nydwracu niþgrim, nihtbealwa mæst

reactionary futurism, critical legalism

On hate

with 13 comments

Hate is an interesting term. A hater, one who hates, may want to avoid interaction with members of the hated elthede, may complain of the problems with them and with interacting with them, may claim there are just too many of them around himor may advance pseudoscientific theories claiming that members of the elthede are mentally deficient, or say they’re all disgusting miscreants who are literally devoid of independent thought and who ought to be imprisoned en masse for identifying with the hated elthede, or advocate the total destruction of the elthede’s identity, or just write or listen to songs that go, “Kill them all! Kill them all!”

In the context of American politics, who is a hater? If you are told that someone hates, or affiliates with hate groups, what comes to mind? What inferences can you draw? Which party, for example, do you think they would be more likely to vote for?

To answer this question, you must answer the questions of membershipwho is a hater?and of prototypicality.


Under the classical model of semantic categorization, objects are sorted into categories by listing their properties: a category consists of a set of properties shared by all their members. The standard example here is that a bachelor is an unmarried man: all things that are human, male, and unmarried are bachelors.

This model gives rise to all sorts of problemsthe Sorites paradox, absence of fuzzy concepts, and so on—but the important one here is the problem of prototypicality: some members of a category come to mind more easily than others, and are taken as more central to the category.

Here is the standard example of prototypicality: think of a piece of furniture. It’s more likely, at least if you’re an average Westerner, that you thought of a chair or a table than it is that you thought of a barstool, a hammock, or a kotatsu. All are types of furniture, but chairs and tables are more central to the categorymore prototypical. Barstools, hammocks, and kotatsu are types of furniture, but they don’t come to mind as quickly.

Prototypicality is connected to not only the commonness of an object, but the presence or absence in that object of properties held to be prototypical: flightless birds are less prototypical in the category ‘bird’ than birds that can fly, and, at least to me, furniture that actively does something, like a kotatsu or a massage chair, is less prototypical in the category ‘furniture’ than furniture with no active function, like a chair or a barstool. (Wikipedia lists things like pinball machines and video game consoles as types of furniture, but to me, they have enough machine-nature that they have no furniture-nature.)

Language is not an objective thing existing in the Platonic realm of forms, but an abstraction, a cluster-in-thingspace over individual idiolects; similarly, prototypes and prototypical properties are not objective forms, but abstractions over individual judgments, which are affected by individual environments. Someone who has spent all their life in a society that does not use chairs would not consider chairs to be a prototypical type of furniture; someone who has spent all their life in a place with no robins or sparrows would not consider robins or sparrows to be prototypical types of bird.

It’s not just prototypicality: membership may also vary, and its variance implies factors causing it to vary. One may not recognize the ad hominem or the slippery slope as a fallacy before it is pointed out as a fallacy, from a source taken to be authoritative on fallacies. And after it is pointed out, its membership may be contested: some virtue ethicists have argued that ad hominem is not necessarily a fallacy, and the concept of the Schelling fence argues that slippery slope is not necessarily a fallacy.

Membership-variance in certain categories, like fallacy, is naturally going to be contested due to the ideographic implications of membership or non-membership. (A trivial example: an argument over whether or not a thing is a member of the category things that are racist.) For Marcus Arvan to argue that beliefs that correlate with aspects of the Dark Triad should be dismissed on the basis of that correlation, he first has to argue either that his dismissal argument is not an ad hominem or that ad hominem is not necessarily a fallacy; otherwise it pattern-matches to ad hominem, which pattern-matches to fallacy, and membership of an argument in the category fallacy allows dismissal of that argument.

How does contestation of prototypicality and membership work? Since both prototypicality and membership are abstractions over individual judgments, the goal of contestation is to shift individual judgments in the desired direction.

Contestation or implementation of judgment-shifting policies may not be consciously motivated by a desire to shift judgments. In the age of furniture stores, furniture stores form a part of the environment. I’ve been to furniture stores, and they didn’t sell pinball machines or video game consoles. If they did, I’d be more likely to consider pinball machines and video game consoles types of furniture; furniture stores are authorities on furniture. If I got into an argument with someone about whether pinball machines are furniture, and furniture stores sold pinball machines, I could cite that fact as evidence that pinball machines are furniture. The furniture stores would not intend to redefine the category furniture to include pinball machines (or redefine pinball machines to be a type of furniture); all they would intend to do is respond to a profit-incentive.

The point is that prototypicality and membership may be contested, and that there are benefits/incentives to doing so, as the Arvan example shows: his argument pattern-matches to a fallacy, so he has to break the match. The same principle can apply in reverse: it can be beneficial to set up a connection between an instance (or a category) and a patternespecially when the pattern to be matched is an ideograph, when the pattern holds some connotational (good vs. bad) or exosemantic (thedish vs. elthedish, like us vs. like the enemy) valence.

Prototypicality matters because it’s how we think: categories may have formal definitions, set up with necessary and sufficient conditions and set out in authorities that one may appeal to, but actual judgments may differ from those definitions nevertheless. A sandwich technically consists of food between two pieces of bread, but open-face sandwiches and pita sandwiches are sandwiches even though they only have one piece of bread—and what about hamburgers? As one poster in the link put it: “Yeah, technically they are…but I wouldn’t say they are”. Hamburgers meet the formal definition of sandwiches, but are still not considered sandwiches.

It may be that categories are shaped through comparison of features with those of the prototypes; it may also be that they are shaped through comparison of features with already-existing members. The difference doesn’t really matter here. Botanically, tomatoes and cucumbers are fruits, but the prototypical fruits are sweet, are eaten either by themselves or in fruit salads, and can be made into jams or pies, whereas the prototypical vegetables are not sweet, are eaten either on sandwiches, in salads, or in cooked dishes, and cannot be made into jams or pies. Tomatoes and cucumbers are not sweet, are put on sandwiches, and cannot be made into jams or pies, so they’re considered vegetables. (For tomatoes, see Nix v. Hedden.)


In the process of writing this post, I came across an article on the Daily Beast about “hate music”an informative case study in category-membership.

In the aftermath of the killing spree, the volume has been turned up on the music scene that appears to have fostered Page’s beliefs, a shadowy corner of the punk-rock universe—also known as white-power music, hatecore, or hate rock—that has existed in semi-obscurity since the ‘80s. The genre promotes a kind of racial apartheid and appeals to a tiny but rage-prone audience that often, in turn, fights viciously within its own community. According to the Anti-Defamation League, hate music stands as “one of the most significant ways neo-Nazis attempt to attract young people into their movement.”

The suspected shooter reportedly performed at white power and neo-Nazi skinhead festivals such as 2010’s Independent Artist Uprise Fest in Baltimore and Georgia’s Hammerfest, one of the largest hatecore-skewing festivals in America. Heidi Beirich, Intelligence Project Director for the Southern Poverty Law Center, described the event as “like the Lollapalooza or the Ozzfest of hate.” …

The immersion in hate music appears to have influenced Page’s worldview enough to compel him to acquire several large neo-Nazi tattoos.

Beirich says the genre actively encourages hate crimes. “The lyrics tend to be really explicit in urging the commission of acts of violence targeting minorities,” she said. “[The genre] is associated with the most violent part of the white-supremacist movement.”

Hate music, in other words, is neo-Nazi, and advocates white power, and the commission of acts of violence targeting minorities.

When I wrote the first part of this post, I had a specific song in mind. The chorus of this particular song has only one line; that one line contains the word “kill” immediately adjacent to the word “all”, followed by the name of a thede. The band that wrote it also wrote another song, which begins, “It’s okay, allow yourself a little hate…” The album on which the latter song appeared made it to the top of the Billboard independent album charts.

The band that wrote it would never be described as hate music. This should be obvious: the top of the chart is not “semi-obscurity”. But isn’t that interesting? Hate music is music advocating hate, but music advocating hate is not necessarily hate music.


What is required to shift or create general judgment of prototypicality? What is required to shift or create general judgment of membership?

General judgment is an abstraction over individual judgments, so these questions break down into two parts. First: what is required to shift or create an individual judgment? Second: what is required to shift or create individual judgments on a mass scale?

The second question is easy to answer: to shift or create individual judgments on a mass scale requires the ability to reach a mass of individuals in whom to shift or create judgments.

The first question is similar to that of the operations of magic, and many of the same terms apply. An individual judgment can be shifted through reinforcementjuxtaposition of the object and the category, as with the pinball machine in the furniture storeand it can be created through the invention of a category to hold the object, or the redefinition of an existing category, the creation of an argument for or against the membership of the object in the category.

There’s an important difference between reinforcement and redefinition: redefinition draws attention to itself, makes itself explicit, whereas reinforcement operates in the background and takes it for granted that the reader already gets the point. The Daily Beast article does not argue that hate music is equivalent to neo-Nazi white power music; it just says it. Reinforcement implies that the author believes the reader to already share the judgment; redefinition implies that he does not. When Mencius Moldbug argues that the prevailing political belief-system in America is “super-Protestant”, he cites a 1942 Time article that described a “super-Protestant” foreign policythat reinforced the membership of the policy points listed in the article in the category of things that are super-Protestant, and therefore implied that, in 1942, the writers of Time thought not only that the points listed were members of the category, but also that the readers would already share that judgment.

Those are the operations; who can apply them? It’s possible to read an article that reinforces the connection between the pop music industry and the Illuminati without buying the reinforcement, so clearly these can’t be applied by anyone to anyone.

Reinforcement is easier if the judgment being reinforced fits with what the reader already thinks, either in the literal sense (if your parents, your friends, and your teachers tell you that Kim Jong-il can control the weather, you’ll probably believe it when the newspaper reinforces that belief; if your parents, your friends, and your teachers tell you that the weather is a natural process that can’t be controlled, but the newspaper reinforces the belief that Kim Jong-il can control the weather, you’ll cancel your subscription) or in the sense of extension from already-held beliefs (if your parents, your friends, and your teachers all reinforce the belief that Kim Jong-il can control the weather, you’ll be more likely to believe it when the newspaper mentions in passing that he also invented the hamburger than you would if your parents, your friends, and your teachers all tell you that Kim Jong-il was a bumbling tyrant who manufactured outlandish propaganda about himself). This is also the case for redefinition.

Reinforcement and redefinition are also easier if the reader judges the speaker to be credible or authoritative. The whole point of the mainstream media is that it’s widely considered to be authoritative. (The Cathedral is called the Cathedral because it speaks ex cathedra.) Remember the pinball machine and the furniture store: furniture stores would be considered authorities on furniture, so if furniture stores sold pinball machines, one could point to that fact as evidence that pinball machines are furniture. Also remember Nix v. Hedden: that the Supreme Court ruled that tomatoes are vegetables is evidence that tomatoes are vegetables. As is obvious by the fact that tomatoes are botanically defined as fruits, category membership need not have anything to do with the formal definition of the category.

As for the results of a shift: when the operation has been donewell, what is the goal? The goal is to shape a judgment, to define or redefine a category, its prototypicality, and its membership. If this goal is met, if the shift is successfully carried out, the category, its prototypicality, and its membership will be (re)defined.


NOFX is not a hate band. NOFX wrote a song that begins, “It’s okay, allow yourself a little hate”; they also wrote a song titled “Kill All the White Man”. But NOFX is not a hate band.

Brian Leiter is not a philosopher of hate. Brian Leiter fulminates on his blog against “the Right-Wing Blob” whose members are “fascist thugs” who are “literally devoid of independent thought, they are just bits of slime that ooze off the Blob when the Blob is poked”; he says that “these sick, sick people need to be caged” and approvingly excerpts an Amiri Baraka poem that ends with a call to imprison Republicans en masse. But Brian Leiter is not a philosopher of hate.

Hate has a definition. NOFX and Brian Leiter both fit the definition. Sandwich also has a definition, but hamburgers are not sandwiches.

The prototypical meat-containing sandwich (I specify meat-containing because, to me, the prototypical sandwich is peanut butter and jelly) contains either cold cuts or thinly-sliced meat. Hamburgers fit the definition of sandwiches, but their meat is neither cold nor thinly sliced. The prototypical meat-containing sandwich is sold in sandwich shops; hamburgers are not sold in sandwich shops, but in burger shops. The prototypical sandwich is put on either slices of bread from a loaf or a hoagie roll; hamburgers are put on burger buns. Hamburgers fit the formal definition, but are far from the prototype and don’t match up in the relevant characteristics.

The prototypical hater is Hitler. Hitler was a right-wing extremist, in the same sense that the prototypical sandwich contains either cold cuts or thinly-sliced meat on either two slices of bread or a hoagie roll: in both cases, we can reach a great deal of accuracy in categorization by matching the characteristics of the prototype. A peanut butter and jelly sandwich contains no meat, but its contents are placed between two slices of bread; an open-face sandwich usually contains cold cuts (and when it doesn’t, it contains other common sandwich materials, like lettuce and tomatoes), but is on only one slice of bread. In both cases, one characteristic matches with the prototype, so it falls within the category; in a case like a hamburger, which contains a large block of warm ground meat on a burger bun, neither of the characteristics match, so the object is not part of the category.

(For sandwiches, better results would be reached by positing an additional category of absence of rotational symmetry about the horizontal axis, and requiring a match to two of the three categories, to avoid matching Italian wraps, which contain cold cuts. But the accuracy isn’t much better, and this standard would say that sloppy joes are not sandwiches, a judgment with which I intuitively disagree. But the whole point is that definitions don’t work by conditions; this updated pseudoclassicalism is close enough to work well as a useful approximate explanation, but it’s not perfect.)

To reach an approximate explanation of membership in the category of hate, the same test can be applied. Hitler was a right-wing extremist. Left-wing extremists may be considered hateful, like Kamau Kambon; but they are often not. (Communists are not generally considered hateful. Is Noel Ignatiev? I doubt it.) Right-wing moderates are frequently considered hateful: Clarence Thomas, Jezebel solemnly informs us, “fucking hates minorities”. But left-wing moderates like NOFX and Brian Leiter (and isn’t it interesting how easy it is to describe them as moderates?) match neither of the categories, so they are not considered hateful.

Hitler is also the prototype of evil, as the existence of Godwin’s Law demonstrates. One of the reasons why he was so evil is that he was very, very hateful; disapproval of Hitler bleeds over quite naturally into disapproval of hate, and disapproval of hate means disapproval of the Rightnot because of a match with any formal definition, but because of the bleeding-over of disapproval onto characteristics of the thing disapproved of, whether or not those characteristics are actually relevant. (The mustache is also disapproved of, but there is nothing connecting the mustache to evil other than Hitler.)

Brian Leiter is not hateful, even though he is. Clarence Thomas is hateful, even though he is not. Leftists are not hateful, even when they are; rightists are hateful, even when they are not.

Isn’t that interesting?


 

‘Hate’ is not denotatively applied; its strict meaning does not correspond to its use. It just doesn’t work like that.

There’s no convention yet for separating out denotative meaning from connotation and exosemantics, so let “hate”, with double-quotes, refer strictly to the denotative meaning, and hate refer to the rest of the word. Is there any evidence to determine whether, say, Clarence Thomas is “hateful”? That is: is there any evidence that he “dislikes intensely or passionately; feels extreme aversion for or extreme hostility toward; detests” any particular group?

What evidence does Jezebel give?

Thomas goes out of his way to make life more difficult for black people. Hey, are you a black guy who was convicted and put on death row because the prosecutor purposefully hid exonerating evidence from your lawyer? Go fuck yourself[3], says Thomas. Are you a racial minority who wants to attend college? Eat this shit, courtesy of Clarence Thomas. Yesterday[4], Thomas went out of his way to point out that he would strike down affirmative action if given the chance even though no one asked him to rule on that issue. He just wanted to make sure you knew he fucking hates minorities!

When you follow the trail of links back to the source, here’s what turns up.

Thomas argues that before Grutter, the court had only twice approved racial discrimination. First in Korematsu v. United States in 1944, when it cited national security to uphold an evacuation order for all those with Japanese ancestry, and then in 1986 when it said in Wygant v. Jackson Bd. of Ed that the government “has a compelling interest in remedying past discrimination for which it is responsible.”

Thomas argues that Grutter doesn’t fit within those “strict-scrutiny” precedents and so it should be overturned.

Jezebel doesn’t think that there’s any possible reason motivating this other than hate. There are many possible reasons that don’t involve “hate”for example, a belief that the argument is actually rightbut, at least to Jezebel, there is no possible reason that doesn’t involve hate. One may assumeand assumptions of this sort are only made stronger by the recent Hobby Lobby rulingthat there is a direct and immediate emotional association between Clarence Thomas, his position, or his wing of the Court and hate.

(The structures underlying this are unimportant for the purpose of establishing that there is, in [at least Brahmin] American culture, a direct association from right-wing to hate. So they will not be addressed here.)

If you have been raised in Brahmin culture, you can make use of the method of introspection, as is described here:

I have never had or seen anything like the “red flags” response to socialism. If I saw a crowd of young, fashionable people lining up at the box office for a hagiographic biopic on Reinhard Heydrich, chills would run up and down my neck. For Ernesto Guevara, I have no emotional response. Perhaps I think it’s stupid and sad. I do think it’s stupid and sad. But it doesn’t freak me out.

Some friends of mine live on a street in Brooklyn where there is a Black Muslim storefront with TVs in the window, broadcasting Louis Farrakhan’s Jew-hating black nationalism 24/7. To get from their compound to the subway, you need to go past a little taste of Rev. Louis. Should this freak me out? Should I see “red flags?”

Maybe I should. But I don’t.

Do you think the author of that Jezebel article sees red flags around Clarence Thomas? It sure sounds like it. I’ve seen people see red flags around Scalia. As for the examples above, the consensus about Nazism is that it’s indisputably evil and definitely worthy of as many red flags as possible, and the consensus about Communism is that it was well-intentioned: good in theory, but, unfortunately, bad in practice, and also Che Guevara is really cool. Some people see red flags around the USSR; very few see red flags around Che. And nobody sees red flags around NOFX. “Kill all the white man!”

If you generalize from individual judgments to the general judgments of a society (in the same manner that one generalizes from idiolects to dialects), you begin to see patterns. Hitler, the Klan, Clarence Thomas, the Hobby Lobby ruling, and evangelical Christianity on one side; Che Guevara, NOFX, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Roe v. Wade, Louis Farrakhan, and Unitarian Universalism on the other.

The pattern should be obvious.

Written by nydwracu

June 11, 2014 at 07:36

Posted in politics

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Elsewhere

with one comment

Here.

My Tumblr got mysteriously deleted, and scraps have to go somewhere. I’m hoping to have a new post either there, here, or at Theden at least once a day.

Written by nydwracu

June 4, 2014 at 20:56

Posted in miscellany

Status and civilization, part 3

with 15 comments

The Warring States period of Chinese history ended with the beginning of the Qin Dynasty in 221 BC, when Qin Shi Huang unified China and became its first emperor. The institutional design of the Qin Dynasty was heavily influenced by legalism, especially the works of Han Feizi. Han Feizi said:

The means whereby the intelligent ruler controls his ministers are two handles only. The two handles are chastisement and commendation. What are meant by chastisement and commendation? To inflict death or torture upon culprits, is called chastisement; to bestow encouragements or rewards on men of merit, is called commendation.

Less than a year after Qin Shi Huang died, 900 farmers, led by the army officers Chen Sheng and Wu Guang, were drafted to defend the borderlands, but they were delayed by heavy storms. The Qin legal code disincentivized behavior by “inflicting death or torture upon culprits”the penalty for lateness, no matter the cause, was death. Knowing this and having nothing to lose, the farmers revolted; thus began the Dazexiang Uprising.

The Qin Dynasty fell three years later.

In 1952, homosexuality was added to the DSM as a mental disorder. Federal policy classified homosexuals as national security risks; the FBI and USPS both kept lists of suspected homosexuals; and state and local governments cracked down on gay bars and arrested their attendees, whose names were subsequently published in newspapers. Many homosexuals moved to cities after the end of the First World War; but in the early 1960s, the mayor of New York City, which was to host the 1964 World’s Fair, became concerned with the city’s reputation, and ordered the NYPD to shut down the city’s gay bars (which were usually owned by crime syndicates) and entrap and arrest as many homosexuals as they could. This policy continued even after the Fair.

The Stonewall riots came in 1969.

In 1878, Otto von Bismarck instituted the Anti-Socialist Laws to attempt to curtail the possibility of a revolution similar to the one that had occurred in Paris seven years before, the financially-motivated mass emigration of Germans to America, and the growth of the Social Democratic Party, which, three years earlier, had codified its principles in the form of the Gotha Program.

In the existing society the instruments of labour are a monopoly of the capitalist class; the subjection of the working class thus arising is the cause of misery and servitude in every form.

The emancipation of the working class demands the transformation of the instruments of labour into the common property of society and the co-operative control of the total labour, with application of the product of labour to the common good, and just distribution of the same.

These laws proved counterproductive: the Party only grew in strength, forcing Bismarck to build a welfare statethe first of its kindin order to draw off support for it and reduce the risk of revolution.

The Second Reich lasted until the end of World War I.

Handle writes:

Traditional monogamous heterosexual marriage and other ‘civilizational’ sexual norms probably can absorb a certain level of defection and free-riding parasites, so long as those norms maintain a critical mass of support, and defection and deviancy is always discouraged and/or risky.

If we continue the method of analysis developed in the last two posts, we see that a norm is a (probabilistic for obvious reasons, but generally predictable) payoff matrix, which may be analyzed down to its component individual value-judgments. Performing this analysis, which we will call judgment-side, makes clear that the payoff matrix may always be adjusted through political or metapolitical action, technological advancement, etc.

Just as there is judgment-side analysis, there is actor-side analysis: each individual’s answer (that is, attempt at optimization) will differ based on not only their social context (i.e. which payoff matrix they’re operating underMormons and the inner-city underclass clearly have different sets of norms), but also based on their preferences and qualities: time-preference, concern for others’ opinion of them, strength of internalized norm-loaded disgust-reactions, and so on.

Butthe payoff matrix may always be adjusted. To say that Chen Sheng had to choose between getting to the borderlands on time or accepting the consequences of not getting to the borderlands on time is to construct a false dilemma, as is obvious from the fact that he did neither.

(I can’t figure out how to write up the rest of the argument without introducing a basilisk, so I’m not going to yet; but this is relevant.)

Written by nydwracu

June 1, 2014 at 21:55

Posted in politics

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Status and civilization, part 2

with 18 comments

In a game-theoretical formulation of Roissy’s model of the sexual norms of a society, there are three players: alpha males, beta males, and women. All three derive benefit from the existence and maintenance of civilization, which Roissy believes requires monogamy for reasons that need not be given here; however, civilizational decline is slow, so concern for its prevention demands long time-preference. As for other benefits, beta males derive benefit both short- and long-term from the institution of monogamous marriage; alpha males derive benefit from its absence; and women derive short-term benefit from its absence, but are harmed by it long-term: they hit the wall, and then their biological clock runs out, likely before they’ve reproduced.

What this adds up to is something vaguely similar to massively-multiplayer Prisoner’s Dilemma with time factored in. In a simple form of the model, each player derives long-term benefit from others’ cooperation (i.e. maintenance of norms toward monogamous marriage), but two of the three factions derive short-term benefit from defectingand each defection adds short-term benefit to future defection, short-term penalty to cooperation, and amplifies the overall long-term penalty that results from the erosion of the norms that underlie the maintenance of civilization.

Roissy believes thisand yet he defects. Why?

One complicating factor of the model is that time-preference is not distributed evenly across agents in the game. It is by now well-known that some people just have longer time-preference than others; and in the model, the interests of civilization (and therefore the long-term interests of most currently-existing agents and the short-term interests of agents born sufficiently far in the future) are best served by increases in time-preference. (Civilization, of course, can select for long time-preference… or short.)

Another factor (and I’m not sure whether or not the model above succeeds in capturing this) is that the payoff matrix itself is in play: shifts in societal norms can ‘buy off’ low-time-preference groups, as was pointed out in the comments of my last post. For example, under the old marriage-norms, monogamy was practiced and divorce was discouraged much more strongly than today, but affairs happenedand thus women and alpha males were bought off. (One did not, of course, openly admit to one’s sins; nor did one acknowledge in the abstract their existence. To do so would serve to normalize them.)

(A hypothesis: did the rise of romantic love as the underlying motivator for marriage result in increased disapproval and avoidance of affairs, removing the mechanism by which the majority faction was bought off? Another hypothesis: did the rise of clerical work in the cities and similar lead to an increase in sex outside marriage (workplace affairs / ‘dating’ [which used to be a lot more euphemistic than it is now] within the company), amplifying demand for rationalization of defection from monogamy-norms in order to assuage the increased [and more widely distributed] aggregate level of guilt?)

A possible third factor is that it’s easier to promote defection than cooperation here: or rather, that there are avenues by which defection can be promoted more easily than cooperation, and that those are more powerful than the avenues for which the opposite is true. Enthymemes taking progressivism as the unstated axiom can easily promote defection, and progressivism is the common belief-system of today; but how can cooperation be argued for? Open explanation/investigation of the functioning of society is low-status, since it signals social incompetence; these things are supposed to be intuitively understood, and just as it’s easier to explain the rules of a language you learned in adulthood than it is to explain the rules of your native language, explicit explanation of social rules implies lack of implicit knowledge, which is, of course, low-status.

The first rule of status: don’t talk about the rules of status.

Written by nydwracu

May 17, 2014 at 19:07

Posted in politics

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Status and civilization

with 18 comments

This is an attempt to unpack and expand on this. The original comment will be presented in blockquotes.

What would it look like translated into game theory? (Or is this another instance of what Jim attacks with steelmanning, where I try to translate something that thinks in an actually-different way into something that assumes a pile of unstated suppositions…?)

Actually I can’t come up with a way to game-theoretically steelman it where it turns out differently than neoreaction—“there are certain internalized rules that pass themselves off as having developed in order to ensure cooperation toward increased payout for everyone but it would actually be better to defect because these rules were actually developed by certain factions with limited membership seeking to enrich itself at any cost” would apply equally to both but that doesn’t capture the deeper distinction where… can I express this?

Both progressivism and neoreaction contain the belief that there exist social norms that pass themselves off as being to everyone’s benefitthat is, pass themselves off as existing to avoid problems described belowbut were actually developed in order to benefit certain factions, without regard to detrimental effects to other factions.

So you have iterated massively-multiplayer prisoner’s dilemma with immediate payout but delayed penalty (nothing new, free rider problem, tragedy of the commons etc etc etc) and you have to surrender some amount of possible payout because if enough people decline to do so then delayed penalty kicks in and screws everyone (and this is the part where I realize that Kant is not actually completely ridiculous like I once thought he was)…

Model a society in game-theoretical terms: there are many interlocking payoff matrices, some of which combine an immediate payoff with a delayed penalty. This is obviously true in a one-player game: most drugs combine an immediate payoff with a subsequent comedown and the risks of addiction/dependency and of negative health effects arising from use of the drug. The hostility of neoreaction to PUA and the manosphere demonstrates a belief that this is true of multiplayer games also, and some PUAs admit it: for Roissy, promiscuity (both male and female) is defection in a game similar to massively-multiplayer Prisoner’s Dilemma, but with the aforementioned time effect; however, the delayed penalty is distributed throughout society. So if you get ten notches on the bedpost, you accumulate ten immediate payoffs, but erode the social fabric in a small way, in a manner that I hope my audience is familiar with because stating it properly would require more background reading than I want to do right now.

A similar argument is occasionally used to justify the illegalization of drugs: use of the drug the legalization of which is being argued against, the argument goes, provides not only the immediate payoff and delayed penalty to the user described in the previous paragraph, but also a penalty to society, by risking the creation of another addict desperate for a fix, acting under the influence, etc.

A third argument is used in defense of monogamy: male sexual desirability is so unevenly distributed that, absent monogamy, a significant percentage of men will have neither children nor the prospect of having any, and, while the erosion of monogamy would be to the short-term benefit of the top end of the male sexual desirability distribution (that is, they’d have more sex and make more babies), it would deprive the aforementioned other percentage of a stake in the society, leading to shorter time-preference (no kids; what do they have to lose?), disincentive toward productive labor, and a tendency toward revolution, none of which are conducive to civilization-building; so, given sufficiently long time-preference, even the top end will benefit from monogamy.

But the important point here is not that any of these arguments are correct; it is that they are instances of a class that contains some true statements—that there exist actions which provide an immediate payoff to the actor but a diffuse and probably delayed penalty.

This class contains both the tragedy of the commons—independent actors seeking the largest payoff will take actions contrary to the long-term best interest of the group, and therefore of each independent actorand the free rider problemindependent actors seeking the largest payoff will disregard the cost necessary from each actor for the maintenance of that which allows them to get the largest payoff.

…so to ensure this the payout matrix is fucked with (though that language doesn’t quite capture the fact that there is no Platonic payout matrix that pre-exists the fucking-with, but instead it’s always-and-everywhere in play) in order to make the long-term desirable actions actually short-term desirable…

Incentive structures can be changed such that what would otherwise be to the short-term benefit of the individual actor no longer is. To take the example of monogamy: if the argument is true, it will be advantageous to a society to adopt social norms favoring the formation of monogamous pairs and strongly disincentivizing promiscuity through legal prohibitions or loss of social status. Since there is no society without social norms or status-structures, there is no actually-existing payoff matrix that exists without modification due to social norms and status-structures.

…but this is vulnerable to coordinated (usually top-down in practice) struggle toward reducing the penalty toward claiming immediate payout premised on ignorance of the fact that there exists a delayed penalty…

Defection is possible, since social norms and status-structures can be modified through political action. People/organizations/factions with shorter time-preference will have more incentive to defect. (Cf. Konkvistador’s theory of apocalypse cults.)

…and if this catches on then the strong-horse effect amplifies the immediate payout [of picking the strong horse, which necessarily implies signaling toward its desired goals and probably implies living out its goalsthat is, defecting toward immediate payout] and also weakens the prior payout matrix and everything associated with it, making it even more likely that more strong-horse defectors will pop up, and so the payout matrix needs to be modified again to very strongly discourage anything that might lead to a defecting strong horse, because one defecting strong horse not only weakens the payout matrix in a manner that threatens runaway collapse effects by itself but also makes substantially more likely the creation of even more defecting strong horses by increasing the penalty of being associated with the old payout matrix and the payout of being associated with something that signals strongly against it and pushes a desire for even more change.

Osama bin Laden said, “When people see a strong horse and a weak horse, by nature, they will like the strong horse.” He was right: people can get status by associating themselves with (joining) powerful factions. This is the strong-horse effect. The consequences for the payoff matrix are best illustrated by considering the new and prior matrices in terms of the factions pushing their adoption: the faction advocating for change in the payoff matrix, if successful, has demonstrated not only that it is powerful, but also that the factions backing the old payoff matrix are not powerful; when the factions are weakened, the old payoff matrix is also weakened, providing, through the desire to associate with powerful factions and distance oneself from weak factions, incentive to change the payoff matrix further.

This means that it is in the interest of each faction to display as much power as possible; in practice, this is mediated by the danger of provoking sufficient discontent to dislodge it, and perhaps by the individual consciences of its members. (Which themselves can be modeled as payoff matrices, in a sense. But I won’t get into that here.)

Affiliating with a faction pushing a certain set of social norms is likely to result in the adoption of that set of social norms.

So to unpack the payout-matrix model: it’s all one payout matrix in the end, but it will clarify things to break it down into its component parts. One is the drive for status/power/acceptance, which is the one that’s most easily played; another is financial; and then there’s natural law (or Gnon, or Carlyle’s justice=order=truth), which could be broken down into ‘human nature’ and ‘technological dynamics’. Status matrix, money matrix, nature matrix, techno-matrix. Now obviously these four are the same thing, but the terms highlight different aspects of the same thing and can be considered separate things for certain purposes. (Is this what the triune God stuff is about?)

There are various identifiable components shaping the payoff matrix, but it’s still one thing. It probably can’t be fully analyzed down to its component parts, but speaking of the parts as separate things is useful in order to understand what shapes it. (The standard example of this is the pill and the sexual revolution.)

Progressivism seems to have developed in part out of opposition to the old view of “payout matrix = nature matrix”, where all societal results are predetermined by which son of Noah the members of that society are descended from or whatever. Dialectical materialism adds the money- and techno-matrices; social constructivism adds the status matrix. Problem is, it doesn’t accept the existence of the nature matrix at all.

Progressivism developed in response to crude forms of biological determinism, and acquired a memetic allergy to opposition to tabula rasa and human neurological uniformity as a result.

So I’m guessing it would go something like: “there’s no such thing as a nature matrix and the propagation of the idea that there is one is neither true nor game-theoretically useful-toward-ensuring-whatever-optimal-payout-criterion-it-is-that-we’re-going-for but instead a misguided creation of a specific elite faction designed to provide maximal benefit to themselves without regard for everyone else, but hurting not only everyone else but also them”—but the irony here is that, Born This Way, progressivism has reintroduced the nature matrix and the history of it suggests that it was probably developed as a political mechanism [falsehood becoming truth through acceptance of social construction] to win a particular political battle for a particular faction! (Agree and amplify.)

However, progressivism has redeveloped a crude form of biological determinism: it proclaims the existence of a biologically determined, immutable, and binary opposition between heterosexuality and homosexuality. This was once a conservative position, attacking the New Left’s advocacy of ‘polymorphous perversity’, political lesbianism, and other statements of mutability of sexual orientation combined with the claim that it served the cause of justice to adopt and encourage the adoption of these mutable practices.

And then the differences are that (i.e. differing heuristics for identifying matrix-modifications designed to enrich one faction at the expense of others) and also the seeming belief of progressivism that payout-increase in some part of the matrix (technological? but primitivism, so that can’t be right, can it?) can enter into a near-unstoppable omnibeneficial feedback loop (scarcity mentality vs. abundance mentality) instead of amplifying the short-term benefits of defection with long-term penalty while possibly also shortening time-preference and leading to inevitable-unless-the-pattern-is-identified-and-action-is-successfully-taken-against-it collapse, which is pretty much what Nietzsche thought except I don’t know if he actually thought it was cyclical or if (as the term ‘last man’ would seem to imply) mediocrity would become stable and persist forever.

Progressivism thinks that many social norms that neoreaction thinks were developed in order to change incentive structures to bring short-term individual payoffs in line with long-term societal-and-therefore-individual payoffs such that actors with shorter time-preference or more tendency to defect would act in accordance with what provided long-term payoffs to society were actually developed by factions seeking to maximize their payoff at the expense of those outside the faction; in addition, parts of it claim that these norms are actually to the disadvantage of those factions themselves. (“Patriarchy hurts men too!”) So actions that appear to the neoreactionary as defection—that is, as a move away from the social norms that incentivize civilization-building, societal stability and productivity, etc.—appear to the progressive as actually being a form of cooperation—changing the payoff matrix in a manner that benefits not only the individual outside the faction, but also certain factions and possibly society as a whole.

What struck me about the comment I was replying to was its emphasis on seemingly-Chesterton’s-fence-violating emphasis on abolishing normativity and treating people as individuals without any apparent concern for the civilizational effects the proposed policies would have—for, as I’ve said before, thinking civilization grows on trees, and will simply happen without the existence and maintenance of norms conducive to it, and therefore that it’s unnecessary to carefully consider the possible effects a ‘justice’-increasing reform may have here, or allow for variation and difference (there’s a good bit in Past and Present, which I’m reading now, about how policies may take decades, even centuries, to fail, but still be doomed to failure from the start; to this it can be added that these policies may appear, even during their failure, as so morally right as to be irreversible)—and without consideration of the possibility of, rather than abolishing norms, simply swapping out the old ones for new ones, which seems to be what has happened: instead of removing all incentivization/disincentivization based on sexual activity level, stigma has been transferred from high sexual activity level to low, and promiscuity is now actively incentivized.

Obviously there’s much more I could say here, but this has hit 2000 words already and the caffeine crash set in at around the fourth paragraph, so I’ll stop here for now. (The Nietzsche part is self-explanatory if you follow the link. Nietzsche isn’t hard to read! I don’t know why people think he is!) I wish I could come up with a game-like model for all this, but that will require more time; has anyone come up with a (relatively) simple and illustrative (in the sense that Prisoner’s Dilemma and Chicken are illustrative) game that takes into account concentrated rewards but diffuse and delayed penalties, payoff investment (modifying the game toward increased payoff, possibly with a short-term penalty), subcultures/factions locked in struggles for the (zero-sum?) resource of status, and all the other concepts I’m vaguely waving toward now?

I get the sense that I should’ve used the terms “Schelling fence” and “rent-seeking” in here, but I didn’t. I also get the sense that a lot of the work that needs to be done here has already been done somewhere I don’t know of yet.

Written by nydwracu

May 15, 2014 at 17:43

Posted in politics

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Patchwork beyond neoreaction

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Fracture itself fractures under unseen strain. Missionary religion reawakens in the shadows, behind a remove claiming the triple name of tradition, observation, and scientific truth. And perhaps it’s even no pretender. But

‘Neoreaction’ enthedes itself, becomes a thing in the manner of a subculture, draws in disparate trends and collects them under one name and one affiliationwithout reflection, without realization. Unseen historical vectors make it one of their avatars, and take on a new character in doing so; but these vectors cannot think, cannot strategize, require those they string along to serve as not only their troops, but also their tacticians. Thus they may collect uphill, to their detriment.

The anticolonial tactic shifted the progressive dialectic in an uncomfortable direction, only averted by telescopic charity-prestige and the doctrine of the Inner Light. When materialism returns, when psychologists make it big in the mediapurity reactionspathogen avoidancepersonality traits—the American Nationsand even if conservatism is a symptom of stupidity, it is still an incurable conditionthe shrug toward the microstate is escaped through the stoking of a fervorous Jellybyite expansion of the circle of empathy whose consequent fear fuels through a mad sublimation the elevation to concern of the plans for a global caliphate.

A global caliphate! A global caliphate fueled by oily androgynes’ drug-fueled toil toward sociology degrees! A global caliphate whose Mecca is Harvard, whose mosques issue degrees in sociology and perform ritual and always ritually incomplete purification of civilization-building as original sin—and what shall you do in response? Crush it? Cleanse it from the earth? Purify the world of this vile, perverted heresy? Shall youovercome?

Some were singing WE SHALL OVERCOME and some were shouting GO BACK TO NEW YORK YOU COMMIE JEW QUEERS and it was all going on and on for hours and days and they could have built the pyramids and gotten bored with them and torn them down again in the millenniums as we crossed the sidewalk to the paddy wagon. I suddenly understood the High experienced by lion-hunters and mountain climbers. For the first time in my life, I had released enough adrenaline to be as tripped out as a shaman on magic mushrooms.

Go back to New York, you commie Jew queers! This wrong side of history shows no sign of the missionit points its shotgun at the civilizer and tells it to get the fuck off its lawn. Andif the will of the Zeitgeist falters? If it stares deep into its dialectic, resolves against its purifying resolve and discovers a commitment against its caliphate, an opposition to internal empireand gets the fuck off the lawn, and goes back to New York?

Yellow Springs had a barber shop called Gegner’s, which was a reasonable name since the owner was named Mr. Gegner. This barber shop was segregatedas all barber shops in that part of the country were segregated when Mr. Gegner was young. (Southern Ohio borders Kentucky and the Confederacy, and it is even hard to distinguish the Southern Ohio accent from a Kentucky accent.) By 1964, however, most of the others had accepted the inevitable and desegregated themselves. Gegner was a recalcitrant and in many ways I admired his stubborn intransigence.

The City Council of Yellow Springs had passed a desegregation law, but Gegner claimed he could not comply because he simply did not know how to cut Negro hair. … The dispute was working its way through the appeals courts when some of the “radical” students at Antioch Collegeall of them members of the newly-formed Students for a Democratic Society, as I later learneddecided to accelerate progress by staging a series of sit-ins at Gegner’s barber shop. …

I was working as Assistant Sales Manager of the Antioch Bookplate Company, a local business. I sympathized with the students because I felt segregation was a running sore and needed strong medicine, but I also sympathized with old man Gegner because I always sympathize with Individualists, however ornery they may be.

Besides, the Gegner case presented a peculiar moral ambiguity, in my view of things. Yellow Springs had two barber shops, and the other one was desegregated. The walking time between the two was certainly less than three minutes for a healthy person and no more than ten minutes for somebody on crutches. I tend to like pluralistic, rather than totalitarian, solutions, so I thought the town might achieve a workable and symmetrical balance if somebody opened a shop that only cut Black hair. Then we’d have one all-white barber shop (Gegner’s) for white segregationists, one all-Black shop for Black separatists, and one desegregated shop for liberals, which in my Rationalistic mind should have satisfied everybody. “You pays your money and you takes your cherce.”

Whenever I presented this idea, people stared at me as if I had just killed a goat in the sacristy. This was only one of several occasions in my young adulthood in which it forcibly came home to me that abstractly rational ideas have no appeal at all in the emotional arena of hominid politics.

Surface inversion allows the appearance of change while preserving the unnoticed habits that lie unnoticed beyond the remove. The Church of England crushes the Puritans; the Puritans crush the progressives; the progressives proceed to take over the worldthree surface inversions which only allow the underlying tendency to accelerate and amplify. Patchwork cuts beyond surface inversion, but proves itself easily forgottenyet still claimed by the clade, by the thede, and thus marked ever more as elthedish to those outside it. Object glues meta to itself, attempts to restrict the vector to one set of avatars, and risks yet another surface inversion, yet another missionary religion that seeks the power to crush all who dare to oppose it. Despite the contradiction.

Someyet only someshow attraction to theories of difference, sets of attempts to explain what is easily noticed; but, just as Massachusetts is not Tennessee, just as the city is not the farm, San Francisco is not Idaho. Perhaps it is deep culture; perhaps geographically-shaped patterns of pathogen avoidance; or perhaps it is biologicalbut there’s something there. And to those who claim that their principles are simply those every well-born person considered sane and normal before the French Revolution: even if this set exists, no one has ever held only it. Perennialism abstracts away from difference, but it does not followand it is clearly absurd to claimthat difference was never there.

Belief does not necessarily lead to missionary religion: it’s possibleand easyto think something wrong, but not give a damn if the other side of the world disagrees.To the extent that difference is not easily eradicatedno matter the reasona contraction of the circle of the concern, brought about by federalism, the Patchwork, or the breakup of the internal empire, is the easiest solution. The enemy need not be eradicated; nor, in most cases, should he be, for epistemological reasons so simple I shouldn’t need to state them. 

And if a missionary clade turns against missionary religion of its own volition? It’s true that difference must remain clear, and I bet I’ll have to write more about that issue laterbut, hell, if that particular vector shows up in such a place, it’s less work for the rest of its vessels.

Written by nydwracu

May 3, 2014 at 04:27

Posted in politics

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Fad diets and pragmatic overload: why Haidt was wrong

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This string of tweets from @Meaningness is too important to be left to succumb to Twitter-rotespecially since it points toward an understanding of the failure of Haidt that I’ve mentioned before.

When I say “ethical/pragmatic rationalizations for the redevelopment of religious practices”, the most obvious reference point is diets: dietary practices and periodic fasts were once a key part of religious identity, and were justified in those termsbut now that those aren’t strong justifications for actions, they’re justified in terms of ethics (Haidt’s harm and fairness) and pragmatics instead.

I was in New York City over the weekend. After I arrived in Penn Station, I headed off for the Guggenheim for the Italian Futurism exhibit (for the second time), but got hungry along the way. The closest place to the museum that I could find to get lunch was a store advertising ‘juice cleanses’: a chain, as I later discovered. The practice they advertised was periodic abstinence from solid foods, in favor of ‘raw’ cold-pressed fruit and vegetable juices (which run about $10 a bottle, but the place seemed to do good business nevertheless). The whole store was plastered with marketing for this practice, though they did stock some solid foods tooand what’s interesting about the marketing was that it was justified totally in pragmatic terms. That is, with pseudoscience.

There’s a particular type of pseudoscience in the health industry that attempts to dress up Haidt’s purity axis (toxins! toxins everywhere!) in pragmatic terms. It usually fails as science, but science isn’t what it’s addressing, isn’t what it’s trying to do: within liberal society is a taboo against open discussion of Haidt’s three conservative axes, but (here’s where Haidt goes wrong) liberals still care about them. (Haidt is cladistically a liberal, and still takes an insider’s view of liberalism: his analyses of liberalism and of conservatism are different kinds of analysis, since he has an insider’s view of the former, but not of the latter. There may well be some conservatives who buy into the two-axis restriction as much as liberals do, and produce things as sham-like as purity-motivated pseudoscience.) As is demonstrated by the success of this juice cleanse chainand by the many other things out there that could naïvely be called pseudoscientific fad diets, but this term ignores their true nature, their addressing of some sort of basic human need at a remove.

Now, there’s probably some truth to some of these pragmatically-based fad diets, in that they’re restrictive enough to cut out the things that are actually bad for you. But casual observation suggests that a pragmatic basis is less memetically successful than an ethical basis: juice cleanses are far less widely mentioned or known (and therefore presumably far less widely practiced) than vegetarianism.

Written by nydwracu

April 17, 2014 at 00:46

Posted in miscellany

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