The Broken World (Part 1)
Dismantling the fundamental concepts of what civilization is and why it is the antithesis of liberty and against our nature.
These posts are a culmination of thoughts and rambling I’ve had on the subject of human social theory regarding the problems in our current societies and ideas about how we can live and minimize these issues. I don’t make any “expert claims”, and you are free to call bullshit on what you read. but I do hope you have the capacity to consider the ideas.
I would not call these fully finalized breakdowns of the concepts involved, but part of a process of writing in order to better understand how to communicate what I’m trying to say. It is a difficult process just understanding the ways people see reality enough to find words that they may be able to frame reality from well enough to even begin getting through their entire lifetime of thinking. To say these things are not in a finished form for presentation would be a massive understatement. If nothing else this represents the current (as of the time of writing) evolution of the expression of the ideas in a space where they can be refined and better expressed. This presentation of the ideas is still what I would consider quite raw.
These ideas are not based on my preferences for desired outcomes, but a long and extensive look at human behavior in an attempt to understand what actually can work. These are not prescriptions, however, but a loose framework, or ideas that can be taken and reformulated and understood based on the reader’s capacity to see and understand from their own reality framing. I’m not here to say how things should be. I’m here to dismantle the stories we tell ourselves about what we are and find the connections in the systems we’ve built and nature built to in some small part give humans a better chance at rewriting the realities that make the living world what it is.
So try reading all three existing parts of this series before you draw conclusions. Be careful of your biases telling you not to take it in. This isn’t even a complete picture… It’s a building conception. But it should, if you can hear it, break down a lot of your assumptions about what is and what can be.
Part 1 – Dismantling the Lie of Normal
“Corruption” is not something you can win against. It’s inherent in all power systems. It’s just another word for change from original intent, really… And if we say the problem is that our systems have “become” corrupt, we are unintentionally admitting that we never really understood the nature of the systems. As far as any normal definition of this word goes, I don’t think I know of a system that was founded where it wasn’t already a part of it to begin with. The talk of democracy and votes mattering and freedom are propaganda selling a product to get you to buy into an idea that was never going to be able to meet up to what it promised.
cor·rup·tion | \ kə-ˈrəp-shən
Definition of corruption
1 a: dishonest or illegal behavior especially by powerful people (such as government officials or police officers) : DEPRAVITY
b: inducement to wrong by improper or unlawful means (such as bribery)
// the corruption of government officials
c: a departure from the original or from what is pure or correct
// the corruption of a text
//the corruption of computer files
d: DECAY, DECOMPOSITION
// the corruption of a carcass
2 chiefly dialectal : PUS
3 archaic : an agency or influence that corrupts“Corruption.” Merriam-Webster, Merriam-Webster, www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/corruption.
This isn’t about “evil” or some other nonsense term either. This is about having expectations about human systems that are simply not possible. This is having ideations first of all that we can control the outcomes, let alone do, and that some group of people are out there making all of the choices that determine the outcomes of your life for you.
I know I rail on about how much life is a matter of recognizing that most of what you call reality is nothing more than some prescription designed by others and that being aware of that is what gives you whatever power is possible to actually have. But the really insidious thing to get is that it isn’t then any kind of elite group, or some class, that ultimately decides those outcomes. That is just another control delusion. One of a belief that if we solve the problems of corruption in the system, as in clean out the ones who would abuse the system for their own ends regardless of the costs to others, then we’d somehow be left with a system that worked in the way we think it should.
I don’t know how many times humans must repeat this same scenario before it becomes plain as day that the problem lies not in the people in the system, but in the systems themselves. So every day I have to watch the arguments about “who” did what, or what “entity” causes what problems that could be “solved” by swapping them out for “better” people.
It’s madness… And people are quite emotionally attached to these ideations about the world. I barely even bother participating in it because it becomes clear almost immediately that it’s useless. It’s an insane repetition of blame attribution and moral high horsing that barely even tries to look at the systems as systems, but, again, as things humans are doing consciously. As if doing this has ever worked. It is one of the greatest lies we tell ourselves about this world, and for a good reason. If we go into life assuming that humans are the reason for the outcomes we see, we are seeing a world we believe we can control. On the one hand, it allows us the luxury of perception that puts blame on choices bad actors make, and on the other it makes us feel like we are participating in a world that can be changed.
I think of a simple mental exercise and imagine every generation of humans through history having similar conversations about who is in “power” and who is “corrupt” and how to “change” it for, again, the “better”.
And that way of thinking and being has got us exactly… Nowhere.
The progress we do see that appears to be going in the “right” direction is attributed to specific events in history, and how much we’ve fought to improve life. And while this does help, it’s just as likely that those things are a reflection of the changes that were going to happen anyway. As in, when conditions allow the opportunity to change an outcome, the outcome was already likely to happen. The actions then taken are the result of the opportunity for them to be effective, as much as the actions change the outcomes. In any physical system, we wouldn’t say that any actions are possible without the rest of the system already giving allowances for the change. We’d say that the identifiable processes happened because the conditions were right for them to. This implies that most historical attributions to people for what they did to change the course of history happen because the conditions were right. At any other point, if the same actions were taken, the system would not allow the change, regardless of how hard that object or agent wants to change the outcomes. Human systems are natural systems. They obey the same rules of nature as any other system, and no amount of effort can change the system simply through force unless the amount of force overwhelms the system, which is just another way of saying that the conditions were right for the system to change. It’s a kind of tautology and feels weird because it illustrates how much what we think we are doing because we want it to be, is really just the allowance of the system for the outcome.
If a power that oppresses can be defeated, it’s because it has passed a stable threshold for order in the system it is trying to control. There is no right or wrong about it. The nature of control itself and the efforts put into applying that control are why it doesn’t remain stable. The universe depends on equilibrium in systems to maintain order. When something, a human control system or a natural system, exercises more and more influence in its efforts to dominate that system, it reduces the complexity of the system, thereby removing all of the factors that otherwise kept the system stable. In natural systems such as the ecosystem, we see this happening now as a result of human control efforts that have grown and grown.
In food production, we have moved to an approach based on reducing the variables and homogenizing the output. We have designed our foods to be reproducible in the same way over and over again. Because of our “optimizations” and desire to make it as “efficient” and repeatable as we can, we’ve removed as many natural variables as we can. In our efforts to guarantee there will be enough food, we’ve limited our diets to a fraction of the variety of foods we used to eat. Entire breeds of plants then become susceptible to single failure points. For instance, with the banana some of us remember was the “normal” banana, the entire breed died because we didn’t allow the natural evolutionary variability in its reproduction, disabling the natural mechanism nature has for building resistances to things that want to eat it. So a fungal infection was able to wipe it completely out. Mass production itself in the same places reduces natural barriers that would keep the fungus from traveling to where it is. Making it seedless and impossible to reproduce by itself shut off the mechanism it had to adapt to the attacker. The efforts to make the food we produce more reliable for growing and producing in controlled ways to make sure we are creating a stable outcome, destabilize the outcome to the point of collapse.
Food is just one example. This is the case in all human systems that try to control the outcomes and eliminate variables in efforts to make life easier and more beneficial to humans. Reducing the complexity inherent in emergent systems, in the name of creating certainty to help humans live better, destroys the equilibrium the system has naturally built to compensate for threats and instability. It takes a working ecosystem and through exploitation without a real understanding of how the system works, leaving it not only open to collapse, but making the collapse inevitable.
In human social systems taking people and creating normative systems of law and morality, expecting the actors to obey this and behave according to prescription, is in effect what we are doing to other systems like the aforementioned. By reducing the complexity of social interaction, we create systems that have more and more failure points. By packing humans into cities with massive populations of people living under the same rules structures, we leave society itself open to all kinds of vulnerabilities. By then also trying to control the natural systems human require to survive, we again reduce the complexity that keeps the system robust.
By prioritizing life itself, in as many people as possible through the creation of medical technology, the use of antibiotics, reliable supermassive food production, etc., we are reducing the natural complex equilibrium of death itself. We reduce threats through law and policing, we reduce ideas through cultural and moral control, we build cities to simplify life. All of these efforts in the short term, act to keep more people alive, but also inherently become oppressive, and increase the potential for single failure points to take down the whole system in the long run. The current looming environmental collapses that are probably unavoidable at this point are the direct result of trying to make the world “better” for humans. It’s not just environmental collapse, but multiple failure points.
What is power, what is control?
It’s like the idea that the social reality we actually inhabit is already anarchy, but we’ve convinced ourselves we are the architects of order. Like the belief that the police have anything to do with why structural stability exists. We identify the things we want to believe have control so we can convince ourselves our condition is something we consciously determine.
As the argument goes, if we don’t think there are agents who control the outcomes, we’d have to admit that the whole thing is actually out of control. For most this could lead to an existential crisis. For some, it makes it clear that any instability is caused by the efforts to create stability. So, there is stability despite the best efforts of the government and the police to control through domination, because complex systems are extremely resilient when all of the parts are connected and even the biggest efforts to control the outcomes are mostly ineffective against a nature that does what it will regardless of our efforts to dominate it.
I fully appreciate the desire to believe we control the outcomes, especially when we are also convinced that if we didn’t it would all fall apart. This is the big delusion I write about again and again and again… and it’s very hard to illustrate it effectively. It feels like cognitive dissonance to even entertain the idea that it is the case.
I did come up with an interesting metaphor for it. I was trying to describe the disconnect with the idea of control vs power. What it seems we do have some of is power, but very little control.
The visual metaphor I came up with uses wave theory. Power is represented by force given to generate a wave. Different actors have varying levels of power to generate waves, all in the same oceans. So when a wave is generated, the energy of the force is pushed out and then subject to the same chaotic principles as anything, where there is diffraction, reflection, the reduction of force with distance from the source, etc. We can even erect barriers to purposefully deflect and focus the energy. The more power used, the less control is effective, and the less predictable are specific outcomes.
They are inversely proportionate to each other, just like in any understanding of wave theory.
This also means that the smaller and more controllable uses of power, while more accurate and leading to more predictable outcomes, will have a less overall effect.
And there is a lot of summing and cancellation that occurs when multiple actors are using their power to create desired outcomes, again dispersing the effect into generality (loss of control).
Point is, while we might want to look at specific actors and attribute specific outcomes to their actions, there are far too many variables and far too many other forces in action to ever really say that the kind of precision control people like to believe we are capable of is possible. Butterfly effect and all that is also a factor, so small actions can have cascading effects that change entire systems. But trying to claim that these things are the direct result of intention, is trying very hard to believe in a universe that just doesn’t exist.
It’s a strange thing this process… Like some memetic meat grinder turning through everyone’s beliefs and desires and homogenizing all of it into the realities that history has documented. Still assumed to be because of what we “did”, completely ignoring the system itself as an organism giving birth to all of these potentials as a whole without the direction we think it caused by our desires for the outcomes.
And when someone asks “Well what’s the answer?”, I feel like that is exactly the problem we have and the point is so completely missed as to drive anyone insane who is actually watching it from the outside.
There is no “answer” as it isn’t a “problem”. It is the universe doing what it does. We invent the problems because we don’t agree with the outcomes that cause us pain or sorrow. As if we are assuming these things can ever not exist for a life form that defines their existence on those things. But we don’t like thinking of life on those terms… the very terms we actually define life by.
We attribute something greater, something sinister or malevolent, something divine; whatever makes it seem like it has to be here because of us. Or at least because of something like us. To really see that nothing is actually wrong and that we are just the result of a bunch of complex processes that never were in control to begin with, is to feel fully and totally powerless. Our reward system married to the cultures we’ve defined just don’t know how to handle that kind of thinking. Unless it has a deeper meaning, it can’t be real. This can’t be all it is!
I think this is just a thinking error of sorts. A misunderstanding about the nature of the universe and why we exist.
In thinking that humans were made to live this way, we have mistaken what we want for how we should be. The models for what actually works are already known, and they are not the way we exist now. They don’t involve governance and mass societies, and power accumulation and domination as a means for increasing survival probabilities. Those systems have always, without fail, failed. The laws of nature and systems show that those kinds of attempts to create a world are already a failure before the work even begins.
But some kind of misunderstanding happens everywhere in “developed” societies, in the idea that what is to be sought is a world better controlled, safer, more morally correct, dominated by some capacity to create a certainty that the universe simply doesn’t have to offer. So we look at more primitive ways of living and discount them, mistakingly thinking them as the antithesis of advancement. Perhaps for a long time, this had a degree of merit, especially in consideration of disease reduction. But even that was bad framing, as the causes of rapid spreading of disease came after we left the primitive tribe, and were caused by dense populations, not more basic living conditions. So to rectify the problems inherent in the new ways of living it required a new control paradigm. This may have led to the belief that more primitive ways of living were inherently less advanced. But it mistakes “advancement” as better instead of realizing the advancements were a way of rectifying living in ways we were not built for. At every new advancement, some new compensatory methodology must be added to account for the problems it brings to live that way. This is not being advanced… It’s damage control for living conditions that foster problems.
And as we started this writeup on the subject of corruption, let’s make a point clear… The corruptions we are seeing are caused because we are attempting ways of living so completely outside of how nature built us. This definition is mostly considered a negative, as it represents outcomes about how things should be that we think should reflect whatever value proposition is considered to be virtuous and ethical; positives about existence and human behavior that most believe are the right way to live and treat each other.
But this begs the question of why aren’t people just like that by nature? Why are so many aspects of “advanced” culture filled with abuses? Because the system itself cannot inherently correct for the things that are also a survival advantage. Because accountability is necessarily an add on in the form of things like law under the model of “civilization”. Because the notions of morality and ethics themselves have no specifically inherent value outside of being control systems used to compensate for undesirable behaviors, and because due to the conditions being lived in being inherently outside of our nature, our nature is to act in ways incongruent with the systems.
Because “freedom” is living without codified rules and laws, and some of our deepest drives as biological creatures are to not be controlled. If your entire system of design for a society is not built with things like accountability as a function of the system itself, then you must impose external controls which are also oppressive, no matter how much you decide that ideas behind the controls are “good”. And as you cannot control the output of human desire in systems of punitive after-response effectively, then people will act to find the things that give them advantages, regardless of how much you try to convince them that it is “wrong”.
Then “corruption” is the result of humans doing whatever they can to not be controlled.
Then “corruption” is the result of humans doing whatever they can to not be controlled. It is not the result of so-called “bad actors” doing “evil” things because they are incapable of acting better. And as humans constantly fight between their own instinctive drives to both get along and survive, any system which defines division-of-power as its primary method of sustenance, will without fail result in people acting against the “rules” of that society.
And because morality/ethics are fundamentally arbitrary notions about pain avoidance and damage control that are not fully agreed upon principals for living in unequal systems where some have more advantage than others, they are not ideas that either will be followed, or even should be followed. These ethical standards then are no different than any other forms of control, which people at the most basic level do not want to be; as this represents subjugation to power that they do not possess, and effectively puts them in a position that empirically decreases their survival potentials and opportunities to live lives of fulfillment.
Any attempts to correct for deviance from the law are about control. Any attempts to legislate behavior are about control. Attempts to instill this value system in your children through discipline and punishment are controlling. Threatening the actions afterward through punitive response is control. All of these are corrective response measures designed to compensate for systems that do not and cannot work. In effect making it so that every right you fight for and every law you pass to try to make people behave the way your ethics have determined is the “should” for everyone to follow, is defining more and more of a control system which people will, by their core nature, reject. The irony of the punishment being for the sake of making the world a better place by the use of oppression is confusingly lost on almost everyone in this regard. But that’s because people think we are supposed to live like this and just haven’t figured out how to do it right, which again seeks control as a solution to a problem that cannot be solved.
When we are arguing about the problems of corruption and the solutions being related to control paradigms we continually cause the problems we are trying to solve. This seems to be a major human M.O. that’s been on repeat through all of history, and will never work. There is no method for a world we want that includes a dogmatic approach without being at least majorly based on the oppression inherent in law based social contracts, or at worst totalitarian or dictatorial approaches to deal with even bigger societies that need radical change to survive.
Human moral systems, being that they are control systems and are inherently based on pain avoidance, are not equipped to deal with the problems created by the kinds of societies build under these social models. They become far too unwieldy pretty quickly and end up requiring a lot of violence to create different desired outcomes.
The nature of alienation in the systems creates massive problems with feelings of powerlessness and a lack of desire to be actively engaged in systems that don’t easily adapt to advances in technology and social need. By their nature, they become more of a live bureaucratic organism than an actual expression of either needed or wanted outcomes.
The nature of these systems necessarily requires extensive protections from the powers that are used to sustain them. Privacy becomes a constant fight and the use of “rights” in law keeps adding to the oppressive nature of the system, also creates the same problems they are trying to solve. In order to keep individuals from simply becoming numbers in a giant spreadsheet of GDP and creating value metrics for life and its purpose as defined by the consensus agreement of far too many people, laws to protect become far too generalized, and more oppression is a natural result. This is part of where we are now with our cultures of offense and victimhood. Any efforts to legislate the solutions will further homogenize the ability of any individual to have a voice, effectively equaling nothing. While the idea of protection from abuse sounds good, the costs it brings to liberty pretty much naturally leads to totalitarian outcomes in the name of what is “good” and right”.
Using the law to protect rights is using oppression to keep people from oppressing. It’s insane logic, and why conservatives laugh at liberals for their efforts. Not because they realize the problem with the nature of the system, but because they recognize the ridiculousness of thinking the addition of more government is a way to increase individual liberty.
Using the law to protect rights is using oppression to keep people from oppressing.
What does it all mean? How does it really affect everyone?
Drug addiction, mental illness, and chronic physical illness are the result of the alienation and powerlessness and the absurdity of living in a world where there is no longer a way to define purpose outside of a system of prescription with literal punitive penalties for disagreement turned to action, coupled with the complexity reduction of the natural systems of diversity that allowed adaptations to deal with change. The constant suppression of desire coupled with feelings of inadequacy and power over our own place in the world leaves the psyche broken, and people are deemed a problem if they aren’t satisfied with the way realities of the system are established. This manifests in many problematic ways, some of the worst being related to the strong desire for privacy as protection from the government.
When you mix alienation and privacy together, you remove social feedback mechanisms that allow for ideas to be squashed in organic ways that naturally trim highly deviant tendencies. When you enforce the privacy of the home in a society defined on domination which has a lack of accountability for those at the top, you end up with people experiencing years of abuse at the hands of close family. Mental, physical, sexual, financial, etc. abuse from people feeling powerless over the outcomes of their own lives then abusing the people closest to them in scenarios that protect them from exposure to communities which would have exposed the behaviors long before the problems would have happened.
Privacy then becomes less about protection from the state, and more about a method of concealing from others the mental disorders the society and the alienation are causing. The problems perpetuate as even though human nature doesn’t want to abuse, and because the moral systems and punishments for behaviors are only designed to punish and not treat, the issues perpetuate for lifetimes. Even if exposed, having caused so much damage that it takes more time left in a lifetime to deal with the problems, making even the victims want to hide for fear of judgment for even existing that way. This all perpetuates the lie of privacy and creates generational illness and deviances that will never go addressed and have not, leaving our societies perpetually damaged at a core level.
In all of this alienation, we see the lack of community integrations. This results in even less power for people to change anything. Adding laws to rectify the problem entrenches the problem and makes people fight even harder for the privacies they think are the only thing that they have to keep from being exposed to a world that will punish them for a life they never asked for.
Again and again, we see that the additions of protections and rights themselves act to divide and alienate. The prescriptive nature of the system doesn’t allow for the expressions of ideas and ways of living that are in opposition to the system. People then fight to protect the very structures in the system that perpetuate the very things that caused them to be alienated.
Then we wonder why there are problems with drug addiction, crime, mental illness, physical illness, disenfranchisement, disillusionment, suicide, and every other standard problem that has plagued almost all “developed” societies through history. Then we wonder why “corruption” is such a problem. Then we keep saying we just need the right laws, the right morality, the right people to fix the system, completely missing the point that the harder we work to “fix” the system, the worse the problems will get.
Add in the full reality of capitalism, and you are dealing with a world that defines value based on your capacity to buy or sell property in comparison to and competition with other people, and where the products of the world and your ability to acquire them act as the metric for how important you are to other people and yourself. Where the goal is always exploitation as the goal is always to make more money selling something than it is actually worth. “Profit” is by definition the exploitation engine of capital value.
I need to map out all of the feedback mechanisms in this part of social theory to really illustrate how it all works, but that is a partial breakdown of the negatives.
And here’s a kicker… These ideas of how we could live aren’t based on rationalism. This part is important to get. So many of the designs and theories people have about how interpersonal and social life “should” be done, require that the people involved follow the rules of rational thinking. I get why this might seem like a good idea, but as a number of these ideas put in practice have shown us, they are not reliable.
What is reliable is a simple enough but badly misunderstood concept… Self-interest. Self-interest, as expressed in alienation, appears as what most call selfishness. These are the wealth and resource accumulation problems already discussed in their natural form when people are set apart from each other and taught to fend for themselves in a society that preaches value as accumulation in competition with each other. This is individualism sold as a virtue expressed as things like libertarianism, or simply what’s mine is mine and the fact that it’s mine is why I have value and the thing I use in exchange for other value. When self-interest and property are mixed together, you get capitalism and a population filled with massive divisions, leading to a lack of power in all but the classes that have managed to accumulate the most power over others (in the form of property). Every part of this representing division.
However, when you marry self-interest with connected interdependence, then what is done for the self is intrinsically connected to the interests of others. We see this expressed as reciprocal altruism in nature. It’s the unconscious understanding that the value exchange between peers ensures the survival probability is greater for the whole. There is no doubting the success of this as a survival strategy as it is why we exist as a species. We still do it of course in our small groups between people we like, but not in enough of a fundamental way as to actually make self-interest act as a positive in all cases. If every action you take to help yourself is defined by what you want to do to help others as a “core function”, then there is no self-interested action that isn’t also beneficial to your group.
In alienating societies, this instead often ends up as a strategy to appear as though you are doing things for others while potentially still fearing being taken advantage of, so in reality making sure that you are reserving your actions so they don’t depend on others to be sure you will be okay in the end. In this way, we all end up using each other for as long as we think we can before they move on and abandon us. Because there is no real interdependence, we don’t actually require each other in a way that precludes abuse as an advantage. Since the value attribution and the penalties for transgression are deferred to an unaccountable authority, the cost/benefit analysis favors caution instead of full social integration.
Our self-interests then are more about some ideological agenda instead of a deep part of how we form our own value and maintain the organic security needed to ensure our survival. This is not something so easily attributed to malevolence, as again the way the society and culture define the reality construct, forces the people to adapt to whatever they need to, and when they see others they care about being taken advantage of, they realize that’s just the world they are in. Trust then is a commodity hard won and easily lost. People themselves are reduced to objects of need for the amount of time they are useful to us. Through no fault of us as bad people, but because that’s the nature of relationships in societies based on power, property, and alienation. It’s also a good way to keep the powerful powerful and the rest divided.
That is something that cannot be stressed enough… Power. The power to live freely and in fulfilling ways. Living as a drone consumer who works a job, pays taxes, believes in their God of choice, and reproduces to continue making more people as assets the ones who actually have power use to maintain this power, is not a life worth living. And it’s how most people have lived through most of history. The times in history when people have managed to overthrow the existing people in power has always come because of collective action, and the ways those in power have always kept people from having enough power to do anything about being exploited is by keeping people divided.
Even then the only thing that’s ever really changed due to any given “revolution” that overthrew those in power by force, is that the ones who were on the bottom ended up being the ones on the top in the end, again supporting a system of exploitation of the lowest for the benefit of the few. They did not challenge the nature of the system at a level deep enough to not repeat the same problem, and instead, build the same structures that continued to make average life a life of creating profit for those who hold the most power. They still created structures of rulership to control the masses of people to tax to benefit the few. There has been no great challenge to the idea that maybe this way of existing as a species is fundamentally untenable.
In the next segment, we will take a look at what actually does work, the systems that nature has already given us for living, the vital importance Dundar’s number, and more fundamental reasons for why the existing systems can only ever be failure models. If you’d like to jump to part two, read here: The Broken World (Part 2)
About the author:
Glen Allan is a ridiculous person with thoughts and ideas which fly in the face of normal convention and challenge many assumptions about what people generally think of as reality.
He recognizes that many people will either disagree or claim the ideas to be founded in delusion, and only has to say that he'd like it if you could try to realize the world might not be what you think it is.