By Khannea Suntzu
We are now globally in the era that almost nobody has a clue what’s really happening, what we are doing, what we need to do, what is good and what is evil.
This is caused by a tidal wave of memetic engineering. And not even very professional memetic engineering — most of this emerging art I see done in the wild is done with utmost incompetence and lack of forethought. One day’s flimsily adequate shilling attempts turn rogue memes the very next day. As a result the world has become completely saturated with, well… “career lying”.
That’s the most simple explanation of what this article is about.
I was actually trying to go for the biggest punch of punchlines in my title, since this is basicly a sarcastic memetic engineering article. We are in the age of utter confused clueless now. If there are elites out there using strategies of “divide and rule” to do so, they are so damn effective that even they are left utterly confused. In that sense, this article is essentially nothing more than an exploratory brainstorm, or a stream of consciousness that attempts to make sense of this process of “media meme consolidation.” Or an exploration of the barely conscious (or subconscious) narratives of history?
I grew this intense sense of disorientation a few days ago. At the time I was on Reddit, engaging some “Objectivists.” Now mind you, I always labelled myself a “social-libertarian” (yes they do exist) and after this exchange I am not so sure any more. More and more I am starting to get the idea that the whole Libertarian meme-set is not a viable ideology any more on this sinking ship of a planet. It’s like a bunch of people who demand to chop up the lifeboats to use as firewood on the Titanic, “because it’s so damn cold.” I was captivated (and utterly shocked) by the intense tragedy of good versus evil in this online engagement. I had decided a few years I wouldn’t do those senseless online arguments any more — online/forum discussions with people I loathe. This was one one of these painfully oversimplified internet post exchanges that have reduced internet itself to little else than a collective subconscious (or unconscionable) doodle. I was captured (or captivated) into an exchange of wit between myself and some “of these” reddit objectvists.
Frankly I was expressing my intense moral outrage at the whole Objectivist idea, and they genuinely and generously reciprocated. It felt a bit like strolling into a synagogue and laying down a sizeable colonic briquette in front of the Rabbi and taking credit for its gargantuan size and firth. The exchange was pointlessly tragic (as was to be expected), since I exemplified pure moral malignancy from their frame of reference whereas — as far as I can see — I myself clearly argued that they, in turn, exemplified unadulterated Satanic moral evil from my frame of reference.
In this undocumented and soon to be forgotten sparring match I deeply alienated a few ‘anonymous” Objectivist, poor souls who now have grown even more embittered over the deeply depraved character of collectivist statism and who are now even more militant about just how wrong socialism (and taxes) are. And I rubbed the Briquette in for good measure, to a degree these patient people took it upon themselves to sincerely want me dead. Look it up; I feel ashamed about the misadventure already.
But debates such as these do raise an interesting problem. Internet itself has now become a very powerful device for propaganda, demonization, protest and engagements of the kind that mere years ago would have no doubt resulted in mutually assured knifings. We are all collectively playing with fire here. If we went out and said the things we say online; expressed the opinions we all hold so dear online — face to face — we’d end up attacked or worse.
Take for instance the pervasive tribally-opposed nature of Rightism versus Leftism in society that stems back decades. The kind of angry ranting associated with left-versus-right had been pervasive in the USSR as well (yet could not be enjoyed as widely lest you end up in a Gulag). We can safely conclude that former political powers in the equally former USSR were utterly blindsided by the relatively tsunamic appearance of modern communication media (faxes at the time I believe!) and as a result the the titanic statist and Stalinist systems of the Soviet Union is no longer and was replaced by allegedly better alternatives of feedback arbitration mechanisms for determining right from wrong.
When people got a chance to vent their ideas, the very notion of freedom of expression (the mere ubiquity of faxes, durrrrrrrrr) contributed to the collapse of an alre,ady weakened USSR.
Think about that for a second and try reduce the mechanism to its most coarse abstractions inside your head. You couldn’t say these things. Then bam suddenly technology allowed people to say them, and states started collapsing. And now, 20 years later, everyone is saying considerably more radical things. All the time.
History has consistently been about “rule by fashionable excess,” not about picking the best system. Those who have always been in charge used their power to disallow debate, and then wallow in excess. When I say “fashionable excess,” I mean the particular culture and commercial apparatus that can be enforced by the bullies du jour. Unsurprisingly, what the elites then decided was fashionable turned out to quickly gravitate towards degeneracy as well. And the majority of people could stomach that only for as long as their complaining was not mutually reinforced, respectively balanced out by force. In other words — if normal people start to bitch about the excesses of the elites, and the elites can’t keep up with repressive force, then before long the system collapses. Bitching is like a virus — it is infective.
Consequently, over the last few hundred years, history took a sequence of decidedly contrary and revolutionary turns. Complaining about our rulers flared up so increasingly fast our rulers had increasing trouble keeping up. One might even see a climax to this historcial trajectory, if one were inclined to see climaxes everywhere (if all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail, right?). So I’d eagerly speculate that recently (centuries) history has been pervasively shaped by contrary or revolutionary movements and by the ability to disagree and by the ability to convince normally passive people that something is really wrong and the shit needs to change.
A persistent revolutionary mechanism is novel in the greater flow of history, when compared to the countless millennia and most of terrestrial human history before. I’d even suggest it was something that started in Europe, if I may be so bold. It can almost qualify it as a “mutagen”.
If I am to suggest an escalatory (or saturative?) end point in historical evolutionary discourse it would please Francis Fukuyama. I agree with the guy there is an escalatory, conflagrational course of evolution in history, but current capitalist democracy sure isn’t it. Things are progressing towards a culmination, or an Omega state if you will, but I am not in agreement with Fukuyama that there is one determinist end-state, or that we are anywhere near that end-state.
So, let’s conclude that recent history has been the result of the majority of people who “fucking wouldn’t take it any more,” pardon my French (which is a more than subtle hint towards the French revolution). Recent human progress has been inalienably the result of dissent. In this same French revolution we see the birth of some kind of modernity, with all its completely new horrendous mistakes, after the vast majorities decided they had enough of the extravagant excessive wrongs of a formerly ultradysfunctional monarchy. And say what one would of the horrors of Revolutionary France, or any revolutionary era thereafter, generally there is a lot of progress in equal measure with the rampant bloodshed of these eras.
Oh right… yeah we are in such a convulsively conceptive era right now. I am absolutely sure a lot of entitlement-drenched Objectivists really don’t like this what I am conceiving here because they might end upt serving as the proverbial placenta. In upcoming essays in the next few weeks, I will be throwing the term “Versailles-Syndrome” around a lot, like spaghetti al dente, “to see if any sticks.” I think a lot of my use of the term will hold water, because a lot of people in the tech- (and income-) entitled communities are scared shitless about losing out on their fat post-dot com pay-checks in this new era of management software.
So let’s back up a little. In the transition from the middle ages towards enlightenment, we had this extremely slow and grinding back-and-forth dialogue where humanity unshackled itself from tyrants; from aforementioned feudal control by using a mechanism of rebellion, capitalization, education, scientific education and whatnot. Robin Hood… for all you fanboys. In essence, “we” as humans developed tools that allowed us to manage society better than earlier hereditary feudal tyrants, by using brand new and unprecedented decision making tools. I am certain that previous decisionmaker- in-chief were none to pleased about this progress, since they lost out in the historical discourse to what they’d qualify as “troublemakers” (read – the occupy movement). The medieval kings were probably not much dissimilarly outraged when upstart city folk and stray knighthoods weighed in to challenge such fine practices such as prima noctis and exclusive taxes.
In essence, the feudal lords were the Randian Heros and Objectivists of their age, and I bet they were royally miffed. But the accumulated power and affluence did affectively serve as a nutritional reserve for the emerging new orders. When the Tzars were replaced, the obscene wealth of the Tzars fueled the revolutions. When Versailles was sacked, the wealth of Louis financed a new boom and quite a bit of experimentation and change. That’s what I mean when I say placenta. Ha ha.
There have been a number of more recent transitional societal phase shifts, some discrete, others a lot less so. I think the most self-evident one was the one that involved industrialization. This one had a considerable new population of winners and losers, and I’d have the courage of stating that many of the new Nouveau-riche winners of the industrial age were of a decidedly Transatlantic lineage.
We are now in an age of fresh new renegotiation. But unlike the last big one (Communism), there is absolutely no clear unambiguous elite in sight that can serve as cream of the crop (r new “ersatz overlord caste” if you prefer that terms.) Over the last few decades we have seen a sequence of convulsive new iterative cycles of mass protests not necessarily based on irreconcilable necessity. We (especially in the western world) are all fed now. We shouldn’t whine. We all have food. We all have televisions. Well I don’t, but that’s beside the point; I have a PC and internet. Most have washing machines and houses and supermarkets. Talking with Peter Diamandis, we are all “so frigging rich” we should count ourselves lucky on all that Cake (gratuitous Versailles-Syndrome teaser) and shut the hell up.
To the Libertarian crowd out there (and yes there is an overlap with the hyper-entitlement crack-puppies of Libertarianism – the Objectivists) we are all so spoiled rotten the vast majorities of welfare receiving bloated losers in modernity “deserves to die”.
I am not exaggerating here; it’s the new privatized form of endlosung. (Entlosering?) There’s no surprise here. I have openly exaggerated and declared the centralization of capital as the next likely source for existential risk in the twenty-first century. The way money is inflating this may turn out be a physical risk… people being crushed under piles of dollars toppling over and falling on them.
Quick someone warn Goldman Sachs so they can go short on avalanche insurances.
No, seriously my point is there is no winner in the new age, and that is scaring ‘the powers that be’ stiff. ‘The powers that be’ have been mostly middlemen the last few centuries; financiers, bankers, bureaucrats, brokers, etc. The people that always stay in charge.
These people don’t take risks. They flatter, they facilitate, they finance, they shill and they gossip.
In the old days, governance was based on passing the torch of authority on to the next guy. There are a lot of proverbs based on that mechanism. The idea is that we evolved mechanisms of the transitioning of power in periods of revolutionary change, because the alternative – anarchy – has become unacceptable. There are too many middlemen, with their livelihoods depending on the process of divide and rule, backstab, shill, betray, flatter, facilitate, lie, exaggerate, demonize, etc.
Everyone now assumes there has to be a clerical or monastic institution of ecclesiastic accountancy that bestows some final transitional (or interstitional) absolution and places the crown on the Victor. This is the shadow estate. The tragedy is that in the newly emerging era, with the free-for-all paradign with the Intertubes and all, there is no need for such adjudication left. Anyone can now make any statement, and all these statements are now heard and recorded by everyone. The middle people are outraged because they are now openly mocked. Reddit is overflowing with unbridled accusation on how deviously corrupt Goldman Sachs is.
Even very compelling yet awful statements are heard, or worse — really good yet very politically inexpedient ideas are emerging — like wildfire, faster than authorities can stamp them out. This might get them in trouble before long…
One wonders why there is this new panicked urgency about contriving control mechanisms, post haste, to shackle the relative freedoms of the internet. We have seen a barrage of spasmodic ACTAs, SOPAs, CISPAs — all haphazardly flung like spaghetti al dente — vain attempts to see what sticks. This is the pure panic of a system that has no clue where to begin to put out all the forest fires.
Let me summarize all this for those who doesn’t understand yet where it is all headed.
In the past we had revolutions, and in those days people could not make heads or tails from these revolutions. In hindsight we could and we can, since we have precisely that… hindsight. The present makes no sense. It never does. Nobody has any understanding on the present. We only understand reality as it existed a decade ago, at best, and only after a ponderously slow process of creating a narrative. This narrative is just that — a construct, and it is nowhere near complete, but it is a flimsy collaborative tale to make sense of historical reality where people are all dead or becoming inconsequentially old, and where things have stopped mattering. The past is where we are starting to put things finally behind us.
Except no more. We have now come at The new crisis of narratives. One the one hand we are starting to make sense of events ever faster, (or at the very least are forced to make sense faster). We must have adequate policies now because we all live in an increasingly dynamic world. Yet most of the most necessary policies are effectively so unpopular nobody dares argue for them, because at the other extreme, rich people are throwing millions into arguing against them. The world has degenerated in to memetic trench warfare. Which is just another term for lying back and forth.
Maybe we could have evolved adequate policy in cycles every few decades earlier in the 20th century. These days the required feedback cycle between event and new trend is barely a few months. Take for instance “global warming.” If the idea of global warming has any merit, then we need to act, now. The problem is that any such action would destroy globalization and capitalism as it exists today, totally. So what to the “deniers” do, to at least perpetuate a trillion-dollar industry for a few other years? That’s right, they shill. There is too much money involved in keeping the world as it is, for at least a few more years. I mean, there are billionaires out there with mortgages. Not yet! Chomsky would call it “the manufacture of consent.”. This whole manufacture of consent is a very critical part of the Conservation of opinion.
And now there is internet throwing a sabot in the machine of memetics.
We now face a crisis where unmitigated incompetents like myself can vent their Dunning-Kruger at the world and actually have a(t least some) chance (a few) people will listen. And while these people are listening, they listen less to the world’s leaders. And this is the real catastrophe. We now inhabit a world saturated by so much opinion and ideas that a lot of it, like spaghetti al dente, does stick.