Sunday, 24 March 2019

There is no such thing as racism, there is only the scapegoat


If your desire is to submit, the only question is to what?

It's impossible to miss the alliance between progressives and Islam.

Many have tried to explain it, myself included, by pointing to humanitarian or altruistic ideals. The progressives are caring people. I used to think the alliance was about suppressing the progressive's true enemies - the traditionalist Christians - and to be fair, raw Machiavellian games is definitely a factor. Anyone who gains power wants to protect it.

But I'm starting to suspect that progressivism and Islam are actually the same thing.

Why? Because both religions use the scapegoat - the single-victim mechanism - to manufacture and achieve power in a system of society the Bible refers to as "powers and principalities." The magical effect of the scapegoat might have been exposed by Jesus' death on the cross, but its lure over humans remains. Jesus' project was to counter this structure of power, which is why both progressives and Muslims want to destroy any legacy of his anti-sacrifice message. In this disturbing way, the progressives are the true reactionaries. That's not a sentence you're going to read anywhere else.

Jesus wanted to offer humanity another way to live together without the need for violence, he called it the Kingdom of God and it has nothing to do with the afterlife. Satan fell from heaven because heaven is a place where the scapegoat mechanism does not work, and Satan is the name for the scapegoat mechanism. Wherever the scapegoat mechanism operates, heaven cannot exist. Jesus idea was the only out-of-the-box thinking that has ever actually mattered. Every previous (and subsequent) idea of society has required either the ritualisation of the scapegoat or the raw plague-like grip on a community demanding the expulsion of an innocent victim, generally with a lot of blood.

In other words, only two attempts at building society have been made in a million years: the sacrificial and the non-sacrificial. For the eternity of history, the sacrificial model has dominated all cultures. As French philosopher Rene Girard points out, Jesus was the first to outline the second option, a non-sacrificial model, by standing on the shoulders of his Jewish prophet forebears who were also chipping away for centuries to answer why their tribe was always singled out for blame. That Jews are the progressive's most vocal and vicious propagandists today should make them embarrassed.

Islam has a built-in permission to offer sacrifice because it is a deeply sacrificial religion, choosing first to use the archaic myth of the scapegoat and rework it for power. Here's how Girard sees it:
Islam maintains a relation to death that convinces me that this religion has nothing to do with archaic myths .... The mystical relation of Islam with death makes it even more mysterious to us. At first, Americans took these Muslim kamikazes [of 9/11] for "cowards," but, very quickly, they began to see them differently. The mystery of their suicide thickens the mystery of their terrorist act. 
Yes, Islam is a religion of sacrifice in which we find also the theory of mimetic rivalry and the model. The candidates for the act of suicide are not lacking when terrorism seems to fail. Imagine, then, what is happening now when -- if I dare say -- it has succeeded. It is evident that in the Muslim world, the kamikaze terrorists embody models of saintliness.
[I]n Christianity the martyr does not die in order to be copied. The Christian can be moved to pity over him, but he does not desire to die like him. He is suspicious of it, even. The martyr is for Christians a model to accompany them but not a model for throwing oneself into the fire with him. In Islam it's different. You die as a martyr in order to be copied and thus manifest a project of transforming the world politically. 
[Christian passion] narratives announce the cross, the death of the innocent victim, the victory over all the sacrificial myths of antiquity.
Is it so different in Islam? Islam has also formidable prophetic insights about the relation between the crowd, the myths, victims, and sacrifice. In the Muslim tradition, the ram Abel sacrificed is the same as the one God sent to Abraham so that he could spare his son. Because Abel sacrificed rams, he did not kill his brother. Because Cain did not sacrifice animals, he killed his brother. In other words, the sacrificial animal avoids the murder of the brother and the son. That is, it furnishes an outlet for violence. Thus Mohammed had insights which are on the plane of certain great Jewish prophets, but at the same time we find a concern for antagonism and separation from Judaism and Christianity that may negate our interpretation.
Some elements in Islam can sublimate the violence produced by mimetic desire, but its antagonism and separation from Judaism and Christianity, not because they are rival religions, but because the non-sacrificial model of society is the deepest challenge to the core power of the sacrificial model.

What really bothers me is that the most successful form of Christianity extant today - progressivism - looks and sounds suspiciously like Islam. After all, progressivism is arguably the default setting of "the good society" for the entire planet. “Those who live by the sword, die by the sword” refers to how those who use the scapegoat to attain power will, in turn, be removed from power by the same mechanism. This reciprocity, revenge and envy saturate progressivism and Islam in everything the religions do.

What do the progressives see as the scapegoat? White men. A white man's social purpose is simple: build and maintain the system. Building means exactly what you think it means, but maintaining progressive society requires that white men appear as targets of blame to keep the rest from killing each other. Arabs, Chinese, blacks and women would have no other reason to like each other aside from their uniform instruction to hate white men. The great fear in progressivism is that once the minorities stop believing that the white man is universally evil, the glue holding multiculturalism together will be gone. At that point, it'll be a race to the nuclear codes. Progressivism depends on the white man scapegoat for its very existence.

I talk about the scapegoat a lot on this blog, and I get that it's hard to see the mechanism at work in society because it hides itself so well. But if you know where to look, it is disturbingly obvious. For example, have you ever wondered why humans find it so easy to play sports?

Let's ask this in a different way. Why can two basketball teams play together, but a basketball team and a soccer team find it impossible? "They're not playing the same sport, duh." Sure, but that doesn't explain why playing the same sport matters more than playing any sport at all. If it were just about sport, then a soccer and basketball team could mingle on the same field. Since they can't, there's something about similarity that creates a sport. This is a clue.

This goes all the way back to when you were a baby. Humans aren't born knowing what to want, and they are almost never taught how to want, so we copy (mimic) our parents and nearby tribe. That's fine, and there's nothing wrong with copying so long as the model being copied cannot ever be exactly copied. Another clue. The problem is when two people mimicking each other do it so well they become mirror-images - desiring the same object in the same way. At that point, the object of desire no longer matters and all that remains is a one-track need to remove the other, the rival, twin or double. This is the core of all myth, legend and comic book story.

Either the twins come to blows, or they deflect their rivalrous energy back onto the world. This deflection is meant to avoid either rival giving up their desire and genuinely becoming an individual, thereby cancelling any need for violence. Since most people on this spiral of rivalry don't know they're on it (and humans will do anything to avoid change) the rival twins rationally assume the cause of the tension must be coming from outside. "It can't be me, it must be that guy!"

And since the reason they're rivals in the first place was the copying, then agreeing that the problem ain't them is too easy. Maybe the rivals aren't strong enough to remove the scapegoat by themselves, but when an entire group of people mimic each other to the point of mimetic crisis? Woo, mama. Better get out the mop, cos there will be blood. When a society becomes too similar, it creates cataclysmic moment as the crowd turns on a single victim, driving it away in a frenzy, often killing it in the process.

Why would anyone do this? It is a massive payoff if a group can keep believing the Other was the cause of their tension, especially when the release of violence created a magical calm over the crowd and they all feel they can live together once more. But since the fundamental problem was not solved (the copying and mimicry), tensions inevitably rise again until another scapegoat is required to dispell. I suppose, in the absence of truly becoming a society of individuals, picking a single victim is better than all-on-all combat. But that doesn't make sacrifice a good thing.

So, the way I see it, this is exactly what's going on when two teams of basketball players can play a sport, but a soccer and basketball team just stand around awkwardly. The two basketball teams are mimicking each other. They have the same shirts, follow the same rules, share a common goal/desire, speak a lingo, gather on the same court, etc. The object of desire may be the basketball itself and getting it through the hoop more times than the rival team, but the common desire could also be competition for an actual or hypothetical woman, or perhaps money, a fancy car or prestige.

Both teams cannot win the game, but both desire to. This creates a tension that can only be solved by defeating the rival and differentiating the two teams as winner and loser. If one team is a winner and the other a loser, the two are no longer identical and the tension ends (as does the basketball game). The object of desire is secured by one rival, but not the other. In this way, basketball is revealed as a ritualisation of a system that used to - and sometimes still does - result in proper violence. The two basketball rivals (a word regularly used in sport) can always return next week for another round of mimetic tension-and-release. After all, "basketball" is never over.

Yet basketball fails if everyone wears ten different shirt colours, they do not appear alike enough, even though the rules haven't changed. That's why uniforms are key to "civilised" sports, and why "streetball" is vicious. And have you ever tried introducing a second basketball into the game? Everyone gets confused because there is no longer a single object of desire. That's why soccer players on a basketball court is dumb, even though, technically, both teams want to play a sport.

Why am I telling you all this?

Because earlier this month a man walked into two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand and killed 49 Muslims. I didn't want to write about this because I couldn't get my thoughts straight. And besides, all mass shootings come from the same place: "I don't care what anyone else thinks." I also figured it wouldn't be very useful to say again how narcissism is leading us into a mimetic crisis of global proportions that will at least end with a beautiful nuclear fireworks display over a city near you.

However, on the evening of March 15, I made a point to write down every thought I had about the shooting as it came to mind. In my life, no one close to me has died yet and although I write about terrorism and security issues for a living, it hadn't happened in my country. I wanted to watch my reaction like a psychologist. And now I understand why Jesus told Peter no matter how strong he thought he was, when the crowd starts rumbling, no one avoids the single-victim mechanism.

Below are my chronological thoughts in all their freshness, ignorance and rawness. Pay attention:
  • They won’t call him crazy
  • Lone wolves are tough to spot
  • What if his narrative is correct?
  • Proximity + diversity = conflict 
  • Lots of anger against Muslims from previous attacks
  • Aimless, loser men, no capacity of the system to absorb them
  • Will there be integration programmes for young, loser white men?
  • When you remove the ability for people to express their dissatisfaction officially, you leave only the option of violence
  • This is identity politics
  • The result of the scapegoat
  • Churches offering Muslims a place to pray - do none of these people believe in their religion anymore? So inauthentic. No wonder people think religion is hollow
  • Do people really think this is a widespread thing? Like, one guy shoots up a mosque and police tell all mosques to look out in case the horde of other shooters living on the edge seize the moment?
  • Why can’t I defend men as a sex?
  • Not terrorism, only the left deals in terrorism 
  • 44 Christians killed by Muslims in a church bombing on Palm Sunday in 2017, crickets from the media
  • As Marshal McLuhan said, WW3 will be fought by everyone against everyone, without distinction for soldier or civilian. Is this what bin Laden meant by “in a democracy, all people are legitimate targets”?
  • Silly man. All actions that mimic progressivism only serve to boost progressivism 
  • I thought you said terrorism was just something we all must live with in a modern nation? Now you want to clamp down? Either the Muslims were pussies and easily won over by trinkets and the promise of sex, or the real battle was always between different kinds of white men
  • What do we do with all these people? Will UBI be enough to stop us rioting?
  • I can’t see how any of us are a group. What does it mean to be a New Zealander? What, aside from soil, do we have in common? What’s the project? Why are we living together, rather than apart? What’s the point of cities? What’s the point of a nation-state? What are the ties that bind, the lines that connect? Why was my first feeling about this just apathy? Can anyone describe what this all is for, why I should care, I mean, outside the raw human aversion to violence? But even then, is it true there is never a reason for violence? 
  • His problem is simple. He blames other men for his inability to have sex with the kind of women he thinks he should be able to fuck
  • Is this what it felt like for the Muslims when ISIS/AQ killed westerners?
  • If we’re at war, then this apathy makes sense. What should we make of the people who say we’re not in conflict? Does a denial of conflict display power or weakness?

Can you see what happened? Even looking at these a week later is nauseating. You can see the tribalism and immediate blame as I move through the night. My mind pulls together threads, desperate to make sense of the event. I have no real depth, no unique thoughts. Just spiralling around and around, ever-upwards until...

Until, a friend sent me this message at about 1030pm:
"It's days like today that your mantra 'the problem is always you' rings loud and clear."
And just like that, I snapped out of my trance. I suddenly saw how easy it was to slip into the crowd and join the frenzy. I found myself on a team, playing metaphorical basketball, without ever being in control of my actions. Before that evening, I was sure I could sidestep the crowd in its most mimetic form, but now I understand it is nearly impossible. Unless you do it like Jesus.

When Jesus approached the yelling crowd in the town square preparing to stone a girl for adultery, he made a point not to look into their eyes and crouched down to draw in the sand as he spoke. He knew that making eye contact would reveal only the madness of the single-victim mechanism, the power of the scapegoat. He could see the crowd was too similar, too undifferentiated. Full of doubles, rivals and obstacles. Each one identical to the next in their hatred for the girl. She was the reason, they thought, for their anxiety and pain. She must die.

But Jesus interrupts them, turning the crowd's eyes, still red with the deepest magic, onto him instead. At that moment, if Jesus looked up, he would be stoned in the frenzy of the mechanism, not the girl. He knew that. So Jesus looks down, forcing the crowd to see each other in their bloodlust, revealing just how similar they all are. And Jesus says “let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” And the spell is broken. There is now someone different in the crowd. The mimetic crisis has failed.

Lacking a scapegoat, the crowd revealing itself to itself, the magic of the single-victim mechanism cannot manifest. Satan is cast aside, rejected, without power. The crowd begins to break up. It’s members glimpsing the unspoken truth about human society: the problem is you, it’s always you. The crowd walks away. Jesus stays crouched, playing in the dirt until no shadows surround him and the birds sing again. All that remains in the square is a crumpled girl with a tear-stained face and the only man who ever understood how to defeat the scapegoat. He stands up.

But one day soon after, Jesus is killed by that same crowd because his actions in the square weren't enough to prove the evil of the scapegoat. He chose to become the scapegoat to reveal the truth that has been hidden since the foundation of the world: society is built by the crowd's murder of innocents. He dies so that sacrifice can be unmasked and its power broken. Nietzsche was right: there was only one Christian, and he died on the cross. Every "Christian" since has struggled not to ally itself to the sacrificial model, and failed. The scapegoat remains in control. I know, I felt it on Friday, March 15.

The Christchurch shooter's violence was an invitation to join him, to mimic him. The scapegoat wants mimetic rivalry to build to a crisis, that's how it wins. Violence is the undercurrent call to become a mirror-image, to discard our individuality and be part of the crowd. The only answer is to turn the other cheek, defusing the mimetic spiral before it escalates to all-on-all violence. Forgiveness is not ethereal or wishy-washy, it is a path towards a society without the need for blood. We must refuse every invitation to mimic another person.

Forgiveness at all costs. It’s not the most satisfactory answer to Christchurch, but it’s the only one that will save us. Unfortunately, I have never heard a Muslim or a progressive forgive. It is this, above all else, that makes them exactly the same thing.

Notes on the system - 16

Saying what the eye sees – rather than what the brain sees – is like a camera shutter. Long exposures soak in more light. Short exposures are for speed. The following rough notes are about light:

Trapped

See, the thing is, if you commit a crime and the judge decides not to send you to prison due to your high education and promising life trajectory, it’s not because you’re special. This has nothing to do with wealth and status. We live in a consumer society. Your education and career expectations simply indicate that you are more useful - from the system’s perspective - outside the prison than inside. You’re still trapped, just in a different way.

Decay

In a democracy, those in power can never say the masses do anything bad of their own volition because the powerful rely on the masses for their power. And so the morals and ethics of the masses metonymically drop over time, even while the masses believe they are acting better and better. The result is a constant decay of civilisation.

What's it all for?

The craving for material goods (the source of the desire for power) is not so much about the direct pleasures of wealth. You can’t sit on more than one chair or eat more than makes you full. Rather, a gathering of material goods is to convince yourself that all this energy is for something, that activity matters. It’s a distraction from the pointlessness of living. We look back at those who gathered to build something the Great Pyramid at Giza and wonder why they agreed to spend their precious time on a seemingly pointless project. But today we gather in cities to do a whole series of jobs for...what, exactly? Is this thing we call “GDP” the modern version of a pyramid? Going to the moon was a massive propaganda project and seems bizarre now, but at least it was a goal. Even with all our ideas and multiculturalism, no can offer a reason for effort aside from: get money to buy stuff.

Higher authorities

Parents can’t handle being parents. They can’t handle being the ultimate arbiter of a controversy,  because they’re not practised in being the ultimate anything. Stripped of all power as children and never given either power or responsibility, they drown in freedom and now look for a practical solution to their existential crisis: everything always has a higher authority. Call the cops, call the school, call the government. The idiocy is mind-boggling, certainly, but it's compounded by the message it sends to their own kids: higher authorities exist for everything. Just not God. That’s for stupid people.

No defences

Why would the “refugees” and “migrants” think twice about simply walking into Europe or the US? The hijackers on 9/11 used box cutters because they expected no resistance from Americans. Why would they expect resistance from Europeans? Both continents are full of people who care only about themselves. Sacrifice for the greater good is impossible in a land of pathological narcissism. The invaders keep coming because Americans aren’t Americans and Germans aren’t Germans. We're all just a group of individuals slowly distancing ourselves, living in proximity but not in connection.

How to hate your kids

We created the system only for us and it will last for as long, but only as long, as we are alive and that was as far as anyone ever thought it out. That means any kids under 10, rich or poor, will be left to make do with rubble - on purpose. That’s what they will inherit from people who say, without the least bit of irony: “might as well spend it because you can’t take it with you!” Yeah, no kidding, you’ve created a giant Ponzi scheme which is not just morally sketchy but downright mean to your kids. But what do you care, you’ll be dead.

Why die for that?

Is your suicide really because you have no other options, or because you have no other options to change the balance between you and another person? Far from a finality, your suicide sounds like a last attempt at immortality. In the insane narcissistic calculus of your mind, if you kill yourself then those ignoring you will never be able to forget you. Your problem isn’t that you have no options but that your value is measured by and relative to another person. And since you have discovered you can't control that person, it feels like you have no other option but suicide. But this is only a psychological defence to avoid personal change.

Forgiveness

There is an important difference between what happened to you and how you use what happened to you. One of these is something you have to live with while the other is something everyone else has to live with, and you will never be free. There is a distinction between the abuse affecting you, and defining yourself by the abuse. As much as you want another person to suffer, that desire is hurting you. I understand and respect it, I get it. But it will kill you. Forgiveness at any cost is the only way out.

Silenced online?

People don’t fear speaking out on the internet. They hate other people criticising their ideas even though they've broadcast those ideas straight into other people’s heads via a screen. I have more than a million words published online on various topics, some controversial, but I’ve never been silenced. The difference is I don’t demand other people read/validate those ideas.

Super-con

Superhero moves run a very specific con: heroism is only something people who have been bitten by a radioactive spider can do. Until that happens to you, better steer clear of doing anything heroic. “Only Spider-Man can do X - therefore it’s not my fault that I can’t.” Do you see? That’s not the activity of propaganda, although it looks to be. This con is a game we play on ourselves. The audience wants this distance. It wants heroes, celebrities, people with power - it wants an upper class - and it wants them inaccessible. This is what happens when an entire generation’s narcissism is threatened with injury - “since everything is possible, why aren’t you enjoying everything” Watching Spider-Man means at no point do you have to contemplate if, underneath all your frantic effort and identity construction, whether you’re simply inadequate. Who really wants to stare into the void? Exactly, hence we get the 19th reboot of everyone’s favourite Spider-Man. But when everyone is super, no one is.

Controlling the capital

If someone enters into a pay negotiation with you, they likely have a bigger appreciation of you than you do. In other words, they don’t want to pay you to work for them, they want to pay you not to work for anyone else. That’s called controlling the capital. You can say no, so long as you productively say no with an aim of getting the best deal. Get the other person a little bit pregnant, then they will absorb a lot of pressure because they can’t get unpregnant.

Picture of a value

Instagram’s great trick is that it disallows anyone to make a distinction between a value and the picture of a value, they are made equivalent. Criticising someone’s picture is made to sound like sexism, misogyny or racism. But the reality is that the online system can’t profit from a value unless it is in picture/video form. And to get people to take more photos, the system teaches us to overvalue the photo, which is necessarily at the expense of the object itself. Instagram is the female version of this fetishisation/commoditisation, but porn is the male version.

No threat to the system

Men often retort that the pay gap is untrue because otherwise, businesses would just hire a whole bunch of women and save money. Funny joke. Everyone laughs. But isn’t this precisely what businesses are doing? After all, if both men and women recognise that women tend not to ask for more pay, then it makes sense for the sum of the system’s individual vectors to result in more women hired. And what do we see today? Exactly this. Sexism and feminism are both tools used to increase consumption. The result is the same either way, which is why these are headline news: they don’t threaten a damn thing.

Why you fail

It’s said that most entrepreneurs fail, but this is incorrect: they fail at making a viable business, but they are successful at feeling like an entrepreneur. That feeling is the goal; the business is secondary, which is why it collapses. The identity as an entrepreneur is what matters most. The entrepreneurship itself, the frantic activity as a defence against impotence, help only to keep the rest of reality at bay. The all-important psychological defence is that things have the potential of possibly happening someday. But the moment you actually try, potential turns concrete: fail or success. That's too real, and you aim to be seen by others as how you wish to be seen, rather than becoming something no one can misinterpret.

Friday, 22 March 2019

Thoughts on the system - 21

There’s no way to describe the system, the organism. Its vocabulary is grossly underwhelming. The following rough thoughts are an attempt to outline the unoutlineable:
  • If men didn’t want to be deceived, women would have no motive for wearing makeup.
  • If you tax things you don’t want people to do, then what are we to make of the fact that porn is free?
  • You will not force me to lie just to accommodate your mental illness.
  • The true value of Facebook is priceless if it is essentially a for-profit state surveillance apparatus.
  • The definition of narcissism is, for instance, to believe because Jesus was resurrected that you too will come back from the dead.
  • The goal of the progressives is not to win the debate but to cancel it.
  • Modern democracy is the most successful form of oligarchic shadow government ever formed.
  • You have to prove an opponent is a persecutor in order to justify your own desire to persecute.
  • Just because it’s your dream doesn’t mean you should pursue it.
  • Women marry his lifestyle, men marry her body.
  • Rene Girard was right: the ethos of social networks is that you are nothing unless someone envies you.
  • Stop letting the system tell you who you are.
  • The general public is exhausted with masculine men not delivering on their masculinity.
  • What’s enraging for men is not that women are sluts, but that they are not sluts. Women can get what they want without paying for it because men simply give it to them.
  • Without risk, no gain was ever achieved, and without the practice of low-level risk how can a man understand high-level risk?
  • In a world without dad or god, we still want dad/god to tell us we’re ok. That’s why advertising works and the media doesn’t.
  • Once a girl ages past 24, she will spend the rest of her life trying to relive that year.
  • Facebook is packed full of people and activity, but name me something useful that has happened there?
  • Evil always reveals itself in its corruption of truth.
  • Nationalists can talk to each other, internationalists have no way to do the same.
  • Every beautiful woman dies twice, the first time when she gets her first wrinkle.
  • Don’t equate what a famous person wants with what the system wants to use them for.
  • Protestant churches are essentially male loser factories.
  • Marriage is great for men who need marriage to get at least one woman.
  • The loosening of morality has resulted in nothing but boring promiscuity.
  • Advertising is just Pavlovian despair.
  • No one can treat you in a way that you don’t accept.
  • Just because you’re tall doesn’t mean you’re an adult.
  • Unless you are writing towards an ending, the story of your life will be written in flashbacks.
  • Instagram models are whores because if they were anything else we’d just call them models.
  • A trigger warning is a spoiler alert for reality.
  • Safe words are a tacit admission that sex is performative.
  • If you have to ask what the product is, the answer is: you are.
  • You have to start seeing the world as an advertiser, after all, they built the world.
  • The entire social machine runs on the exploitation of men’s misdirected lust.
  • What went wrong with your home life that you could ever be tempted to check work emails after 5pm?
  • The tube has two ends. You need to stop drawing from the system, and you need to stop feeding the system at the expense of your life.
  • If you hear someone say they believe in the free market and free trade, just remember that having a belief requires as axiomatic that what you believe is not real.
  • Don’t run through the steps of an argument so quickly that you fail to see the theory.
  • No wonder everyone is angry. We’ve been told all the barriers to everything have been removed and that everything is possible, but we’re not enjoying everything because the barriers weren’t removed, just recalibrated.
  • Humans cannot bear too much freedom and autonomy, which is precisely why dictators so easily grip hollow liberal societies.
  • Just because you are rich doesn’t mean you are powerful. What can you do but spend the money on system-wide approved gimmicks like university education, houses and the stock market?
  • From the moment you grab the leash, never let them escalate the resistance.
  • You don’t need to have a one-party state to have a one-policy state.
  • The world will push your boundaries until you stop it.
  • Don’t nice your way out of your own happiness.
  • People have given up having children because kids get in the way of holidays in Bali.
  • Be careful what you get good at.
  • Truth is a feeling that goes from your gut to your mouth instantaneously.
  • The name Satan represents the panic that attends the breakdown in the community.
  • With fascism came war. With socialism came war. What comes after narcissism?
  • Women pick guys who are a complement to her own ego.
  • Her anxiety is due to desires being mutually exclusive: She wants a man who doesn't cheat on her, but also a man who could cheat on her.
  • If you have the perfect message, anything you add takes something away.
  • Thinking that money has anything to do with class is such a middle-class thing to say.
  • To be a child of the devil is to be locked into a deceptive system of mimetic contagion that can only lead to systems of myth and ritual. In our time it leads to forms of idolatry, such as ideology or the cult of science.
  • Women tend to conflate valid criticism with an attack on their identity.
  • So abortion isn’t killing a human. Ok, then if your mother had aborted you, then would she have been killing a human?
  • Women's weakness is revealed by saying the word “fireman” discourages little girls from fighting fires.
  • It’s hard not to notice the instinctive hatred of reality as the motive power at the bottom of Christianity.

Tuesday, 12 March 2019

Youth is wasted on the young, oxygen is wasted on the stupid

Remaining fat is something of a choice, but getting that way is not.

People develop habits when they are young, and those habits persist despite changes in their life. The high school athlete who eats 3500 calories a day and is ripped like Rambo is in for a rude awakening when he finds himself parked behind a desk for eight hours each day craving 3500 calories.

But the notion that the only medical excuses for obesity are genetics and thyroid problems is laughable. What's the excuse for alcoholism, besides being a weak-willed, escapist worm? Oh, right, alcohol is addictive. No, it isn't. Billions of people have consumed alcohol without becoming addicted. The reason people are alcoholics is that they are medicating a psychological problem.

I suspect that's the same reason people overeat. Food addiction is a real problem, and it is tougher to control than alcohol or drug addiction because cold turkey is not an option - you have to eat. People don't overeat to get high, they overeat to get numb. To change this requires a massive amount of effort and focus on behaviour, which is much more difficult than going to the gym. You basically have to retrain your body to demand food differently.

Speaking of the gym, the idea that going from, say 120kgs to 85kgs is a matter of time spent in a gym is moronic. There are roughly 3500 calories per pound of fat. To burn 30kgs (assuming its all fat) requires burning an extra 231,000 calories. For most people, obesity isn't a result of eating an extra 2000 calories per day, it's the result of eating 300-400 too many over a period of decades. That can't be reversed permanently in a year.

But let's say you decide to try. You might go to the gym, but what are you going to do when you get there? In case you haven't noticed, the quality of fitness information available even in books rivals JFK and 9/11 conspiracy theories. Everyone is an expert, everyone has a plan, but no two plans are alike and digging a bit uncovers that no one has any clue what they're talking about. It's all fad programmes based, not on science, but on what the author's sports coach once told her years ago.

It's extremely difficult to figure out what programme to follow, let alone stick with it. And the programme won't be a half-hour on the treadmill or spin classes. It'll be frequent and protracted encounters with muscular agony so severe you'll wish you could develop an opioid habit just to take your mind off it. And you'll have to track not only what you eat, but exactly what you do in the gym with the precision of the NASA space launch. This is because your body is genetically built not to want to lose weight under any circumstance. In fact, your body is so determined to keep its fat stores even if you cut carbohydrates from your diet completely, it will simply consume the protein in your muscle tissue to produce glucose rather than pulling it completely from the fat.

If you want to appreciate how hard it is to lose a large amount of weight in any reasonable amount of time, and if you've been relatively slim most of your life without really having to work at it, try putting on 30kgs of muscle in 245 days. Bet you can't do it. I bet you can't even put on half. Not that it can't be done, I can tell you exactly how to do it. But unless you've actually tried this, you have no idea about the mental and physical discipline it requires. And most people don't have that kind of discipline.

None of this is an excuse for not trying, but I just wanted to make it clear to the fat critics that cavalierly telling people to lose weight amounts to requiring them to have better mental and physical discipline than the critics themselves do. But fair is fair. If you weigh 110-150kgs, it isn't a matter of just dropping 15kgs to look good. Carrying that much excess weight is a real health problem, akin to smoking or chronic drinking. 110kgs is not a little heavy, it is dangerously heavy.

Being fat is no one's business but the fat person's. But somehow it has become socially acceptable to tell people they should lose weight if they want to find love, for instance. People should control their weight for health reasons, but that doesn't mean not being fat. How many skinny people have insanely high cholesterol? More than you think, ask David Letterman.

Guess what, some people get fat. Their bodies store it differently. They don't eat any more food than the average person, nor eat any differently, but they get fat. That's genetics. Some people go bald, others don't. Some people are scrawny little punks no matter how often they go to the gym, others put on muscle working the TV remote. Life's a rich tapestry, etc, etc.

You know what isn't ok? Putting shit into your body that people tell you not to, getting addicted to it, and then bitching and moaning about how hard it is to break the habit. Boo fucking hoo, you should have just said no in the first place. If Chubby can be mocked because god forbid s/he goes to McDonald's once a month, then guess what, I get to ride your ass like a harpy about your meth habit. Oh, but I guess personal choices are ok because They Aren't Hurting Anyone Else. Nonsense.

You cheated on your wife and now she's going to divorce you and take the kids? Screw you, you're a shitty dad, and you deserve misery and a lonely death. Oh, a thousand pardons, Being A Shitty Dad Is OK (TM). You have a steady boyfriend but met some new guy and you want to ask if it's ok for you to cheat if he never finds out? Go ahead, provided the guy with whom you cheat is a serial killer who chops off your head when he climaxes. Sorry, was that insensitive? I apologise. Oh wait, no I don't.

Your brother in law hits his kids and you're not sure if you should say something? You're an asshole for not having said anything already. And if you don't do something about it, I hope those kids grow up and set fire to your house, with you in it, you self-involved prick. Guy beats kids = you do something. It isn't rocket science.

"My boyfriend wants sex all the time but I don't" - you're an insensitive jerk.

"I want sex all the time but my girlfriend doesn't" - you're an insensitive jerk.

"I want a divorce and we have four children" - you're an insensitive jerk.

"Why can't I cheat on him/her?" Because your question is anonymous and I can't hunt you down and show your partner how to smash your head into a wall. Oops, did I type that? Sorry, Who You Choose to Have Sex With is OK (TM).

All of these things are wrong and insensitive and mean and that's why no one says them. But people do them all the time and Google is riddled with these questions, but Hey, man, It's All Good! If it's ok to be any one of these despicable things, then we are light-years into it being ok to be fat. Being a bad person is not okay. Being born with a predetermined genetic makeup is ok.

Get it? Got it? Good. Now get off my lawn, before I release the hounds.

Monday, 11 March 2019

Notes on the system - 15

Saying what the eye sees – rather than what the brain sees – is like a camera shutter. Long exposures soak in more light. Short exposures are for speed. The following rough notes are about light:

If you're watching it, it's for you

The media doesn't cater to smart people because they make horrible viewers. First of all, smart people don't buy every stupid thing being advertised. Second, they live in a rarified world where they would rather listen to a ponderous Foucault versus Chomsky debate from decades ago but won't sit for Chris Cuomo's low-brow hypocritical zingers. Ultimately, its the lawyers, professionals and other educated people who make the big decisions. The people on Twitter, Vox, CNN, Fox and all the rest can be ignored, no matter how much hate they have, because they need these media more than media needs them.

Vox unpopuli

Vox media is what thirty-somethings assume the "kids these days" think is cool. It is lowest common denominator programming for a smarter-than-the-average-drone demographic. Vox is not new media, it's the old media model distributed on new media. Vox is still written by employees of Vox who have a vested financial interest in its popularity, hence they write (or program) the site to appeal to the majority of internet users and convince their readers they are part of the "digital counterculture" - that they are smart and clever iconoclasts. Vox claims to have user participation. That's a lie. You can comment, but is there really any dialogue? By contrast, Twitter is user-created. There is no monolithic Twitter identity. There are users with strong identities, passions and agendas but the site has no official position on anything. Here's the analogy: Vox is a vocal and opinionated person, Twitter is a place where vocal opinionated people congregate to share ideas, joke, argue and learn new things. Vox is a pundit on TV. Twitter is a salon.

A nature of lies

Women lie so much and for so many reasons that often they don't even think of it as lying at all. Women are taught to lie from childhood. She'll lie for fun. To see if you're quick enough to catch it. She wants to know if you're gullible and easily misled. She'll lie for profit. If she can win with a lie ("I'm pregnant" or "he raped me") she will say it. She knows her lies will easily be forgiven both socially and legally. If caught in a lie, she would claim she did it because she didn't want to hurt others, which is another lie. She'll lie to feel better and protect/restore her state (emotional maintenance). Women are consumed by insecurity and doubts and will always seek emotional balm. She'll lie to look better to protect her social standing (social maintenance). She doesn't actually see this as lying. She'll lie to tell you what she thinks you want to hear. It's like being in a perpetual job interview. The truth is flexible to her, not absolute. Social exclusion is a woman's primordial fear. More than anything else she fears being cast out. If she feels cornered, she'll lie, cry or counter-attack to wiggle free. Whatever it takes.

Parabolic

For most of the 20th century, productivity increased at a fairly steady rate — and real wages tracked that gain on just about exactly the same slope until the early 70s when wage gains stopped. Since then, almost all of the benefit from productivity gains has gone to capital — zero to labour. I suspect this is partly a consequence of women entering the workforce, but mostly it's due to replacement-level immigration. Immigration also drives up the price of housing.

Equality

The West seemingly no longer believes in striving to achieve a gender-blind, racially and religiously mixed society, but instead is becoming a nation in which tribal identity trumps all other considerations. These tribal identities are not considered to be equal. Doctrinaire identity politics is predicated on distancing itself from white males, Christians and other groups who traditionally have achieved professional success and therefore enjoyed inordinate “privilege.” The purported victims insist that they themselves cannot be victimisers. They are temporarily freer to discriminate and stereotype to advance their careers or political interests on the basis of anything they find antithetical to their own ideologies.

Trick

What does it say about our society that the moment we see something outrageous while we sit in separate rooms staring at a glowing lie, it doesn’t occur to us to discuss the issue directly with the people that matter in our lives but instead reflexively voice our opinions publicly to anonymous strangers online? That’s what you’ve been trained to do, that’s where your priorities have been taught to be. That’s the system. You’re not thinking about your child’s development or your husband's psychological wellbeing, you’re being tricked into thinking about your identity while the system uses you as a battery.

Player vs non-player games

Progressivism is playable using one methodology only - revolution. Its natural entropic tendencies and orthodoxy to its economic system allow the revolution to be its sole restructuring mode. The revolution is never over. The entropy is never over. In progressivism, you should feel lucky and blessed that you get a chance to tear it all down and start all over again, in a never-ending cycle. It's like playing a video game with infinite lives where the player is killed constantly on level 1. There's no investiture. Hardly surprising that under Christianity, every generation comes up with a new class of people who want to start again at level 1, they're playing the game with your "infinite" lives.

Resentment

Resentment is the most useful of political emotions. It can last for a lifetime at red alert by persuading the person feeling it that nothing of importance is his own fault. Even if he has done nothing to improve his own situation, he can convince himself that he’s done all he can, which is really nothing because of the injustice he thinks he suffers. It’s a perfect feedback loop.

Abortion as a weapon

The problem with the vast majority of abortion is very simple: if the woman had the perfect life, the PERFECT HUSBAND, then she would have had the baby. Here we see revealed that an abortion is the ultimate female empowerment. She wants to breed with what she thinks is the optimal man she can attract based on her self-perceived attractiveness. Nothing says "he wasn't the right guy" as the ability to kill his baby. It is sheer unbridled solipsism.

Don't waste your time

Maybe the universities are teaching anti-Western propaganda, but this call to recapture them is misplaced. Who cares what the universities, media or schools do? The real target should be to capture the online. The universities are powerless in the face of digital, decentralised learning. The media is powerless in the face of social networks. Stop wasting your time fighting back against corrupt institutions and start building your own non-corrupt institutions online. If you don't like how the game is going, toss over the chessboard and start again.

Democracy uncovered

What is called progressivism today, Nietzsche saw clearly a generation ago and described what it was and is: democracy in another aspect, the old resentment of the lower orders. Socialism, Puritanism, Philistinism, Christianity - he saw them all as allotropic forms of democracy, as variations upon the endless struggle of quantity versus quality, of the week and timorous against the strong and enterprising, of the botched against the fit.

The after-afterlife

When it comes to things like heaven, no one is clear about what they long for. But they do have an extreme awareness of what they are longing to get away from: being alive, in this earth, one's own condition. This longing to get away is at the deepest part of our souls, so it makes sense there is a universal religious idea among humans. That promise of an end and to go somewhere else away from here is, strangely, the only thing keeping us alive.

Silly putty

People are being squeezed like silly-putty by the fist of consumer branding. We see the losers oozing out of “reality” through the fingers. Some of those losers go online, some to suicide, some to porn but there are others who are squeezed more into “reality,” as branded clones. Their existence depends on no one looking at them from the outside and noticing that they aren’t actually individuals.

On happiness

People often define happiness as having awesome parents, fabulous siblings, supportive friends, an excellent education, cool job, good health or a nice apartment. Yet they have trouble sleeping at night like there’s a hole inside them. The thing is, none of those variables have anything to do with happiness. Can you find a way of identifying yourself based on something you have done, rather than something you have? The epidemic of unhappiness today is that none of the characteristics we choose to associate with happiness is a verb. Happiness is caused by someone else, and leaves us more powerless and anxious. All the easier to sell us a new pair of Nikes.

Rene Girard's mimetics in sport

The best way to see mimetics in operation is to look at sport. Two opposing basketball teams are virtually identical in what they do, the clothes they wear, the language they speak and the rules they follow. It’s a theatrical operation of mimetics in which the two teams see a rival, a twin, which indicates an obstacle that must be removed for one of the identical “brothers” to exist alone. The two basketball teams are the representation of the model/obstacle: a model that is both attractive and repulsive at the same time. They both want the same thing (status signified by a trophy). This is why competition occurs, and why observers understand intuitively what’s going on. No one asks why two basketball teams find it so easy to compete. But if you set a basketball team against a soccer team, both are at a loss of what to do. No competition can occur because a rival "twin" is not present. There is no obstacle, and so the theatre of mimetics cannot play out and no conflict/competition occurs.

Sunday, 10 March 2019

Handful of quotes - 6

Joseph Conrad, Lord Jim, 1899

There are the girls we love, the men we look up to, the tenderness, the friendships, the opportunities, the pleasures! But the fact remains that you must touch your reward with clean hands, lest it turn to dead leaves, to thorns, in your grasp.


Paul Watzlawick, Some Formal Aspects of Communication, 1967

Karl Popper, in The Open Society and Its Enemies, made a comment that sounds almost prophetic now: that the happy, primitive society (which, by the way, never existed) is lost for all those who have eaten of the fruit of the tree of knowledge. The more we try to return to the heroic age of tribalism, Popper warns, the more certainly we will reach the Inquisition, the secret police, and a romanticised gangster-ism. Once the existential problems of the individual, who is good by nature, can be blamed on the "evil" society, nothing stands in the way of sheer imagination. The definition of the benevolent society free of all power is only a question of fantasy.


H. L. Mencken, February 26, 1920

The larger the mob, the harder the test. In small areas, before small electorates, a first-rate man occasionally fights his way through, carrying even the mob with him by force of his personality. But when the field is nationwide, and the fight must be waged chiefly at second and third hand, and the force of personality cannot so readily make itself felt, then all the odds are on the man who is, intrinsically, the most devious and mediocre - the man who can most easily adeptly disperse the notion that his mind is a virtual vacuum. The Presidency tends, year by year, to go to such men. As democracy is perfected, the office represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. We move toward a lofty ideal. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart's desire at last, and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.


T. E. Lawrence, 1920

Granted mobility, security (in the form of denying targets to the enemy), time, and doctrine (the idea to convert every subject to friendliness), victory will rest with the insurgents, for the algebraical factors are, in the end, decisive and against them perfections of means and spirit struggle quite in vain. An opinion can be argued with; a conviction is the best shot. The logical end of a war of creeds is the final destruction of one.


George Bernard Shaw, A Splendid Torch

This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognised by yourself as a mighty one; the being a force of nature instead of a feverish, selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy. I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the whole community, and as long as I live it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can. I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work the more I live. I rejoice in life for its own sake. Life is no 'brief candle' for me. It is a sort of splendid torch which I have got hold of for the moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations.


Arthur Schopenhauer, Aphorisms on the Wisdom of Life, 1851

It is my belief that the events and characters narrated by history compare with reality more or less as the portraits of authors on frontispieces of books usually compare with the authors themselves, that is to say, they do so only a faint similarity to them, or sometimes none at all. Newspapers are the second hand of history. This hand, however, is usually not only of inferior metal to the other two hands, it also seldom works properly. The so-called ‘leading articles’ in them are the chorus to the drama of current events. Exaggeration in every sense is essential to newspaper writing as it is to the writing of plays: for the point is to make as much as possible of every occurrence. So that all newspaper writers are, for the sake of their trade, alarmists: this is their way of making themselves interesting. What they really do, however, is resemble little dogs who, as soon as anything whatever moves, start up a loud barking. It is necessary, therefore, not to pay too much attention to their alarms, and to realise in general that the newspaper is a magnifying glass, and this only at best: for very often it is no more than a shadow-play on the wall.


US General George Marshall, 1939

When one is young, there is great impatience with the slow development of a career, but it is a long race and the more firm the foundation of the 20s, the more the certainty of success after 50.


Theodore Dalrymple, 2018

As the Russians also say, a fish rots from the head down. Whether this is true or not of fish, it is certainly true of societies such as our own, which seem to have been taken over (as a virus takes over a computer) by people of no exceptional quality except their avidity for power and desire to make their mark. Taste and discrimination are less important to them than power, and practically none among them have any regard for inherited civilization, a word that they would dare to inscribe only between quotation marks.

Their greatest fear is not to be thought progressive, but they are unable to distinguish between progress and destruction. They believe in technocracy: Having lost any religious conception of the world, which they have replaced by nothing except power worship, they think that there must be a technical answer to every question and therefore that architecture is best left to architects who supposedly know about it, whom they are frightened to contradict under pain of being accused of a lack of technical understanding.

But all this is quite false, of course. It is like demanding of someone who is horrified by the brutal murder of an old lady in her home whether he is a moral philosopher, and therefore whether he has any qualification to condemn it.


Brent Easton Ellis, 2013

A barbed observational opinion tweeted by a gay man about gay men in Hollywood—and not directed at anyone—becomes, in the world of GLAAD, hate-speech. When a community prides itself on its differences and uniqueness and bans the gay man because of the way the gay man expresses himself—then a corporate PC fascism has been put into play that needs to be seriously reconsidered by the LGBT community. This is a problem: If you are a gay man who is not The Gay Man as Magical Elf, then you run the risk of being ostracised by the elite gay community. An organisation holding an awards ceremony that they think represents all gays and also feels that they can choose which gays can and cannot be a member of the party is, on the face of it, ridiculous. The fact remains that if you aren’t presenting yourself as a happy homosexual promoting healthy mainstream gay values and pimping for GLAAD, then you’re somehow defaming The Cause.


H.L. Mencken, 1922

Civilization, in fact, grows more maudlin and hysterical; especially under democracy it tends to degenerate into a mere combat of crazes; the whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by an endless series of hobgoblins, most of them imaginary. Wars are no longer waged by the will of superior men, capable of judging dispassionately and intelligently the causes behind them and the effects flowing out of them. They are now begun by first throwing a mob into a panic; they are ended only when it has spent its ferine fury.


Camille Paglia

Teenage boys, goaded by their surging hormones run in packs like the primal horde. They have only a brief season of exhilarating liberty between control by their mothers and control by their wives.

Leaving sex to the feminists is like letting your dog vacation at the taxidermist.


Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Idiot, 1869

It is easier for a Russian to become an Atheist than for any other nationality in the world. And not only does a Russian 'become an Atheist,' but he actually BELIEVES IN Atheism, just as though he had found a new faith, not perceiving that he has pinned his faith to a negation. Such is our anguish of thirst!


Anthony Bourdain, A Cook's Tour, 2013

They're professionals at this in Russia, so no matter how many Jell-O shots or Jager shooters you might have downed at college mixers, no matter how good a drinker you might think you are, don't forget that the Russians - any Russian - can drink you under the table.


H.L. Mencken, 1926

No one in this world, so far as I know — and I have searched the records for years, and employed agents to help me — has ever lost money by underestimating the intelligence of the great masses of the plain people. Nor has anyone ever lost public office thereby. The mistake that is made always runs the other way. Because the plain people are able to speak and understand, and even, in many cases, to read and write, it is assumed that they have ideas in their heads and an appetite for more. This assumption is a folly.


Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf, 1925

The broad masses of a nation are always more easily corrupted in the deeper strata of their emotional nature than consciously or voluntarily; and thus in the primitive simplicity of their minds they more readily fall victims to the big lie than the small lie, since they themselves often tell small lies in little matters but would be ashamed to resort to large-scale falsehoods. It would never come into their heads to fabricate colossal untruths, and they would not believe that others could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously. Even though the facts which prove this to be so may be brought clearly to their minds, they will still doubt and waver and will continue to think that there may be some other explanation. For the grossly impudent lie always leaves traces behind it, even after it has been nailed down, a fact which is known to all expert liars in this world and to all who conspire together in the art of lying.


Henry David Thoreau, Walden, 1854

The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.
What is called resignation is confirmed desperation.

From the desperate city, you go into the desperate country and have to console yourself with the bravery of minks and muskrats. A stereotyped but unconscious despair is concealed even under what are called the games and amusements of mankind. There is no play in them, for this comes after work. But it is a characteristic of wisdom not to do desperate things.


Oliver Wendell Holmes. The Voiceless, 1858

Alas for those that never sing,
But die with all their music in them.


Haruki Murakami, The Wind-up Bird Chronicle, 2010

Whenever an occasion arose in which she needed an opinion on something in the wider world, she borrowed her husband's. If this had been all there was to her, she wouldn't have bothered anyone, but as is so often the case with such women, she suffered from an incurable case of pretentiousness. Lacking any internalised values of her own, such people can arrive at a standpoint only by adopting other people's standards or views. The only principle that governs their minds is the question "How do I look?"


Pope Benedict XVI

Today, a particularly insidious obstacle... is the massive presence in our society and culture of that relativism which, recognising nothing as definitive, leaves as the ultimate criterion only the self with its desires. And under the semblance of freedom, it becomes a prison for each one, for it separates people from one another, locking each person into his or her own ego.


Matthew Scully

When we shrink from the sight of something, when we shroud it in euphemism, that is usually a sign of inner conflict, of unsettled hearts, a sign that something has gone wrong in our moral reasoning.


Saturday, 9 March 2019

The violence we do with money

The amount of freedom you have is directly proportional to the time between your desire for something and the moment you reach out to grasp it. For most people, this time is short. They see something they want and immediately reach for it.

Consider the immortal words from Fight Club: "The things you own end up owning you." If you are owned, then you are a slave. Slaves are not free. If the thing you see arouses such a desire in you that you immediately move to own it, then you are not free. The thing owns you, and you exist to serve it.

All these concepts like store, money, property, ownership, etc. are illusions designed to convince you that the act of buying is something other than you giving someone your money, which is a physical manifestation of your time. (It literally represents the time you worked in the past, or if on credit, the time you will have to work in the future to pay the debt.) If you see something in a store you like, you know exactly where it is. It's in the store, safe and secure. You can go see it anytime you want. If you bought it, nothing would change but its position in space.

The trick is that you imagine buying it changes your identity. You see the thing and your mind constructs a meaning for that thing (helpfully aided by advertising which is sooo impartial and on your side). This $12 moleskine notebook means you're a creative person (you think), unlike that $1 notebook, which functions in exactly the same way. You desire something because they made you desire it. I'm convinced that the forces of marketing and advertising are so effective, and have been so thoroughly perfected, that it is almost impossible for anyone to resist. For every person, there is some product out there that these tricks work on. For you it's shoes, but for someone else it's t-shirts.

What we have to do is cultivate control. You want an object, but don't reach for it. Walk away and ask yourself "why do I want that? What is it about that thing that makes me want it and not other things?" Replace the instinctive motion to your wallet with an instinctive question: "Why this?" Maybe you'll never find it again because it will be replaced by something else you will immediately desire, leaving the other thing dull and faded. There is always something new. Desire is never satisfied. It's a an endless cycle.

Freedom is an act of resistance. The only force that operates on our lives now with any power is consumerism. The messages of consumerism will define our world and our identities if we don't intervene on our own behalf. Your money is valuable because it represents your time, and your time is your life. Don't trade your life for some new crap. Look at the thing and admire the thought and creativity that went into it. And with your hands firmly in your pockets, turn and walk away.

Think about these passages in Daniel Abraham's The Widow's House:
     "We've made a mistake. I've made it. And I think I see that the way to... well, not win. Nothing so straightforward as that. I think I see the way to start fighting the right battles."
     "We lost. Doesn't mean it was the wrong battle."
     "Battle's the wrong word. I should have said struggle or... oh, there aren't words for this. The mistake we made, that we all made, is thinking that we're fighting Antea. That we're fighting Geder."
     "All right," Marcus said, pulling the syllables out. "And who is it we're actually fighting, then?"
     "The idea of war." 
[...]
     "Listen. In Porte Oliva, we thought of it as a normal war. The enemy came, and we prepared for a fight. And we fought. Even though we know that the spiders are there to make us fight, we still fought. This has been going on since the beginning of history. Geder wasn't there when it started. This isn't about him or Antea or me. This is Morade wrecking humanity by making us fight." 
     Cithrin scratched her arm. "You know that the policy of the bank is never to give gold to kings, because they never repay the loan?"
     "That may be the only part of your trade that makes sense to me," Marcus said.
     "Yes, actually, that's a mistake. It's a bad policy, and I'm going to break it. I'm going to buy a permanent debt of the crown to the bank and an agreement from the king for modified letters of credit to make it circulable. Then when other kingdoms want the bank's holdings, we have a precedent, and the Medean bank is at the center of all those agreements. With royal edicts to back us and existing business partners whom we can run at an advantage, we can build enough transferable letters to let us do... well, almost anything, really." 
     The agreements were signed, King Tracian's signature and seal already in place. The wealth on the ships still not arrived at Carse had changed as if by a cunning man's trick. At the height of the day, it had been the capital of the Medean bank in Porte Oliva. Now at the evening, it was the property of the crown of Northcoast. Not hers any longer. She had traded it all for a parchment and a few hundred words.
[...] 
     "That was it?" Marcus said by way of greeting.
  She felt a tug of pity for him. "That was it, and it was enough," Cithrin said.
     "I owe Yardem a beer. You owe me a beer. So you buy him one and we're all square?" Marcus said. "That's the magic that's supposed to let you defeat Geder Palliako in the field? Because it seems to me you've just given away a lot of gold."
     "I didn't give it away," Cithrin said, walking east. "I bought something with it."
     "Tracian's goodwill isn't worth that much," Marcus said.
     "That isn't what I bought," Cithrin said. "I bought the crown's debt."
     "That's like owning an empty hole and the air to fill it with, from what I can see."
     "That's all he could see too," Cithrin said. "He didn't understand the implications of what he was doing."
[...] 
     Komme Medean sat still, his calm radiating a rage so profound it made the stone of the walls, the wood of his desk, even the air itself seem fragile. When Komme spoke, he shaped each word of its own, giving the syllables a careful and equal weight.
     "This is the greatest fraud in history."
     "This is a goldmine that will never run dry so long as there is ink," Cithrin said.
     Lauro's voice was thin and angry. He was older than Cithrin, and she could see that he knew he was supposed to be outraged without entirely certain why. "You gave away our money."
     "I did not," Cithrin said. "I changed the form of it. From coins and bars to letters that represent them and a royal proclamation that will give those letters the force of law. And exclusive rights to issue those letters in the name of the bank."
     "You gave our gold to the king," Lauro said. "We'll never get the gold back."
     "Exactly," Cithrin said. "Neither will anyone else."
     "But—"
     "Lauro," Komme said. "Be quiet. You're out of your depth."
     "You gained us nothing," Lauro went on, talking over his father. "So you can write letters against the debt. So what? How does that gain us anything?"
     Cithrin smiled. "We can write letters of transfer totaling more than the debt we're owed."
     Lauro opened his mouth, then closed it. "No we can't," he said. "The debt's only a certain size. If you write letters for more than that—"
     "A debt that will never be repaid can be whatever size we say it is," Cithrin said. "If we choose to put out letters for twice the sum, what difference will it make to the crown? Tracian was never giving up the coin anyway. We all know that. The merchants we're working with probably know that, but there's a royal order to pretend otherwise. If we need to pay someone from outside the kingdom, we can buy more gold at discount. Give the seller letters of transfer worth five tenthweights for every four tenthweights they provide. Who wouldn't take that exchange?"
     "And that makes it fraud," Komme said. "Without gold—"
     "Gold," Cithrin said, waving her hand. "What's gold? A metal too soft to take an edge. There's no power there. What makes gold important is the story we tell about it. All of humanity has agreed that this particular object has value, and then because we all said so, it does. The metal hasn't changed. It doesn't breathe, it doesn't bleed. It is what it was before. All we're doing is telling that same story about some letters we've written."
     "You are advocating that we tell people these letters can be exchanged for actual gold," Komme said. "You are obligating the crown to a greater debt than what we are owed—"
     "And it doesn't matter, because that debt will never be called," Cithrin said. "An obligation isn't an obligation if no one truly expects it to be met. And in the meantime, we can create markets that run on letters and do all the same things as markets that run on coin. Only now, instead of minting new currency by toiling in a mine and running ore through a smelter, we write it. If we need more money, we make it."
[...]
     "Antea can be beaten," Cithrin said. "The war can be brought to a halt. But it requires a great deal of money. More money than we had. Now we can decide how much money we have. How much money there is to be had. We can hire mercenaries of our own. Pay the ones working for Geder to break their contracts. We can offer the farmers in Birancour and the southern reaches of Northcoast better prices for crops like cotton and tobacco, and when Geder's armies come, they'll starve. We can pay bounties. We can hire ships to carry weapons to Borja and the Keshet and arm Antea's enemies there. All it takes is money."
     "All it takes is gold," Komme said, but there was a tremor in his voice when he said it. Cithrin sat back in her chair. She'd made her arguments. Going over them again would gain her nothing. Komme Medean was a smart man, and one who understood contracts, wealth, value, and power. Given time, he would see the world through her eyes. Chana pressed a knuckle against her lips, staring at Cithrin as if she were a puzzle the woman could solve by an act of will.
     "If this fails," Chana said, and then left the sentence unfinished.
     Cithrin nodded. "If this fails, we will fall beneath the blades of Antea or be taken back to Camnipol and slaughtered by Geder's own hand. That hasn't changed. It isn't as though we're at greater risk that we were before."
     "And if we defeat Palliako and destroy Northcoast doing it?" Chana asked.
     Cithrin shrugged. "The world is burning. Anything that doesn't end in ashes is worth doing. And there's also the possibility that it doesn't fail. Perhaps instead, we shift what people think of when they think of money. Buying and selling with letters of transfer seems new and frightening to them now, but in three, four, five years, it will be commonplace. All of our partners and debtors will have been using them. The throne will have backed them for years. And when that happens, if that happens, we've become the keepers of the king's debt."
     "If we're the king's debt," Komme said, "then we're the king."
     Cithrin smiled.
     "Then we're the king."

     "Kit keeps trying to explain the trick to me," Marcus said. "Part of it, I follow. The other part of it just seems... well, I get lost. I see where getting people to take these bits of scribble instead of actual money lets you afford things you couldn't otherwise. I'm not clear on how that makes the world a place full of justice and equality and all."
     Cithrin looked at him. The light of the setting sun had burned into her eyes, and its afterimage obscured him. "Justice and equality?"
     "Stopping war's the point, isn't it? Not just this one, but all of them?"
     "I don't know about all of them, but this one. And making fewer others. But you've worked for me. Did you think we were making Porte Oliva just and equal?"
     "No offense, but that really wasn't the impression I took, no," Marcus said. "That's where the confusion comes in."
     "Do you recall Annis Louten?"
     Marcus scratched his chin, the stubble making a sandpaper noise against his nails. "He was the spice man, wasn't he? Came to you for a loan."
     "He was. And he repaid late, with penalties. The ship he invested in didn't come through, and he hadn't put insurance against it. He had to scrape and save and go without in order to keep us from taking his rooms and his stock. That's trade. Going to his rooms with the full guard and taking the same money at knifepoint? That's war. Both leave him just as low, just as poor. He did little to deserve either besides be unlucky. But in one, we take what we want under threat of death. In the other, he gives it because he agreed to.
     "If I manage what I hope, people will still starve. Families will still be broken. People who have done nothing wrong will still lose their livelihoods, their health, their homes. You've seen my trade. You don't have any illusions about what I do when a contract is broken."
     "Yes, but if someone's given their word, that justifies what comes after."
     "How?"
     "Justice," Marcus said.
     "There are as many definitions of justice as there are people making them. Justice is doing what you said you would do, or being forced to. Or justice is getting back what was taken from your family. Or justice is hurting the man who hurt you. Anyone who wants to make the world just has only to say what justice is first, and then impose it on everyone with a different thought. I don't care about that. I just want to keep people from burning each other's cities quite so often." 
[...] 
     Marcus let a long breath out from between his teeth.
     "The way you say it, money does the same thing a blade would," he said.
     "It's a tool, the way a blade is," Cithrin said. "But blades aren't my tools, and this is. The violence we do with a contract is the sort I understand."

Thoughts on the system - 20

There’s no way to describe the system, the organism. Its vocabulary is grossly underwhelming. The following rough thoughts are an attempt to outline the unoutlineable:
  • Nietzsche said there only ever has been one true Christian, and he ended up on a cross.
  • Pathological altruism and progressivism have engineered generations of indoctrinated planeteers. Aloofness is their virtue and they're outwardly moralistic while nocturnally hedonistic.
  • Fascism is a variant of socialism, which is a creature of Christianity. There is no such thing as a fascist right. You can not simultaneously be a conservative and a socialist. One excludes the other.
  • Creativity is born out of obstacles, or a repressive society. In our post creative culture, all people can do is sell ideology.
  • Competency is the only safety.
  • She doesn’t care about you, she cares about what you can do for her.
  • How can something be of value if it isn’t finished?
  • The only reason women enter a public space is to receive attention and praise. Women want to be the first girl to do something, not the best at that task.
  • The reason so many females fail in relationships is because they only know what they want, rather than what they can offer.
  • Experience is the teacher of fools.
  • She wants it to be your fault that she has no skills to maintain the relationship.
  • There is no such thing as a lie, there are only filler words used to delay the moment when you have to tell the truth.
  • “I’m not investing in a company, I’m investing in a person” is the definition of feudalism.
  • The question "what am I doing wrong" is not going to give you an answer you like.
  • We won’t have equality until we have co-ed prisons.
  • You have to become the kind of person who doesn’t need to commit suicide.
  • As women become less feminine, gay-seeming men no longer repulse women.
  • If the government allows it, that thing cannot be good for you. The government only allows things that control you.
  • Every step down increases the depth of the next step.
  • When will we start calling social justice warriors what they are: social terrorists?
  • If rights were so self-evident, why did it take so long to discover them?
  • Maybe the beauty of white women is a physical analogue to the intelligence of white men.
  • Independence of mind doesn’t mean thinking differently from everyone else, but of thinking for yourself.
  • To the early Christians, Judaism was the ruling class.
  • With transgenderism, the future of women’s sports is...men. Don’t you love equality?
  • It's easy to love women, but aside from convention, why should I like women?
  • Transgenderism is the modern, progressive version of being born again.
  • Women wouldn’t be as selective in choosing mates if they wanted sex more.
  • The more women enter the workforce, the more cultlike the conferences become.
  • There is an enormous difference between having something happen to you and you doing something.
  • Art is anything you do once the chores are finished.
  • I wonder how different Christianity would be if Jesus were an old man.
  • Most people don’t understand how bad things can get.
  • Banning fireworks is an admission that state education has failed to create citizens.
  • The person you blame for your victimhood is the one who controls your mind.
  • Empowered women sound like men with a small penis, always trying to prove themselves to their betters.
  • The European Union is a 1970s solution to a 1940s problem.
  • Success is timing. You either let the clock tick, or you change the position of the hands.
  • “There’s no right answer!” Wrong. The right answer is whatever you say, so long as you stand by it. You must pass every punk test.
  • What’s truer than true? A story.
  • The hero procreates at a scale in proportion to his success.
  • Ice hockey is just snow soccer.
  • A woman is only as aware as the propaganda allows her to be.
  • The ultimate pleasure of an inferior is to defile those who are better.
  • Under the current system, a father is just a deputy parent.
  • Something is only considered a problem if it negatively affects women.
  • Theoretical physics is just philosophy for math majors.
  • If you care enough about something, you’ll give away everything.
  • All photography is accurate, none of it is the truth.
  • “I hate” says the person who is out of ideas.
  • All riots are ineffective until the rich white people have a reason to join.
  • Everything is a weapon if you hold it correctly.
  • Why should I care about what offends you?
  • You can tell a lot about someone by their enemies.
  • “Well, the law says life begins at birth.” Really? So, your measurement of right and wrong is what the law says?
  • Racism does not exist. There are only people who use the scapegoat mechanism to gain power and those who refuse to do so.
  • I’m a white male, I know I have privilege. But I’m not giving it up just because you feel sad about it.
  • People who read parenting books aren’t looking to raise better kids, they’re hoping to be better parents. If you don’t see how those are different, your kids do.
  • It is the responsibility of the older generation to take the bullet so the younger generation has a chance because the future is demonstrably more valuable than the past.
  • If you’re going to take someone’s advice, first ask yourself if you’d trade places with their life.
  • You think you’re the first person to live your life? 
  • Everything is interpretable through the artificial paradigm of narrative structure. It describes a process that has been used for millennia.
  • Other than the volume of your voice, do you have any reason to be sure of what you think?
  • Most men today are like girls. They wait for you to have an opinion so that they can have an opinion.
  • Either you are part of the system or you are an enemy of the system. There are no other choices.
  • The more someone says they are a journalist, the more likely that is to be a lie.

Thursday, 7 March 2019

Welcome to WW#: Huawei and the new Resource Cold War

In the cyber world, everything is vulnerable. If you’re operating with a digital information tool you must assume your session is compromised and act accordingly. I wish it were different, but it’s not.  Internet architecture has been broken for a long time.

None of this is surprising to anyone who understands why the internet was built like this. The whole point was to move information quickly and efficiently between trusted locations. If you think about the internet like the US military does – as a domain of warfighting – then the cyber domain is best conceptualised as a place without any natural barriers or obstacles. No mountains, rivers, seas or weather. It is always sunny in cyber. That’s great if you’re sending email or wiring funds, but it’s double-triple fantastic for criminals hoping to intercept communication along the way.

No one has figured out how to fix this, which is why the US military has been discussing building a second, higher internet architecture that at least partially solves these issues. I have no idea if they’ve been successful, because, as a humble civilian, I don’t have access to this “higher” plane of existence. But that’s the point. Leaving the present internet architecture behind is probably the only way to assume some measure of security in future communications. Russia and China have also discussed building a parallel internet architecture, so the US isn't alone in its worries. This is leading to something like a Balkanisation of the internet where perhaps electronic passports may be required to “enter” another country’s digital domain. I suspect this won’t work to fix the issues nearly as well as they hope because the other crucial factor about the internet is that it’s made of ones and zeroes, and anyone who knows how to code can alter whatever they want, given the right resources.

In New Zealand, as with the other Five Eyes countries, our telecommunications systems are due for an upgrade to 5G. The largest telco has received strong advice not to use the technology from Chinese provider Huawei because of concerns about backdoors and poorly secured code, not to mention the more-than-hypothetical possibility that Beijing might tap Huawei's systems any time it wishes. But asking if telcos can choose a 5G provider without backdoors and isn’t hackable, is a bit like asking why Auckland can’t just build houses on the seabed of the Hauraki Gulf. There’s plenty of land out there, but it’s covered in water. Maybe that’s a poor analogy, but it's still true that a secure 5G framework doesn’t really exist.

The real question is: why are Chinese telcos being targeted and not Western telcos? After all, Edward Snowden proved the NSA basically built all the backdoors into American digital companies and telcos that pretty much the whole planet uses. You could answer this question by pointing to US President Donald Trump and the trade war between China and the US, but that’s too nearsighted. Mr Trump isn’t controlling US policy on China, Washington is far too large a beast for one man to push around like that.

No, the answer is that we are in the middle of “WW#”. We had two world wars last century in the physical domains, but this new one is being fought in the final two domains of human and cyber (there are six warfighting domains: land, sea, air, space, cyber and human). WW# isn’t a conflict over which version of democracy should be in control of the world as the first two were, it is about who controls the data.

Data is the new oil, as I’m sure you’ve heard before. And he who controls the critical resource of this modern era wields inordinate power. Owning the data offers the monopolist the ability to train artificial intelligence, potentially the most fearsome technology ever devised, and it's just around the corner (potentially). The more data you get, the better quality your AI. This is great for commerce, but it is far more important for the military which is always looking for what it calls "force multipliers." Both China and the US are racing towards building their own frameworks of AI-based military machines and systems to augment their human operations in near sci-fi ways. And both, I might add, are socialist governments and wish to find ways to slip AI into their policy formation and institutions to create a form of centralisation only dreamed about by the Former Soviet Union.

What would a state look like if it is run by post-human AI? What would an AI military look like? We're about to find out but neither the US nor China wants the other to answer the questions before they get there first. These two countries (and probably Russia and Germany too) are essentially in a new Cold Resource War to block the other's access to data. The US has Google, Facebook, IBM and Amazon. China has Weibo, Alibaba and Baidu. But the US companies can gather data from users around the world, whereas China only has Chinese users (mostly). This gives the Americans the advantage in this race because its AI will know how the world works/thinks, whereas Chinese AI will only know how China works/thinks. The strategy for both China and the US is simple: why let your adversary get any new data at all?

That’s the larger context of the Huawei debate going on across the world. This is not about business competition or some reinvigorated spy game, although of course, these are dimensions of the debate. Blocking Huawei is about freezing out the only near-peer power the US has from accruing any useful data it could use to supersede Washington's role as guarantor of the world's sea lanes and control over the default assumptions of the global progressive culture. This is about stopping a war that might not start for another 30 years. Huawei’s 5G networks are just one part of China’s tools to gather the new oil of data, and maybe not the most potent, but is it worth the risk to let China syphon it? Not in the estimation of Washington civil servants.

History will be the judge of WW#, but Marshal McLuhan was the first to recognise that any third world war would be fought by everyone. Maybe we’re in the opening stages of such a conflict, or maybe we’re not in a conflict at all. But the value of securing data is not lost on Washington and Beijing. The Huawei ban isn’t a mistake, and New Zealand’s intelligence services might be cautious for their own reasons, but in many important ways data is the new oil and we all saw what the geopolitical scrambling real oil caused in the past century...

Just remember the immortal words from the 1975 thriller Three Days of the Condor:
“Today it's oil, right? In 10 or 15 years, food, plutonium. And maybe even sooner. And what do you think the people are going to want us to do then? Ask them when they're running out. Ask them when there's no heat in their homes and they're cold. Ask them when their engines stop. Ask them when people who've never known hunger start going hungry.
“You wanna know something? They won't want us to ask them. They'll just want us to get it for them.”

Sunday, 3 March 2019

Why does everyone hate the media?

Whenever some pathetic New Zealand weenie says they feel sorry for Americans under Donald Trump, I think about the classic exchange in Mad Men when Ginsberg tells Don Draper that he feels bad for him.

Don responds “I don’t think about you at all.”

Just remember one thing: If the media can polarise you on anything, then it makes you irrelevant to the conversation. Any conversation. Still want to talk about why the media sucks? Ok.

I

The king: Don Draper
Firstly, I know it sounds cynical, but news, TV shows and movies are only the filler between advertisements. All media material is designed, consciously or not, to lead up to, “We’ll be right back with images of dead children after these commercial messages.” Media owners know you will sit upright and mouth-agape, waiting to see the train wreck because biologists say humans are carnivores. It's stressful to see chaos and murder in any environment, but don't worry, the ad modulates your stress level down. It's like a twofer.

If you don't believe me, read “The Hidden Persuaders.” It’s all right there. The OSS propagandists were let go after Washington swung to SIGINT at the start of the Cold War and the spooks infested Madison Avenue. Sigmund Freud’s nephew Edward Bernays was their lizard-king (in advance by a few years, and ignoring his real accomplishment, the invention of PR). Whether it’s a willing suspension of disbelief or the sleight of hand of commercials, the coin of the realm in today's society is your cognitive dissonance. Oh, by the way, you're out of Doritos.

But I noticed something the other day when trying to explain to a friend how the mass murder of blacks by US cops is largely a media fabrication. He asked why the media would do that and, to be honest, I was stumped on how to explain. All I could say was that it isn't a conspiracy, the media is just… biased. Something felt lost in translation. And the fact that I didn't just say “entirely fabricated" either to my friend or even on this stupid blog no one reads says volumes about how effective the media is in creating reality. Cognitive dissonance indeed. Don't forget to Rock the Vote!

Yes, we have a biased media, I'm not telling you anything new. George Orwell said all politics is coercion and deceit, so the “news” is not the truth at all. News is anything that advances the dominant progressive agenda - distortion, exaggeration, fabrication, false equivalency, misdirection or omission. The gang's all here. Media is politicised and wholly-owned. But Americans stand out from citizens of the other countries surveyed on how they think about this. They are the most critical of the news media’s reporting of all sides of a story. They are also significantly more inclined to disagree (46%) that the media reports news accurately; and more likely to agree (68%) that it covers too many ‘bad news’ stories. Also, 68% distrust the media outright. That means either 32% of Americans are drooling dummies or just very well-read. I'm not sure what's worse.

II

To find out which, we need to broaden the definition of “status” because for most people it refers to social class (in traditional societies) or income level (in democratic societies). Status also has the component of a person being at the centre of attention (entertainers have “status,” for example) or being part of a group in an agreed-upon centre of attention. Everyone likes to be in a group.

This component of status isn't directly related to displays of wealth but does have an economic function and is strongly related to each social cognitive biases of the left/right political nonsense which emerged into full public consciousness in the middle of the 18th Century. This social cognitive bias is group-based for a good reason: people do not think for themselves. Write that down. Instead, they refer automatically to the priors of their in-group. Rational cognition only comes after the group emotion is expressed. For example, progressives have a huge distrust of genetic foods, while those on the right tend to dismiss the dangers of increasing global warming. And yet no one can point to the person who actually came up with these positions, and that bothers me.

Scientific explanations are often presented by both left and right to justify their positions, but these are always construed by social emotions, not by logic. Many scientific topics deal with n-body complex systems (biosphere, climate, ecology, health) that will never be deterministically predicted which means the overall risk is a statistic. This gives everybody an enormous amount of existential anxiety, but also the freedom to avoid coming to any conclusion which might be opposite to their in-group bias (phew). We then search for more information from the attention-centre to which their in-group belongs and begin the cycle again. You can make heaps of money from this feedback loop, but you'll have to fight the media giants because they've been doing it for decades.

The experimental literature on motivated social cognition shows the reason in-group members feel things are “wrong” is that it violates the status quo of the group’s own ideas of the assessment of the risks of existential danger. That's a long way of saying “selection bias,” but the key is it doesn't originate at the individual level: it is informed by the in-group and adopted by the individual. Perhaps it is a herd instinct caused by habituation in mirror neurons? We may one day find out, but for now, who knows? Like I said, quirks in human nature can be exploited for money, which is a long way of saying "business."

So, if you ask readers of Socialist Worker why Breitbart is wrong, or ask readers of Breitbart why Socialist Worker is wrong, they'll each say with a straight face the facts are wrong. If you question them further, they'd probably say they that heard those websites - if those ideas were followed by the public - would destroy society or some other extreme, hence the anxiety. Here we can see that what people think is “wrong” is really just what emotionally threatens them at the level of their in-group perception of existential risk.

Carnivores and herd animals, it's not all we are but that's a big chunk.

III

In modern technological society (beginning with the explosion of newspapers in the 19th Century, through to 20th-century broadcast media), these attention-centres have grown into large industrial complexes of information-gathering and dissemination. If you find one that goes against your in-group bias, you won't like it and you'll ignore it because it threatens your group at a basic, existential level. More specifically, it threatens your assessment of risk and future response to risk. In other words, you hate certain types of media not because of what the outlet says, but because you hate the people it is speaking to. I know, rationality sounds cool in theory, but it's really hard and you already know how to hate someone at 1000m with a scope. Hate sells far better than logic, just ask Gandhi.

You can see this cognitive bias in real-time with the images of dead children the media chooses to show. Notice how they are almost never American children. Displaying dead earthquake victims is ok, but showing dead Americans is a big no-no. People in the West do not think anyone else's lives are important, certainly not as important as ours anyway. In September last year, 3000 were killed by an earthquake in Indonesia. Do we really care? What do you think would be happening if 3000 Americans were killed in an earthquake? The news wouldn't cover anything else for months (though it still wouldn't show you any American bodies).

It's not that a reader or viewer could be forced to think about how the body got there - the headline will explain everything. Have you ever seen a headline in a US paper that read "5 killed by American soldiers" or "10 Americans dead in attack"? No. It's almost always "Gunfight in Mosul leaves 5 dead" or "Embassy bomb kills 10." The logic is simple: we have enough stress and tension in our daily personal lives, and we aren't using media to add more.

Oh yeah, people killed by Americans are also unacceptable for display. If the media wanted to show pictures of soldiers in coffins, they could do so easily. Airbases and Arlington Cemetery are visible in detail with zoom lenses. Yet journalists don't take the pictures because no one has any interest in seeing them. And by "no one," I'm referring to you. It's easy to accuse the government of not wanting certain pictures shown due to the negative attention it might draw to a war or some other policy. But lots of dangerous people want the pictures unveiled precisely because it will draw negative attention to their rivals. The idea that propaganda is only bad when it comes from the government is simplistic. Plenty of people want power, and none of them is worth following. Read the Lord of the Rings for the details.

IV

But the problem isn't photos of dead people, whether civilians or soldiers. Moral justifications are not measured in body counts. If a war is not morally justified, then its wrong even if there are no casualties. And if a war is morally justified, then it is right despite the body count. The fact of dead civilians simply shows the cost of war, not whether the war is righteous. Would it have been ok to kill Iraqi citizens if Saddam had been involved in 9/11 and had WMDs? If not, then what is gained by showing images of death to the American people?

No, the reason people hate the media is statements like this:
"We will export death and violence to the four corners of the earth in defense of our great nation."
You see that? Everyone thinks George W Bush said that, but he didn't. Read that article in the link and look at all the "trusted sources." The journalists are just reading and quoting from each other.

But the undisclosed CIA/Special Forces operative (spook) who said that is the result of a US foreign policy after the Second World War that was set by officials voted into office by those who served in that war. These were ordinary people who had seen the aftermath of the Nazis in Europe, the Japanese in Asia, and yes, even the atomic bombs. There were no illusions about what was at stake in that war or what those bombs could do. The American public, including that spook, understood during the Cold War that the use of any nuclear weapon would trigger nothing short of the end of the world.

The public saw the pictures from Auschwitz and they saw the pictures of the Mai Lai massacre, yet these pictures did nothing to change the course of US nuclear or foreign policy. When an American saw those horrific pictures, she did not say, "that must never happen again." She said, "that must never happen here." Washington had to drag the public kicking and screaming into Serbia because Americans didn't care about ethnic cleansing. Neither did the public didn't care one iota about genocide in Rwanda, especially after seeing soldiers dragged through Somali streets.

But when someone attacks the US, there is no limit to what the American public will stomach and mandate. The attack on 9/11 lasted 1:15 minutes, hit three buildings, killed 3000 people, triggered two simultaneous wars, toppled two governments, killed hundreds of thousands of civilians, killed 4000+ US military personnel, disrupted global energy and food markets, and despite being a near-total failure, is still being waged 18 years later. Imagine what would have happened had the war in Iraq been a qualified success instead. To the American public, images of dead foreigners are tolerable, but images of dead Americans are unacceptable. Any collection of nuclear holocaust photos does not match the power of a photo of a single tower burning high above the Manhattan morning skyline. This is not the media's fault.

CNN's 1991 Gulf War coverage is a good case in point. It was real, on the ground news, backed by 24-hour wall-to-wall CNN on every screen. When Saddam Hussein started shooting missiles into Israel, the world collectively held it’s breath, waiting for the whole US alliance to fall apart. It was one of the first moments a large portion of the world thought in unison. The people able to pull that off would not be human if they didn’t feel a tingling frisson of unlimited power. It was a remarkable event. The media has been trying to recreate the all-eyes-on-us moment of the Gulf War and the Apollo missions every day since, just like a hot girl spends the rest of her life trying to be 23 again - spoiler alert: it will never happen, time to get a cat.

V

The attention-centre dynamic stabilised in the 20th Century because the technology of broadcast media was large and expensive (creating only a few outlets or networks) and it was one-way. The unidirectional aspect was partly alleviated by “letters to the editor” and by a public commitment by broadcast networks to be honest and fair-minded (ha!). Kids may don't understand the unified expectations of society 30 years ago before personal computers, internet and smartphones, and they certainly don't understand the expectations of society 25 years before that when Walter Cronkite was the “most trusted man in America.”

Now the restrictions of “the few” and “one-way” are disappearing and with them, any expectation of trust. What we have instead are networks and web pages expressing a bias for the in-group attention-centres which looks suspiciously similar to the 19th Century days of yellow journalism.

(Another reason social risk stabilised in the 20th Century is that the US defeated Europe twice in 50 years, so it felt good to be an American. This caused a reduction of risk at the end of the Cold War (1991) transferring US public emotions of fear onto domestic problems such as crime leading to an immediate, significant uptick of frontpage reportage of crime - even as violent crime statistics fell. This modern distrust of media could well be an epiphenomenon of the US coming to grips with its slow loss of status as the global system shifts from a nation-state to a market-state system.)

It's also worth pointing out that most reporters aren't very good and are easily swayed by their own social cognitive biases. This abdication of responsibility has also revealed the public’s bias, which is being exacerbated by the end of mass-media monopoly in market economics: an explosion of media outlets, the implosion of corporate spending on serious news analysis and the dominance of infotainment (both emotional and comedic). The only way out of this may be the invention of smart pills to get everybody’s IQ and attention spans out of the ditch.

Which leads me to Facebook.

All you need to know about Facebook and Google is that between them, they take 70c in every advertising dollar. News outlets need money to survive, and I'm no lawyer but that looks like collusion. It doesn’t matter how much education a person receives, to be a good reporter you must be able to work for a stable corporation that defends your news collection and analysis from the vicissitudes of the marketplace and offers you a stable position with a future. The unprotected news marketplace is not honesty’s friend. Today's lack of media stability and secure audience only makes reporters more susceptible to falling back into their in-group biases to stabilise contacts and audiences. Journalists are just as concerned about reducing career risk and status as anyone else.

The mistake is to think that just because Twitter gets attention, then mainstream media is dying. It isn't. But it might if it keeps trying to become a paper version of blogging. Twitter initially was popular among people who don't read newspapers or pay attention to mainstream news. The media should never have courted these people for one simple reason - they are dumb. I mean that literally, they lack the capacity for critical and analytical thought. If you are on Twitter, I'm sorry you had to hear this diagnosis from me.

Mainstream media went after these people because it thought it needed an audience. Everyone knows that Fox News is programmed to the lowest common denominator, blah blah blah. But CNN and MSNBC were programmed a decade earlier around the Clinton news cycle and the bipartisan thirst for scandal. But it was only Fox that realised it could play to the "media is biased" demographic by openly billing itself as the conservative news source. Fox got big ratings by giving this demo skewed infotainment. This led to the entire media industrial complex chasing ratings. Everyone quickly learned that they couldn't grow large audiences by sharpening up the content - the trick was to dumb it down because there are way more dumb people and they are easier viewers to hold.

Add to this the mainstream media's united surrender to the US presidency after 9/11, and you have an analysis vacuum that still plagues us today. Nobody today has any idea what's really going on in Washington or what it means because every news outlet is still chasing the story that sells to ensure high ratings and attract the most advertising dollars.

VI

Now, I hate media as much as the next person, but one thing it's good at is constructing a narrative. Usually, the narrative is moronic and exploitative, but there is a narrative. Democracy is one of these narratives and, like all conventions of limited war, it is incredibly fragile. It's hard to establish and easy to destroy. Today, the principal check keeping the developed world from degenerating into actual violence is the 80-year-old informational dominance of "responsible" broadcast and newspaper journalism.

As anyone who's been paying attention will recognise, this system is under stress, to put it mildly. It is being replaced by people like Jessica Valenti and Heartiste. Their followers seem to have enough pure, 24-karat hate stored up for ten or fifteen really juicy civil wars. Mimetics means humans can fight about anything, but the media helps to limit these avenues of violence by funnelling them through newspaper pages or television screens to be captured within the framework the media gives us. The losers in this struggle may keep their gonads, but they will lose control of the institutions - universities, civil service and schools - that install (no sic) values and beliefs in the next generation. This is about gaining control using proxies of fighting, rather than actual combat. That's what's really at stake in all this.

The internet now allows each of us to construct our own narratives to highlight parts of events that are most important to us or organise facts into a cohesive whole for a persuasive case that's important to us as individuals. But I have one question for people: how can there be a narrative if everyone owns the narrative? Karl Marx never considered that, and neither are the progressives.

If you do have a narrative, you must tell me why I should care about it. You have to tell me why I should weigh the sign that reads "#MeToo" differently to the sign that reads "Lol." Don't just point me to Flickr photo pools and crappy smartphone videos of idiots in masks shouting over each other. What is happening? Why is it happening? Who is behind it? What is their motivation? What is the objective? How do these events advance the objective? Is it a success? For any kind of movement to have an effect, someone must contextualise and direct the story, the narrative. If you don't place your protest into some context, the media is always happy to do it for you.

As much as we hate the media, in a bizarre but totally psychologically-explainable reason we actually want media to have some kind of power over the narrative of our lives because we have proven ourselves entirely incapable of doing it ourselves. We want something to acknowledge our worth. After all, there is nothing sweeter than the gaze of a tyrant. Turns out it's really hard to kill God.

"Omg, I should totally tweet that."