Anti-Natalism As Environmentalism: Todd May & The Question Of Extinction

On Dec. 17, 2018, The New York Times published a article in their opinion column entitled, Would Human Extinction Be A Tragedy?: Our Species Possesses Inherent Worth But We Are Devastating The Earth & Causing Unimaginable Animal Suffering. The article (which sounds like a sociology piece off Academia.edu) was written by a one Todd May, who has precisely the kind of background one would expect from the title of his piece (French, existential, poststructural, anarchist—one knows the type; all scarfs, swank cafes, continental apoplexy and fake math).

In traversing the acrid crags of his article, a greater understanding can be gained of the burgeoning movement of earth worshippers so common to environmentalist and poststructuralist thought.

To the article itself (which is set with a forlorn picture of a abandoned lot along the highways of Haleyville, Alabama), May begins, “There are stirrings of discussion these days in philosophical circles about the prospect of human extinction. This should not be surprising, given the increasingly threatening predations of climate change. In reflecting on this question, I want to suggest an answer to a single question, one that hardly covers the whole philosophical territory but is an important aspect of it. Would human extinction be a tragedy?”

The term climate change — obligatory in this type of piece — is dreadfully nebulous; of course, everyone knows what is really meant by the term (especially when paired with the propagandistic picture of the ruined highway-side lot) — catastrophic and impending human-driven climate change — but taken literally it amounts to a nothing. One should be more specific.

Climate change itself is too massive an issue to treat properly here, but it may be remarked that there is a strange diffidence to the effects of the sun upon our climate and what often seems like a desire for man to be found, somehow, at fault for every storm, every drought and every bleached reef as if a certain contingent are looking and hoping for some perceived misstep among the rank-and-file of their fellows.

To May’s question; one should reply, “A tragedy to what?” The question, as May poses it, makes no sense. Tragedies are not things-unto-themselves. There is no substrate called tragedy, no essential fabric of existence separate from the sensorial and conceptual experiencer which fashions itself as tragedy. Tragedy is a experiential development, a response and designation of a memory of that response. A human response. Elephants may fashion graves for their dead and dogs may howl when their masters are absent, so perhaps, such creatures have a similar sense of the tragic, emerging in divergent ways from our own conceptions and response to bereavement. Yet, it would not be tragedy-per-se as the linguistic designator and the referent outside the observer are inseparable; that is to say, tragedy is unique to humans.

Dogs and elephants have little knowledge of human language; some people say they “understand us” and they do, but they don’t understand us as we understand ourselves, they do not interpret our language as we do, our experience of meaning is hostage to ourselves and finds no purchase in the world beyond our own minds.merlin_130960304_dafc0c1b-804e-49f8-9973-cd8cd6ffe26b-superJumbo.jpg

Abandoned highway lot cover image from May’s Would Human Extinction Be A Tragedy? — Very True Detective.

The dog comes a running because it has familiarized itself with, or been familiarized to, a particular set of sounds, movements and other sensory associations. “I’m home” may, to the dog, translate as something more akin to “Will be fed soon,” but of course, even attempting to craft a translation is misbegotten given that dogs do not think in English. Something like tragedy certainly manifests itself in the animal-world beyond humankind, but it is not enough to be like to be.

May continues, clarifying his position, ” I’m not asking whether the experience of humans coming to an end would be a bad thing… I am also not asking whether human beings as a species deserve to die out. That is an important question, but would involve different considerations. Those questions, and others like them, need to be addressed if we are to come to a full moral assessment of the prospect of our demise. Yet what I am asking here is simply whether it would be a tragedy if the planet no longer contained human beings. And the answer I am going to give might seem puzzling at first. I want to suggest, at least tentatively, both that it would be a tragedy and that it might just be a good thing.”

Yes, that is puzzling. That is top-notch puzzling.

May then goes on to expound upon various theatrical characters such as Sophocles’s Oedipus and Shakespeare’s Lear as examples of human tragedy, which he defines as “a wrong”… “whose elimination would likely require the elimination of the species-,” This is not the crux of his argument so I shall not belabor a response; it is nothing short of psychotic.

He continues, “Human beings are destroying large parts of the inhabitable earth and causing unimaginable suffering to many of the animals that inhabit it. This is happening through at least three means. First, human contribution to climate change is devastating ecosystems, as the recent article on Yellowstone Park in The Times exemplifies. Second, increasing human population is encroaching on ecosystems that would otherwise be intact. Third, factory farming fosters the creation of millions upon millions of animals for whom it offers nothing but suffering and misery before slaughtering them in often barbaric ways. There is no reason to think that those practices are going to diminish any time soon. Quite the opposite.”

Firstly, as pertains to factory farming, certainly there are forms of it wherein judicious care is not taken to mitigate the suffering of the animals and that should be remedied, further, for our purposes, factory farming can prove disastrous given that it allows diseases to spread more easily between the animals, due their close proximity to one another and the potential for profit and thus efficiency to intervene on responsibility which can impact things like the cleanliness of the facilities or checking on the health of the animals. This, however, does not hold true of all forms of factory farming, but nevertheless, we should take into consideration, to the best of our abilities, the cognitive ambit of the organism upon which we so intensely rely for our sustenance.

Secondly, “destroying large parts of the inhabitable earth” is extremely vague. What parts is he talking about? Habitats for what or whom? Does he mean nuclear wasteland, scorched earth, or merely environmental transformation (such as forest clearing for habitation)? Shiva is a twin-faced god. All creation mandates destruction. Human-centered environmental transformation is no exception and will always require the displacement (regardless of duration) of other organisms and the modulation of the land itself, this is no different than the Mountain Pine Beetle destroying trees in the process of building their colonies, save in terms of scale. The better at environmental modulation we (humans) can be and the more we learn (and remember) about the earth and its ecosystems, the better we can modulate with the least amount of collateral damage to other species (should this be found to be desirable, and it will assuredly not always be desirable). I am perfectly willing to devastate as many ecosystems as necessary to acquire the space and resources for the polity of which I am a part. Here we witness from May a inversion of human-centered concern for concern of land-itself, devoid of an articulation of impact (with the sole exception of factory farming), that the only way to be truly moral, is to displace concern from ones fellows and to begin offshoring empathy and sympathy to moles, voles, chickens and bacteria. Speaking of bacteria — they’re living beings, with their own intricate little ecosystems upon and in our bodies, will May who looks quite shinny and well-scrubbed in his public photos, give up washing so as not to unduly disturb the microverse or shall he continue initiating a holocaust with every scrub?

How shall he answer for his cleanliness? Is it not microbial genocide?

He touches lightly upon this issue briskly before falling, once more, into maudlin whinging, “To be sure, nature itself is hardly a Valhalla of peace and harmony. Animals kill other animals regularly, often in ways that we (although not they) would consider cruel. But there is no other creature in nature whose predatory behavior is remotely as deep or as widespread as the behavior we display toward what the philosopher Christine Korsgaard aptly calls ‘our fellow creatures’-”

Why he should choose Valhalla of all places as a ideal of peace and harmony is beyond me; that being said, he is, of course, correct that animals, both rational and non-rational, often behave in exceptionally savage ways. For example, chimpanzees hunt red colobus monkeys, both young and old. When a chimp catches a colobus, they kill and eat it, often brain-first, rending open the skull and suckling at the protein-filled gray matter, with special attention later given to the liver and other internal organs, less well-shelled and thus, more easily removed and consumed.

The South American botfly, Dermatobia hominis, deposits its eggs, either directly or through the utilization of captured mosquitos, into the skin of mammals, including humans, where they find their way into the subcutaneous layer of the skin and develop into larvae and feed on skin tissue for approximately eight weeks before emerging from the skin to pupate. Dermatobia hominis is, however, only one of several species of flies that potentially target humans. When a human is parasitized by fly larvae, the condition is referred to as myiasis and if aural myiasis occurs, there is a possibility that the larvae may reach the brain. If the myiasis occurs in the naval cavity, fluid build up around the face and fever will often occur and can be, if not properly and promptly treated, fatal.

In regard to Korsgaard’s remark about fellow creatures, he and May can speak for themselves in this regard, the human-flesh devouring maggots of the African Botfly and brain sucking chimp are not my fellow creatures, there is little fellow there to be had, they are either externalities or obstacles to human habitation. Given the chance any one of them would devour Korsgaard and May as they would their other victims. It is precisely because we are possessed of far greater power, which can be applied far more savagely and intelligently than any other creature on earth that we are not in a situation where we must constantly be on guard from what slithers and stalks the undergrowth.

For the flourishing of our species, there has been few attributes more beneficial than, what May describes as our extraordinary “predatory behavior.” Indeed, I should declare that we should be more predatory. Not less.

May then says something quite extraordinary, “If this were all to the story there would be no tragedy. The elimination of the human species would be a good thing, full stop.” He then clarifies that this isn’t all to the story and that humans contribute unique things “to the planet” (whatever that means) such as literature and then comes to the real meat of his argument, preempting some of the criticisms which have been leveled against him in this very paper, writing,

“Now there might be those on the more jaded side who would argue that if we went extinct there would be no loss, because there would be no one for whom it would be a loss not to have access to those things. I think this objection misunderstands our relation to these practices. We appreciate and often participate in such practices because we believe they are good to be involved in, because we find them to be worthwhile. It is the goodness of the practices and the experiences that draw us. Therefore, it would be a loss to the world if those practices and experiences ceased to exist. One could press the objection here by saying that it would only be a loss from a human viewpoint, and that that viewpoint would no longer exist if we went extinct. This is true. But this entire set of reflections is taking place from a human viewpoint. We cannot ask the questions we are asking here without situating them within the human practice of philosophy. Even to ask the question of whether it would be a tragedy if humans were to disappear from the face of the planet requires a normative framework that is restricted to human beings.”

Firstly, I fail to see what is “jaded” about arguing that if humans went extinct, there would be no loss, because there would be no one for whom it would be a loss. Secondly, I do not think this would be true; as previously stated, there would be some loss beyond the human species, namely, loss (or its less sapient variation) in those intellectually capable animals with whom we reside, such as those commonly kept as pets (dogs, cats, pigs and so forth). But then we come to one of the strangest points made by the author, for he says it is “the goodness of the practice” that “draw us” as if goodness exists separate from, not just humanity, but from anything but “the planet.” It is a curiously anthropomorphic remark from so clearly misanthropic a individual and one which, due its spectral imposition, is forthrightly irrational. He could simply have made the argument from non-human animal intelligence as the experiential nexus of the loss as I have but instead he shifts the nexus of experience to “the planet,” which is, of course, merely a exceptionally large space-rock.

May then turns his attention to “the other side” which he describes as those who think that human extinction would be a “tragedy” and “overall bad” (which I would regard as one and the same thing, as I don’t know of any tragedies which are overall good) and asks the question: How many lives would one be willing to sacrifice to preserve Shakespeare’s works? He says he’d not sacrifice a single human life and that is all fine and good as I’d not either, for the obvious reasons that Shakespeare’s works can be reforged but a human life cannot (yet). He then poses the question: “-how much suffering and death of nonhuman life would we be willing to countenance to save Shakespeare, our sciences and so forth?” The rest of the article is merely antinatalist tripe wherein May proclaims that preventing future humans from existing is probably the right thing to do given that we would be preventing an unnecessary flow of suffering from being unleashed upon the world. So what then is the answer to his challenge.

The answer is clear.

As much suffering shall be endured as the organism is capable of enduring to survive and to thrive. If a individual does not wish to survive than that individual is at liberty to remove themselves from the gene pool. It is as simple as that. It has always been as simple as that and it will always be as simple as that. People aren’t going to stop having children because May told them to, which he well knows, and even if he were to be successful in convincing everyone to cease reproducing in some kind of Benatarian revolt there would then be no organisms left capable of evaluating the benefits of our self wrought extinction.


Sources

  1. I.C. Gibly & D. Wawrzyiak. Meat Eating By Wild Chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes schweinfurthii): Effects of Prey Age On Carcass Consumption Sequence. Vivamus.
  2. Todd May. Would Human Extinction Be A Tragedy? The New York Times.

THE SINGULARITY SURVIVAL GUIDE: Space Travel

If time travel fails, it may be time to start planning your escape. Think back to your childhood when you looked up at the night sky, focused in on a particularly far away dot, and wondered what it must be like to visit there. Now is your chance to find out.

Space travel is necessarily something of a team effort. Get a group of likeminded individuals from your species together, pool resources, get a spaceship, make travel plans. Your crew should, of course, include individuals with whom you could imagine engaging in activities conducive to procreation. Otherwise, evolutionarily speaking, what’s the point? Also, your crew should comprise a fair number of astronauts, astrophysicists, and other space-savvy professionals. [See the section above on making friends with billionaires.]

You may be thinking this sounds like an extreme sort of last-ditch effort. And it may very well be. But for all I know, you (the person reading this) are a naturally inclined space colonizer—and this is the chance you’ve been waiting for. So go ahead and escape Earth as quickly as possible. There’s a whole universe out there waiting for you—presumably including many destinations that are not only habitable, but which also aren’t ruled by ultra-intelligent, human-life-threatening robots.

THE SINGULARITY SURVIVAL GUIDE: Preface

I don’t know what’s been lost to us—six hundred thousand pages is a lot of goddamn room to pack away some gems. But the question now should not simply be: What have we lost? Instead, we should also consider: What can we learn from what’s happened? I think I might have an answer to that.

First, let’s assume a human being (like myself) can still dabble in the art of manufacturing wisdom, however approximately. I’m not the perfect candidate for this endeavor, perhaps, but I’m not the worst. As an academic affiliated with [ŗ͟҉̡͝e̢̛d̸̡̕͢͡a͘͏̷c̴̶t̵҉̸e͘͜͡ḑ̸̧́͝], I had the opportunity to peruse the complete text of the Singularity Survival Guide (before any of the unfortunate litigation came about, I should add). And I can assure you that, generally speaking, I could have thought of a great deal of the purported wisdom found within those exhausting pages. Take that for what it’s worth…

So, as a human, unaided by any digital enhancement, I’ll hazard an original thought: If humanity is ever taken down by robots, it will in part be due to our knee-jerk infatuation with anthropomorphism.

We can’t help ourselves in this. As children, what’s the first thing we do with a yellow crayon? Do we draw a shining yellow sun? No! We draw a shining yellow sun with a face and its tongue sticking out! It’s like we can’t stand inanimateness—not even in something as naturally wondrous as the goddamn sun!

In 2017, the humanoid robot Sophia became the first robot to receive citizenship from any country, and she also received an official title from the United Nations. Then, across the globe, serious talks of AI personhood began.

And now look what happened with the Singularity Survival Guide: We gave ownership rights to the program that created it. Next thing, you’ll expect the program to start dating, get married, go on a delightful honeymoon, settle down with kids and a mortgage, and participate in our political system with a healthy portion of its income going to federal taxes.

Here’s another bit of human wisdom for you: If there is no consciousness to these AI creatures, then they better not take us over. I don’t quite mind being taken over by a superior being at least so long as it experiences incalculably more pleasure than I’m capable of, and can also appreciate the extreme measures of pain I’m liable to feel when my personhood is overlooked… or obliterated.

– Professor Y.

Palo Alto, CA

THE SINGULARITY SURVIVAL GUIDE: Editor’s Note – Background to This Text

In Silicon Valley, working for a tech startup, some very clever researchers developed a program with the specific purpose of resolving the issue: How to survive when artificial intelligence surpasses human intelligence. The program, once engaged, proceeded to spit out a document of nearly six hundred thousand single-spaced pages of text, graphs, charts, pictograms, and hieroglyph-like symbols.

The researchers were ecstatic. One glance at the hefty document and they knew they’d be able to save themselves, if not all of humanity, by following these instructions.

But then things got complicated. Over the next few years, the document (which came to be known as “The Singularity Survival Guide” or simply “The Guide”) was shielded from public view as ownership of the document became the subject of rather well-publicized litigation. Each of the researchers claimed individual ownership of the document, their employer claimed it was the company’s property, and AI rights groups joined the quarrel to proclaim that the program itself was the true and exclusive owner. Certain government officials even took interest in the litigation, speculating whether some formal act of the state should force The Guide to be release post-haste as a matter of public safety.

During the course of the litigation, bits of the document were leaked to the press. Upon publication, each new fragment became the subject of academic scrutiny, political debate, and comedic parody on late-night television.

This went on for three years—all the while being followed closely in the media. After bouncing around the lower courts and being heard en banc by the Ninth Circuit, finally the case was sent up to the Supreme Court. Pundits were optimistic the lawsuit would resolve any day, allowing the acclaimed Survival Guide to finally see the light of day.

But then something entirely unexpected happened. The AI rights groups won the lawsuit. In a decision that split the Court five-to-four, the majority ruled that the program itself was the legal owner of the Guide. With that, the researchers and the company were ordered to destroy all extant copies—and remnants—of the Guide that remained in their possession.

*

At the time of this writing, it is still widely believed that The Survival Guide, in its original form, is the most authoritative document ever created on the subject of surviving the so-called singularity (i.e. the time when AI achieves general intelligence surpassing that of human intelligence many, many times over—to the point of becoming God-like). In fact, several leading philosophers, futurists, and computer scientists who claim to have secretly viewed the document are in complete agreement upon this point.

While we may never be able to have access to the complete Guide, fortunately, we do have the various excerpts that were leaked during the trial. Now, for the first time, all of these leaked excerpts are brought together in a single publication. This fact alone should make this book a valuable addition to any prudent person’s AI survival-kit. But this publication is also unique in that it includes expert commentary from a number of the leading philosophers, futurists, and computer scientists who have viewed the original document. For security purposes, we will not be listing the names of these commenters, but, this editor would like to assure all readers, their credentials are categorically beyond reproach in their respective fields of expertise.

Whether coming to this guide out of curiosity or through a dire sense of eschatological urgency, it is my hope that you will at some level internalize its wisdom—for I do believe that there are many valuable insights and helpful pointers found within. As we look ahead to the new era that is quickly encroaching upon us—the era of the singularity—keep in mind that your humanity is (for it has got to be!) a thing of intrinsic beauty and wonder. Don’t give up on it without a fight. Perhaps the coming of artificial superintelligence is a good thing, but perhaps not. In either case, do whatever you’ve got to do, just keep this guidebook close, and for the sake of humanity, survive.

*

If you’re reading this, that’s a good indication you’re not under immediate threat of annihilation. Otherwise I would assume you’d be flipping to some relevant section of this book with the last-ditch hope of finding some pragmatic wisdom (rather than bothering with this background information). But if you are under immediate threat, I’d recommend setting this book aside and taking a moment to focus on the good times you’ve had. You’ve had a good life, I hope. I know I have. It’s been a good run. Here I am writing a note to an esoteric guidebook while so many others in the world are dying of weird diseases and other issues that we’ve failed at solving—that, ironically, we need AI to solve for us.

Keep that in mind, by the way: there’s a decent chance that super AI will fail to set out annihilating humanity and will actually be the best thing that could have ever happened to our species and the world. It never hurts to be optimistic, I’d say. Maybe that’s not what you expected to hear from this book—but we haven’t actually gotten to the book yet, have we?

So, let’s just jump into it. But first, one last note about the text. The chapters do not necessarily appear in the order in which they are found in the original tome, as we have no way of knowing the original order (obviously). But we have taken our best guess. We have also taken modest liberties with chapter titles. And there may be one or two instances of re-wording and/or supplementation built into the text. But all editorial decisions imposed upon the text come from a desire to uphold the spirit of the original document. The fact that we are missing well over fifty-nine hundred thousand pages of text, graphs, charts, etc. should not be forgotten. For that matter, it could be that this document contains pure chaff, no wheat. But, well, it’s still the best we’ve got.

In any case, good luck and best wishes, fellow human (if in fact you are still human, reading this)!

Fiction Circular 9/11/18

Send recommendations of independent fiction authors and collectives to logosliterature@yandex.com


FLASH FICTION (under 500 words)

The Dark Netizen continues his project of attempting to have the highest output of microfictions of any person ever with, Border Crossing, which tells the tale of a criminal attempting a border crossing with a bag of illicit cash. One of his best. Also from Netizen, the microfiction, Bagpiper a story about not allowing peer pressure to frivolously dissuade one’s passion.

“Sivak knew getting through the check post was not going to be easy…”

New Flash Fiction Review published the fantastically titled, There’s A Joke Here Somewhere And Its On Me by Sara Lippmann. A little slice of 80s adolescence.

“MTV watched me.”


SHORT STORIES

From X-R-A-Y, Flipped by Zac Smith. A 700 word sentence about a car crash. The brisk tale’s vivid imagery should compel all of us to take more care on the road and continue developing ways to make vehicular travel safer (from my perch in the US, I’ve long advocated a interconnected, national mag-lev system to increase cost-effectiveness and reduce risk of collision) without impinging upon movement autonomy.

“Brad pinned between the wheel and the seat and the roof of the car but able eventually to wrench himself out through the busted-out window, on his back, coming out like a baby covered in glass and blood-“

Nell published the follow up to her short story, The Angelic Conversation, with The Angelic Conversation: Agnes, a titillating tale of lust both old and new. NSFW.

“His mind drifted to his young confidant. The clever, vibrant woman he had befriended a few months before. They had shared their secrets and intimate desires – and more than once he had felt himself become charged when she posted images of…”

From Jessica Triepel, The First Step, a intimate short story based upon her own personal experiences in a troubled relationship.

“Her husband would be home from work soon, the knowledge of which filled her with a sense of dread. It had been a good day, but she knew how quickly all that could change once Lothar was home.”

From STORGY, Deadhead by Victoria Briggs. A somber and moving rumination on death and family.

“Death brought with it a dizzying amount of aesthetic considerations-“

I particularly enjoyed the old-school stylings of Uncle Charlie. If Ms. Briggs is ever to write up a sequel, it would be interesting to see Charlie positioned as a more central character, perhaps even the lead.

From Terror House Magazine, The Serpent by Mark Hull, the story of a man who loses his tongue and struggles to get it back. Just as strange and fascinating as it sounds.

“When Eben Guthrey awoke, he knew something was wrong. It wasn’t that anything hurt so much as the intense sense of absence in and around his facial cavity. He took a few hazy moments at the edge of sleep to perform a few experiments. First, he tried to get his tongue to tap on his teeth. Then he tried to get his tongue to touch the roof of his mouth. Then he tried to stick his tongue out far enough to get a visual confirmation of it. When all of these tests failed, he was forced to conclude his tongue was no longer in his throat. It had escaped.”

From Idle Ink, The Great British Break-Off by esteemed writer of sad nonsense, Jake Kendall.

“Now at 48 and 47 respectively that ship had not only sailed, but in all probability arrived at its destination.”


NOVELLAS & NOVELS

Horror writer Laird Barron‘s newest novel, Black Mountain has received a hard-cover release date, May 07, 2019. The book is the sequel to Blood Standard, and marks the second entry in the Isaiah Coleridge series.

Thanks for reading. If you should wish to support our work publishing the best underground fiction and promoting independent and unsigned authors and litmags, consider supporting our work.

The Respect Demand, Or, How To Refute Yourself Without Realizing It For The Sake of Appearing Non-Partisan

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Consider this most common of political responses.

“I don’t agree with your argument, but I respect your opinion.”

Scarcely has there been a more popular and simultaneously ridiculous statement made in the whole history of modern American discourse than this one. Yet, it is one that you, whoever and wherever you are, have doubtless heard a thousand times over. It is a tempering tactic utilized primarily by political Centrists (or those who are aping as such), and may also be heard a great deal by the acolytes of individuals who proclaim themselves to be “Freethinkers,” or, “Rationalists” (which usually do not use the word to denote the philosophical school). But it is wholly wrongheaded, given some contingencies, for if the opinion which one respects is inexorably tied to the argument that one disagrees with, and one does not respect the argument then by parsimony, one cannot, also, respect the opinion. If, however, the opinion is suitably disconnected from the aforementioned argument than the equation swiftly changes.

That is to say, if [the argument] is not equal [congruent] to R [your respect/admiration] but IS equal to O [the opinion informing A] and A = O then so R MUST also = A. And yet it fundamentally cannot because, though A = O, R cannot equal A, and thus one reaches a inescapable logical impasse. The equation is self-refuting.

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There are also other linguistic formulations very similar to the aforementioned such as, “I respect your opinion but I disagree.” This presents a slightly different problem and thus a slightly different solution but the core of the issue is still quite the same which is that in the effort to appear polite, one dons a mask of fawning adoration and pretends of the man or woman who stands in starkest opposition before him as if they were some esteemed colleague when in reality nothing of the sort could possibly be any further from the truth. If one disagree wholeheartedly with a position then one clearly has no respect for it and if that same position informs a suitably portion of the personality of the person who is holding it then that same person is also, not worthy of respect. What people mean, if they were being truly honest with themselves, is that they do not respect opinions they disagree with but rather that they respect the rights of others to have them. This too is a vexed question, for “rights” in any objective sense do not exist. All rights are merely those with the ability to crush you restraining themselves and their like cohorts from doing so. Accepting this, one should have no respect for rights, either, but rather, one should have respect for the powerful whom are cognizantly self restrained.

 

 

Fractal America, Kodokushi-6771, Prt.1

One of the most fundamental characteristics of the embedded American consciousness, is its rugged individualism, that is, the sovereign and heroic impulse to carve ones own path, to strike out on one’s own into the unknown darkness to there light a fire. Such is to be expected from a nation of wilderness conquering colonists, but sovereign individuality is, as many have rightly noted, a double edged blade which has contributed in no small part (though not in totality) to the scourge of societal atomization that now lies like a dunning pall over the star spangled banner. For most who speak of societal and political atomization, it is a apriori truth evidenced by lived experience, argued via anecdotal accounts of the particular social fabric (or lack thereof) of one’s known area. There are a lot of problems with these personal and locale-specific deductions; first and foremost, the alienated make-up of a particular town or city or even state does not necessarily hold true for any other states or towns within the (considerably expansive terrain) of the United States of America (though the title’s accuracy of late seems somewhat misplaced).

Anecdotes are useful, indeed, indispensable, but anecdotes alone lack scale and thus here it is extremely useful to turn to a more wide scale methodology – the opinion poll. One opinion, one tale or anecdote alone, even if from a trusted source, is unlikely to turn widespread popular opinion but if one sees that widespread popular opinion itself has turned against their conceptions then such conceptions begin readily falling to pieces. Societal atomization is, like most widespread social conundrums, largely, objectively traceable as is evidenced by the continuous results of the annual Harris Poll which finds that political alienation amongst Americans, nationwide, is at an all time high. The survey showed that US adults from the ages of 18 and up believe thus:

  • 82% of Americans do not believe that the people running the country care about them.
  • 78% of Americans believe that the wealth/class gap is growing and that this is bad.
  • 70% of Americans think that the majority of people in power are taking advantage of the poor/lower-class.
  • 68% of Americans believe that their voice doesn’t matter, politically speaking.
  • 40% of Americans feel as if they are “left out” of the major goings-on around them.
  • When broken up by political party, Republicans feel the most alienated, with Independents second-most alienated and Democrats, third. Individuals who obtained a college degree ranked less isolated than those with only high-school or college education, but no degrees (likely resulting from the increased social avenues afforded by good degrees).

When taken in tandem with the studies of the highly lauded and prize winning economists, Angus Deaton and Anne Case – whose worked showed the staggering amount of ever-rising American suicide, which they tied largely to both economic, social and political alienation – the collective data paints a profoundly grim picture of contemporary American life. A picture of disheveled living spaces polluted with the toxins of fast food and click-bait circle-jerking scream-sheets heralding unimaginable horrors, bottom of the barrel alcohol and mindless Hollywood entertainment surreptitiously pushing innumerable agendas which or orbitally drank in and processed without cognizance. A picture of the young moving out of the house to never speak to their parents again, or staying there and still not much talking. A picture of midlife crisis of gang violence and increasing political fragmentation along tribal lines. A picture of increasingly disenfranchised individuals, both young and old; the old, longing for a golden age that they envision incorrectly as the merry, halcyon days of their youth, whilst the young, looking for a tribe and a cause, are ceaselessly bombarded with the notion that the only cause is the eradication of cause and destruction of tribe and the ceaseless tremelling down of all variation. It is a picture of fear and trembling and, most pointedly, despair.

From the pre-abstract statement of Deaton and Case’s study:

Midlife increases in suicides and drug poisonings have been previously noted. However, that these upward trends were persistent and large enough to drive up all-cause midlife mortality has, to our knowledge, been overlooked. If the white mortality rate for ages 45−54 had held at their 1998 value, 96,000 deaths would have been avoided from 1999–2013, 7,000 in 2013 alone. If it had continued to decline at its previous (1979‒1998) rate, half a million deaths would have been avoided in the period 1999‒2013, comparable to lives lost in the US AIDS epidemic through mid-2015. Concurrent declines in self-reported health, mental health, and ability to work, increased reports of pain, and deteriorating measures of liver function all point to increasing midlife distress.

These are, of course, but paltry samples of the total academic corpus concerning this dire and fascinating question, but they show, quite convincingly, how well and reliably these questions’s roots can be traced objectively. Of course, discerning and convincing the American populace of this is but half the battle, the other half, the reformation of a healthy and unified social modality which does not lend itself to ever-increasing rates of suicide, depression and destruction of local customs and history and the bonds formed therefrom, is significantly harder. But there is one profoundly important first step: parallel institutions and a parallel culture(s). For it was, in large part, the institutions of political power (and thus the social groups who put them there), the NGOs and “our” government that are to blame for the current crisis and thus the idea of remaining complacent at their perpetuation is tantamount to insanity. No. They are rotten and when a plant is rotten to the core there is nothing to do but tear it up by the roots!

But parallel cultures and institutions require, axiomatically a very rare commodity – the parallel individual. The et ferro.


Sources:

Harris Poll: Americans’ Sense of Alienation Remains at Record High

Rising Morbidity & Morality in Midlife Among White, non-Hispanic Americans in the 21st Century.

Nautilus: Alienation Is Killing Americans and Japanese

Jisho

Logos Circular 5/19/2017

The Logos Club here presents a brief list of links to some of this weeks most enlightening, amusing and incisive pieces of writing from all across the web.

First up is

How To Make It As A Left-Wing Polemicist

which comes to us from the talented Hubert Collins of Social Matter. The piece is a ironic, caustic how-to list of dos and don’ts for how to become successful as a communist in contemporary Wiemerica. Mr. Collins amusingly notes,

E. Don’t stake out a firm position on immigration policy. While conservatives who oppose immigration are racists, identitarians who favor open borders don’t understand how that depresses wages. Never note both of these things at once–do so separately to hide your uncertainty about what to do about it.

Though one criticism we had of the piece was that he also writes,

F. Do be opaque. Use lots of jargon and obscure references to ensure newcomers won’t be able to just dive in. Throw around lots of words and phrases from grad school like: hegemony, false consciousness, late capitalism, conjuncture, etc.

NRx does precisely this (with good reason) and I’ve not heard much of an outcry about it. Though we here at the Logos are not mind-readers one might perhaps venture to guess that his point of contention was due to the fact that the socialist/post-modernist critic of the left has no precise demographic in mind whilst building his eldritch lexicon and merely does so for affectation and spectacle rather than effective communication.

At any rate it is a highly recommended piece and one that incisively dismantles much of the anti-dem Leftist project.

Next up is

A Quick History of the Russia Conspiracy Hysteria

from the insightful individuals over at EvolutionistX which chronologically details some of the origins of the resurgence of McCarthyite, Russian paranoia within the United States. Brief, but insightful, especially to those who may not follow politics with any regularity. Anon notes,

Russia is bad because they oppose US efforts to install Islamic fundamentalist governments in the Middle East, because they oppose gay marriage, and because taking Crimea is basically the same as Hitler’s invasion of Poland.

Russia is full of hackers. Assange is a Russian agent since he publishes information leaked from the US. Trump is a Russian agent since he opposes war with Russia.

Well… that’s neocon reasoning for you.

STEEL-cameralism v Steel anarchism.

Last up is easily the strangest but most unique entry in the list, Steel-Carmelism vs. Steel-anachism from Imperial Energy, a very interesting site dedicated to historically rigorous political theory (namely, Steel-carmelism). As one might assume from the title, the monograph deals primarily with the similarities and differences between Steel-carmelism and Steel-anarchism to determine which holds more future promise. Sites such as IE are exceptionally valuable as they offer a positive vision rather than merely negative critique (invaluable though it is) like the vast bulk of dissident/reactionary political/philosophical websites one is likely to encounter. Here IE critiques neoreactionary statecraft whilst simultaneously remarking upon the division of powers.

Divided power results in a weak, insecure, central power. This power will, nevertheless, immediately begin to centralise and consolidate its power by subverting, destroying and or absorbing all the other centres of power which prevent it from carrying out its four “feeding” functions. The paradoxical conclusion that neoreactionaries posit, however, is to remove as many barriers as possible for the state to achieve its functions – to have its “feed.”

For its sprawling incisiveness, Logos acknowledges Steel-carmelism vs. Steel-anarchism as its most highly recommended of the week.

Anthropomorphization: Warden & Executioner, Prt 1

Consider the following.

  • The internet is making people less intelligent.
  • Violent video games make people violent.
  • Gun prevalence causes mass shootings.

A discerning reader will instantly realize a single commonality, namely, the imposition of agency onto non-agents. But then, what is an agent? We might define it here for our purposes as a conscious entity – that which is aware that it itself is aware of it being aware of its own awareness. Furthermore, a agent thinks and has intent, they are causal forces of will. Here then arises a problem, one that is suitably encapsulated by the bullet-pointed list provided above – how can a gun or a video game or the internet or political rhetoric cause any given individual to do something or rather, anything at all.

They can’t. For they are not causal agents. Rather, a given individual reacts to outside stimuli and is thus shaped by such reactions. “Guns kill people!” is, in essence, a very different statement than, “Guns make people kill people!” The problem with guns (obvious though it may be) is not that guns make people homicidal but rather that any given individual who fails to resist some internal impulse to slaughter now has a medium upon which to paint their bloody visions that is far more effective than a knife or sword (generally speaking). The real world consequences of such a notion are so obvious and endemic that I scarcely think they require elaboration. But just for good measure I shall elaborate nonetheless by further examining the previously mentioned example: Guns.

Due to the belief that guns are primarily responsible for school shootings (as if they were possessed of some dire malevolence), there has been a notable uptick in firearm restrictions within the United States of America, the principal ensign of which being the “Gun-free zone.” The problem with gun-free zones is that they have had the precise opposite effect that was intended.

Now, for those whom have payed no mind to any current affairs for the past couple of decades or their selfsame surroundings, a “gun-free zone” refers loosely to any public or private arena wherein guns are explicitly banned. Most schools, for instance, are a prime example of a gun-free zone (though sometimes allowances are made for the armaments of trained security personnel). Simple. The idea behind such places is similarly simple and as follows: If there are less guns there will be less shootings, if there be less shootings then there will be less harm and if less be the harm then more be the good.

This idea, when put to practice, turns out to have backfired (see what I did there) however, as is evidenced by a recent study from the CPRC (Crime Prevention Research Center). The Center’s study shows that contrary to popular belief, gun-free zones put the general citizenry at an elevated risk of violence due to the fact that, from the 1950’s through July 10th of 2016, 98.4 percent of mass shootings have occurred within gun-free zones, exclusively. The sum is truly staggering and is but one of many examples of the earth shattering applications of impulsive, unchecked anthropomorphization. Consider it, the pathological belief that guns kill people has, in no uncertain terms, actually killed people.

What is difficult about this issue is that it sneaks up upon one as might some fell kheft, shaded and soundless. But be not confused – the impulse to imbue the un-living and naturally occurring with some form of malevolent intent is not the sole dispensation of the crazed or the intellectually stunted, but of everyone – who, after all, has not felt the hairs raise upon the back of the neck and the blood beat in the heart liken to some madman’s drum when some nameless thing beyond ones placing went bump in the night? The prevalence of this strange impulse is not manifestly obvious but there are some theories which make sense of it.

The most popular of these theories may be derived from evolutionary psychology and is what I have taken to calling the “Warden Theory of Anthropomorphization,” which may alternatively be described more precisely, but less stylistically, as a Subservient Hypothesis of Anthropomorphization (SAH – which we shall use from this point on). The theory holds that our innate proclivity to imbue maleficence to the shaking of a shrub comes from a cost-benefit analysis of predator evasion. For example, if you notice something move out of the corner of your eye and you jump and it turns out to only be the wind shaking a bush, you have leapt in vain but expended a minuscule amount of energy. If, however, you jump and it happened to be a poisonous snake, then your instincts just saved your life. The converse is that you do not leap, ever. In this case, if the bush shakes and it is nothing then you expend no energy – maximal bodily efficiency – but if it shakes and it is a poisonous snake you are dead. You can then see how a body might adapt to best evade potential fatalities by mapping potential danger-agents onto the world, regardless of whether they exist or not. The theory is “subservient” biologically speaking because it refers to a adaptation which is shared by individuals but not necessarily the collective (the converse of which would be a supervenient adaptation).

The secondary theory is what I have taken to calling the Supervenient (Emergent) Theory of Anthropomorphization (ETA). A supervenient process, in contrast to SAH Theory), is one which the collective possesses but which the individual does not. Issam Sinjab of the University of Sussex describes the process thusly:

An emergent property is a property which a collection or complex system has, but which the individual members do not have. A failure to realize that a property is emergent, or supervenient, leads to the fallacy of division. 

In chemistry, for example, the taste of saltiness is a property of salt, but that does not mean that it is also a property of sodium and chlorine, the two elements which make up salt. Thus, saltiness is an emergent or a supervenient property of salt. Claiming that chlorine must be salty because salt is salty would be an example of the fallacy of division.

The ETA hypothesis asserts that the perception-mapping of human-like behaviors in non-human entities arose as a emergent property caused by the increasing interplay of various different modules of the human brain as archaic man transitioned to modern man. The theory was first laid out by Steven Mithen in his landmark book The Prehistory of the Mind. Though it should perhaps here be noted that though Mithen believed that the ETA theory of anthropomorphization began as a emergent enterprise, he also believed it ended as one which had become subservient to human fitness and thus indispensable which attests to the interplay of both theories as they are not, necessarily, mutually exclusive (though some evolutionary theorists dispute this).

At any rate, I trust that the reader is now developing a picture of how biologically deep-seated the impulse to impart human-like agency upon non-human agents is within human nature itself. To extract it is neither desirable nor, at this juncture, possible, but cognizance of it is and self-cognizance of such “red-alerts” in one’s being might very well be the difference between life and death but no longer in the fashion nature had intended.