Thursday, February 15, 2018

Integration of the Shadows

The Conservative (masculine) Shadow

We once treated nature well. We've been terrible stewards since the industrial revolution        


Jesus espoused mostly feminine values. He was also a SJW. Many recent civilizations torture, rape and kill the feminine, the wild, the untamed and those who resist.

The liberal (feminine) Shadow

Men use to have work that was engaging, challenging and useful to our families and communities.

Now, if we don't want to be racist or misogynist we have boring, abstract, or not appreciated, or not always obviously useful work:

It's no wonder we sometimes turn to violence:

Love, generosity, high ideals are not enough to create a thriving culture. Without boundaries, competition, proportional punishment and monitoring, the idealists are guillotined, sent to gulags, shot, parasitised or crucified.

In the previous post I talked about two collective shadows, one from the Right (or more accurately the conservatives), and one from the Left (or more accurately the liberals). Right and Left are not just about policies but about value hierarchies and personality types (see Jonathan Haidt's work on the 6 values that differ between Right and Left), so it is not surprising that there should be two complexes of symbols and values (with some overlap) and collective memories that are distinctly obscure to these two different groups. It also seems to me that there is a correlation between the conservative personality type and masculinity, and the left and femininity, but it is very imprecise. There might also be a correlation with social class, but we won't discuss that here.  All these might be about left and right brain regions, or about the module in the brain that deals with opposites.

It is possible to do personal integration, but it is also possible to do collective integration. Both of these require facing the shadow, either in oneself, or in the other.

The following examples are supposed to illustrate how a personal shadow might form in the first place (and we can try generalizing about the genesis of collective traumas), through traumatic childhood experiences that are not fully processed. People not willing to look at information, or trying to suppress it is a shadow for me that was probably formed from some of those experiences I mention below. But it's also possible that it's a more general phenomenon that trauma is sometimes buried (perhaps during the process of dissociation) and turns into a shadow. My particular traumas make me especially sensitive to other people's shadows, since they are associated with other people trying to suppress information! 

I know when my shadow is being triggered when I get angry with someone for being a certain way and I start thinking of things that it reminds me of. For example, when someone refuses to look at certain data, whether from science or history, because they are convinced they know already, or because of their faith, I get angry. I think of Galileo trying to show the priests the rings of Saturn through the telescope, and their refusal because it can't possibly be true according to their church dogma (if I recall that story correctly), and their adding salt to injury by wanting to burn him. I especially get mad when people are smug and sure that they are right. Instead of getting mad and projecting my shadow unto them, I could try to delve deeper and face this shadow. First in myself, asking "when did something like this happen in my personal life, maybe during childhood"? I recall playing a board game when someone discounted something I did and would not want to listen to what I was saying and me feeling really hurt by it, like an injustice has been committed. Or the teenage boy who threatened to kill my father if I didn't tie his shoelaces (I was too young to know how to do it properly, but I tried) and then threatening to kill my father if I told anyone. Or my mother pretending (even to her own conscious mind) like the pot roast my grandmother left on the stove without a lid did not have flies in it, and mixing them all in to destroy the evidence so that she could feed it to her coworker for lunch. Or the judge who would not listen to how I was already paying child support in a much greater amount than was appropriate based on my and my ex-wife's income, and how I did not agree with my son being sent to private school, so of course I didn't want to pay extra for his schooling. Or not allowing as evidence that I was a better parent, the answering machine tape that had him begging for me to come get him after being kicked on the floor after refusing to do laundry just the way she wanted. Or not being able to listen to the girl playing guitar at the recital because I was in a laughing mood and causing her to leave the stage in tears because of my laughter. There is a cruelty in me in inflicting on others the same cruelty that has been inflicted on me by others. But instead of facing that cruelty in me, I denounce others when I see it in them. On the other hand, humor and laughter are attempts to integrate opposites, or maybe the two hemispheres. What has come to be known as internet memes also seem to engage both hemispheres and could be a tool for shadow integration.

Beyond the personal, there is collective trauma, such as the Holocaust, or black slavery, or Jim Crow, or the genocide of native people, or witch burnings that I can feel somehow, not just as an abstract intellectual thing. Maybe from a past life, or maybe because our brains are antennae that can pick up information stored in a morphic field (which could be yet unknown to science or a known field like spacetime that has memory storage properties yet unmeasured). There might be some memory in epigenetic changes to bio-molecules. Or maybe from reading history, reading literature and watching historical movies.

So the collective trauma can be addressed by me alone, or by engaging with others who seem to be repeating it, but instead of repeating it, I could try to do something different. But I must be able to engage with them rather than "agreeing to disagree".

Still, it seems that if someone refuses to look at something that they haven't seen before, it could be because they are afraid of unearthing a shadow. I have a similar experience when someone is trying to evangelize me and I refuse to look at their holy book, either because I've already read some of it, or because I've seen enough holy books in my life to know that a book is not going to make much of a difference to me, unless it has some radically new ideas.

I'd like to suggest that if you are feeling an emotional resistance to looking at a movie or reading a book or having a conversation with someone there might be a shadow involved, as opposed to simply not having time.

And who wants to confront his own death? That seems to be a big shadow for many people. What if our whole civilization is dying like all the ones before it? That might be a collective shadow shared by both right and left.

Humor and laughter seem to be integrative experiences, though sometimes they fall short and someone's shadow, instead of being integrated, is triggered.

To summarize, in order to integrate a shadow:
1. Confront it in yourself. Try to remember when it started. Dig deep and go for feelings in addition to insights. Realize that it is not just out there, but a part of you.
2. Confront it in others. Not in a belligerent way, but in a transparent, curious and empathetic way. The people who you are least likely to talk to are the ones that can teach you most about your shadow.
3. Make peace with it in whatever way works, whether through humor, boundary setting, punishment, reward, reading literature, poetry or looking at memes, but most of all understanding.
Most good comedy and poetry tries to integrate shadows. Here is a little poem that touches on some collective shadows:
Tell me again
When I’ve been to the river
And I’ve taken the edge off my thirst
Tell me again
We’re alone and I’m listening
I’m listening so hard that it hurts
Tell me again
When I’m clean and I’m sober
Tell me again
When I’ve seen through the horror
Tell me again
Tell me over and over
Tell me that you want me then


Tell me again
When the victims are singing
And the laws of remorse are restored
Tell me again
That you know what I’m thinking
But vengeance belongs to the Lord
Tell me again
When I’m clean and I’m sober
Tell me again
When I’ve seen through the horror
Tell me again
Tell me over and over
Tell me that you love me then


Tell me again
When the day has been ransomed
And the night has no right to begin
Try me again
When the angels are panting
And scratching at the door to come in
Tell me again
When I’m clean and I’m sober
Tell me again
When I’ve seen through the horror
Tell me again
Tell me over and over
Tell me that you need me then


Tell me again
When the filth of the butcher
Is washed in the blood of the lamb
Tell me again
When the rest of the culture
Has passed through the eye of the camp
Tell me again
When I’m clean and I’m sober
Tell me again
When I’ve seen through the horror
Tell me again
Tell me over and over
Tell me that you love me then

Monday, February 5, 2018

Jordan Peterson and the Collective Shadows of Western Civilization

A Jungian shadow is an unconsious blind spot that can have a will of its own, usually malevolent, or at least animalistic and wild, unconcerned with the needs of others. It can be shared by a whole culture, beyond individual unconsciousness.

The shadow of leftists has been unearthed by Jordan Peterson, although many right leaning people are also aware of it. It is the existence of malevolence, pleasure in domination, greed for power, betrayal, freeloading, relinquishing responsibility/blaming others for hardships and one's personal character inadequacies, objectifying, animalistic lust, in people who should be at the top of the "hierarchy of being oppressed". In everyone, in fact, including the leftists. There is a naivete in leftists who see the world in tribal terms, in good guys vs bad guys terms, or oppressors and oppressed, and are surprised when evil comes from within their own ranks or the ranks of the (previously) oppressed, without or prior to systemic support. They realize it too late, before the guillotine comes down, or as they're picking rocks in the gulag, or as they enter the gas chambers or facing the firing squad (when their liberal neighbors collaborated in their being sent there), or as their wife leaves them with most of their assets and children. JP has an exercise for his students, to have them imagine what it would be like to be a concentration camp guard. But it would be just as useful for them to imagine being a republican farmer, without labeling that person as racist and ignorant. To see what motivates that person that is not just fear or hatred. Or to imagine being the pedophile or the rapist. To see their humanity, their unmet needs for intimacy, for sex, for connection, and also for domination and power. There is an evasion of this latter in NVC (a very liberal invention), which says that real malevolence or domination is an epi-phenomenon, that it is really fear or some strategy for getting genuine benevolent needs met. The Jungian model on the other hand says that the malevolence comes from the shadow when it is not integrated into the individual or collective consciousness (I'll talk about what integration looks like in a future post), so one can be possessed by this force. It is still there when it is integrated, but under control. The malevolence and lust for power of the rapist is matched by the malevolence and lust for revenge of the lynch mob, as they both are possessed by this shadow.

One could say that the left has mostly masculine shadows, whereas the right has mostly feminine shadows. A part of masculine sexuality is dangerous when not integrated. It wants to fuck without concern for the experience of the other. It wants to express power, sometimes violence, through sex. When integrated it can be a source of pleasure for the other as well as oneself, creativity and productivity. Supposedly "the meek shall inherit the earth" can be translated also as "those with their swords sheathed shall inherit the earth". Note the phallic symbolism. The benevolent masculine (which is also obscure to the left) is about using intrinsic gifts in service to family and community, but this comes with a hint of danger, with an integrated animalistic shadow lurking underneath. Great suffering comes to those men who can't be of service and be appreciated for that. And the left is blind to this suffering, thinking that men are just like women and need safety and comfort and nurture to the exclusion of challenge and a matching of gifts to community needs. The left is also blind to the fact that hierarchies are not just about power and freeloading, but also about competence and skill and wisdom.

Just as the shadow of leftists is more conscious in rightists, the shadow of rightists is more conscious in leftists. They recall the witch (really healer women) burnings, the genocide of native peoples, the enslavement and oppression of black people, the disrespect for feminine intuition, nurture, body wisdom and deep connection in favor of impersonal reason, the domination of nature, the crucifixion of Jesus (not as a pre-ordained event, but as the oppression of a social revolutionary trying to evoke feminine values), the destruction of cottage and home-based industries (sometimes a domain of women), sex trade of women who lead miserable disempowered lives. The attempt at consciousness of these things, combined with the unconscious leftist shadow can lead to rage and a projection of that shadow unto men, or white people. It's not just the unconsciousness of historical events, but the unconsciousness of current events. The gnawing feeling that our Faustian civilization (to use Oswald Spengler's term) is destroying our soul, the feminine, nature and we are complicit by the work we choose, by the products we buy, by pieces of our mother earth we carve up to own and extract resources from (instead of receiving gifts from and stewarding), by how we see the world and live our lives.

Jordan Peterson shows hints of being aware of this shadow. He mentions how good he is at dancing (a collaborative enterprise with females). He mentions mystical experiences that can happen through music, sex (as a way to divine connection, not just as a gratification of a biological itch), prayer and dance. He is even aware of the mystical experiences that can be stimulated by Ayahuasca (DMT) and Psilocybin in his discussion with Ben Shapiro, who exemplifies the right. Ben Shapiro on the other hand is (almost) completely oblivious to feelings, mystical experiences and the possible awakening to the Feminine that drugs can induce, though he is aware of the mystical branch of Judaism (the Hassidim), but only in an intellectual way.

Also, JP is aware of collective guilt, which is another sign of a shadow operating. When one shines light on the shadow, the guilt evaporates, to be replaced by compassion for all involved, and a desire to make things better. SJWs on the other hand are using the collective white and male guilt/shadow as a weapon to silence whites and males.

These two shadows can oscillate back and forth into prevalence during the life of a culture, perhaps even as one culture embodying one shadow dies and another embodying the opposite shadow is born. Such might have been the case with the death of Tribal civilizations and the rise of the Judaeo-Christian culture. It almost was able to integrate feminine values with Jesus, but it didn't quite make it. Fear of collective cultural death due to an extreme in either of these shadows can itself be a shadow. What emerges when these shadows are integrated, with the collaboration of the left and the right could be a new culture. Like what happened in The Dark Crystal, when the Mystics and Skeksys were united. Integrating these shadows within ourselves is a prerequisite to integrating them as other people from the opposite side of the political spectrum.

And what happens to those who point to other people's collective shadows? They are usually killed. I'm thinking here of Jesus, Gandhi, MLK, Medgar Evers, Oscar Romero, and the historically nameless numerous female healers who perished by fire.

Here is what L. Cohen had to say about all this:
Give me back my broken night
My mirrored room, my secret life
It's lonely here,
There's no one left to torture
Give me absolute control
Over every living soul
And lie beside me, baby
That's an order
Give me crack and anal sex
Take the only tree that's left
And stuff it up the hole
In your culture
Give me back the Berlin wall
Give me Stalin and St. Paul
I've seen the future, brother
It is murder
Things are going to slide, slide in all directions
Won't be nothing
Nothing you can measure anymore
The blizzard, the blizzard of the world
Has crossed the threshold
And it has overturned
The order of the soul
When they said (they said) repent (repent), repent (repent)
I wonder what they meant
When they said (they said) repent (repent), repent (repent)
I wonder what they meant
When they said (they said) repent (repent), repent (repent)
I wonder what they meant
You don't know me from the wind
You never will, you never did
I'm the little Jew
Who wrote the Bible
I've seen the nations rise and fall
I've heard their stories, heard them all
But love's the only engine of survival
Your servant here, he has been told
To say it clear, to say it cold
It's over, it ain't going
Any further
And now the wheels of heaven stop
You feel the devil's riding crop
Get ready for the future
It is murder
There'll be the breaking of the ancient
Western code
Your private life will suddenly explode
There'll be phantoms
There'll be fires on the road
And the white man dancing
You'll see a woman
Hanging upside down
Her features covered by her fallen gown
And all the lousy little poets
Coming round
Tryin' to sound like Charlie Manson
And the white man dancin'
Give me back the Berlin wall
Give me Stalin and St. Paul
Give me Christ or give me Hiroshima
Destroy another fetus now
We don't like children anyhow
I've seen the future, baby
it is murder
and here is what JR Tolkien had to say (does Gandalf integrate Shadow, or merely slay it?):

Tuesday, December 5, 2017


Dear Sylvio,

Thanks for speaking your truth to the PA. I resonated with much of what you said. Remember that time you stopped at our place, walking back to the PA from the train station, after some trip you took, when I told you I thought the folks at the PA were spoiled and living in a country club for the rich, pretending like they were largely independent of the Empire? You seemed offended, probably thinking "but we work so hard at bread labor". Perhaps now you understand that most working class people do not have the luxury to work towards any vision other than their and their family's survival. That unlike the PA settlers, they don't follow their bliss (they follow the demands of the boss) in their jobs, that any momentary bliss is drug- or sex- or dumbing-phone-induced. Or else they suffer the shame of unemployment, not being able to use their gifts to contribute to their family's well being, being treated as a burden to society by the welfare system. And yet most of them would not want to live at the PA, even if they knew about it, for the reasons you gave about the PPC (being treated like second class citizens), and maybe others (forgotten skills, less autonomy?) And yet, if that privilege could be used to create opportunities for even people without money and give them autonomy, With privilege comes responsibility, not just for helping wealthy white people...

Another historical tidbit: Remember the story of how the Dutch "bought" Manhattan from the natives for about $24 "worth" of beads and other trinkets? I wonder what was going on in the minds of the Canarsie tribe. Did they understand transfer of property? Probably not. They probably wanted to share that land and were in the gift economy (not the kind you rightfully critique, where wealth comes through Empire to settlers who then without much toil, pass on that wealth to other wealthy people). Yet your (and your black mesa compatriots') language of "give back the land and go back to Europe" makes me think that you want to keep playing that game, only reversing the roles of oppressor and oppressed. Go back to Europe? Are you fucking insane? Most of the people who came here from Europe (not Columbus though) did not come in order to oppress anyone. Most of them, at least in the beginning, came because they were being burned at the stake, hung, imprisoned, were driven off the land, had their houses demolished and their crops burned, not much different than the slaves who came here from Africa (sometimes white people came here as indentured servants). Same with some of my jewish people, who came to Palestine seeking a safe space from two millenia of oppression, the latest of which was the holocaust and state-communist dictatorship, not seeking to oppress or colonize anyone. But they had already been infected with the "ownership of the earth" disease (after not being allowed to own land for most of those two thousand years by the god damned so-called-christians) and the inability to share with people that were different than themselves. Not that most of the Palestinians were that willing to share either. You can perhaps blame it on the British and the time-tested colonizer strategy of divide and conquer, but I think most tribes left in recent history do not want to share the earth with other tribes that have oppressed them, are considered inferior (tribal supremacy, not just white supremacy, as in "we're better than the fucking settlers"), and/or have some resources that are coveted. As Andy Schmookler pointed out in his book "The Parable of the Tribes", the warlike tribes that do not want to share tend to take over, without some external intervention like what Hobbes called Leviathan (an healthy example being The Iroquois Confederacy, a not-very-healthy example being our legal system), and perhaps other factors like trade and ability to effectively defend.

In game theoretic terms, love and a willingness to share are not by themselves evolutionarily stable strategies. Tribes possessing those strategies, without the ones mentioned above, can be invaded and colonized by tribes who covet their "resources", are warlike and/or have a supremacy ideology.

I like to think of this in game theoretic terms because it is obvious to me (as it was to Jesus, Gandhi, and MLK), despite the children's story (enacted in Western movies of cowboys and "indians") of good guys and bad guys, that hating and trying to destroy the other group is not going to change anything except switch oppressor and oppressed. Same with feeling guilty about being part of the group that has historically oppressed other groups, or even a group, some of whose members continue to be assholes and oppress others. Most conservatives still believe in that children's story of good and evil. Most liberals and leftists have slightly embellished that story, adding another role of the rescuer (usually themselves).

No, the world is not that way. Anybody, regardless of what group they are part of, is capable of being seduced by power and thinking of the earth as resources to be acquired, and that other tribes are inferior and deserve to have resources taken from them, and only their own tribe's needs matter. Even native americans can do this, even people from hispanic descent, even people who go to "defend the sacred" at Standing Rock or other places, even the jewish people who must have won the "oppression olympics" before Israel. We need a different game, where the strategy of creating friends (as opposed to enemies) and seeing everyone's humanity is appealing, and reinforced by Leviathan and trade.

I am now going to say something that will probably get me accused of cultural appropriation or being an entitled white male who wants to be the center of attention, but I have to say it anyway, in hopes that your heart is still open, and your mind is not totally clouded, and I want to say it before I die in hopes that the lesson is not forgotten. I know what it's like to have a gift that was meant to be shared (such as ancestral land and home) taken away to satisfy someone's selfish need or greed and desecrated, to be cast out, shunned and forgotten, powerless to change anything except to continue to appeal to cold hearts in the hopes that there is still a warm ember in the center of the ice. Ironically, the people who took this gift and desecrated it are anarchist LGBT people, some black, some white, some hispanic. They are not evil monsters (is anyone except our jungian shadows, before being touched by the light of consciousness?), just humans who wanted a safe space and some autonomy, but did not care what the previous people who were there wanted. They thought they were superior to the previous people, who were mostly cis, het, white and black men. They did not want to share the gift or steward it, but to use it for their own needs, treating it as a resource. I have documented some of the details of the story from my own limited perspective, and if I'm still alive by the time you get this I can send them to you. The details may not matter. You might scoff at this comparison, since there is only one white male who wanted to share a gift, who gave up power over, whose heart was broken, who has been silenced and shunned (and a few other white and black people who converted to a mainstream mentality after this experience), not a whole village, or a genocide of a whole tribe. Yet all the elements necessary for genocide are in place in the mindset/game that these people and most people on both ends of the political spectrum are holding/playing. The conservatives have told me to use our punitive, adversarial and wealth favoring judicial system to punish my LGBT grandchildren whom I love at the Homostead. The liberals have either ignored me, or told me to use the courts or to let it go and do inner work, which lands in me the same way those words would probably land in any native whose culture has been largely destroyed and who yearns for justice and connection. Restorative justice liberals don't want to get involved unless I pay them alot of money and even then they don't want to because they don't want to violate my grandchildren's boundaries who are not willing to talk. Maybe they think it is better to violate an expendable cis, white, het man than the boundaries of LGBT people. Ethan understands the need for conversation and a restorative justice circle, but says he has other priorities (I'm guessing like figuring out how to keep his family together, and also not have the gift he was given be desecrated the way the gift that flowed through me was).

I am tired with a weariness of many generations of playing a losing game. Since I have left the mainstream world, I have not been able to accumulate any substantial wealth to share through any of my own efforts, though I have produced some food and have kept Sashi and I warm. I have accepted welfare from my parents, which has been humiliating though I have tried to save it in order to try again, despite all the evidence, to share wealth in a way that doesn't get taken over by the old game. I have tried in vain to interest people in developing that game, even as a computer game, but most people do not seem interested in a new game and I have not found the ones who are.

A few more things: You urge us to follow and serve native people if we don't go back to our native habitat (where am I supposed to go?). But I will not follow anyone, native or otherwise, who professes intolerance, supremacy and hatred (unless that hatred is used as a cathartic tool, not as an ideology).  I would like to follow peaceful native leaders, if they are also loving, tolerant and encouraging of conversation and critical thinking and can think about the bigger picture, helping white people, not just natives. Do you know any? Perhaps Pat McCabe? Or her daughter, Lyla June Johnston? But both have refused to help me. I would want to help them if I could trust them.

I pass a dying ember to you, Brother Sylvio. Perhaps it will live.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

incentivizing interdependence

Previous versions
There are 3 great needs that are not met for most people, so this presents a market opportunity to provide them. These are the need to exercise one's intrinsic skills, to share them with a close-knit community, and to connect with the natural world. These needs can't be satisfied very well under the present global industrial economy, but could potentially be satisfied in the context of a village economy. The village need not be completely isolated economically, but it's something to aim for in order to create a stable village and land-based economy, since the industrial economy will outcompete a village which is not producing things in an industrial way. Once stability is reached in relative economic (not informational) isolation, the village can send out feelers, from a position of stability and generosity, not of need.

As our civilization declines due to increasing costs of petroleum extraction, environmental degradation and socio-spiritual issues, it will become increasingly difficult to find the resources necessary for this project to take off and thrive.

Autonomy vs interdependence
Paradoxically, since interdependence gets traded off with autonomy, and since autonomy is highly valued in our culture and has a selective advantage, it is important to compensate for any loss of autonomy in one sphere, with more autonomy in other spheres.
1. So, give people a home sphere, where they are largely autonomous, or interdependent on one or a few people they are intimate with. This contrasts with some intentional communities (even ecovillages), where people give up autonomy in their home sphere.
2. Create a company where people work to produce an interdependent village, which is economically autonomous of the larger economy. At work, give people autonomy within their sphere of expertise, but expect them to answer to a boss or committee. Successful companies already do this. So do reproductively successful communities like the Amish.

Competition vs cooperation
Without the feedback of competition, evolution cannot happen. But many liberal people (including myself) dislike competition with others. I like challenge, or friendly competition in sports, but I don't like thinking that my victory is someone else's defeat. Successful companies try to incentivize both competition and cooperation, with a focus on competition with impersonal outside competing companies, not people, and internal cooperation among people.
3. Expect a product from each individual and evaluate them based on milestones towards that product. Apply selective pressures based on evaluation. This is an instance of individuals effectively competing with themselves. In the case of the village, the product has to be something that people in the village want and that will contribute to greater independence from the global economy. The product needs to be evaluated also based on what inputs it needs to be produced, as far as whether those input can be produced by someone from the village, maybe in the future. Or whether the inputs to those inputs can be produced in the village.
4. Expect a product from the community (in this case a self-contained village as the final product, but intermediate products could be produced that would be able to compete in the global economy) and evaluate the whole village based on milestones towards that product. Apply selective pressures based on evaluation. This is an example of the community effectively competing with itself.
5. Allow for redundancy of individuals (or subgroups) on certain products, which allows for competition between those individuals. If the rest of the community favors one of the individuals, the other individual has the opportunity to adapt and maintain autonomy, collaborate with the other individual and lose some autonomy, or leave. This is an example of competition among individuals.
6. The evaluation and selection is not just selection for individuals and products, but of the group product (a self-sustaining village). At first the selection happens with the foresight and wisdom of a hierarchy which always selects at the lower levels. At some point, the group can open itself up to selection by the greater external social and ecological forces, at which point the hierarchy is no longer necessary.
7. Promote a culture of collaborative debate and dialectic (as opposed to individuals competing), friendly critique, and relishing of different ideas and strategies, as long as people share the same long term vision. The goal is not to win the argument, but to come to a higher truth and brainstorm ideas collaboratively.

Selection is always external, by an entity's environment. The internal environment of a group can be the external environment of a part. That internal group environment can be controlled so that it is more conducive to some parts' thriving than a direct exposure to the external group environment. If the parts are highly dependent on each other for survival, the selection becomes for parts that serve not just themselves, but the whole the group.

Who makes decisions? Those entities that select for the whole group, or parts of the group external to them. If the people (parts) need each other because they can get their needs met from each other, then decisions will be made for the good of the group, because the good of the group is equivalent to the good of the parts. The converse is also true: if the parts do not need each other because their needs can be met from the global economy (the case with most intentional communities), then decisions will be made for the good of the global economy, not for the good of the group unless the group (and the individuals in it) aligns with the global economy.

The important question is not so much who makes the decisions and whether a hierarchy exists or not, but are cooperation, care for the earth and happiness selected for? If we produce a group where people depend on each other in a direct and transparent way for their survival, cooperation should follow. If we produce a group that depends on the earth in a direct and transparent way for their survival, then care of the earth should follow. And both of these (cooperation/care for each other and care for the earth) would synergise with autonomy and the ability to pursue one's gifts without too many constraints (at least in the home sphere) to produce happiness. I hypothesize that in such an environment, despotic hierarchy won't flourish, though some form of hierarchy could.

Evolution towards local interdependence
Until everything is produced in the village, people could buy from the global economy stuff that is not yet made in the village. But as soon as someone makes something they need, they commit to buying it from them, and the producer commits to negotiating price and taking feedback on the quality of service or good. People will be paid until they can sell their products with the money they make internally deducted from their paycheck. They will stop buying things from the external economy as soon as they become available in the village and buy them from fellow villagers. At some point no more external funding is needed and much abundance is produced and shared internally. Other people are then inspired to propagate the village elsewhere.

People who understand why this needs to be done sooner than later could help fund this. They could directly participate in the village or not. Prime candidates for funding would be the offspring of millionaires who see the emptiness of the global economy and long for connection and meaning.

Possible Obstacles
1. Many people in agrarian and industrial environments have been traumatized by having their intrinsic value be dependent on their productivity. Though I wish we could live like peaceful hunter gatherers in some ways, I don't think it is practical given the state of our environment and the fences and borders of private property. So we have to be productive, but we could also offer healing for the trauma with group rituals and activities that affirm people's intrinsic value.
2. Many young people are not able to commit to ambitious projects. They desire to have sex, to have children, to socialize with their peers and to have status (be seen as cool). Ideally the people involved in this project are older, have done the sex and children and status thing and want to do something else than the evolutionary status quo. Not that there is anything wrong with those other things; they are useful for continuing that status quo, but not for doing something radically different.

Alternatively, mothers and children too young to contribute are only active in the domestic sphere so that the other people can do the work of building infrastructure without impediments and with full commitment.

Monday, August 21, 2017

privilege as a Jungian shadow

The following thoughts are not intended to be mean spirited, or condemning of anyone. If you, dear reader, find yourself offended, please know that is not my intention. I see through my filters something I feel compelled to point out. If it doesn't resonate with you, then you could tell me why and we could come to a clearer picture of our common reality together.

Also, I'm not trying to MAKE someone feel guilty, as are many SJWs. My guess is that we all feel guilty at a subconscious level, not for things in the past that our ancestors may have done, but for things that are happening in the present, that we are complicit with, despite trying to do "good works". The question to ask is are these works going to make it possible for anybody who wishes to participate in our privilege, or do they just make us feel better and offer bandaids to some people?

The greatest privilege is not wealth, or being able to get certain high pay or high status jobs. It is being in charge of one's own time and having the resources to do something uplifting with it--not having to work a soul-draining job, or a back-breaking job, or having to answer to a boss. Being able to work on what one loves, as the spirit moves one. Or to just be and not do. It is the 1% who have this privilege, usually white, though asians might have higher average incomes.

Given our social nature and the fact that we evolved in small forager bands, we also have an innate sense of justice, or trying to distribute wealth to everyone in the band and not tolerate gross inequality in that distribution (though some inequality based on who produced or obtained the wealth, or experience can be tolerated). So if we ourselves are privileged in some ways that others are not, this privilege could be a shadow, only barely visible to our conscious minds. It might threaten us to know it is there and we might take all sorts of tactics to bury it deeper. Or we could confront it, shed light on it and integrate it into our psyche, possibly by creating the socio-economic-psychological conditions that remove the gross inequality from our social body.

What is a person who has this privilege to do? We could just enjoy the benefits and ignore it, but then we would be no better than all the privileged people throughout history who got murdered after the revolution for not caring about the 99%. Oftentimes a social shadow that is repressed comes out in violent ways.

We could try to justify our privilege by giving money to charities, in effect saying that we're helping others, but we are only helping them not starve, we are not helping them have the same privilege. There is an irony in that many of the people or earth served by charities are hurt by the ways the money which comes to the privileged is made. The shadow is not really brought to consciousness this way, but further repressed.

We could try giving up the privilege by working hard at a job in the system supporting our families, but that doesn't help anyone else, including ourselves, enjoy the privilege, with rare exceptions. We could try to justify it by saying that we are doing God's work trying to live more simply and sustainably, or providing hospitality. We could even deprive ourselves of many of the modern luxuries, consume much less than the average and experience some redemptive suffering. But that does not change the fact of our privilege and that most people don't have it and can't live like us either because they would lose their little measure of autonomy or because our pork barrel is not big enough to support too many others. We could change that by producing much more so that new people could live for a while on the fruits of our production and produce more themselves in a feed forward way. But most of us don't. We focus on how little we consume, while most people on the planet can't afford to consume so little. Those who are the customers of our hospitality are themselves mostly privileged. If not, they can only stay for a while and then go back to the real world. The shadow is still repressed.

We could share our privilege by sharing our land and houses in a way that does not give us control, but we know that doing so would just prove the republicans' claim that most non-privileged folks nowadays have feelings of entitlement, and given the opportunity, would take those resources for themselves and their families (or identity group) without wanting to pay it forward or participate in a productive economy rather than a pork barrel economy built on slaves (the rural "deplorables", the illegal immigrants and the factory workers out of sight out of mind) and non renewable resources. The attempted sharing might result in losing one's own wealth and privilege.

We could contort ourselves in all sorts of philosophical ways to justify a gross inequality and injustice (that we have time to live as we please, to teach yoga and permaculture, to take workshops, to take the time to bike to town, to not depend on a soul draining job away from home etc, while the 99% don't) by projecting the privilege shadow onto others. Some have earned that privilege by working within an unjust system that promotes inequality. Some have been born into it, and are passive recipients of wealth. Here are the philosophical contortions: we'll feed the homeless and the hungry, we'll visit the prisoners, but we won't work towards creating the conditions where the homeless and prisoners can feed themselves through their own efforts and contribute towards not only their own welfare, but the welfare of their communities. We'll confess to being privileged and oppressors, like those catholics who think the goal of confession is to feel better and look better to others around us rather than changing our behavior.  We say in effect: it's not us that's the problem because we confessed, or we are materially poor, or we feed the hungry and offer hospitality to the homeless. It's those white supremacists or those wealthy people or those republicans who are the real problem. Please oh christian masses, don't kill us with those oyster shells like you did with Hypatia. We are good--we live simply and sustainably. We show symbolic solidarity to the illegal immigrant meat packing factory workers who mysteriously prefer to work under inhumane conditions than join us on our homesteads, even if we truly wanted to share our homesteads (which we don't), even if we had enough money from our wealthy donor network to support all of them as well (which we don't). Maybe they WOULD join us if they could retain a measure of autonomy and wouldn't have to be our apprentices and depend on us financially, or if we created the conditions where we and they would not need money because we are all producing for each other what we previously had to buy from the system?

We have guilt buried in our subconscious which is coming out in putrid ways and causing us much suffering. We do not believe, as the Republicans and libertarians claim, in equal outcomes, we know people have different gifts. But we have a deep sense of justice and we know at some level (whether conscious or not) that the current system will never be able to provide justice, or even the holy grail of the Replibs: equal opportunity. Opportunity for what? Opportunity to rape the earth, waste our non-renewable resources, work at soul-numbing jobs (you think everyone can be an engineer, scientist, home-maker, yoga instructor, therapist, stay at home mom or dad or artist for sugar cubes?) We know that we are not working hard enough or at all to create an alternative, but are smug and comfortable in our eco-homes. We know that there is not enough concentrated, low entropy energy to support industrial civilization and to share our privilege within it with more than a small percentage of the population. And if we have kids, any energy that might have been used to create an alternative system is now being used to keep the kids happy, to keep us sane. Or we develop physical or mental illnesses that keep us in survival mode, with barely enough energy for ourselves. Now we are suffering as much as anyone, and we don't have to feel guilty anymore.We might support BLM or even Antifa to bury that guilt further.

But we also know that there has got to be a way to share the privilege of using our gifts to edify ourselves and our community, to have some autonomy and time to be and wonder and celebrate.

The only ethical thing I can think of is to work along the 99% in a way that brings the privilege to everyone who wants it. Not in the offices and factories and stores because doing so does not help create an alternative and bring the privilege of managing one's own time to others. But sharing one's privilege in a way that new people retain a measure of autonomy, and having enough resources to support them in a scalable way. There are several ways to accomplish this latter goal. One way is to have industries that employ people in worker-owned/managed coops, or facilitate (e.g. through gifts or loans) their own cottage industry. The industries would have to be such as to progress towards a world in which power and the means of production are decentralized and personalized, otherwise we end up with the gross inequalities we have now, but they would leverage the current wealth of the system.

Another way is to find some eccentric wealthy persons to heavily fund a research and development project for localizing technology and economy.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

The Clintons and the legacy of Carrol Quigley

What is a civilization? This was part of what historian and political scientist Carrol Quigley was interested in answering in his book The Evolution of Civilizations, first published in the 1961. If a civilization is but a large group of people then what distinguishes one civilization from another? And why do civilizations rise and fall?
Quigley's first attempted definition of a civilization was a culture with a written language and cities. A culture is already something different than a group. It is a group that mostly interacts with itself. A civilization is a collection of cultures that can share geographic space without annihilating each other. Other things can be shared, such as social institutions: military, governing, religious, productive, financial, or distributive institutions.

Quigley made an interesting observation that helped him understand how civilizations rise and fall: social institutions have a built-in self-destruct mechanism. They start out as attempts to satisfy social needs (defense, coordination of activities, self-transcendence, productivity, the need to save energy and invest it in the future, and the need to trade goods and services), at which point Quigley calls them instruments. Then they inevitably seem to evolve into self-serving institutions, in which the original aims are forgotten, vested interests take over, and inertia and inability to adapt ensue.

The particular instrument that redefines and explains the rise and fall of civilizations is what Q called an instrument of expansion. A civilization is thus a culture with an instrument of expansion. It has 3 parts, according to Q:
1. Incentive for innovation
2. instrument to generate surplus
3. Ability to invest the surplus in innovation

The instrument invariably decays into a dysfunctional institution that no longer is able to provide expansion and if it can't be reformed or circumvented, conflict arises, which weakens the civilization, eventually enough to be successfully invaded by peripheral peoples or other civilizations. Out of the ashes a hybrid sometimes arises of the old civilization and the invaders, and if it can develop an instrument of expansion, the birth of a new civilization has occurred.

Now Q was not a devotee of the religion of Progress, which sees all history as going towards improvement in all areas. He understood tradeoffs, or the idea that progress in one area often leads to regress in another area. Q was part of the cyclical school of historians, which includes Vico, Spengler and Toynbee, who saw history and civilizations in terms of cycles. Q critiqued the previous cyclical historians for not finding causes for the observed cycles, which he claims to have done with the theory of the instrument of expansion.

But why must a civilization be able to expand in order to merit its name? Why isn't it sufficient, as many cultures have been able to do, to be sustainable? This is no small achievement, requiring many virtues of observation, communication, patience, delayed gratification, acceptance of outsiders and peacefulness. Isn't Q equating civilization with empire? He refers to non-civilized cultures (according to his definition of lacking an instrument of expansion), as parasitic, which he contrasts with productive. But here he betrays his own western cultural bias. To take from the land while not giving back in fertility, to reap benefits while externalizing costs, to use people in a one-sided way (for their petroleum, for their medicine, for their labor), to rob future generations of non-renewable resources, this is much closer to parasitism than cultures who can live sustainably. So in this Q would be admonished by Gandhi who said Civilization would be a great idea. But western civilization, and the empire civilizations that preceded it are not civilized in having the virtues above. They are rapacious empires which depend on expansion for survival.

What human need does expansion serve? Since there are plenty of cultures which are not empires and do not need or want to expand, there must be some other human need that expansion is a proxy for. Quigley suggests that there is a basic need for expansion and that the coincidental appearance of the 3 factors (see above and below) enables a culture to satisfy that need or not. This is hard to test because cultures that say they have no need to expand could be saying it because it is true, or because the 3 factors have not appeared and so they only think they don't have a need to expand. If it isn't expansion in itself, what is it that leads some cultures to expand while others have no such need? At this point it is useful to break down this so-called need into the constituent parts that Q found in order to understand it in more detail.
1. Incentive to innovate: this seems to be related to the human (and some animal) need for change. Too much routine leads to boredom. But too quick or too much change leads to insecurity and instability. These needs must be balanced. Note that though all humans need change, not all cultures provide an incentive for innovation. The need for change can be satisfied in other ways (e.g. travel or being in tune with the cycles of nature) other than innovations in economic organization or technological innovation.
2. The ability to generate surplus: for Q this entailed necessary wealth inequality, where some people have surplus at the expense of those who have to spend all their time surviving. Those with surplus can then use it to invest in innovation.
3. An ability to invest the surplus in more innovation.

Let's examine 2 and 3. The ability to generate surplus can happen from
A. technological means (e.g all the technology involved in domestication of animals and plants, grain, storeage of grain, meat preservation, etc.), from
B. economic organization (e.g. slaves, who generate surplus for their masters, or workers who generate surplus for capital owners, or specialization, or free trade, or distributist production), or from
C. working in harmony with nature, the supreme generator of surplus, but which we often waste or degrade with unwise ecological practices.

Note that Q only considers B. Moreover there is no necessity in investing surplus solely in innovation, except in capitalism where surplus gives rise to falling prices (abundance in capitalism causes scarcity for producers in a never ending cycle). It can also be invested in distributing the wealth equitably (not necessarily equally), in proportion to each person's contribution or costs, instead of the zero sum game that Q saw as the only choice. There can be such a thing as too much innovation, leading to insecurity and instability. Also, there can be a tradeoff between innovation and social wealth equity, dependent on how much of the surplus is invested in innovation and how much in wealth equity. In not seeing these tradeoffs Q has fallen prey to a Religion of Progress meme of neglecting tradeoffs.

On the other hand, in creating a new culture, there is a need to grow infrastructure and hence a need to generate surplus. This is ignored by people who see all growth as an abomination. Growth and the surplus necessary to sustain it are necessary in certain stages of organismal and cultural history. The problem is not growth per se, but perpetual growth, or unlimited growth on a finite planet. At some point growth must cease (but change must continue in other ways because it is a human need), but not before the new culture matures and builds its infrastructure.

Q saw 7 stages of every civilization, arising rom the mechanism of the institutionalization of the instrument of expansion:
1. Mixture
2. Gestation
3. Expansion
4. Conflict
5. Empire
6. Decay
7. Invasion.

We will not talk about these in detail but refer to 5-6 below.

These ideas are not just abstract, but have influenced Bill Clinton, who considered Q his most influential professors. Hillary Clinton is probably influenced by Bill Clinton's worldview and many neo-liberal thinkers are probably too. So it's a safe bet that the next president of the US, HRC is going to make all the same mistakes inherent in Q's distorted and erroneous worldview:
1. She will encourage more growth at the expense of wealth equity and environmental sustainability
2. She will encourage more high tech innovation, even if the innovation makes things worse.
3. She will not shy away from global conflict, believing that this will ease domestic conflict because it addresses the "need" for expansion, and also because the stage of Universal Empire is predicted by Q to follow the stage of conflict and to provide a peaceful (though temporary) resolution to the stage of conflict.
4. She will try to reform institutions of expansion so that they become better able to achieve their goals (in Q's terms, she will try to transform them back into instruments). These are banking, military and industrial institutions.
5. She will try to consolidate the American Empire against competitors such as Russia and China.
6. She will try to defend against the peripheral "barbarian", (fill-in-the blank) invaders, who signal the 7th, terminal stage of a civilization, and keep ours in the 5th (Universal Empire), or 6th (decay) stages. I wonder if the stage of decay gives her a historical stamp of approval for such maneuvers as election rigging.

In the next post I will examine how to understand certain of Qs insights from the point of view of evolutionary theory and fitness landscapes.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

comparison of cultures and breeds

There are a few differences, but the differences are not as important as the similarities  for understanding many things about cultures and breeds. Viruses are used as controls, to show bigger differences that matter for anything related to some of the topics of this blog. Interestingly, isolation if still important with viruses, but for different reasons.