How the Institutions of an Established Ideology Speed Up its Demise
An accelerating loss of trust in the objectivity and competence of secular and credentialed “experts” is one of the defining features of our age. People, especially those with more than a basic level of education, have increasingly stopped believing in the competence and abilities of these so-called “experts” like they used to in the “good old days”. While the ivy-league and ox-bridge educated priest-charlatans of today would want you to believe that this is somehow a bad thing, a look at the real world strongly suggests otherwise.
The last decade has seen numerous high-visibility examples of “experts” from various fields dispensing advice that was either plain wrong, maliciously incorrect or as a way to cover up their lack of real understanding of the problems. These high-visibility examples have occurred in areas as diverse as medical research and economics, demonstrating that the problem of experts who are either wrong, lying or misleading is not confined to a few fields. However the visible decay in public trust of experts seen in the last ten years is only a continuation of a trend that started a couple of decades before.
Why did people start losing their trust in secular experts?
To better understand how secular elitist charlatans started losing their authority, let us take a look at an earlier but similar process that led to the loss of traditional religious authority. Though some of you might find it hard to believe it, religion was once the preeminent source of social authority. Most people in the past actually lived their lives according to some interpretation of a series of supposedly divine revelation received by some guy they never met. They did so inspite of any objective evidence that it made their lives safer, better or even more tolerable. While the reasons they did that are interesting in their own right, the more relevant question is- Why did traditional religious authority experience such a steep decline in last one hundred years after reigning supreme for the previous few thousand years?
In my opinion, it comes down to two things. Firstly, traditional regions could not compete with the material goodies delivered by secular ideologies. Praying to some dude who supposedly died for your “sins (whatever than means) does not deliver well heated houses, surplus food, better public health or radio and TV. It is therefore not surprising that “experts” associated with traditional religious ideologies were increasingly seen as obsolete and impotent, especially in comparison to their secular counterparts. But loss of relevance, by itself, was not the death-blow for the authority of traditional religious experts. It was another set of issues that truly sealed their fate and I believe that those same issues are responsible for the ongoing authority loss of secular experts.
But what are ideologies, anyway?
Well.. all ideologies are confidence scams based on creating and propagating simplified and somewhat plausible models of reality for the sole purpose of enriching a few at the cost of many. The creators, propagators and beneficiaries of ideologies have no clue about reality- nor do they have any interest in trying to find out more. They simply use the desire of others to understand reality to enrich themselves, not unlike parasites that use the life force of the host to benefit themselves- often to the detriment of the host. All ideologies are spread and kept alive through misrepresentations, exaggerations, outright lies, sophistry and manipulating others with the main purpose of extracting unearned compensation. Ideologies can however keep on going as long as they are not seriously challenged and there is a new supply of suckers (high birth and death rate).
What causes older ideologies to falter, fail and eventually vanish?
It comes down to actively, though unintentionally, repelling believers through repeated failed attempts at asserting control over the narrative. Let me explain this in a bit more detail. All successful new ideologies (cons), start out with enough doctrinal and ideological flexibility to successfully navigate the environment in which they were created. However their end game, building centralized extractive institutions, require doctrinal and ideological rigidity. Therefore ideological frameworks that started out as fairly flexible and open will transform into inflexible and closed institutions that maintain their power via fear, treachery and attempts at brain-washing. However doing so has little to no effect on the physical world. This leads to an increasing gap between the real world and the distorted model used by believers of an ideology, such that it is very obvious that the ideology is incorrect.
How do the defenders of a faith react to this increase in public dissatisfaction?
The short answer is that they double down, stick to their dogma even harder and defend it even more vociferously. The somewhat longer answer requires us to first understand who these defenders of the faith are and are not. Contrary to what many of you might believe- the biggest beneficiaries of any large scam are seldom its biggest public defenders or champions. Instead the defenders of faith, aka the priest-charlatan “expert” types, typically come from a less affluent (but still comfortable) strata of society. Most of them are smart, but insecure, social climbers who hope to use their public displays of loyalty to the elite as an entrance into that layer of society. Of course, they almost never succeed doing so but that topic belongs to a different discussion.
Getting back to our discussion- How do the reactions of institutional priest-charlatans end up killing the ideology that gives them legitimacy? It comes down to how they react to a progressively stream of bad news. Smart con-artists can usually cut their loss and move on to reinvent themselves. However, priest-charlatans, are not that clever. Moreover many have spent years and decades of their lives defending that ideology in the naive hope that it would facilitate their entry into the elite class.
Hence they stick to their guns and start mounting highly visible and vociferous defenses of their lost cause. Every small attack on them ends up being magnified, largely due to their increasingly desperate and ineffectual responses. Their institutions become increasingly intolerant of those members who display even moderate tendencies towards dissent or reform, and thus lose the very people who could have saved them from irrelevance through change or reform.
This is not to say that the reform and dissent angle is totally ignored by priest-charlatans. Indeed, they love to create and publicize non-functional versions of both in order to fool people. However the fakeness of official attempts at dissent and reform quickly become obvious and resulting in a further loss of image for the priest-charlatans. The downward spiral keeps on going until a competing ideology successfully displaces it from its position or the society it operates in becomes too dysfunctional to support the physical and human infrastructure necessary to keep it going. Secular ideologies displacing religious ones in the early 20th century was an example of the first scenario, the slow motion falling-apart we are witnessing is an example of the second.
What do you think? Comments?