I’d like to share with all of you what I regard as a keen and valuable insight of Nydwracu’s which he was generous enough to relate to several of us at a recent meeting in my home. I think this particular observation helps to explain a lot about the psychology of modern progressivism and the origin of its tenacious spread in recent history which continues in our own time.
I also believe that this idea occurred most obviously to Nydwracu in part due to his youth and his recent experiences with the social maze that defined the modern university (even high school) environment. In any current, it’s easiest for a fish to swim with the rest of the school, and if you don’t, you’re liable to find yourself forever alone.
At least in a physical sense. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves; we’ll climb this ladder one rung at a time. And we begin, naturally, with Aristotle’s Politics:
Man is by nature a social animal; an individual who is unsocial naturally and not accidentally is either beneath our notice or more than human. Society is something that precedes the individual. Anyone who either cannot lead the common life or is so self-sufficient as not to need to, and therefore does not partake of society, is either a beast or a god.
Even introverts and ‘Sigma-Males’ like having some friends. Marx would use the word Gattungswesen to complement those of the post title which mean “community” and “society” to explain that the need for certain patterns of social interaction – and even ‘belongingness’ – is an integral part of our human nature, and that estrangement (Entfremdung) from these sorts of social experiences through the inherent mass depersonalization of the industrial revolutions produces profound angst and anxiety. You could try to ‘explain’ this by putting a Robin Hanson Forager-Farmer Evo-Psych spin on it at all, but the conclusion remains the same as Aristotle’s.
Marx also wrote most about his alienation concept (popular with German denkers at the time) as a younger man, and I think his age was important factor in his sensitivity to the experience of isolation and atomization (or at least an imagined empathy for the proletariat actually experiencing the phenomenon in the early industrial era).
I’m a family man now, and consider myself social and outgoing and extroverted, but I find I enjoy my solitude much more than I used to, and I am certainly not as eager for constant company as I once was.
Why is this emphasis on age important? Because we are most sensitive to alienation at the same age we start to settle on our ideological leaning and dispositions. And we end up killing both birds with one stone. Indeed, as Peter A. Taylor (via neoneocon, via Milan Kundera) has remarked, part of the difficulty of changing one’s philosophical orientation is like resigning membership in a club or divorcing a set of close friends, because everyone has a natural urge to want to ‘dance in a ring’.
Now, I am not much of a dancer, it doesn’t get me high like it does some people,, and having danced in many actual rings my judgment is that ring-dancing is silly and awkward. But even I’ll admit it’s better than not dancing at all. Especially after the fourth Scotch.
But not getting to dance together is a large part of the modern condition. We stratify and segregate our populations by age (in schools) geographically (in suburbs, and with zoned urban planning heavily dependent on the automobile) and certainly by race and socioeconomic status.
Marx said it was money and mass production that acted as universal intermediary and separated man from man. Bertrand Russel would say something in a similar vein a century later:
Television allows thousands of people to laugh at the same joke and still remain alone.
You wonder what they would make of the internet. Yes, the internet and ‘social media’ is supposed to mean no one is ever alone. But we’re also all alone in our own mental world as we’re constantly being not-alone ‘connecting’ with each other instead of ‘being’ with each other, in actual close physical proximity, face-to-face. Sometimes even when we are face to face. I’ve heard part of the beta-male explosion is that with texts and facebooks, guys don’t actually have to engage in much in-person, real-time conversation with girls, which disrupts the normal social-interaction development necessary for interpersonal success later in life.
Filling the gap created by the loss of the routine habit of organic peasant communities, alienated individuals sought their Gemeinschaft emotional-attachments fix elsewhere, and I think both religion (with its emphasis on actual frequent social congregation) and ethno-nationalism and revolutionary movements rushed into the fertile vacuum.
Now fast forward 200 years to the 21st Century. Traditional Religion and Ethno-nationalism are all but illegal (if you don’t keep your mouth shut) in many Western Countries. But the human creature is just as desperate for the primitive intimacy of his forager Dunbar group, an experience nearly incompatible with, or infeasible to replicate in, our late-stage postmodern society.
Or, at least, lots of the kids aren’t getting their fix. Especially the smarter ones, who prefer their fix of community spiked with a heavy dose of ideas. Not just belonging and ideology, of course, but the whole quest for meaning and purpose and depth and significance and status won by heroic contribution towards the holy struggle. The portrait of the intellectual as a young man is a picture of a storm of oscillating confusions and fog-like uncertainties combined with loneliness and self-doubt.
And then there’s college. Young people plucked out of one kind of warm egg, often ‘sheltered’ and hurled into another full of social possibilities and, at least once upon a time, a lot of BS’ing about ideas and politics.
And that’s the genius of Nydwracu – genius in the sense of discovering something beautiful and true that you never thought of before, but which seems completely obvious the minute you hear it. And the mechanisms by which Progressivism solves the emotional-attachment social-alienation estrangement problem in our modern world are indeed obvious once you think about it – most kids don’t have any other way to feel the things they need to feel.
They may realize their errors later, but getting them to leave their ring-dance is harder than you’d imagine. At the very least, an alternative had better be competitive and therefore capable of providing the satisfactions of community and relief from the anxieties of absolutist-individualism in just as potent a manner as Progressivism does for its adherents.
Now, what’s all that got to do with PC and Free Speech and Popehat’s “Social Consequences“?
I think a normal individual craves a set of colleagues and/or friends with whom they can socialize. Friendship and teamwork, especially for men, emerges from the same kind of mental patterns and social dynamics associated with close relations in the Environment of Evolutionary Adaptedness. In other words, it’s genuinely ‘fraternal’ in nature, and men working together in a friendly way on a challenging project or in harsh conditions do indeed become something like a ‘band of brothers’.
There are millions of people in the the US with security clearances. When you have to run a background investigation on someone, you usually have to contact their friends who are not under your jurisdiction and scattered all over the country. The higher the access, the more extensive the investigation, and the more friends you have to find and talk to.
Except for some groups, for example, Navy Seals. You’ve got about 2,000 guys who will have very high-level clearances and you’ve got to investigate them very thoroughly which means finding all their friends who are … fortunately also all among those 2,000 guys. It’s a very ‘tight knit community’. A band of brothers. Did you ever feel you wanted to be in a band of brothers? That you might like it? You would. They like it a lot. But it isn’t exactly on offer for most folks these days, is it?
Part of what makes that experience enjoyable, even essential to happiness and healthy mental functioning, is the ability to speak one’s mind, express one’s honest sentiments, crack a few jokes, talk explicitly about one’s most recent sexual escapade, and so on without fear of anyone being seriously offended or of certain ‘social consequences’. The main consequences I have in mind are exclusion from the group, violation of confidence and publication to a wider audience, reporting to higher authority for disciplinary action, loss of employment; things like that.
Say what you like, anything you want without fear, you’re amongst your buddies. That’s real friendship, and trust, and community. Those who have tasted of it, as I have had the privilege of doing, can never be the same again, and can never stop wanting it again. You think the reason people who leave the military or prison, get a little taste of ordinary civilian life, and try to get back in is because they’ve been ‘institutionalized’? Think again. No one has more freedom of speech than a prisoner.
There’s a lot of talk about ‘total compensation’ these days. You can’t just look at salary. You’ve got to look at the health plan, the benefits, the pension, the job security, and the perquisites of employment, all of which can make up for a low salary, intense regulation of personal behavior, and a high level of personal risk and hardship. A gender-homogenous workforce is part of total compensation – believe it. For many men, an environment where they can work closely only with other men is worth half their salary. Half of that is because men like to talk about women, and it’s not wise to talk about women around women, because their complaints can destroy you, and you can never know if you can trust them forever.
PC is a mere annoyance for the courtier class of folks, who can adapt to whatever diplomatic rules of etiquette control discourse in his day. But it is a genuine cognitive burden and frustrating anxiety for an ordinary man to have to constantly bite his tongue and trip over his own words because he cannot master the system and has to fear the consequences of being himself. The law and the culture now prevents this market from clearing, but I think we know what the actual preference cascade would reveal.
The ultimate alienation is the estrangement of your publicly presented persona and your inner self; a schizophrenic violation of one’s integrity that is required of you at every social moment. But beyond being untrue to yourself, if you cannot be true with those around you, where else are you to go?
Well, for us, thank God, and for the time being there’s still the internet. But it’s not a real substitute, or a satisfying path for most young people. Progressivism continues the social process that began with industrialization – expanding alienation to heretofore unseen levels by ‘chilling’ (prohibiting through intimidation) the kinds socialization need to alleviate the feeling of estrangement, and therefore aggravating a sense isolation. At the same time, it offers itself as the only path out – to salvation – to getting to dance in a ring. If you come to believe in progressivism, you get your free speech license restored – not only do you get to say whatever you want, you get to police what the enemy says, or muzzle them if you have to.
If you’re going to take on that kind of phenomenon, then you’re going to need some very heavy artillery aimed at just the right age group. “We don’t do taboo” is just the beginning of providing an alternative. Community is essential.
As an example, do you know who’s got the very embryo of that kind of community? A place where folks can come together, experience brotherhood, share tips and secrets to achieving ordinary life-success, talk about their favorite subjects openly without fear of violating taboos, and so on? It’s already happening at the game blogs. And game continues to spread. It’s a start. Watch, learn, practice, and then surfer, ride that wave.
Further discussion in the comments is, as usual, highly encouraged.
on the money
even in the 80s the intellectual cool kids were progressives and the coolest kids were the most progressive and so on
dropping out of a PhD program to enlist in the Army felt like an escape to home
Since the economic downturn began and the perma-crap labor market became a way of life for young people, certain portions of the military have benefited tremendously in their ability to exploit the situation and recruit top talent from fancy degree programs for merely modest compensation. I’ve heard a lot of them say something to similar to what you’ve written here.
The only way to compete with cool is to act like you’re more cool – which, according to the Roissy / Heartiste strategy (I think Sailer has given his nod too) involves application of social influence techniques (game for politics), and a constant stream of mock and ridicule for the suckers and chumps who believe as adults in delusional fairy tales – the essence of cooler-than-thou and cultural change.
Hey – it worked against religion a century ago.
Coincidentally, I was thinking about something very similar earlier today. Those individuals who are the most atomised, rootless, and without intimate [face-to-face] social networks are also the most easy to Cathedralise.
Rightists used to think that leftism was all about an overbearing, banal, and uniform solidarity in the masses, but we didn’t pay enough attention to the fact that the prerequisite was the destruction of fraternal, familial, and ethno-religious bonds. And what better place for that than the great ‘propositional nation’ of America?
You’re young, and you’ve got the whole world out there. Away from home, and on an unfamiliar campus around people in a similar position, where you have no connection to anything. Without existing friendships, it’ll be hard to develop any sense of security that you can really speak your mind and do as you wish.
Break a progressive taboo? No one will stand up for you. The fear of ostracisation and blacklisting would crush an ordinary person. You can atone for your crimes by grovelling before your masters in the Cathedral, begging them for a chance for redemption. But, it’s easier to submit and pay tribute without having the Mongols sack your city first, isn’t it?
Look at what happened to Pax Dickinson. What would an ordinary denizen have done? He would have prostrated himself before the pantheon of progressive deities–feminism, multiculturalism, et al.–repeatedly offering apologies and chanting the prog mantra.
What is especially awful about that affair with Dickinson is the fact that the odious Anil Dash openly wanted to blacklist the former. It’s not enough to shamelessly campaign for his expulsion from his company. No, all things associated with him must be tainted and buried alive. The message is clear to all.
Now, consider the fact that these trends of atomisation are growing worse, and at alarming rates. We haven’t hit rock-bottom yet. More and more children are growing up in broken homes, and have little to no connection with any religious institutions, which are being co-opted and mercifully killed off by the Cathedral anyway.
The Leftist Singularity isn’t even close.
Now, that’s a sobering thought. Progressivism is a murderer who adopts the orphans of his victims and brainwashes them to do his bidding. Call it Stockholm Syndrome, or whatever, it’s all the same.
We neoreactionaries have our work cut out for us. It’s not just an uphill battle, it’s up a hill that also happens to lie where two tectonic plates meet. That’s not to say that it’s wholly hopeless, though. Enough people will reject and defy progressivism, with enough support. You are absolutely correct when you say that community is essential. Let’s continue building one.
Your whole comment is great, but this quip deserves repeating:
” Progressivism is a murderer who adopts the orphans of his victims and brainwashes them to do his bidding.”
It was a common tactic in the brutal ancient world for conquering forces to slay the men and enslave the women and children. Sending them to reeducation camps and giving a decent career path in the Grand Inquisitor’s Grand Bureaucracy is a much more subtle and effective system of control.
If you come to believe in progressivism, you get your free speech license restored – not only do you get to say whatever you want, you get to police what the enemy says, or muzzle them if you have to. . . .
If you come to believe in progressivism, you just won’t say certain things. Eventually, you won’t want to say certain things. And finally, you’ll want to keep these certain things from leaving the mouths of others. The kind of progressive who believes in speech codes—in policing what people say—is the most committed kind of progressive. Your average Bill Clinton democrat could, at least, see both sides of the issue.
But when it comes to these kinds of committed progressives, I honestly don’t know if theirs is a slow process of socialization into an ‘inner (dancing) ring’. Political leanings are at least partially heritable. I suggested at Spandrell’s that committed progressives are just naturally sanctimonious twits. They no more chose to be progressives than they chose to be white. At Foseti’s this week, we were all talking about how we found neoreaction. But did we really have any choice in the matter? I’m not saying we were genetically destined to go this far, of course, but weren’t we all genetically destined to be somehow right-wing? Do you really think there was a chance that any of us might have ended up voting for the Green Party, had we not read a certain book or missed out on a certain experience?
Are ideologies malleable into our young adulthood or are they already setting by the time we’re in elementary school? There are obvious implications, either way. I hope they’re malleable, because that means with each new generation, the right has as much a chance as the left at bringing more people into their dancing circle.
Allow me to clarify.
Of course, accepting Progressivism as your Lord and Savior means Winston really does come to Love Big Brother and sees five fingers, and it wouldn’t occur to him to say otherwise.
When I say “you get your free speech license restored,” what I meant was that you receive near-immunity from prosecution from all the ‘incivility in discourse’ nonsense with which we’ve lately been bombarded and which is only used against people like Pax Dickinson and John Derbyshire. You can say any vile thing about Christians in the most obscene and graphic terms and nobody will do anything, naturally. Vulgar, hateful venting in public against some adversary is also very satisfying to the human psychology, but to do it without ‘social consequences’, you’ll need to get that license.
While I agree that certain ideological ideographs have an attractiveness that is inborn (and normally distributed), I cannot agree with the genetico-political hyper-determinism you suggest above. For one, it doesn’t explain the change in ratios or idea-set over time, and whatever does explain that could also explain the social ratio of belief affinities. For another, there are conservatives, even neoreactionaries, who were once genuinely liberal or progressive or whatever, and had a genuine epiphany or conversion experience, whether they were ‘mugged by reality’ or persuaded by ideas, or turned off by the extremism of their ‘friends’, or what have you.
Just like you’re never going to stop making women attractive to men, you’re never going to stop making certain idea-patterns attractive to lots of human beings. Few of us can ever be leaders, so most of us are slaves in Nietzsche’s sense, and so it is natural for people to find appeal in a ‘slave morality’ like Christianity or Absolutist Egalitarianism. On the other hand – the hero-worship and cult-of-personality strain also runs deep in our blood and gene pool. Neither of these features is going away, but it’s not an insurmountable obstacle to pit one desire against the other. Checks and Balances and all that.
Your notion of idea-patterns is immensely helpful. It also might explain why each generation is more lefter than the one that came before it:
Each subsequent generation finds itself attracted to the same general pattern (equality, tolerance, whatever) that attracted the previous ones, but, upon seeing that the previous generation only took things so far, can only fulfill its attraction by rallying together to apply the pattern in a more extreme way. This is why you see smaller and smaller ‘victim’ groups on the receiving end of progressive pity today.
The insidious thing is that the rate of decline is slow enough that nobody stops and thinks “wait, things have gotten so bad so quickly,” but rather, it becomes ingrained in the social fabric.
If the progressive march towards the Leftist Singularity were too rapid, progs wouldd encounter a lot more inertia and outright hostility from society at large. Instead, it’s more moderated and ‘reasonable’.
Then again, The Army went from Chapter 15 Discharges, to Don’t-Ask-Don’t-Tell, to openly gay marriages with full spousal benefits and disciplinary action against anyone, even Chaplains, who has anything unfavorable to say about homosexuality, in the blink of an eye. Maybe it’s just not as big a deal in reality as people can be provoked into feeling it is. Even the Pope thinks so now. “Ass Pain” and “Butt Hurt” are traditional jargon and humorous terms of art that will simply have to go. It was hard enough to stop people from saying “We’re getting raped with these budget cuts”, because that would be ‘trivializing’ rape. Believe me, you don’t want someone to accuse you of trivializing rape.
I would, however, note that reactions against rapid leftist-caused deterioration have in fact occurred in recent US History, and it’s an undertold story. The data in Stuntz’s The Collapse of American Criminal Justice illustrates what happened, even as he attempted to impose an alternative interpretive narrative on it. Basically, starting in the late 1950’s, American Criminal Justice, for reasons related to both changes in Supreme Court jurisprudence and the anti-punitive philosophy, politics and ideology of those who obtained positions of power over the process, became much less severe and much more lenient, with a much higher burden of proof and standard to achieve conviction. Simultaneous with collapsing incarceration rates, there was a lot of cultural flux and racial unrest (and riots), and combined with a sudden expansion of drug culture (and easy access to pistols) it translated into an explosion in violent crime. This, combined with the movement of manufacturing and commerce away from old city centers eventually created The American Millstone underclass ghettos.
And so there was a huge political backlash, as the naive hopes of an older generation were dashed as they watched their old neighborhoods decay and fear ruled the day in the cities they used to love. Many of the old left “woke up”, and many of the new left babyboomers were coming of age and starting families and starting to care a lot about crime and safety and good schools and so forth. If they didn’t exactly speak up, they voted with their feet, and while many continued to proclaim racial optimism, their actual preferences were revealed by their behavior in the housing market. Irving Kristol’s Two Cheers for Capitalism (1978) explained some of it, as well as attributing the major cultural nervous breakdown to the genesis of the neoconservatives themselves. I think the Reagan revolution had a lot to do with it too.
As the crack epidemic exploded the situation hit its nadir and the pain finally reached the point of reaction. The Republican victories of 1994 under Newt Gingrich, and the election of Rudy Giuliani in New York City (who, for NYC, was the equivalent of electing Pat Buchanan), and continuing to perhaps 2004 or 5 probably represents the apex of conservative ascendancy before the long-term population strategy of the Democrats began to bear its unbeatable fruit. But starting in those early 90’s, the American Criminal Justice System lurched to the other extreme, as the police began to master the new procedure and technological innovation helped them win the forensics arms race. We started finding the bad guys, roping them in, convicting them, locking them up and throwing away the keys. NYC even got some Stop and Frisk out of it. The cities are vastly safer now (though still not as safe as they once were) because of it.
It’s possible the “too much, too fast, too much damage” lesson was learned by the Party Machine Apparatus, which learned a little caution and patience thereby. Meanwhile, the captains of that old reaction took their eyes off the ball, but also, having largely succeeded in their primary mandate to stop the madness with crime, they had less ability to leverage public support.
There is a certain parallel to Prohibition here – American Progressivism’s other major sanctimonious law and order blunder – which created an order of magnitude more harm than it ever cured. But they learned that lesson quickly as well.
Thanks for the response, very interesting. The rate of progressive change certainly seems to be accelerating, though. It’s a positive feedback loop where the insanity feeds on its deleterious effects.
Looks like a ‘jerk’, or increase in said rate of acceleration, can be too much for society to handle. Progs have learned to avoid that.
This is why the criticism that the Republicans and Democrats are the same is incorrect, though it gets the fundamental insight right that they are both part of the machine.
The brake and the accelerator are not the same, and the brake is only a secondary function that does not control direction, but it is also indispensable to utility of the machine.
“Are ideologies malleable into our young adulthood or are they already setting by the time we’re in elementary school?”
I think you misunderstand Handle’s post. There is nothing heritable about the specific nonsense that progs adopt at a given time (i.e. you get to choose your gender). These things are too specific. What is heritable of course is the natural desire for socialization and having an in-group.
But that natural desire has been with us for all history.
No, but the specific nonsense results ultimately from a few general principles and values, of the kind discussed by Jonathan Haidt, and these are the values that I don’t think we have much control over.
Haidt’s thesis is that conservatives have an array of ultimate values, that do include notions of fairness and equality, but that their value-array is large enough that each value acts as a check against the other values. Progs, on the other hand, have a much smaller value-array, and that’s why they end up riding certain values to death—they have no competing values to act as a check or balance.
Thanks for those good points!
I want Haidt’s thesis to be right because conservatives are having more kids by a landslide. But it doesn’t seem to work that way. It is especially young people that “end up riding certain values to death” as you say so eloquently.
What is the lesson in all of this? You need to find a community.
Traditionalism will win in some form. It must because it is most natural. Traditionalism is actually winning right now on the societal level in the present ghastly war of attrition, where the most atomized and nontraditional peoples have the lowest fertility rates until they are gone and overrun by the traditional societies of the global south.
Tragically the traditionalism that is winning is not our civilized traditionalism; it is barbarian traditionalism. But where is it written that the barbarians must lose?
I just want to throw my 2c in on the idea of heritability of political orientation. Obviously it’s anecdata, but my grandfather was a red diaper baby and died a socialist, my father was a hippie who went to Woodstock, and I was somewhere between socialist and communist until ~2002/03. My extended family all range from leading edge (Oberlin) to tepid (voted for Obama) progressive, but the entirety of my immediate family are now neoreactionary.
Eric Hoffer wrote in, ‘The True Believer’ that there are true believer psychological / personality types. In the book, he considers those who converted from adamant Nazism to adamant Communism after WWII, and postulated that ‘politically energized’ people will easily switch sides if necessity and the situation’s dominant strong-horse also switches, and there is some alternative to supply the emotional needs of utopianism. Apolitical political grudgingly go on trying to keep their heads down no matter what the prevailing orthodoxy.
The origin of those types is indeed an interesting question. One might just as well ask where other personality traits like extrovertedness comes from. Genetics and personality are linked, obviously, but we also know that age, socialization, and family-status has a lot to do with the intensity of ideological enthusiasm – so something like an “epigenetic window” where peak-hormones and the emergence of intellectual maturity combine to make that moldable moment.
I think that most of today’s progressives are default followers, maybe running a bit ahead of the locomotive in their youth and trailing it in maturity. If there is a genetic component, that is all. Today’s neoreactionaries, if they are genetically predisposed to anything, are predisposed to rebellion. In a staid reactionary regime (of which I can’t find a good historical example, since every regime I can think of had either just been born by killing its predecessor or was in the process of rotting out/being killed by its successor,) today’s progs would be staunch reactionaries, and today’s neoreactionaries would be revolutionaries.
To put it a different way: any order rests, of necessity, on Official Truths, which are, again of necessity, to some degree lies. Most people are quite willing to go along with them, because the subject matter is out of their scope of interest, i.e., global climate or evolutionary genetics. There are always some unfortunates who, due to bad genetics and a faulty upbringing, can’t accept the Official Truths and must struggle against them. The genius of the Modern Structure is that it offers something to both groups, i.e., an established progressivism for the former, and constant transgression leftwards for the latter. Neoreactionaries are the unfortunates who were not sufficiently enticed by officially sanctioned transgression.
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Something that I have not seen pointed out is that the Modern Structure has created a sort of Homo Americanus who is not even amoral, but aggressively antimoral. I’m not speaking of the prep school and Ivy League guys, but a big part of the teens and 20-somethings today. What I mean is this: the only explicit morality they’ve encountered has been the official propaganda coming from various branches of the Cathedral. Since it’s obvious that accepting this stuff as a guidestone is counter to your interests on every level, they’ve grown to instinctively identify discussion of ANY moral system beyond a sort of rudimentary wolfpack morality as an attempt to fuck them over, to tool them, to manipulate them, etc. Therefore, they react with sneering mockery or with overt hostility, situation permitting.
Who cares? Well, the heavies the Cathedral relies upon to do its dirty work, the combat troops, the SOF, the law enforcement and militarized intel communities, are mostly made up of these kind of guys-aggressively antimoral, wolfpack mentality, total unconscious rejection of the Cathedral’s bullshit with nothing to take its place. There is also a remnant of muscular Christianity, but it’s rotted out to the point where it’s practically irrelevant. I’m not sure how it will shake out-I doubt there will be a coup because the parts of the military-intelligence-law enforcement complex which are not fragmented into little wolfpacks and mafias are completely Cathedralized-but it can’t be for good.
I think you’re underestimating the level of true faith in the present system. When it comes to moral beliefs, people are very good at rationalizing away their negative implications in their personal lives, and coming to universal tacit agreements about standard unspoken exceptions to them — while still feeling genuine shock and outrage when they observe someone violating them in a way that’s not in this category.
Overall, I think the number of genuine amoral types who espouse and enforce the dominant ideology out of calculated self-interest is minuscule. The overwhelming majority of people of any consequence nowadays act with genuine moral conviction in the righteousness of the official ideology, and their minds react with rapid and effective crimestop against any explicit and conscious thoughts that seriously contradict it.
You are speaking of the people you normally associate with, the Outer Party (or maybe Inner Party, for all I know.) But most people are of an entirely different class and mindset. The only time their mindset pops up on the intellectual radar is in caricature form, like ICP or daytime TV show guests. While in theory they might agree to some Cathedral morality like “racism is bad,” or at least say “I hate everyone equally,” in practice they see anyone expounding explicit morality as an enemy. They’re not amoral, like I said, they’re antimoral. And they don’t have crimestop-it’s not necessary for proles.
That depends on whom you consider as “proles.” Cops and soldiers may be proles, but they definitely need crimestop. Anyone who is in a position of any authority or responsibility whatsoever needs it nowadays — the alternative is a constant need for conscious duplicity, which is extremely hard to pull of, except for a tiny minority of genuine sociopaths. (In particular, the present regime understands the need for total ideological control over police and army very well, so cops and soldiers need it, if anything, even more.)
And if common people are so “anti-moral,” then how come they love and enjoy preaching and moralizing so much? It’s not just that they have to suffer it in school and workplace (where they normally don’t seem bothered by it), but they’re also constantly bombarded by it in pop culture, which nobody forces them to consume. It seems to me that nowadays mass media are geared to a large degree towards selling feelings of moral righteousness, where the audience gets to experience them by affirming and identifying with the message of aggressive moralizing from the screen. I don’t have a TV and I rarely watch movies, but when I come across some mass entertainment product nowadays, I often perceive a note of preachy and self-satisfied moralizing that was rare (at any rate in such an aggressive form) as recently as a generation ago.
Duplicity is an inherent part of life in the military (and I would assume the police.) You are surrounded by nonsense agitprop and lifers attempting to fuck your eyes out of your head, and your only recourse is duplicity and a wolfpack looking out for itself. It seems a bit dramatic, but that’s how it is. Nothing sociopathic about it-many if not most of the people living in the USSR acted the exact same way.
People don’t seem bothered by agitprop in school and the workplace because most of them are adapted to it/are capable of tuning it out when they can’t do anything about it. Nobody forces them to consume pop culture, but it has tremendous cultural inertia behind it from several decades where it was the only form of entertainment available to them, literacy having been successfully combated by the educational system. Outside of the legacy media, there is practically no moralizing. Most video games with a conscious narrative like GTA are antimoral, in fact, GTA mocks the Cathedral narrative consistently. The dominant form of new entertainment, internet porn, is also antimoral.
I have no experience with the military, but much of your description fits the corporate workplace as well — certainly the nonsense agitprop and the need to look out for number one. Yet ultimately, people do have a fundamental belief in the official ideology despite all that. They may scorn off some particular piece of ideological agitprop, but only in the sense of seeing it as badly conceived and crafted, and perhaps having a low opinion of the particular people who issued it — never in the sense of opposing its intended fundamental ideological message. (Except, of course, for a small minority of malcontents who live under a Damocles’ sword, with the constant threat that at some point their crimethink will be exposed.)
As for the “legacy” media, I believe that they are here to stay, with their hegemony of public opinion and mass culture practically intact. (I have long opposed the wishful thinking of people who believe that they would eventually get undermined by the internet, and the events so far have confirmed my opinion.) Insofar as new media like blogs, online magazines, and social websites have started to matter in the last 10-15 years, they have been quickly and easily co-opted by the system — and contrary to your claims, moralizing in them is often even more shrill and aggressive than in the legacy mass media. Yes, some forms of entertainment like video-games have remained conventionally non-ideological, but that’s only because they’re perceived as so lowbrow or nerdy that nobody approaches them expecting any moral content.
(Also, the quip about “literacy having been successfully combated by the educational system” is much too optimistic about human nature. The sad truth is that the overwhelming majority of people, including very smart people, are inexorably drawn towards the entertainment and propaganda pumped out by the mass media — and this is not just due to herding instincts, but also because they find it truly more appetizing than any conceivable alternative. This means that people don’t tune in to mass media only in the absence of alternatives, as was the case in the 20th century before the internet — they’ll tune in to them as soon as they exist, no matter what independent alternatives may also exist. This is why the internet can never be a challenge to the existing mass culture and regnant ideology, and has effectively become just another one of its megaphones.)
Big difference-the corporate environment is not dedicated to violence, doesn’t own its employees completely, doesn’t have regular brutal pushing of the employees to their physical and mental limits,doesn’t use physical punishment on the lower-ranking employees to ensure compliance, employs males and females more or less evenly, and mostly runs on a civil basis. People in a corporate environment are not usually placed in situations where the legality of their actions is purely contextual-in other words, “what we just did would be normally considered, in order, a violation of privacy, home invasion, murder, assault, kidnapping, burglary and grand theft auto-but in this context, it’s just a normal raid.” They don’t regularly have to do stuff that, based on their teammates’ interpretations, could just as easily be considered a crime, and therefore are not reliant on their teammates’ active cooperation for the preservation of their freedom, paycheck and social status.
Because of all this, human nature is much closer to the surface in the military environment. To hear (good-natured, generally) racial mockery and open sexism (Crimespeak, in other words,) is unthinkable in a corporate environment, but normal in a combat arms or special ops unit. The gap between the official ideology and the daily reality is so enormous that it is unbridgeable. Nobody even tries.
Who really reads newspapers anymore? Who is willing to pay for the privilege? Who can sit there and watch tv for two hours when video games and porn are available? Fewer and fewer people. The big exceptions are sports and music videos; the former are decidedly non-ideological, the latter antimoral.
When I originally commented I clicked the “Notify me when new comments are added” checkbox and now each time a comment
is added I get three emails with the same comment.
Is there any way you can remove people from that service?
I’ve heard to this problem happening on other blogs to folks that follow from certain geographic locations. I’ll take a look into it, but I don’t see any wordpress setting or tool that allows me to adjust someone else’s subscriptions. If anyone knows how to do it please let me know so I can help youtube with his problem.
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