Evolving monsters through natural selection

July 23, 2017 § 20 Comments

People are generally quite sincere in their beliefs, and mostly tend to tell you what they actually think. Really.

Keeping secrets is actually rather difficult; and in any case if there is one thing which unites all of modernity it is the universal conceit that our opinions on all manner of things – especially those about which we are entirely ignorant – are really, really important. Furthermore when people publicly and en masse express certain beliefs this creates a tendency for these masses of people to act as though those beliefs are true.

So if you want to know what modern people sincerely think, or at least what you can assume that they think (because they are going to act as though they sincerely think what they say they think), just listen to what folks actually say and watch what they actually do.

In the modern first world liberalism[1] constitutes the invisible background assumption of almost all politics.  There is generally no need to even talk about liberalism per se: liberalism is assumed to be the default commitment of all fully human individuals.  Only despicably evil subhumans with debilitating psychological problems actually call liberalism itself into question.

Because liberalism can ultimately mean whatever one wants it to mean, liberals who have sincere beliefs – personal interpretations of liberalism – which happen to bring more power into the hands of people with their specific beliefs, tend to make the faction espousing their specific beliefs more powerful. The dynamic is perfectly explicable as natural selection of powerful forms of liberalism.

The postulate that liberals lie about their own beliefs in order to gain power is entirely unnecessary.  All liberals believe that their own faction deserves power, as the proper path to freedom and equality of rights.  In other words, the idea that liberals (and related modern ideologues) are insincere and express their beliefs insincerely as a way to attain power is almost always wrong; or, even worse, is just true enough to prevent anyone from calling liberalism itself into question.

It isn’t that liberals en masse embrace beliefs insincerely in order to gain power. It is that liberals with sincere beliefs which, when treated as true, result in those liberals gaining power, become the ascendant, powerful form of liberalism.

So folks who propose to actually oppose liberalism and all that it has wrought should refrain from accusing liberals of being insincere about their beliefs.  Liberals accusing other liberals of insincerity protects liberalism itself from criticism.  But it doesn’t just protect liberalism from criticism: it also ensures the ascendency and dominance of the strongest, most powerful, most resilient forms of liberalism.


[1] Of course “liberalism” the word is sometimes used by right liberals as an epithet against left liberals.  This use is ironic from my perspective, since liberalism itself is in fact the one thing upon which “conservatives” (right liberals) and left liberals vehemently agree.

§ 20 Responses to Evolving monsters through natural selection

  • Rhetocrates says:

    The problem with this is that, since liberalism is incoherent, in high-stakes personal situations, liberals with sincere beliefs will nevertheless behave as though they don’t fully commit to those beliefs. Examples include high-class people committed to diversity living in all-white neighborhoods, or Soviet officials totally committed to the ascendency of the proletariat nevertheless accruing comfortable offices with pool tables and caviar.

    I don’t think that makes what you said wrong, but we have to be careful about what we mean by sincerity.

  • Zippy says:

    Rhetocrates:

    There are also obvious politician lies, such as the pretense of many Democrats to be opposed to sodomite marriage at one point in time.

    The danger is in the whole “they don’t really or authentically believe in freedom” nonsense. That is just false. They do believe in freedom.

  • LarryDickson says:

    I think your points are valid, Zippy, but there is still an Achilles heel in the liberals’ position (and yes, this includes the other liberals that Americans call “conservatives”). They have convinced themselves that they really believe their party line, but they have to shout louder and louder to do so. Our minds and natures are resilient and keep trying to spring back into the shapes that God gave us. This is accentuated in what Rhetocrates calls “high-stakes personal situations”, often ones involving outcomes for their children.

    It takes more and more effort for liberals to bat away facts that don’t fit, as everyone can see in current political and media rhetoric. The death-blow was actually administered over forty years ago, with Roe v Wade, which enshrined the freedom to kill your own innocent child. That made inevitable the slide toward Stalinism: the “real” liberties are the ones championed by the most powerful. Since then, it has just been the progress from denial to denial squared, to denial cubed, etc . . .

    There is such a thing as human nature. They have to deny that, otherwise it opens the floodgates. There is such a thing as human nature. Their only option is to try to shut up everyone who points that out.

  • Attila the Hun and Gengiz Kahn were no liberals and yet each was capable of mass murder. Neither had a principle except the principle of the raw authority of physical force. It’s easy not to commit an unprincipled exception when one has no real moral principles except raw authority. But no one would (if they were being honest) want to live in such a world.

  • Rhetocrates says:

    Water can flood my house. This clearly means I should not at all be concerned about the potential effects of an open flame.

    Snark aside, I think I can illustrate one way this commitment to unreality works, without using anything politically sensitive.

    Most people love their dogs. Many of these will indulge in some kind of hyperbole – calling them family, or in extreme cases something like ‘furbabies’. These folks will insist their dogs are to them just like any other member of the family.

    Yet, clearly, they’re not just like any other member of the family to these people. These folks may be willing to spend large amounts of money on a dog’s medical bills, but not as much as they would on their children. They may spoil their dogs, but they don’t expect their dogs to sleep in human beds, or learn to speak and write, or grow up to take care of them in their old age.

    Nevertheless, they go around telling others and themselves that the dog is just another member of the family. Often-times it’s one of the first things you hear when you come over to their homes. And if you call them on it, if you say something like, “Right, of course, but we both know he’s really just a dog,” some of them can get seriously offended at you.

    Now, think about their children. Imagine if their children heard and saw such behaviour every day for their whole growing lives. Those children might very well grow to more-than-half-believe these lies about dogs, especially if all the dogs of their acquaintance are well-behaved pets of upper-middle-class suburbanites. True, they still won’t expect said dogs to go to colleges, but they’ll find the idea of treating a dog like a human in other respects less strange, less wrong. They are likely even to go further than their parents.

    Thus we see the march of progress across generations.

  • Zippy says:

    Attila the Hun killed a lot of people; it follows that criticism of nazism and other mass murdering ideologies is invalid.

  • Terry Morris says:

    Attila the Hun killed a lot of people; it follows that criticism of nazism and other mass murdering ideologies is invalid.

    Also, the only alternative to “raw authority” is the murderous ideology of liberalism. If “freedom” means we put the right kinds of people in prison, it also means we mass murder the right kinds of people at any given moment in history. Although we might attempt to make them less than fully human and therefore fair game.

  • Zippy says:

    Terry Morris:

    Liberals don’t mass murder real human beings. They only ever kill subhumans. They dispose of blobs of tissue, starve formerly-human vegetables to death, euthanize old and disabled people who would choose death with dignity if only they had their full faculties, etc etc.

    Well, and they might bomb a few civilian populations into oblivion here and there. But only when it is really necessary, and always accompanied by a long face not parades and confetti.

    This is nothing like the nazi attitude toward human beings the nazis considered existential enemies or less than fully human.

  • Rhetocrates says:

    Whoa, whoa, Zippy: are you implying that Nazis are somehow not liberal? ’cause you and I gotta part ways there, man. I just ain’t willin’ to smoke that pipe.

    And really, modern liberal democracies very rarely bomb populations into oblivion. These days they much prefer to pay screaming genocidal barbarians to do it for them. This has the unlooked-for benefit of not only terrifying the target population, but also terrifying their own, which works as an ever-greater reason for ever-more funding of screaming genocidal barbarians, all the while not putting bombs in the hands of men and women committed to ever-so-slightly different liberalisms.

  • Zippy says:

    Rhetocrates:

    Whoa, whoa, Zippy: are you implying that Nazis are somehow not liberal?

    Just because National Socialism was committed to freedom and absolute equality of rights among the formerly oppressed and now emancipated herrenvolk, that doesn’t make it a form of liberalism. Unlike people who really mean it when they profess the end of tyranny and political freedom and equality for the oppressed, the nazis were really bad.

  • donnie says:

    And really, modern liberal democracies very rarely bomb populations into oblivion. These days they much prefer to pay screaming genocidal barbarians to do it for them.

    Perhaps a fair summary of the Obama / Kerry approach to arming “moderate Syrian rebels”, but you’re forgetting the US’s never-ending bombing campaigns in places like Pakistan, Somalia, Afghanistan, and Libya. Oh, and don’t forget all the aid we’ve been providing to Saudi Arabia in their barbaric war against Yemen.

    Really, it’s a bit of a stretch to argue that liberal democracies rarely bomb people into oblivion anymore.

  • Ian says:

    Good post.

    Do you think the imputation of bad faith to one’s political opponents has as the same underlying cause that of the imputation of bad faith to Christians who interpret a Scriptural passage differently from one’s own favored interpretation?

    In the latter case, positivism seems to be the culprit, or at least something that exacerbates the tendency. Not sure about the former case.

  • Zippy says:

    Ian:

    Very generally speaking I think it has to do with avoiding an uncomfortable aspect of reality; and positivism is certainly one way in which uncomfortable aspects of reality are avoided.

    If the North Koreans or the Nazis or the Communists or SJWs or feminists or rival Protestant sects are sincere in their profession of their beliefs it indicates a deeper problem – at least one layer deeper – than the easy dismissal implied by bad faith.

  • donnie says:

    Winston,

    Attila the Hun and Gengiz Kahn were no liberals and yet each was capable of mass murder. Neither had a principle except the principle of the raw authority of physical force. It’s easy not to commit an unprincipled exception when one has no real moral principles except raw authority. But no one would (if they were being honest) want to live in such a world.

    You keep raising this point and others similar to it, and folks here keep (snarkily) shooting it down. But you keep bringing it up again, so I’m curious, why do you think these kinds of facts are relevant?

    Your point, near as I can tell, seems to be that if we acknowledge liberalism to be as terrible as it truly is, and repent of it, we might wind up with something even more terrible, like the tyranny of the Huns or the Mongols. Indeed, we might. Of course, we might just as easily have rulers as just and magnanimous as St. Louis IX or St. Ferdinand III. Speculating as to what might happen once liberalism is finally swept away into the dustbin of history goes both ways.

    The notion that, no matter how terrible liberalism might be, it is still not as terrible as the risk of dispensing with it, reminds me of a C.S. Lewis quote:

    Monarchy can easily be debunked, but watch the faces, mark well the debunkers. These are the men whose taproot in Eden has been cut: whom no rumour of the polyphony, the dance, can reach—men to whom pebbles laid in a row are more beautiful than an arch. Yet even if they desire mere equality they cannot reach it. Where men are forbidden to honour a king they honour millionaires, athletes or film stars instead: even famous prostitutes or gangsters. For spiritual nature, like bodily nature, will be served; deny it food and it will gobble poison.

  • […] the saying actually means is that the house wins just a little bit on average; and that winning-a-little-bit-on-average is good enough to assure its long term triumph: the long […]

  • Rhetocrates says:

    donnie:

    You’re stuck in the past. Get with the Current Year, man.

  • glosoli says:

    Would the invention of purgatory be considered liberal?

    Heaven or hell, really, it’s too limited a choice.
    Surely sinners need the option of somehow finding redemption and grace AFTER they’ve died?

    Given that it was an invention of men seeking to grow their *business* of the church, and take in huge sums in ‘escape fees’, and that Catholics paid up in their droves, and still like the escape route it offers, I’d say it’s on the liberal side of the spectrum.

    I mean, actually going to hell, even after a life of sin, is so authoritarian and just plain unfair. Equal opportunities for all, hell is only for suckers (and Protestants).

  • Zippy says:

    glosoli:

    Surely sinners need the option of somehow finding redemption and grace AFTER they’ve died?

    The fun thing about your whole approach is that you don’t even have any clue what you don’t know. It gives me a warm and indulgent feeling, like talking to an eight year old lecturing a circle of grownups about his latest obsessions.

    However, when you comment under a particular post your comment should actually have something to do with the subject of the post. This isn’t the kind of place where every commenter gets to fill every combox with their personal obsessions independent of any relation to the actual subject of the post.

    Your compulsion to pee on every hydrant notwithstanding, and even considering my general leniency in moderating comments, I’ll delete yours summarily in particular threads when they have no discernible relation to the actual subject.

  • glosoli says:

    That’s fair enough, I won’t do it again.

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