Archives for category: Basic Principles

We train our enemies.

This seems to me the most important lesson of conflict.

So if you see your enemy going berserk, you should wonder if you drove your enemy to extremity. And your enemy, likewise, drove you to the place where you drove him bonkers.

The Law of Nemesis may seem mysterious, but its working have been noticed since ancient times.

We should study this, carefully. It is in all of our interest to do so.

But the first step is to consiser the possibility that you are almost certainly at least partially in the wrong.

As is your enemy.

This truth, however, isn’t nearly as shocking as its inverse: that your enemy is likely at least partially in the right.

Where can we learn of this? Sun Tzu; von Clausewitz?

One might turn from conflict theory to metaphysics:

We too often forget that not only is there “a soul of goodness in things evil,” but very generally also, a soul of truth in things erroneous. While many admit the abstract probability that a falsity has usually a nucleus of reality, few bear this abstract probability in mind, when passing judgment on the opinions of others. A belief that is finally proved to be grossly at variance with fact, is cast aside with indignation or contempt; and in the heat of antagonism scarcely any one inquires what there was in this belief which commended it to men’s minds. Yet there must have been something. And there is reason to suspect that this something was its correspondence with certain of their experiences: an extremely limited or vague correspondence perhaps; but still, a correspondence. Even the absurdest report may in nearly every instance be traced to an actual occurrence; and had there been no such actual occurrence, this preposterous misrepresentation of it would never have existed. Though the distorted or magnified image transmitted to us through the refracting medium of rumour, is utterly unlike the reality; yet in the absence of the reality there would have been no distorted or magnified image. And thus it is with human beliefs in general. Entirely wrong as they may appear, the implication is that they germinated out of actual experiences—originally contained, and perhaps still contain, some small amount of verity.

More especially may we safely assume this, in the case of beliefs that have long existed and are widely diffused; and most of all so, in the case of beliefs that are perennial and nearly or quite universal.

Herbert Spencer, First Principles (1862; 1867), opening argument.
Herbert Spencer (1820 – 1903)

Be polite to polite people. Be cuttingly, bitingly polite to rude people. Avoid violent people, but be prepared for violence if avoidance is not an option.

Approach each encounter offering the best . . . but be ready for the worst. The rule, after initial encounter, is reciprocity, tit for tat. When asymmetry appears inevitable, defend, be prepared even to destroy. Anything else risks encouraging the worst behaviors.

We train strangers and even our enemies. As well as our friends. 

Some might say this is what it means ‘to be a man.’ But I am unclear how this would not apply to women.

twv

The Law of Nemesis holds that you conjure up your own destruction — at least when hubris is your modus.

And sometimes your nemesis is your very dear self.

In war, the obvious problem is: to fight your enemy you become more like your enemy. The United States, in fighting two empires in World War II, became more imperial; in fighting the Soviets in the Cold War, the U.S. became more tyrannical and deceitful — even setting up disinformation bureaus.

In fighting racism, Americans are becoming more racist. Admittedly, it is a new kind of racism. Which makes the putative anti-racists look . . . ridiculous.

The turning point is when enough people see that white anti-white racism is utterly stupid, and its willing victims risible.

The “resistance” to Donald J. Trump is similar, but not just by an invisible hand process: it is by design. Sure, the center-left and the center-right conjured up their nemesis in the form of Trump. But Trump is savvy enough to know how to play his opponents. He makes his opponents oppose him in ways that make them look ridiculous.

That seems to have recently changed, in the context of the pandemic panic and the race riots. But I expect Trump to get his game back.

Because, I think, he instinctively — and perhaps consciously — understands the Law of Nemesis. And his enemies do not. They think he is ridiculous and that they look better for pointing it out.

That is part of their hubris.

Pride goeth before a fall.

twv

It is not “privilege” to possess “justice.” If some people are treated justly and others aren’t, calling the former “privileged” corrupts the meaning of the terms.

And when the language becomes corrupt, the corrupt triumph while the innocent are abused — or are themselves corrupted.

Master Kung was right. Words matter. Whether through slovenliness or guile, when the meanings change of key words, we are endangered.

Semantic drift is like inflation: meaning shifts are like newly created money, the new meanings benefit early adopters at the expense of those late to the change.

If some are not treated justly, the proper response is not to attack the just as “privileged.” The proper response is to extend the reach of justice.

Word of caution, though: justice in society depends upon reciprocity.

Now, those who are indeed privileged at the expense of innocent victims, the abused, they should be subject to criticism, and their privileges taken away. Just do not pretend that privileges are justice. That is an excuse for injustice.

twv

Leaders have the courage of their own convictions. 

Censors have the cowardice of their own convictions.

twv

I am old enough to remember when censorship was a conservative thing.

By the Law of Nemesis, censorship by conservatives doomed conservatism in America; conservatives conjured up their enemies and ensured their enemies’ success. By censoring, conservatives provided the major impetus to the astounding successes of the left-progressives.

But the Law never ceases to make fools of Homo politicus: as left-progressives won battle after battle and came to dominate the institutional make-up of modern society, the progressives could not help but become reactionary, protective of their successes and fearful of intellectual attacks upon them. And so the left became alarmed. They girded their loins and moved to censor their opponents, for fear of losing political power and institutional dominance.

And their leftiness became rightiness as they adopted the essentially conservative stance of the Censor. Their attitudes and arguments today are almost identical to those of the conservatives of my youth.

Yes, every day I laugh at left-progressivism.

And nearly every day I openly tell progressives how reactionary they have become, and how they are losing their grand battle. You might think that my explicit explanations of their error might lead them to reform, nudge them to shore up their power by laying off the censorship and cultural heavy-handedness. But they cannot help themselves. Power corrupts, and their success has made them stupid. They will continue to oppress until they begin to lose. Hubris is in full play.

The only real danger is that they throw off all constraints and set up the totalitarian state at the heart of their statist imagination.

And prevent the lurch back, rightward, thereby. If you kill enough people, you can win.

If they do this, I, too, probably will die in their gulags.

But the normal course is for them to lose. The pendulum swings, and their nemeses shall conquer.

Even a totalitarian state, which they itch for, will not ensure permanence to their program, though. In the end, they will fall. Unfortunately, if they take on full authoritarianism, their fall will only come after another genocide, probably of white people. (Their memes insist.)

But let us not pretend that the Law of Nemesis is all tragedy and horror. The comedy of American politics shows each swing right-left/left-right to be a droll dance of inanity one-upped by insanity. The hubris of Democrats in pushing Bill Clinton led to Republicans selecting that buffoon George Walker Bush; the over-reach and managerial incompetence of the Republicans led to the cultural reaction to the stylistic “cool” of a half-African “black” man, who pushed into law an unpopular reform, and then ginned up a race war; Democrats’ choice for champion of the most unpleasant and corrupt and incompetent warmonger of all time, Hillary Clinton, dared Republicans to select as their agent of chaos Donald M. Trump — all quite ludicrous.

But now, to counter the “unqualified” and “sexist” Trump, Democrats have embraced . . . Joe “The Sniffer” (and alleged “Fingerer”) Biden — a man clearly more corrupt and inappropriate than the Democrats’ nemesis, Trump.

It is as if left and right are driving each other crazier and crazier each election.

So to ensure defeat of Trump, Democrats now embrace censorship. It is a performative admission of their pathetic vacuity. But, what can they do? Wise up before November? Hardly.

Alas, conservatives in conquering mode are hardly better. There is a reason I despise conservatism. 

The will to censor is at the heart of all statisms, and these “leftist” and “rightist” urges are unbalanced.

And libertarians, who offer a balancing principle, probably will be of no help in governing these two goofy warring tribes, for libertarians think that they, themselves, are either radical or right-wing or (most pathetically) the “true left.” Unable to see themselves as moderates, they cannot moderate.

And we are doomed to witness the Law of Nemesis make fools of us all.

twv

Here is a man whose place in history demonstrates something different than what he intended. John Flammang Schrank (March 5, 1876 – September 15, 1943) shot Theodore Roosevelt in the chest during a speech on October 14, 1912, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. TR survived. 

Schrank claimed to have had nothing against TR the man (I do: TR was a lunatic, as many of his contemporaries testified), but, instead, TR “the third-termer.” 

A good grudge, on the whole. But . . . not a good act.

Schrank’s claim that former President William McKinley, himself famously fatally shot by Chuckles the Anarchist, had come to him in a dream instructing him to do the deed got him into a nuthouse instead of prison.* And, as a warning to future presidents not to seek a third term, Schrank proved spectacularly unsuccessful, considering that another Roosevelt survived a third term in office and got part way into his fourth.

TR went on to make a terrific speech — one that I largely disagree with for a variety of reasons, but it was quite good rhetorically. This part still carries some power:

When the Republican Party — not the Republican Party — when the bosses in the control of the Republican Party, the Barneses and Penroses, last June stole the nomination and wrecked the Republican Party for good and all; I want to point out to you nominally they stole that nomination from me, but really it was from you. They did not like me, and the longer they live the less cause they will have to like me. But while they do not like me, they dread you. You are the people that they dread. They dread the people themselves, and those bosses and the big special interests behind them made up their mind that they would rather see the Republican Party wrecked than see it come under the control of the people themselves. So I am not dealing with the Republican Party. There are only two ways you can vote this year. You can be progressive or reactionary. Whether you vote Republican or Democratic it does not make any difference, you are voting reactionary.

Note, however, the pure demagoguery of stealing an election ‘from you.’ Such men as TR, alas, are almost impossible to keep away from power. 

Trump seems a bit like that, though far less tyrannical and murderous than TR. I mean, Trump doesn’t have TR’s death count and deeply racist version of American imperialism and eugenics.

It is common among today’s Democrats to admit to admiring only one Republican, Teddy Roosevelt. This does not reflect well on them, in my opinion, and as much as I shrink from murderous violence, my mind not rarely drifts to Schrank.

That admission being made, and daydreams acknowledged, I make no more outrageous confessions: though in my dreams I may or may not follow others’ instructions, and I may or may not commit crimes, I insist that I do not take Dream Time commands and put them into action during Waking Life.

Further, my support for term limits itself is subject to certain limitations. One of them is: I will not kill for them.

twv


* Wisconsin, the state in which he shot TR, did not have the death penalty — indeed, Schrank followed TR state to state, waiting to pull the trigger until he got to a Progressive state lacking the death penalty.

What is liberty?

as answered on Quora….

Liberty is the freedom that can be had by all, provided each reciprocally abandons predation and parasitism (initiated force) and does not arrogate self over others, or allow others to tyrannize self.

Liberty — depending, as it does, upon the civilized stance, which is the cautious attitude of curiosity and the reserved expectation of peacefulness on the part of individuals, and which moderates the polarizing natural instincts of fight or flight — is the ideal compromise between dominance and submission, between tyranny and servility.

Or, to switch to the group level:

Liberty is a regulatory solution to the problems caused by in-group/out-group (inclusionary/exclusionary) antagonisms. It does this by regulating the ill treatment of the outsider, requiring a public test for applying coercion, based on the notions of rights/obligations and the suppression of crime and trespass. It applies the same sort of basic rule to all people, as individuals — regardless of group affiliation or institutional alliance.

Further formulations from alternative contexts:

Liberty is the replacement of militant coöperation with voluntary coöperation, understanding that peaceful non-coöperation is not a threat.

Liberty is the honing of threat systems down to a bare minimum by

  1. focusing on the prohibition of the initiation of force as well as by
  2. regarding as bedrock to social order self-defense, and by
  3. regulating retaliation by a rule of law —

all of which allows the flourishing of “enticement systems” (and the spontaneous systemization of flourishing).

Liberty, wrote Voltaire, is “independence backed by force.” While freedom is the absence of initiated opposing force, liberty is that absence grounded throughout society upon the justice of limiting “opposing force” to the defensive.

Liberty is reciprocity universalized, the Silver Rule scaled to all levels of organized society.

Liberty is a limit to government — with government understood in the broadest of social terms.

Liberty is a widespread and baseline personal freedom understood in the context of a distributed division of responsibility.


Dennis Pratt broke down the key concepts, above, into a nifty bullet-point list:

  • universal (for all)
  • civility
  • voluntary cooperation
  • reduced threats
  • defensive force
  • reciprocity
  • limited government
  • distributed responsibility

“The common lot of humanity is so stupid and foolish that the burden of responsibility must be lifted from the blighters, to save them.”

So runs the common rationale.

But, in lifting the burden of responsibility, this common lot become less responsible, having endured decreased incentives to acquire wisdom. This leads to more stupid, foolish people, whose obvious existence feeds the initial rationale, encouraging further unburdenings, and thus more foolish people.

The feedback loop is quite clear, and the direction of policy self-reinforcing. It is a positive feedback loop with extremely negative consequences.

Amusingly, the rationale of unburdening was initially advanced by stupid, foolish people, but as the process goes on, more evidence accumulates to pull in congenitally wiser folks. So while the initial rationale was mere prejudice, later instances are of a kind of wisdom.

It is a trap!

The process was identified by Herbert Spencer: ‘The ultimate result of shielding men from the effects of folly,’ he wrote in mid-19th century Britain, ‘is to fill the world with fools.’

twv

Whenever government assumes to deliver us from the trouble of thinking for ourselves, the only consequences it produces are those of torpor and imbecility.

William Godwin, Enquiry Concerning Political Justice (1793)

…change a paradigm!

Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence?

No.

“Extraordinary claims” are extraordinary in context of accepted dogmas. A very ordinary bit of evidence can falsify an accepted dogma, easily. And with such a falsification, or a series of them, a perspective cascade can invert our notions of ordinary and extraordinary quite fast. We are all aware of paradigm shifts. These are catastrophic/eucatastrophic in nature, and what was once extraordinary becomes ordinary in almost the blink of an eye. 

The maxim “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence” may best serve not as a legitimate epistemic standard but as a conceit to preserve status quo paradigm defense, and thus allow corrupt scientists and others to rig data sets, hide evidence, and distract the attention of honest researchers and innovative thinkers.

Claims require evidence. Sure. But claims to facticity are not all we deal with in our thinking. There is conjecture, supposition, assumption, counterfactuals, what-ifs — all are legitimate in their place. 

Of course, juggling these is hard. We all make mistakes. And we need epistemic maxims, like the “extraordinary claims” warning, like (better yet, but still tricky) Occam’s Razor. Unfortunately, folks commonly adopt a lazy attitude regarding these maxims, making of them too much, and of critical thought generally too little. 

Discovering truth is a tricky business.

I have been spotty so far, not being a scientist or a professional philosopher, etc., etc. But many confident assertions made by public professionals appear increasingly iffy and wayward and even perverse.

twv