Monday, June 1, 2015

Our Greater Evils responses

A series of Anonymi responded to Our Greater Evils. Some delectable issues were suggested; now, therefore:
This critique applies to voting specifically, yes. But I don't think it applies to anyone decent, if this ever happens, who is involved in politics against their better judgment. Those who don't care about their self-preservation usually do not go into politics, and if they do, they need to pretend for such a long time in order to acuire power, that the end result is inevitably Machiavelian.
At that point, if there is any decency left, the only way it can be expressed is by making a good faith effort in determining the consequences of different courses of action and choosing the least cruel one.
-Anonymous
The critique applies at higher levels--it has to. Take the Senate, for example: if a junior Senator comes in with her ideals still intact, she'll quickly be pressured to make several horrible votes in some subcommittee in order to prove her loyalty to the Party. Like Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, she realizes that such an apparently powerful position is actually nearly worthless. Despite all the awful things she might've done to get that Senate seat, she isn't at the top. Senators can sell their vote for personal gain, but can't do any more than that, save filibustering or having an unfortunate traffic accident or apparent suicide. And if our example junior Senator does compromise even further in order to get more power than being a mere junior Senator, telling herself, "In 20 years, when I have seniority, I'll make a difference," she will become an even more active evil than a mere voting citizen.

After 20 years of crushing her soul even further, suppose she makes the backroom deals that get her a spot chairing an important committee. And then, when she has a chance to lead opposition to something major, the whole Party apparatus is still against her, and all the incoming senators are being told to resist her if they value their reelection funds. All of the good spots for being a certified dissenter are already taken up by people like Kucinich and Sanders, who end up caucusing with and supporting the Inner Party anyway.

History suggests that, however clever the theory that you can infiltrate the mob by being badass enough, it's an unworkable idea--because, for 100% of American history, and by extension, 100% of Roman-Norman-Anglo-American history, it's never worked. Smedley Butler and Dwight Eisenhower are the closest any decent people have gotten to that kind of power, and even Eisenhower couldn't manage to say or do anything about it until his office-leaving speech about the MIC...which, despite his having theoretically been president, was largely buried for decades, and which most people don't even care to think about when you tell them. The implications of what Eisenhower said--just like Jimmy Carter did about democracy, recently--should have brought on a new constitutional convention at the very least. Those men made it to the top, learned all of the magical secrets that justify the crushing of little people, and even then, confessed to the entire world, in broad daylight, that it was all a giant fake, and that their office, personal wealth, and extensive and powerful connections, weren't enough to even begin fixing things. All they could do was plead with the normal people, saying, "This is not a democracy, but a plutocracy ruled by war-friendly finance capital." Carter may be viewed with general dislike, despite being a rich Christian president, but Eisenhower was a powerful, famous, respected, WASP military-leader-slash-president, and even he couldn't compromise his way to fixing the system from inside.

Was there a revolution? If there was, it was so unsuccessful that we didn't hear about it. Was Eisenhower a stupid coward? Probably not. So that example shows us that, even in "the greatest seat of power," one is so circumscribed that it's impossible to finally do the good one might've compromised for in the first place.

Not even being part of the Imperial Brotherhood, able to draw upon inbred aristocratic blood and old wealth, gives an individual, or small group, the ability to stop the deep government. JFK, right? How much whiter, richer, more patriarchal and popular and plutocratic can you get? And even he got killed by a lone white gunman when he threatened to stabilize currency and rejected a false flag attack.

Ergo all of those sacrifices in favor of "lesser" evils that one makes in order to reach that seat of power, were in vain. All of those banana republics toppled via your junior senatorial vote were raw, unmitigated evils. If you kill Koreans to save Vietnamese, a lone white gunman or an unfortunate suicide will ensure that you don't get to save those Vietnamese--so, in the end, all you were is a murderer.
You are also neglecting another, and very severe, problem, which is that those refusing to cave to injustice - or fighting for justice at any cost - just as easily end up perpetrating evil.

For example, even the most noble insurrection *WILL* result in the deaths of children etc. So, is that worth it if you do win? Or take the classic dilemma - give us two innocents to kill to avenge our death, or otherwise we burn the entire village. Do you remain righteous and cause everybody's death, or do you commit injustice, and spare everybody except two completely innocent victims.

So, there...
-Anonymous
This one is great. It's the ridiculous movie scenario Hollywood loves: you only have time to save one person, so which one do you save?

The Devil's Math

Jenomic infections lead to exactly this kind of situation. Bound by materiality, and being unable to comprehend what makes love love, people who've been so afflicted (or who tend that way on their own) are driven with desires to mechanically "test" things in an attempt to know them. They can never prove to themselves their own existences--they don't know how to trust themselves, so they seek validation outside the self...endless searching, hypothesizing, theorizing, charting, and concluding...and it's never good enough. When they have the chance, they like to force terrible choices on others in an attempt to discern measurable proof of what love is. E.g., "Which one of your children will die first?" or, "If you love gays, then kill Arabs, if you love Arabs, then kill gays," etc. They refuse to believe in light/love's infinity, so they're always trying to math it down to simple, finite sums that can be added and subtracted and factored against each other.

Ergo in the real world, these choices only arise in situations where evil people make them happen specifically to test out their theories, ergo people who justify horrible behavior by warning of the possibility of such conflicting situations are themselves the only kinds of people of whom they are warning. That doesn't mean Anonymous is evil; it's just a thought experiment. But people who, in real life, force you to "choose" in such a fashion, by threatening you that making such a choice now is the only way to prevent a worse such choice from needing to be made later, are themselves the very enemy who would make you make that tough choice later.

When you think about it, this is the classic "protection money" issue. Like the mob tells the dry-cleaner, "Better pay up; it'd be a shame if someone raped that nice wife of yours." The security service is the rape service. They force the choice on you, and the lesser evil is the desired evil. They only survive because of a sufficient population providing them with the lesser evil (the payment in lieu of rape/burning), which allows them to expand, threaten other shopkeepers, buy more judges and cops, and expend the effort necessary to break the windows and murder the families of the small percentage of dissenters. If a large enough group dissents, the mob loses. Cowards thrive on cowardice.

Similarly, anyone who mandates the terrible either/or choice in real life is the person/entity who will later threaten you with the successive either/or choice. That is why over two hundred years of American Party consensus has produced unending imperial warfare: because making the choice each time is not only wrong, but the prelude to having to make the choice again, and again, and again...our Lesser Evils are, in fact, our Greater Evils.

Returning to Anonymous' example, what's the right thing to do when the barbarians want to kill two innocents to satisfy their vengeance, otherwise they'll burn the entire village? Depends on your worldview. If you believe that nothing exists save bouncing atoms, and that consciousness is an illusion, then the only thing you can get out of life is the maximization of the positive sensations you experience while here. And under that rubric, the right thing to do is whatever pleasures you the most. Rape and torture and steal whenever you can get away with it, or if you genuinely don't like that sort of thing, just save up money until you can afford to retire, sit on the couch, and eat delicacies while watching your favorite reruns until you die. That is the most logical, good pursuit, if you believe in nothing but one-life.

The mathematics of one-life belief systems always cut toward evil ("lesser evil") because, bound by an accumulation of one-life pleasure-maximization equations, any quantity of evil is preferable to a greater quantity. Therefore, it is the wise choice to sacrifice two villagers to save ninety-eight...or, to sacrifice ninety-nine villagers to save one. If the "other choice" is "everyone dies," any result greater than one-life's presumed zero of death is the right choice.

The Seraph's Math

What's the real right answer? The real right answer is, if the barbarians send that message, everyone stands and fights and dies with honor. Honor can't exist in one-life pleasure-maximization, except as a deceptive tool by which to trick others out of current pleasures with the promise of future pleasures. True honor involves seeing more than one life, and utilizing consciousness to act in furtherance of all light, rather than "your" small piece of it. Real-world maths in cases like that recognize that the intensity of light produced by "good" behaviors is far greater than the light that would be "saved" by seemingly maximizing pleasurable consciousness for the players then-involved--both in that instance and overall.

(Many parables acknowledge this effect in the form of reverence for the martyr, although that effect can always be countered in ugly mimicry by those who martyr for the wrong reasons. Separate subject.)

That was a long statement, so let's unpack it. First we'll use some examples.

One-Life Example

The barbarians come and offer two options:

1) To kill all one hundred villagers; or,

2) To kill two innocent sacrifices, then leave the remaining 98 alive.

To one-life, "consciousness-is-illusion" people, this looks like an easy choice. The total amount of pleasurable sensation aggregated within the village prior to the barbarians' arrival is 100x. The optional outcomes the villagers face are either 98x or 0x--naturally, they choose 98x. If there's any guilt or squeamish feelings involved, they chalk it up to an illusionary "conscience" created as a result of randomized evolution designed to maximize gene and meme transfer by...wait, by making them feel bad about doing the right thing? Okay, okay, maybe it's a cultural construct based on irrational belief in some or other deity. But anyway, moving along...98x or 0x.

We Don't Negotiate With Terrorists

A common trope used against these kinds of examples is the above title about terrorists. The rationale goes, "If every village makes the 98x choice, then the barbarians always get a free -2x." That doesn't matter, though, because for the 100 people facing the choice of either a 2% chance of being sacrificed, or a 100% chance of being slaughtered for not offering a sacrifice, one-life encourages them to negotiate. It benefits no one in any village to stand fast--that would be sacrificing a village to save other villages by changing the barbarians' impressions of those other villages (and their likely success at getting two no-resistance sacrifices at each of them).

Notice something else about that trope, which you almost always see when evil people are making these kinds of examples in the service of one-life philosophy: the trope assumes that what the barbarians want is -2x, or a free sacrifice of two lives. It ascribes to the barbarians this mythical, otherworldly quality of pure evil, wherein the barbarians' only interest is in ending the two lives, and not in something practical. This is essentially the American Party's "they hate our freedoms" line about colonized Islamic rebels, who in reality wouldn't give much more than an angry blog about America's culture if they weren't being bombed and sanctioned and occupied etc.

Moving on: assume the barbarians really are that evil and purposeless, in which case, if you're in any of the villages that face them while they still haven't learned to stop making their demand, it is in your interest to sacrifice two of your fellow villagers. It is not in your interest to resist, because resistance leaves your life with a value of zero (you'll be killed by the barbarians), while potentially causing the barbarians to rethink their policy at later villages. Your sacrifice accomplishes nothing, since your molecules decay and it's all over anyway--unless you're also living for one-life pain-avoidance, and you don't want to feel guilt (evolutionally-unsound, socially-fabricated guilt, a one-lifer would think of it as) later on, so you sacrifice yourself just to avoid the pain.

One-life worldviews result in terrible behavior for just this reason. The only value is in one's pleasurable sensation. The only way to keep one-life societies operating is to fabricate giant delusions of social responsibility, in order to make people feel artificially guilty about certain behaviors. E.g., atheist neoliberal materialists propagate the idea that stealing is wrong. This is easily ridiculous and hypocritical, but more importantly as to the Proles and the Outer Party, it's an inconceivable concept. We are told that the world is an unplanned stopwatch based on the maximization of short-term pleasurable sensations, therefore, we should not hurt others' feelings. As the computer said, does not compute. The mental perspectives of many first-world citizens today bear the scars of trying to daydream their way through a life where these audacious fairy tales are somehow real.

Light Expansion

The reason why the village must stand and fight--and why anyone should and must make the right choice--is to continue evolving. Learning to believe in more than pleasure-maximization expands and complexifies a lightform, and acting accordingly increases any given lightform's ability to channel. The ways the right choice is "right" are compoundable beyond the one-life perspective:

1. Game over. The one-life barbarian example assumes that, after the sacrifice is made, the village's output is 98x. They're incorrect. The two sacrificed lights get reattached somewhere else, so after a delay (which is, still, indeed a loss; we'll address the death-delay later), the output for those 100 lightforms would remain at 100x--except for one large problem. The 98 self-interested sacrificers have (by stifling and disregarding other light in order to prioritize their own individualistic sanctity) either regressed in development, or at the very best merely failed to advance. Their own channeling capacity is reduced, and building it back up to where it was will take them longer than it did to get there in the first place.

So while the two sacrificed innocents might be reconnected and running at the same 2x as they were previously, the remaining 98 guilty ones could drop to 49x (this one presumed a halving of capacity for purposes of simplicity). Their choice makes them more ritualistically conscious; less integrated, less learning, less growing, less brilliant. They can still fall in love and learn new languages and have children, but their capacity to develop more efficient/aware consciousnesses has taken a severe hit.

It is for that reason that it may be called a "soul-crushing compromise," or a similar term, when someone does something terrible to accomplish a goal. The verbiage reflects all that old-timey cyclical human knowledge, which knowledge encoded the reminder that the ("lesser") evil action leaves a stain somewhere eyes cannot see. The perfect is not the enemy of the good. Rather, the perfect is the good.

2. Zeroing out. The one-life barbarian example also assumes that, if the sacrifice is not made, the village's output becomes 0x. Also incorrect. Light severed from a crystallized conduit, a.k.a. corpse, just drains somewhere else. Death causes a delay at any stage, but it's typically inconsequential when considered alongside the relative amounts of time that any given point of light will spend either embodied or dreaming. So there is a small loss caused by the barbarians--that is why the barbarians are bad and wrong, even though it's "all okay in the end."

It's like leaving a styrofoam cup deep in Yellowstone: you asshole, you lazy asshole, look what you did. You made a mess, and you could poison a ground squirrel, and what the hell's wrong with you anyway, you're supposed to pack out what you pack in. So no one likes that. The barbarians are still assholes. Their actions are wrong, even in the context of eternal evolution. The cup eventually breaks down, and Yellowstone is all right, but what an unfortunate setback for all that time it took it to break down.

3. Start new game? So under that one-life barbarian example, the slaughtered village is worth 0x, whereas intractable light shows us that the slaughter leaves us with 100x - y, where "y" represents the time-values of all the light that didn't get channeled by those 100 villagers from the time they were killed until the time they were reborn. It would seem, then, that the question of maximum value could be solved algebraically, by considering whether the following statement is true:

100x - y > 98x

Or, allowing for the reduced functionality of the selfish ninety-eight:

100x - y > 49x

Again, not so. The villagers who didn't condone the sacrifice of two of their number are no longer worth 100x (or whatever proportion it may have been given whoever they were, how they developed, etc.), but are instead probably worth 243x, or 512x (or maybe something less dramatic, like 180x), because they've exercised their conduits--they've expressed, through an integrated light/crystal symphony, their growing attunement to more light. What they've done in "standing up for each other" is, putting local emotions aside, a strenuous awareness test of the more complex interrelationships between points which are separately interacting with crystallized forms. And, on both "individual" and "group" levels, they've studied the transpositions between dreaming and embodiment, which has many later uses (here we need to draw a distinction between, e.g., unhealthy suicide and healthy honor).

4. Barbarians, too. Another component of the example is the barbarians themselves: if there are 100 barbarians and 100 villagers, then under a one-life scenario, if the villagers sacrifice two innocents, that leaves 198x total. If the villagers hold out (and are therefore wiped out), leaving the total as 100x - zx (where "z" represents "the number of barbarians killed by the villagers during the villagers' futile resistance." The villagers' expectation of how high "z" might be could theoretically affect their choice, if they were so stupid to be deceived by Villages B and C into resisting the barbarians and dying, in order to make it less likely that the populations of Villages B and C would be subsequently put to the test. Ergo Hillary will proudly salute the brave men and women of America's armed forces, while keeping Chelsea safe at Stanford.

But what are the real effects on the barbarians? Well, if they are real bastards, they're probably not at 100x already, but at 30x, or something pitiful and low due to what they've already done. Barring them being at their maximum jaded-ness level already, though, here are some sample estimates of how things look in various circumstances. "x" continues to equal averaged individual channeling capacity; "y" continues to equal averaged death-delay loss.

Light's starting score: 130x. Breakdown: Barbarians = 30x, Villagers = 100x.

If the villagers yield two sacrifices. Remaining Villagers = 49x, Sacrificed villagers = 2x - 2y, Barbarians = 25x. Light's final score 74x - 2y.

Why does it look that way? Well, we started out with 100 Barbarians who all held individual/tribal capacity, so 30x. 100 average Villagers who held our average benchmark capacity, so 100x. Total, 130x. Then, the sacrifice happened. 2x leaves the Villagers' side, but returns, though bearing with it the -2y baggage for the death-delay. The act of sacrifice causes the remaining 98 villagers to regress in capacity due to uncertain solipsism. The barbarians are already pretty battle-hardened, but among them were a few who hadn't yet hit bottom, and the act of threatening a village and sacrificing two more innocents causes their total to drop 5x overall as some of their conduits narrow further toward individual/tribal levels. Totals come out to 74x - 2y.

Starting anew. Light's starting score: 130x. Breakdown: Barbarians = 30x, Villagers = 100x.

If the villagers hold out. Remaining villagers = 0x, Slain Villagers = 180x - 100y, Remaining Barbarians = 33x, Killed Barbarians = 5x - 5y. Light's final score 218x - 105y. Due to the substantially smaller death-delay value of Y relative to X, that's a big improvement.

As before, this one arbitrarily made up the numbers of slain Barbarians and the ratio of resulting capacity change, but those can be reasonably changed without altering the underlying principles of "goodness" (pursuing exponentially more efficient light expansion).

Why? As before, we started out with 100 Barbarians operating at primarily-selfish capacity, and 100 Villagers operating a little higher. Then, the battle happened. The Villagers learned a lot and died, and some of the Barbarians died. Big death delay (105y) makes the whole thing stupid and inefficient. The honorable Villagers endure striking evolution and find new shells. A few of the Barbarians feel vindicated by the triumph of their terrible victory, and become even more individualized, further reducing their score a little bit. Some of the other Barbarians, though, note the completely unrealistic, insensible way that the Villagers acted, even knowing their fate--and this gives those Barbarians a glimmer of greater existential possibility. Ergo their expansion, which tends on the whole to outpace the corresponding contraction suffered by the majority of (already-hardened, selfish) Barbarians.

Barbarians who face "pragmatic" (myopic) one-life Villagers--Villagers willing to sacrifice two to save the rest--are vindicated in their narrow capacity. These Barbarians see the Villagers operating under the same assumptions as the Barbarians, and are accordingly unmoved to evolve, similarly to how only competing in a sport/game against unskilled opponents offers slower, if any, development of your own skills compared to how they might develop when faced with a broader set of challenges. In this way, Barbarians and one-life Villagers deserve each other: they invite one another's presence, fostering situations where such choices will need to be made, again and again. They pragmatically validate one another's simplicity through the creation of an artificially-bounded false dichotomy; a rigged dialectic between two "opposing" parties that, in truth, are seeking the same goal.

Genuinely pragmatic, evolution-minded Villagers willing to resist the Barbarians not only better themselves, but the Barbarians, too. Their example challenges the baffled Barbarians, some of whom will eventually be inspired thereby to see beyond their own philosophy of one-life pleasure-maximization.

(It's the delayed gratification time-value test writ large, where the pouty little wieners who can only believe in the one marshmallow they're being offered right now consider it unrealistic to wait for two marshmallows later. Real martyrs may aid themselves more than their persecutors, but they do still aid their persecutors, who are made dazzled and afraid by the thought of there being something more than one-life pleasure-maximization.)

Without honorable Villagers, the Barbarians find only vindication in the form of cowardly Villagers. As a result, all the Villagers in all the villages should eventually be slaughtered through an endless series of sacrifice-tests, followed by the Barbarians turning on each other.

...And yet, that doesn't happen. Hundreds of thousands of years of simple self-awareness on Terra later, there continue being enough naive and/or honorable Villagers to allow the test to be repeated. Throughout this entire stage of development, intelligent Barbarians are left wondering, "How do there keep being Villagers who let us get away with this, and then pass on?" Their one-life pleasure-maximization models can provide no realistic answer as to how a billion-year jungle of cruel avarice has led there to be, consistently, further opportunities for them to exploit goodness and cause pain. Shouldn't that have been winnowed out long ago, they ask themselves? Well, congratulations, guys: no one noticed you punching the other kids, so you're winning the kindergarten kickball tournament yet again. You're the elite, all right.

Without Vishnu

From a one-life perspective, a light can rationalize any number of reasons of personal pleasure or preference that involve doing the right thing, but the crushing weight of mathematical efficiency will always cause one-life worldviews to condense toward non-extraneous pleasures--i.e., personal pleasure maximization, along with the externalization of pain and guilt. Selfishness is a dramatic, powerful, important function of evolution; it's also omnipresent, which means that one-life viewpoints turn selfishness into a tool of evil, while a better understanding of evolution turns selfishness into the near-twin of selflessness.

You don't need to romanticize these concepts to understand them. It is humanity's arrogance that presumes both that their status is so special it is the creation, or that their status is so mundane it is no creation at all. Viewed from other perspectives, evolution is no more dramatic or unbelievable a fantasy than that of a bacterium dropped into a petri dish full of food and left alone for ten million generations of gobbling, blissful expansion. To the bacterium, such a thought would be akin to an impossible paradise of eternal pleasures. To the scientist going home for the weekend, it's really not that big a deal. So when I tell you that love grows, you don't have to blush and frown and think, "Why is the politics getting so squishy?"

Light expands. Big whoop.

5 comments:

  1. This is why Stalin will eventually be rehabilitated as one of the greatest statesmen and state-makers in history. The lazy and profitable analogies between nazism an stalinism obscure his success in cultivating the greatest number of happy and developed human beings per political prisoner locked up.

    But, some would stkk call this a "lesser evel", eh?

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    1. Teehee. Anything can be a "lesser" evil, even Stalin. If it's appropriate to rationalize away Hillary, then it's appropriate to rationalize away Stalin--and a history built around evil will ultimately lionize such figures.

      Look at who we take greatest note of now in our histories. Insert obvious Zinn reference here.

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    2. I agree, but I'm not sarcastic at all here - Stalin did accomplish pretty awesome things. Like, um, dunno - create the only viable positive - in key aspects - alternative to the West!

      Who knows, the Russians could do it again...

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  2. But how does light know what's good? If it "evolves", why not prioritize survival at all cost, so you have time to procreate more?

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    1. Well, when faced with moral relativism, we can address (1) side effects related to the expansion of light, and (2) side effects related to the contraction of light, without using the terms "good" or "evil." You're then free to decide whether you'd like to expand or contract light, and whether or not you believe such behaviors to be objectively good or evil.

      The expansion of light results in the (1) presence and then the (2) complexification of rule-governed physical space and then matter, and the (3) positive and continuing intensification of consciousness, including phenomena that we call "satisfaction" and "pleasure" and "happiness."

      The contraction of light would include the (1) contraction of consciousness, the (2) regression to less-aware materialism, the (3) random dispersal of matter, and then the (4) absence of spacetime as a channeling vehicle or vessel of light.

      Traditionally, human languages have used the term "good" to refer to consequences associated with the expansion of light, and "evil" to refer to consequences associated with its contraction (or its attempted/inadvertent blockage). In non-Terran terms, good and evil are objective terms (would be called "scientific" here).

      That doesn't mean everything is instantly identifiable as good or evil, of course. Particularly from this perspective, where we often cannot discern even the full extent of our own motivations, the rare situation can arise where we're unable to determine whether a given act was good or evil. That's part of what we're doing here when we learn about ourselves--the more we understand the nature of being an agent of expansion, the more we're able to fathom notions like "this one" and "that one."

      At certain levels of development, it's fairly simple, of course, to adjudge most things around here as good or evil. E.g., the Vatican, or the Dutch East India Company. And yes, some people still grapple with that, but that's part of the process.

      The goal is that you'll eventually be able to understand the trickier ones by being able to weigh the transfer costs of, e.g., two separate clans who believe they are fighting for resources needed to survive and procreate.

      Before one is at the "mathematical" point of understanding this stage's challenges--e.g., while one is still here--errors will necessarily be made, but let them be mistakes rather than regrets. The conscience, and the ability to feel guilty over and genuinely empathize with the enemy with whom you fight for the last apple, has the power to override/reconcile behavior generally in the good direction. Such internal grappling, where genuine, keeps one from becoming a barbarian. E.g., "we hunt the elk but we also worship and respect the elk."

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