Monday, November 16, 2020

On Medium: The Ruse of Joe Biden’s Technocratic Centrism

Read on about the existential conflict between liberals and conservatives, and the dubiousness of Joe Biden's promotion of Democratic centrism.


  1. I'm not entirely convinced that republicans have natural selection on their side. To me, 'social darwinism' in itself is a 'Contradictio in adiecto' in the sense that in the natural world there are no norms or laws or principles whatsoever, just patterns of animal behaviour. Nothing 'social' about it at all.

    Even the most extreme form of 'conservative libertarianism' is dependent upon a society structured by norms of conduct, that has rules, laws, institutions, etc. Otherwise, there's nothing that guarantees the continual uses of your possessions, your 'personal freedom', your businesses, the value of your currency, and so forth.

    Republicans are first and foremost con artists (every politician in some sense is one), and they thrive only because they're part of a society that lets and encourages them. You can't bullshit your way out in the natural wilderness, but you certainly can in the 'civilized', social one.

    I believe the term 'social darwinism' was invented to serve as a natural justification for a particular way of social organization, whose adherents, ironically, would generally be the least apt organisms to survive in the natural wilderness. I mean the majority of them are either overweight, sick, dumb, old, or a combination of the above!

    1. The way I’m using the term, “social Darwinism” is an extension of ethical (not psychological) egoism. The idea is that human society should be organized as though we were an impersonal species of social animals. So in effect these Darwinists promote dominance hierarchies as the most we can ask for. This is the ideology that accounts for the effects of their policies.

      Now none of this has to do with what conservatives actually say, but we get nowhere in our understanding of politics if we take at face value the conservative rhetoric that’s supposed to justify their policies. As you say, Republicans are con artists, but I go further in saying that conservatives are hyper-masculine and therefore functional, subcriminal psychopaths (at least in some of their public performances). So we can expect a conflict between their rhetoric and the effects of their policies. (As in the books and show “Dexter,” psychopaths have to live a double life to appear to fit into society even though they’re parasites or antisocial predators.)

      Of course, conservative rhetoric is all about religion and divine commandments and liberty and America’s manifest destiny and so on. All of that rhetoric is a con. What matters is the effect of their policies. The effect is the promotion of regressive dominance hierarchies, which is what I’m calling socially Darwinian or animalistic, as opposed to humanistic (progressive, liberal, or socialistic). That’s the heart of the conflict between conservatives and liberals, in my analysis.

      Nature is indeed amoral, but there are patterns and regularities that arise mindlessly, as far as we can tell from science. Thus, subatomic elements tend to gel to form atoms, and atoms bond to form molecules, molecules combine to form materials, and materials evolve over time to form the things we see in the universe such as stars, galaxies, planets, and organisms. That natural bonding of elements is analogous to the bonding of many species in the wild. These are the social species in that their strategy for survival is to cooperate, to form groups that raise and protect their young and that hunt for prey. The nonsocial species produce offspring that have a greater chance of taking care of themselves from birth, whereas the social species require an extended period of parental support.

      Another factor is the informal law of oligarchy, which is that once certain animals find they have to live together (just as atoms find themselves bonding to form molecules), they end up distributing power hierarchically, by concentrating power in a leader that reigns over the subordinates. Again, all of this arises naturally, mindlessly, without intelligent design or an ideal direction. This is mysterious, but it’s no more mysterious than a universe arising for no reason from a subatomic fluctuation. The fact that there’s something rather than nothing is the great mystery, but the point is that the natural evolution of social groups isn’t stranger than the mindless bonding of atoms to form molecules.

    2. Well, the problem for me is that if 'social Darwinism' denotes a kind of ethical egoism, which has societal ramifications, then I think a more appropriate name or nomenclature would indeed be 'hierarchical social-dominance' or something like that. This because 'hierarchies' in the natural world don't follow the same pattern that in our social world, and I don't think the natural process that goes from an atom to the formation of a galaxy is really analogous to the formation of a particular group or society. There's one big difference. As you say, the former is mindless, the latter isn't, I think.

      For a social hierarchy to work, the population has to accept a basic amount of rules or 'premises', so to speak. These originate in our reason, and become manifest in the stories and myths that we tell ourselves. So, in this context, natural selection isn't working in the same way that it works in other species. A 'second-class' organism, for lack of a better term, may very well find himself at the top of the social ladder. Think of the degenerate progeny of kings in the past, for example.

      Whereas in the 'natural hierarchies', the 'alpha' position ultimately comes down to differences in the genetic make-up, due to interactions with the creature's surroundings.

      Here's an article that takes bees as an example:

      However, I think my problem at bottom is just semantics. I understand your point when contrasting the differences between progressive and conservative ideology, and I agree with it.

    3. Regarding the mindlessness or naturalness of dominance hierarchies, we can leave out for the moment the complication of our rational species, since social animals of all stripes organize themselves into pecking orders without the benefit of intelligent design. As you say, they do so instinctively and thus due largely to natural selection. That’s what I was comparing to atomic bonds which form more complex, molecular structures.

      Indeed, we have the rational potential to choose how to organize ourselves. But the idea is that there’s a social default like a center of gravity to which we’re pulled, namely our instinctive, relatively mindless and animalistic mode of behaviour. We, too, have fight-or-flight responses, for example, and we too naturally fall into dominance hierarchies. Our reasons for doing so may often be rationalizations, after-the-fact excuses to reassure ourselves that we’re not just animals.

      This is why centrist liberals like Obama, Clinton, and Biden often speak of the possibility only of “incremental” as opposed to radical, transformational progress. Social progress (towards humanistic transcendence and away from animalistic regression) is like climbing a steep mountain. The downward slope represents the natural, default social structure of the dominance hierarchy. It’s what we’re naturally prone to favouring, which is why conservatism has nature (not God) on her side. The liberal goes against the grain, climbing the mountain and can therefore proceed only step by step and always at the risk of taking a tumble all the way back to the bottom.

      That’s where the conservative wants us to be, at the very bottom, since that nadir is all that can be conserved without self-contradiction, without presupposing the liberal progress that’s worked in the past to advance us beyond pure animalism, instinct, and naturally selected servitude or automation.

    4. "But the idea is that there’s a social default like a center of gravity to which we’re pulled, namely our instinctive, relatively mindless and animalistic mode of behaviour"

      How can we be sure it's instinctive rather than learned, when it comes to the human case? I think we bow to authorities and accept our place in the 'pecking order' because we're socially conditioned to do so, not because we're naturally inclined towards that particular form of organization.

      I guess the possibility of such organization must lie in our nature somehow, otherwise it wouldn't be possible. But I don't think it is determined at such a point that we must consider it an instinct. If it was, then our collective fictions that bind people in civilizations or cultures wouldn't be necessary.

      Those must be necessary, however. Otherwise, how can we explain the fact of grown-ups pledging fealty to child monarchs in ancient cultures or young and strong soldiers bending the knee to feeble, almost senile, old men?

      That is not to say that we're not natural creatures, of course we are. But I don't think it follows from that fact that we must adopt any particular mode of social organization.

  2. "Conservative." Desegregationist. You will never force together clockwork that shouldn't mesh. Domestic abuse and divorce rates for black / white couples, alone, prove this.

    1. Culture matters more than physical features of race. Plenty of people within the same race don't get along with each other, for cultural reasons. For example, the division between Democrats and Republicans is much more cultural than racial.

      Divorce rates for interracial couples show no such thing, since race is linked to other factors, including environmental stresses that can affect a marriage, as the article below points out. Interracial couples may have less support from society, for example.

      Also, race has nothing to do with my article on Biden's centrism.