The nature of human experience is that one is born into an order with categories and relationships which one does not choose. The ability to contemplate the implications of these is a rare trait and the windows within which groups of individuals are able to do so are small and few. These windows seem to coincide with far-reaching transitions of orders from one set of relations to another, and then, once these transitions are complete, this thinking tends to be lost as further generations take the world they arrive in as a given — a neutral existence. We are currently in one such transition and this affords us an impressive, and possibly crucial, window within which to question the impending relationships which are being forced upon us, and to question if these relationships should not be fought against, tooth and nail.
Liberalism and Technocracy
Modern liberal thought has proved to be exceptionally effective at undermining our ability to perceive the effects of the structure that surrounds us; key to this weakness is the manner in which modern thought has placed a modern liberal individual at the core of all of our predominant epistemology, ethics, and general political thought. This individual is one whose entire makeup is affirmed as being, at base, derived from an internal source. This individual comes into the world as a sovereign entity and navigates the world as such. This individual is held responsible for his actions and is held as an autonomous agent capable of making autonomous decisions. At every stage of our lives, this is reaffirmed over and over again. Granted, there are many exceptions to this in the case of those considered of diminished capacity by dint of being immature, diseased, or in some way infirm/incapable of sufficient thought, but the average healthy individual is considered a fully fledged actor.
This liberal narrative is exceptionally useful in many ways. Firstly, from the point of view of those being told they are individuals in this sense, it has a nice moral feel to it. The individual’s personal freedom is affirmed vigorously. This is extremely flattering in that it asserts that you, specifically, are an extremely capable actor and not under the influence of another. Secondly, from the point of view of those in power, it is of use because it supports a certain cast of power actors in their claims to preeminence; it also provides them with the ability to act with impunity in their manipulation of those without the resources they themselves possess. The powerful and rich can engage in any form of behavior which causes untold harm and their freedom to do so can be comfortably based upon the assertion that those being targeted are responsible individuals capable of making their own choices.
We are currently seeing this play out before our very eyes with the technological developments which have decimated our lives over the past 20 years — developments wrought by Silicon Valley and technological “innovators” in general. We are living in a period in which most of us have previously lived in societies which did not have these “innovations”; so we can still perceive that the relationships being formed are not just given facts of life but are in fact being placed on us by supposedly neutral systems. Once one is capable of seeing that these relationships are being created by social media, mobile phones and the internet in general, it is only a short step to questioning whether previous orders were too neutral or not — and the answer is: they were not. No such thing is possible, but that is the fundamental basis of liberalism, that there is a neutral society or economy which we approach as untouched free agents and then engage in freely chosen actions.
Our previous order, premised on consumerism and mass media, presented to us choices which were not choices. Read paper A, B, C or D to get curated narratives regarding events which you could not possibly confirm or disprove. Buy ice cream from company X, Y, or Z. Go to work for this company or get a job with that company. Vote for one of these two (or three) political candidates. Deliberately encoded specific behaviours were embedded in the incentives of these systems and the choices placed before us — behaviours which one would not think, or could not think, were fundamentally manipulative. Work to buy food. Work to buy products you were scared into thinking you need. Work to buy products to maintain status with your peers. Develop political positions because the media provided you with very specific opinions and details to ensure you would come to those positions. Use words and categories created by academics and dispersed by movies, TV, education — words and categories you cannot really decide to use or not use. We can go on forever, but how many of us during this time questioned any of it?
As dehumanizing and abusive as this liberal system has been, we are now entering a period in which it is, incredibly, becoming worse. Under the old system of mass media, compulsory education, and (so-called) corporate-based life, the human was, under the guise of liberation, stripped of any lingering vestige of awareness as to the role of social relations on his behavior. One saving grace of this system was that there was the ability for the average person to conduct a life in the form of having a family and friends, and, accordingly, engaging in relationships on a personal basis, which escaped the direct influence of the modern state and its various intermediaries. This has been almost completely destroyed by modern technology, technology which serves no good purpose and is completely harmful. There are no justifiable reasons to maintain it at all.
Social Media and Porn
We can begin with social media. What possible benefits do social media platforms provide you with? They allow you to keep in contact? Do you really need to be in that much contact? If our lives are so disjointed and broken that we need to maintain contact with our loved ones or friends via Facebook or whatever messaging app, then those lives surely need to be corrected and those in authority should be working to help us do so. But that is not what these apps are even for in the first place; they are a means of monitoring you, collecting your information for various purposes that do not benefit you, and providing you with a tool to supply you with narratives to mold you towards whatever opinion those in power need you to believe as of now.
As for the negatives beyond this basic manipulation, we have unremitting negative effects on the individual, who is absolutely glued to this social media to the detriment of his mental and physical health in so many different ways. These platforms also incite you to engage in behavior and to say things which you would not normally do. Consider the virtue signalling that these media channels encourage, consider the pandering to followers for likes which you are programmed into engaging in by the Twitter algorithm. Consider the opinions, statements, speech patterns that various platforms encourage and ingrain. You can tell which platforms people use by the idioms and ironic language they use. If someone writes “This ain’t it, chief” or “yikes” or “Kek”, you can tell where they reside. These platforms program you to act in certain ways, and it is not subtle at all.
Can it really be argued that, if there were no Twitter or Facebook, then somehow society would in any way be impeded? How? I guess US intelligence agencies and other actors would be unable to organise and incite mass unrest in disliked regimes, so there is that, I suppose. But for you? How would your life be impeded?
And, of course, we have not even come to the elements of this new structure which are unremittingly horrifying. Consider porn: porn has no good purpose at all, and freely available porn is positively inexcusable. Under what circumstances could any order defend the practice of making pornography freely available — freely in not only being fully accessible to everyone but also monetarily free? Even a child could access a computer, go to a porn site and access it right now. The only barrier would be a brief disclaimer that one is over 18 years old. If you needed a direct insight into how utterly bankrupt and appallingly unfit for purpose our current government structures now are, this is it. What justifies all of this? Responsibility is pushed onto the consumers of the internet. That is the key to it all. And this responsibility is itself premised on liberalism and the individual at its core. The porn site puts up a brief disclaimer and like magic they are innocent of all problems. It is the responsibility of the parents to monitor their kid’s internet usage, and it is the adult’s responsibility to access the porn responsibly — and people actually buy this argument. The porn site, like Twitter, like Facebook and so on, just supplies a platform and is absolved of all responsibility by the simple magic of the liberal individual. This is obscene and any political order that allows it is grotesque and unfit.
On this topic, we can look at something else just as horrifying — dating apps. Dating apps should not exist in any way, shape or form. What sort of ridiculous society would allow things to develop to the point where individuals need to go onto dating apps to meet random people? How utterly destroyed must the society in question be to make it so that its members are so devoid of serious options for finding a partner that they have to resort to such a thing? This is even worse when you come to apps which are designed for hook-up culture, such as Tindr, and of course Grindr, which encourage the most obscene and depraved behavior. Hook-up/pick-up culture is not something which should be allowed, let alone encouraged and made possible on a vast scale by online platforms. This is profiting on abject human misery.
Commerce and Crypto
And then we can move on to simple commerce: Amazon has managed to leverage itself as the dominant intermediary of online retail to monopolise information and supplant successful businesses using its platform, sometimes outright copying them and their products. It has destroyed vast swaths of the high street and supplants these jobs with warehouse work in which workers face poor work conditions. Food apps deliver fast food to the doors of people whose lives are so taken up with work they are unable to cook nutritious meals. People are turned into “gig” workers with zero security. Disruption does not benefit anyone but the monopolies created by the disrupting companies.
On top of this we now have the absolute scourge of crypto. With the promise of getting exceptionally wealthy by producing your own money, crypto has managed to incentivise the most absurd behavior. There is a massive amount of computing power being put to use calculating meaningless mathematical problems to produce cryptocurrency. The arguments put forward to justify it uniformly make no sense and merely form as a cope for what is quite evidently a bizarre hysteria. One minute, bitcoin is a substitute for gold, even though cryptocurrencies like bitcoin can just be made from scratch at any time, and thousands have done just that. It can also be inflated by creating financial instruments on top of it. The next minute, it is a way to act autonomously, even though every transaction is recorded, and of course its clear origins in the US security apparatus are studiously ignored. It was most likely produced, just like the TOR network, as a means to fund security service operatives and then made public to cover this up. The problem is that any criticism is met with the retort that it has been massively successful as an “investment”, but this should be more cause for reflection as opposed to being taken as a victorious retort. Why has it been so successful? Why is financial speculation suddenly an unalloyed good? Why is diverting computing power and electricity to an obviously useless enterprise considered an acceptable use of resources? Why is the wasting of so many people’s time and attention on money-changing and speculation not an absolute scandal? Is any of this ethically justifiable? Does this make anyone a better person or serve any purpose?
None of these developments add to any good beyond the good of the wallets of the speculators, pornographers and the “innovators”. None of them improve our lives in any serious way, yet they are always marketed as doing just that. The drive is always more connectedness, more time online, more convenience for people whose lives have been individualized into dust. But at this point, we are surely nearing the end because the underlying populations that run all of this are collapsing, if not already collapsed. Birth rates are below replacement level in the places that are soaked with this “beneficial” innovation, and are not particularly impressive in any place bar Central Africa and Afghanistan. Even if the numbers were not a prelude to a demographic winter, the health of our populations is abysmal. They are rife with metabolic disorders, medicated beyond reason, corralled into existences that offer little to no hope. They do not even have the reasonable chance to own their own homes, increasingly becoming a renter class. We have been made destitute in fundamental ways and in replacement we have been given endless entertainment, financial speculation, pornography and gadgets that enslave and control us.
Thank you for a very-well formulated text. Although I’m biased, sharing many of your thoughts and quite possbily also sharing the logical process of though (or should that be thoughtful process of logic perhaps?), all what you say is based in noting obvious and publicly available matters of fact and empirical observations.
The perfect example being porn. That is is available to the point of becoming unavoidable is simply an observation of fact; the normative, moral and so on opinions of this and arguments about it is a different beast altogether. A comparison: pre-christian european cultures had no taboos re: nudity, sex or depictions thereof. Greeks and romas even had brothels with illustrated menues, and the owners hired criers running about town endorsing the various specialties on offer. And their societies worked quite well. Not due to lack of s.hame, and certainly not due to lack of or want for morals and ethics. So is the difference in christianity? No, that’s to easy an answer as older, pre-medieval cults outside the church of Rome had no sexual taboos either.
The difference is, the ancient and historical societies, both of white people (to use the american term, even though it’s a very rough metric akin to adjudicating the strenght of chili-beans with a yardstick) and others had order as the pre-eminent ideal. Mechanistic and fatalistic as in asian and semitic cultures, complet with inherited castes and classes, or deed-based as with teutonics and celts, or based in religious fervour and prohpecy as in the Americas – but order was the ideal.
Liberalism, from its first roots in the then budding bourgeois merchant classes of Europe (say 1500s just to drop a year), is not order but chaos. And in our day chaos is ascendant and triumphant. All is torn down, all old is ash and the people are revelling in the freedom of destruction of themselves. Logical, as no freedom is greater than the freedom to voluntarily and needlessly enter into slavery, the freedom to destroy oneself with junk food, drugs, pornography and escapism, and the freedom to always and ever put one’s own personal and immediate satisfaction of wants as the highest ethical principle: greed is now not only good, but god.
I’d argue we, as in “we the West”, are now in the same situation the arabs and chinese were in the 1800s: decadent, splintered, overrun with foreign interests, degenerate and devoid of the old virtues that made our ancestors strong. Going back isn’t possible, it never is, but going forward is and history is cyclical; this era will end with us becoming extinct or on the brink rallying around renewed vigour and aggressively taking back territory ceded to those unfortunate invaders that believed the western suicidal and perfidious degeneracy called liberalism was real and forever.
But how to get there, that is the question. It is far more important to know and understand what we do not want and want to get rid of, than having a utopian and progressive ideal to strive for. All historically succesful revolutions strove to be rid of something, not to arrive at a theorietical Schlaraffenland.
Rikard, retired teacher