3. Another major factor is that they’re holiness spiraling.
4. What we haven’t seen yet, but may start to see soon, is the haute left fighting each other. Leftists know they can’t trust each other, so highly-positioned leftists will be very tempted to sort some factional stuff out now, in case they actually win against Trump. The internal power struggle has very high stakes, since lefties know they’ll kill each other for power, as they always have done for the last century. Indeed, they’ve been doing it since the French Revolution of the late 1700s, which is the origin of the saying “The Revolution eats its children.”
It all adds up to exactly what one would expect it to add up to: Increasing violence in general, and an amount of left-on-left violence in particular that must be surprising to someone who doesn’t know the history of the left.
Why not just work together? Remember, the entire point of leftism is betrayal of the broader group. And this is a personality type, not an ideology. Individual leftists don’t cooperate with broader leftism any more than they cooperate with the broader nation. (Leftist ideologies are just tacked-on epiphenomena that are invented to justify betrayal and smash-and-grab. No one believes the ideologies, least of all leftists.)
This is why leftism is most effective when it doesn’t require individual leftists to sacrifice for the leftist common goals. For example, leftist media narratives are pretty consistent across newspapers and networks because it doesn’t cost an individual leftist “journalist” anything to coordinate with other leftists.
Leftists are dangerous to everyone, but at least as dangerous to each other, especially once there is something big at stake like dictatorial power. Betrayers can’t work together.
If you’re an “elite” leftist, why not just exit the situation? Why not just quit politics, announce through channels to your fellow powerful leftists that you’re quitting politics, and move to another country to retire? That won’t work for at least two reasons:
(1) Your fellow leftists won’t believe that you’re quitting, because all leftists are liars and all leftists know that all leftists are liars. A false quitting announcement is exactly the sort of ruse a leftist would use to put his enemies off guard. In fact, Al Gore did exactly this the night of the 2000 presidential election, calling Bush to say he had conceded, while actually assembling his legal team to challenge the outcome while the Bush team was relaxing and celebrating.
(2) Moving to another country provides no safety, since whoever controls the US government reaches everywhere. You probably don’t know what happened to Leon Trotsky after the Soviet Revolution, because the left has decided it’s an inconvenient bit of history and memory-holed it. Short version: Maneuvered out of power by Stalin, Trotsky hopped from country to country, eventually ending up in Mexico. Stalin dispatched an assassin, who found Trotsky and killed him by chopping him through the skull with an ice axe.
Incidents like this are typical in 20th century leftist revolutions. Leftists are constantly riven by factionalism and killing each other. And leftists know it. You may not have known about Trotsky and similar incidents, but hard leftists study revolutions – they know. Their knowing it makes the situation even worse for them: Even if there’s a leftist who has no inclination to murder, he has to, pre-emptively, since he strongly suspects the other leftists will try to murder him. There is no honor among thieves… let alone murderers.
Look at this Reservoir Dogs photo from a previous post of mine:
If you’re in that situation and you know the other guy is a killer, you’d better shoot first.
I originally used that pic to illustrate the situation between Trump and the left. But this is also the situation powerful leftists now find themselves in with respect to each other.
(And Trump has been very good at resisting the left’s attempts to bait him into military action that they can use for propaganda purposes. That is, they are shooting at him, and have been for years, but he has been wearing a bullet-proof vest and dodging their bullets, as their attacks make their true nature obvious to more and more Americans.)
I do not think powerful leftists have started killing each other yet – if so, they’ve kept it out of the news – but they must be heading in that direction. (Update: How could I have forgotten Epstein?!) Antifa attacking the home of the leftist mayor of Olympia Washington, not to mention kicking the Democratic government of Seattle out of Seattle’s capitol area, are just a couple of recent examples. Already each “elite” leftist must be casting suspicious glances at other “elite” leftists around him, wondering who’s going to strike at whom first. “Will I be a target?” he wonders. And maybe starts thinking he’d better strike before he is stricken. Even as you read this, Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and George Soros are wondering about each other…
I’ve gotten sucked back into reading the comments at Jim’s blog. It’s hard to resist since it’s the only community that uses evo psych, game theory, and holiness spirals as standard parts of their analytical toolkit.
Today, a commenter said something really out there:
Some of you guys think we’ll just be teleported instantly from brick-throwing commies and shoe-stealing apes to an ancap paradise of right-wing militias… Even if that’s the endgame – and there’s no guarantee that it is – you’ll have a transitional period that lasts years, maybe decades… In between the inept police departments of today controlled by clown-world genuflecting city officials and the well-regulated militias of the idealist future, you’re apt to get 20 or 50 years of the Red Guard and Khmer Rouge.
20 to 50 years? What the hell!? Uh, no! Given something like the Khmer Rouge, normality is gone instantly and we’re at full-scale, no-one-denies-it civil war.
The current situation is incredibly unstable. It cannot last, for all kinds of reasons, for one thing because the left is desperate, for another thing because they can’t control their thugs, and principally because of the tactical advantage of the first strike.
Trump knows that he either beats them or he gets imprisoned and Epsteined. He can’t back down, not if he wants to live.
And the left won’t back down; that’s not part of the genetically-hard-wired leftist personality profile.
Not to mention the fact that the left’s plan to genocide the Europe-descended population is becoming more explicit all the time: Cf. the graffiti written by rioters, “Kill all white people.” The media isn’t reporting this, but it leaks out anyway. More and more white normies are coming to realize what the left has planned for them.
Normality, meaning politics by something other than widespread violence, is not even going to last 2 years. It would not surprise me to learn that two hours from now, something seismic happens, for good or ill. E.g., the bad guys seizing an Air Force bomber and dropping a bunker buster on the White House, or Trump rounding up the leftist half of the Supreme Court and putting them incommunicado in a holding cell somewhere.
Even low-level, “background noise” civil war is untenable now; these things tend to accelerate.
So let me reiterate my very first post on this blog, from 2016, which was simply a quote from Bertolt Brecht that leapt to mind as I looked at the storm clouds that even then were visible on the horizon:
“Because things are the way they are, they cannot stay the way they are.”
I vaguely recall a blog in which people were debating the role of self-confidence in pickup. (I forget whether it was a Game blog or a “rationalist” blog.) One person in the comments made the well-known point, a la Heartiste, that it’s better to be irrationally self-confident than rationally pessimistic, because with confidence you’ll do better with chicks.
Some doofus disputed this, saying it’s not good, because then “you’ll have beliefs that are demonstrably false.” Who cares, doofus? I’d rather have the false belief that I’ll score with 99% of chicks, which self-confidence leads me to score with say 20% of them, than have the belief that I’ll only score with 1%, if that pessimism would be a self-fulfilling prophecy and lead me to score with 1% of them. Or even worse, what if you had the belief that you’d score with zero chicks, and that became a self-fulfilling prophecy?!
The second commenter missed that while having true beliefs is good, there are other things that are also good. Like sex, for example.
Nietzsche: “Knowledge for its own sake”—that is the last snare laid by morality: we are thereby completely entangled in morals once more. The opening sections of Beyond Good and Evil engage with this in more depth. Old Fred was an interesting guy.
I could just stop right there, but I want to springboard from here to make a broader point about beliefs and outcomes. Consider general situations in which beliefs affect reality. For example self-fulfilling prophecies (SFPs) are common in economics, e.g. if enough people think a recession is coming, that can make them freak out and behave in ways— cutting back on consumer spending, laying off workers— that bring on a recession.
You can also have the opposite of an SFP. Example: I hear tell that chicks don’t like wearing the same dress as other chicks. Let’s suppose that every chick who’s going to a certain party tonight believes that lots of other chicks will be wearing a certain off-the-rack dress. Since they hate wearing what other chicks are wearing, none of them wears that dress. So the belief prevents itself from coming true.
In general beliefs can affect reality in ways more complex than self-fulfilling prophecies or self-blocking prophecies.
Here is my main point: In situations in which beliefs matter, it’s not at all obvious that there always even exist equilibrium beliefs, that is, beliefs that are both true and game-theoretically stable.
In math-speak, the item of interest is the mapping between beliefs and reality and the question is, Does that mapping even have a fixed point? That is, are there any beliefs that are self-confirming? It’s far from obvious whether the answer is always Yes.
(In the pickup example, a fixed point would be any SFP about your success rate. E.g. if you think you’ll score with 60% of chicks and that level of confidence causes you to indeed score with 60% of chicks.)
It’s possible that there are kinds of interactions in which any given belief is like the dress belief, in the sense that any particular belief will prevent itself from being true. In this kind of situation, hectoring someone because he has beliefs “which are demonstrably false” is even more idiotic, because it’s not even possible to have beliefs which won’t be demonstrably false!
(In theory an external observer— someone who’s not going to the party, in the dress example— could make correct predictions about the situation, but my focus here is the beliefs of people involved in the situation, e.g. you’re a guy going to a bar to try to pick up a chick and that’s what you’re forming beliefs about. By the way, even an external observer can’t form correct predictions without knowing all participants’ beliefs. That would require reading people’s minds, so no.)
On this claim that equilibrium beliefs may not be possible, people familiar with game theory may say “Ha! Nash’s Theorem, bitch!” But of course Nash’s Theorem makes certain assumptions about the environment, and uses a fixed-point theorem to prove the existence of equilibrium. If the mapping from beliefs to outcomes isn’t continuous, standard fixed point theorems don’t apply so that kind of proof doesn’t work.
(Note to nerdlingers: Nash’s Theorem deals with the continuity problem by letting agents’ moves be chosen probabilistically; this makes the relevant strategy sets continuous. But here, an agent’s “move” is his belief. The beliefs are about probabilities, but the beliefs are not themselves chosen probabilistically. There is a difference between (A) believing that a certain coin has a 0.5 probability of coming up heads, and (B) randomly switching between believing that it has a 100% probability and a 0% probability of coming up heads. If agents change their beliefs randomly, Nash’s Theorem might apply, but that’s not what we mean when we talk about beliefs, and certainly not rational beliefs. Changing your behavior with a random component can be rational, in adversarial games where you don’t want to be predictable, but changing your beliefs at random is not rational.)
The relevant mapping doesn’t even necessarily fill up the entire space. (Nerds: The mapping needn’t even be a surjective, i.e. “onto” mapping.) Indeed, there’s no man in the world who can be guaranteed to score with every woman in the world if he tries. Doesn’t matter if you believe you’ll have a 100% success rate; you won’t. So not all success probabilities are even in the range of the mapping.
“Damn it, Neuropoison; you’re really ass-raping my attention span here!” Okay sugar-tits, look at the pretty picture:
The diagram has the same variable on both axes, probabilities in [0,1]. Thus the entire admissible space is a 1 x 1 square, though I prefer to call it a “2-dimensional hypercube” as that helps me to score with intellectual chicks. Any point on the identity line is a fixed point, a self-confirming belief about the probability of some event. The issue is that the mapping from beliefs to reality is not continuous, so there isn’t a fixed point. That is, there are no self-confirming beliefs.
Just eye-balling it, it looks like if your belief is 100%, the reality is about 60%, and that’s as high as it gets. If this described your F-close rate with chicks, your best belief (if you could choose your beliefs purposefully) would be that you’d score with 100% of chicks you hit on, which would lead to a success rate of 60%. Obviously I just pulled these numbers out of my ass, but the point is, anyone who says, “Your beliefs are demonstrably false” should be given a wedgie for various reasons, among them there are no beliefs which will self-confirm as demonstrably true anyway.
Now that I’ve finished writing this I’m wondering whether it’s mathematically robust. It seems to be, but did I miss something? Is there some way to do a Nash on this and guarantee that everything is actually continuous in the relevant way, thus guaranteeing at least one fixed point? If not, it’s unsettling, as it illustrates that there can be situations in which having correct beliefs is not even theoretically possible.
UPDATE a few days later: It turns out I was right. Nerdlinger explanation: The reason you can’t “do a Nash” on this is that Nash’s theorem applies to game theory, in which all players are best responding to other players’ moves. (From now on I’m going to write playahs because that amuses me.) That is, each playah’s move is his best option given the other playahs’ moves. And “best responding” means optimizing, which (with other features of Nash’s setup) allows the Theorem of the Maximum to be applied. And that theorem implies the continuity of best-response mappings, which in turn implies the existence of at least one fixed point. But here, there is no optimization/best responding. You believe some probability, then cause and effect kicks in and results in some actual probability. There’s no other playah who is choosing the actual probabilities to optimize some goal function. Therefore, nothing prevents the relevant mapping from being discontinuous, so there is not necessarily a fixed point.
Recently at Jim’s blog there was a perceptive comment about approach anxiety and the evolutionary reasons for it. (Surprisingly, this came from the same commenter who made a bizarre comment in my last post, one “Ertz.”) The good comment and Jim’s response are worth quoting at length (some formatting added):
The potential for dating and flirting anxieties/shyness/inhibitions should be evolutionary deeply rooted in men, because it’s a life and death issue:
Successful reproduction is, of course, an existential problem, as the threat of genetic extermination looms large – but men tend to have more than half a century of time to get it done.
I see two immediate threats that must have programmed men’s instincts in the ancestral environment with great caution:
1. Trying to mate with fertile women is guaranteed to arouse the ire of other men – those at the top in hierarchy who claim a monopoly on the women,
and the lower ranked men who are driven by competition/envy.
So, just going publicly for the women and trying to mate with them (just being physically near them may cause aggression – openly or hidden – from other men) is an aggression against the interests of all other men – and met with counter-aggression.
Those guys who just tried to mate openly and publicly and not having inhibitions about it , without having the necessary social status, have probably been driven into extinction directly (killing, injury) or – through the works of envy, social sabotage etc. – indirectly.
Men who fear dating/flirting with women would then not really fear the women or the dating situation, but the revenge of other men.
2. Females’ mate choice copying makes sexually successful men significantly more attractive to women – but the opposite is also true: Sexually unsuccessful men become vastly more unattractive, even sexually disgusting, to women.
(Women’s gossip seems to be a socio-sexual “intelligence agency” that exists to identify sexually successful and loser men by gathering and sharing information about who has had sex with whom, which men failed, who has won and who has lost in competitions etc. – to enable women to mate with the sexually successful men and avoid mating with the losers – and it has to be gossip – sharing of secrets – because sharing this information openly would incite envy and aggression and mate guarding and anti-cuckolding instincts in men.)
If this were not the case, men could just go from woman to woman publicly and ask each one for sex, until one consents. This not happening, it produces a strong emotional inhibition in men – it feels terribly wrong to try it, embarrassing, painful:
Because the sexual attractiveness of a man to all women is diminished with every rejection he suffers that other women learn of (almost guaranteed by the female gossiping instinct), being rejected by just one woman has a terrible cost in fitness for a man with all other women.
All this should result in approach anxiety being programmed into men,
in taking sexual advances very, very seriously, because it is very risky, dangerous, costs-incurring for men to fail.
This might explain why so many men try to spy on their sexual target to learn more about her [Wait, what?], try to engineer an ideal first meeting situation that is somewhat under their control and provides advantage, try to meet the girl not in a public situation but in a one-on-one private one (so others cannot directly observe and spread information about his rejection [if he’s rejected]), to improve the odds for success, try to be slow and indirect about it, delaying a long time before they act.
Jim’s response is worth quoting in full:
The female instinct is to arrange to be socially isolated with her target – preferably in a situation where, in the ancestral environment, he could rape her.
Pulling works, but women want to be pursued. Hitting on a woman demonstrates confidence and high status, and hitting on a woman in public is demonstration of being top alpha. On the other hand women want to be pursued to validate their attractiveness, and being pursued gives her what she wants, and she then loses interest (because in the ancestral environment, if you did not then drag her off to your lair and ravish her, you were obviously not the top alpha.)
Observe cats in operation. The tomcat pulls, by taking a prominent position and yowling, thus demonstrating that no other tomcat can drive him off and he can drive all the other tomcats off. The female then approaches, and then gives the tomcat a hard time This hard time may, and frequently does, escalate to the tomcat violently “raping” her, except that it is not exactly rape type rape, since the female cat clawed her way through the mosquito netting to get to the tomcat, and proceeded to hang out with him.
You have to chase, but you have to get the chick to give you the opportunity to chase, so you have to pull, but you have to pull and chase in a way that does not give her the validation she is hungry for. Don’t give her validation until she does what chicks always want to do, gets on her own with you. Hence “make me a coffee”. You are likely to get more than coffee, but, like the female cat after ripping her way through the mosquito netting, she is going to give you a hard time with the coffee.
If you are worried about other men seeing you approach a chick, you are emitting beta tells. If you are worried about the chick’s rejection, you are not only emitting beta tells, but you are approaching her in a way that gives her validation for free. But, of course, you are rightly worried about these things. If you approach a whole lot of chicks, you are diminishing your status, and handing out a whole lot of free validation.
You will notice, that, as usual, for everything I advise, I also advise the direct opposite. It is complicated, subtle, and not easily expressed in words. There is a narrow path between one error and the opposite error, and it is hard to tell if you are on the path until after you have fallen off the path to one side or the other. But you also have to stroll briskly and confidently along the path.
Jim’s cat example is a good illustration of the non-conscious nature of much female sexual behavior. Cats don’t even have language, let alone Sex Ed class, so it’s not like the female cat knew what was going to happen (if she’s never been mounted) when she clawed through the mosquito netting to get to the tomcat. She doesn’t even know that there is such a thing as sex. At that point she has no idea that such a thing as a penis even exists, and a few minutes later is startled to find this strange organ the male cat has being shoved into her.
Is the female cat’s behavior intended to get her raped? Yes and no. No, if you mean consciously intended by the female cat. Yes, if you mean “intended” by evolution in an adaptive sense.
Question a la mode: When women in western nations vote for political parties that admit a flood of rapey foreigners, do those women vote that way “in order to get raped”?
On another topic, Jim wrote, “You have to chase, but you have to get the chick to give you the opportunity to chase, so you have to pull, but you have to pull and chase in a way that does not give her the validation she is hungry for. Don’t give her validation until she does what chicks always want to do, gets on her own with you.”
This is, indeed, the entire point of Game in a nutshell. Before you know Game you find – at least I did when I was younger – that the female sex largely divides into two camps, those who want you but whom you don’t want, and those whom you want but whom don’t want you. I had chicks want me and even fall in love with me (pats self on back) but somehow by some strange coincidence it was always girls I wasn’t interested in.
No, it’s not some horrific coincidence: The second group doesn’t want you precisely because you want them. Really, it’s a wonder that the human race managed to propagate itself before Game taught men techniques for pursuing without pursuing. (Partly we managed to survive because female mate choice was limited in ways that rendered this Catch-22 less important.) Mystery’s notion is that you should make her think she could have you, maybe, if she works hard enough. Robert Heinlein, in To Sail Beyond the Sunset, put optimal seduction strategy in the mouth of a female character; I’ll reverse the gender of the quote: “My strategy for seducing a woman is to let her chase me, while running away very slowly.”
Circling back to Jim: “You will notice, that, as usual, for everything I advise, I also advise the direct opposite. It is complicated, subtle, and not easily expressed in words.”
Seduction is game theory played against opponents (women) who are utterly ruthless and not entirely aware of their own motives and desires.
Seduction is both an art and a science. It is not like submitting an answer to a math problem in school. It is like stirring fluid in a pot. Boldly approaching a woman is alpha because it shows you’re not afraid of other men getting aggressive with you about it. But it’s also risky, since being blown out hurts your chances with other women. Yet the most alpha thing you can do is act like that doesn’t bother you. And to an extent you can exhort yourself into not being bothered by it, or being bothered less.
Aidan MacLear has said that if you use Game, “you are ghey.” Well… compared to memorizing a bunch of negs, etc., it would be better to get lots of pussy by being the top warlord of your tribe and letting women see you lop off the heads of several enemy men with a sword in combat. That’s what women are adapted for. But given that the modern world doesn’t work that way – and that the vast majority of men aren’t going to be the top warlord – we’re forced to do things differently.
We need a social technology to counter the Left’s social technology of infiltration/entryism. Without a way to block that, it doesn’t matter how successful our Glorious Revolution is, because it will only be a short-run success.
Without a way to defeat entryism, any success we have is written on water.
In The Painted Word Tom Wolfe skewers art theory as it developed during the mid-twentieth century. A notable aspect of the affair was a holiness spiral. Once Theory became hip, if you were an artist or critic your best career move was to hop on the bandwagon. The whole episode is quite amusing – man, the pretentiousness! – and provides good examples of how people behave when they’re caught up in a holiness spiral, optimal strategy for rebels who want to attack it from within, etc.
Wolfe starts his account in the early 20th century, when realism in painting started to fall out of favor (some quotes edited for brevity):
The general theory went as follows: As Cubists and other early Modernists had correctly realized, a painting was not a window through which one could peer into the distance. The three-dimensional effects were sheer illusion (et ergo ersatz). A painting was a flat surface with paint on it.
Since “a painting was a flat surface with paint on it,” it should present itself as such. As the painter Georges Braque said, “The aim is not to reconstitute an anecdotal fact but to constitute a pictorial fact.”
Notice the bizarre notion that realistic effects in painting are somehow deceptive or dishonest. What, does anyone actually think, when viewing a painting, that they’re looking out a window? Does the painter intend to fool them? Is written fiction somehow dishonest because it depicts events that never happened?
The whole thing was stupid. But it became an intellectual craze in the haute art world in the early 20th century, becoming mandatory by the 1940s if you aspired to be a Name in that world. No illusory 3D effects! Flatness was In, baby; Flatness was It.
This business of flatness became quite an issue; an obsession. The question of what an artist or could not do without violating the principle of Flatness—“the integrity of the picture plane,” as it became known—inspired such subtle distinctions, such brilliant if ever-decreasing tighter-turning spirals of logic, that it compares admirably with the most famous of all questions of the Scholastics: “How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?”
What we have here, folks, is the early stage of a holiness spiral. (Later, inevitably, black knighting arose in response, as we’ll see.) The new Flatness theory got serious traction when art critic Clement Greenberg used painter Jackson Pollock to push it:
[Greenberg] used Pollock’s certified success to put over Flatness as the theory—the theoretical breakthrough of Einstein-scale authority—of the entire new wave. “Pollock’s strength,” he would say, “lies in the emphatic surfaces of his pictures… in all that thick, fuliginous flatness… [I had to look up fuliginous. It means dark or sooty, in case you were wondering.] “It is the tension inherent in the constructed, re-created flatness of the surface,” Greenberg would say, “that produces the strength of his art… his concentration on surface texture and tactile qualities.”
One notices certain problems with this, like
It makes no fucking sense,
How can flatness be “thick” or “tactile”?
You slope-browed vulgarian! How dare you question an Art Theorist when he’s working up a good head of steam! You probably went to public school, you slack-jawed commoner!
[A] Washington, D.C. artist named Morris Louis came to New York in 1953 to try to get a line on what was going on in this new wave, and he had some long talks with Greenberg. He went back to Washington and began thinking. Flatness, the man had said. Louis saw the future with great clarity. The very use of thick oil paint itself had been a crime against flatness, a violation of the integrity of the picture plane, all these years. Even in the hands of Picasso, ordinary paint was likely to build up as much as a millimeter or two above mean canvas level! And as for the new Picasso—i.e., Pollock—my God, get out a ruler!
Louis took no chances violating Holy Writ:
So Louis used unprimed canvas and thinned out his paint until it soaked right into the canvas when he brushed it on. He could put a painting on the floor and lie on top of the canvas and cock his eye sideways… He had done it! Nothing existed above or below the picture plane. Did I hear the word flat? Well, try to out-flat this!
A man from Mars or Chesterton, Pa., incidentally, would have looked at a Morris Louis painting and seen rows of rather watery-looking stripes. (The book’s photo of a Louis painting confirms this.)
Now the spiral has acquired serious momentum. A painter named Barnett Newman
spent the last twenty-two years of his life studying the problems (if any) of dealing with big areas of color divided by stripes… on a flat picture plane.
But the question that makes us ache with its urgency is… have we gotten as flat as we can get? Might there be frontiers of flatness we haven’t yet explored?
Why, yes. And this lets the new generation of younger artists leapfrog over the older guys. All without ever getting heterodox, mind you. This takes us to the 1950s and Pop Art icon Jasper Johns:
The new theory went as follows. Johns had chosen real subjects such as flags and numbers and letters and targets that were flat by their very nature. They were born to be flat, you might say. Thereby Johns was achieving an amazing thing. He was bringing real subjects into Modern painting but in a way that neither violated the law of Flatness nor introduced “literary” content. On the contrary: he was converting pieces of everyday communication—flags and numbers—into art objects… and thereby de-literalizing them! “An amazing result,” said [art critic Leo] Steinberg.
(I love the word “result” in this context, as if Johns had proven a new mathematical theorem.)
And those old guys like painter de Kooning and critic Greenberg: What a bunch of frauds! They’d been violating the sacred principles of Flatness all along, the hypocrites! You see, Greenberg had righteously called out the Old Masters for creating “an illusion of space into which one could imagine oneself walking.” And Flatness got rid of that benighted practice. But…
Just a minute, said Steinberg. That’s all well and good, but you’re talking about a “pre-industrial standard of locomotion,” i.e., walking. Perhaps you can’t walk into an Abstract Expressionist painting—but you can fly through! Just look at a de Kooning or a Rothko… Look at that “airy” quality, those “areas floating in space”… all that “illusionistic space.” It was aerial “double dealing,” and it did “clearly deny and dissemble the picture’s material surface”—and nobody had ever blown the whistle on them!
Well, it was all now blown for Abstract Expressionism. Steinberg, with an assist from [other critics and painters], removed the cataracts from everybody’s eyes overnight.
The Black Knights had arrived. It is like a man posing as a male-to-female transvestite online and calling lesbian feminists “hate-filled bigots” for refusing to date transvestites, i.e., men. The holiness spiral winds up in a place the feminists had not anticipated, but they’re at a loss how to counter-attack and still remain within left-wing orthodoxy. Johns and Steinberg did something analogous to the Pollock-Greenberg crowd. As Wolfe notes,
Steinberg could attack Abstract Expressionism precisely because he was saying, “I’ve found something newer and better.” But one will note that at no time does he attack the premises of Late-Twentieth-Century Art Theory as developed by Greenberg. He accepts every fundamental Greenberg has put forth. Realism and three-dimensional illusion are still forbidden. Flatness is still God. Steinberg simply adds, “I’ve found a new world that’s flatter.”
In other words, “You’re not radical enough. I’m holier.” Greenberg, the original Flatness guy, made a blunder here: He tried to counterattack the New Theory head on. You fool, Greenberg! You can be as heterodox as you like, but you have to say that you’re not being heterodox. It’s as if he tried to take on the transvestites with the equivalent of a feminist saying, “But you’re a man and I don’t want to date men!” Rookie mistake, Greenberg! What he should have done is said something analogous to, “Male-to-female transvestites are appropriating women’s gender identity in an act of gender silencing, violence, and erasure.” This is incredibly stupid and obviously non-sensical, so it’s impeccably left-wing-orthodox.
Back to Art World: Soon after the New Flatness took over, art in the style of comic books became a prominent feature of Pop Art. You know, those 8-foot-by-8-foot works that depict, e.g., a woman in a couple of old-fashioned comic book panels holding a phone and thinking “Who’s the other woman on the line that Joe’s talking to? Is he… cheating on me!?!?!
The idea is to put quote marks around this art form, as it were, so it is turned into an ironic commentary on itself or whatever. “Don’t worry!” art critics assured the aficionados: “It’s okay; it’s not a comic book page telling a little story. It’s commentary on comic books!” One critic said, reassuringly: “Pop Art is neither abstract nor realistic… it is, essentially, an art about signs and sign systems.” Note the “art as commentary on art” aspect. That comes back in a big way later.
In the meantime, as Wolfe sums it up: “You are hereby licensed to go ahead and like these pictures. We’ve drained all the realism out.”
By the way, this is still hip among a certain crowd, at least the last time I checked several years ago. I knew someone with a PhD in literary criticism from an English department that has hard core post-modernist leanings. She had one of these large comic thingies on her wall. It’s kinda cute, in a way. But that’s the great thing about Black Knighting: You kill off the enemy with his own weapons.
Theory was still accelerating.
Of course, Greenberg had started it all with his demands for purity, for flatness (ever more Flatness!), for the obliteration of distinctions such as foreground and background, figure and field. Now, in the 1960s, Greenberg made a comeback.
He had learned a thing or two in the meantime about strategy… All along, he said, there had been something old fashioned about Abstract Expressionism: its brushstrokes. The characteristic Abstract Expressionist brushstroke was something very obvious, very expressive… very painterly, like what you find in Baroque art.
Greenberg was still unbending in his opposition to Pop, but now he knew better than to just denounce it. Now he added the obligatory phrase: “—and I can show you something newer and better, way out here.”
Reductionism was the word of the day.
How far we’ve come! How religiously we’ve cut away the fat! We got rid of nineteenth-century storybook realism. Then we got rid of representational objects. Then we got rid of the third dimension altogether and got really flat. Then we got rid of airiness, brushstrokes, and most of the paint…
…because Minimalism was getting rolling.
Bourgeois connotations, they argued, still hung on to modern art. What about all those nice “lovely” colors? They invited as many sentimental associations as painterly brushstrokes had. So Minimalists began using colors like Subway I-Beam green and Restaurant Exhaust-Fan Duct Lint gray that nobody could accuse of sentimentality. And how about all those fuzzy, swampy, misty edges that Color Fielders went for? They invited you to linger over a painting for all its emotional “evocations.” Henceforth a paint should be applied only in hard linear geometries, and you should get the whole painting at once, “fast.”
Faster and faster art theory flew now, in ever-tighter and more dazzling turns. [Clement] Greenberg [the guy who had started the whole thing] accused the Minimalists of living only for “the far-out as an end in itself.” A little late to be saying that, Clement! Rosenberg tried to stop them by saying they really weren’t far-out at all—they were a fake avant-garde.
LOL, no dice, Mr. Trotsky, I mean Rosenberg. The Revolution Eats Its Own!
Theory spun on and chewed up the two old boys like breadsticks, like the Revolution devouring Robespierre and Danton.
And as art got rid of more and more in an inexorable turn to reduction, to eliminating elements of art, and as theory grew larger and more powerful, more influential, more prominent, the minnow of theory finally swallowed the whale of what the theory was supposedly about:
So it was that in April of 1970 an artist named Lawrence Wiener typed up a work of art that appeared in Arts Magazine—as a work of art— with no visual experience before or after:
1. The artist may construct the piece 2. The piece may be fabricated 3. The piece need not be built Each being equal and consistent with the intent of the artist the decision as to condition rests with the receiver upon the occasion of receivership.
Wow. It’s not clear what the hell this is supposed to mean, but it is clear that it’s intended as a statement of Art Theory. But note as Wolfe says that this was published as a work of art. That is, the distinction between art and art theory had been eliminated.
In that moment, Art made its final flight, climbed higher and higher in an ever-decreasing tighter-turning spiral until it disappeared up its own fundamental aperture… and came out the other side as Art Theory! Words on a page, flat, flatter, Flattest, a vision ineffable, as ineffable as the Angels and Universal Souls.
The holiness spiral had finally gone as far as it could. Game theoretically, it couldn’t avoid it. Let’s extract some lessons from this:
1. Once the spiral gets rolling, there is no incentive to stop and every incentive to continue.
2. You can’t, from within the relevant community, fight it by denying its terms. That can be done, but it requires an all-out war. If you want to take down the reigning champion without a scorched-earth war, you have to attack it on its own terms; you must couch your attack in language which appears orthodox. From within the art world, they couldn’t attack Abstract Expressionism by saying, “The old art was better and Abstract Expressionism was a mistake!” But schools like Pop Art successfully attacked it by saying, “Abstract Expressionism doesn’t go far enough; it’s not holy enough! I have something newer and holier over here!”
3. That last part, “I have something newer and holier!” is important. You can’t just accuse the current reigning champion of not being holy enough. You have to offer an alternative. (Alinsky: “The price of a successful attack is a constructive alternative.”)
4. The Revolution Eats Its Own.
5. The Spiral will continue until it has gotten as extreme as it actually can get.
Implication of all this: If you’re in a holiness spiral, assume that it will continue until it gets to Terminal Holiness Spiral. Don’t think that might happen. Plan for it to happen.
A crucial concept in understanding our current political situation is holiness spiral. It may be the single most important concept.
A holiness spiral is equivalent, in terms of game theory, to a war of attrition. I know what you’re thinking: “Sure, Neuro, wars of attrition are interesting, but what about all-pay auctions and patent races? Is a holiness spiral game theoretically isomorphic to those also?”
You’re in luck; the answer is Yes, because they are winner-take-all contests.
Why does that matter? Because once you’re invested in a winner-take-all contest, it is actually rational, in a certain sense, for you to keep putting resources into winning the contest even after the value of winning is lower than the value of the total resources you’ve put into it. No, I’m not crazy; this is well-known in game theory.
A classic example is the “dollar auction.” This can be an auction in which all bidders must pay their bids even if they don’t win (all-pay) or it can be such that only the two highest bidders pay their bids. Business schools have done experiments. A professor of business goes in front of his class and says, “Here’s a dollar bill. I’m going to auction it off. The rules: Highest bidder pays his bid and gets the dollar. Second-highest bidder pays his bid but doesn’t get anything. All lower bids pay nothing and get nothing.”
Some doofus bids a cent. Some other doofus bids 2 cents. And the idiocy has begun! Now that someone has bid 2, the guy who bid 1 is in the following position: If he doesn’t change his bid he loses 1 cent. If he raises his bid to 3 cents he wins the dollar and pays 3 cents, for a net gain of 97 cents. OK, so they’ll bid until one of them has bid 99 cents, then they’ll stop, right?
Nope. Say the bids stand at 98 cents and 99 cents. The guy who bid 98 loses 98 cents if he stands pat. If he bids a dollar he wins and breaks even. So he does that.
OK, now the bidding is done, right?
The guy who currently has a bid of 99 cents loses 99 cents if he stands pat. If he raises his bid to $1.01, then he wins the dollar, for a net loss of 1 cent. That’s better than a net loss of 99 cents.
Hmm. And the other guy? If he stands pat he loses his dollar bid. If he raises his bid to $1.02, he wins the dollar, for a net loss of 2 cents. But that’s better than a net loss of a dollar.
You see where this is going (“To infinity and beyond!”). Not only in theory, but in actual experiments, people do in fact end up paying more than a dollar to win a dollar!
• Your outcome depends on where you are relative to the other player. Just knowing your own bid doesn’t tell you whether you’ve won; you have to know the other guy’s bid as well.
• You bear costs whether you win or lose. This is the “all-pay” feature. An all-pay auction is an artificial situation, but consider a war of attrition: some of your soldiers are killed, etc., whether you win or lose. It really is all-pay. Same for patent races: Suppose you spend $0.9 billion on R&D trying to develop a new medicine worth $1 billion, but your competitor is on track to win by spending $1 billion. Win or lose, you pay the R&D costs. It would actually be better to plow another $0.2 billion in, so you’ll “win” the race by paying $1.1 billion.
• Action is sequential: You would never start by bidding $1.02 for a dollar, obviously. But once you’re invested, you have some losses you’d like to recover. So your investment in the contest keeps rising.
So… holiness spirals. If you’re new to this concept, the word “holiness” is ironic here; it means “leftist.” It probably started centuries ago with some totally innocent-sounding thing like, “Let’s expand women’s rights. Why shouldn’t women be allowed to work as secretaries outside the home?” Before you know it, it’s the official position of the Washington Post that no woman should ever go to prison, no matter what crime she commits.
What the hell happened? What happened is that some asshole started the political equivalent of an all-pay auction.
Let’s look at holiness spirals in light of the three features above. We want to understand this because that will help us to stop the fucking thing. And a holiness spiral is like an asset bubble: It either keeps advancing or it collapses. So if we stop it, we destroy it.
• Your outcome depends on where you are relative to the other player(s). You can attack people less holy than you, but they can’t effectively attack you. If Fred is the holiest he can say to the mob, “Attack Steve; he’s not holy enough!” But Steve can’t say, “Attack Fred; he’s too holy!” That’s saying, “Attack Fred; he’s too good!” So everyone tries to out-holy everyone else.
• You bear costs whether you win or lose. Say your position is that a man should be allowed to use the ladies’ bathroom. If your policy wins, you (along with the rest of the society, by the way) pay the costs of an insane bathroom policy. But you pay those costs whether or not some other lunatic is saying, “Yeah, AND anyone who objects should be thrown into the hoosegow!” If that guy wins, then there are dudes in the women’s bathroom— as you advocated— plus dissenters are punished. Why did he outflank you to your left? Because while that made the society somewhat more insane, it made him personally safer, since now he is the holiest.
• Action is sequential: You would never start by saying men should be allowed to use the women’s bathroom. Indeed people didn’t start by saying that, historically. But your initial sane position that “There’s no need for laws to enforce gender clothing norms” got outflanked by someone who said something a little more pro-trans. That put you in a less holy position relative to him, so he could attack you, but you couldn’t counter-attack. So you outflanked him with something a little more in that direction. Thus the bidding war. It starts with you saying “I bid one cent for that dollar.” It ends with guards being charged with a crime if they try to keep a man out of the women’s bathroom. Well, that’s not actually where it ends. We’re not done with our holiness spiral yet.
Fighting these fucking disasters.
Above I wrote this: “Say your position is that a man should be allowed to use the ladies’ bathroom. If your policy wins, you (along with the rest of the society, by the way) pay the costs of an insane bathroom policy.”
THIS IS KEY. One of the crucial aspects of all this is that even sane, normal people pay the costs of having trannies in their bathrooms, and women (if the WaPo gets its way) being allowed to commit murder without punishment. (Well, they already are, but the WaPo wants this to be expanded beyond babies.) That means that— unlike the all-pay dollar auction— even people who aren’t participating in the holiness spiral have an incentive to stop it. This mattered e.g., on November 8, 2016 and will matter more as the holiness spiral becomes ever more extreme.
What specific actions can we take? First, we need to spread the awareness of the insanity as far and wide as possible. I do this in various corners of the Net, and everyone on the right should.
Also— and plainly this has already started— we need to ramp up our black knighting. N.B. not black knighting as in Monty Python’s hapless knight, but black knighting as in attacking our enemies under the guise of being holier enemies. For example, when an organization proudly announces on Twitter that it has hired a homosexual female, attack them for not hiring a minority or Muslim homosexual female. This sort of thing happens all the time now, and one can’t tell whether it’s the crazies getting crazier or good guys black knighting. The great thing is precisely that one can’t tell. That’s why it’s effective.
And what is the effect? Simple: It eliminates the safety, and therefore the benefit, of leftward movement. If my proudly announcing that I just hired a white lesbian immediately gets me attacked for not hiring a black lesbian, there’s no safety in that holiness-signaling move, so no reason to do it. Lately, if you just hire a straight white Christian male and don’t say anything, you’re less likely to be attacked by the hate mob than if you’re a leftist who proudly boasts about that lesbian hire. (Leftists seek vulnerability: They go after other leftists because they know leftists (1) care about fitting in with the lefty herd, and (2) must comply with the latest left-wing demand to keep their leftist customers/donors/whatever. In contrast, what will happen if they scream about Vox Day hiring a straight white male for his publishing company? He’ll just laugh at them. His customer base sure as hell isn’t SJWs.) The realization will spread that you might as well just hire the best person and keep quiet about it. That is becoming safer. And to the extent that it’s not safe, it’s not much less safe than trying to appease the SJW mob. And that destroys the incentives that propel the holiness spiral.
Black knighting must be done absolutely straight-faced. Don’t try this in a forum where they already know you’re not an SJW; you’ll just be dismissed as stirring up shit. But: New personality (dox-proof) in a forum where they don’t know you. We can all get to work black knighting.
The beautiful thing about black knighting is that the enemy has no defense against it. If they even try to defend, then you’re like, “Hey! They’re Anti-trans! Anti-wymyn! Anti-gay!” Etc., etc. They simply cannot deny that you’ve out-holied them. This isn’t theory; we’ve seen this happen increasingly in the last few years. E.g., the gay black author who was just SJW-shamed into pulling his book due to accusations of insufficient political correctness.
So, two things everybody on the right can do: Spread news to normies about the craziness. And join the black knighting movement, which is already well underway.
Every now and then some fuck-witted liberal, or occasionally a libertarian, will say that the human species really is not that violent, and that we’d all just get along if only (etc.).
This is dangerously naive. Anthropologists, before modern political correctness became a big problem, documented how very murderous our species is. There are cases in which a village in Africa will do a night raid on another village and kill every man, woman, and child in it. Also, western intellectuals sometimes say (either with self-flagellating guilt or chest-puffing pride) that Western culture’s militaries are the world’s deadliest. Well, in terms of raw numbers I’m inclined to believe that (if we ignore Mao, anyway), but it seems to be just a fact about military technology. In proportional terms were are not especially lethal.
(The content of this paragraph is drawn from Steven Pinker’s wonderfully heterodox The Blank Slate.)
This also explains why people who aren’t completely insane have a gut-level instinct against admitting people from other cultures into their societies, at least in large numbers. That’s an instinct, plainly; it’s not learned, no matter many idiots insist it is leaned. Consider those African night raids again.
In this regard, the difference between male and female instincts is, once again, clear and relevant. Men vote against invaders and political groups that want to admit invaders. Women are more complicated. I have noted before that many women will work to admit invaders into their home societies so they can play a game of Let’s You and Him Fight. For real-world examples see the USA and Western Europe lately. For a fictional example see my review of Justina Robson’s Keeping It Real.
Note, though, that while men clearly want to exclude invaders, women are split. In the 2016 election, “only” 43% of white women voted for the pro-invasion candidate. 53% of white women voted for the anti-invader candidate. The rest threw their vote away on third party candidates rather than vote for the pro-invader candidate the media was telling them to vote for. This has to do with the African slaughter I mentioned above: Women are sometimes prizes in war, but sometimes victims of war. Being invaded is a gamble from a woman’s point of view. From a man’s point of view it’s always bad.
Thus we have some women in some contexts supporting invasion of their own societies; other women in other contexts oppose it.
It is also a fact that women try to gain sexual access to alpha men and prevent contact with beta men. This affects sexual harassment procedure, mostly designed by women, as it applies to the workplace, e.g. They try to exclude sub-alpha males from social-sexual contact with them. The point is, women don’t always want an influx of any men into their sanctuaries. Reproductive optimization from a female’s point of view is more complicated than that.
In Nash Equilibrium, we would not expect all women to be genetically programmed to issue society-threatening shit tests. The reason is that, if say half the women start such, the other half will also gain the knowledge or benefit from the results (whatever those benefits are). Furthermore, a woman who doesn’t shit test is more attractive to men than one who does. She free rides on the shit-testers, at their expense. Free riding generally plays the villain in discussions of human interactions, and often rightly so, but this is a case in which free riding has good consequences.
(A reminder to any chicks reading this: The fact that you find shit tests and the associated drama and strife to be fun and exciting, doesn’t mean that men do. Any more than the fact that dung beetles like eating poop means that you also like eating poop. Men and women are really different, biologically different.)
It might be objected that maybe there is just one kind of psychology of shit testing, so any woman who has the “shit testing genes,” i.e. all women, will potentially throw out a society-threatening shit test. But still: some women are more shit-testy, some less so.
The problem is not, as you might think, that everyone in my time is insane. Of course we know the current raging hate-filled psychopathic idiocy for what it is. It’s just that it’s not easy or quick to put an end to it. If it were as simple as one person standing up at a lectern and saying, “This is raging hate-filled psychopathic idiocy!” it would have ended decades ago. But the perpetrators don’t care – they’re sadists who enjoy inflicting hateful insanity on others; that’s the entire point for them. And normal people know it’s insanity; the problem is to organize collective action to fight it.
Once the psychotics have amassed a certain amount of social power – which they do by stealth at first – it becomes risky in certain ways to speak up. This doesn’t mean no one is speaking up – if you read contemporaneous accounts you’ll see many people are – but it does make it more difficult to recruit the 90-something percent of people who are sane to all speak up at once. (To induce every sane person to speak up at once, and create an overwhelming and publicly visible consensus against the insanity, would be the easiest way to end it without violence.)
Furthermore, the evil have a certain amount of animal cunning about taking and holding power, because that’s all they ever think about. On average they are less intelligent than the population as a whole… but they are obsessed. And one does acquire a certain facility at activities with which one is obsessed. So for examples:
They immediately move to isolate and hurt anyone who speaks out. “Hurt” here could mean many things, from violence, to making death-threat phone calls in the middle of the night, to having the person fired from their employment, to staging a boycott of the person’s business, and so on.
They obsessively, obsessively move to take over the idea-spreading professions – the news media and the educational system – to instill an utterly false worldview in the minds of the population. Normal people want to have enjoyable lives, to have hobbies, to enjoy friends and family, to have a career that is satisfying in and of itself – but these people only crave a career that lets them stifle any information which reveals their side to be the evil that it is, and spread any lies which make their side look good.
They engage in electoral fraud incessantly.
And to the extent that fraud doesn’t suffice, they buy votes. Many of their constituents are people who will be hurt drastically, or outright murdered, if the psychos ever acquire total power. But those constituents don’t think that far ahead. So they vote for whoever promises a heavier basket of state-funded goodies. And of course, the evil have fewer scruples than the good about using this political tactic.
And they have infiltrated the government in key areas, including, as I write this, the intelligence agencies. Those are the worst institutions for them to have infiltrated (from the point of view of decent people), because they have surveillance technology everywhere and by necessity they operate in secrecy. The evil love secrecy.
None of this is to suggest that the struggle against these vile maniacs is hopeless. Au contraire, as I write this I have good hope and the momentum has shifted dramatically in our favor in the last few years. And of course, in every conflict, each side has advantages and disadvantages; one just keeps fighting.
Rather, my point is this: There is a reason that the prevailing discourse asserts things that are obviously insane, and the reason is not that anyone believes it. The reason is that power-mad psychotics spent decades infiltrating themselves into positions where they could stifle and attack those who would question it.
Everyone knows the emperor is not wearing any clothes. Everyone knows, for example, that a man in a dress is not a woman. The question is how to get everyone to say it, and to say it publicly, and how to make fence-sitters understand, before the rage-mob shows up at their door, that the problem is the trend, not the state of the system at the current moment in time. We need to make people realize how urgent the situation already is and induce them to start fighting.
When I was younger I thought that episodes like the Salem Witch Trials happened because people back then were so benighted as to actually believe in witches! Ha! The absurdity of it! In light of our current situation, I now rather suspect that no one believed any such thing. Any more than anyone really believes that being heterosexual is a form of “bigotry.” No, the problem is a particular kind of social dynamics, namely holiness spirals. The problem is not one of stupidity and actual belief. It is one of incentives, of bad Nash Equilibria which the evil deliberately try to establish.
Understand, the very moment some political group begins asserting something that is obviously false: You are in a war. It is not a debate – though of course persuasion of the neutral is part of the conflict. It is a war with a type of madman and madwoman who, every time they attained power in the 20th century, slaughtered people by the millions. Understand that, and start planning, not to convince them, but to defeat them.