Thursday, February 6, 2014

The Politics Of: The Dark Enlightenment

The Dark Enlightenment Is ... Curvy
What the heck is the Dark Enlightenment? You should read that link. The description there is great--but if you're click-averse ...The Dark Enlightenment the self-named philosophical and political framework of a group of bloggers and thought leaders that has locusts around these principles:
  • The Cathedral is a secular religious institution that runs all / almost all western culture. It is built on the foundations of academia and rises up into the media (who are all university educated, after all). In a Democracy, the media basically "is the government" as it tells people how to vote by framing / explaining all the issues). The tenants of The Cathedral become unquestioned progressive dogma. Tags: Tags: (Mainstream Media Liberal Biasacademic liberal biasno such thing as a liberal bias)
  • Traditional gender roles are good for society. Modernity is ruining this and leading to decline. Same with moral (religious) virtues. Tags: (Red PillPUA)
So basically? Progressiveness has won--democracy, which was never really a good idea anyway, is too poisoned to continue, and the only sane way forward is Escape From New York (where New York is modern western progressive civilization). A benevolent enlightened monarchy might be a good next stop. Especially if men are real men there, women are real women, and minorities are distinctly in the minority--except maybe Asians).

There is a great deal more philosophical thought here--and a lot more nuance than a short summary can manage (plus, probably, internal disagreements)--but these are the basics. Let's do the politics!

The Psychology of the Dark Enlightenment
We need to start with the psychology before we can do the politics. This is because (a) all politics are personal (meaning that significant political action is driven by internal emotional needs) and (b) understanding of political phenomena is done by not only examining facts communicated but also, necessarily, the message and messengers (who all carry bias).

Let's do a test: assuming you watched the Super Bowl last weekend, pick the moment when you saw the football sail past Manning's head. Recall where you were at the time--the smell of the bar-b-que?  The sofa you sat on? Or maybe you were standing with a beer in your hand? Do you remember the glow of the wide-screen TV? You just more or less made all of that up. Our memories suck. That doesn't mean you were wrong about where you were--but mostly what you likely remember was the unusual football event. Maybe you were standing--maybe sitting--but there is a decent chance your brain just made all that up when you went to the recall subroutines. The surrounding "facts" like the smell of the food are conjured into existence by suggestion: if you were inside the house, maybe you couldn't smell anything?

The reason memories seem very accurate is that they're happening inside our heads. Our experience of memories is that they are accurate until some reality-based test tells you they're not.

You're nodding along. What? You already knew this?

Odds are, by self-selecting to read this blog? You did.

Let's do learning.

How You Think It Works
How It Really Works

Because analysis of new information is happening inside your head you are subject to all kinds of confirmation biases, blind-spots, biological imperatives, and so on. In fact, the whole Less Wrong part of the equation is supposed to help with this--but it can't, not really. We are still biological machines and what makes a blind spot a blind spot is that you can't see that you can't see it (it isn't a "dark spot").

For example, the principle that your beliefs should "pay rent" in terms of being validated by anticipated experiences (given example: Earth's gravity is 9.8 meters per second per second) is all well and good except that my reason for believing exactly that is that I was told it by physics instruction. I haven't tested it--certainly not under many conditions (do things fall slower on a very hot day? The instructor never tested that)--and in daily life my belief is that things fall down (and pretty fast)--not that they achieve a certain exact velocity.

I mean, I believe it--but I believe it based on being told it by a physics teacher. If I tested it and the results were 9.7 meters per second-squared I'd conclude my testing was off. So would you. That belief isn't paying me any rent at all and that's their example.

I think the principle of everything being testable is really about arguing with the magical sky-fairy crowd.

This example is a minor divergence. The main point is that on the whole, the people who are susceptible to the message of the Dark Enlightenment--as with every other political or philosophical message--are so because it meets some need in them. Then they (we) use their (our) intellect to rationalize it into their (my) world view.

The Gnosis Of The Dark Enlightenment
Each fragment of the Dark Enlightenment is a sort of fractal / holographic image of the whole. Each piece is based on the same appeal: There is a Truth I Can See That Others Cannot. For example:

  • Seeing not only the liberal media bias but the conservative media bias that acts as a willing accomplice / counter-agent.
  • Seeing the 'uncomfortable' / 'taboo' truth about gender and racial essentialism.
  • Seeing the economic future in a Cassandra-like fashion (other people are cursed to reject your insight).
There is a reason that the Men's Rights Movement uses the term The Red Pill--taken from the movie The Matrix--which, when you ingest it "wakes you up" to both the real nature of the universe (you live in a simulation) and the tyranny of the machines.

Each of the parts of the Dark Enlightenment contain a 'secret' (they would say 'obvious') Truth that others are blind (or blind themselves) to. Summed together, the Dark Enlightenment sees the world as it really is.

This does not mean that individual facts--or, indeed, even entire collections of facts--cannot be true. The issue is not whether individual facts are true or even large masses of them. It does not mean "hidden" or "secret" facts are not true. After all, Pythagoras* and Galileo** both believed secret or taboo knowledge that turned out to be right. It means this:
  1. Any belief that makes you special (racial or gender essentialism where you are the privileged race / gender in your estimation) is a yellow flag. Be especially critical of it. This can be true even if it is an 'awful belief' that makes you a hard-man staring into the face of a 'hard, uncomfortable truth.'
  2. If the belief explains why you haven't gotten your due in life because the Man, the Illuminati, the Patriarchy, the Cathedral, or whatever is holding you back? That's a nuclear-grade waving red flag which may appear purple due to blue Cherenkov radiation coming off of it.
This brings us to ...

The Politics of the Dark Enlightenment
The Dark Enlightenment is right--far right. They're so far right they've burned through Tea Party and gone off the cliff into the void of no-clear-solutions. To be more specific:
  1. The GOP must be destroyed: It is the Cathedral's first aid kit. Conservatism is the Washington Generals to progressiveness's Harlem Globetrotters
  2. Change will require a coup. Ron Paul is not enough. Libertarians are not enough.
  3. Oh, and race-relations and gender relations are maybe irreparably damaged.
The end-state is something like a mass of small nation-states where you have only the right to leave (exit) and no vote (voice). 

The Plan To Get There
To reach this enlightened state there is, actually, a plan. I suppose there are several. I don't count an oppoturnist "take advantage of the collapse" as a plan per-se but I bet a lot of people are hoping for thinking it. No, the closest I found to a plan is this:
If this analysis is accurate, Washcorp can be defeated by the following steps:
One: construct an information source more accurate than Washcorp's official organs.
Two: there is no two. If the argument above is correct, the rest will happen on its own.
Yes, that's right: the solution to the dissolution of the United States Government is a slightly better Wikipedia. The idea being that, in the harsh light of un-manipulated truth, the Cathedral will collapse. By his estimates, Wikipedia is about .2% politically manipulated falsehood. Fix that and the writing, it is on the wall.

Collecting Underpants
Anyone with passing pop-culture familiarity knows the South Park reference where mysterious "Underpants Gnomes" have a plan to get rich:
  1. Collect Underpants
  2. ???
  3. Profit
The point here is that when you are trying to get from Here to There, a semblance of a plan isn't really a plan at all. I compare the Dark Enlightenment position to that of (at least some) Radical Feminism: if you define consensual, hetero, vanilla sex as literally abusive rape (declaring in the world of the patriarchy there is no more consent than, say, between a prisoner and a guard) then you have painted yourself into a corner.

However right you are about your starting proposals (even if you are 100% right) there is simply no reasonable end-game. In short, the mission begins launch on a trajectory headed for failure. Without an All-Men-Die-Off scenario or some kind of "global awakening" there's just no path that reaches the end-state goals that doesn't rely on magic: Humanity has to give up on sex as we know it.

The Dark Enlightenment's position isn't that bad--but, as they've pointed out, what happens if, say, America breaks up into small sovereign sates and, say, Mexico doesn't? Or China--or Russia? It kind of all has to happen at once or the larger states will devour the smaller ones.

The idea that we're on a glide-path to collapse is okay too--but isn't ... I dunno ... Canada (higher per-capita income), or Sweden (higher general standard of living) further down that path than we are? If it's always darkest just before it goes pitch black, does that mean we're still on the upward climbing path?

I'm not sure.

The problem with the Dark Enlightenment is not, per se, in their collection of facts--nor even in their basic allotment of principles. I may or may not agree that "Traditional gender roles are a good idea"--but I'm fine with people holding that view. It does seem to work for a lot of people as far as I can see. 

The problem is that the collection of ideas is has the emotional driver--an innate sales pitch--of being a Gnostic Truth. That's its emotional appeal and the idea that the possessor is more clear-eyed and possesses a kind of secret or taboo knowledge / perspective is so tightly wound into their philosophy that anything beyond it must be way, way wrong.

It's classic Back-and-White thinking. As such, the excluded middle (compromise positions, muddling through, etc.) is what's necessarily missing. It's incompatible with the Gnostic nature the factiods are cut with. That middle-ground is the missing '???' in their equation.

* Notably, Pythagoras' beliefs were AWESOME for doing trigonometry. You can take great comfort in the fact that they were proven 100% correct. Consider though, that they were proven 0% correct in describing and controlling a mystical universe ... which is what he thought killing people over the existence of the dodecahedron was worth. There miiiiight be a lesson in there.
** Notable, Galileo was 100% right about the heilocentric solar-system. A close analysis shows that this fact was not so much taboo as his intent on power-struggle with the Catholic church got him into hot water. There miiiiight be a lesson in there somewhere.


  1. Minor quibble: Čerenkov radiation is often misidentified as the source of the blue glow from radioactive materials. While it is undeniably the cause of that glow under water (e.g. in nuclear reactors' spent-fuel pools), there's almost no chance you'd ever observe it in air, due to air's much lower index of refraction. When that scary glow is seen in air, due to particle beams, particularly powerful radioisotopes, criticality accidents, etc - it's the glow of ionized air, not Čerenkov radiation. For people who care about these things:

    Minor physics quibble aside, it's still a good metaphor. And the DE partisans seem to me to be spouting a bunch of pure weapons-grade balonium. Mostly discredited too, but hey, who needs facts when you've got a one-size-fits-all political agenda to Explain Everything?

    Didn't work for the Fascists 80 years ago; won't work now. Keep collecting those underpants, guys, and let me know when you've got step 2 worked out.

  2. So I just read Mencius' proposal for Revipedia and it's worse than you say: He doesn't want a better Wikipedia. He wants a better Redditpedia where everything is decided by debating it with more weight given to posters with a superior reputation score.

    It's like the guy who fixes bikes for a living being presented with a sick horse, and his first suggestion is "Well first, we have to disconnect the rear wheel and remove the gears from the chain."