Thursday 5 August 2010

What is to be done? - mostly negative steps

We live in an era of ideology, and this ideology is becoming totalitarian, all-pervasive, compulsory - even as it loses self-belief and mass support, even as it destroy the conditions for its own existence.

So we have the daily spectacle of seedy, corrupt, time-serving Brezhnev bureaucrats trying to whip themselves into a frenzy of leftist zeal as a prelude to forcing the same upon us.

It is all terribly unconvincing, which is why it has become increasingly nasty and coercive - otherwise nobody would go along with it.

Any-way... the point is not to replace one incoherent, unmotivating totalitarian ideology with another; but to do away with ideology. Politics should be emergent, not primary.

So negative tactics are likely to be the main strategy.


Is this a workable plan? :-

If you can: pursue and seek the truth, create beauty and be virtuous.

But if you can't, then...

Don't lie or dishonestly mislead, don't support ugliness, don't work hard and well to create situations that are morally wrong: in a nutshell don't *assist* the dark side.

Or, at the very least, don't assist the dark side more than you absolutely have-to or for longer than you absolutely have-to.


It is remarkable how many people have the right ideas, but - without a gun to their head, nor even any credible threat of sanctions - knock themselves out, give their best efforts, to implement bad new stuff.

Better to do nothing, or as little as possible, than to assist in harm.


Do not participate, if possible, in procedures and processes of which you disapprove . Participation generates legitimacy.

When you cannot oppose, do as little as possible to support. And do not give of your best, nor even second best - but the least that can be gotten away with.

If you cannot speak out, then remain silent. If you cannot remain silent, say as little as possible.

If embedded in a corrupt situation, a harm-promoting situation, an institution which is making things worse overall; get out if you can. But if you can't, then it is better to do little or nothing, than to do a good job in a bad cause.


In a modern society, most middle class jobs are about controlling other people ('managers' of one sort or another) - these jobs are nearly always harmful. They are first and inevitably harmful by the resources the jobs themselves consume; but this harm is multiplied - sometimes many-fold - by the further costs these managers inflict on other people whom they control - in terms of imposing wasted time and effort (form-filling, meetings etc.), but also by making other people do wrong things. Any small specific goods achieved are grossly outweighed by the harmful tendency of the job, by the reinforcement of the system of ideology and bureaucracy. On average, and overwhelmingly, a modern manager working hard and efficiently and doing a good job (by managerial criteria) therefore does immensely more harm than an idle, time-wasting, prevaricating manager.


Politics is mostly about one's own life. Expressing political views and voting are feeble by comparison. One's life *will* have an effect; albeit an effect increasingly diluted by distance from it.


[For an example of how *not* to behave, the most successful scientists of the past 50 years provide an egregious example. The most successful scientists mostly presided over the creation, operation and prestige of 'the peer review cartel' - i.e. the oligarchy of manager-scientists who preside over the peer review system that determines publication, grants, jobs, promotions and prizes; and which has generated the progressive bureaucritization of science to the point that most science is now *nothing but* the allocation of 'validity' by peer reviewers. Individually, most of these commisars of science express great reservations about the present system; but, individually, they almost all joined in. Their reasons vary from the quasi-altruistic one of 'If I didn't do it, then somebody else worse would' to the careerist 'If you can't beat 'em, join 'em'.]


dearieme said...

One of my old colleagues used to say "the science to do is the science that's fashionable in California".

Unknown said...

Triggered randomness:

All political contests in the States reduce to which candidate can convince the electorate his/her opponent is a bigger smuck than he/she is. No election is decided on proffered solutions and none are decided on truth.

ALL elections are decisions about the lesser of two evils - It is an indictment of mankind how often he does not choose the lesser.

The best evidence that man does not know himself is evidenced by how much faith he places in other men.

In the US ANYTHING could be fixed/changed/set-right if a mere 270 of the 536 elected men and women agree to fix it. There seems no shortage of things 270 men and women can agree to muck up but nothing they can agree to set-right.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Jack - I would say that 'don't vote' - ever on anything might well be one of the negative steps that probably/ perhaps should be taken...

Because by participating in a vote you are implicitly accepting the decision of the vote and the system of making decisions by voting.

ab said...

"Politics is mostly about one's own life. Expressing political views and voting are feeble by comparison. One's life *will* have an effect; albeit an effect increasingly diluted by distance from it."

Good point.

Ralph said...

I'm glad to read the voting advice. For the first time in my life, I decided not to vote for the top position in the state I live in (leave a blank on that spot). After a lot of thought and research I think the best one will be mediocre at best. I've been told if I don't vote for him, we'll get someone really bad, the old lesser of two evils rational. I'm tired of that treadmill, it seems that as the years have gone by the less of two evils is worse than the worse of two evils of my youth. Maybe it's just me, but I don't think so.

Sometimes elections just give the ambitious busy bodies a cover of legitimacy to abuse power.

a Finn said...

Some things that could be done:

- Use money, not credit cards. It is anonymous. Monetary calculation, allocation of money and thus "rationalization" becomes more difficult. Don't join retail store clubs. Choose services and products that don't require giving personal information, if it is possible.

- Don't answer or participate in marketing inquiries, polls, studies that could be used in social engineering etc. Steering becomes more imprecise.

- Repair or do-it-yourself. Grow food in small fields, repair wares, sew clothes, etc. The less the velocity of money, the less is the power of the system.

- Barter things and services in a system that is not based on any political ideology or is based on a pro-European ideology. This little system competes to some extent with the present system.

- Minimize your taxes to the absolute minimum allowed by the law. Search in your country information about this.

- Live ascetically. Gather more information than material. Save more.

- Buy from and invest in local businesses, preferably to those where you know the owner, products and the business well.

- If you live in an area where there is fairly constant wind, water stream or sunshine, consider using wind or water mills, or solar panels for energy production. The goal is small savings and independence from large complex energy producers.

- Ascend to higher levels of spirituality. Join a traditional Christian congregation. Christianity truly awakes in a congregation. Generally small cell congregations (<150 members per cell) have the strongest relations and the most intense spirituality.