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Slightly Reduce Fear & You Win Back The West (Pt 1 of 2)
Why Tweaking The Incentives Behind Conformity is Our Way Out
All right folks, let’s get this started.
I’ve spent the past year the same way you have (in simmering rage) so I don’t need to rehash what got us to this point. I’m merely establishing I am also part of the expanding percentage of the country forced to wage a daily spiritual battle as the worst people in the world- whose incompetence, hubris, and outright malice needlessly brought us to this state- relentlessly push us a bit farther each day.
Even if they are thriving individually, anyone with a sense of decency, honor, or shame (traits I don’t feel I possess in particularly notable quantities which makes the effects of their absence in others all the more shocking) finds themselves in more or less the same boat- attempting to integrate information as lucidly as possible, projecting out future scenarios, and thinking of what they can do to help… before retreating back to the foundational priority of beating back their personal demoralization.
The enormity of the task is too great, the resources of the enemy are too vast; the government, the universities, the media, the Fortune 500, countless NGO’s, and every supranational entity on the planet are arrayed against you. While you don’t blackpill out of courtesy to others, you understand the odds aren’t good. It is for this reason that it brings me profound joy to deliver a message to shake you out of your creeping despondency: You are much closer to victory than you think. Really. The only thing I hate worse than intentionally misleading people is being wrong in humiliatingly public fashion and I don’t intend on experiencing either.
Many have likened our situation to the Soviet Union in the mid-80’s- plagued with troubles yet no signs of imminent collapse, only to do just that half a decade later. While I’m sympathetic to this view, even the ones espousing it seem to settle for a “Grit your teeth and pray for as little damage in the meantime” mentality, with the implied acceptance of a frightening amount of damage. The news I bring to you is that we can expedite this whole process. Not in an accelerationist, “Make things worse so they get better” sense either- we can speed this up while simultaneously protecting who we cherish and what we value. In fact, that’s precisely how we’re going to press fast forward on our victory.
First off, think about that list of forces again along with the resources and manpower at their disposal and contrast that with the fact it’s still all falling apart. Yes, they have the institutions and the money- they need them. Lies and intimidation are expensive, and they need increasing amounts of both just to maintain the conditions for their survivability (think of it like the energy a shark needs to expend lest it stop moving and die). It’s this very diminishing rate of return behind the growing number of extreme measures as of late. As Michael Malice likes to say, “If they weren’t losing, the propaganda would be unnecessary”. I agree but would amend it to “If the situation were hopeless, the propaganda and the cruelty would be unnecessary”. The purges aren’t getting more egregious due to unparalleled comfort in power; the terror has to be ramped up out of necessity.
All this is to say fear has been their strongest weapon for some time, they become more reliant on it by the day, and if that fear can be sufficiently mitigated, this whole insufferable house of cards will collapse- not just in theory, in reality. The purpose of this article is to convince you this is much more feasible than one would expect. Part Two will be how I propose facilitating it, why I think it will succeed, and- if you despise present circumstances as much as I do- why you should help me bring it about. First, an analogy:
To me, Canceling’s always brought to mind the image of a POW camp when the guards catch a prisoner that tried to escape, line all the prisoners up to announce it, then shoots them in front of everyone else an example of what happens if they step out of line. A small group of people wielding asymmetric, institution-derived power over a much larger group of people and emphasizing their authority via spectacles of symbolic destruction. Now- hypothetically- what would happen if prisoners stood a decent chance of surviving their executions? What if bullets passed right through them- say, 1/3rd of the time? How would the psychological dynamic of the POW camp change? By reducing the certainty of imminent destruction, how long would it take for the prisoners to bum rush the guards and take over/escape? Interesting questions to ponder, but surely this is such a gross oversimplification of our contemporary environment it couldn’t possibly be useful.
Except it absolutely is since the game-theoretic reason behind why any population- whether it’s a hundred people or a hundred million- reluctantly tolerates oppression is always the same: they calculate the costs exceed the benefits of standing against it. Generally speaking, it is exceptionally expensive and time-consuming to modify incentive landscapes enough to change those internal calculations- but my, once they change, wonderful things happen. Before I get carried away, let’s do a brief overview of how we got here. It won’t take long- just note a summary this brief can’t possibly reflect reality perfectly and is simply intended to get us all on the same page while demonstrating similar incentive structures at a larger scale.
Windows, Carrots, and Sticks
All modern societies have bounds of acceptable ideas and discourse called the Overton Window. This is necessary to get any large amount of human beings to behave somewhat cohesively and is not inherently a bad thing. Another universal is that the authorities in charge use some combination of incentives (carrots) and deterrents (sticks) to corral their respective populations in a relatively efficient manner. Participation in mainstream society is rewarded; straying from society in a manner considered harmful is punished. Healthy societies will favor carrots as much as possible- populations with plentiful carrots are productive and cooperate with their rulers to the benefit of all, while populations consistently beaten with sticks grow resentful and hostile to their rulers to the endangerment of everyone.
Over time, the institutions necessary to run the society tend to degenerate in their effectiveness as they become captured by self-interested actors who manipulate the Overton Window for their own ends until its borders appear increasingly arbitrary and nonsensical to average citizens (known to most as “The Narrative”). A current example would be the social stigma of being against unlimited immigration- no reasonable person supports open borders, but since it benefits the class of people in a position to alter the Overton Window, it’s automatically shamed. That’s the entire story of why it’s a touchy subject, every other justification is a smokescreen. A carrot to prevent criticism of immigration would be to provide the citizens most threatened by it with some protections or benefits in exchange for their tolerance. Instead, they get the stick, which is being labeled backward, racist, white supremacist, etc.
As governments are increasingly corrupted, they lose (or voluntarily relinquish) the ability to provide their citizens with enough carrots. Since the ability to provide carrots is precisely why governments exist, they make up the difference with more sticks. This starts a spiraling effect where the citizenry dissents more and more, and in the absence of effective solutions to quell the dissent, the Overton Window is shrunk- which means more people find themselves outside of it so punishments to push them back in intensify, which embitters the citizenry further. All of this stifles creativity and innovation, which further restricts the amount of carrots available, leading to even more reliance on sticks, etc.
This is the spiral to totalitarianism we’re experiencing.
While all governments lie, the difference in totalitarian states is the sheer scale and degree of pervasiveness of the lies required to maintain their stranglehold on their required narrative. This is extremely energy-intensive; hence the common features of relentless propaganda, upheavals of the public school curriculum, and public executions. As civilizations grew more enlightened, that last one was replaced with show trials and struggle sessions with the executions occurring behind closed doors at a later date. Decadent as we are, ours has evolved to prefer Canceling’s of various flavors, with the expectation some proportion of the victims decide to save the authorities the trouble and execute themselves.
The purpose of the propaganda and education is to convince a segment of the population to believe the false narratives sufficiently enough to align themselves with the interests of the Regime to the point they police the boundaries of the Overton Window themselves, and the public executions/humiliation rituals are to frighten the remainder of the population that is into compliance despite the heretical thoughts inside their heads. It’s a perfect pincer maneuver of repression: Soft power to get you to play along peaceably, hard power to ruin your life if you don’t. Almost elegant in its simplicity.
Fear, Lies, and Cascades
Okay, we’re back. I was telling you how ending oppression in enormously complex societies isn’t actually that much different than doing the same in a POW camp, and when internal calculations change, wonderful things happen.
Do you want to know the real purpose of Propaganda? To prevent those internal calculations from changing. It does brainwash some people of course, but that’s not the main function. It’s to convince everyone that more people are brainwashed than there actually are, so they perceive an exaggerated risk of speaking their minds. Since no one knows for sure, nearly everyone who privately dissents from authoritative opinion publicly agrees out of caution. Everyone in a city could be in unanimous agreement without a single resident becoming aware of it. When an unpopular set of ideas is successfully represented as the dominant (or at least significantly adopted) worldview when the reality is the opposite, it is called an Illusion of Consensus. This clearly couldn’t occur if people were free to converse honestly with each other, but since the majority of the population knows they face steep penalties for doing so, they lie about their opinions- otherwise known as Preference Falsification (or “Mass Preference Falsification” when whole societies do it). In other words, they obey out of Fear.
When economist Timur Kuran popularized the concept in his 1995 book “Private Truths, Public Lies”, he was kind enough to articulate an interesting characteristic of this sociological phenomenon. Despite how long it took to construct that level of narrative dominance and how many resources were expended into maintaining it, mass preference falsification doesn’t give way gradually- it collapses suddenly. Hundreds of millions of people publicly submitted to elaborate lies for decades- until they didn’t. The speed of these at which entire populations “dropped the shit” earned it the title Preference Cascade. This destroys the illusion of consensus and everyone becomes aware of just how many people were in secret agreement against the Narrative the whole time.
Let’s review: The atmosphere suffocating anyone of interest or decency is propped up by the illusion of consensus. The illusion of consensus is propped up by mass preference falsification. Mass preference falsification is propped up by fear. When mass preference falsification begins to collapse, it sets off a chain reaction called a preference cascade, which destroys the illusion of consensus as well as the power totalitarians derive from it in the process. If I’m making it sound too simple, don’t take my word for it- Jordan Hall is not nearly as widely known as he should be, but in respected circles, he is one of the preeminent sources of conceptual frameworks for interpreting sociological reality. Make of that description what you will, but the point is when he speaks, men of imposing intellect disinclined to ceding floors listen. Here he is providing a wonderfully helpful hypothetical example at 1:45
For reference, here’s the picture in question:
“If you had 10 people folding their arms, the whole rally falls apart”
We’ve been in a perpetual, decentralized rally for years- forced to salute nonsensical flags, asinine leaders, and appalling ideas. Let’s ruin it and go home.
Coercion, Cowardice, and ‘FU’ Money
So how do we reach the necessary threshold of dissent to end this retarded nightmare? You can’t just create guys like the first guy, but you can convince nine others to join him. Dissenting Nazis were kept in check by the underlying threat of physical harm, we’re kept in check by the underlying threat of financial/social harm- therefore, we need to reliably reduce the financial/social costs of dissent. You knew this already of course, but now that the magnitude and likelihood of the payoff have been framed in much more favorable terms than conventional wisdom suggests, you understand how one could justify a monomaniacal focus on it.
Again, don’t take it from me: here’s Bret Weinstein’s proposed solution to our “Epidemic of Cowardice” at 1:00:38
“If you want to win this game, if you want the values that probably speak for all of us…the way to get there is to cultivate security for those who stand up… if you can engineer a mechanism that causes them to feel there’s some other kind of security, they will stand up.”
So what would such a mechanism look like? This is obviously the hard part- that video is three years old and none of the 400k viewers who would very much like to see it built have done so. Let’s work backward from something that already exists and performs the opposite function- the Social Credit System. There are many ways to summarize this concept, but I think the following is fair: centralized coercion of populations into consensus from above. All right, well what’s the opposite of that? Decentralized support for populations to dissent from below.
Now we’re cooking. But wait- aren’t there already various forms of patronage for people going against the grain “from below”, as it were? Well:
1. Not ones to specifically counter the forces of coercion preemptively. Preemptive measures are crucial- obligatory, actually. The possibility someone can repair the damage via GoFundMe after a catastrophe strikes is small solace to the one threatened with catastrophe (and disappearing anyway if you’ve been paying attention). You don’t say “fuck you” unless you already have fuck you money. Knowing you could conceivably get money to unfuck yourself from the consequences of saying “fuck you” doesn’t provide the leverage we’re looking for (although it wouldn’t hurt if they were combined).
2. Speaking of GoFundMe, the dominant channels for existing patronage are so reliant on Big Tech, the fact they’re a chokepoint renders them a vector of coercion themselves, not liberation from it. Getting deplatformed from the venues independent thinkers rely on is right up there with getting fired & sponsors cutting ties as the most popular Cancellations. These “solutions” just reiterate the need for regular people to collectively weave their own security blanket to land on once their lifelines are severed from supposedly creator-friendly platforms too.
So what if we had a way to provide people with the leverage they’re currently lacking?
You can think of it in terms of market dynamics: The demand for Courage and Dissent has never been higher, and the supply is intentionally restricted by artificially inflated costs. That means if we can loosen that valve by reducing the cost just a bit, it is liable to yield vastly asymmetric returns due to the pressure behind it as well as the scarcity in the environment. Courage is also a resource known for the rare trait of proliferating upon mere observation. Make of that last sentence what you will.
Or you can think of it this way: What if we were able to sufficiently mitigate the costs of getting Canceled to reach the level of Dissent required to trigger a Preference Cascade?
I am not stupid or arrogant enough to guarantee it, but isn’t the possibility of bringing everything you hate crashing down around you appealing enough to try? The power the Sword of Damocles holds is the implied damage if it falls- if that damage is known to be survivable ahead of time, that power fades. Luckily for us, there just so happens to be tens of millions of people who would be more than happy to provide a shield. We just need to provide them with the means of doing so.