Monday, August 4, 2014

Deciphering the Myth of Competition

Competition is idolized by egotists. To be sure, although most animals in the wild can’t be arrogant because they have little self-control or even the concept of a self, they nevertheless struggle in that they make forceful or violent efforts to free themselves from difficulties, and they even compete in the sense of striving for superiority or supremacy. From rams’ head butting to peacock dancing to spider wrestling matches, males engage in ritual combats or other tests of excellence with rivals to attract a mate. But the price of initiation into the cult of competition is the going awry of personal autonomy. Notice that poorer societies are more interested in charity and other forms of sharing than in following the logic of competition to its bitter end, that end being that there can be no worthwhile victory for the winners without an abundance of losers. The richer you are, the more likely you’ll pretend, at least, to be a manly social Darwinian, whereas peasants and outcasts throughout the ages have practiced communism to avoid starving to death. Poor folks can’t afford to pit their skills and resources against those of their society’s dominators. Indeed, not only is the underclass historically distanced from the rat race by welfare programs, but so too is the upper class that worships the ideal of competitioneven as the oligarchs strive ultimately to be monopolists who can afford to stand above the lower world like gods.

Like most cults, free market ideology is based on a confusion that obscures natural reality with religious nonsense. But those whose financial success permits them to pretend to favour the results of fair competition do so because they’ve been sufficiently corrupted by that success to possess an outsized estimation of their self-worth. Those who naively sing the praises of ruthless rivalry, as opposed to entering the arena with grim knowledge of the absurd tragedy of any natural struggle, do so only because they think they would inevitably triumph in that conflict. And those who know themselves well enough to recognize their animalistic weaknesses and ridiculous biases are too plagued by self-doubts to welcome the chance to let the chips fall where they may. When they lose to some rival, self-doubters are more likely to accept the result with honour, and that detachment from chance and from other pitiless natural forces that zombify the result of even the most artificial games playing out in our microcosms enables those introverted losers to live with their baneful self-knowledge. Thus, both winners and losers are typically confused about the meaning of competition.

Competition and Meritocracy

According to the capitalistic myth, a competitive society is a meritocracy, meaning that those who deserve to succeed because of their virtues and hard work do succeed as long as they’re allowed to compete fairly. The truth is supposed to out in such a contest, because each competitor is free to showcase her talents, producing some good or other for which certain judges are free to reward or punish her as they see fit. In a capitalistic system, the judges are none other than the consumers whose demands are met by the goods’ suppliers. Notice how all products are considered “goods” by definition, just as long as they satisfy some actual demand, because the consumer’s will replaces God’s in a free market. Such a market must be liberated from either human or divine regulation. Thus, economic competition should be understood in rather Daoist terms: competitors allow the natural Way to pass through them so that their task is to avoid interfering with natural destiny. For theists, that destiny is preordained by a personal deity, but this is inconsistent with free market ideology. An all-knowing God would have planned our transactions prior to creating the universe, whereas the cult of competition dictates that there’s no such esoteric knowledge, that any attempt to rationally preplan a society is doomed to fail, and that our recourse is to trust in nothing more than the heat of glorious battle. When selfish beings inevitably come into conflict, they necessarily solve all of their problems with perfect justice—not because they individually understand what’s happening, but because their rivalry is a natural form of creativity and nature is the final arbiter. The selfish person’s irrational desire to dominate her rivals as well as the environment that throws up obstacles is at the root of the aphoristic necessity that’s the mother of invention.

Why does the result of a natural, which is to say an unregulated and thus wild competition deserve praise on moral grounds rather than just fear of the power that thereby transfers to the victor? Well, as the myth has it, capitalism harnesses the original sin of human selfishness. Assuming, for example, that there’s a demand for food and people are allowed to compete to satisfy that demand—not for the sake of altruism but for self-enrichment, since hungry people will appreciate that effort and reward the producer as an incentive for her to keep at it—rival producers will strive to end hunger with the greatest efficiency. Those with the initial demand, namely the consumers, hold all of the power in this myth, since they have the ability to boycott inefficient or disreputable producers. If consumers want low prices, they’ll reward firms that keep their costs down or that minimize their profits. If the masses want quality, they’ll disregard cost and shop at businesses that attract the more talented craftspeople or that use the finest materials. Either way, both consumers and producers win when a demand is taken as is, with little if any moralizing, and when producers compete to satisfy it, driven not by anything as abstract and unnatural as goodwill towards everyone, but by narrow-minded greed. Greed for short-sighted gain, reinforced by all manner of other vices is nature’s instrument for solving all social problems, whereas when we intend to be moral our efforts ironically lead to disaster, since we then presume to usurp nature’s prerogative to create whatever it’s destined to create. Indeed, we can’t sustain the moral enterprise since we’re animals, not angels, but according to the pagan myth in question, this is a cause for celebration since animals are playthings of nature and nature is plainly a place in which majestic, sublime events happen as a matter of course. Worshipers of "free" (wild, unregulated) competition are thus effectively pantheists.

The myth assumes that consumers have the information to choose wisely between products and that they’re inclined to decide what to purchase in a rational fashion, meaning not that they’re experts in science or logic, but that consumers act in their best interest. That is, consumers are supposed to be instrumentally rational, using products to efficiently satisfy their desires. Without the wisdom of the markets, nature would have no way to judge the rivals and so there would be no mechanism for the superior producer to reliably beat the inferior one. Of course, consumers compete too, since they can afford to back up their judgments with their money only if they participate in the production of goods, by earning money while at work. Moreover, consumers compete for status, displaying their status symbols to demonstrate their position in the dominance hierarchy. Consumers thus judge themselves and each other as well as the producers. The cult assumes also that it’s in the producer’s self-interest to cater to the consumer’s authentic demand, that persuading the consumer to demand something else isn’t more advantageous. After all, if the consumer wants a high-quality product, but you can carry out a fraud by convincing her to mistake low-quality for high-quality, you can better maximize your profit. So a free market must be regulated, after all, to prevent such abuse; otherwise, a competitive system won’t be meritocratic since the results may not be praiseworthy from an ideal spectator’s position. 

The Transcendence of our Psychopathic Gods

It should go without saying that all of those assumptions are false. Freud by himself provides all the reason in the world to doubt that we can be relied on to act in our best interest. We’re not instrumentally rational because we don’t know what we really want. That in turn is because our deepest desires are unconscious, whereas the postmodern version of the capitalistic myth makes misleading use of the computer metaphor and a computer has equal access to every piece of information stored in its memory banks. (See Philip Mirowski’s book, Machine Dreams.) So for example, consumers want to be happy, but they don’t know what “happiness” means and so they only take a leap of faith in advertisements that associate happiness with the consumption of material goods. Consumers want sex but they’re also repulsed by the existential implications of their private sex lives, which is why they keep them secret. Consumers want to be free, but they’re unclear about the ultimate end of freedom, which is to say they don’t know what freedom is for. Is consumption an end or a means, and does the act of amassing wealth improve or corrupt our character, facilitating or degrading what Isaiah Berlin calls our positive freedom, our ability to fulfill our potential? Moreover, we’re generally not attentive enough to possess the information to judge the worth of products, to reward or to punish businesses according to the relevant facts. For example, even when a business presents us with the facts of how they operate, but buries them in the small print, we usually lack the patience to study the matter in depth. That’s because we’re precisely what the myth claims we are: animals rather than angels. We have cognitive biases which are exploited by large corporations so that they can continue their underhanded business practices with impunity.

What happens, then, when our animalistic traits are allowed to come to the fore in a wild competition is that excellence isn’t rewarded so much as there’s a race to the bottom. Consumers become rubber stamps, losing their power as judges, because they’re conned by the established corporations. Rather than looking within to discover their authentic standards, consumers succumb to easy materialistic answers to life’s philosophical questions, and so the tail wags the dog: producers which are supposed to be striving to satisfy the all-powerful consumer are left without any external check on their vices, since they’ve captured the consumer’s imagination if not also the more formal regulators such as the government and the media, as in the US. Even when consumers learn the unpleasant facts of how their favourite corporations behave, when the truth is somehow transmitted despite the corporate media’s filters, the supposed judges are trained not to care; their attention span is degraded thanks to the hyperactive postmodern environment, and so again the standards are lowered and the foul play continues. For example, most people know that McDonald’s hamburgers and Coca-Cola soft drinks are unhealthy, but these corporations exploit our evolutionary weaknesses for fat and sugar. Poor people can’t afford healthier alternatives, because organic foods are artificially expensive, due to lobbying from the more powerful fast food industry. So while it looks like the food situation in the US is optimal, since customers get what they want, this is obviously just a superficial interpretation. Consumers also want to be healthy rather than obese, and they have the potential to prefer organic foods, including fruits and vegetables, as evidenced by the healthier parts of the world such as Europe and Japan. Whether the outcome of the American food market is morally praiseworthy depends on whether the more important demands are being met.

But the fundamental problem with the myth that natural competition is meritocratic is that competition is destabilizing. Contrary to the economists, whose counterfactual obfuscations have theological rather than scientific status, free markets don’t tend to reach a point of internal equilibrium. Rather, as these systems become less artificial and more natural, as they shed regulations to allow competition to proceed according to nature’s undead will, their dreadful destiny is revealed: the systems become entrenched dominance hierarchies which minimize competition as well as other forms of mixing between rivals, such as upward mobility between the social classes. Paradoxically, a free market’s state of equilibrium follows its transformation into an altogether different system in which the role of competition is marginal compared to that of the monopolies, oligopolies, and oligarchies which the natural competition creates. A natural struggle for supremacy is only a means of developing the supreme beings that come to rule such a system—and beware what you wish for! Lower your standards, attempt to give free rein to your selfish impulses, and the ultimate victor will be the least scrupulous among us; nice folks will finish last, saddled as they are with a conscience and so they’ll lose in the rat race to the subcriminal psychopaths that stand in the end as undead nature’s champions. 

There’s a vast difference, then, between competition as portrayed by the capitalistic cult and competition in its role in a natural process. In the myth, competition is the most efficient mechanism for ensuring that greatness rises to the top, that the demands of the consumers—who deserve to judge products because they have rational integrity as well as reasonable desires that make for a sustainable society—will be relentlessly fulfilled by an army of producers who in turn pursue their selfish interests indirectly by competing to best satisfy the customer, for profit. Thus, our flawed nature is ingeniously put to work for the greater good of establishing a meritocracy in which everyone gets what they deserve as long as they don’t pretend to be above the natural struggle. Ironically, greatness is supposed to triumph if only we follow the basest part of our nature and allow our destiny to work itself out, without trying to out-think natural forces.

In reality, though, such a system is the opposite of a meritocracy. What rises to the top is naturally the worst of our members, as power is concentrated in fewer hands which corrupts those who come to control the markets and who discover ways to exploit the consumers’ weaknesses so that black can pass for white, down for up, and no reason is left to praise capitalistic transactions in general. Customers may get what they want since they may be satisfied by this or that product, and producers may work hard to satisfy that demand, but this efficiency alone doesn’t entail that the transactions are particularly praiseworthy. Only were the consumer’s demands independently respectable, were her character untarnished by the free market’s cruelty could her judgments about the worth of products be trusted to vindicate the initial capitalistic risk to celebrate selfishness. Whether a desire ought to be efficiently satisfied depends on whether the desire rises to the level of some categorical, objective standard. Economists deny there’s any such standard, whereas what they should say is just that the question is philosophical and doesn’t lend itself to the economists’ method of pseudoscientifically rationalizing the capitalistic debasement of consumers and producers alike. Slavery was once legal in the United States, and humans were ably bought and sold, satisfying a demand with full instrumental rationality. Then a war broke out over the matter and a constitutional judgment was rendered according to which the desire for slaves is un-American, which is as good as saying that it’s universally reprehensible. Just because the morality of that reevaluation can’t be quantified in the confines of the economist’s toy models doesn’t mean a higher-order judgment of our interests is meaningless. It’s just rank scientism for economists to suggest otherwise.

In the capitalistic myth which has a clear exoteric function, consumers rule because all economic transactions revolve around their demands. In natural reality, consumers are ruled by the minority that’s outgrown the need to compete. Competition thus serves as a mechanism of selecting those who take selfishness to the furthest reaches of psychopathy and who form monopolies or kleptocracies precisely to end their need to compete. Those who emerge triumphant in a free market are inclined to destroy their rivals to consolidate their power, and this is the function of that marketplace, to produce inhumane gods who transcend the dirty business of having to struggle to survive. The greatest winners hardly need to pay attention to consumer demands since they shape those demands with demagoguery and they constrain consumer choices by targeting lawmakers with lobbyists and campaign contributions. So whereas the celebrators of competition appear to worship natural forces that mustn’t be interfered with by elitist regulators, what’s truly sacred in this cult is the product of that selection process, the godlike oligarch who’s no longer subject to those forces and whose existence in fact falsifies the exoteric myths of free market economics.

According to the esoteric interpretation of the cult, the true divine rulers of human affairs aren’t hidden because they’re disembodied and immaterial; instead, they’re removed from the majority because they occupy a higher social stratum. And the ultimate good isn’t to compete in a grubby race to kowtow to the churlish masses that are fit more to be judged like cattle in a blue ribbon sale than to appraise the handiwork of their wealthy overlords; rather, the goal is to achieve what’s called financial independence, so that you can amuse yourself with news of how the lower forms of humanity must toil in life-and-death skirmishes, always fearing that if they let down their guard and show just a hint of remorse for acting like a savage in a suit, they’ll be stabbed in the back by a more ambitious rival. Competition spawns the strong, but in the end this selection process is for the weak.  


  1. I'm a bad reader, I'll note from the outset. But is this touching on the idea that basically the CEO's and government put out properganda that if you just work real hard you'll do well - in other words, saying that the world is one big game. And in games if you do well, then you do well.

    Except no game is actually provided. Ie, this pimps the just world fallacy (nice cartoon, btw) into a just game world fallacy, hijacking it to make people think they are at a game (and again the principle of a game is if you do well, then you do well - which is fair enough).

    But really they are pitted against the wilderness. It's a bit like if started a 'game' of a marathon through a forrest, telling them there's a trail and if they follow it they'll make it to the finish line.

    But there's...just whatever there is out there. And I've dumped them out there. With this lie.

    Of course it's a matrix moment. What the hell are you going to do even if you grasp this - the land you're living on requires the currency of their game, even as to get it you're left facing the wilderness. To get food requires the currency and again you're left to the wilderness. You're Neo in that pod, waking up, but with no bad ass ship to come rescue your ass. Even if you realise this gig, you have to play along with the fake game or you are f'd!

    All hinging on an exploitation of the just world fallacy - that and the martial enforcement of the government or a landlord owning the land AND the natural enforcement that it both takes months to grow food AND it's hard to do so off the bat AND it takes land (see government/landlord from before. Try just declaring a patch your own - you'll see the gang who wears blue, very shortly).

    Do you have any ideas for advertising this (apart from via a blog), Ben? I was thinking putting up a poster on one of those poles they have for advertising (irony!). But I guess I'm ahead of myself - is what I'm saying kind of similar to what you're saying? I guess what put me off doing so is a lack of quorum on the matter. I didn't know how to get it across to dozens of strangers if I can't get it across to even one other person. So am I way off track in describing this, or am I partially repeating you (hopefully the latter)?

    1. Is the capitalistic cult of competition a game? Maybe in some ways, but I see this as more of a natural process of selecting the strong (the psychopathic) to rule over the weak (the dupes who fall for the myths of competition or of the king's divine right to rule). Whether it's a capitalistic system or a communist one or a monarchy, somehow power always gets concentrated and that corrupts the rulers, which turns them into the psychopaths who have historically been worshiped as the gods (or as the models for the theistic gods).

      So there's a con going on here, a division between exoteric and esoteric knowledge in the field of economics. Is competition the ideal for capitalists? Or is it a means of producing rulers who no longer need to compete because they form monopolies, etc? Is economic competition for everyone or just for the weak? And does competition elevate talent and greatness or just plain old evil? Food for thought...

    2. Hi Ben,

      What is the game inside the fake game?

      Your questions essentially rely on honest answers, I think. Thing is if you ask your fellow 'dupe' these questions - they'll just ask the psychopaths in the end. Who'll lie - so possibly the direct question is actually playing into the psychopaths hands?

      Or possibly the questions ask about intent (of which the psychopath simply masks their true intent/lies) and it's that that plays into their hands.

      I mean, if you ask 'Is the string long enough', the psychopath will lie. It's an intent question. If you ask 'Is the string 10cm long', the psychopath may lie, but one might measure it oneself at some point.

      Of course the thing how the food and resources infrastructure actually keeps going is mostly a hodge podge affair. So how do you ask a question on how society keeps going, when no one really knows anyway (the psychopaths just manipulate the hodge podge pile for their benefit, not really knowing how it works)

      On a side note, I don't think power corrupts. I think it just amplifies the corruption that is already present. I unthinkingly step on many ants as a cross the lawn. Make me a giant and who do I unthinkingly step upon now?

    3. As I say in my YouTube debate with Inmendham, nature doesn't play games (because nature is undead). We play games in our microcosms.

      I'm not sure I see your point about whether psychopaths would lie. You seem to be wondering how a society that's based on lies, or on exoteric delusions, can carry on. I see this in Spenglerian terms. In its heyday, a society is propelled by its healthy culture which inspires the majority. The modern period of the West is paradoxically one of technological progress but also of cultural decline (rising apathy, cynicism, anxiety). So after God's death, thanks to science, we need replacement myths such as the scientistic or capitalistic ones, but those myths aren't authentic to our culture. They're makeshift stories that dehumanize us, delusions that keep Western society going as we rationalize the failures of democracy and liberalism and capitalism and our inability to deal with the obviousness of atheism. We need our noble lies to pretend our culture isn't in decline.

      Of course, much of our globalized society is superficially automated and that has to do with technological progress. But if the masses lose heart, if they realize their conventional, materialistic or pseudo-Christian ideals are actually loathsome, they could riot as they do now in Ferguson in the US. Our machines aren't yet self-sufficient, so even though our modern societies seem invulnerable, they depend on the noble lies that distract the masses from a litany of horrors.

    4. But when did this "healthy" period exist, except for brief periods? Just looking at Western history, the Roman Empire as "healthy" in that it conquered the known world, but it quickly devolved and eventually became the Dark Ages. The Renaissance was a glorious era of art and science and thought, but it was also amazingly corrupt from a governance standpoint.

      Isn;t human society ALWAYS a combination of corruption and health? There wer cynics during the heights of the Roman Republic. Dante's Inferno is certainly cynical.

    5. I'm not sure I see your point about whether psychopaths would lie. You seem to be wondering how a society that's based on lies, or on exoteric delusions, can carry on. I see this in Spenglerian terms. In its heyday, a society is propelled by its healthy culture which inspires the majority. The modern period of the West is paradoxically one of...

      I was asking about hard logistics. I'm not sure if I didn't make this clear that's the issue or that you went on to talk about some sort culture thing is a significant issue in itself.

      I mean, do psychopaths really matter in and of themselves? Or is it that they'll work you like a dog or abandon you to the wilds, calling it civilisation? And 'worked like a dog' can be broken down into measurable units - hours worked. Physical labour done. Time spent traveling to work. Etc. And this can be examined against what it actually takes to live and by it we could say the life were currently forced into to is unnecessary and possibly even a foul deed (by the psychopaths)

      You seem to be talking about psychopaths just being bad perse, Ben? Without any measure of various ways of living (and a measure of how they might be forcing us vs one which better matches a natural human lifestyle)?

      Apart from forcing millions of people to get up at hours that don't really match their biology and forcing them to waste part of their precious life span traveling just to get to work they don't want to do (and similar things that can actually be measured), what's a psychopath done to actually be called bad?

    6. Brian, I agree that societies are mixed with regard to virtues and vices, so health shouldn't be equated with flawlessness. I'm speaking of health in narrow, existentialist terms. The question is whether the majority believes in its culture's ideals and myths. If so, it's healthy in certain respects. If not, the culture is degenerate. Ancient Roman culture was pragmatic and simplistic from the start. It didn't take long before the masses craved spiritual depth, which they got from Eastern religions, including Christianity.

      The medieval period was healthy in the existential sense even though life then was rough, to say the least. Mumford explains this well in The Condition of Man. Rationally speaking, medieval culture was preposterous, but what has reason to do with art? In aesthetic terms, medieval folks were "living the dream," which is to say they believed so fervently in their spiritual ideals that they applied them everywhere they turned. They were effectively creating their lives as art for art's sake. Postmodern folks, by contrast, have no ideals but only irony.

    7. I talk about the wrong done by the subcriminal psychopathic leaders, in an earlier article, adapting Lewis Mumford's account of the megamachine. Then again, I'm torn on these leaders. They degrade their workers but they're also outsiders, like the ascetics and outcasts (omegas), as I say elsewhere. So I'm not so interested in moralizing here. It's not about traditional ideas of good and bad, but existentialist, aesthetic ideals of originality, creativity, and artistic inspiration. The psychopathic form of human predation is by now quite cliched (the pathology of being corrupted by power, surrounding yourself with sychophants, etc etc).

      The real question is whether we should strive for equality or face the possibility that social divisions are needed, based on an inevitable split between exoteric and esoteric understanding. In the latter case, the opportunity will arise for self-serving or enlightened individuals to exploit the ignorant masses. Those who lack a conscience, because they've been corrupted by power, can be enlightened in their own way, meaning they can detach themselves from social conventions and face harsh natural truths.

    8. There's some kind of talking past each other...I still don't understand why you said the following:

      I'm not sure I see your point about whether psychopaths would lie.

      I mean, ostensibly we're honest with each other about how things work - including the structure of how we live.

      Psychopaths would simply lie to tell you you're in structure A when really you're in sucky structure B.

      I don't know why you mention 'Spenglerian' or such and think I'm asking how things can keep going? I have no trouble understanding how something like that can keep going - it's just a con job that keeps going because con jobs keep going when they aren't revealed.

      I'm not sure what's happening here? Anyway, I tried to outline the difference between intent questions and metric questions. Asking 'is the string long enough' is an intent question. Asking 'is the string 10cm long' is a metric question. It is much harder to lie on the latter (because it is much easier to get caught lying)

    9. I see now your distinction between lies that have to do with intent and practical questions whose answers can be more easily verified, but I still don't see your overall point. Are you saying societies run themselves regardless of whether there are godlike psychopaths along for the ride at the top of the social pyramid? Are you saying the leaders or parasites are superfluous? Maybe you could tell me in plain language what your main point here is and how it relates to my articles on our corrupt overlords.

    10. I guess it's in several parts.

      A: Prompting other 'dupes' (like me) to question the psychopaths on how things works plays right into the psychopaths hands, as it kind of advertising 'if you ask questions, you'll get honest answers!'. Which the psychopaths like people to think, so people will injest their lies more easily.

      B: Society is not a designed structure. Thus no one really knows how it works, they just speculate.

      This makes asking metric questions about how we live and whether we could live another way hard, since if no one knows how the whole thing works, how can you ask questions about how it works?

      So even when we get away from intent questions, there's no easy result - metric questions are still incredibly hard to formulate as well!

      I'm just sort of raising that difficult position were left at for possible discussion of it, as I have no definate answers for it, I feel.

      I guess this helps with my poster drafting, as maybe I'm not describing that problem position terribly well?

  2. Was it C.G.Jung who came up with the idea of how things and ideas keep turning into their opposites? Would this go some way toward explaining how competition as meritocracy, when applied and theorised about, rendered abstract, becomes the human tendency towards monopoly oligarchy and oligopoly? Part of the process of theorising 'fair competition' is the attenuation of hierarchies into ever greater extremes of power/control and social disempowerment? Sufficient for the language to create a social underclass of people who, however intelligent they might be, cannot escape their 'loser' labels or the malign suspicions of those at the top of the hierarchy?

    1. I'd say no, it's just bad game design. Check out board gamer geeks who decry board games which ensure those who are losing just keep on losing.

      The reason those winning the game got/get away with it is the just world fallacy people have as well as the Dunning-Kruger effect of the majority thinking they are smart or talented enough to win (like, they just will. No consideration of the opposition levels. They think they'll win no matter what). Regardless of how much the 'game' allows those who are already winning to stack the odds against those who are not.

      Sorry for posting so much - sore point for me.

    2. Thanks for the reference to the Dunning-Kruger effect. The only game I enjoy playing is online scrabble via Facebook, at which I win a fair amount of the time. But I play it for fun and the maintenance of word power and numeracy. If you are right, the best 'the incompetent/weak' can hope for is to be incompetent at corruption, where competence means being competent enough to become habitually corrupt and blind to your own corruption. I am sure I would not want to be 'a winner' at that rate. Also I am sure that my disbelief in competition is very far from the old accusation aimed the working classes that when they found virtue in their relative poverty it was 'inverted snobbery', an accusation which I find deeply contradictory given the wealth of people who used to make it.

    3. I think it was Aristotle who talked about the ironies of political systems that transform into their opposites. He said that democracy is undermined by demagogues who become tyrannical. Hegel too said a lot about ironies in historical processes (theses and antitheses coming together to produce transcendent syntheses).

      I suspect that irony is an indicator of reality as opposed to illusion. Wherever you find the sort of irony that makes life look ridiculous, there you'll find the truth of what's really going on.

    4. I suspect that irony is an indicator of reality as opposed to illusion. Wherever you find the sort of irony that makes life look ridiculous, there you'll find the truth of what's really going on.

      Possibly a side topic: I think irony is where one intent is assumed, but another intent entirely is found to be at play. When neither quite lives up to the moment, perhaps for a moment with see an intentless world.