While one should not treat the claim that the owner of an applecart is oppressing the proletariat, causing global warming, or whatever, as sincerely held, nor suppose they give a tinker’s dam about the sufferings of the proletariat or the temperature of the earth, one does need to take seriously what their story implies about what apple cart they are coordinating to knock over, and what mob they are assembling to knock it over.
These are not individual conflicts, Stalin versus Trotsky, but struggles over Schelling points for group coordination.
Trotsky was a purer communist than Stalin, because his communism was unconstrained by practical economic considerations. Since there had been repeated cycles of the ever lefter grabbing power from the insufficiently left, his purity was likely to result in him grabbing power from Stalin, which was undoubtedly the real motive behind such lunatic purity and the real reason for Stalin crushing the Trots – but such purity was likely to result in someone grabbing power from Stalin, regardless of what happened to Trotsky. The ideas, rather than Trotsky himself, were the threat.
Ideas matter. And they still matter even when they should not be taken seriously. They may not be the real motives for the left’s actions, but they are the real mechanism for left coordination to take action.
The details of Trotsky’s superior purity are irrelevant, uninteresting, hypocritical, and not sincerely held. And in this sense, it would be pointless to pay attention to the ideological argument. But the argument was real enough regardless. Stalin was impure, because concerned with practical consequences. His reasoning that Trotskyism was “objectively fascist” was that it was likely to have stupid and disastrous practical consequences that the fascists would be happy about.
Consider the question, “Are internal power struggles among leftists about ideology?” As with Hofstadter’s Godel, Escher, Bach, the correct answer to this question is not “Yes” or “No” but “Mu.”
The left’s attitude toward ideas is on the whole one of brutally amoral cynicism. Yet they can take conflicts over ideological questions very seriously indeed. This is because the stakes are often life and death. If you don’t already know, look up what happened to Robespierre and Trotsky. (I could tell you, but it will have more impact if you discover it yourself.) It is not only that the “ideas” are used as weapons to justify taking power, killing people, etc. They are also used as coordination mechanisms to settle on just who is going to be attacked in the first place.
The particular ideology the left coordinates on determines who is going to be attacked, and at the same time, why they are going to be attacked. In fact the Why determines the Who: If “racism” is the big problem, then it’s whites who are to be attacked; if pollution is the problem, then corporations. If “left deviationists,” then Trotsky. Etc.
The ideologies are both the terrain on which the ideological battle is fought and the weapons with which it is fought. They are at the same time the prize for which such battles are fought, since the winner of the ideological battle has won the power to coordinate and direct violence.
So again: “Are internal power struggles among leftists about ideology?” From a behavioral empiricist point of view, all that is going on is that evil people are engaging in gang war, both against targets in the broader society and against each other. But because coordination is all-important in war, an immense amount of energy is devoted to proving that one’s own gang has the correct ideology and opposing gangs are incorrect. It must be so, because the stakes are life and death.
Thus the apparent paradox:
Leftists, who are utterly cynical in terms of taking ideas seriously, treat ideas with the seriousness of a gutter knife fight.
Preface: We are going through so much history per year now that my political beliefs have become quite fluid. My beliefs about politics may have changed as much in the last five years as they did in all my adult life before that. Which is to say: Please don’t think of my political posts, especially my recent ones, as intended pronouncements ex cathedra about eternal truth. Lately I think of them as more like progress reports on a research agenda. I drop them into a mailbox occasionally, addressed to “Anyone who might be interested.”
We’re getting more historical time per unit of calendar time lately. This is not always fun, but it’s certainly intellectually stimulating.
In Game Theory Evolving, Herbert Gintis discusses the lizard species Uta Stansburiana, the males of which fall into three types. The proportions of the types in the population cycle over time, because the mating competition game they play is essentially rock-paper-scissors. That is, type A beats type B and type B beats type C, but type C beats type A. For this reason the proportions of the different types of males are in constant flux; they never settle down to equilibrium.
If you look at the Infogalactic page or the Wikipedia page (the latter is more comprehensive) you will see that in this case the reality matches the theory: Empirically, the male lizard population indeed cycles between the various types as predicted by the game theory.
“Finally!” I can hear you cry. “I’ve been wondering for years when you were going to get around to lizard population dynamics!” Actually my point is not about lizard population dynamics. My main point is:
Political systems could be like this, with (for example) democracy necessarily turning into dictatorship eventually, dictatorship eventually softening into a benign monarchy-cum-aristocracy, and benign monarchy-cum-aristocracy eventually turning into democracy. Or something like that. Not necessarily that specific pattern, but the basic point that the dynamics could be cyclical. There’s no guarantee of convergence to a steady state.
Actually my current thinking is that there are only two main systems viable since 1776. One is democracy, but that can’t last because power-mad psychopaths can manipulate it through electoral fraud, etc. Thus democracy tends to disintegrate into dictatorship.
But dictatorship, in the modern world, also can’t last due to the narrative power of democracy. I suspect this means that some sort of democratic faction will eventually gain control, whether through a palace coup, a long march through the institutions, or whatever.
In short: Democracy is vulnerable to a Machiavellian attack by megalomaniac sociopaths. Dictatorship is vulnerable to a philosophical attack based on the idea that government should have the consent of the governed.
I agree with this, by the way, for all kinds of reasons. If, like me, you think that democracy is desirable but inherently unstable, then we may be in the position of Isaac Asimov’s Foundation: We can’t stop the descent into totalitarianism but maybe we can do things to shorten its lifespan and hasten the revival of democracy.
Oh, that reminds me:
Memo to future pro-democracy revolutionaries:
(1) If you’re not going to establish the death penalty for electoral fraud, don’t bother having your democratic revolution. I mean this. If you are not willing to make fraud a capital crime then stay home, put your feet up, and have a beer. It’s safer for you and will have the same basic result in terms of establishing a persistent democracy.
(2) There must be no significant political power that is unelected. There must be no significant political power that has life-time tenure. One of the things that destroyed democracy in the United States of America was judges who were appointed by politicians and who had lifetime tenure. Such judges brazenly, overtly ignored the law. In various ways, this by itself may have been sufficient to terminate American democracy.
We have learned these lessons at devastating cost. Please, learn from our mistakes.
Capt. Tom Pickett: Things in this town are out of control. Two gangs is just one too many… What I’m concerned with is keeping a lid on things, and what we got here in Jericho is just way out of hand, and Sheriff Galt, here, can’t do much about it, right? Matter of fact, it might be fair to say that he’s part of the problem, right? Now you been going back and forth, playing both sides according to Mr. Galt, here, making yourself a lot of money out of all this. Well, it’s over, son. I’m coming back here in ten days, and I’m gonna bring about twenty rangers with me. I will tolerate *one* gang, because that is the nature of things. A certain amount of corruption is inevitable. But if I find *two* gangs here when I get back, then in a couple of hours there will be *no* gangs here. So it’s simple. One gang quits and goes home. You boys work it out. I don’t give a damn which one.
Why does Pickett say that a certain amount of corruption is inevitable? Sure, there’s no such thing as perfection in this vale of toil and sin, but might there be a more specific reason?
Yes: If there were no corruption there’d be no reason to have social measures to control corruption, so we wouldn’t have any such measures… but without such measures corruption would be low-risk and very rewarding. So corruption would appear. Thus, as Pickett says, a certain amount of it is inevitable.
For the same reason, as I wrote in a recent post, institutions like news media and educational institutions will always end up with some sort of bias, unfortunately. It is not a Nash equilibrium for them to be bias-free. This is because if they were bias-free, then we’d trust them… but if we trust them, they can get away with being biased without being detected. So essentially there’s no internally consistent scenario without bias.
Similarly, a zero-violence world cannot be an equilibrium: If there were no violence then we’d have no measures to prevent or punish violence, but if there are no such measures then et cetera.
A la mode: Predation and parasitism are ubiquitous in nature. Indeed, when computer folks first started playing around with evolving artificial life, one of the things they often noticed was the rise of parasitism and predation, even when they hadn’t built those features into their worlds at the outset.
It is tempting to think that we can solve this problem with oversight bodies that will discipline the institutions we’re concerned about, but those oversight bodies are subject to the same problem. There’s an infinite recursion problem here. Thus the ancient rhetorical question, Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?
This doesn’t mean that we can’t do anything or that all political institutions are equally good or equally bad. After all, the left took over our schools, so in principle we can do the same. But we must be realistic about what is achievable and how long such successes can persist. (If the left thinks their victories will last forever they’re using too short a time scale to think about these things.)
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.