Western Misunderstandings of ‘Individual Choice’

Builds Upon: Driving Lessons For the Vehicle of Consciousness

Western Enlightenment culture idolizes the conscious human will.

Our entire culture is based on the assumption that every human is a conscious rational decision maker.

This is a deeply flawed understanding of what people really are.

The conscious is a junior partner to the subconscious and traditional peoples have always known this.
Most things people do are determined through instinct as it relates to survival and reproduction. Most conscious things we do are mere reactions to forces over which we have no control. Mystics such as Gurdjieff have repeatedly pointed out:

We don’t really do anything at all!

The naïve Western understanding of human nature creates a social environment in which advertisers have little responsibility for the memes they spread. Corporations can run rampant while following the letter of literal-minded laws.

Social movements driven by well-meaning idealism set up those they ‘help’ for even worse disaster because they don’t understand what people are. If only people are given the chance to exercise ‘free choice’ they tell themselves, the world can change!

They do not understand that human will is a weak and delicate thing that must be carefully cultivated and protected. Without special effort and training, we are just monkeys fighting over sex and bananas.
There is nothing self evident about will or rights. For the most part, these are unique, radical ideas that sprouted from Western Christianity.
If we go back and read the Bible, it doesn’t take long to figure out that Jesus’ ideas are totally new and confusing to nearly everyone he meets. If we examine the vast majority of people on Earth today, they have far more in common with typical Judeans of Jesus’ time than with naive educated Westerners.

Any traditional culture has mechanisms to protect their people from predatory influences whether through religion or animistic magical practices.
Without these mechanisms, Western civilizations malfunction on a massive scale.

We choose what to do, but we don’t choose what we want to do. “Attraction is not a choice” as it is formulated by pick up artists or anyone selling anything.

A strong society grounded in right ideas protects its people from those who would ‘hack’ their wills and parasitize them. Especially proles or women, most of whom are at best marginally capable of thinking for themselves.

Societies like our own that refuse to understand what people are inevitably stumble and falter.

The champions of capitalism relentlessly criticize communists for misunderstanding the basics of human nature, but barely 20 years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the victors at the end of history find themselves little better off.
They too failed to understand what humans are.


The Importance of Magic in Social Structures

Builds Upon: The Most Precious Resource: Legitimacy

In our modern way of thought, few things can be more contemptible than superstition. Words like ‘magic’ and ‘witchcraft’ are taken to be synonymous with everything dark and barbaric.

Yet every pre-industrial society and plenty of post-industrial societies include magic as a regular part of daily life.

Whether magic is ‘true’ or not is of little relevance. We can divine that societies with belief in magic had a competitive advantage over those that did not.

If we really look at what magic is, we find that its function is pretty consistent and straightforward. It’s a means of influencing the human subconscious.

Let’s look at a typical shamanic strategy: Tell the family that the sick person is inhabited by a demon and that it can only be driven away if the family members are totally devoted in their hearts to recovery.

Is there really a demon causing the disease? Who cares? The shaman has inspired a sense of urgency in the family and caused them to really take the situation seriously. Attitude influences action and the shaman has gotten their attitude in the right place so that the right actions follow.

It’s a pretty straightforward chain of causation that almost unanimously escapes ‘rational’ modern thinkers.
In fact the relationship between the shaman and his patient is pretty similar that between worker and boss. Begin with incentives(worker gets fired if they screw up), then watch for results(worker knows on a visceral level they can’t screw up).

Magic has already been discovered by science.

The proof is a cure that often proves the equal of the best technology has to offer. Medical science calls it a ‘placebo’ a totally useless pill that actually works if you just add belief.

Yet Enlightenment thought in its worship of the Absolute Explicit still tries to tell us the placebo doesn’t work. People just think it works. Therefore if people are cured by the placebo effect they are irrational and deluded. They’ve been tricked.

Some shamans might agree with scientists that they ‘trick’ people but the connotations and implications of this word would be understood very differently.

To the ‘rational’ thinker the effects of a placebo treatment actually do not exist because the treatment itself was not explicit or measurable. To them the shaman is a primitive lout and a charlatan.

If any word hits a nerve with Enlightenment thinkers, it is ‘witchcraft.’

Today’s thinkers have never evolved beyond the 16-18th century rebels who were actually persecuted and pursued by the church, the state, the entire establishment.
The cultural memory of witch hunts by the church or by the king remains fresh in their minds as if Galileo or Voltaire still walked the earth.

In their eyes, witchcraft has become symbolic of the stupid, benighted things people did before Enlightenment.

Yet every traditional society and plenty of modern ones believe in witchcraft.
In fact, I had a roommate in college who was a Kikuyu from the Kenyan highlands. He was an intelligent and rational person who absolutely believed in witchcraft. And he quite frankly told me that witches were still stoned to death where he lived.

Why would every traditional group in the world unanimously come up with remarkably similar ideas of witchcraft and be willing to take extreme measures to prevent it?

As best as I can figure, witchcraft is the opposite of magic used for healing.

That is, a witch uses rituals to program the subconscious to achieve destructive and selfish aims.
All the nonsensical ingredients, the dolls, the rituals are a means of influencing the visceral self. To adjust one’s attitude and then passively let actions follow from the attitude. Or to adjust their environment in a way that would precipitate negative consequences…

I suppose that if I wanted to be a modern Western witch, I might go out at night and start breaking windows in strategic, visible places.
Our modern studies tell us that when people see lapses in order such as broken windows, they instinctively perceive weakness in the ruling order and more readily act on their immediate desires.
With a simple mental ‘trick’, I could influence the attitudes and therefore the actions of hundreds of people.

Pre-modern societies are in many ways founded on a much sounder understanding of human nature. Tribes founded on wishful nonsense have long since been stamped out of existence.

In our own literal-minded society, I could be punished for breaking windows, but no law we have on our books would address the far worse damage I had caused the community by influencing people. I might pay fines and do some community service or jail for vandalism, but that’s about it.

More ‘primitive’ people don’t need studies to tell them that the integrity and morale of the group must be protected at all costs.

Cohesive, pre-industrial societies would have had little patience for my mind games; the exertion of my magical powers over the populace.
Sooner or later, people would have intuitively perceived my malicious intent. Though they might not understand exactly what I was doing, I would eventually be accused of witchcraft and executed.
The society would be better off without me. It would be more fit to compete against rival societies.
While ‘irrational’ on the level of individuals, executing a witch becomes the lowest sort of pragmatism when considered on the level of the group.
A coach who cuts an underperforming or disruptive player from the team does much the same thing.

Cooking and the Nature of Societies

Builds Upon: Submitting Requests To Your Committee

As a nomadic twenty something I had to teach myself to cook.
As a male, no one ever taught me the arts of the kitchen, nor as a male child had I any interest.

Yet I repeatedly found the necessity of preparing my food staring right at me. I was often poor and when I had money my income came with very little security.
It didn’t make sense to blow a few hundred bucks a month on low quality freezer food that would make me sick. I understood that buying ingredients would make for much better eating for much cheaper.

I started out doing what the lonely guy in romantic comedies always does. He pulls out a book and starts trying to make recipes.
And most people in the Modern West never move beyond this initial n00b step.
They just don’t know any better and think that’s all there is to cooking.

Following recipes exactly is a slow and painful process and that’s why even people who know how to cook do it mostly for visiting friends and on a few holidays.
Cooking is a decorative parlor trick they perform but it’s not really a part of their lifestyle.

When you actually cook(from ingredients) every day, the process inevitably changes. First there’s a couple of frequent dishes for which you need the recipe book less and less. The training wheels start to come off.
Within several months one has probably lost the training wheels for all their favorite dishes.
Beyond that, like any other skill it becomes an increasingly easy intuitive process.
From knowing a repertoire of specific recipes, you come to innately grasp the logic behind types of recipes.

Any more, it’s rare that I ever use a recipe. I know what spices work together with what foods in what proportions. I look up recipes for inspiration, but I never write them down. I can look at the ingredients list and understand what the chef is trying to do.
If there’s one thing on the list missing I don’t have a middle class style anxiety attack and make a special trip to the grocery store for that one hard to find ‘ethnic’ ingredient.
Once you cook for yourself for awhile you’ve worked with lots of different types of ingredients and you know what can be substituted, which are actually important in the recipe, and which play a minor role or are mostly decorative.

Once upon a time, a set of measuring spoons and cups were among my most frequently used possessions. I wrote down my own recipes and made micro-adjustments each time to arrive at a happy medium.
Over time, I found myself needing this stuff less and less. My brain adjusted to the point where I could eyeball all my spices pretty accurately as I added them. For further adjustments, all I needed to do was taste it periodically and everything was fine.

After a few years of making my own food, the idea of a fixed recipe was mostly obsolete. I mostly improvised to fit my mood based on what was in the fridge and pantry at a given time. If no two days were exactly the same and my body never in exactly the same state twice, there was no reason to ever make the same dish in exactly the same way.
Every meal was an adventure in recombinance…

Increasingly, the things I did in the kitchen helped shape my thoughts on systemic design.

I’d taught myself most things about cooking by accident, but gradually I started to deliberately use the kitchen as a lab for testing my ideas.

At one time, I was thinking about the practical necessity of compulsion as the foundation of agricultural society.

If tasks aren’t made urgent for people through threats and coercion, nothing gets done. Another group that is more effective at blackmailing its people wins. And here we’ve just explained the ‘why’ of mass societies in a couple of sentences.

I imagined a child who never forgets their birthday but frequently forgets to clean their room.
The child doesn’t mean to forget clean-up time, but they do anyway because it’s not fun. Because the task is mildly unpleasant the subconscious lets the matter drop. Without the threat of parental punishment the task never gets done.

And this is how civilization works from the family all the way up to the rulers. And the rulers in turn must helplessly react to a perpetual prisoner’s dilemma as they compete with their exalted equals. All of society drifts according to the whims of nature with no one weak or strong with any real control.

If any of this were ever to change I could think of only one possible way out: people would have to approach the subconscious and the intuition in a much more deliberate way…

I started leaving the kitchen whenever I had something cooking. And I wouldn’t go back to check on it. In another room I’d start doing something else to distract my conscious mind. I left it up to my subconscious intuitive mind to warn me when the time was right. If it failed, dinner would be burnt.
I ended up burning things a few times, a necessary part of the process. I was teaching myself on a sub-rational, visceral level the consequences of failure.

Pretty soon, if my nose detected the slightest hint of burning or if the exact expected amount of time had passed, my conscious mind would get yanked away from whatever it was doing. (I had especially wanted smell to figure into this trial because it is the most immediate and visceral of the senses.)

The same principle that had allowed me to estimate amounts of spices without measuring spoons could be harnessed and deliberately used on myself.

Through all my life, every training system I’d ever encountered was all about rewarding the people who screw up the least when new material is introduced.

My little mental experiment in the kitchen led me to imagine formal training systems wherein playful and often destructive experimentation with new information is not penalized or perhaps even encouraged.
Or perhaps one might take some inspiration from military drill instructors by creating near impossible situations for the trainees just to watch them all fail. Let them fail repeatedly. Then with the consequences of failure seared into their pre-conscious minds, let them succeed. Repeat the process for each new skill or body of information. (I do not suggest a crass, coercive boot camp. Rather an environment where these effective methods could be applied constructively, without threats and bullying from screaming authority figures.)

“Book learning” is a term in Western culture that describes a purely explicit understanding without any of the intuitive, pre-conscious programming that makes it useful in application.

Our Enlightenment-inspired gatekeeper training systems are designed to let through the rock stars of explicit mastery.
Ironically, these people tend to be blinded by the sheer dominance of their explicit thinking to the glories of the intuition. The training systems they breezed through allowed them to avoid exactly the sort of creative trial and error that develops a fine tuned intuitive mastery!

These are the people who go on to conduct all our research, make our policies, and teach the next generation of trainees! These are the arch coercers whose decisions roll down the pyramid steps until they finally reach us!