse for Matt? Given that Matt is not Jewish, rich or connected- he is pretty much screwed in the NYC of today. Sure.. he could find some job that paid enough to live paycheck to paycheck. Maybe he might even get a luck break and make it in the rapidly shrinking middle-class of NYC. But is he really going to benefit from the policies of Giuliani and Bloomberg? Is he going to get a job or vocation that allows him to make millions per year. Will he be ever able to afford living in one of those fancy penthouse suites? In the best case scenario, he might see a few of them from the inside.. a few times each year. He will be lucky to, one day, own a small shitty house in NJ and commute daily to Manhattan.
So here is my free, and unsolicited, advise to Matt and others like him. Always think about what something means for you, rather than some fictional version of yourself. Carrying free water for rich assholes will never get you anywhere and they will never help you or even remember your help- even if you have the same skin color or last name as them. The alternative is that you could just keep on doing what you are doing now and then realize that you got conned a couple of decades from now.
What do you think? comments?
Continuing onward from the previous part of this series, let me describe the long process via which I reached the conclusion that human vectors are far more problematic than pathogenic humans. Part of this journey has been described in one of my older articles, Nazis as Corporate Drones, in which I proposed that the mindset of loyal Nazis was remarkably similar to the ideal american corporate drone. But why? Why do some people make loyal Nazis or good corporate drones, while many others just don’t fit in such institutions or care about their assigned tasks. A glimpse into what makes loyal Nazis and corporate drones can be found later on in the same article and I quote..
It does not take a genius to figure out that moderately ambitious personalities with little ability for independent thought, but just enough brain-power to carry the task they have been assigned, will flourish in such institutions.
It is however clear that being an average, mediocre and conformist simpleton is only part of what makes a loyal Nazi or corporate drone. If that was not so, almost any guy on the street could be molded into a mindless loyal Nazi or corporate drone. But that is not the case and history shows that most people make incompetent Nazis or corporate drones. That is not to say they are stupid. Indeed, those who do it inefficiently understand the nature of the job much better than those who do it efficiently.
So what are the extra conditions, predispositions and circumstances necessary to create loyal Nazis or corporate drones?
Interviews of those who committed genocide in the name of the Third Reich are a good place to start. I have read many transcripts and seen many interviews of such people and here are some of my observations. The vast majority of those who participated in such activities appear very normal, even ‘extra-normal’, on multiple levels. Almost all of them had families, wives, children and dogs. You can see photographs of them enjoying picnics, fishing, beach holidays, family functions during the same time they were killing thousands of unarmed people in their day jobs. They do not appear to have any conventional mental illness nor do they display any real remorse, guilt or conscience for what they were doing. They seemed to more concerned about their promotions, living quarters and family lives.
Now some of you might say that they were just trying to make the best of what was at hand. Maybe they were trying to protect their minds from the realities of what they were doing. I could buy that argument but for one very glaring problem- they were very enthusiastic, motivated and diligent at performing their ‘daytime’ jobs. Many had great pride at their efficiency at doing what they did. That is most unlike a person forced to kill someone else to stay alive. And one more thing- the behavior, attitudes, mindset and worldview of the average loyal Nazi was very reminiscent of the average faithful Mormon, something we will revisit later on in this series.
It is especially fascinating to see that the moderate intelligence, blind obedience to large institutions, child-like faith in authority, clean-cut lifestyle, strong family ties and extreme conformism was especially prevalent in loyal Nazis as it is in american corporate drones and faithful mormons. But was that just a simple coincidence or does it point to something else? What about other genocides during the 20th century? Were the perpetrators mentally similar to the loyal Nazis or corporate drones?
To answer that question, let us look at the other great genocide of the 1930s-1940s aka Japanese rule in China. While the Japanese killed more Chinese than the Nazis killed Jews, it is not as well documented as the later one. To complicate matters further, most Japanese still do not accept that what they did was wrong and veterans of that era are very reluctant to talk about their actions. However even a basic understanding of Japanese history and society would suggest that Japanese are not especially violent in Japan. Indeed, it is and has been a remarkably safe place as long as stable governance exists. So what accounts for the most peculiar Japanese behavior in China during the 1930s-1940s?
Here is my theory.. the average Japanese had all the features of a loyal Nazi. Everything from the moderate intelligence, blind obedience to large institutions, child-like faith in authority, clean-cut lifestyle, strong family ties and extreme conformism was even more prevalent in Japanese society than WW2-era German society. Curiously, they also make excellent corporate drones. Coincidence? I think not! The same is also true for the loyal british bureaucrats and soldiers who slaved away and committed various genocides for the empire. They were all cut from the same metaphoric cloth.
In the next part I shall explore how all of this fits into the world of today.
What do you think? Comments?
The transmission of infectious diseases from one host to another can occur in a number of ways. Some involve direct physical contact between the two hosts or their bodily secretions and excretions, others involve an inanimate intermediary such as water, food or soil. A small but significant number of pathogens utilize a temporary host, often of a different species from their main host, to jump from one host to the other.
Temporary or secondary hosts that facilitate the transmission of a pathogen are known as vectors.
Most of you are aware that certain genera of mosquitoes transmit malaria and a number of other viruses and parasites. Fleas transmit diseases such as plague and epidemic typhus. Houseflies facilitate the spread of many pathogens that causes gastrointestinal illnesses and ticks transmit the bacterial species that cause lyme disease among many others. I could go on, but this post is about the dynamics of human societies, not medical microbiology.
In the past, I have often compared the true elite (the 0.1 or 0.01%) to mindless pathogens whose purpose for existence seems to center around stealing from and damaging their hosts, regardless of the long-term consequences. But how do they do that, given their rather small numbers both in absolute terms and as a percentage of the total population? Did any genocidal tyrant ever personally kill even a tiny fraction of the people who died under their rule? How many Jews did Hitler kill with his own hands? what about Stalin? How many people did Stalin kill with his own hands? How many Indians did Churchill personally kill? In all of the above cases, and every other instance of genocide, those who gave the orders were almost never involved in carrying them out.
The same is true for leaders who order their nations into war, CEOs who fire thousands of people, bankers who steal trillions from millions.
The success of such ‘endeavors’ depended around their ability to commandeer the temporary loyalty of a minority of the population who carry out their orders and wishes. Without these people, or should we say.. vectors, the malicious wishes and desires of the elite would be little more than pipe-dreams. They would have no ability to influence anything beyond their immediate environment and even then they would probably be quickly killed off by the first few people they tried to harm or steal from.
The elite in every social system are therefore completely dependent upon the continued existence of a much larger number, though still a minority, of vectors to carry out their malicious designs. I should also point out that exterminating one group of elites often results in another bunch filling their spots and continuing the malicious behavior, if in a somewhat different direction.
Exterminating vectors and their progeny is the only foolproof way of destroying elites.
But who are these vectors in human societies? How can you identify them? How did they arise in the first place? What motivates them? What is going on inside their little heads? What is their survival strategy? How do you break them? How do you destroy them? How do you prevent their reemergence?
Vectors in human society can be identified by the nature of their jobs, their level of enthusiasm for their vocations and the underlying motivation for doing whatever they do. Vectors work in jobs, occupations and vocations that directly (or indirectly) serve the elites, implement their dystopic visions, enforce their ideas and collect rent for them. Vectors are also distinguishable from other non-elites by an unusually high degree of enthusiasm towards their often openly dystopic and inhumane vocations. Many of them are true believers in the inherent goodness of whatever they do and believe that the elites really embody virtues. Almost every single vector sees himself (or herself) as morally superior to the people they are robbing, abusing and killing.
One of the most peculiar and distinguishing feature of vectors is their high levels of devotion to their own family and children. All vectors are great “family” men and women. They invest a lot of themselves in the upbringing of their progeny. As you will see later on, this presents a particularly interesting and exploitable vulnerability.
In the next part of this series, I shall list the most commonly encountered vector subtypes, what they do, why they do it and what motivates them.
What do you think? Comments?