Did Cannabis Prohibition Doom Humanity to Extinction?

Were the hippies right all along? The counter-culture that arose in response to the Cold War championed many things that made them hated: free love, a return to Nature, a rejection of materialism – and cannabis. This essay examines the possibility that we would have survived if only we had listened, and that cannabis prohibition doomed the human species to extinction.

A recent scientific report on climate data paints a grim picture for humanity’s future. Titled “Deep Adaptation: A Map for Navigating Climate Tragedy”, the paper lays out the stark fact that we have polluted the planet so badly that future chaos is inevitable. The truly baffling thing is we knew this all along. The science that explained what would happen to the planet if we continued to burn fossil fuels was established in the 90s – the 1890s.

So why didn’t we listen?

For the vast majority of human history, we lived in a close enough balance with the environment to not destroy it. Although there were certainly cases of localised destruction – the firestick farming method of the Australian Aborigines being perhaps the foremost – it was only recently that humanity developed the capacity to destroy the environment of the entire planet.

Somewhere along the line, we lost touch with the rest of the biosphere. Perhaps what initially kicked it off was following Descartes’s belief that only human beings were truly conscious. Maybe it was even further back, to Aristotle’s injunction that humans occupied the highest place on the food chain. In either case, what really pushed our ignorance into critical territory may have been the prohibition of cannabis.

Although the idea is commonly laughed at nowadays, cannabis is a spiritual sacrament, and has been used as such for thousands of years, particularly by the common ancestors of the Indo-European peoples. Evidence that ancient Scythians hotboxed tents with cannabis smoke predates writing in the area, Hindu and Vedic culture is replete with references to it, and even ancient Taoist alchemists considered it a major plant medicine.

An example of the kind of insights that people come to from cannabis use is that all creatures are part of one collective consciousness, which is more fundamental than time and space and is not constrained by them, and which is therefore eternal, and all of the other spiritual ideas that people nowadays consider to be mental illness. We’ve lost touch with these insights in the pursuit of ever more material wealth.

The real mental illness, it could be better argued, is on the part of those who don’t use cannabis.

It is the non-hippies, who don’t use cannabis, who buy expensive toys that are just plastic hunks of shit, and who drive around in enormously polluting vehicles, and who spend tens of thousands remodelling their house just for social status, who have wrecked the environment. A civilisation that destroys its own environment in pursuit of producing trivial, fleeting material pleasures could correctly be said to be insane.

If one understands that cannabis is a spiritual sacrament that used to keep humanity in touch with the natural world, and that this loss of contact with the material world has caused a climate crisis that may prove to doom us all, then it can fairly be argued that cannabis prohibition led to the destruction of humanity. If we’d just sat around smoking weed instead of working hard and aspiring to own ever-larger piles of crap, the planet might have survived.

If we had never contracted the disease of workism, we never would have thought it a good idea to drive miles to work, burning fossils fuels all the while, just to make three times more money than we actually need, and that just so we can buy piles of plastic crap and home improvements that never get used. We would have learned to appreciate the natural world more, instead of seeing it as something to be consumed on the road to economic growth.

Any hippie could tell you that the philosophy of eternal growth is the philosophy of the cancer cell. You don’t need an ecology degree to understand that an organism or group of organisms cannot keep growing indefinitely and stay in their niche. Either they stop growing or they expand into other niches. The ideology of eternal economic growth was inevitably going to hit its limit in one way or another.

If that hippie was of the more thoughtful kind, they might be able to tell you that such philosophies arose because people started to become afraid of death. Because cannabis has been a spiritual sacrament for our ancestors for so long, its prohibition in the early 20th century had the effect of, quite literally, separating us from God.

It’s possible that, if cannabis had never become criminalised, we never would have lost touch with Nature enough to even think about such a thing as building a strategic naval force that spanned the entire globe, sucking up enormous amounts of coal and oil as it did so, to the point where the biosphere collapsed. Ironically, if we had lived as the filthy, lazy, crazy hippies had suggested, we’d have had a better chance of passing through the Great Filter.

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If you enjoyed reading this essay, you can get a compilation of the Best VJMP Essays and Articles of 2018 from Amazon for Kindle or Amazon for CreateSpace (for international readers), or TradeMe (for Kiwis). A compilation of the Best VJMP Essays and Articles of 2017 is also available.

Why Victimhood Is Aggression

In a moral climate as degenerate as ours, weakness has become a virtue. We have come to believe that anyone who is weak must be innocent and the victim of misfortune or prejudice, and is therefore owed compensation. This has led to interest groups scrambling to position themselves as the biggest victim. This essay explains how victimhood is a form of aggression.

Justice is all about setting to rights what people are owed. If someone assaults another person, or steals from them, it’s important that the wider community steps in and sets things to rights. If they don’t, the original victim (or their friends and family) will seek vengeance, which historically has led to blood-feuding, which has frequently led to the destruction of entire areas.

Blood-feuding led to rulers and magistrates enforcing a code of laws – a codified, written set of laws and punishments for anyone who breaks those laws. The advantage of a code of laws is that aggrieved parties appeal to a magistrate for justice instead of taking revenge themselves, which means that grievances tend to settle down instead of festering into blood feuds.

The aggrieved party in any question of justice expects to be compensated. So the giver of justice, in order to keep the peace, tends to pass down rulings that favour the aggrieved. Because of the good nature of other people, it’s usually assumed that any party claiming a grievance must be deserving of compensation, and as a result, the majority of grievances are taken seriously.

The difficulty arises, as it has today, when some people start to realise that a sense of victimhood is highly profitable. A person, or group of people, with a deeply entrenched sense of victimhood can force the society around them to adapt to their wishes. This society does out of a fear of the implied threat of blood-feuding if those grievances are not settled. So artificially stoking a sense of victimhood can bring political power.

New Zealand anarchist philosopher Rick Giles has described this permanent victimhood as Victimhood Culture, one of the four major moral cultures of human history. Giles points out that, no matter how many concessions are given to people in victim mode, it’s never enough. This is because victimhood is an entire culture, a mindset into which people fall and into which they are often raised. It’s characterised by an absence of both honour and dignity.

There are genuine victims, but the proportion of them are ever fewer, and the proportion of grifters and chancers ever higher.

Making out like you’re owed, by exaggerating a sense of victimhood, is an act of aggression. The purpose is to intimidate good-natured people into giving up their wealth or freedom in order to compensate you for the supposed injustice. Because most people have trouble believing that anyone could be as shameless as to pretend to be a victim, most assertions of victimhood are taken at face value.

In reality, the world is an extremely complicated place. There are always a multitude of competing explanations for any political or historical event that might occur or have occurred, or for any sociological phenomenon that may have arisen. Therefore, it’s not always obvious to work out if you have been treated unfairly or not. So whether a person declares that they are a victim or not tells us much about them.

Take the example of the New Zealand Maori. The question of whether they benefitted from colonisation is one that draws a wide variety of responses. The competing explanations are that the British Empire showed up and rescued them from a life of intertribal warfare, slavery and cannibalism (on the one hand), or that they lived in perfect harmony with nature and with each other before the British turned up and corrupted them (on the other), or somewhere in between.

Therefore, it isn’t obvious for individual Maoris to know how much of a sense of victimhood they ought to feel. Inevitably, what ends up happening is that people feel a sense of victimhood that is proportionate to their own level of interpersonal aggression. This is why radicalism and violence go hand-in-hand.

This is true of people in any race, class or religion. If they are naturally aggressive, they will naturally want to take from others, and a sense of victimhood is the perfect justification. All that’s needed is some way of interpreting history so that you or the group you belong to were victimised by some other. Then, that other can be attacked until it pays compensation.

Unfortunately, this means that a sense of victimhood is worth money. If it can be stoked in other people, by suggesting to those people that they are victims and are owed compensation, then this victimhood can be parlayed into cash, jobs and other perks. A person claiming to represent a group of victims can easily siphon wealth into their own pockets. This makes it immensely tempting to stoke victimhood and to aggravate grievances.

The wise thing to do is to be exceptionally wary of anyone, whether an individual or a group, that claims to be a victim. Almost inevitably, this group will have managed to justify aggression against those who they see as oppressors. For this reason, a sense of victimhood, and perpetuating a sense of victimhood, can rightly be seen as a sign of aggression.

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If you enjoyed reading this essay, you can get a compilation of the Best VJMP Essays and Articles of 2018 from Amazon for Kindle or Amazon for CreateSpace (for international readers), or TradeMe (for Kiwis). A compilation of the Best VJMP Essays and Articles of 2017 is also available.

We’re All Slaves On One Big Tax Plantation

Most people today are horrified by the idea of chattel slavery. The practice is widely considered one of the most vile and evil institutions in human history, and for good reason. What most people fail to realise, however, is that we are still slaves living on a big plantation, but instead of cotton it’s all about taxes.

The truth is that our societies are little different to the cotton and sugar plantations of the antebellum American South. We are plantation slaves. The owners of capital are the same today as they were in the 1840s, and the overseers they employ are also little different. The main difference is that we are enslaved psychologically instead of physically.

This is why it was said that Kanye West had “left the plantation” when he began to repudiate the mainstream media’s relentless attacks on Donald Trump, as well as the implication that black Americans ought to always support the Democrat Party. The world view inculcated by the mainstream media is as constraining as any cotton or sugar plantation, and we’re the slaves on it.

On the tax plantation, all that matters is submission to the neoliberal capitalist globohomo agenda. Just as the owners of cotton plantations didn’t care about the well-being of their slaves, as long as they produced cotton, neither do the owners of our society care about our well-being, as long as we produce taxes.

In the same way that the owners of the cotton and sugar plantations got their overseers to squeeze as much productivity as possible from their slaves, so too do the owners of the tax plantations direct the overseers in the media, government and mental health industries to squeeze as much tax money as possible from their slaves. Sheep are farmed for wool, cows are farmed for milk, but humans are farmed for taxes.

The ideal is to get the slave to willingly produce tax money. The main method of achieving this has been to create a culture where possession and acquisition of material goods is considered the meaning of human existence, with ostracisation the penalty for anyone who disagrees. With this achieved, the people within that culture will work long hours for the money necessary for all this stuff, and that labour can be taxed without fear of resistance. The more work, the more tax.

If a slave is unwilling to produce tax money, the response of the overseers is similar to that taken by the overseers on a cotton plantation.

The initial reaction is abuse. The cotton plantation overseer would use physical abuse, in the form of whips. The thought plantation overseer, not being able to use corporal punishment, uses psychological abuse instead. This usually takes the form of calling the slave lazy, or a malingerer. The overseer will create the impression that the slave’s unwillingness to produce taxes for their owner is a moral failure on the part of the slave, something they should be ashamed of.

If this fails, the overseers move on to medicalisation. This is where the unwillingness to produce taxes is labelled a mental disorder requiring correction. On the thought plantation, the unwillingness to produce taxes is usually treated with psychiatric medication. The idea is that all thoughts of doing anything besides working and paying taxes are suppressed.

In the 1800s, a medical condition existed called drapetomania. This was a a diagnosis that could be given to slaves that had run away from their plantations. It referred to a kind of mental illness that impelled its sufferers to not want to be enslaved. The doctor who came up with the concept said “proper medical advice, strictly followed, this troublesome practice that many Negroes have of running away can be almost entirely prevented”.

Another fictitious mental disorder that was used to justify slavery was called dysaesthesia aethiopica. This was the Slavery Age equivalent of what doctors nowadays call “amotivational syndrome”. The idea was that the unwillingness to be treated as a slave must be a mental illness that had to be corrected. After all, a mentally healthy slave would accept his position and work hard for the master.

We can see the same logic applied by psychiatric doctors nowadays. Individuals who are disinclined to participate in society, on account of its overwhelming shitness, are diagnosed with mental illnesses similar to drapetomania. Schizotypal personality disorder is one such – the withdrawal from social contact is labelled a mental illness and medicated. Antisocial Personality Disorder and schizophrenia are other common reactions to enslavement, also pathologised.

The overseers and plantation owners can never, ever admit that the lives they have constructed for us are grossly unnatural, and that this unnaturalness is so severe that it has caused most of the mental illness that we now suffer. They can never admit that removing people’s agency over their lives causes a frustration that ends up becoming expressed as depression or homicidal rage.

The only way forward for those of us on the thought plantation is to liberate our minds, even if the plantation owners and overseers respond with abuse. Crucial to this is a sense of solidarity with other slaves, in which we support each other to defy the overseers and the owners. We must work for each other, and not for the sake of the plantation.

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If you enjoyed reading this essay, you can get a compilation of the Best VJMP Essays and Articles of 2018 from Amazon for Kindle or Amazon for CreateSpace (for international readers), or TradeMe (for Kiwis). A compilation of the Best VJMP Essays and Articles of 2017 is also available.

VJMP Reads: Edward Bernays’s Propaganda IV


This reading carries on from here.

The fourth chapter of Edward Bernays’s Propaganda is called ‘The Psychology of Public Relations’.

The study of mass psychology made people understand the possibility of the invisible government. We learned that the group has qualities that are distinct from the qualities of individuals. Bernays poses the question here: “is it not possible for us to control and regiment the masses according to our will without them knowing it?”

Bernays says it is possible, with certain limitations owing to the fact that psychological science is not well developed (it’s worth noting here, again, that this book was written in 1928). Propaganda is a human science and can therefore, like economics and sociology, never be exact.

Bernays again makes the point that if you can influence the leaders, you also influence the groups that they influence. Man’s gregarious nature will make him feel that he is part of a herd, and part of this herd psychology is to allow the group to make its imprints on him. Bernays gives the example of the man who buys railroad shares because something has caused him to associate that company with good feelings.

The group mind doesn’t really think, as such. Rather, it has emotions and raw animal impulses. Its first impulse is to follow a trusted leader. In this sense, we can see that the group mind is very primitive. But when a leader is not on hand and “the herd must think for itself”, it tends to do so in the form of simple cliches, whether in word or image form.

The truth is that men are seldom aware of what actually motivates their actions. They believe themselves to be making rational and dispassionate decisions, when in reality they are influenced by crude egotistical and biological desires. Freud was one of those who made people aware of how many of our desires and behaviours are really just expression of suppressed instincts. A man buys a car for status, not for locomotion.

The successful propagandist must understand people’s true motives, and therefore cannot be content with the reasons people give for why they do things. Human desires are “the steam which makes the human machine work”, and only by understanding these can the propagandist control society.

Old propaganda used what Bernays calls “reaction psychology”, in which people are more or less told what to buy. The new propaganda is more subtle. Instead of advertising bacon, the propagandist convinces doctors to tell their patients to eat it. Instead of breaking down sales resistance by direct attack, propagandists now act to remove it through subtle means.

If the propagandist can make it the group custom to buy a particular good, then he has succeeded. The old propaganda asked people to buy that good; the new propaganda convinces people to go into the salesroom and ask to be sold that good.

The leaders who lend their authority to a propagandist’s endeavour will only do so if it accords with their own interests. For this reason, the propagandist must endeavour to understand the aspirations of as many people as possible. There will be cases in which the interests of many different groups overlap, and in that there is power.

The new propaganda is based on “enlightened self-interest”. Bernays concludes this chapter by saying that this, and the three previous chapters, were devoted to giving a general outline of how propaganda works, and in the remainder of the book he will look at specifics.

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If you enjoyed reading this essay, you can get a compilation of the Best VJMP Essays and Articles of 2018 from Amazon for Kindle or Amazon for CreateSpace (for international readers), or TradeMe (for Kiwis). A compilation of the Best VJMP Essays and Articles of 2017 is also available.

Government Action on Housing Crisis Missing-In-Action

by MARTIN GRONBACH

I stare wide eyed at my phone and let loose a snort of equal parts disgust and derision.

The listing on TradeMe for my neighbour’s house has revealed their asking price.

$540,000.

This probably won’t be terribly offensive to those of you battling to buy your own home considering the average house price in New Zealand reached an eye watering $645,250 as of last year, but let me put my outrage in context.

This is the asking price for a reasonable 3-bedroom house in Carterton, Wairarapa.

Over half a million for a house in Cartervegas, with me as a neighbour? Get the fuck outta here.

If this what politicians put forward as the “affordable provinces” then any young person aspiring to one day own their own home is pretty damn screwed. Trust fund babies need not consider themselves applicable.

Last year I decided to ask the three local councils as to what actions they were taking to address the housing crisis and housing affordability.

The responses ranged from “We can’t do anything”, “It’s not our problem to solve”, “Define affordable” to “We are waiting on direction and leadership on the issue from central government”.

Local governments are not interested in taking a leading role in solving the housing crisis. Maybe this is due to the nearly non-existent representation of young people in local body politics, but that’s a topic for another time.

If not local government, surely our transformative coalition government could surely be trusted to be kicking arse for the long-suffering Kiwi first home buyer?

Brace yourself for crushing disappointment as the salvation of Generation Rent won’t be found with this current government – at least not this term.

Kiwibuild has been flogged by Labour as the band-aid to fix the housing crisis booboo as far back as 2012. However once in a position to actually implement the policy in 2017, it was quickly revealed just how little thought had gone into it.

The reality was that Labour’s fix for the housing crisis was over-hyped and under-cooked, inaccessible for anyone earning the average wage, that had school age children, or any number of the realities New Zealanders face. With the additional restrictions on selling the property within three years, designed to stop property speculation, people considering Kiwibuild are better off not using the scheme if possible, as buying on the open market doesn’t have any such restrictions and, in the end, any difference in the final price paid was negligible.

It’s a sad state of affairs that even with the supposed singleness of purpose and financial backing of the tax payer, Kiwibuild has completely failed to deliver for the majority of people that voted for it.

With numerous New Zealand based kit-set home manufacturers, even houses built by robots in Wellington, building houses isn’t the bottleneck. Land supply, and the price of ticking the boxes before building, however, is.

Reforming the Resource Management Act to allow for faster development of land should be one of the more obvious issues to deal with if the Government was actually serious about tackling the housing crisis. Likewise, opening up the building materials market to some international competition by way of reforming the New Zealand Building Code could potentially topple the monopoly enjoyed by a select few manufacturers price gouging the currently captive New Zealand market and further decrease building costs.

Another touted solution in the build up to the election was the so-called foreign ownership ban. Put forward by both Labour and New Zealand First, this would stop overseas investment in our domestic housing market. However, this did not mean ALL foreign ownership as Australians, who make up a third of all foreign owners of New Zealand property alone, as well as Singaporean nationals in the pursuit of a YET ANOTHER free-trade agreement, are still able to buy New Zealand property.

Again, this was found to be a relative non-issue as measly three percent of all property sold was to foreign buyers and that three percent was mostly made up of large-scale farms and stations, life-style blocks and shares in new-build apartment blocks. While I don’t agree with any foreign ownership of New Zealand land, in the context of the housing crisis, this is, and continues to be, an outlying issue, if not entirely separate from the housing crisis.

Generation Rent isn’t, and never was, in the market for a thousand acres of pristine South Island sheep country, so the foreign ownership ban had little real impact in this regard.

The main influencers of the housing crisis are two issues. The first was, and continues to be, New Zealand’s high levels of immigration. That contentious issue both Labour AND New Zealand First made a huge deal about during the opposition years and during the 2017 election, which our coalition government now seems reluctant to firmly act on, apart from putting the boot into low hanging fruit like the dodgy export education industry.

Ironically the fallout following the banning of Huawei from supplying equipment for the upcoming 5G rollout, the responsive drop in tourists and wealthy international students from China may end up having more of a tangible impact on addressing housing affordability that anything the Government has intentionally done to date.

The second genuine influencer is the rife accumulation, hoarding and speculation of housing by fellow, and now extremely wealthy, New Zealanders. The final word on cause of the housing crisis is that it is a mess of our own making. Kiwis ripping off Kiwis. Ever heard of a cap or outright ban on the number of investment properties? Me neither, and so long as we keep voting for the same four political parties, you never will.

With Generation Rent’s patience starting to wear thin and half their term over already, the coalition government can’t afford to continue to wear the kiddie gloves for fear of threatening the entitlement culture of wealthy New Zealand nor the construction sector lobbyists whilst avoiding the real causes of our housing crisis. 2019 will either make or break this government and younger people’s trust in it.

At the end of the day I don’t want or need 20 rental properties. No reasonable New Zealander does.

I just want the safety and security of providing a home for my wife and children that won’t be put up for sale as soon as the market conditions are favourable.

But not for over half a million in bloody Carterton, thanks.

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Martin Gronbach is an unashamed nationalist, self-aware 30-year-old boomer, active political shitposter, father, husband, engineering student and full member of Generation Rent who lives in the Wairarapa.

The Three Fundamental Personality Types

If one chooses not to break the world into two, or into four, but into three, one comes across the three fundamental elements of mercury, sulphur and salt. Here the sulphur represents the masculine, the mercury the feminine and the salt the world. As this essay will investigate, these elements also reflect the three elementary personality types.

Anthropologically speaking, men can be described by the ethological niche that they fall into: they can be an alpha, a beta or an omega. This refers to their position on the dominance hierarchy, where alphas have high status and get the best women, and omegas have low status and no women. In modern parlance, these personality types can be described as chads, bugmen and soyboys.

The alpha is a creator. His nature corresponds to sulphur, which is the creative force. This creative energy makes things out of nothing; it imposes order upon chaos. He is Romulus, Gilgamesh, Alexander. He is the cardinal force, which makes something appear where once only chaos existed. This sort of man builds monuments, nations and empires.

Alphas aren’t generally interested in fitting into pre-existing systems. This is why he is also described as Chad, irresistible to women. The cardinal force is the most attractive to women because the essence of masculinity is precisely the capacity to impose order upon chaos. The chad imposes order upon the world around him, therefore he is masculine, and the feminine element naturally becomes devoted to him.

The beta is a maintainer. His nature corresponds to salt, which represents the world. In this sense, there is nothing remarkable about the beta. He doesn’t have a lot of personality, but he is extremely efficient when there are many like him in a bureaucracy – or a paramilitary group. Less intelligent than the alpha, the beta’s intellect can only encompass a limited sphere, but he is perfectly effective within it.

Betas are described as bugmen in modern parlance. This is because they appear to have neither personality nor free will, much like insects. Betas need alphas to give them direction, because they are afraid of doing the wrong thing and getting punished. He knows, however, that he is next in line to inherit the position of the alpha, and so he wants things to change the least. He therefore represents the fixed force.

The soyboy represents the mutable force, corresponding to mercury. This is because he is at the bottom of the dominance hierarchy, and therefore has nothing to lose and everything to gain from its dissolution. He represents the mutable force because the more things change, the better it is for him. He is also, for these reasons, the destroyer.

In this sense, mercury serves as the divine feminine in her representation as chaos. The soyboy is a natural loser, in that he never gets laid except for by pity, and the world seems to be rigged against him. Consequently, he is the one with the largest incentive to change things. This is why he is associated with resentment and other slave moralities. The mercurial element is unpredictable, because it resents having order imposed upon it.

These three personality types all depend upon, and interplay with, each other. Without the chads, there is no civilisation for the bugmen and soyboys to populate. Without the bugmen, the chads and the soyboys do not have enough in common for the ground to exist upon which a civilisation can be built. Without the soyboys, the chads and the bugmen are constantly at war with each other, having no mutually agreed weaker party to beat down upon.

The three are also natural divisions that reflect reality. This is why we can see the creator-maintainer-destroyer trichotomy in Hinduism, where Brahman acts as creator, Vishnu as maintainer and Shiva as destroyer. In Hinduism, however, it is understood that all three are necessary for life to function, and there is less emphasis on the mercurial element being unwanted.

In another sense, the chads and the soyboys follow each other around like the yin and yang of a taijitu, with the yin as mercury and the yang as sulphur. The bugmen are then like the unwobbling pivot of Taoism, as a kind of fulcrum around which the rest of the world turns. This is also reflective of reality in that yin and yang come and go, so that sometimes one is fashionable and the other not, and other times the reverse.

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If you enjoyed reading this essay, you can get a compilation of the Best VJMP Essays and Articles of 2018 from Amazon for Kindle or Amazon for CreateSpace (for international readers), or TradeMe (for Kiwis). A compilation of the Best VJMP Essays and Articles of 2017 is also available.

VJMP Reads: Edward Bernays’s Propaganda III

This reading carries on from here.

The third chapter of Edward Bernays’s Propaganda is called ‘The New Propagandists’. Here, Bernays gets to the task of who it is that molds public opinion. “Who are the men who, without us realising it, give us our ideas?”

Bernays admits openly that these molders of public opinion decide for us who we admire and who we despise, and what we think about all manner of political issues. They decide our fashions, our speech, and even what jokes we feel like we’re allowed to make. They decide the shape of everything in our societies – but who are they?

These people include all of the top politicians, all of the leaders of the biggest industries, all of the leaders of the largest cultural organisations, the editors of the largest newspapers and magazines, the heads of the various industry groups, the chancellors of the most prominent universities and the main religious figures. Even so, most of these people, in their turn, get their ideas from elsewhere.

In some cases, it’s clear who the wirepullers are. In most cases, it isn’t. But these people control the destinies of millions. The degree to which a small number of people influence a large number of public figures is generally not appreciated. This number will, however, always be small on account of the great expense involved in manipulating the machinery of propaganda to form public opinion.

This has given rise to the new (in 1928) profession of professional propagandist, which has been euphemised as “public relations counsel”. This role is necessary because all governments, no matter what their type, depend on the acquiescence of the people. Bernays here gives us the maxim “Government is only government by virtue of public acquiescence.” Even commercial enterprises need public approval to succeed.

The propagandist is not simply an advertiser. Although he might use letters to the editor, radio, lectures, magazines and more, his work does not duplicate that of the advertiser. His first business is to make sure that his client’s product is something that the public can be brought to accept. The propagandist’s next job is to analyse the public, and how to approach the leaders of the various groups within it.

Bernays contends that, in the age of mass media, corporations found it necessary to give the appearance of conforming to the public’s sense of decency and honesty. As a result, and much like governments, corporations found propagandists necessary in order to get anything done.

The ideal of the propagandist’s profession is making the client understand what the public wants, and making the public understand the objectives of the client. Propagandising can therein be likened to a form of diplomacy. Bernays labours at length the point that the propagandist does not work to hoodwink the public, and lists the ethical considerations of the profession.

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If you enjoyed reading this essay, you can get a compilation of the Best VJMP Essays and Articles of 2018 from Amazon for Kindle or Amazon for CreateSpace (for international readers), or TradeMe (for Kiwis). A compilation of the Best VJMP Essays and Articles of 2017 is also available.

How The People Are Divided and Conquered

The ruling classes, faced with the fact that they are outnumbered by thousands to one, have refined an array of techniques to divide the people into groups and set them at each other’s throats. This array covers all of the different aspects of human life, so that individuals are made enemies of each other at every turn. This essay describes how the people are divided and conquered across the entire spectrum of life.

Human life covers the complete spectrum from purely physical concerns to purely spiritual concerns. Physical concerns such as blood and soil are different to matters of class and education, and these are in their turn different to religious and spiritual matters. By means of propaganda, people are divided at each part of the spectrum, and made to believe that someone else has stolen from them.

This stealing is how the other side of the spectrum (any spectrum) is characterised as the bad guys, the stealers, the takers. The mouthpieces of the ruling class will tell their listeners that all of the suffering those listeners feel is because those at the other end of the spectrum have stolen from them. The natural result is that the listeners come to hate those others, and in doing so become divided and conquered.

At the physical end, people belonging to any racial group have been led, by way of propaganda, to feel that other races have collectively worked to steal from them. In America, blacks are made to feel that whites have stolen from them through slavery, and owe them compensation; whites are made to feel that blacks have stolen from them through taxation to fund welfare.

The story is the same all over the West. There was a time when New Zealanders considered themselves Kiwis first and their particular ethnic makeup was a secondary thing. But after decades of rhetoric, many Maoris have come to be convinced that colonisation was an act of evil for which they are owed compensation. White people were convinced, at the same time, that Maoris had stolen from them through taxation-funded welfare and crime, and the end result was to split the Kiwi people down the centre.

Less physical issues do not make people less vulnerable to being divided and conquered. Even if everyone was the same race, it is still possible to divide people along class or religious differences.

The most obvious example is of Communist agitation in a factory. The Communist begins by persuading the workers that they are being stolen from because their wages are not equal to the value of their production. If the worker is not intelligent enough to understand the basics of how a business is run, and does not understand that operating a business requires competencies that he does not necessarily have, he may be persuaded that his boss is stealing from him, and that restitution is owed.

Communist agitation in Rhodesia is an example that combines both race and class. Local blacks were convinced that white settlers had stolen land from them and were trying to enslave them. The blacks were told that everything the whites had was stolen from them, and this theft was why they didn’t have it. This led to rising resentment which eventually tore the entire country in two, a blueprint since repeated all across the world.

Education is another spectrum upon which people are divided. The poorly educated are led to believe that the well educated have arrived at their greater position of wealth through sneakery and trickery, not through study and applied competence. As with the other examples, the poorly educated are then made to become resentful, and so come to fight the well educated instead of co-operating with them as yin and yang.

All of this dividing and conquering works because of the state of spiritual ignorance that we have fallen into. People have forgotten that life is suffering, and that suffering is inherent to existence as a mortal being in this world. Because they have forgotten this, it is possible to convince them that their suffering is unnatural, and that someone else must be to blame. This is an example of chains of gold.

All that’s necessary to start it is to find a spectrum of wealth somewhere within society. It can be a spectrum of wealth along race lines, along class lines, along education lines – it doesn’t matter. As long as the people at both ends are told that the people at the other end have stolen from them or are looking to, both groups will dig themselves in and start hating the other.

From there, it’s a simple matter to point the finger at the other side of the national, racial, education or religious divide and say that all the suffering is because those people have stolen from us, and so individuals from that group are personally responsible for restitution. Once this has been achieved, it’s all but guaranteed that those so blamed will point the finger back, and at this point arguing and fighting begins.

Our ruling Establishment encourages divide and conquer logic, because the more effectively the people can be divided, the less able they are to mount a co-ordinated challenge against the will of that Establishment. This is why the media is daily full of propaganda about “injustice”. They don’t care about preventing injustice – they just want to fan the flames of it so that people are angry and blame each other, instead of the rulers.

Certain incompetent individuals also encourage divide and conquer logic, because they know that if the people were united and competent people promoted, those individuals would be left behind. Incompetent individuals, therefore, have an interest in dividing and conquering so that they can slice off their own little piece of turf and rule the smaller group present in it. They want to keep the group small so as to discourage more competent competition for places in the ruling hierarchy of that group.

In summary, people are divided and conquered because their own spiritual ignorance makes it possible for unscrupulous propagandists to blame the natural suffering of life on acts of theft committed by “others”. Blaming all the suffering inherent to life on others ensures that revenge will be sought, that grievances and vendettas will grow, that the cracks diving society will deepen and therefore that the suffering will never be overcome.

Anyone who denies that life is naturally suffering, and who insists that any suffering that exists is the fault of a particular group of people, is working to divide and conquer society. These people must be considered suspect, and their motives potentially malicious. This is true no matter how powerful, rich, numerous or oppressive the so-called bad guys might be.

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If you enjoyed reading this essay, you can get a compilation of the Best VJMP Essays and Articles of 2018 from Amazon for Kindle or Amazon for CreateSpace (for international readers), or TradeMe (for Kiwis). A compilation of the Best VJMP Essays and Articles of 2017 is also available.

VJMP Reads: Edward Bernays’s Propaganda II

This reading carries on from here.

The second chapter of Propaganda is called ‘The New Propaganda’. Here, Bernays elucidates some of the differences between the original approach to propaganda that arose with the advent of mass media, and the “new” approach that was developed after the application of mass psychology techniques to making propaganda more effective.

The industrial revolution has made kings much less powerful than they once were, relative to the masses. It spread economic power, and, with that, political power. The old democrats used to believe that it was possible to educate everyone up to the level where they could participate in rulership – in reality, the average person falls well short of what is required.

Propaganda fills this gap, serving as the means by which the minority can still rule the majority. “Propaganda is the executive arm of the invisible Government.” The education of the common man, instead of teaching him to think freely, only conditioned him to become receptive to propaganda. Now his mind is receptive to propaganda of all sorts.

Using examples from a daily newspaper, Bernays explains how propaganda works in the mainstream media. Anything stated as true by an authority, such as the State Department, is taken as such. Here Bernays gives us a definition of propaganda: “Modern propaganda is a consistent, enduring effort to create or shape events to influence the relations of the public to an enterprise, idea or group.”

In practice, very little is done nowadays without some kind of propaganda campaign alongside it. Propaganda regiments the public mind every bit as much as the Army regiments the bodies of its soldiers. A group so regimented can be every bit as effective as an army.

Today, the approval of the public is necessary for any large undertaking. Therefore, propaganda is necessary for any large undertaking. Formerly, rulers could set the course of history simply by doing things. Today, the masses have control, so propaganda is needed to wrest that control back. As a consequence, propaganda is here to stay.

It was World War I, and the astonishing success of propaganda in that war to manipulate public opinion, that made people aware of what could be done. This was the first time that not only a multimedia approach was made to encourage people to support the national endeavour, but also key men were brought on board in a massive range of industries.

The new propaganda doesn’t just target the individual, but takes into consideration the structure of society and the way that information spreads through it. This is now a feature of society, because new proposals for reform must be clearly articulated before they will be influential. No-one can get anything done anymore without propaganda.

Bernays concludes this chapter by noting that “In the active proselytizing minorities in whom selfish interests and public interests coincide lie the progress and development of America.” The world is controlled by the small number of men that control propaganda, who make the rest of us think as they will, and society only progresses when their will is in accord with the collective good.

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If you enjoyed reading this essay, you can get a compilation of the Best VJMP Essays and Articles of 2018 from Amazon for Kindle or Amazon for CreateSpace (for international readers), or TradeMe (for Kiwis). A compilation of the Best VJMP Essays and Articles of 2017 is also available.

Why Intelligence Can Never Be a Fixed Concept

Intelligence is something that everyone appears to understand, but no-one can agree on a definition. Despite this, people are pretty sure that it can be measured. Although tests that measure IQ have been shown to have a lot of predictive value, a precise definition of term remains elusive. But as this essay will examine, intelligence can never be a fixed concept anyway.

What is intelligence? A common definition of intelligence is “ability to recognise patterns and avoid dangers”. Another is “the ability to apply knowledge and skills”, which assumes that intelligence is an entirely different thing to instinct. Other definitions involve a capacity for learning, logic, reasoning, self-awareness etc. Despite this variety, most people think they know it when they see it.

A previous essay here discussed how there are at least two different spectrums of intelligence, and how both of them might appear to be intelligent in some situations and not in others. Another essay suggested that there is both a masculine and a feminine intelligence and stupidity. What’s apparent from all of these different definitions is that some behaviours are intelligent in some circumstances, and unintelligent in other circumstances, depending on how adaptive they are to the environment.

For example, being able to faithfully repeat what you are told is a sign of intelligence when a student has a good teacher who educates them honestly. When the student is a political cadre being indoctrinated into a dangerous ideology, it’s not a sign of intelligence. However, the underlying neurological and psychological attributes that enable either are roughly the same.

Most people can also accept that intelligence is something that evolved, controversial as that may be when one gets into the specifics of it. The reasons for this evolution are presumably because intelligence provided a selective advantage in either staying alive or finding mates and reproducing.

The first one of these points seems pretty obvious: if you are smart you are better able to avoid the dangers that the natural world has created. Intelligence is highly correlated with pattern recognition, and recognising patterns is the key to recognising dangers. If you notice that the last person who did something died, you are less likely to do it. Therefore, you are more likely to survive to reproductive age yourself.

The second point is more subtle, but equally clear if one thinks about it. The more intelligent a creature is the better shape it will keep itself in, therefore the healthier it will be, and the more attractive a mate it will seem to others of its kind. This greater attractiveness will lead to more mating opportunities, and therefore more offspring (all other things being equal).

However, there’s a hidden paradox in this simple biological definition. If intelligence is biological, then it cannot be a fixed concept, because if it’s an adaptation to the environment it will change along with that environment.

Aside from the odd species like crocodiles, who have found one evolutionary niche and just stayed there, animal species tend to be opportunistic. They tend to range across a number of niches and take food, water and reproductive opportunities when they arise. The most excellent example of this is the human being, who has adapted to many environments and who is capable of anything.

As the environment keeps changing, so too will the optimal behaviours within each environment change.

For instance, much of the behaviour that we currently associate with intelligence has much to do with avoiding impulsive behaviours. Someone who stops and thinks before taking action will be almost universally considered more intelligent than someone who does not. Likewise, someone who saves money will be considered more intelligent than someone who wastes it, and someone who reads books will be considered more intelligent than someone who parties.

This is all well and good in a civilised, industrial society like ours. But if society should break down, then the equilibrium point will shift back from cautious deliberation towards opportunism. If there is no law and order, then there’s no advantage in taking one’s time to consider things. The advantage shifts towards those with the propensity to hit and run before the opportunity is lost. Intelligence would then become a matter of understanding the importance of not hesitating.

Another problem is that the kind of skills and aptitudes that made a person become considered intelligent by their peers in the ancient past are not necessarily the same today. Human survival in the past had a lot to do with astrology, animal husbandry and swordsmanship – all skills that are now only practiced by small minorities. A person might have been considered highly intelligent in the past on account of that their brain made them good at animal husbandry, but the same person might be considered low intelligence today if they can’t find a technological skill.

It might even go the other way. Society might continue to become more and more technological, so that the selective advantage wasn’t in favour of impulsivity but in favour of the kind of semi-autistic gadgetry obsession that distinguishes people who are today considered nerds. Such a society might no longer have any need for social intelligence but would rather operate on computer science aptitude.

In all of these cases, the society that results after massive environmental change will define intelligence as adaptation to it, not as adaptation to some other time and place. Neither will they define intelligence as an adaptation to the natural world in which we evolved, because such a thing no longer exists.

In the end, the concept of intelligence is a biological one, and therefore can only be understood relative to a specific environment, or set of environments. Because the natural world keeps changing – and our social world even faster – the concept of intelligence will keep evolving as humans do. It can therefore never be a fixed and clearly defined concept.

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If you enjoyed reading this essay, you can get a compilation of the Best VJMP Essays and Articles of 2018 from Amazon for Kindle or Amazon for CreateSpace (for international readers), or TradeMe (for Kiwis). A compilation of the Best VJMP Essays and Articles of 2017 is also available.