Thursday, 16 April 2015

Why the red-pill versus blue-pill dichotomy is so dangerously counter-productive

The idea (from The Matrix movie) is that people who take the red pill are an elite minority of sad, tough-minded realists who see things as they really are and who are consequently on what they regard as the reactionary political Right; but the mass majority of the population are deluded, euphoric dreamers who take the blue 'happy pill' of mainstream politically correct Leftism.

Thus, 'the big problem' of modernity is defined as having one set of correct beliefs, versus another that are erroneous - and idealists of each side evaluate others on the basis of whether or not they profess the full set of core beliefs.


But this is profoundly to mistake the big problem of modern life, which is not a matter of beliefs but a matter of evaluations. The evil madness of modern secular Leftism is the exclusion of the real self; so that people become incapable of seeing what lies before them, of knowing their own emotions, of common sense - and of sensing the presence and activity of God.

The real self, with which we are all born as children, is walled-in and crushed into insignificance by the vast and invasive 'ideology' of modernity; now hyper-amplified by the ever-present mass media - such that human life in developed nations has become merely a matter of socially-constructed false selves performing simple media-inculcated evaluations; and exchanging and reacting to pre-selected stimuli and responses.

The minority of self-styled red pill takers are doing exactly the same thing as the blue pill takers - that is they are engaged in a fake interchange of mechanically-evaluated ideas and emotions imbibed from the (alternative) mass media - while their real, natural, spontaneous selves detach, dwindle and are rendered ineffectual (the real self cannot be killed altogether).

Blue versus red pill evaluation and discourse is merely the difference between Tweedledumb and Tweedle-not-quite-so-dumb. So what?


What we really want, need and ought-to be doing is to recover that simple, essential self we all had as children - now imprisoned and tortured and utterly enfeebled - before we were got-at by the alluring social-expediencies and efficiencies of modernity.

We need to find and nourish the simple essential self that has a built-in divine aspect (god within us) and therefore is capable of responding to its environment using real (not fake) methods of evaluation. So life (whether happy or sad) again has meaning. purpose and relationship.

If we can recover our real self, which is also our divine self, we have made a genuinely significant difference to our state of mind - a difference far deeper and more pervasive and transformative than a mere change of ideas and beliefs; and we have made a significant step towards understanding our true condition, and developing a complex and comprehensive religion.

It is a matter of form not content, process not prescription, soul not media.



Thordaddy said...

Concurrent to the notion of the "real self" is the reality of identity crisis. The macro-effect of modernity is identity crisis in those who embrace it. For the white Christian, helping resolve that identity crisis in others can be laser-like or nearly unlimited in scope. Yet, both extremes indicate a liberated "Christianity" that seemingly "evolves" into individual hedonism or the DIE-versify for salvation cult.

It's not GOOD ENOUGH just to call one's self a Christian when LIBERAL "Christians" share our name and besmirch the most profound assertion. There are SPECIFIC names for the "real self" that help resolve an identity crisis. Modern Christian is in the midst of his own identity crisis. How do we resolve this dilemma other than taking on a more exacting name for our real selves as whjte Christians separate from those that choose the paths described above?

Bruce Charlton said...

@TD - I can't see why 'white' or European or any other racial or ethnic descriptor would be any use - but would in fact be a hindrance and false emphasis; except where there is a specific national denomination such as Greek versus Serbian versus Russian Orthodoxy.

Christianity is explicitly for *everyone* (everyone who chooses to accept it) and this is simply a basic fact which we must work around.

That does not mean the same Christianity/ the same church for everyone; but that there is nobody who could be excluded from full (salvific) participation in Christianity in some way or another.

When Christianity has strong, it has proven itself able to be applicable to multiple races - as I have often said, Christianity trumps nation and race - however that should not be understood to mean that nation or race are irrelevant - they are facts that should/ must realistically be work with if Christianity (of whatever denomination) is to be effective (and I would further suggest that not all denominations will be suitable/ optimal for all nations and races).

My primary point is that we need to focus on Christian revival as the first and necessary step, NOW; and not make the error of deferring this until after some other political priority has been implemented.

Bruce Charlton said...

@TD - Another thing. A primary focus on race and nation is exactly the kind of 'red pill' pseudo-insight which this posting is intended to critique. We must not be aiming at a new set of facts and ideas and priorities but something far deeper and more far-reaching - which is a whole different way of perceiving and evaluating the world; a way which mobilizes (again) our true self and its innate abilities and potential. This is just a start, a first step - but it is a necessary start and first step otherwise we are typical modern people who are simply absorbing and spouting and reflexly twitching in response to a somewhat-different sub-set of the usual propaganda. .

George Goerlich said...

@TD - As an ethnically Northwest-European Christian, I reflect that my familial and traditional cultural values are reflections of ideal Christian morality. That is, we strive towards goodness (though often falling short), such as mutual love and assistance. In direct contrast to modernity, these values are not culturally relative, but an ideal form to be pursued. One can also see these expanding concentric circles of goodness in: individual, family, community, country, etc. How can one proselytize God's word and work if one does not first focus on self? Then of course, family, community, etc. Or we often also put it "God, Family, Country." We should not exclude mankind, as a whole, from striving towards God - that is, not to retreat inward - but must recognize priorities and the reality of that direction. One can't lead a good family if he is evil and corrupt himself.

Ingemar said...

ZippyCatholic has made a similar point in the past:

"The problem with the ‘red pill’ analogy is that it deludes people who have seen through one of modernity’s lies into thinking that they have seen through all of modernity’s lies. When you realize that you have been deluded about an important truth your whole life – especially one where the emperor’s nakedness has been right in front of your face the whole time – that opens up the possibility that you are still deluded about other things."

Bruce Charlton said...

@I - And I too have written about this before

But I think that people are way too complacent about the likelihood of progressing beyond the trivial phase of 'seeing through' leftism and embracing an often hate-selfishness-and-pride-fueled secular Right/ manosphere perspective which is just as shallow and soulless as any other species of Leftism (because Leftism is what it is - albeit anti-Communist Leftism).

Jasper said...

I am a very big fan of this blog, and your general philosophical/theological orientation. That said, I do occasionally think that you throw out the baby with the bathwater. Here you seem to be advancing a false dilemma: either we think in red-blue terms or we appreciate the real nature of the problem. At least you seem to be saying that red-blue dichotomizing is some kind of big obstacle to a proper understanding of the problem. That just seems false. In order to grasp the real problem one must _first_ begin to recognize the deep and pervasive system of lies that shapes modern culture. Surely someone who begins to notice that the familiar lies about race, sex, culture, equality, autonomy, etc. are irrational and indefensible -- then begins to notice how damaging these false, irrational beliefs are -- is well on the way to rethinking other, still more fundamental metaphysical issues. And from there it's not a huge leap to begin to take seriously alternatives to the whole range of modern Leftist ideologies, including much of the 'red pill' stuff. And I find it hard to imagine how else it would be possible to make this journey, at least for many people like me -- people raised in a basically Leftist, secular, media-controlled culture. So, first of all, the difference between 'red' and 'blue' is not so trivial -- not just dumb versus not-quite-so-dumb. On most issues, the 'red' position is firmly oriented toward truth and reason, while the 'blue' position is flatly insane. Finally, the distinction between 'beliefs' and 'valuations' is not sharp. There is no need to choose between them, and no way to alter values or valuations without also altering one's basic beliefs about reality. (This is a theme you yourself have written on: in order to properly value things, we need the right metaphysic; this is a matter of belief, of what we take to be fundamentally true.) Therefore, in taking 'red pills' a person clears away a vast range of false beliefs about important matters, and also clears away the metaphysical basis for many bad, destructive valuations. It's always possible that what replaces those bad valuations will be just as bad -- crude racial-ethnic nationalism, say, or misogyny, etc. But if you don't at least get rid of the 'blue' beliefs and consequent valuations, there's no chance you can reorient your value system so that it becomes more true and right. (No way for the true self to have even a _chance_ of knowing itself, or enacting its true values, unless the true self is _first_ freed from the many false 'blue' beliefs that distort and block proper belief-valuation systems.)

Bruce Charlton said...

@Jasper - I am familiar with your argument; but then whenever I encounter those who advocate red/blue pill thinking I get a strong response that this is something dishonest, deceptive, of wrong intent - it gives off a bad odour, bad vibes - the atmosphere is a nasty one of selfishness, hatred seeking validation, resentment seeking revenge. So, I really have no serious doubt of what I say the post. Of course, there are always good people in any bad movement (and vice versa) - and of course people learn by their errors - and all (popular) evil movements contain much good (even communism). Nonetheless the secular Right is basically bad, it is on the wrong side - and once the force of this has been felt, it is spiritually better not to defend it too much or too vigorously.

Cameron said...

This is an excellent post.

" pill takers are doing exactly the same thing as the blue pill takers - that is they are engaged in a fake interchange of mechanically-evaluated ideas and emotions imbibed from the (alternative) mass media..."

I'm guilty of that myself.