Wednesday 7 December 2022

Why hasn't civilization collapsed Already? Or, what is the source of negentropy?

While I realize that civilization could begin to accelerate irreversibly into collapse today, tomorrow, or next week; the fact that this has not already happened is more and more astonishing - because essentially every single policy change in the Western world has been destructive for the past three or more decades. 

Entropy rules - the trend is against creation and towards disorder. 

If you doubt this, take a look at the mainstream media and the major stories it is pushing on any given day - including the major narrative, fictions, images, concepts, and 'facts'; and (assuming you can interpret things from a Christian basis) you will be forced to agree. 

Every week, the powers-that-should-not-be seem to unveil another body blow against civilization - piling in another upon another. 

The astonishing thing is that civilization has not yet collapsed - I mean, this is really astonishing. On the one side, we have the entirety of the global, national and local leadership class; and the leadership of all the major corporations, professions, and (supposedly-) functional social institutions - all of whom are doing their level best to destroy their own functionality and destroy what remains. 

Why have they not yet succeeded? Why has entropy not been able to succeed in reducing civilization to chaos? 

What is that which opposes entropy: what is, on other words, the source of negentropy in Western civilization? 

I regard this as a genuine mystery - at least at the material level. 

Looked at materially, we have most of the world functioning entirely on smoke and mirrors, on lies and delusions. 

And yet - here we are!

My best guess is that - although The System is corrupt (i.e. does not aim at functionality, aims primarily at anti-functional leftist goals) most of The System is useless or harmful. Therefore, damaging functionality makes no real difference, or may have a mildly positive effect. 

Even within valuable systems - the necessary work is done by relatively few people, in minority sectors of the overall institution. So long as these continue to perform their jobs, then things can keep going for the time being.  

Of course, by this material analysis; in the end they will win, civilization will collapse substantially, and billions will die --  unless the trend to destruction and increased entropy is reversed. Because the way things are going the functional aspect of civilization is shrinking towards the point that it cannot be sustained - no matter how effective are the minority of real workers and doers.  

Yet this analysis does not account for why the minority of the functional workforce are motivated to keep doing what needs to be done; in a world where everything official, bureaucratic and of media-origin (literally!) conspires against them.  

When all the incentives are for more entropy; who is opposing it?

Who is behaving negentropically?

What makes this situation even stranger is that I strongly suspect that most of those few who "do the world's work" are not aware of any compelling reason why they should do so - they just do it

(Farmers, maintenance engineers, repair men... these are not usually self-consciously aware of the distinctive reasons behind the fact that they maintain an ideal of functionality in a world where the mass majority are indifferent or actively-hostile to it.) 

My best answer, so far, is that these are still operating instinctually, unconsciously; with a residue of that Original Participation that used to be almost universal and which once coordinated communities and societies. 

They (perhaps) do not (like most people) feel themselves to be wholly alienated individuals; essentially detached from other men, and from The World and Nature. Because they experience themselves (implicitly) as part of Life; they continue to fulfil their roles in the scheme - regardless of incentives.  

If so; this cannot last. The irreversible trend for several generations of adults; has been a dwindling to extinction of such unconscious, instinctive communality and service. 

We therefore cannot rely upon the dwindling stocks of 'real workers' to sustain civilization. In the first place, they will not be allowed to: the target is painted on them, and the missiles are flying. 

(Just consider how quickly the ethos of courageous service in a good cause has been crushed in the US and UK police or military - where it is now essentially illegal to be a good cop/ soldier; just as, much earlier, it was made impossible to be a good scientist or a good teacher.) 

The only sustainable positive development will be for individuals to become aware of the needs of the community, and the powers of evil that work to crush it. 

And then, in face of this, such people will need to make a conscious choice to know and repudiate evil, and instead seek Good - so far as they are able. 

The age of unconscious, automatic, common-sense Good-ness is past; and unless people come to recognize purposive evil explicitly, to discern the root of Good in God, and to ally with God and divine creation; then evil will be unopposed - and entropy will lead to chaos.   


Jacob Gittes said...

Dr. Charlton:
Insightful stuff.
I'm one of those workers - running the IT systems for a unit of local gov't.
I enjoy it more than the corporate jobs I had in the past, despite the lower pay, because I feel that these systems I keep going are mine and that they are important to the community. Which they are. I think a lot of the motivation is a sense of ownership. Admittedly, that's a rather personal and almost selfish motivation.

Recently, I've had to actively disobey the "rules" or orders from above, because such orders would actively interfere with my desire to keep the systems goings. It's amazing how so many or most of those I deal with in the hierarchy seem to care more about evading responsibility and agency, and instead mainly care about "covering their rear ends." Such attitudes and orders anger me. I'm trying to be stoic, though, and simply pretend such things are ghosts. To be ignored.

However, I notice a severe reduction in motivation and morale among some my peers, due to imposition of more bureaucracy. It's quite concerning.
Your essay here is important. I shall reread and internalize. I have made efforts to try to motivate the peers I like, however, with more spiritual and metaphysical ideas. It seems to be hard to light that inner spark, however.

Jacob Gittes said...

I also like your insight that much of what systems and orgs are doing is actively negative or neutral, and thus their increasing ineffectiveness may not be negative, or even positive. I hadn't though to that.
What I do notice is that whenever the bureaucracy does get its hands involved, it is negative.
E.g., libertarianism or anarchy are far preferable to the system controlling people.

Epimetheus said...

People are just keeping calm and carrying on in some respect. "Get out of bed in the morning and go to work." It's over when some critical mass of people are unable to hold themselves together long enough to get through the workday.

Rohan said...

I work in software development and I work hard every day to write great code. Most people around me have it easy and mostly report or manage other people's work like myself.

What keeps me highly productive is Jesus's words that your father in heaven sees what you do in private. My work is a tribute to the God who bestowed talents on to me.

If I wasn't Christian, I would probably be like the others trying to scam the system or do the minimum to get by.

Kathleen said...

Things continue until they are no longer able to, for whatever reason. We never know the tipping point until it’s passed. It might be some physics problem God has designed that we are unaware of. We move on.

Days of Lot said...

What are your thoughts on AI? Seems to me that the elitists would like to replace common sense goodness and honest work with automation, essentially snuffing out creativity and encouraging people to collect universal basic income. As AI advances, I wonder if civilization will collapse more rapidly....

Bruce Charlton said...

@TtL -

Daniel said...

Not sure if my comment will be helpful or even relevant, but here it goes.
I've recently discovered a french physicist and philosopher who takes special interest in the 'science of complex systems'. He talks about our era as one of chaos. Regulating systems do not regulate anything anymore, institutions of power are sclerotic, finance is a void...
The 20th century saw many scientific revolutions: general relativity, quantum mechanics, science of complexity, etc... and still, our institutions are operating under the completely obsolete mechanistic-materialistic model.

The old paradigm is crumbling and a new one is slowly and discreetly taking its place.
Modernity rised by exploiting earth's resources that accumulated of over millions of years, and very near depletion levels. A paradigm that was running constantly after growth, development, increment, quantity. It's strategy: standardization, mechanisation, generalization, propagation. Ît's objective: to serve thy self (humanism: man as measure of all things). Its religion: Progress.
These key-words merely translate a manner of organising and to make reliable the regulation and functioning of a society at a given time.
But, at a given time, since there's always an increase in complexity, the regualting systems that were implemented by a paradigm become useless, indeed completely powerless, to resolve the problems raised by the emerging complexity. This constitutes the end of a paradigm.

Everything, in the human and non-human world is subject to de-regulation. This calls for a new regulatory system, and this, is the responsability of man.
The new paradigm, still too incipient to bear a name, won't be one of abundance and plenty, but one of scarcity, that is, not one in the sense of misery or poverty, but in the sense of moderation and sobriety. Where the previous paradigm was frantically seeking to amass:'more is better', the new one will operate in pursuit of quality:'less but better'.

The old systems don't work anymore, the new systems are still experimental and marginal, hence, they still can't find, or recrute, the much needed talents to operate. This gives us a nice illustration of chaos.

I apologise for such a long comment that if not clarifying, will at least provide a clue.