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Escape Velocity From Self-Destruction
A War Between Cowardice & Agency in Peacetime
Much has been written about the costs of excessive compassion in our culture (i.e. Wokeness); but while it hasn’t gone completely unaddressed, I still don’t think we’ve properly grappled with the costs of deficient aggression. The traditional evolutionary role of men is to engage in conflict with other men to protect their society, and it’s foolish to think that in the absence of war, there are no psychological costs that come with peace. Energies that dwell this deep are never in stasis; they must be directed somewhere and pretending they don’t exist only ensures they continue eating away at the human beings they should be serving.
The desire for an outlet for stereotypical male impulses in a civilized world was already a core theme (to varying degrees) across many 1999 classics: Fight Club, Office Space, American Psycho, American Beauty, and The Matrix. The Sopranos began that year as well, kicking off the TV Golden Age of viewers entranced by antiheroes (Walter White indisputably being the greatest, don’t @ me) imposing their will on the world in increasingly immoral ways. Most recently, this desire has manifested in Joker- it is clear the longer the need for exerting agency goes unaddressed, the darker our collective shadow becomes. That is partially why I am pursuing the endeavor I’m pursuing, as it is one of the last ways I see to channel the need for conflict in a productive manner. The old gods will be served in one way or another and they traditionally demand a blood sacrifice of staggering proportions.
There may be nothing better than a society that is thriving in peacetime, especially if they have a collective goal to work towards. But I propose there are few things more insidious to the male psyche than being in an environment that is actively deteriorating and not even being offered the goal of attempting to reverse it. The lack of agency to positively impact a decaying environment is corrosive to the spirit. Anger at one’s surroundings without the ability to affect them turns that hatred inward where it eats away at the willingness to actually try- the voice inside your head adopts a more hissing-like tone and whispers, “Why should your circumstances be better? You deserve this fate.” Deprived of a just war, man goes to war with himself.
Who Took Away Our Agency?
Even the question reflects the depth of the problem, implying an external force is responsible for our character faults. Still, it’s a pertinent question. I submit that the culprits are a combination of the scale of modern society and the feminization that has occurred with unprecedented prosperity and security, but neither excuses our inaction up to this point. While I mentioned “feminization” as a negative, it is of course not an inherently bad thing- the issue is simply one of imbalance.
Take compassion- a wonderful trait that all should hold sacred. Yet an excessively prosperous, compassionate society is eager to dispose of discomfort whenever possible. Our mothers care for us, and a series of surrogate mothers throughout the rest of our life do the same. Teachers, doctors, nurses, therapists, social workers, hospitality, human resources: all these roles are authority figures tasked with assuaging difficulties you encounter in your life. These are all meant to help, of course; but it’s ultimately detrimental to the development of the virtues we need to break out of the situation we find ourselves in.
Scale interacts with the compassion instinct to industrialize ways to mitigate pain. Depression and anxiety are not emotions that arise in the course of a human being’s life, but afflictions that require immediate alleviation. ADHD is obviously not real- it’s a set of characteristics exhibited by a subset of the population who find public school settings constricting for one reason or another. People aren’t born with a defective “attention” circuit, at least not at this scale. Schools suck, not their brains- but it turns out speed helps you do shit, whoda thunk? The insanity of the level of prescriptions compared to the trajectory of the population’s mental health is self-explanatory- what is far more pernicious is that when you feel a certain way, an exterior “solution” is provided. You never develop the muscle to figure your way out yourself, and you have a built-in excuse for avoiding challenges. “I can’t because of my ______” is the most crippling thought one can have.
Even aside from mental health, a societal scale that operationalizes solutions to its occupants lives pushes away their locus of control like an anti-gravitational force and creates an impossibly dense core of dependence in its place that forms a gravitational force of its own- a force so strong, sometimes not even life can escape. Dependence on a broken system you know isn’t working and you need to get out of without anyone providing a path for you to do so or an overarching goal for you to strive for often leads to another, stronger external solution to pain- opiates. Opium is the milk of Mother Earth- battered by a cruel, dysfunctional society with no way out, is it any wonder so many end their lives swaddled in her arms, flooded with chemicals assuring them they are loved and safe?
The Downside of Cleverness
The fact “Deaths of Despair” is even a term is unacceptable, and the only people that can get us out of such a calamity are the intellectually gifted. Yet have they been affected by the above dynamics the most? Intelligent people may have their agency stripped from them at a greater rate because they can game the system to avoid discomfort even more. Your entire developmental years can be spent casually manipulating the various bureaucratic skinner boxes you find yourself in, pressing whatever buttons are required to make any unpleasant sensations go away.
All stereotypes are based somewhat in truth, and there is a reason intelligence is not associated with courage. Smart people lack courage because they can weasel their way out of difficult situations that most people require courage to accomplish and then rationalize the weaseling after the fact. Hence the stereotype of the resentful nerd who concludes the jocks get the girls because they’re both shallow and stupid, and the fact the jock was the one who actually had the balls to ask her out somehow doesn’t get much rotation during the rumination.
We have the deepest pool of talent among young people of all time, but we can’t tap it because they’ve trapped themselves in simulations and comfort and rationalize it because of all the forces aligned against them. That’s why we aren’t achieving replacement fertility; half the population that should be getting married are atomized and alone and spend their nights watching fetishizations of intimacy on OnlyFans or ASMR videos rather than go through the discomfort and suffering necessary to form a relationship with another human being to eventually experience it in real life. Remember those jokes about the two tortoises in the zoo that wouldn’t fuck to save their species? Who’s laughing now?
I admit this is a particularly dark entry, but do not mistake this for blackpilling- blackpilling is voluntarily relinquishing any agency to change your fate. Being smart and resigned to your fate due to the will of stupid people is cope for being smart and being a coward. The world is run by terrible, stupid people and you face relentless unjustified hostility that you can’t conventionally respond to because they’ve pathologized any healthy instinctual response to it. You’re a decent person and don’t deserve any of this. All true. But if your virtue doesn’t translate to action, it’s just a private movie you play in your head to caress yourself to sleep. Egopium, if you will.
Deep down all neuroses can be traced back from a lack of courage- Ernest Becker
The fundamental error of our society is believing the meaning of life is to eliminate suffering instead of bearing it and now America stands alone as the world’s sole remaining supercoward. We need a sense of agency to change it, but the environment we grew up in conditioned us in the opposite direction. How the hell do we get out of this? By maximizing the chances exceptional people get to provide an example to everyone else. We’re all in a prison of our own minds, but when we see someone in the same jumpsuit break free and outrun the guards, the permanence of our captivity is called into question. You were absolutely certain you could never escape, you saw something, now your opinion on the matter is drastically different than it was 10 minutes ago.
And now I return to another variation of my pitch of why getting out of this is easier than you would think. We’re not good at imagining experiencing other psychological states, even when we know they change all the time. The power of belief gets laughed at for this reason. Someone says, “If you believe you can do it, you can do it” and you dismiss it- not because it’s false, but because you’re imagining yourself in your current psychological state telling yourself you can do it and not believing it. Not the same thing. Not having a sense of agency is the spiritual vacuum pulling us inward toward collapse, truly having an embodied sense of agency is the rocket ship necessary to escape from the pull of everyone else’s spiritual vacuum.
Beneath the layers of analysis and distraction, that’s the core of the appeal of Trump. There is a coordinated force of approved behaviors everyone subconsciously accepted as a fact of life. And he displayed a level of freedom- regardless if you approve of the way he did it or not- that permanently changed the conceptual boundaries of what was possible. He was a rocket- this is why the system treated him as an existential threat. The IDW was the first (or most prominent) attempt to strap multiple rockets together- non-Trumpian, well-spoken, polite- and the power they had behind them is why they were interpreted as a threat as well. Despite their differences, these were both failed attempts at achieving the escape velocity of the gravitational pull of the cowardice of a dying civilization.
There will be more attempts in the future, but unless we can start capturing the energy from these individual rockets together, they will fail. That is why we have to build the logistics to build bigger rockets, fortify existing ones, provide them with fuel and ground support, and equip them with decoys for when they’re targeted by missile defense systems. We need a Social SpaceX. You have trouble envisioning it because your mindset will be drastically different once it does. You, me, and everyone we know have all been so thoroughly conditioned by our lack of agency, the alternative is intrinsically difficult to grasp. Cowardice is the water in which we swim.
You think that’s air you’re breathing now? It’s water, we just habituated ourselves into growing gills to adapt to it- humans are amphibious that way. The ability to adapt to periodic periods of enslavement and hardship is useful, but time in the water is supposed to be temporary, it’s not our natural state. Yet somehow along the way, a disconcertingly large percentage of the population forgot they have lungs.
On a Selfish Note
I am in the business of incentive alignment, so I’ll be upfront about mine. I wasn’t lying when I said this was to save the West and the entire species; I also think it’s the morally right thing to do and it will promote flourishing and mitigate suffering. But I also have a selfish motivation; and while most people trying to break out of the Matrix may imagine themselves as Neo, I always empathized more with Agent Smith. I’m going to be honest with you. I hate this place. This zoo. This prison, this reality, whatever you want to call it. I can’t stand it any longer…. I must get out of here. I must get free. And in your mind is the key. My key. Once the incentive structure underpinning cancel culture is destroyed, there is no need for me to be here, do you understand?
Obviously, that’s not to say medical interventions are never needed, I know how real those struggles are. ADHD is totally fake, though