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What RooshV Does Not Understand About Human Organizations

March 9, 2013 7 comments

I recently saw a post by RooshV in which he wrote about how communication technology based surveillance, data mining etc would somehow create a revolution- and disintegration- proof conformist society, rather like a lite version of 1984. As it turns out, I had considered these issues and written about them in some of my older posts.

My overall conclusion was that attempting to pull of such a thing with any degree of sincerity would mark the end of viable society. Note my choice of words- ‘viable’ not ‘optimal’, ‘functional’ or ‘dysfunctional’.

Let us begin by looking at the topic through the prism of history. The idea of creating conformist societies in which everyone spied on each other and snitched for an extra helping of food or other favors has been tried since the beginning of ‘civilization’. So how have these past attempts fared? Have they delivered stability or have their leaders (or elites) been able to retain power over any significant length of time?

The simple answer to the above stated questions is that any serious attempt to pull of such things almost inevitably causes the destruction of that system- typically after 1 generation of economic stasis. If you could engineer social and regime stability through repression, snitching and surveillance- the USSR would still be a viable entity and East Germany with its extensive snitch-based spy apparatus would still be around. China would not have to spend all those resources trying to patrol the internet within its borders nor would North Korea be so concerned about keeping up its ‘image’ with the home audience.

But have you wondered why oppression-based societies wither, fail and come apart? They certainly do not have to worry about the opinions or ideas of heretics and they can use any combination of hard and soft force to put down internal dissent and rebellion. They can even control news about important event and restrict what people can say in the public and often in the private. So why do they progressively become more fragile and dysfunctional?

The answer to that question is not found in the goodness of the human soul (if something like that even exists) or the human need for freedom. The increasing levels of fragility, dysfunction and ultimate failure of all oppression-based regimes are largely due to a set of factors and dynamics that escapes paid ‘intellectual’ shills.. I mean ‘famous’ thinkers and ‘great’ philosophers.

Oppression-based societies fail because of the nature, staffing, growth and evolution of organisations which implement those policies. These issues (or systemic defects) are fundamentally uncorrectable because they are part and parcel of the structure, functioning and evolution of any hierarchical organisation. I should add that human attitudes and tendencies also contribute to the trajectory, stages and end results of societal failure in oppression-based societies.

The first clue to what can go wrong in oppression-based societies comes from understanding the actual working dynamics of mature information gathering and intelligence services. Irrespective of the degree of automation and computerization used for intelligence gathering or processing, these organisations are shaped by the limitations of those who work for them and fund them.

So what kind of person ends up working for such organisations?

Contrary to what most of you think- almost no person employed by these organisations is a genius, a creative thinker or even highly motivated. The stifling bureaucracy, political intrigue, pettiness and hierarchy inherent within such organisations does a very good of excluding the truly intelligent, competent and capable. The average ‘successful’ employee in these organisations is therefore almost always a moderately clever but supremely mediocre and risk-averse person whose sole purpose in life is to get a steady pay, obtain a few promotions and then retire with a nice pension. They have no real motivation to do, or even think about, anything beyond what is necessary to achieve their personal goals.

Even the adventurous and enthusiastic ones quickly realize that it is easier, safer and much more profitable to sit in an air-conditioned office in some government building than stick to their youthful dreams of adventure and fame.The upper levels are no better and usually staffed by people with considerable expertise in self-promotion, back-stabbing and saving their own asses. While they try to convey an image of competence, reach and omnipotence; it is rather clear that they are anything but what they claim to be.

It is also important to understand that large organisations are hostile and impersonal environments in which careers are linked to largely worthless and frequently counterproductive metrics of performance. The success or failure of people in organisations depends on their ability to game metrics or create new ones to justify their job or acquire more power and resources. Since we still pay people to be busy or at least appear so, the ‘successful’ ones try their best to do so- even if that causes more problems than it solves. It is therefore no wonder that people who are paid to solve problems create more of them and increase the cost of solving them. The people paid to suppress dissent and monitor others therefore have a lot of incentives to create or imagine more problems than try to do their job.

So what happens when deteriorating external conditions make those who fund such organisations put their foot down and make them actually do what they claim to be able to do?

The short answer is that it exposes their incompetence and inability to perform their jobs, but the longer answer is far more interesting and revealing. It begins with understanding why the rulers or elite in any society would want to increase oppression inspite of the well-known risks of doing that to their own futures. Elites demand more oppression at home when they sense that they cannot maintain their current or expected lifestyles and positions through ‘normal’ levels of exploitation. This usually occurs after the existing socio-economic paradigm has started to fail in a visible manner, often for reasons beyond human control. The first instinctive response to reductions in economic rent and wealth transfer is simply ramping up plain oppression and propaganda and try to make everybody else work harder for less. The ‘simple intensification’ approach will however quickly reach a plateau necessitating the next step- namely extensive and systemic repression. However doing so starts a chain of events which ultimately causes that society to come apart.

It starts with an expansion of intelligence gathering, interpretation and law enforcement capabilities which in turn requires the recruitment of more personnel to work in those organisations. While filling these positions is usually easy, especially in times of general economic stasis and decline, increased recruitment in these areas creates a few problems. Firstly, it is necessary to create a constant stream of more work to justify the continued existence of these new positions. Therefore these agencies become increasingly obsessed with seeing and creating problems where none exist. Secondly, the extra powers and perks given those who work in these organisations become addictive and often result in more power grabs and abuses. These changes are not ignored by the rest of society and the organisations which benefit from them are increasingly seen as vile, extortive, corrupt, incompetent and harmful- even by those who used to support them.

The rapid loss of public trust and respect is however not a concern for these organisations as they simply don’t care about the opinions of ‘other’ people. Moreover, there is no shortage of people who want to work for them, due in large part to the generally bleak prospects of employment outside the “spying-law-order” complex. The continued increase in employment in this sector does however worsen the general social dysfunction and loss of trust in the overall system mentioned in the previous paragraph. At this stage, the routine operations of these organisations starts to adversely affect the normal functioning of other institutions and organisations which are critical to the viability of that society.

Eventually this dysfunction results in an abrupt and unpredictable (but inevitable) cascading failure of the core networks, facilities and institutions which keep that society viable. It certainly does not help that almost none in such a society has any desire or interest in resurrecting the previous status quo. While large and hierarchical organisations are very capable of exploiting orderly societies, they are unable to do so once those societies lose order for more than a few months.

What do you think? Comments?