Monday, January 31, 2011

Hate Is The Object

In my post Hating The Andromeda Galaxy I looked at the necessity of hate in politics. I discuss some of the repercussions of that in Strange Connection.

Today I came across a site discussing those very issues from a biological perspective. The Market for Sanctimony.

Two unspoken questions that religions and quasi-religions, in practice, have to answer are "Whom do I have permission to use as a scapegoat?" and "What lies may I tell myself in order to feel morally superior to my competitors?" In Jerry Falwell's church, you have permission to use homosexuals as scapegoats. At a Green Party meeting, you have permission to use capitalists as scapegoats.
Yep. Which is one of the reasons I suggested the human race unite in hating the Andromeda Galaxy. We could then be united in hatred.
When it becomes too embarrassing for people to engage in a particular kind of moral fraud, they will usually substitute a different kind of moral fraud rather than give up their feelings of moral superiority. Thus, to a first approximation, we have a principle of "Conservation of Irrationality:"

(1) much of the irrational behavior associated with religion is related to people having a craving for ego justification,

(2) changing a person's theological beliefs has little effect on his tendency to crave ego justification, and

(3) politics is the continuation of religion by other means.
Irrationality is Conserved? All the more need for a War On

Andromeda (1869) Edward Poynter

Well that last bit was just an excuse for a picture of a naked lady. Art don'cha know? Besides. I'm partial to red heads. And blonds. And brunettes. And given the right circumstances even green hair. Uh. Where was I?'s impossible to diagnose a problem correctly if the actual cause is not a member of the approved boogieman list, and one is committed to only blaming members of the approved list (having "ideological blinders" or what Eric Raymond called "historical baggage").
Question: "Why do you keep hitting that nail when what you have to do is tighten the screw?" Answer: "I hate nails. I'd rather be hitting nails than screwing." Yep there are folks out there like that. Almost all of them in fact.

The next bit doubles down on that question and answer in spades. (Can you double down in Hearts?)
Part of the reason for the "slippery slope" phenomenon is that Progressivism is a positional good. The point of Progressivism is to distinguish oneself as being smarter than and morally superior to the average voter. One consequence of this is that Progressives have no fixed goal for the optimal size and scope of government. There is no such thing as "enough." Whatever the average voter has become acclimated to has to be "not enough" so that the Progressives can be smarter than average.

The solution for out-of-control government is not constitutional change, but psychological change. To paraphrase what Andrei Codrescue said of the USSR, what we need are not economic advisors (or constitutional lawyers), what we need are psychiatrists.
Progressives want mommy to make it nice (especially for them) and Conservatives want to find the designated miscreants and punish them. Libertarians just want to be left alone. Forgetting Trotsky: "You may not be interested in war, but war is interested in you." Which is to say that in more than a few cases it is better to get them before they get you.
Different flavors of moral fraud may be equally irrational, but they are not equally harmful. By analogy, smallpox and cowpox are both diseases, but smallpox is very often fatal, whereas cowpox almost never is. Furthermore, cowpox provides immunity from smallpox, just as, to a lesser extent, I claimed above that different flavors of moral fraud (ie. various flavors associated with Christianity and Socialism) tend to compete with one another (conservation of irrationality). Mencius Moldbug describes "Revelationist" Christianity as a "counterparasite" for "Universalism" (the modern Left).
I'd rather live without parasites (dogma). But that is just me. Evidently most people can't live without them.

There is an answer:
We know enough about the sociology of religion to identify a number of key properties that a good religion should have. A successful religion will inevitably have scapegoats; ideally these scapegoats should be beyond human capacity to harm, and should also be unlikely to inflict harm on humans as a result of being vilified. Gods or god substitutes (demigods) are also pretty much unavoidable, for reasons that are outside the scope of this essay. (See Paul Bloom regarding people's cognitive biases, but also Laurence Iannaccone on the advantages to practitioners of the supernatural of having gods on whom to blame their failures. Supposedly irreligious people often project semi-divine qualities onto the State.) A low religious Herfindahl index is good for society, so it is desirable if a religion forms schisms easily or can be given features that limit its market penetration to a few percent. It is desirable for a new religion to have a cosmology that is compatible with its target audience (we need naturalistic demigods, not supernatural ones, to attract scientifically literate converts). A spectacular eschatology (ie. fire and brimstone) is also nice to have to add color and purpose. Any scientific claims that an attractive religion makes should be at least as plausible as global warming catastrophism.
Well Christianity comes pretty close so what is wrong with it?
Q. ...why don't you embrace Christianity?

A. Do you mean "embrace" in terms of me joining a Christian church, or "embrace" in terms of applauding the spread of Christianity? I am relieved to hear reports of evangelical Christianity spreading in China and Latin America. Also, as a living religion, Christianity continues to evolve, so I think it's possible that some new versions of it will make a major comeback in the first world. But as it stands, Western intellectuals have had plenty of exposure to it, and they have turned their noses up at it. And it is the rich, powerful West, where I live, that I most care about. So I do embrace Christianity in the sense of wishing there were more "skeptical enlightenment" Christians in the West, and fewer "radical enlightenment" types, but I'm not holding my breath. Also, I don't really trust Christianity in any of its many versions not to revert to its romantic roots, which historically is where much of the impetus of the American "progressive" movement came from (Jonah Goldberg documents this in Liberal Fascism, for example pp. 215-220). In other words, the Christian "cowpox" doesn't provide reliable enough immunity to the Socialist "smallpox."
Well I'm not promising Utopia. Which is where most religion goes wrong. I'm promoting war on the Andromeda Galaxy.

I have only excerpted from the exposition. The essay is both amusing and confronts a real problem at the interface between human nature and governance. Go read the whole thing. And if you have to hate: the Andromeda Galaxy is just out there waiting for your attention.

Cross Posted at Classical Values

1 comment:

Ms. Cris Ericson said...

There is an example of a group of people who decided they were morally superior to another group in the Holy Bible, Old Testament.

Now, if any member of that group were to go to a psychiatrist today and tell the shrink that God told them to destroy all the bad people, then the shrink would write down in little notes that they were nuts.

The people in the Old Testament Holy Bible who destroyed the other people because they condemned their behaviour and thought themselves superior, had chromozomes and genes and dna.

They passed their chromozomes and genes and dna down from one generation to the next to our generations.

Therefore, there are peoples in our generations who think they are better than everyone else, because that concept is inside their dna.

Just like some pittbulls think they have a right to bite other creatures.

Just like some lions eat rabbits, and some cats eat mice.

They just do it. It is in their dna.

The Catholic Bible calls it the chapter of Josue but your Bible may say its the chapter of Joshua.

At any rate, one bunch of folks decided to EXTERMINATE another bunch of folks that they felt morally superior to.

People are no different than different species of dogs.