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Love and Nihilism: A Parallelism Primer
As social animals, we get our information from others. This includes morality, or a group behavior code based on a sense of value and purpose inherent to humanity.
In contrast, nihilism denies value and purpose and in turn, denies any special role to humanity. Like emotions, value and purpose are human judgments which do not exist in the outside world.
By denying value and purpose, nihilism forces us see physical reality as a mechanical process in which our part is small. When we are walking in winter, falling snow appears to be coming toward us, but in reality we are moving forward as it falls.
Where morality deals with how things appear to us, nihilism addresses reality as a design and encourages us to learn how to adapt to it. Morality is withdrawl from natural selection; nihilism embraces it, and describes the world as a complex machine.
We frequently talk about "human nature." It's more sensible to talk about the challenges facing any animal with higher intelligence. Any smart animal will face the same challenges using roughly the same methods.
While having a big brain is an asset, it is also a liability, in that if a big brain has to re-analyze its surroundings, it will move very slowly. Instead, big brained animals analyze once, create a mental "map" of their world, and update as needed.
In theory, we update our maps when new data comes about. But if this data is incorrect, our knowledge of the world gets corrupted. We act expecting certain outcomes and are stunned when things do not go as planned.
What corrupts our minds is when we reverse the causal process of understanding. Instead of looking to the world, making conclusions and updating our maps, we update our maps based on what we wish were happening -- or what others tell us.
If we withdraw into our own maps, and change those instead of reality, we can no longer predict reality. This is a problem because we are responsible for our fate. If we screw it up, no one else is going to bail us out.
Values and purpose are human inventions designed to be shared between us. Like language, values and purpose only work if we all know and agree on what they mean. They are easily manipulated by changing meaning without changing the symbol for it.
The world around us is consistent and non-judgmental. It functions and leaves thinking to us. If we do not make sense of it, the response will be bad. If we adapt to it, the response will be good.
Individuals using goodwill as a cover story have re-defined our values and purpose. They do this to benefit themselves, but as a result, corrupt the realistic outlook of society around them. This process takes centuries to fully show itself.
We cannot see evidence of our corruption in a single fact, but can measure it from multiple points of view and find what they have in common, like we triangulate to find radio signals. Our measurements are:
2400 years ago Socrates recognized that individuals prefer how things appear -- or can be made to appear -- to their intelligible form, which requires knowledge of their context and consequences. Appearance is tangible and public.
Civilizations have a life cycle from birth to death. Each stage in this cycle has a distinct philosophy and psychology which corresponds to the type of government people in that time believes is best. These united patterns are "designs."
From the day a civilization is founded, it drifts farther from reality and further into the world of appearance. People manipulate each other to get ahead, and the side effect is a corrupted image of reality.
People use wishful thinking to manipulate each other. Wishful thinking pretends that humans are omniscient and not part of nature. It avoids all mention of death, conflict, unequal abilities or eventually, reality itself.
Nihilism can restart the life cycle by removing wishful thinking. Seeing reality more accurately changes our assumptions, and from that like a row of falling dominoes our institutions and values change to be more realistic.
The opposite of nihilism is modernism, which is our name for the later stages of a civilization if it also has advanced technology. Modernism is defined by the use of linear logic and the belief in technological progress overcoming nature.
The last thousand years of Western civilization have been defined by a steadily-increasing modernism, and the previous thousand were expended on conflict allowing that modernism to happen.
The philosophy that came to be called rationalism emerged from our use of tools. Where previously we had to seek out a situation that matched our needs, now we needed only a single factor: the tool.
For example, instead of finding a location where fruit trees grew, one hauled out the plough and made a field, then planted the trees and later harvested the fruit.
When someone does a new task for the first time, they work from cause to effect, and figure out how the process works. Another person seeing them sees the result first, and only later figures out the steps involved -- or uses a tool instead.
This linear logic, that lets us work backward from desired result through our tools, convinced us that we had conquered nature, which we saw as an external thing independent of us. It also simplified our thought process.
Modernism would not exist without linear logic. Linear logic is the idea that in a complex situation, a single factor can be extracted and manipulated, achieving a desired result. All other factors become ignored details.
Instead of killing a creature for food, and taking the skin for clothing, we would kill a creature for its skin -- and write the rest off as details.
This thought process became an underlying assumption of all of our logic. In politics, we assumed that whatever most people thought was good was right. In economics, whatever made profit. In social situations, whatever was popular.
More importantly, we externalized ourselves by making ourselves dependent on what others agreed was the truth. This meant that appearance took precedence over reality, because if enough people were fooled, others would act as if it were truth.
In every situation, linear logic was used to extract an "essence" or "truth," and all other factors are denied as details. This is convenient since some people can read those details and see imminent disaster others cannot, causing conflict.
As part of the process of specialization of labor, we must make others understand why our needs are important, so they can help us. In order to convince them, we use externalized social pressures to make ourselves look good.
Rationalism tells us to pick a single factor with which to measure a situation. In social situations, we choose self-preservation, and in order to achieve it for ourselves, we demand it for all people equally.
We demand the same rights for others just as ourselves because of the specialization of labor. When you must convince others that you ought to be helped, you need to first show them that you have goodwill toward them -- without judging them.
The best way to do this is to suggest that the human form, and not the unique abilities of the human, makes this person entitled to being treated well. This way, no matter what they think of you, they will feel good for helping you.
We achieve this false goodwill through altruism, or the belief in helping all others universally and without judgment. We call this an absolute context, because it is the rationalistic single factor we choose in all situations.
In this, we have applied our backward logic to getting ahead in life: we must convince others through appearance that we are good, and that like a tool will achieve the results we desire. We convince others by pretending wishful thinking is reality:
In a rationalistic outlook, if social instability is bad, then social stability must be achieved -- and we do not consider any secondary consequences. As a result, we make aggressive behavior taboo and reward those who avoid conflict.
To avoid conflict, we must compromise any idea where others will object to it. We ignore the consequences of our actions and focus instead of showing goodwill, which eliminates conflict, but causes us to compromise.
Since these compromises must avoid that which will cause conflict to any one person, we create a lowest common denominator response to reality of the inoffensive, benevolent-sounding, and easy, and ignore reality.
Since linear logic convinces us to pick one factor of many in our thinking, when approaching the question of life itself we pick a single factor: ourselves.
In order to make ourselves more powerful, we act so we appear altruistic, but we also act to appear independent and unique so we attract others to our personalities. This causes us to act entirely through social thinking.
Through this method, individualism creates a "social reality" or a conspiracy between people to manage reality with social factors. Since we need others, thanks to specialization of labor, we use this more than reality itself.
This has two effects: first, we become neurotic because we see reality in the details but are encouraged to ignore it; second, since social reality ignores secondary effects, disorder spreads and the cost is passed on to us.
This in turn encourages us to try to break away from social obligation, since we feel it is parasitic to us, and so we break away using more individualism. This does not work, so we turn to our leaders and ask for more control.
Control is the external imposition of what some people agree is true. Unlike an organic order, or one arriving from agreement and cooperation among people, it requires force and small rewards to function.
In this way, we can see how individualism leads to disorder which requires more control, in a process and cycle that gains intensity over time, causing civilization to collapse.
The public display of altruism became a powerful tool. It could get you elected, or make others follow you as a leader, or make them work for less money. It could get you ahead at the expense of others.
Civilization through its wealth makes it possible for us to be far enough removed from nature that we pretend there is no reality except human reality. We withdraw, and we do so in a group which defends itself against critique.
When illusion is rewarded and realistic ideas punished, the bad guys always win. The crowds, accustomed to being manipulated, run between one abuser and another, always believing the promises but then forgetting conveniently so the lie is not revealed.
This triumph of unreality brings consequences but because it is anti-social to mention them, those who bring them up are ostracized and kept out of jobs, relationships, friendships and public favor. The dogma overrides reality.
Since the dogma reaches deeply, to the level of our assumptions, children grow up brainwashed in this ideal and are afraid to consider any other possibilities. Those who tell the truth become "bad" and the lies become "good."
At this point, the tail wags the dog. We no longer do things because they are realistic actions. We do them to make ourselves look good, so that we can leverage services out of others with our perceived altruism.
This is how civilization destroys itself. Modernism is this self-destruction process, couched as "freedom" and "justice," but really a slow decay while those few cynical enough to know it's a lie and still lie make record profits.
Because the civilization is based on the idea of individualism, or each person being able to do whatever they think is right, it soon becomes utilitarian. "What most people think is best is best" defines utilitarianism.
The social institutions designed to implement our grand plans are always failing because the plans are unrealistic, so we blame them. A perpetual struggle between people, markets and governments manifests itself in increasingly rare consensus.
Like a society of drunks, civilization gets ugly but it is not permitted to notice. Behavior is disorganized, and the only plan is one based on linear logic, or removing the "bad" and assuming what's left is the good.
The only things people can agree on are that they want to be able to earn money, and that they do not want other people interrupting them. They call these agreements "freedom","equality" and "justice" and crush any who oppose them.
We are all acquainted with centralized authoritarianism. More scary is the tendency of crowds, through constant rebellions for more "freedom" which cause negative social consequences, requiring more control, to create totalitarian states.
The first part of this process is "distributed" totalitarianism, or the tendency of crowds to enforce dogma by ostracizing those who do not repeat the dogma and depriving them of the benefits of specialized labor.
In this stage, individuals gain power by pandering to the desire of the crowd to see appearance triumph over reality. Individuals can find others lacking in altruism, point it out, and be rewarded with higher social status.
The second, when disorder rises enough at the same time the civilization becomes more disorganized, is where the oligarchs who have profited from its decline choose a tyrant to enforce a brutal, simplistic and effective order.
This is how freedom, equality and justice create tyranny through control. Because they are imposed orders, derived from linear logic which picks one factor of many to be absolute, they conflict with reality and require more not less power.
Reversing this process of decay is surprisingly easy. We need to change our assumptions and method of thinking. Nihilism will change our unrealistic thinking and lead us to another philosophy called parallelism.
Parallelism replaces linear logic. Where linear logic says to pick one factor of many, parallelism says we consider all factors at once and look at their impact.
In parallelism, instead of killing a buffalo for clothing, we determine how many buffalo we can take without destroying the herd, and figure out how to use and store their products so we are efficient.
Most political control structures create a partial truth of reality, define obedience to it as good/evil, and rapidly control people using that. The dogma of equality, freedom, peace, tolerance and nonviolence is no different.
Parallelism reverses this pattern by forcing a description of reality as a whole, and then pointing out what actions will bring negative consequences from reality itself -- with no need for the evil/not-evil artificial reality of control.
Unlike idealistic and utopian systems, parallelism recognizes that there is no way to avoid tragedy, conflict, horror and decay, but that they can be limited if people are vigilant toward keeping each other on track toward reality.
Where most political systems define what is bad, and assume the rest to be good, parallelism defines a goal and works toward it through whatever methods work. We call it a "whole" philosophy since it does not divide the world into bad and good.
BEYOND GOOD AND EVIL
Parallelism recognizes that bad and good do not exist, but are our judgments of outcomes. It also recognizes that the ultimate outcome of life, its perpetuation, requires both good and evil, so we call it "meta-good."
Once we see reality as meta-good, we do not need false positivity and false inherency as offered by other "worlds" created through human judgment. Whether secular (social reality) or religious (heaven), these other worlds corrupt us.
Denying inherent value and purpose removes this false positivity and with it the means of mental control of individuals that in turn empowers the control of the state. When the good symbol appears, people rush toward it, into their doom.
When the thought process of justification is reversed, people stop looking for inherent or social reality proof, and instead turn to the scientific method -- observing reality, and testing their knowledge of it, to see what patterns emerge.
By denying the inherent, nihilism orients itself toward patterns that emerge from situations. This moves away from universal or absolute truths. Patterns do not exist, but every time certain conditions are met, "emerge" in different forms.
Emergent conditions require an entirely different type of logic. While we could call it non-linear, it more accurately resembles many linear logics -- for all factors of a situation -- considered simultaneously. We call it parallelism.
One aspect of parallelism is noting that patterns occur in parallel between the forms of matter, energy and thought. Patterns are a type of design or organization which can appear in all three of those forms.
Where linear logic and control structures demand a single absolute path, in parallelism, nothing is absolute. Objects and situations do not have inherent, fixed properties. What makes patterns appear is the organization of many factors.
Parallelism arises from nihilism because in order to deny value and purpose, one must have a logical basis for doing so, and in order to show they are not part of reality, we must know how reality assembles itself and what its parts are.
Philosophers describe emergent properties as "immanent," or distilling out of a situation rather than being inherent to one of its parts. While inherent properties are products of judgment that must be absolute, immanent properties are neither.
We can describe immanent properties as "organic," because like life itself, they grow from a few conditions into a diversity of objects formed from similar patterns under slightly different circumstances. Control, on the other hand, must be imposed.
Because nihilists believe neither in religious other worlds (heaven) or secular other worlds (morality), we are independent from the principle of absolute and universal dogma that denies the importance and beauty of reality.
As a result, nihilism can be said to be a transcendent philosophy. Values and purpose are things we impose based on our observations of what will succeed in adapting to reality, and yet also give us a sense of "meaning."
Meaning is interpreted by the individual but derived from reality, so realistic individuals have similar ideas of what is importance. Meaning reverses withdrawl by connecting us with the world around us.
Philosophers call this transcendental, from the Latin "climb over," because it encourages us to accept reality including its negative aspects. Instead of denying the negative, we find a greater positive goal in reality itself, the "meta-good."
When we transcend, we no longer need false absolutes. Instead, we delight in reality because it is a space of potential. Good and bad are methods we can use to make that potential happen.
Since nihilism is ultimately an affirmation of the scientific method and the need for logical decisions, we can act outside of morality to see what is the best adaptation to reality a civilization can offer -- and pick this design for our own.
We do not have to like the answers we find. These are not choices, preferences, or beliefs; they are deductions from using our logical skills. They are too complex to be "proved" by experiments, but our sense of logic can help us see truth in them.
IV. ORGANIC SOCIETY
Every civilization needs a narrative. This consensus describes the origins of the civilization, its ongoing but unattainable goal, and what its values and methods are to achieve that.
The best goals are not tangible ones, but goals that can grow over time, like we compete against ourselves with our personal goals. For most, the goal is tied to a land, a worldview, a values system and people like themselves.
Immanent goals are patterns which naturally make sense given a certain situation. These do not change over time because humans do not change. When these occur as a part of the growth of a civilization, we call them "organic" goals.
Organic societies are logical responses to their environments. They exist on a "whole" level, or one that considers all factors at once. They are the opposite of linear modernist societies, which consider only one factor at a time.
Where control societies encourage us to think in terms of one condition being true at a time (logical OR), parallelism encourages us to see how many can be true at once (logical AND). Organic societies are cooperation, not control, based.
Parallelism tells us there is no one way all people should live, but that different societies should use different methods toward the same goals. Those that adapt to reality using their specific method will thrive over time.
Further, parallelism does not attempt to repeat the past nor does it throw away learning. History is our laboratory and science is our method. Parallelism encourages us to accept modern society, centralization, technology -- and use them wisely.
As parallelists, we believe that we can establish a handful of principles that modify our current liberal democratic capitalist society, and that these will "organically" grow into a whole concept:
These attitudinal changes alone will produce a parallelist society from what we have. They are easy to implement and require only the agreement of minority of people in society who are leaders in their communities.
The possibility of action confounds the modern person who does not want to engage in "activist" politics, or those which empower certain groups at the expense of the whole. How to change a society dedicated to distraction?
Among us, there are 2-5% of people in our society who are leaders in a practical sense. This means that whether they have an official title or not, they lead the community in business, spiritual, community, academic or social settings.
These are the people that your average person trusts. They trust information from these people more than from the government, their televisions, or casual friends. They respect the judgment abilities of these people.
Our goal is to inform these leaders of our values, get them to form consensus that these should be adopted, and then send them forth to implement these values in all that they do and to demand them from politicians.
This occurs in three steps:
In modern societies, having a large number of vocal supporters counts, but you do not need "most" of the population or anywhere near it. Successful revolutions are generally championed by 1-2% of a population. That's all we need.
As we approach step III, it makes the most sense for us to find candidates to take local offices and show that our ideas can succeed, gaining more trust from the general population. Ours is not a revolution but a peaceful transition.
You can help by joining us, and convincing others who are leaders in thought in your community to take a look at what we have to offer.