(Silencing the silly people)
Political discourse is not civilized. It is a bloody brutal deceitful affair that is conducted in the pursuit the of power to allocate influence, property and opportunity, using every dishonest, distracting, fraudulent tactic available. Humanities is what it is. And I will let the empirical evidence speak for itself. It is a discourse on norms and morality. Recursive as it may be. It is intuitionist not empirical. Normative not scientific.
My point has been a consistent one: we have developed a set of technologies that compensate for the weakness of our perceptions. Debate, reason, measurement, mathematics, science, and economics are fields that only exist to compensate for the limitations of our senses. Our senses are plagued by limitations and by error (cognitive biases). We desire at all times to rely on intuition (memory) rather than thinking (comparison). These are not biases, preferences, opinions. They are empirical facts. They are what they are.
Numbers, money, prices, accounting, credit, interest, contract, and rule of law, are technologies just like any other technology that gives us information about the world around us, and compensates for the inability to sense and perceive the world in real time. But that statement alone makes no sense unless we understand also, that the reason we need these things is to coordinate ourselves in a vast network of production none of us could grasp even the simplest part of.
The point is that the world is not filled with evil people. It is filled with real human beings who have to survive with fragments of knowledge and resources, but as a collective, we produce the most amazing things, that our ancestors, could not even have imagined could exist.
The price for this productivity is that we are in fact, ‘alienated’ by that information: the destruction of our illusion of importance. When the family, extended family, village or tribe was a productive unit, then each persons value was obvious. When all humanity, together, as a collective is the productive unit, then each person’s value is not only not obvious, it is trivialized by the experience. WE don’t like it. We’re alienated by it. We feel alone. And strangely enough we keep consuming to compensate for feeling alone. It’s maddening.
So how can we do both? This is the goal of equality. But we cannot have perfect equality for the same reasons that we need numbers: differentiation is necessary for calculation.
If I make you feel bad. I am sorry for your feelings. But the stakes are more important than your feelings. Your feelings are a reaction to changes in state. The state of what? your self image? Your perception how the group values you? Your confidence in your grasp and therefore control over the world? What is it that is changing state? Is it Marx’s alienation? It is.
If I had to make everyone feel really bad for a while in order to achieve relative equality and preserve productivity at the same time. I would think that was a fairly low cost. At least compared to the 100M dead from the result of communism.
We are not equal. Certain people make me feel really dumb. I don’t feel bad because of it. I’m thankful that the world has smarter people than I am in it. Because it’s certainly too much work for me, or anyone else for that matter, to do alone. A world without people smarter than I am really scares me. It would mean that instead of feeling alone at times, I would in fact BE alone for all intents and purposes.
I studied fine art and art history in school. At the end of the semester we had a critique. The professors tore us apart. Most people left in tears. It was the most important thing we learned all year. And we all were better for it. I wouldn’t trade that experience for anything in the world. (See Surviving as an artist. How to survive an art critique.)
On the other hand. It made me, and all the rest of us, pretty numb to criticism. (And americans are, quite clearly, the most narcissistic people on earth.) (See The Culture of Narcissism. Bibiography of American Narcissism.
So I am glad that I received that curative process. Although, living here in the east, in the Post-Soviet system, I am very aware how narcissistic americans are. Aware of how I must alter my speech pattern. And I literally cringe whenever I hear an american accent. Americans talk about themselves and how they feel incessantly.
I have tried to construct this argument as compassionately as possible. But idealism, impossibility, ignorance, deception, and lying are not, in Kantian terms ‘ethical’ means of discourse. The only ethics I know of that I can prove are a) to speak the truth as best as I understand it, b) rely on instrumental science wherever possible as superior to intuitive sense and reason, and c) to avoid involuntary transfers of any kind from others, and d) to prohibit others from conducting involuntary transfers whenever possible.
That is, acting morally. It is not moral to respect someone’s feelings if it violates those tenets. It is immoral to make someone feel good for believing something that is demonstrably false. Yet we cannot be prisoners of truths. We must struggle to find solutions even when the truth stops us.
We cannot construct that we know of an alternative to the pricing system as an information and incentive system. We can however, learn from it and construct alternatives by using it, the same way we constructed morality under capitalism by making use of self-interest. However, the basic problem, which is that the system itself is both incomprehensible and uncontrollable is probably forever beyond our grasp.
And I suggest that it MUST be. Otherwise, like the Corporatism of current large scale institutionalized banking is, it would be little more than an instrument of tyranny.