Phantom Doctrine

September 4th, 2018

Phantom Doctrine isn’t good. As a Cold War wonk and Sid Meier’s Covert Action aficionado, I wanted to like this game. I really did. So I purchased and played it. But it just isn’t good.
Now by far, the two most common criticisms of this game is that line of fire and visibility arcs are hard to decipher – especially when it comes to the enemy’s activities. But that actually didn’t bother me too much. A lot of people are also complaining that the game’s firefight dynamics aren’t like XCom’s, which is perhaps understandable, since the game uses the same engine as Xcom. But then again, it should be easy enough to understand that this game isn’t Xcom, and not punish the developers for their creativity in that regard.
Phantom Doctrine grabbed my attention as soon as I heard about it being a spy game set in the cold war. But it just doesn’t work. The main problems of the game relate to the turn-based mission engine, which isn’t smooth, to say the least. For one thing, moving six agents around in turn-based mode, even on the relatively small maps featured in the game, is cumbersome and boring. Another thing is that the game forces you to sit through all manner of trivial animations and cut scenes every mission; things that do not add anything to the gameplay. On top of that, the loading times, while engaged in missions, is drawn-out too. For any given mission, you’ll probably spend four or five as much time waiting for the enemy to calculate its moves or watching your own guys making standard, unimportant moves as you will spend time doing stuff that is actually exciting. Once you’re past the first couple of hours, the enemies and missions also start feeling horribly predictable, and the game turns into a grind.
The mission gameplay is what will take up most of your time in Phantom Doctrine. But even looking beyond that, the game still has problems. In trying to unravel enemy conspiracies, you’re confronted with an evidence board where you’ve gathered all of your intelligence. Piecing together different stands of evidence is almost like a minigame within the game, which again is akin to Covert Action. But the problem is that, while the game forces you to link up all the evidence, there are no choices for you to make in this regard. The game just forces you to do busywork and thus the minigame is barely even a game, as much as it is simply you having to do a chore that is set before you, and which is at times not far from doing the dishes or filling out tax reports.
Now, in spite of all of these problems, the game could perhaps have held my interest if the story were captivating and good. From the first missions, Phantom Doctrine sets you up to expect that the story certainly will be, but as you progress, it turns out that the story is mostly nonsensical, vague and underdeveloped.
Finally, the character progression in the game is off too. You don’t really build specialists, since many of the skills, weapons, and abilities of agents are poorly balance, and much of the progression is random. So your agents end up feeling more like carbon copies of each other – some better, some worse – but all are essentially the same type of character in your squad.
All in all, Phantom Doctrine is a wasted opportunity. The setting and genre are interesting, but just about every other aspect of the game is lacking in some regard. The final product is underdeveloped, rough around the edges, and offers little in the way of open-ended gameplay. It’s not so much a matter of how you will complete the different assignments as it is a matter of when. To put it simply, you feel as if you’re stuck in an overly linear grind, and in terms of gameplay, you never really feel excited. And that is why, though Phantom Doctrine may look promising at first glance, it really isn’t good.

Lenin og undertrykkelse

August 23rd, 2018

I en tidligere analyse kiggede vi på kulturkampen gennem Nietzsche (https://bit.ly/2vNVEls). Nu vil vi gøre det samme men i stedet med inspiration fra et af det 20. århundredes absolut største a-holes: Lenin.

Lenin fortsætter i samme spor som Nietzsche, nemlig med at skære sin analyse helt ind til han sidder og snitter i knoglen. Det er de helt grundlæggende forudsætninger for eksistens, vi skal se på. Det handler om rå magt og intet andet.

Vi starter med den observation, at den progressive politiker til hver en tid vil have en dagsorden, der er forskellig fra den jævne borgers. Grundlæggende har den politiske klasse en interesse i at udvide sine magtbeføjelser samt gøre det svært for outsidere at true deres privilegier. Borgerne har derimod en interesse i, at deres land bliver regeret besindigt og jævnt, sådan at de kan passe deres arbejde og opfostre deres familier i relativt trygge og traditionelle samfund. Stod det til dem, skulle politikerne blot sørge for grundlæggende lov og orden, for at offentlige institutioner var pålidelige, og for at statens finanser hang nogenlunde sammen.

Men fik borgerne deres vilje, ville politikerhvervet være verdens kedeligste job. Enhver politiker, der fik store ideer på samfundets vegne, ville hurtigt blive stemt ud. Vi ville være tilbage i samfund som det 18. århundredes England, hvor politik ikke var en karrierevej, men en slags tillidshverv; en tjeneste man gjorde sit samfund, og som primært varetages af dem, der allerede har deres på det tørre.

For at sikre politik som levevej samt udvide deres beføjelser, er det derfor nødvendigt for den politiske klasse at rette et angreb mod kernen i et samfund, nemlig småborgerne; det snusfornuftige folk, der stilfærdigt passer deres arbejde og er præget af traditionelle værdier. Det er her, leninismen kommer ind: I perioden efter den russiske revolution var det nødvendigt for bolsjevikkerne at finde allierede, der kunne støtte den politiske klasse i deres anslag mod konservativt sindede borgere – almindelige mennesker, der egentlig helst var fri for alt det der kollektivisering af ejendomsret og at skulle omformes til at det nye sovjetiske menneske. De allierede fandt man ved at tage homoseksuelle, ateister og fattige fra fremmede etniciteter og udstyre dem med politisk magt. Folk, som intet havde, og som før havde stået udenfor det borgerlige samfund, blev gjort til håndlangere for den politiske klasse i den nyslåede orden. Ikke alene sikrede man sig derved en uhørt loyalitet fra de nye lakajer, man knægtede også det jævne folks traditionelle sensibiliteter.

I dag snakker liberale og konservative ofte om, hvem der er ydere og hvem der er nydere i det store skatteomfordelingsshow. Det er også interessant at se på, men som vi ved, fattede Lenin ikke meget af økonomi. Derfor er den væsentligste lektie, vi kan lære af ham, heller ikke økonomisk, men kulturel.

Hvis vi antager, at der stadig findes en kerne af snusfornuftige mennesker i moderne samfund, så skal disse menneskers sindelag løbende kues for at forhindre dem i at indrette det politiske system efter deres småborgerlige ønsker, snarere end efter den politiske klasses ønsker. Derfor må man løbende tilbyde politisk patronat til grupperinger, der instinktivt krænker det jævne folks sensibiliteter. Før i tiden var det homoseksuelle, ateister og fattige fra fremmede etniciteter. I dag kunne det være transseksuelle, som krigerisk kræver at blive tiltalt med obskure pronomener, kunstnere, der ikke producerer kunst, normalt mennesker finder skøn og folk fra fremmede etniciteter, der nægter at lade sig integrere. Den politiske klasse ønsker at skabe loyale håndlangere, og de marginaliserede grupper ville intet have uden den politiske klasses patronat. Derfor har de forskellige periferier i samfundet en interesse i at rotte sig sammen og udøve strukturel vold mod midten, dvs. den snusfornuftige småborger.

Man kan selvfølgelig sige, at midten også udøver vold mod periferierne ved ikke at stemme på politikere med store progressive visioner; ikke at købe eller respektere konceptkunstneres kunst; samt ved at diskriminere mod transseksuelle og medlemmer af etniske minoriteter. Men ligesom spørgsmålet om hvem der er ydere, og hvem der er nydere i det store omfordelingsshow, kender vi denne fortælling til hudløshed. Det er derfor langt mere interessant at se på, hvordan periferierne undertrykker midten.

Noget af det mest interessante, der er skrevet om, hvordan midten fungerer, når den politiske klasse er relativt svag, kan man læse om i David Humes og Edmund Burkes analyser af de borgerlige dyder, et grundsyn som også refereres fra forskellige vinkler i (den i øvrigt transseksuelle) professor Deirdre McCloskeys bog ’The Bourgeois Virtues.’ Den småborgerlige moral er indledningsvis skeptisk og diskriminerende overfor det nye og ukendte, men som tiden går, vil mere og mere af det, der før lå udenfor den borgerlige moral blive accepteret, i takt med at almindelige mennesker erfarer, at outsiderne ikke var så slemme, som de troede. Således er homoseksuelle og ateister noget nær fuldt integrerede i samfundet i dag, mens billedet er mere blandet hvad angår etniske minoriteter.

Formålet med at give patronat til udsatte grupper er som nævnt at skabe loyale håndlangere og kue det småborgerlige folks sensibilitieter. Set med de briller giver det god mening, at progressivt sindede mennesker har tendens til at slå hånden af deres tidligere allierede i takt med, at disse grupper begynder at klare sig godt. Eksempelvis har progressive stemmer afsagt sig hvide mandlige homoseksuelle som allierede (https://bit.ly/2MmerQc) samt støttet diskrimination mod østasiatiske indvandrere, der brillierer i uddannelsessystemet (https://on.nyc.gov/2MrzShO). Det kan umiddelbart synes kontraproduktivt, men for leninister er årsagen åbenlys: Når sådanne grupper bliver accepteret, er deres loyalitet ikke længere garanteret, og de kan ej heller bruges til at krænke det jævne folks sensibilitieter. Det var ikke meningen, at de skulle begynde at fraternisere med midten, få sig et job og bidrage til samfundet. Det var ikke den rolle, de var castet til. Leninismen forklarer således rationalet bag den amerikanske essayist Larry Austers første lov: Jo dårligere en minoritetsgruppe opfører sig, jo mere værdifuld vil den være for de progressive.

”Men hvorfor er det nødvendigt at knægte det jævne folks sensibiliteter?” kunne man spørge. Det er det, fordi man derved demarkerer for dem, at det politiske domæne ikke er deres. Når enhver, der siger, hvad et flertal af småborgerne i deres stille sind tænker, frygter at blive udskammet som racist, rindalist eller transfob, kan de progressive vide sig sikre på at sidde tungt på samfundets kulturelle narrativ. Sveden skal pible frem på panden ved den blotte tanke, at størstedelen af moderne kunst er uæstetisk, at visse etniske minoriteter opfører sig problematisk, og at der kun findes to køn, og lugtesaltet skal være at efterabe den ortodoksi, den politiske klasse har nedfældet.

Ortodoksien er muligvis ikke i overensstemmelse med sandheden, men det gør den blot endnu mere værdifuld. Er man bekendt med dominanstaktikker, vil man vide, at en god måde at kue folk på, er at få dem til at gentage ens nonsens. Enhver kan tro på sandheden, men forbenet loyalitet og underkastelse får man først, når nogen efteraber de usandheder, man vil have dem til. “War is peace, freedom is slavery, ignorance is strength,” som de siger i ‘1984.’

Således kuet har småborgeren internaliseret dommen over ham: Hans naturlige sensibiliteter er ækle og hans ønsker for samfundet illegitime. Intimideret og domineret har han annammet budskabet om, at det er sikrere for ham ikke at hævde sig, når han ser sit hjemlands gader prydet af kunst, han ikke kan lide, en fortsat indvandring, han ikke støtter, og 57 køn, han ikke forstår. Er han særligt svag, har han endda internaliseret periferiernes angreb mod midten i en sådan grad, at han ikke længere har adgang til sine sande følelser desangående, da frygten for at blive stemplet som rindalist, racist eller transfob er blevet for overvældende. Uforvaret er han således blevet agent i sin egen undertrykkelse.

Lenin and modern SJWs

August 23rd, 2018

Lenin continues in the same vein as Nietzsche, that is, by reducing analysis to the very point where he has cut away all flesh and finds himself scratching at the bone. An analysis looking only at the most basic prerequisite for existence. An analysis that deals with raw power and nothing else.

We start with the observation that the progressive politician will always have an agenda that is different from the regular citizen. Basically, the political class has an interest in expanding its powers and making it difficult for outsiders to threaten their privileges. Ordinary citizens, on the other hand, are simply interested in having their country governed evenly so that they can mind their jobs and raise their families in relatively safe and ordinary societies. If it were up to them, politicians would simply make sure that basic law and order were in place, that public institutions were reliable, and that the public finances were largely balanced.

However, if the citizens were to get their wish, this would make the politician’s job the dullest in the world. It would also render politics a risky career path, as politicians would often be voted out of office when they did do what the ordinary citizen wanted them to do. It would be a throwback to societies like 18th century England, where being a politician was not a career path so much as it was simply a kind of public trust; a service one does for his society and which is primarily handled by those who already live a financially-secure existence.

In order to secure the office of politician as a viable way of life, and to extend their powers, it is therefore necessary for the political class to undertake an attack on the core of a society, namely the ordinary citizens — that is to say, those snuffy people who quietly mind their work and just want to lead a life in tune with traditional values. This is where Leninism comes in. In the period after the Russian Revolution, it was necessary to find allies for the new political class that could support the new Soviet regime in their efforts against ordinary, conservatively minded citizens — commonplace people who would rather have opted out of the collectivization of property rights and the political class’ wish to transform them into the new altruistic Soviet human being. In doing so, they found new allies by taking homosexuals, atheists, and poor people of foreign ethnicity and propping them up with political power, ordained by the system. In other words, people who hitherto had nothing, and who had stood outside the sphere of bourgeois acceptance, became the allies of the political class in the newly created political order. Not only did the political class thereby ensure unprecedented loyalty from their new henchmen; they also succeeded in offending the traditional sensibilities of the regular people.

Today, Liberals and Conservatives often talk about which societal groups are net tax beneficiaries and which groups are net tax burden bearers in the grand redistributive scheme that goes on in modern economies. This is an interesting question but, as we know, Lenin was pretty economically illiterate. Thus, the most important take-away of this analysis is not economic; it is cultural.

If we assume that there is still a core of traditionally-minded people with petty bourgeois values ​​in modern societies, the minds of these people must be constantly cowed by the political class to prevent them from setting up the political system in accordance with what they want and not what the political class wants. Thus, political patronage must be continually offered to groups that instinctively violate the sensibilities of the common people. In the past these groups were homosexuals, atheists, and poor people of foreign ethnicities. Today, these same groups could be transsexuals, who aggressively demand to be addressed with obscure pronouns, artists who do not produce art normal people find pleasing, and people of foreign ethnicities who refuse to integrate into Western societies. The political class needs loyal supporters and these marginalized groups would have nothing without the patronage of the political class. In this way, the different peripheral groups of society have an interest in banding together and exercising structural violence against the core of society, that is, normal, traditional, petty bourgeois-minded people.

One can, of course, say that the core also exercises violence against the peripheries by not voting for politicians with great progressive visions, not buying or respecting the art of postmodern artists, and by discriminating against transsexuals and members of ethnic minorities. However, like the question of who are the net tax beneficiaries and who are net tax burden bearers in the great taxation and redistribution scheme of modern societies, we know how the core suppresses the peripheries, because we’ve all heard that analysis a million times. It is therefore far more interesting to look at how the peripheries also suppress the middle.

Some of the most interesting writings on the middle works when the political class is relatively weak, and can be found in David Hume’s analysis of the bourgeois virtues, a view that is also referenced and explored from different angles in professor Deirdre McCloskey’s book The Bourgeois Virtues. The bourgeois morality is initially skeptical and discriminatory against the new and unknown, but as time passes more and more of what originally stood outside of bourgeois morality will be accepted by ordinary people as they interact with peripheral groups and discover that the outsiders were not as bad as they thought. Thus, gays and atheists are almost completely integrated into modern societies while, however, the image is more mixed with regard to ethnic minorities.

As said, the purpose of extending patronage to marginalized groups is to create loyal henchmen for the progressive political class on the one hand, and to the cow the sensibilities of petty bourgeois people on the other. Viewed through this lens, it is interesting to note that progressives tend disown their allies as soon as these groups begin to be accepted by the petty bourgeois. For example, progressive voices have recently distanced themselves from white male homosexuals, saying that they no longer belong in the left’s alliance. As well, they openly supported discrimination against East Asian immigrants who excel in the educational system. I’ll put links to this in the video description below. This may initially seem hypocritical, but viewed through the lens of Leninism, the cause is obvious. When such groups begin to be accepted by the core of society, their loyalty to the political class is no longer guaranteed, nor can these peripheral groups be used to offend the sensitivities of traditionally-minded people. Leninism thus explains the rationale behind the American essayist Larry Auster’s first law: The worse a minority group behaves, the more valuable it will be for the progressive; conversely, the better it behaves, the less value it will have for progressives.

But why is it necessary to cow the sensitivity of normal people?, one might ask. It is a good tactic because it proclaims to ordinary people that the political domain is not theirs; that they should stay out of it. When a majority of the traditionally-minded people are frightened to speak their minds — fearing to be branded as racists who don’t like foreign people, hillbillies who are not sophisticated enough for modern art, or transphobes — this is a sign that progressives know that they are dominating the cultural narrative in society. The petty bourgeois must be afraid to say and think that modern art is unaesthetic, that certain ethnic minorities behave problematically, and that there are only two genders. They must be made to follow the orthodoxy that the political class has set before them.

This orthodoxy may not be in accordance with truth, but that just makes it even more valuable. If you are familiar with domination tactics, you will know that a good way to bully people is to make them repeat one’s nonsense. Anyone can believe in the truth, but boundless loyalty and submission will only be obtained when someone accepts the untruths you want them to. “War is peace, freedom is slavery, ignorance is strength,” as they say in 1984.

Thus, cowed in this way, ordinary people have internalized the judgment that their natural sentiments are loathsome and that their wishes for society are illegitimate. Intimidated and dominated, they take on the message that it is safer for them not to speak up; to simply mind their jobs and families while leaving political power, control of their tax money, and dominance over the narrative to the progressive political class. Some may even have internalized this attack against them to the point where they are no longer able to access their true emotions for fear of being called out as racists, transphobes, and the like. They have thus unwillingly become agents in their own oppression.

Boganmeldelse: ‘Very Short Introduction’ serien fra Oxford University Press

August 11th, 2018

af Majken Hirche, biolog, KU

Brillante og koncise introduktioner til næsten alt! Sådan lyder sloganet fra Universitetsforlaget i Oxford – og sådan bliver du med garanti på rekordtid familiemiddagens sprudlende og intellektuelle fontæne af vedkommende og imponerende viden!

Anmeldelse Scient Very Short Introductions

Boganmeldelse: The Road af Cormac McCarthy

August 11th, 2018

Boganmeldelse: The Road af Cormac McCarthy
af Majken Hirche, biolog, KU

Klimaet er både blevet kaldt vor tids vigtigste spørgsmål og et anfald af kollektivt massehysteri. Hvor bekymrede skal vi være? Spørger man Corcmac McCarthy, forfatter til The Road og en af de vigtigste nulevende amerikanske forfattere, er svaret klart: Be very afraid!

Læs Artiklen: Anmeldelse Scient The Road

Sig mig engang, hvad tænker du på?

August 11th, 2018

af Maiken Hirche, biolog, KU

Morgenen er endnu dugfrisk da jeg befinder mig i en dunkel herskabslejlighed i København. Mageligt sidder jeg i en gammel vamset lænestol med ryggen mod de øvrige deltagere og seancen går i gang: ’Luk dine øjne og tag et laangt dybt åndedrag… du mærker nu dine fodsåler mod gulvet… heeele fodsålen mod gulvet… dine fødder mod gulvet bliver tungere og tungere, mens du fokuserer på mine ord, der taler dig ind i din krop… ’

Læs artiklen som PDF her: Scient Neurofeedback

Openness og politik

August 8th, 2018

Er store dele af befolkningen tilbøjelige til at tilgå forkert? Noget kunne tyde på det.

I personlighedspsykologien findes der et træk, der hedder Openness. Folk med høj Openness er nysgerrige, drømmende, kreative og eksperimenterende. Folk med lav Openness er traditionelle, jordbundne og holder sig til det velkendte.

Folk med høj Openness gør ting, andre ville opfatte som skøre. Eksempelvis har de Lonely Planet-guidebøger til lande, de måske aldrig har tænkt sig at besøge i deres reoler, blot fordi tanken om landet virker stimulerende på dem. Eller også gemmer de gamle billetter til dette og hint på prominente pladser i deres hjem, fordi deres fantasi er så let at stimulere, at alene synet kan fremmane stærke associationer om den pågældende oplevelse hos dem. (Folk med lav Openness ville smide billetterne ud, når de var brugt.)

Man finder typisk folk med høj Openness blandt kustnere, musikere og intellektuelle. Openness er Kartoffelrækkerne. Vesterbro. Det kreative danmark. Derimod finder man typisk folk med lav Openness blandt håndværkere, revisorer og bankfolk – folk med et mere ligefremt, jordbundent arbejde.

I politik har mange observeret, at flere af venstrefløjens politikker styrer mod mål, som man ikke realistisk ved, hvordan man skal opnå, når man først sætter sig for at forfølge dem. Det kunne eksempelvis være det gamle mål om økonomisk lighed: Vi starter med at sætte skatterne og omfordelingen i vejret, og prøver så at finde ud af, hvordan et sådant samfund skal fungere hen ad vejen.

Men det kunne også være det nye mål om succesfuld integration: Vi starter med at tage en masse ikke-vestlige indvandrere ind, og prøver så at finde ud af, hvordan vi får dem integreret hen ad vejen. Vejen til målet er ukendt på det tidspunkt, man sætter sig for at forfølge det.

Højrefløjen har selvfølgelig også uigennemtænkte politikker, men er i det store og hele mere jordbunden og realistisk. Folk med høj Openness er da typisk også mere venstreorienterede end folk med lav. Måske er det en af grundene til, at venstrefløjen har så mange geniale kunstnere og musikere, mens de fleste bankfolk og revisorer er blå.

Har man høj Openness, er man mere eksperimenterende. Man sætter sig lettere for at prøve noget nyt, fordi tanken om det er stimulerende. Tanken om et succesfult multikulturelt samfund er f.eks. stimulerende. Måske mere stimulerende end overvejelser om, hvorvidt det overhovedet kan lade sig gøre. Folk med høj Openness er drømmere.

Tanken om et samfund, hvor alle yder efter evne og modtager efter behov er selvfølgelig også stimulerende. Nok mere stimulerende end den nagende stemme, der hvisker, at dét vil kræve en ophævelse af næsten samtlige økonomiske lovmæssigheder. Det kunne da godt være, at det kunne lade sig gøre. Folk med høj Openness har masser af fantasi.

Hvordan kan Openness så bidrage til at tilgå politik forkert? Det kan det ved, at man lader sig guide af sit lejde af Openness, når man går til valg. Som vi har set, er Openness mere nyttigt i visse discipliner og mindre nyttigt i andre. Det er en del af den menneskelige arbejdsdeling. Det ville nok ikke blive så kønt, hvis abstrakte kunstmalere satte sig for at lægge klinker, eller hvis Mick Jagger satte sig for at blive revisor. Omvendt er Danske Banks finansafdeling nok heller ikke et rockband, der venter på at ske.

I politik er tingene dog anderledes. Her er det mindre tydeligt for de fleste, hvem der har ret, og her kan man både stemme på partier, der har høj og lav Openness. Livsstils- og lækkerhedspartier som Alternativet og de Radikale er partier med høj Openness. Omvendt er Dansk Folkeparti nok landets mindst Openness-venlige parti.

Et eksempel på høj Openness-politik kunne være Alternativets forslag om, at ingen skal kunne eje jord. Da Liberal Alliances Joachim B. Olsen var i P1 for at debattere dét forslag med Alternativets Carolina Magdalene Maier, indrømmede hun, at Alternativet ikke havde tjek på, hvordan denne ordning skulle fungere. Hun ville bare gerne fremlægge en vision og diskutere den.

Et andet eksempel på Openness-politik kunne være den radikale partileder Morten Østergaards integrationsskrivelse fra februar, hvor han erklærede, at han var ”færdig med Christiansborgs hamsterhjul.” Han vidste, at vi har nødt til at ”genopfinde” politik, hvis integrationen skulle lykkedes. Så meget var klart. Uheldigvis for Østergaard var der ikke dog ikke meget andet, der var klart i hans erklæring. Det var næsten som om, han havde sat sig et mål uden at vide, hvordan han skulle opnå det – eller om det overhovedet kunne lade sig gøre.

Openness er delvist medfødt, og kan næsten ikke ændres efter teenageårene. Man kan ikke gøre for, at man har høj eller lav Openness, og man kan i regelen ikke ændre sin Openness markant. Hvad man derimod kan gøre, er at respektere den menneskelige arbejdsdeling. De fleste mennesker kan sagtens finde ud af at vælge den rette person til opgaven, når de selv hæfter for resultatet. Få ville vælge en revisor med en livsstil som en rockmusiker, og endnu færre ville vælge at lade sig operere af en kirurg, der gerne ville udføre indgrebet på en ny måde hver gang, blot fordi han fandt tanken om det stimulerende.

Spørgsmålet er så, hvad politik, anskuet som håndværk, minder mest om: Er det bankdrift og revisionsvirksomhed, politik er i boldgade med, eller har det mere tilfælles med en eksperimenterende jamsession på Roskilde Festival? Hvis politik er som kunst og musik, bør man stemme på folk med høj Openness. Er politik derimod en forvaltningsdisciplin, vil samme mennesker typisk løse opgaven mindre godt.

Når folk selv hæfter for konsekvenserne, er de som regel i stand til at regne sådanne sammenhænge ud. Hvad angår politik, er det dog en af demokratiets mange finurligheder, at den enkelte ikke hæfter direkte for resultaterne af egne beslutninger. Der er de nemlig spredt ud på hele landet. Således kan man stemme ikke-vestlige indvandrere ind, og selv flytte til hvide områder. Eller man kan stemme for højere skatter, og selv shoppe løs, når man er i New York. En tredje mulighed er, at konsekvenserne af de dårlige ideer, man støtter, aldrig går op for en, fordi folk med lavere Openness stemmer imod dem, så de ikke bliver til noget. (Det er stadig tilladt at eje jord i Danmark.)

Omkostningerne ved dårlig politik er således fortyndet så meget, at der ikke for alvor er noget på spil, for den enkelte, når vedkommende går i stemmeboksen. Det betyder, at det stort set er gratis at stemme på det parti, man lettest kan spejle sin Openness i. Og det er netop, hvad mange gør: Man anskuer ikke politik som et håndværk og en række opgaver, der skal løses, men som et foretagende, der skal afspejle, hvem man er som menneske. Et sted hvor drømme kan drømmes og fantasier kan underholdes i et uklogt omfang uden nævneværdige personlige konsekvenser. Hvis man godt kan lide visioner, eksperimenter og drømme, giver det fin mening at stemme på et parti som Alternativet. Fin mening fordi demokratiet, der nominelt er en slags fællesskabsprocess, i virkeligheden tilgås som et egotrip. For ganske vist stemmer man Alternativet, men man har også en snigende fornemmelse af, at det ikke er blandt partifællerne, at man skal finde sin næste revisor.

Indlægget er sat lidt på spidsen, og jeg har i øvrigt selv høj Openness. Sådan er der så meget.

guilt and bad conscience

August 8th, 2018

 

In Part II of The Genealogy of Morals, Nietzsche treats us to an analysis of guilt and bad conscience. Essay II is often regarded as the least successful of the book’s three essays, but read politically it may, in fact, be the most interesting.

 

He starts by going back to antiquity and shows that here we find an unapologetic cruelty, a malice that man was not ashamed of. The penalties were more severe, and violence was more common. In Rome, the ruling classes threw people to the lions, and people witnessed outsiders and rebels being executed as a kind of entertainment; a sort of tribute to the existing order.

 

But the further we skip ahead in time, towards safe and civilized societies, the more we lose sight of this unapologetic cruelty. Instead, we begin to find values ​​such as tolerance and empathy for the weak. People born and raised in such societies have never directly witnessed the starting point that initially made such societies possible in the first place. Thus, the person formed by such societies has never known anything but a degree of comfort that is unique in a historical and global context. Many end up subscribing to an anthropology where empathy and compassion are regarded as humanity’s defining characteristics, and they intuitively project this view of humankind to the rest of the world.

 

Another effect of the civilizing process is that man’s ability to stand by his promises and agreements is gradually reinforced through sociality. The perception of humanity’s capacity to behave consistently over time is strengthened. The view of man’s being in the world moves from arbitrary to causal.

 

Like Hume, Nietzsche thus sees the liberal, atomized individual as a product of the historical process, and not a pre-existent ontological entity. Man’s ability to extend his will causally across time is closely associated with the civilizing process and is one of the clearest variables between societies. Of course, the differences are the most clearly visible between the West and the rest of the world. But even comparing Northern and Southern Europeans, we can observe differences in the view of man’s ability to stand by his agreements over time.

 

Through strong states that were initially unbelievably cruel – using torture, executions, and public desecration of dead bodies – man finally learned to make one big promise: behave nicely and do not act on your instincts. When the state is an effective punisher, people ultimately internalize the struggle they originally had against their competitors. The conflict becomes meaningless as the sovereign is ubiquitous and strong. The struggle for asserting oneself against one’s fellow human beings is transformed into a struggle to be accepted by the sovereign. It becomes a battlestruggle against one’s own impulses, as it were, and thus a struggle against oneself. In Nietzsche’s eyes, this was how man developed conscience.

 

Cruelty was not unique to the European states, but the extent of executions and the states’ control of deviants within their territories were. It is thus fully compatible that the European states are today the most compassionate and that they were once the most cruel.

 

The man who is shaped by modern society sees only empathy and tolerance. He has forgotten the cruelty that was the prerequisite for such tenderness. He has absorbed a view of morality that is fundamentally passive; where the sum of morality consists exclusively in refraining from conduct that may awaken upset others (crime and skimping on one’s promises, but also racism, sexism, xenophobia, and, ultimately, criticism of those who are different). Morality is not seen as a community affair, but something personal. The enforcement of the basic order of society, as well as the responsibility to expel or punish those who do not want this order, is hard to grapple with for the man who is essentially passive.

 

For such people it is safer to remain passive while proclaiming their alleged moral qualities to the world – respect, tolerance, inclusion, and co-operation. In this way, the passive man signals that he is a desirable subject whom the magistrates of the state would want as their tax base. Likewise, passive man also signals that he is not a threat to anyone. Politics with an iron fist is left for others to take care of.

 

In the past, this attitude made good sense, since power was concentrated in the hands of a sovereign who had a direct, personal, and concentrated interest in the preservation of his realm. But it works less well in a democracy where people with this passive view of morality can organize themselves politically and come together to pay tribute to what they regard as the positive (that is, respect, tolerance, and inclusion) while confirming to each other that it is wrong to deal with the negative (that is, decisions that require a measure of the cruelty that was originally the prerequisite for order and which, throughout history, has often become a renewed necessity when people from different stages of the civilizational process are made to live side by side). In other words, morality works best for the passive man when someone makes the really difficult decisions on his behalf and takes the out of his hands.

 

The reactive person perceives morality as a struggle against his own impulses. According to Nietzsche, this means that he will inevitably run into problems, as he will from time to time recognize the original human instincts in himself – instincts such as aggression, self-assertion, cruelty, and reluctance to accept those who are different. Because of his passive view of morality, this type man is overwhelmed by feelings of guilt when it happens.

 

Since for the passive man what is to be avoided is active, the virile action, such a man is fundamentally unable to address those societal problems that really require action and courage. Uncomfortable in his own skin but cut off from action, the passive man’s obvious course of action for type of man is to transfer his bad conscience onto others; to find scapegoats that can be denounced as immoral and be expelled from the flock.

 

If one has bought into morality as a passive – a sort of catalogue of behavior, one must simply passively seek to avoid – the one who is active becomes the obvious scapegoat. Thus, passive man ends up directing his resources –  not against those societal problems that are seriously difficult to solve – but against the impetuous people proposing effective solutions to them.

 

As products of safe and civilized societies, such people prefer to forget the cruelty and celebrate the achievements of the civilizational process – tolerance, empathy, compassion, and charity. They are like an oak tree that does not want to hear that it was once an acorn, or t. The butterfly, who  will not acknowledge that it was once a caterpillar. In other words,   they are moral free riders who cannot themselves solve the problems their freeriding creates while simultaneously making it difficult for others to do so.

 

 



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