Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Choice

I arrived at my handle, Tao Jonesing, as an ironic pun that expressed my sensibility at a particular moment in early 2009.  On the one hand, I was greatly concerned about the spirituality of mankind, which had led me to study the world's "religions," including Taoisim.  On the other hand, I was greatly concerned about my "wealth," which led me to study economics and, more importantly, modern finance, as exemplified by the Dow Jones industrial average.  The urgency of the spiritual and material worlds met, and my online persona was born.

I must admit, however, that the spiritual concerns soon (and greatly) outstripped the material concerns.  I quickly grasped humanity's limitations and its wonders.  Both are impossible to understand while locked into a Western mindset.  Western philosophy, which informs everything we do in the United States, is rotten to its core because it inherently seeks to mandate reality.  As I've said before, human beings do not experience reality, they interpret it by comparing what is experienced to what is expected.  All Western philosophies seek to control reality by mandating what it ought to be in the guise of describing what it is.  Once human beings accept a particular description of reality for "what it is" they translate that into what reality ought to be, and they innately seek to construct institutions to reinforce that particular reality.

Certainty is the enemy of all mankind, and Western philosophy breeds certainty that is always unwarranted and never unwelcome to the power structure.

I've come to view the description of Taoism as a religion as a mistake.  The Tao Te Jing is a humanist tract, not a philosophy or theology at all, but a coded message regarding the limitations and wonders of humanity.  While I must accept that there is a religion that describes itself as "Taoism," there's no way for me to look at the Tao Te Jing's essential description of human nature and human cognition as a religion.  Whoever wrote the original tract understood what it took for ideas to survive across centuries, and they planned well.  Indeed, they planned well enough to make plain when "priests" stood between the people and the essential truth of humanity offered by the Tao Te Jing (e.g., Western translations often and obviously run counter to the spirite of the Tao Te Jing, which never takes sides; when an English translation of the Tao Te Jing takes a side, that is the side the Western translator took).

I'm not pimping Taoism.  I am not now, nor will I ever be, a religious person.  I am arguing, however, that Taoism cannot be properly viewed as a religion, that it must be viewed as a statement of the human condition, of how things work.

All Western philosophies are a statement of how things are and how they ought to be.  As a result, all Western philosophies seek to define a state, i.e., something static.  The Tao Te Jing describes how things work and, thus, defines a dynamic.

Your choice is to choose between a world that is static and a world that is dynamic.  The vast majority of our fellow citizens have been conditioned to expect a static world, a world with immutable truths and equally immutable falsehoods that leaves no room for the "moral relativism" of a dynamic worldview.  The fact is that the morality of the static world is relativistic in that evil has continually been justified in pursuit of the rigid "morality."  The morality of the dynamic world is always consistent because it recognizes that evil is a label applied to actions, not to people.  Good people do evil.  Evil people do good.  The fact that a "good" person performs an evil act does not make it an act of good.  Neither does the fact that an "evil" person performs a good act does not make it an act of "evil."

Whose morality is "relative"?  Not mine.  In a dynamic world, which is the world in which we live, it is acts that are good and evil, not people.  The only way a person can be judged evil is if he or she consistently acts in a way that is evil.

Actions - not intentions or words-- are what matter.

Today's SCOTUS Decision Opens the Door to "Tax" By Forcing the Public to Purchase Private Goods and Services

Posterity will judge today's SCOTUS decision in the so-called "healthcare debate" as empowering Congress to force individuals to purchase goods and services from private corporations under the auspices of Congress's power to levy and collect taxes, even though Congress won't actually collect the so-called "taxes" at all.  (You need to think like Roberts to understand what Roberts actually intends by supporting this outcome.)

That's the game, folks.  Legalizing the "privatization" of public functions through Congress's power to levy and collect taxes (even if they can't collect; i.e., Roberts is saying that Congress has the power to levy or collect taxes, and that it is enough to levy the tax without the power or opportunity to collect it).

Any liberal/progressive who hails this decision as a "victory" is either an innocent, a lunatic, or a shill.

The Dangers of Stopping Your Search Before It's Done

I do my best here to avoid commenting on what other bloggers have to say, both because it is too easy to criticize and, basically, I'm more interested in using this blog to jot down what I'm thinking/discovering.  This blog has truly become more of a journal than anything else.

That said, I can't help myself when it comes to the recent three-part rant from Jim Quinn over at the Burning Platform.  The last installment may be found here, and includes links to the other two parts.

Quinn spends three long, data-rich blog posts documenting how the oligarchs have stolen the middle class's wealth through a rigged game, then he finishes with recommendations on how to un-rig the game.

There are two problems here.  First, his proposals for un-rigging the game do not result in the return of the middle class's wealth.  The oligarchs he rails against get to keep all their ill-gotten gains to use in his idyllic vision of the "free" markets.  Second, his new game is just as rigged as the current game, its just rigged differently.  Indeed, the constrained liquidity he demands is even more prone to manipulation and control by the oligarchs, and is sure to hasten the spread of neofeudalism.

Basically, the problem is that Quinn didn't read his history deeply enough to find the truth he was searching for.  Instead, he got enamored with Austrian School (i.e., neoliberal) economics and new-agey "Fourth Turning" nonsense and thought he had found some kind of truth.  I've said it many times before: the Chicago School and the Austrian School have the same political aims (i.e., neofeudalism), their apparently opposing economic view points both achieve those aims, and they were designed as a one-two punch with the Chicago School's having the aim of stealing the middle class's wealth and the Austrian School's having the aim of keeping the ill-gotten gains.  As I've also said before, the Austrian School and the libertarian movement are honey-pots to capture intellectual gadflies like Quinn and neutralize their ability to develop any choices that the power structure does not offer.

To be clear, I don't disagree with everything Quinn has to say.  There's a lot of good stuff there.  Heck, the data alone are with slogging through his very predictable rant.

My issue is that any proposal to solve the problems Quinn correctly sees must include fundamental reforms to both debt and money, as these are the mechanisms that have been used for millennia to enslave humanity.  Any system that rests on those twin pillars will have the same fundamental flaws as the current system.

My favorite part of reading the series is the irony of Quinn's decision to quote Jesse in justifying his decision to proffer solutions developed by people like Ron Paul and other Austrian School devotees:
Sometimes when faced with problems that are confusing and troubling it is easier to think what someone tells you to think, particularly something that touches a deep and dark nerve in your nature, rather than carry the burden and ambiguity of struggling with the facts and thinking for yourself.  
That's deep, Jim.  Did you think of it yourself?  Sadly, no.  And none of "your" solutions are your own, either, they're just a parroting what you've heard.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

All States Are Oligarchies; Everything Else Is a Fig Leaf

That's the way I see it, anyway.

The funny thing is that it occurs to me that Aristotle must have secretly viewed oligarchy (rule by the few) as the mean between king (rule by one) and democracy (rule by the many) and, therefore, the preferred form of state.  But there never has been rule by one, just as there has never been rule by the many.  Both monarchy and democracy obscure reality and distract people from seeing who truly makes the decisions.  A monarchy just concentrates the ire of the masses and has the problem that the king may let the illusion of power go to his head and start wielding it against the oligarchy in reality (which led to the Magna Carta).  A democracy diffuses the ire of the masses and has the problem that each individual among the masses believes he/she has a right to be heard, which can be really annoying.

Aristotle was a pathological liar and one of the more despicable men in history.  Everything he wrote must be read carefully and with an eye towards the unspoken truth that makes what he wrote its diametric opposite.  The man was a master of propaganda through misdirection.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Human Fractals Everywhere

At the end of an interesting but ultimately dishonest article by a pro-Austrian School author (as I've said before, the Chicago School was created to prove resoundingly that fiat currency systems cannot work so that the Austrian School will finally reign supreme in the aftermath of the neo-fuedal neoliberal "success"), there is a reference to the "human fractal" (although he is making a Biblical reference).

So, I searched for "human fractal" and found a 1993 article here (a .pdf) that expresses the author's ambitious view of it and attempts to find the math behind it.  I have not read in detail, but what he's saying seems consistent with my thinking, but he is focused much more on the macro, where I am focused on the micro.  Looks interesting, though.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Once You're Certain, You're Finished

Certainty is the mechanism through which the few control the many.  

Once you become certain of what is true, you have blinded yourself to reality.  Truth is a static thing.  Reality is ever-changing.   Once certain, human beings cannot recognize when reality differs from their truth, rendering it false.

And if an event arises that forces human beings to see that their truth is not, they usually act violently towards each other.

Monday, June 18, 2012

The Human Fractal and the Tao (Updated)

I have written previously that the Tao Te Ching, for the most part, appears to me to be an ancient recognition   of the Human Fractal.  I say "for the most part" because there are passages in the Tao Te Ching that do not seem to belong to it, and there is the fact that the Tao Te Ching became the basis for a religion, Taoism, which strikes me as four square against the philosophy of the Tao.

But let me start by summarizing what I've come to call the "Human Fractal."  People don't experience life, they interpret it.  Specifically, human beings make decisions by comparing what they observe to what they expect and reacting to the emotion caused by the difference between what was observed and what was expected.  When things go as expected, a positive emotion arises.  When they don't, a negative emotion arises.  This is a form of positive feedback, i.e., self-reinforcing behavior that would tend to drive people to one extreme or the other without hysteresis, which works to prevent you rapidly changing states.  That is, hysteresis predisposes you to remain in your current state unless what you observe is too much different than what you expected.  The Human Fractal is applied at all levels of abstraction, from a purely physical sensation (e.g., reacting to reaching the first floor when you expected one more step down) to very abstract things like trading stocks and bonds on secondary markets (e.g., manias and panics).  At higher levels of abstraction, i.e., almost anything beyond the physical, hysteresis manifests itself as what have become known as cognitive biases, for example.

Those who understand the Human Fractal recognize that you can use it to control human action by (1) defining expectations (e.g., through societal values, which are normative) and (2) shaping observations (e.g., through propaganda).

The Tao Te Ching understands the Human Fractal for what it is and offers a path away from it.  More specifically, the Tao Te Ching offers a path to stop interpreting life through the lens of the Human Fractal and to start actually experiencing it.

The Tao Te Ching starts out by recognizing that it is man's desire to control his world that opens him up to being controlled.  Human beings are driven to create the illusion of their control over their environment by creating a division and picking a side.  Doing so yields the comfort of certainty and apparent free will.  Chapter 1 of the Tao identifies humanity's desire to name things and, therefore, control them:
The tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao The name that can be named is not the eternal Name. 
The unnamable is the eternally real. Naming is the origin of all particular things. 
Free from desire, you realize the mystery. Caught in desire, you see only the manifestations. 
Yet mystery and manifestations arise from the same source. This source is called darkness. 
Darkness within darkness. The gateway to all understanding.
Chapter 2 of the Tao Te Ching continues by noting that a person's desire to exercise control over the world leaves him open to being controlled by his expectations:
When people see some things as beautiful, other things become ugly. When people see some things as good, other things become bad. 
Being and non-being create each other. Difficult and easy support each other. Long and short define each other. High and low depend on each other. Before and after follow each other. 
Therefore the Master acts without doing anything and teaches without saying anything. Things arise and she lets them come; things disappear and she lets them go. She has but doesn't possess, acts but doesn't expect. When her work is done, she forgets it. That is why it lasts forever.
If you eliminate your expectations, which you created by creating false divisions, you cannot be controlled by those expectations.  Chapter 3 gives concrete examples of how this individual weakness manifests itself within the collective of society :
If you overesteem great men, people become powerless. If you overvalue possessions, people begin to steal.  
The Master leads by emptying people's minds and filling their cores, by weakening their ambition and toughening their resolve. He helps people lose everything they know, everything they desire, and creates confusion in those who think that they know. 
Practice not-doing, and everything will fall into place.
To "lose everything they know, everything they desire" is to become free of the Human Fractal, which "creates confusion in those who think they know" because they can only control others through the Human Fractal.  But to remain free of the Human Fractal requires resisting the temptation to boil things down to two choices and pick one.  Indeed, as Chapter 5 explains:
The Tao doesn't take sides; it gives birth to both good and evil. The Master doesn't take sides; she welcomes both saints and sinners. 
The Tao is like a bellows: it is empty yet infinitely capable. The more you use it, the more it produces; the more you talk of it, the less you understand.
Hold on to the center.
Some might argue that refusing to make a distinction between good and evil renders the Tao immoral, but I'd argue that it recognizes morality as a human construct that obscures reality (as it must in order to control people with it).  

Chapters 8 and 9 shift away from encouraging people to let go of expectations and begin to focus on the comparison function of the Human Fractal and changing it.  For example, Chapter 9 says:
Fill your bowl to the brimand it will spill.  Keep sharpening your knife and it will blunt. Chase after money and security and your heart will never unclench.  Care about people's approval and you will be their prisoner.
Do your work, then step back.  The only path to serenity.
The Tao Te Ching continues in a similar manner through Chapter 16.

Anyway, this gives you a sense of how I find the Human Fractal in the Tao Te Ching.

A full translation of the Tao Te Ching may be found here.  Reading through it for the purpose of this post, I found Chapters 13, 19, 20, 22 and 29 to resonate.  The Mitchell translation, which I link to, is not my favorite, but his approach highlighted for me the "out of place" chapters that seem tacked on to and inconsistent with the foundational material.  See, for example, Chapter 65, which Mitchell seems to translate as "keep the people stupid so you can make them do what you want."  There are other translations that make Chapter 65 consistent with the earlier stuff, though.  I prefer to think of Chapter 65 as saying that people should be taught to question and not given "answers," which imply truth (and its opposite).

Sunday, June 17, 2012

The Simplicity of Complexity That Orders the Chaos

In hindsight, I view this post on the illusion of complexity the most important that I've written, primarily because it crystallized my thinking on the fractal nature of human cognition (and, more importantly, human action) and did so in a manner that tied it back to so-called "complexity."

NOTE: those links are to three different posts, the first being the most important and the other two putting stakes in the ground re: fractal cognition and complexity, respectively.

I think I can boil things down further.  My working theory is that the true elite (however you label them) are able to shape and control the illusory complexity of society by manipulating a very simple, fractal function that underlies how human beings make decisions and, therefore, act. I've described the base fractal function qualitatively numerous times in the past, including in all of the linked-to posts, above.  To understand how the same simple fractal function can lead to widely different results, see here.  You manipulate the human fractal through the social institutions that set societal values (i.e., the coefficients in the equation).  The founders of Neoliberalism understood this and set out to control those institutions.  And they succeeded.

My approach to reality forces me to look for the human fractal and its manipulation.  I can't help myself.  For example, whenever I see somebody boil down macro-politics to an either-or, binary choice, I usually confirm both the human fractal and its manipulation.  The fractal is apparent from the urge to drive certainty by limiting the available options to only two.  The manipulation of the function is apparent from the fact that the two options are both ALWAYS dictated by the manipulator.  How is that?  Because the manipulator defines the status quo, and the human fractal naturally creates the opposite of the status quo through the process of normative inversion.  

Another way of getting at what I am trying to say is that if you use their frame, you will lose the game.   An example of this phenomenon may be found here.

What I ultimately hope to accomplish through The Project is to articulate the human fractal in a way that everybody will understand.  Anybody who comes to understand the human fractal can manipulate those who don't and, at the same time, avoid being manipulated.  If EVERYBODY understands the human fractal, NOBODY can manipulate or be manipulated.  My goal is to make sure that everybody gets it.

Change the frame.  Change the game.  Don't get suckered into fighting power with power.  Knowledge trumps.  That's why we're taught to avoid it.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

There Has Never Been a Social Contract

The "social contract" is God's "covenant" with man, just with an Age of Reason makeover.

How exactly do you enforce a contract against God?

And who do you sue to enforce the "social contract"?

In both instances, there is nobody on the other side of the transaction who can be held accountable for failing to perform their obligations.

So, what is the point of these "contracts"?  To control the behavior of those who believe in them.

And who benefits?  Look to the philosophers who developed the social contract theory.  Then look at who they worked for.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Meet the New Now, Same as the Old Now

"Nowopia."  That's the term I coined to describe the serial focus on new "crises" and scandals to the exclusion of "old" crises and scandals (and advancing crises and scandals).

People need to learn how to solve the current crisis/scandal before moving on to the next one.  Who knows, maybe taking that kind of approach will solve the next crisis/scandal before it actually "happens" (the trick being that the next crisis/scandal is just another consequence of the last one).

Bitching about the latest crisis accomplishes nothing but an empty adrenaline high, which is why you immediately look for the next one.

Refuse to be manipulated.  Don't let the emphasis on "now" be the boss of you.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Driven to Distraction

As I delve into a rather esoteric (but fundamental) study of Western history, I am struck by the level of specialization.  All I can think is "Wow, what a waste of intellect."

The knock on becoming a PhD in any discipline is that you know more and more about less and less.  When it comes to social sciences, and history in particular, you actually know less and less about less and less.  That's because the error caused by false foundational assumptions are multiplied as you build upon them.

The fact that we live in a society where so many of our potentially best thinkers either wind up as banksters perpetrating the Ponzi scheme or as navel-gazers engaged in frenzied mental masturbation is a testament to the concerted effort to prevent the rise of a new Marx, i.e., somebody who "gets it" but is not part of the club.  American society is geared to distract us from making moral choices by promising us personal gain for choosing something else.  That is the essence of neoliberalism.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Myths, Laws, Ethics and Hidden Truths

All modern states are based on four things: myths, laws, ethics and hidden truths.

The first three - myths, laws and ethics - are taught to everybody and driven through social institutions that condition individuals to be good members of the collective.

The fourth - hidden truths - are not for general consumption because they render the first three false. Once these hidden truths are understood by the masses, the myths, laws and ethics they were taught can no longer control them, and they look for new myths, laws and ethics to sustain them.

Civilizations "collapse" because elites who know the hidden truth ultimately cannot help themselves.  The ethics created to bind the masses do not control the true elites, and this fact ultimately leaks out as the true elites become brazen in their hubris and begin openly breaking the laws.

Once the masses realize that the laws and ethics of society only bind them and not those who truly rule, the masses begin to question their myths.

And that is when all hell breaks loose.