The Ongoing Conversation

Summer Fundraiser 2013, Day 5

I am beginning to see the wisdom of the Baron’s choice of Time, or the Amplitude of Time, as the theme of this quarter’s bleg. So much has happened to us since our last time in the Spring. Daily life has been so crowded with dramas and disconnects that it feels like much more than a few months since we last appeared, tin cup in hand. Come to think of it, some readers thought so too, and began to send in donations, thinking they’d missed the summer fundraiser.

Tip jarAnd it’s not just our personal lives on the edge in those intervening months since that fundraiser. The waves of scandals, corruptions, malfeasance and cynicism coming out of our political class, our banksters, and our media echo-chambers were arriving at such a fast and furious rate (to coin a phrase), that we all began to burn out… and the smell of those many scorched souls is still with us. You can take only so many shocks before you begin to resemble those lab rats who’ve been zapped once too often. Perhaps that’s the point? Overload the public conversation so that we are finally mute? I wonder.

In the final analysis, what keeps us fully human and attuned to one another is our willingness to keep talking to each other in good faith. Even when I have neither the strength nor focus to write a post, I can still correspond; I can still leave occasional scattershot comments here and there and receive thoughtful responses in return. What I’ve learned more deeply than I knew before the advent of our blog is the great value of simple conversation. In some fashion this permits a return (in an unexpected way) to previous generations’ customs of long twilight discussions on the back porch. Except now it would be on the deck, in far more comfortable chairs. Like the old days, though, there is still an ebb and flow; many times a thread is dropped only to be picked up again later as someone appears with new information.

So what you will read below is like that. You will be reading part of a shared time, a conversation between two people who have never met but have sometimes “spoken” via the written word. The 19th century with amenities?

This particular exchange between the Baron and the commenter wildiris took place recently, at some point well after the Baron posted Outsmarting Ourselves. That essay was his reflection on the shameful firing of Jason Richwine by the Heritage Foundation. What this non-profit organization did reflects the extent to which even ostensibly conservative groups have become contaminated with the virus of cultural Marxism; what showed most obviously was their fear of guilt by association.

Whether or not this defenestration was due to Heritage’s recent appointment of a politician as their executive director is anyone’s guess. No matter how you view it, though, forcing Mr. Richwine out is a permanent stain on the institutional history of Heritage. They were not seen to act from principle so much as from a hasty and embarrassed expediency. As the Baron said in another context, “justice was not seen to be done”.

If I remember correctly, we first met wildiris on another blog, long before Gates of Vienna was in existence. The three of us were frequently in a comment section, though it’s been so long now — nine years at least — that I no longer remember what was said. What I do recall was the liveliness of those who met there to read and discuss. And yes, I did tend to go on too long; isn’t it good to know some things never change?

After we opened the Gates, wildiris showed up — to my immense pleasure we had an old friend come to visit. (There were other old friends also, but most of them drifted away or confine themselves to emails in these parlous times.) Of course back then I was sure the nic indicated wildiris was a woman. What manly man calls himself after a flower?? Well, a logger does. He simply admired those short-stemmed flowers growing in open woody areas where he lived — and perhaps logged? We used to have them here, too, in our woods, so it was another bond we had.

My point in sharing The Conversation with you is that it could only have occurred with the passage of time and with a variety of exchanges which allowed them to know one another sufficiently to share their ideas more fully. That takes trust and respect.

I hope you find this process as interesting as I did. Sometimes it’s enlightening to be simply a bystander here. We’ll begin with wildiris’ email some weeks after the post closed.

*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *


Good Morning Baron,

I’ve been thinking a lot about your post from a few weeks ago, “Outsmarting Ourselves.” It brings up, yet again, that question, “Why do smart people do dumb things?”

For me personally, I think this is the most important question that a forum such as Gates of Vienna can contemplate. I really, truly believe that the answer to this question will also be the answer to what is failing about Western society and in due course also give the answer as to how to change things for the better.

I know I probably come across as a tinfoil-hat thinker sometimes, but my hope is that someday I’ll say something, perhaps just by accident, that will trigger some new way of thinking on your part, that in turn will show you the path to your answer.

So here goes… As you know I spend a lot of time thinking about artificial intelligence and machine learning. In the field of AI, some of the big-ticket items of debate are concepts such as consciousness, intelligence and sense-of-self. While there is no consensus as to how these different concepts should be defined and delineated, there does seem to be awareness that they are not independent of each other, but rather form a hierarchy: starting with the lowest, which is life itself, then consciousness, then intelligence, then sense-of-self, and then finally, language and learning.

The important thing to note is that in this hierarchy, sense-of-self trumps intelligence. And it doesn’t take more than a few moments thought to see no end of examples as to why this is true. The English upper-class disdain for the EDL, for example. In fact, the need to acquire a sense-of-self can be so overpowering it will lead an individual, living in an Islamic culture for example, to become a suicide bomber in his effort to attain it.

Intelligence, by itself, is only a force multiplier for the virtues and vices that form a person’s sense-of-self. So maybe our inquiries should be focused on this thing we call our sense-of-self rather than on intelligence, since, clearly intelligence by itself doesn’t seem to correlate positively with anything going on in the world today.





Yes, I think you’re onto something with your “sense-of-self” idea. The same thing would apply to that French kid who got beat up on the bus by enrichers, but would rather endure that than be “racist”. Or the Norwegian intellectual (who argued with Fjordman) who would rather die in a terror attack on an airplane than have passengers profiled, which he considers “discrimination”. This is a deeply entrenched fundamental meme that has suicidal consequences, individually and for a culture.

Intelligence that is significantly above the mean (2 standard deviations, maybe?) may have as little selective value as intelligence that far below the mean. Heck, that’s what formed the mean in the first place, after all. And the most evil and destructive individuals in recent history had high intelligence levels. Lenin and Hitler in particular come to mind.

I keep asking the question “why do smart people do stupid things?” to try to rattle the cages of people such as the “race realists”, who are preoccupied to the point of obsession with race and intelligence. There is no objective evidence that the lesser intelligence of Arabs or Bangladeshis has had a negative selective impact on their collective genome; quite the contrary. White people, in contrast, are in the process of very intelligently destroying their own genetic group.

I think IQ may be flawed as a metric. It may be that we need additional metrics that analyze other aspects of what the mind does. For me, the most compelling examples of this are certain car mechanics I have known in my life. These guys probably scored at or below the mean in IQ, maybe sixty points less than my own. Yet they could do things with engines that were wondrous to behold. I used to watch them in awe; it seemed miraculous to someone like me, who could never do anything whatsoever with mechanical devices. These fellows just had the knack for it; they fell into a line of work for which they had the aptitude.

I’m sure there are other examples that could be cited — music, or dealing with animals, or being skilled working with wood.

IQ measures something meaningful but limited. It has to do with the traits and skills that served to form complex social structures and create industrial society. Since we are now past the stage of designing the Great Machine (a.k.a. “The World Mind”), and only need to maintain it and let it run our lives, a high IQ seems contraindicated for the bulk of the population. That’s what the current selective process is telling us.

However, after the Collapse comes, the game will change again, and other selective pressures will be brought to bear. So who knows?



For a long time now I’ve wondered about the validity of my own thoughts on this matter, but you see it too.

You’re correct in assuming that an intelligent system would never voluntarily terminate its own existence, i.e. commit suicide. This is the “dumb” in your question, WDSPDDTs? But when dealing with human populations, what are the intelligent systems that are operative; the individuals that form a population or the meme sets that form that population’s collective sense of self?

What allowed it all to make sense to me, at any rate, was the realization that Darwinian selection is still going on within human populations, but for us, this selection process is no longer occurring at the genetic level but at the memetic level. It is the meme sets that are fighting for survival and refuse to terminate themselves; even if it means that the meme set’s host dies as a result.

I had an exchange in the comment section of “Outsmarting Ourselves” with someone who never did get this simple point.

I think what you are seeing is a variation on the parable of the drunk who lost his keys in the dark, but looks for them under the lamppost, because that’s where the light is. IQ and race are things we can see, measure and have a language to talk about. But none of these conditions holds for the concept of sense-of-self. So even though the problem with Western society is one clearly related to individual sense-of-self, we talk about IQ and race instead, because “that’s where the light is.”

Darwinian selection is the result of two processes, first survival then reproduction. A society may have a low survivability rate but make up for that by having lots of babies and still go on to be a “Darwinian” winner. Conversely, the Shakers might have all been above average in IQ, but where is that society now?

IQ tests might be the best metric we have for gauging individual intelligence, but your IQ score is not your intelligence. Jim Flynn commented last year on his own “Flynn Effect”: that is, the apparent rise over the last century in the average IQ by three points per decade. His answer in short was that we’re not getting smarter; we’re just getting better at taking IQ tests.

There is a base level of intelligence we are given at birth by our heredity. My guess is that this base level is related to the density of neural connections that will form in our brain. But given that base level, we can still grow it somewhat or shrink it by a lot, depending on our upbringing and our choices. In my opinion, as long as someone’s base intelligence falls within a standard deviation of the mean for the population they live in, they will function just fine in that society. Hence the reason the variance of the IQ bell curve is what it is.

My years as a logger showed me countless examples of this. I’ve worked with so many men who academically barely made it out of high school, but when you look at the complicated tasks they perform and watch their thinking processes as they solve problems, it becomes clear that they must be well above average in intelligence. I’ve seen it said about Charlie Taylor, that his genius flowed out his hands. If you don’t know this man’s story, it’s well worth the look.

I’ve never thought about it this way before, but you’re correct. Unfortunately, this pattern only lasts until the John Galts who keep the system running decide to walk away; then it all falls apart.



Yes, I generally agree with you on all these points. Ever since I started writing, I’ve talked about evolution and natural selection as processes that apply to all complex information systems at all levels. This is, of course, not original with me — linguistic psychologists (or whatever they call their discipline) were talking about it vis-à-vis language long before the internet was invented.

Unfortunately, Western Civilization seems determined to exterminate both its genome and its memes. When the Muslims get through with us, not much will be left of our main memes, or even our meme-space. The very structure of our thought-processes will be extirpated and replaced with Koranic thinking.

It’s depressing if I think about it too much.

When the John Galts walk away (or die off), there’s no predicting what will happen. There is no historical precedent for what is happening right now. All we can say for certain is that it will of necessity be very different.


*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *

I have no argument with either gentleman here. What they say is pertinent to what we see all around us. But the shredding of our cultural fabric appears to be speeding up as cultural Marxism teaches our children it’s better to be dead than rude. Maybe the dissolution of our bonds is an inescapable consequence of our technology. Henry Ford himself saw the social dangers of cars in the hands of young people.

What seems to get lost in our idolatry of all the gee-whiz communication gadgets is our sense of civility. When liberty becomes “freedom from” then liberty itself became disordered and justice is eschewed in favor of an amoral pragmatism. The only problem with unmoored pragmatism is the sharp edges of its double-sided nature.

Anonymity permits cruelty, always a risk beyond a certain number of people gathered in one place. Freud claimed the city permitted civilization to develop, but it also permitted urban nature red in tooth and claw. Individuals unmoored from their families, families unconnected from their clans — it begins to get dangerous out there. Thus we are seeing the circle back to gated communities, for instance the demand by some communities which share a boundary with Detroit that their city fathers build high walls and require I.D. cards for residents.

Let’s see if we can kill socialism before it kills us. It doesn’t require great intelligence, just wily, strategic thinking. Do you think we have enough time? I do.

*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *

The generosity of Thursday’s donors originated in the following places:

Stateside: Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Virginia, and West Virginia

Near Abroad: Canada

Far Abroad: Australia, Denmark, France, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Slovakia, and the UK

Thank you all for your kindness. The conversation can’t continue without your help.

The tip jar in the text above is just for decoration. To donate, click the tin cup on our sidebar, or the donate button, on the main page. If you prefer a monthly subscription, click the “subscribe” button.

21 thoughts on “The Ongoing Conversation

  1. Great conversation. 🙂

    Ironically, perhaps individual intelligence correlates to societal stupidity?

    • I looked at your comment a couple of times before it hit home. You’re on to something here. I mean, look at Norway, with all those intelligent individuals. Yet taken as a group? Caroline Glick calls Norway a totalitarian democracy.

      So it’s the collective evil genius of cultural Marxism which has replaced the dictators and tyrants of the 20th century?

      And so the individual dissenters must be eradicated. Norway’s Fjordman, for instance: a man of integrity and principled dissent represents a danger to those who bray the Big Lie so they hound him out of their existence.

      But when Norway finds they’ve produced an evil mass murderer the response is … luxurious quarters and a script, “Breivik Goes to College”.

      Ironic? Yes. Also insane and deadly. Oh, and suicidally moronic.

    • Bingo! But I would suggest that vandalism would be a more appropriate word than stupidity.

      When one can no longer find a positive sense of self while still accommodating oneself to society’s norms, then one will go rouge and try to find a sense of self elsewhere.

      There are many ways not to fit in, but when this observation is applied to individual intelligence, this pattern of “not being able to fit in” seems to start happening when one’s IQ falls two standard deviations or more, above or below the average.

      On the bottom side of the Bell Curve, lacking the talents and/or intellect to rise to society’s expectations, someone can still find a sense of self by joining a gang or becoming a “soccer-hooligan” and vandalizing the world around them.

      While on the upper side of the Bell Curve, having rejected society’s expectations as being silly and stupid, someone can still find a sense of self by becoming a university professor and using their superior intellect as a sledgehammer to vandalize the culture around them.

      Rule or ruin; if one can’t find a sense of self in being part of something, one may choose instead to acquire that missing sense of self by the destruction of that something. It is no more complicated than that.

  2. Well, a serious contemplation of why intelligent beings would commit suicide isn’t complete without an examination of whether they believe that there is an alternative that has a better chance of securing life. In the context of human existence, a primary commitment to the preservation of a person’s own physical life doesn’t make any sense, because that life will inevitably end. Logically, we must consider an individual’s physical life as a means to some other end. Most religions respond to this problem by positing another life, which will be better or worse depending on how “well” an individual disposes of the transient physical life which cannot be preserved.

    The suicide bomber aiming for martyrdom already knows that death of the mortal body is in any case unavoidable. The simplistic Koranic teaching of sacrificing the life which must end for an improved condition in the posited afterlife may seem absurd to those used to more sophisticated religious doctrines, but if you believe it then martyrdom is an entirely reasonable course of action to secure the best mode of survival for one’s mind and will. It is harder to make the case for the secularist belief in living (and dying) so as to be remembered fondly by posterity (particularly if that ‘posterity’ is not even going to be genetically descended from one’s own body). But as weak as ‘memetic’ survival may be compared to the promise of individual survival as posited in the most compelling religions, it is at least strongly supported by the available evidence.

    The religiously inclined are confronted by the problem of which religion is true, or at least truer. Which values in this life secure a better situation in the life to come? Which will be rewarded in the afterlife, martyrdom in the Christian mode of being killed for believing, or martyrdom in the Jihadist sense of dying to inflict death on the infidel? Does a life of contemplation or of earnest works merit a better reward? Very little in the way of objectively testable evidence exists to settle such questions. Religion is a matter of faith. But then, so is our accession to the idea that logic is valid and meaningful.

    For the secular minded, the question of what kinds of actions will be remembered thankfully by posterity can in principle be decided by examination of independently verifiable science. But of course the state of such a science has never really been very satisfactory, for the simple reason that one of the variables in the equation is what kind of society the people trying to be remembered are working to create. And the recursive reason that one of the ways to create that society is by adjusting the “science” which predicts its development.

    Of course, my own perspective is shaped by the fact that what I regard as the core of my person does not care about its own survival, because it isn’t in question. Put simply, as long as what exists exists and what doesn’t exist doesn’t exist, the essential desire that orders my self is satisfied. Preservation of that self is unnecessary, because that self is nothing more than a means to the inevitable, regardless of the what that inevitability may be. Why that self has been attached to an illimitable desire for what will be to become is a question that cannot be feasibly answered in this space or language. The point is just that not all selves necessarily desire survival at all, whether individual or memetic. But of course most do.

    But even after dispensing with the minority of intelligent minds for whom survival in any form is not their primary purpose, the quandary of those minds which are seeking their own preservation and advancement gives rise to a multitude of possible answers based on individual experience and available concepts. In religious vs. secular, we see on the one hand faith in subjective survival against dependence on objectively verifiable survival of the thoughts and values of a mind. In differing secular views of what posterity will be (and hence the “best” way to be remembered by it) we see a strong influence of both what people desire posterity to be disposed to remember well and the variability of what reasonably might be predicted about it given the lack of any rigorous and reliable science on the subject. In differing religious views the lack of scientific evidence for what the afterlife is really like leaves most people entirely dependent on mere tradition, while those motivated to find a doctrine suitable for themselves are led towards the vision of the afterlife in which the rewards offered are of the kind they should really enjoy and for the kinds of acts they are willing to perform. It is not an accident that Koranic Islam offers mastery over slaves (both sexual and servile) as a reward for Jihad, or that Buddism offers extinction of individual suffering in exchange for a life devoted to contemplation, or that Christians seek an intimate relationship with an perfect example of pure love in exchange for cultivating their personal charity.

    Many traditional religions do not have this kind of clear unity between the kind of acts they demand in life and the kind of afterlife those acts are supposed to earn. But then why should the act and the consequence seem alike? Our natural experience of the world teaches us to associate particular acts with particular consequences, but often our untaught intuition of which acts would seem most similar to a consequence are completely wrong, as we see easily when introduced into a setting with which we do not have prior experience. How many people have lived life, died, and remembered both the life and consequent afterlife well enough to make an association by experience? Well, the answer to that question generally depends on the religion you believe.

    And, as is true of the social sciences on which secularists depend for answers about the shape of posterity that will praise or vilify their ideas and values, religions are formed by people who are seeking to enact their own idea of survival (not always religious for those who originate religions, nor secular for those that introduce alterations to “social science”).

    The prophets and law-givers of religious and secular views on how to secure survival of the mind, whether of the ideas and values or of the subjective experience, will always be with us. They will always have characteristics of extraordinary intellect, whether or not it is measurable by IQ tests. They will always stand out as leaders and innovators in addressing the moral issues of their day. But some cultures will embrace them and others will kill them. Islam has been killing its really innovative minds for centuries. It has only prospered where there was no strong existing religion to oppose it. Western Christianity, with its lack of ingrained pacifism, is more than a match for Islam even at poor odds in military and economic strength. And with its emphasis on individualism and innovation, it will tend to enjoy natural advantages over time.

    Even secular Communism can easily withstand Islam, though I see no profit in such a ‘victory’. It is really only the confused, uncommitted, vacillating mixture of watered-down ‘Christian’ socialism and multiculturalism which is bound to fail in the face of Islam. And that because it is a moral outlook designed to fail its adherents, by followers of a secret plan to ensure that posterity is only composed of a select group of elites and slaves who will all revere their founders for the slaughter of the rest of humanity. But the propagation of their opiate has failed to penetrate the core adherents of Western Christianity and its associated philosophies. In the crisis, those abandoning the sabotaged wreck of Western Civilization will mostly rally around the banners raised by proponents of its original ideals. Not that this will cost nothing or happen instantly, many lives and vast wealth will be sacrificed that could have been saved if not for the saboteurs. Still, what survives will be stronger for having gone through that fire.

    Of course, humanity itself is going to come to an end eventually. And most religious views (which is all that is left once you accept the inevitability of biological extinction) don’t hold out much in the way of hope for those that conspired in mass murder to make themselves the objects of worship…particularly when they are going to end up failing in such an embarrassing manner.

  3. Thanks for sharing this exchange. It made me think about the mentioned subjects in a associative way, which does not happen often while I read various articles.

    I have not thought much about Artificial Intelligence in many years, although I found the concept very interesting and challenging from both technical and philosophical angles when I first heard of it. What I have come across more recently is the concept of the singularity, the point where the advances and changes are happening so fast that they represent something “beyond which events cannot be predicted”. It could be argued from a purely technical angle (and possibly from other angles as well) that we are approaching such a state/point. Very interesting stuff:

    The sense-of-self before IQ-intelligence exchange also interested me a lot. I have long been of the opinion that IQ only measures one or some aspects of our total capacity, and that it might not even be the most important ones in any given society or for the survival of the individual/family/clan/culture. I have seen among people who do not necessarily have high IQ scores a very interesting trend during the last 10-15 years. Caucasian males marrying and reproducing exclusively with females of other ethnic origins. Analyzed in a very shallow way, that could be seen as the result of the never-ending cultural Marxist propaganda, bending ones knees to the multicultural society if you will. But, as the above exchange did with the mechanics, one might speculate if there is another factor than high IQ here, one which is more related to self-reproduction. A male (or indeed female) may “hide” his genes in what he sees as a more likely to survive vehicle or population variety, and thereby gaining survival of personal genes. The non-intellectual defense of their genes future possibility of success. It does not save a “race” as such, but does possibly increase the chances for some of it’s gene pool surviving into the future, in a defense strategy chosen by individuals. The suicide culture may have it’s individual and practical dissenters.

    • I stop by Ray Kurzweil’s web site several times a week. That’s how I keep up on the latest “singularity” and “transhumanism” news. Those folks are scary. If there ever was a movement that will gives us “Skynet” from the Terminator movie franchise, these folks are it.

      Consider the question, if they made computers as intelligent as humans, would they still suffer from all of the same flaws and foibles that humans do? The correct answer is, yes. This is the fatal flaw in the singularity and transhumanism thinking; the assumption that human intelligence, by going to machines, becomes perfectible.

      A discussion current in the fields of AI and robotics concerns the fact that if robots are going to function autonomously within the human population, they will have to be programmed with some kind of sense of self. Otherwise, without that layer of programming, a robot won’t be able to distinguish between, what is/isn’t the proper respectful, ethical and moral response to make when interacting with other human beings.

      Your last paragraph brings up an interesting observation that is reminiscent of R. Dawkins’ notion of the selfish gene.

      • The technological/economical singularity hypothesis are just as interesting as the AI/transhumanism versions, although one may theorize that the first is a follow-through effect of the second.

        I do share your apprehension about creating another “species” that are as or more intelligent than humans in our environment. It could easily end up in a competition for resources, like we now have between different ethnic and cultural groups in the human population. However, I do not think it is possible to stop any technical evolution. Serious issues. Reminds me that reading Asimovs Robot series as a young man might not have been as much of a time-waster as I have led myself to believe 🙂

        Yes, I thought about the selfish gene after reading what I had written. I have not read the book myself yet.

  4. The political elites genes debased as lecherous asylum seekers, selfish and treacherous refugees suicidally plunging into inferior gene pools.

    Ragazzi del ’99

    • okay, Julie Rouge…the Baron and I puzzled over this one and neither of us could understand the meaning of the sentence, though I will say that “inferior gene pools” raises my antennae re civil discourse.

      You are a valued commenter so I have let it in, but would you please explain this? It is opaque to me.

      • @Dymphna,

        No disrespect intended, was dumb thinking aloud of the possibility of stalemated Trojan genes that would seek out less competitive hosts to lie dormant in until the competitive stalemate was broken then reactivating when environmental conditions were again advantageous. Not gene suicide but game spoiling retrograde survival.

  5. For most of the history of the world, the elites held power through their mastery of military power. The modern age, however has conferred more power on a non-military intellectual and industrial elite. The old military elites held the weapons and the totalitarian power which enabled them to fend off competition. But the new intellectual elites find it difficult, in a democracy, to fend off competition from other rising intellectuals and industrialists. Hence the hatred and vitriol directed by both the old military aristocracy and by the new Marxists intellectuals at the despised “bourgeoisie.” The bourgeoisie are, potentially, the competition. (Just think of Karl Marx, who married a noblewoman, and liked to sit around with her aristocratic father and carp about the unworthiness of the new capitalists. Both Marx and the aristocracy loathed the dynamism and change that a capitalist meritocracy represents.) – – – Regarding the Baron’s premise above, I believe that our modern elites have no intention of committing suicide themselves; they mean only to effect the cultural, and perhaps genetic, suicide of the Western bourgeoisie, thereby eliminating the competition, and ending, once and for all, those pesky notions of individual rights and freedoms.
    Just look at our leaders in Washington – exempting themselves from Obamacare, from discrimination charges in their hiring and firing of staff, etc. etc. Look at their contempt for working class people who resisted busing, while they themselves sent their own children to nice safe private schools. Our elites will make money doing business with Saudi princes, and someone else’s daughters will be raped by Muslim immigrants. Our elites intend to replace our self-respecting, freedom-loving middle class with desperate immigrants and self-hating white kids who will more easily accept tyranny.
    – – It is hard to ignore the Jewish factor in all this. Were the members of the Frankfurt Group so appalled by the Holocaust that their intellectual descendants are now willing to destroy Western Civilization at any cost? Even if it means opening the floodgates to an even more antisemitic Islam? Apparently so. What else could explain our intellectuals’ current rejection of the Enlightenment as some sort of fraud? Truth and reason are out (they were discredited by slavery and the Holocaust) and naked redistribution of power is in. (Never mind that the parties doing the redistributing will have unthinkably tyrannical power themselves.) Multi-culturism and “respect” for the “other” are the highest virtues, but only when applied to non-Westerners. Westerners themselves must accept insult and contempt and grovel in self-hatred.
    Now I have enormous respect for Jewish genius and their high achievement in the hard sciences. But they have spawned some of history’s very worst ideas in the social and political sciences. (Perhaps I would be bitter and blinded, too, had I lost all my relatives in the Holocaust.) And our American universities are now completely dominated by their thinking. Recall that Princeton students held a protest over the fact that Princeton is less than 20% Jewish, while other Ivy League schools admit 20% or more! Less than 2% of the population, and they complain if less than 20% admission to elite schools?!? This is madness. We need to reclaim our Universities, our government and our media. The sick ideas that are now being promulgated will, in the long run, do no one any good – not even our bitter and misguided “elites.”

  6. Transhumanism represents an interesting inflection point in the continuum of survival of the mind between secular and religious. Transhumanists posit that the social sciences can predict that there is a point at which a the accelerating development of technology leads to a mathematical discontinuity in the curves denoting various forms of social development, called the Singularity.

    Transhumanism shares the secular origin of faith in an imperfect branch of science. But it looks to a day not too far removed at which the advance of other sciences will make survival of the subjective experience of the mind as readily objectively possible as survival of the ideas and values, thus offering the same promises of traditional religions. What is interesting to me is how content most transhumanists seem to be to stop there rather than considering the consequences.

    The logical implication of the singularity would be transcendence of the human form and limitations, hence the term “transhuman”. But nothing about crossing this threshold implies a halt to continued development after humanity has ceased to be human. While the curves defined by that progress can no longer be measured in terms of previous measures of wealth and quality of life once the basic units against which those measures are currently calculated (humans and their biological needs) have been abolished, there must be a logic which dictates the progression of events.

    Essentially two possible futures emerge after humanity ceases to be human. Either the expansion of knowledge and capability of transhumans will encounter a limit, or it will not. If it encounters a limit, the result will not be a new equilibrium similar to the old of the means of survival balanced against human needs. Leaving behind the limits of the human form ensures that unlimited adaptation will overcome any imposition of stability. Transhuman development will ensure that, if there is not continuous advance, there will be precipitous decline. A return to equilibrium would require a return to the bounds of the human condition (or some sufficiently similar condition in which there were definite bounds on the transhuman ability to continuously adapt). Transhumanity must either continuously improve or die out (whether it would be possible for a transhumanity in decline to return to human limitations rather than simply go extinct is an interesting question, it may be that only an advancing transhumanity could successfully ‘reboot’ the human condition).

    If transhumanity does not encounter any limit in development, then an interesting philosophical question arises. At what point will they be functionally omniscient and omnipotent? Or, if one wishes to be pragmatic about it, when do they develop the ability to look into the past for interesting people who lived and died long before the Singularity occurred, and perfectly recreate their minds to enrich the transhuman community? And how does this differ from resurrection or some other traditional religious afterlife?

    If one accepts the idea that transhumans would prefer to translate existing human minds rather than exterminate them (ala machine uprising/robot revolution), one has to consider that retrieving particular minds which demonstrated exceptional characteristics would be an activity that would continue as the means of accomplishing it became ever more advanced. Some transhumanists make arrangements to have their brains cryogenically preserved so as to have some hope of thus benefiting from the Singularity in the event that they don’t live through it. And the ease of restoring the function of a given mind might be a significant consideration of how soon the subjective experience of that mind was restored. But is it at all likely that ease of revival would factor into how significant a place that mind would occupy in the order of a transhumanity committed to continuous advance rather than decay? Mere restoration of consciousness should be easy and cheap enough that it would be plausible that transhumanity would decide to extend that benefit as far as possible. But reliance on minds to make important decisions with possible implications for the overall fate of the transhuman community could not be decided on the basis of mere availability without endangering the continued advance of transhumanity.

    Qualities of personal character which define the kind of decisions a mind is likely to make would seem to be necessarily the most important basis on which to assign those minds a significant role in shaping the development of transhumanity, and this would be just as true of minds recovered from information about the past as those translated to transhumanity from living humans at the time of the Singularity. Which is to say that, if we take the implications of transhumanism seriously, it would appear to be the basis for a religious rather than a secular view of the survival of the mind.

    A even more interesting question is on what basis we are to regard the Singularity and transhumanity as being in the future. Why is it at all unlikely that an unlimited transhumanity has already come to pass and is ‘farming’ humanity for additional minds, allowing those new potential assets to the overall community to demonstrate the qualities of moral character in a struggle against the essential limitations associated with human existence?

    And with that, transhumanism is indistinguishable from traditional religion, and would probably necessarily be identical with one or another of the world’s religions, or at least the founding ethical strain on which that religion is based. But we needn’t go that far. Even if transhumanity is entirely in the future, their advance will inevitably result in sufficient access to information about the past to ensure that they can ‘recruit’ any minds from history which have demonstrated values useful to the future. Unless transhumanity is instead doomed to a deterioration which could only be halted by restoring the fixed limitations of something like the human form.

  7. Thank you Dymphna.

    We first meet on Belmont Club, back in its original days when it was hosted on Blogspot and Richard Fernandez went under the pen name Wretchard the Cat. You and the Baron had just started Gates of Vienna and invited me over to participate. The rest is history.

    I long ago got tired of watching Western Society circle the drain. I want to fight back. But before you can fight back …and win, you first have to find your opponents weak points. That was the whole point, for me anyway, of our email exchange. So I’m respectfully asking commenters to stick to that theme.

    As far as discussions of transhumanism and further comments on race, religion and IQ, …just stop it! Discussions centered on these topics have gone around the same block so many times now, that it should be clear to everyone that those lines of inquiry are taking us nowhere. While race, religion and IQ might have important roles to play on the world stage they are, most definitely, not the main factors driving the disintegration of Western culture.

    It has been noted countless times that when dealing with those on the pro-politically correct multicultural (PC/MC) side of the debate, that facts just don’t matter to them. Eric Hoffer in his book “The True Believer” captured this personality trait perfectly. But how do you break through the true believer’s shell. That’s the question. And what I was trying to suggest to the Baron was that point of vulnerability would be found in a person’s sense of self.

    Speaking from the point of view of computing hardware, our sense of self forms the interface between our thoughts and our emotions. It is the “control panel” by which the meme sets that shape our thoughts are able to dictate our actions. (An emotion, for the sake of this discussion, being simply “that which motivates”.)

    If part of your sense of self is found in a respect for truth, then arguments based on truth, be it historical, scientific, mathematical or logical, will have the power to influence your thinking and motivate you to action. But if one’s sense of self is grounded elsewhere, the approval of one’s peer group, for example, then fact-based arguments will come across as no more than background noise.

    It has been via our sense of self that the PC/MC crowd has been able to control the debate all of these years. Accusations of racism, homophobia, and so on, only work on people because contained deep in their sense of self, are the Judeo-Christian notions of mercy, compassion, forgiveness, and charity. And hearing those words of accusation has the power to shame them into compliance. Like a bit in a horse’s mouth, the forces of PC/MC have been using Western society’s better virtues as tools against it.

    So if I could talk to people like Paul Weston, Fjordman, Pat Condell, and all of the other outspoken commenters whose words grace this site, I would remind them that they are dealing with people over whom the truth has no power. So if they want to win on the battlefield of ideas, truth by itself is not enough. They’re going to have to do two things. First, they need to immunize their own side so that the PC/MC crowd can no longer use our better virtues against us. Then second, they need to make the fight personal. Do to them, what they have been doing to us, find that point of vulnerability in their opponent’s sense of self, and kneecap their opponent’s arguments there.

  8. Pingback: Kneecapping the Progressives | Gates of Vienna

  9. Well, what we do to protect our sense of self is largely dependent on what part of the self we believe can actually be protected from the inevitability of corporeal death. When you say “respect for truth”, do you mean the secular idea of truth that will be judged by later generations, or the religious idea of truth that is judged by some divine power? Or, are you a transhumanist who believes that the later generations will become that divine power?

    What we think of as truth isn’t really separable from our idea of who, ultimately, gets to decide what was or wasn’t truth. One of the great problems with elites is that they do not have real experience of the natural world, which does not yield to entreaties or demands. They live (and were generally raised) in an environment where every possible need could be met or denied on the basis of negotiation with other people, and generally (as elites) they had the upper hand in those negotiations. When they take the secular idea of truth as being something that is decided by later generations, it is completely consonant with their experience to believe that they can shape posterity to affirm whatever truth they decide to promote. It’s not that they have not respect for “truth”, it’s just that their native inclination is to think of it as something negotiable on terms favorable to themselves.

    I personally recognize “truth” as simply divinely ordained. But unlike the religious, I do not have a directly subordinate relationship to the divine, so the fact that “truth” just means whatever God affirms does not imply that I would give it more respect on that basis alone. It is more interesting to me because God can affirm it and remain divine, which is not a necessary (or even common) characteristic of that which is called “truth” on the basis of being affirmed by others.

    But I must point out that this is not and cannot be a battle of ideas. To characterize it thus is to concede at the outset. If we accept the idea that “truth” is whatever later generations will affirm, and that they will affirm whatever they are taught, then the definition of “truth” which is the basis of the secular elite’s attempt to shape the culture is the clear winner. The problem is that posterity only gets to affirm anything if it exists, and it won’t if the current generation acts on the basis of what the elite affirms.

    This is not a theoretical fight, it is a real struggle for survival, and only those willing to actually fight and kill to preserve their individual lives and freedom are going to have any real hope to survive and pass on their values to “posterity”. But those fighting to preserve individual life and freedom are not very moved by the idea of having “posterity” affirm them. They are fighting for some kind of individual survival, which is more likely to be religious in concept, even if not associated with a particular religion’s expression.

    That, ultimately, is the weak point of the elites’ propaganda (and of Islam). Their “truths” do not promote survival in the real world, where nature does not care who affirms your assertion, but reacts to your actions without pity, mercy, or acknowledgment of your value and significance. There won’t be any “posterity” to laud those who accepted and promoted the “truths” of PCMC.

    A majority of people won’t accept this. So? They aren’t going to survive. It’s that simple.

  10. To make this really simple, it is the man with the sword in his hand and the willingness to use it that wins the day in the end. The smartest dumb people I know have fallen for the all things being equal nonsense, when it is clear as day it isn’t. You all what to know how this ends?Everybody is afraid to mention it because it is too terrible for the mind to process. We as a people will get to a point where we are tired of being taken advantage of, of watching our daughters being raped and govt largesse that takes from us and gives to the other. We are living at the crossroads of history of whether we go the way of Rome, as the barbarians took over, or we as a collective voice say enough is enough and take the steps necessary to ensure our survival while our enemies perish. I am of the glass is half full narrative and believe that we will survive, but what kind of govt we end up with after all is said and done is a crap shoot.

  11. Well! They say fools rush in, but here’s my sixpennyworth (as we used to say in Britain when I was younger).
    I’m not a true student of anything, not having attended university, but I believe the C18th Enlightenment was the best thing to happen to humanity to date. It led to the abolition of slavery (on much of the planet), emancipation of women (ditto), universal suffrage (ditto again), separation of Church and State (extra ditto), not to mention the French revolution (admittedly a mixed success!) and the US Constitution.
    My ancestry is North of England Nonconformist (Quaker, Presbyterian, Methodist), ie. anti the established Church of England (roughly equivalent to Episcopalian). So while I take no credit for my predecessors’ actions, they were likely in the vanguard of opposition to oppression of black people and women, which means they were on the political Left. When I was a child, someone being black or Jewish was just something interesting about them (though Catholics were a bit suspect!). I understand that the American experience is different (Lincoln was a Republican, George Wallace a Democrat).
    Nevertheless, it has been mainly “Liberals” and “Socialists” (still not quite dirty words here) who have advanced the cause of equality this side of the Pond and conservatives who have consistently opposed it, and I am proud to associate myself with the former; the battle is far from won, as the gap between rich and poor continues to widen in the US and here in the UK. Communism (“Socialism with a gun to make you take it”) is rightly discredited, but even in Soviet Russia everyone had a job, even if it was made up, and everyone had a home, even if it was a tiny flat.
    So I remain proudly on the political Left here in the UK on most issues, but have had my eyes opened over Islam, PC, MC and the betrayal of the Enlightenment, partly thanks to my brother in Vancouver who forwarded one of the videos of Pat Condell (former Labour supporter) a couple of years ago. I may even Vote UKIP next time.
    So please, allowing for the difference between US and European perspectives, can we end the knee-jerk condemnation of people on the Left who offer an alternative perspective, even if it is democratically endorsed? Allende in Chile was a legitimately elected Socialist president, deposed with US collaboration in favour of a Fascist military dictator who tortured and killed opponents.
    My late parents defended free speech against Fascism for six years. I’m well aware of the huge debt we owe the Russians (who paid the biggest toll in blood, though scarcely in defence of democracy), and the Americans; thanks to Roosevelt, who prioritised the European war; in late 1943 young Americans were falling out of burning bombers over Germany by day even faster than Brits and allies (especially Canadians) by night. I’m fighting tears for all of them as I type this.
    So, allowing for the different perspectives, is it unreasonable to ask for a moratorium on attacks on people of the Left, so long as we agree on the common objective of defeating Islamism? We can debate the (democratically chosen) alternatives over a beer once the main enemy is defeated, as after 1945.

  12. A mindless and soulless war of survival, history and the honours of monument building goes to the victor.

    Make mine a “99”

  13. We can no longer afford to rely on debate to choose the course to survival.

    The story of Noah is instructive. He warned the people, but he didn’t wait till everyone or anyone agreed about the danger before he started acting to secure survival for himself and his family. And when the rains came, he didn’t hesitate to close the door, because he’d already given everyone a chance to be on board.

    Prosperous societies inevitably come to be ruled by those who have no ability to understand the real consequences of their decisions. And yet there are almost always some individuals who manage to survive. The whole society didn’t get together and agree that the survivalists were doing the right thing, they did it without the permission or help of the rest of their society. Yes, they usually warned that the society was choosing self-destruction, but they didn’t wait for agreement before they started acting on their own. When “the rains came”, they were able to refuse any responsibility to help those who had ignored their advice to prepare.

    Waiting for everyone to agree about the problem is fatal. And it is unpersuasive as well. If you want to convince people that you know a flood is coming, start building an ark. If you want to convince them that it can wait, talk and do nothing till everyone agrees.

    • Have not got two sticks to rub together never mind the gopherwood to build an ark, could it be that Gates of Vienna is the 21st century Noah’s Ark – a virtual Ark on a digital ocean of chaos.

      Welcome aboard.

      • Gates of Vienna, along with all other virtual endeavors, can only be our cry to repentance, it will not serve to protect anyone from the storm that is coming. The voice of warning raised here justifies you in refusing to aid those that ignored it, so that you may conserve your efforts in aid of those who were willing to pay heed.

        The audience here is too diverse in circumstance for me to say with any confidence what particular provisions for the future anyone must make. But those provisions must be more than words, however fine. An emergency supply of food and fuel, perhaps. Weapons, if feasible, or at least the expertise to make them from available materials. A knowledge of survival skills pertinent to the local terrain, and a plan for evacuation to someplace that you believe will be able to hold strong. Some or all of these may be forbidden by law to many who read this…which says much about those who presume to call themselves our leaders and their real agenda.

        Some of what you do may of necessity be secret for it to be effective in the event. And there is no safety or surety. Millions will die in what is coming, and not all of them deservedly. Indeed, if your only preparation is to make your peace with God and publish your final testament, I will not call that insufficient.

        But prepare.

Comments are closed.