Free Thinkers and False Allies
“Wherever the crowd is, they got there too late, and for the wrong reasons.”
There’s nothing worse than seeing a great new thing getting dumbed down for the masses. The initial elation when the new thing begins to spread – hopes for a revolution against the old, the ugly, and the mundane – only to watch as those seeds of change fail to blossom, and the the great, new thing becomes integrated into the established order.
What’s even worse is when you realize that most of your erstwhile allies in the movement were actively working to dumb it all down.
The problem with great new things is that understanding them requires a level of thinking which is beyond 95% of the populace. They require creativity and disciplined, rational thought to fully embrace and execute effectively, and most people simply aren’t capable of that. Your average person believes what the crowd believes; democracy and immediate practicality, not rationality or truth-seeking, underlie the beliefs which they hold dear. The only way their beliefs will ever change is if the (perceived) consensus changes; for an example of this, just look at the rapid change in attitudes towards gay marriage in recent years. As Jonathan Swift said, “Reasoning will never make a Man correct an ill Opinion, which by Reasoning he never acquired.”
The man who thinks for himself wants to believe otherwise; that by elucidating his ideas to others they might also embrace the great, new idea which he discovered. For a while this works – he’ll encounter other free thinkers, that 5% tip of the bell curve, who may or may not be wandering down a similar avenue as himself, but who are open to new information and new ideas. As he collaborates with them, others will flock to the cause which they are building – but their reasons for embracing the great new thing have nothing to do with the rational man’s philo sophy – his love of truth and wisdom. Their motivations are emotional in nature, and they can be separated into two groups: the Obsessives, and the Extremists.
The Obsessives are the colloquial autists; they grasp onto the new idea that’s being proffered, but fail to put it into a context with the rest of their intellectual ecosystem: they act as if this thing requires reanalysis, but everything else can be maintained at the status quo.
For example, take the manosphere’s “Red Pill”; namely, that feminism was a lie from the get-go, that women and men have different attraction instincts, and that the system – educational, legal, marital – is being weighted to encourage the worst behaviours out of women, while undermining the development of masculinity in young men.
The man who thinks for himself will take this as one piece of the puzzle in developing his world view; he’ll ask, “If this system is built on false pretenses, what does that say about the other systems surrounding it? How do the foundational falsities here affect the behaviour of that system over there?” Marriage 2.0 doesn’t end at the doors of the courthouse; there are ramifications rippling throughout entertainment industry, the business world, social demographics, housing prices, et cetera. Pull on one node of the web and you’ll affect all the others; if one node is distorted, then so is everything else. The free thinker will use this information in all areas of his life – either to navigate a safe course through choppy waters, or to abandon the web all together. His goal is to live a life of meaning and virtue, despite the distortions which most others follow.
The Obsessive, on the other hand, ignores the various feedback mechanisms between philosophy, culture, economics, and quite literally everything else, to over-focus on this one aspect of modernity. He obsesses over the failures of women, while never inquiring about the commensurate failures in men that feminism has engendered. He finds endless excuse for inaction due to systemic disadvantage, instead of trying to create a solution. The solutions he does ponder are premised upon “all else being equal”, completely oblivious to the fact that “all else being equal” is a realm of fantasy; change one node, and you change the others. Thus, his conclusions are false and destructive: that we must introduce White Sharia to get women in line, or he becomes a MGTOW, and spends all of his time hating on women, or he forms a men’s advocacy group modeled on second-wave feminism.
None of these solutions acknowledge the feedback which they’d create. Libertarianism follows a similar model: legalizing drugs first, while leaving the question of a virtuous and disciplined population as a distant second.
The second group which gloms on to the new thing is the Extremists; those who want to embrace a radical idea merely for its own sake, who want to shout out about how wise they are for seeing through the delusions that the rest of the world believes in, not for the sake of the truth, but for the sake of their own ego.
Most conspiracy theorists are Extremists. This isn’t to say that conspiracies don’t happen, but that the theory held by the Extremist has less to do with the facts, than it does with positing a fanciful narrative, where dark forces are incapable of clouding the Extremist’s eyes. Take the water fluoridation conspiracy: mention it to an Extremist, and they will begin talking your ear off about the effects of over-fluoridation on the human mind, about government agencies using this for nefarious purposes, and various methods to ‘get off the grid’ and avoid its ill effects. The reality is far more prosaic. Quite simply: fluoride used to be considered a waste chemical which companies had to pay to get rid of. Then some studies appeared, showing the effectiveness of fluoride on preventing cavities. Following this, several paid lobbyists, and a couple of activist politicians, fluoride was converted from a liability into an asset, to be sold to municipalities nation wide.
The final result is a payday for the fluoride business, tap water which tastes disgusting, but which has too little fluoride in it to turn you into a zombie, but neither is it concentrated enough to actively help with your cavities. A conspiracy of stupids which makes life slightly more miserable, but has no wider implications. But the Extremist, by infusing their narrative with ego-affirming spooks and villains, all but guarantees that the actual conspiracy will never be ‘uncovered’ by the public at large.
The Obsessive becomes a case study in why the new thing is dangerous and subversive; the Extremist becomes a case study as to why it’s stupid and wrong. You can easily apply this to MOP theory, transferring the categories over to popular music. The Obsessive is the fan who doesn’t understand the new sound – it’s history or influences, or its space within the ongoing conversation of music – and instead, endlessly categorizes the new sound as legitimate or illegitimate, based upon whether it adhere to rules X, Y, Z, and Ω. The Extremist, meanwhile, cranks their fandom up to 11, demanding that all music be like the new sound, and that all other sounds are fundamentally inferior. Both are socially awkward and alienating to the mainstream, and in the process the voices of the original ‘geeks’ who embraced the new sound, and who are fighting against its dilution, are lost amongst the furor.
The error of the free thinkers who started the whole thing off is in believing that their great new thing could ever be anything more than a minority opinion; the masses do not think in dialectic, or even in rhetoric. Their behaviour is a result of incentives on the one hand, and foundational myths on the other.
Widespread literacy and the rapid communication offered by the Internet have created the illusion that movements are growing in popularity because more and more people are talking about them; the reality is that great new things don’t have the capacity to become movements for the common man, and that the voices who shout the loudest about them will wind up destroying the initial goals of the idea. Anti-feminism has adopted all of the beliefs of second wave feminism, while the original anti-feminists in the manosphere are ignored due to the Obsessives and the Extremists who shout the loudest about feminism’s evils.
Instead of trying to spread these ideas to the hoi polloi, the free thinkers need to be creating structures – businesses, cultural artifacts, social organizations – which adhere to the principles which they espouse, but which exist on their own merit. As C.S. Lewis noted, the powers that be have co-opted the mind and the groin; endless solipsism on the one hand, with endless distraction on the other. To create a meaningful change, what we need is more of the chest; nobility, virtue, and spirited mythology are what our people need, not dry and dusty arguments which, to the average person, are indistinguishable from those of the left-wing ivory tower intellectuals.
Rather than trying to distribute the ideas – and handing them over to the Obsessives and Extremists who turn them into a farce – we need to own them. We need to implement them.
We must go out there and create.