Global Meta-Politics (with a Touch of Comedy)

Tower of Babel by Pieter Brueghell used by Maria as model in the Film Metropolis

A meta-organization is an organization for organizations, which can implement a specific or multiple specific organizations; use them as necessary; and dissolve them when the aims have been achieved.

Global meta-politics can be thought of as the prime mover behind the globalized politics of today. It gives the impression of political choice where none actually exists. Or a choice like between Coke and Pepsi. Or Coke and Diet Coke.

Where choices actually exist (hopefully), the political organizations implemented by a meta-organization aim to demolish them and replace them with a standard globalized two-party political system, as practiced in the Imperial Headquarters of the 20th and (particularly) the 21st century. The two parties undergo constant changes as and when required. Their names preferably remain constant for as long as possible, but their politics can be very fluid, dictated less by the popular needs or demands and more by the aims of the meta-organization.

In fact, one of the jobs of the implemented organizations is to shape the demands of the people, and often the needs of the people to make even (electoral) democracies serve the goals of the meta-organization(s). This is one of the key aspects of meta-politics.

In some cases, new parties — beyond the standard two or the number of existing parties — may also be implemented, if that is what is required to shift the equilibrium towards the desired outcomes. This usually is needed when one or more parties cannot be brought under the requisite degree of control of the meta-organization.

Often though, it is easier to infiltrate the existing parties to change their nature. Or to ‘win them over’ if that is possible. Some meta-organizations are very good at winning committed people over, and thus winning over organizations. They are relentless and have unlimited patience. It is as if they operate in cosmological time.

A one-party system can also be allowed, depending on the local circumstances. The advantage of a one party system is that you just have to win over one party for that whole region. Even if you can’t win that party over, it is easier to negotiate with just one party. The disadvantage is that the party can go ‘rogue’. It is very easy to locate an example of a rogue one party system. Think N. K.

Even when a one party system goes rogue, it serves a very useful purpose: That of a Bogeyman. You can divert the blame for anything and everything (even untrue things) on the Bogeyman. You can manufacture problems and, in the name of attacking the Bogeyman, you can attack anyone you want. Those would usually be your enemies, or those who need to be scapegoated.

The implementation details, as always, are not really important as long as the implementation is effective and efficient. As we know in engineering, it first has to be effective and only then to be efficient. Efficiency without effectiveness is meaningless.

Come to think of it, meta-organizations work on the basis of philosophies which have strong cosmological underpinnings. It is difficult to situate them on the conventional Left-Right political scale, even though they may appear to be on that scale at a very clear point at any given moment of time.

What does being an Empire in the 21st century mean? Apart from most of what it meant in the past, it means things like this.

What are the aims of the meta-organization(s)? Well, the immediate or medium term goals may vary a great deal, as much as they need to, sometimes as much as they can, but the highest goal is some kind of The Greater Good or The Higher Cause. There is, you know, always a Higher Cause, to justify whatever it is that you are doing. Ethics? Morality? Legality? The answer is always The Greater Good. The Higher Cause.

What Good? What Cause? Good for whom? Cause for what? Cause for whom? The cost of that? Who pays the cost? Who benefits? That is all decided by the top-brass of the meta-organization(s), behind closed doors and away from the limelight, of course. After they decide, and when it comes to implementation and enforcement, white can become black and black can become white — public consumption of the propaganda. It might be made to appear that the beneficiary is paying the cost and the actual payer is the beneficiary.

What may be communicated to the implemented organizations may, therefore, be completely different from what is actually decided by the top-brass. The top-brass is always in the shadows. Or, sometimes, hiding in plain sight. They are above accountability and such other nonsense. Those are for lesser mortals.

One kind of implementation that has been found quite effective and efficient in recent years is based on comedy and comedians, or even comic characters, perhaps.

Make no mistake though. Global meta-politics is no laughing matter, except perhaps in the darkest Coenian sense. Jordan Peele was spot on when he said horror and comedy are similar. They are similar not just in (the making of) fiction, but also in reality. It took me years to realize this.

An example of meta-organization? Well, I could give you one so that you can verify the theory, but I don’t have the guts, or even the stamina.

Is there only one meta-organization or are there multiple ones in the world? Frankly speaking, Who Knows? What we do know is that they are there. Or IT is there. Some call them/it the Deep (Global) State, but that has now got conspiracy theory connotations.

Some of the goals of global meta-politics have already been achieved. Some are in the process of being achieved. Some still face challenges in some parts of the world.

Simplistic, of course, but a case of idealized analysis.

The Waldo Moment: Black Mirror (Series 2, Episode 3)

All this is not complete fiction.

[Roast of Donald Trump]

 

[The Apprentice — The Entire 1st Season in 10 minutes]

I haven’t watched the last one above, as I have an acute allergy to Reality Shows of any kind whatsoever, although everything is becoming just that now. This is also the reason I don’t watch any TV news.

Perhaps I too am in a Reality Show somehow. Who Knows? (Or, Who Isn’t?)

[No Joke: Ukrainian Comedian becomes the Country’s President]

More examples of comedic implementations of political organizations? The same again. No guts or stamina.

To be fair, many of us often end up being Useful Idiots for meta-organizations. Some of us realize this sooner or later. Some of us just don’t. Till the end of their lives. It is some of these who often end up apparently ruling the world, or parts of it. It may be pointed out that these can belong to the Left, the Right, or the Centre, although the term seems to have originated from the Left, which was led by people, who — while they talked of the Proletariat as The Elect of Communism — belonged to the Elite and were Intellectuals. They didn’t mind having idiots on their side, but they had contempt for them, as the term suggests.

Leaving aside the liberals (in early and mid-twentieth century: there are hardly any real liberals today, only neo-liberals at best) and the bourgeoisie, who were supposedly termed Useful Idiots by some communists (when the former partly supported the latter), there is no rational or empirical reason to believe that there are no idiots among the Proletariat.

Neo-liberals, one can’t emphasize enough, are only superficially liberal and superficially progressive. So much so, that any neo-conservative today (and sometimes even old-fashioned conservatives) can easily pass off as liberals (meaning neo-liberals), just by having a facade, a fake persona, and practicing some rituals associated with liberalism. This, I have seen first hand, innumerable times. You can easily spot it from online data, if you like.

In case of many people (a lot of people, in fact), it may be a bit unfair to say ‘fake persona’. More accurately, it is the persona that they have to maintain to conform and comply to fit in to whatever group they have associated themselves with, even when they know better. So it applies not just to liberals (or neo-liberals), but to any other ideological/cultural group. This has never been more true than today, in the age of social media and Internet and Behaviour Prediction and Modification.

Where on the political spectrum (Left, Right, Centre) do most of them (Useful Idiots) belong at the current time? Not hard to guess, is it?

Language is a funny thing. While such people are called Useful Idiots, with some justification, they need not actually be idiots. The right word is Suckers, for they are usually committed people and so don’t care so much about their personal benefit as they do for The Higher Cause or The Greater Good. To quote Somerset Maugham from The Razor’s Edge:

[After the three temptations of the Devil] Jesus said: Get thee hence, Satan. That’s the end of the story according to the good simple Matthew. But it wasn’t. The devil was sly and he came to Jesus once more and said: If thou wilt accept shame and disgrace, scourging, a crown of thorns and death on the cross, thou shalt save the human race, for greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Jesus fell. The devil laughed till his sides ached, for he knew the evil men would commit in the name of their redeemer…

This is the definition of the Most Useful Idiot for meta-organizations and their implemented specific organizations (or combinations of them).

They don’t always end up being crucified (in a manner of speaking, lest someone gets offended), but often they can be. And then they can be martyrs or icons for their Higher Causes, if they get lucky. They can continue to be Useful Idiots even after their life ends.

But Maugham also wrote:

…self-sacrifice is a passion so overwhelming that beside it even lust and hunger are trifling. It whirls its victim to destruction in the highest affirmation of his personality. The object doesn’t matter; it may be worthwhile or it may be worthless. No wine is so intoxicating, no love so shattering, no vice so compelling. When he sacrifices himself, man for a moment is greater than God, for how can God, infinite and omnipotent, sacrifice himself? At best he can only sacrifice his only begotten son.

In my profession, and in allied professions, people don’t fall for Saving the World. But they easily fall for Changing the World. Honestly speaking, it’s not falling most of the time, not even an excuse really. It’s just a fig leaf rationalization.

One of the eternal questions, then. Where to draw the line? How to know whether it is worthwhile or not? How to know that you are not just being a Useful Idiot, paving the way for Greater Evil, masquerading as Higher Cause or Greater Good?

For example, in writing The Razor’s Edge, did Maugham himself become a Useful Idiot? Not so easy to answer.

By the way, like so many negative terms, Useful Idiot can also be just a plain abuse term, without any meaning or justification. Even for this, it is hard to draw the line. Still, one can find some solace in the fact that when it is used simply as a term of abuse, it is quite often used by people who are themselves Useful Idiots. Or worse: just plain idiots, or at most, Flying Monkeys. This last one may account for a majority of its usage.

An alternative and less offensive term for Useful Idiot is Useful Innocent. A Dog Whistle for Useful Idiot is Forest Gump. A more gruesome, Get-Out-ish Dog Whistle is (Human) Natural Resources. What are our Natural Resources doing IN THEM?

To borrow words from Arundhati Roy, the Dog Whistles for the term Useful Idiot are saying (perhaps looking down from their satellites), “What is our intelligence, our talent, our knowledge, our ideas doing in their brains?”. They are our raw materials. Their bodies are our instruments. And if they don’t realize this, we will have to teach them to behave. For the Greater Good or for the Higher Cause. If they don’t comply, we can always play the narcissism card, one of the Magic Words.

The trouble with using terms like Useful Idiot or Flying Monkey is that they are only used for individuals. In practice, however, whole groups or organizations or institutions can function as Useful Idiots or Flying Monkeys.

There are so many psychological (negative-abusive) terms involving the word ‘narcissism’ that one feels like coining another one: Narcissism of Useful Idiot. Here is an exemplar of this phenomenon:

I Wanted Ronald Reagan. India Kept Electing Bernie Sanders.

How dare a country of 1.3 billion people do that in a democracy, against MY wishes?

Keeping aside the total misrepresentation of facts and of turning black into white and white into black, or black into blacker and white into whiter, you can also note here that, for The New York Times (and their ilk), Ronald Reagan is officially a ‘liberal’ now. Are you still surprised? Who does the Narcissistic Useful Idiot (or is he one of those hiding in plain sight?) of a branch of a meta-organization want? George Bush Sr. in India? Bill Clinton? George Bush Jr., the Neo-conservative? Barack Obama, the Great Neo-liberal of the 21st Century? Donald Trump, a mish-mash maverick of Neo-conservatism plus Neo-liberalism, more to the right of both? No, that’s not far enough. More likely A.H. (without the defeat in the World War and the end of the Third Reich), perhaps with a touch of Netanyahu, or someone more extreme from that country (which country?).

Talk of victims becoming perpetrators.

Why did I skip directly from Ronald Reagan to Trump and Netanyahu? That is because India in the late 1960s and 1970s was not the same as the US in the same period. India was barely out of a long period of colonialism, whereas the US was at the peak of its Imperial Triumph and national prosperity.

Mind you, the prosperity of the US, like that of other Free World (or First World) Countries in general (including of the Scandinavian countries and of Switzerland) was financed from the following most important sources:

  1. Old-style marauding colonialism, plus conquest of whole continents
  2. Slave trade that lasted centuries
  3. Usurpation from temporary colonies around the world where the US waged wars, maintained military bases and arranged coup d’etats (talk of hypocrisy about meddling in the elections of other countries), as necessary, to ensure their own prosperity, that is the prosperity of their Elites (and to some extent of their populations, at the expense of the Global South).
  4. F. D. Roosevelt’s (whatever may have been his compulsions) New-Deal, which was welfare-based (inspired by aspects of Socialism) and still one of the bases of the relative prosperity of the US society today, which, by the way, Ronald Reagan and his successors began to demolish. And the results are in front of us.
  5. Major scientific and technological innovations carried out by government agencies, funded by taxpayer dollars (mostly of the non-rich) and handed out, as part of corporate subsidies, to the corporations and the filthy-rich. Internet is just one example.

India, on the other hand, in the late 1960s and 1970s was barely out of colonialism. It had no colonies. No outside military bases. No slave trade. No usurpation from temporary colonies. And no New Deal, no Marshall Plan, no Reforms of the Willy Brandt variety. It couldn’t even be a small Oasis in the Desert to be created with colonial support by expelling people living there for ages, providing Absolution for centuries of virulent anti-semitism and innumerable pogroms and constant persecution, culminating in the Holocaust. And so India, like many other former colonies, attempted a bit of Socialism. The truth is Socialism in India never really took off. All we had was License-Permit Raj and the continuation of most of the colonial apparatus (to this day), barring some changes which can’t be dismissed out of hand, but were far from sufficient for the sub-continent sized country with the second largest population in the world. This was augmented by Crony Industrialism (manufacture-based). Then, soon after the Berlin wall fell, it turned into Crony Capitalism (purely capital-based). Then it further turned into another kind of Crony Capitalism (purely speculation-based) as the 21st Century dawned. Finally, it has turned into, what can only be called Corporate Crony-ism, like in most of the world. That’s where we are now. No sign of Ram Manohar Lohia (only the ghosts of him and other Socialists — of some or the other kind — like Bhagat Singh, Subhash Chandra Bose, Nehru and so on: even Vivekananda, the supposed hero of the current dispensation, declared himself at one point to be a Socialist, all of whom are national heroes of almost all political parties in India, even when they don’t realize or deliberately ignore the Socialist connections of these figures). No sign, at present, of Bernie Sanders.

I wonder whether such comparisons or categories are all that suitable to India. Just compare India and the US from various points of view, including those data-based. Keep in mind the demographics, in particular. Then you will get an idea of what monumental nonsense this Collective-Narcissism-of-the-Useful-Idiot variety is peddling.

The Global South is still very much under colonialism: neo-colonialism, quite apart from the continuation of the old colonial apparatus. Wealth is still moving from the Global South to the Global North. Wealth doesn’t get created out of thin air. It has to come from somewhere, even if it can increase within limits. Do your basic math properly, if you are really interested in equitable global wealth, not just the wealth of a tiny number and to some extent their hanger ons.

Why, for one thing, is income/wealth inequality the highest perhaps in history today? Globally also, but among the highest particularly in India (also the US, by the way)? Where has all the wealth gone (whether new was created or not)? From where?

What India actually needed was Willy Brandt (even without the Marshall Plan). Or, at least, an FDR with a New Deal (without the Imperialism). So that some kind of social welfare and educational infrastructure and healthcare and scientific development could take hold in India, affordable for all of the population. That never happened. Why that never happened is a different story (partly covered above), but the blame was not so much on the label Socialism (or even the ideas of Socialism) as on the charlatans who hijacked that label. Just like the global neo-liberals of today have hijacked liberalism and progressivism and feminism and even LGBTQ and racial/immigrant rights.

If the current rulers of India are Bernie Sanders (based on his claims: he is yet to come to power), then I am Albert Einstein, William Shakespeare, Stanley Kubrick and Mozart combined. Or may be more.

Willy Brandt is mentioned above solely in the context of the Reforms he initiated in West Germany, leading to the Welfare State there, due to which Germany is still prosperous today, with relatively less degree of income inequality (in spite of Helmut Kohl and Angela Merkel, another one the newest ‘liberal’ icons). Something similar happened in other European countries. These Reforms, ironically (or perhaps not) were crucial in bringing down the Soviet Empire. Tragically (or one should say, villainously), the word Reforms (and even Liberalization) has come to mean the very opposite of what it did for Willy Brandt and even for the Scandinavian countries, especially in the context of India. This is what neo-liberalism truly means: transfer of wealth from the poor to the rich, where rich means extremely, obscenely, filthy rich, not your teacher-professor-middle-class-rich.

To recap the above few paragraphs:

I Wanted Ronald Reagan. India Kept Electing Bernie Sanders.

Coming from the person it does, this is the very definition of Corporate Crony-ism. Forget about Crony Capitalism. We are long past that.

The above, by the way, is not a random quotation.

The difference between Neo-conservatism and Neo-liberalism is of tokenisms, rituals, cosmetics, optics, facades and charades.

And, above all, of lollipops.

Did you know that lollipop (or lollypop) is a synonym of sucker? Isn’t that cosmologically appropriate (even if it — the synonym part — has a slight technical flaw)?

Moving on, in fact, as far as individuals are concerned, one may wonder if there is even a single one of us (including those in the top brass of the meta-organizations) who is not, in some sense, a Useful Idiot. In the words of Bob Dylan, We Gotta Serve Somebody:

[We Gotta Serve Somebody]

If you are talking about the problems of the world or the society, and you insist on talking only about the individuals, then you are not really going to get anywhere. That is, if you are indeed honestly trying to get somewhere.

One can also find solace in the fact that one of the causes of the downfall of communism was that they thought that no one will ever realize that they are being used as Useful Idiots for The Higher Cause.

They did.

Idiocy, by the way, is also often mixed up with just plain ignorance or the lack of exposure, so one has to be careful while using this term. In this sense, it is a phenomenon that interacts with privilege, the lack of which is highly correlated with ignorance and lack of exposure. This, the best among the communists, did realize.

The keyword is ‘correlated’. There is no guarantee, of course, that the privileged will not be ignorant, or lack exposure, or be idiots.

About the lack of guts, Trump, as many of us know and acknowledge, is quite an easy target, so not much guts required, nor much stamina, nor much scholarship. In New York and Washington, D.C., for example, anyone, even (or one should say especially) federal government employees can take potshots publicly, as part of their official duties, at Trump.

Unless, of course, you live in a place dominated by While Supremacists in the USA. Or, if you are an undocumented immigrant in that country (or any other Free World country).

N.K. is also an easy target: From outside N. K.

A. H. is also an easy target. After the end of The Third Reich.

[Full Metal Jacket — Mickey Mouse Song]

And where does The Greater Good or The Higher Cause may lead us? Scientifically speaking, I don’t know. To dilute that a bit, I don’t know for sure.

At first, one might be tempted to think it would look like this:

White Christmas: Black Mirror (Special Episode)

Or this:

Hated in the Nation: Black Mirror (Series 3, Episode 6)

But it’s much more likely to look like this:

Safe and Sound: Electric Dreams (Season 1, Episode 9)

Or this:

K. A. O.: Electric Dreams (Season 1, Episode 10)

Perhaps not that extreme, but something along those lines.

We already have a milder version of this going around all over the world under different Greater Causes:

Men Against Fire: Black Mirror (Series 3, Episode 5)

Without the implant. Actually, there is an implant, but it’s not yet physical-AI type. It’s something that was a word. Now it has been made into another Magic Word. It’s effect is, in fact, magical, just like the implant which makes you see what they want you to see and only that. To be accurate, there isn’t just a word. There is a lot of training for those who have to do the killing. For the rest, there is whole lot of propaganda. However, the word under consideration crystallizes the effect of both these. It also acts as a trigger word.

There are many such magical words. More about them later.

Which word? You probably have guessed it. Otherwise, not now.

Check out Collective Narcissism vs. Individual Narcissism. Just like collective metaphorical insanity, collective narcissism is exponentially more dangerous than individual narcissism.

While using these terms, however, one has to be really fair in applying them. Consider, for example, American Exceptionalism, as practiced and articulated ad nauseam by not only ‘populists’ (that much abused term), but by American Presidents themselves, Democrats included.

How many times did Barack Obama (let alone others), the Nobel Peace Price winner and the great symbol of American Democracy and ‘liberalism’, as well as a target of Conspiracy Theories, use the phrases “the Greatest Nation on Earth” or “the Greatest Country on Earth” for the USA (the in-group, as against the out-group of the rest of the world) in his presidential addresses, no less? Was he widely panned for this by the ‘educated’ and ‘balanced’ media, or called out by even the psychologists who work on Collective Narcissism? Did he get applause whenever he uttered these words?

Don’t just go blaming the unwashed masses.

About the connection between Collective Narcissism and other phenomena, one needs to be noted in this context. There are Conspiracy Theories and then there are real conspiracies. It is not considered odd to accuse an individual or a relatively small/weak group of a conspiracy (it is commonplace, in fact, even in courts of law), but somehow powerful and ultra-powerful groups, with a LOT to loose and a LOT to gain and the least chances of being discovered, are considered incapable of indulging in conspiracies. What kind of logic is that? Do we not know that power (at least tends to) corrupt?

In any case, The Greater Good or The Higher Cause do not necessarily need to rely on conspiracies in the usual sense of the word.

Digression aside, the worst will be when there will be just one group. Like in K. A. O.

It’s just simple math.

Haven’t you noticed the signs yet?

Philip K. Dick has already proved to be a better predictor of our technological and moral/ethical/legal future. Some of what he predicted has almost been realized (the qualifier ‘almost’ is only for the good part of what he predicted). And it has been normalized. Pre-crime, for instance. Perfectly normal now. Moral. The Right Thing to Do. So much so that to oppose it is to become a hate figure: In the age when Human Behaviour Prediction (and Modification) is the Top Product of our economy and going up, with no dip in the graph in sight in the foreseeable future. And to think that just a few years ago there was a Spielberg movie made about this as a cautionary tale about a dystopia. The Wikipedia page of the movie, in fact, refers to the movie as a neo-noir science-fiction film. I always thought it was a dystopian science-fiction film, a genre in which Philip K. Dick excelled. Talk about Orwellian nature of truth.

It’s not the individuals, it’s the meta-organization, stupid. Individuals are not important for the meta-organization(s), as they can come in the way of The Greater Good or The Higher Cause. At least their version of it. They come under collateral damage. Sometimes, if necessary, organizations and institutions can also come under collateral damage.

Individuals are easy targets. Even the most powerful individuals are relatively easy targets. Powerful organizations are not. Powerful meta-organizations most certainly are not. The adjective in the last sentence is redundant, because meta-organizations are, by definition, powerful. Ultra-powerful is a better description.

Is there an alternative to the bleak scenarios suggested above? There are always better alternatives. How much better is one question. For a very good one (alternative, that is), another questions is, are we up to it? How do we make sure that The Greater Good or The Higher Cause does not corrupt whatever we try? Is there a way through lesser causes? (Lesser causes do not include empty rituals and cosmetics or even superficial measures. Definitely not mere ‘optics’.) Without collateral damage? What about the meta-organization(s)?

Talking of causes, what is crime and, particularly, punishment, the current obsession, or, to be accurate, the current state of this old obsession:

Shut Up and Dance: Black Mirror (Series 3, Episode 3)

What is sin?

[A Clockwork Orange, Ultra Violence]

If Beethoven has to be the collateral damage, so be it. Perhaps Beethoven deserves it.

You know, by the logic of Guilt by Association, another dystopian notion come true in the moral/ethical/legal domain.

And what is violence? What is ultra-violence? It’s clear for the individual. For the collective, well, Anything Goes:

[Anything Goes (In) Court Martial — Monty Python’s Flying Circus]

For the individual, or for the blacklisted people, it’s Zero Tolerance:

Metalhead: Black Mirror (Series 4, Episode 5)

My usage of the term meta-organization above is different from the one used in Management Studies, as far as I can tell, although I am not an expert in that area. I didn’t really know that this term existed. I do know however, that most terms in that area are very much sanitized and anti-septic, so they are unlikely to be of use in the above context, unless they are used with a large dose of irony.

The term metapolitics is also used in metalinguistics, but that’s not the same sense as used here.

If it has not already been made clear, always beware of The Greater Good (TGG) or The Higher Cause (THC), whoever might be arguing for it and under whatever circumstances. If you argue against some questionable actions or proposals and your argument finally runs into TGG or THC wall, then take it as a sign of great danger ahead.

You think A. H. or Stalin corrupted the system? You are dead wrong. They did their part. It worked for them because they could employ some TGG or THC in their service.

Evil is, indeed, banal. And it begins at 15 volts:

Here is Jack London, a genuinely great figure in Socialism, also an influence over George Orwell (particularly for his Down and Out in London and Paris):

Hawthorne was the first critic to notice London’s obsession with “Anglo-Saxon superiority”. He commented that “The sea-flung Northmen, great muscled, deep-chested, sprung from the elements, men of sword and sweep… the dominant races come down out of the North … a great race, half the earth its heritage and all the sea! In three score generations it rules the world!” London told his friend, Cloudesley Johns: “I do not believe in the universal brotherhood of man… I believe my race is the salt of the earth… Socialism is not an ideal system devised for the happiness of all men; it is devised for the happiness of certain kindred races. It is devised so as to give more strength to these certain kindred favoured races so that they may survive and inherit the earth to the extinction of the lesser, weaker races.”

And here is David Lloyd George, the last Liberal Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, who also believed in many Socialist ideas, like most liberals of that time:

In September 1936 David Lloyd George visited Nazi Germany. On his return to Britain he wrote: “I have just returned from a visit to Germany. … I have now seen the famous German leader and also something of the great change he has effected…. One man has accomplished this miracle. He is a born leader of men. A magnetic dynamic personality with a single-minded purpose, a resolute will, and a dauntless heart. He is the national Leader. He is also securing them against that constant dread of starvation which is one of the most poignant memories of the last years of the war and the first years of the Peace. The establishment of a German hegemony in Europe which was the aim and dream of the old prewar militarism, is not even on the horizon of Nazism.”

Not even on the horizon of Nazism? In 1936? Even without the benefit of the hindsight?

Here is Winston Churchill, not quoted out of context, but in full. The full quote is very long, so I don’t copy it here. Here is an example of how he is viewed in India. Even within the UK, people try to deny or pretend not to know the major part of his legacy.

Is it any wonder then that not much thought was given even in 1936 to the dangers of Nazism? Racism was not invented by A. H. Nor was nationalism. Nor Eugenics. Nor anti-semitism. Nor genocide. Nor militarism. Not even Fascism. Not even World War or Global Domination. It will be more accurate to say that all these invented A. H. and Nazism.

Not just that, chemical weapons were not invented by The Third Reich. Nor were nuclear weapons (though they tried to). Nor were biological weapons. Certainly not the IT weapons.

A. H. and Nazism are considered the original and singular Epitome of Pure and Ultimate Evil. Does that fit with the above cold, bare facts, especially given that some of the weapons of mass destruction they did not even have access to?

Ultimate, perhaps, may be, in an historical sense. Epitome, Pure and Original, definitely not.

As the current wisdom from some of the really wisest people goes: Know Thyself. Not just as a protection from the ever widening reach of the algorithms and perhaps to cut yourself off from the rest of the people (an unintended interpretation?), but also to know the evil within us, which Hannah Arendt and others talked about. The individual evil that ultimately forms the Collective Evil.

Thyself means you. Not me. Not that other person. Not that third person. You. Thy-self.

To know me is my job. My business. My-self.

The Algebra of Evil

There is individual evil and there is collective evil. There is a simple but terrifying relationship between the two, which can roughly be expressed algebraically as:

E = a * (E_S) + b * exp(e_s, n) + c * exp(e_p, n)

where E is the total collective evil, e (>1) is the individual evil, S denotes collective social circumstances, s denotes individual circumstances and p denotes the personal. The co-efficients are a, b and c. n is the number of individuals in the collective. Underscore denotes subscript.

Of course, the actual equation is unknown. The crux of the matter is that the relationship between individual evil and collective evil is exponential, so even teeny-tiny bits of individual evils, when joined together, give a very large value of collective evil, because the combining effect is multiplicative. That is what matters, exponentially more than the individual evil.

In this equation, the role played by personal individual evil is negligible. It is the collective part that makes the magnitude of total evil in the world as dangerous as it is.

It is a simple lesson, but most of our salaries depends on not understanding this simple relationship. Or it interferes with whatever Higher Cause we are affiliated with. Understanding it is considered so dangerous that you may be denounced and ex-communicated (or worse) for articulating it.

Oh, I am aware of the criticism of the Stanford experiment and of the Milgram Experiment. What I have learnt in research is that, often, if you are shown results that you like, the experimental flaws can be excused and ignored, but if the results are not to your liking (or to the liking of those who pay your salary), then the experiment is scrutinized heavily and likely to be declared faulty. The degree of scrutiny is how you can identify this tendency.

Who decides what are the good results? That brings us back to meta-organization(s).

But we do love to put it all on the individual and imagine a happy ending (at least sort of) and ignore our own part in the resulting evil:

USS Calister: Black Mirror (Series 4, Episode 1)

This particular episode, by the way, is one of the best representations of the Behviourist world-view (the dominant philosophy of today, on which modern AI is based) come to (virtual) life. Even the great Rainer Werner Fassbinder reportedly fell to its lure.

Except that the A**hole God of USS Callister won’t be an individual. Even if an individual, it won’t be a socially inept vulnerable and isolated individual with widely known weaknesses and no allies.

It will be like it is now. The identity will be unknown. We will not be sure about the very existence of such a God. Like that of Big Brother (or O’Brien for that matter) in 1984. We won’t even know if there is zero God, one God or many such Gods. Why not many?

And on our way to that, we are not going to worry much about the unintended consequences:

Crocodile: Black Mirror (Series 4, Episode 3)

Arkangel: Black Mirror (Series 4, Episode 2)

It’s not that no one has any idea about the exponential relationship between individual evil and collective evil. It is quite intuitive and it can be found even in popular wisdom, such as the Hindi saying which says 1 and 1 make 11. Or the Bundle of Sticks fable. Yes, that is solidarity and it is assumed to be a Good Thing. But like all things with possibilities for good, we somehow collectively tend to go towards the possibilities for bad.

Coming back to evil, it’s just that the common fallacy, useful for meta-organization(s), is to think that the solution lies in curtailing individual evil, whereas the solution is somehow through curtailing collective evil, because that’s where the exponential part is. The exponent is in the collective, and in the circumstances.

This, of course, is far easier said than done. It’s a very hard problem with probably a very hard solution and we don’t want a very hard solution.

One thing is sure though. The solution is NOT Skinner’s Conditioning or Reinforcement Learning for Humans. That is not a solution: It is the evil itself. It is a learning algorithm for the society that ultimately maximizes collective evil. And it is guaranteed to converge.

What about Supervised Learning and Unsupervised Learning? More about that later.

The path could be through the old-fashioned Post-Enlightenment ideas of allowing the innate, natural potential for the best in individuals and groups to be realized by the society. It’s a slow and hard solution and we only vaguely know how to implement it. But then the meta-organizations have almost cosmological patience. That needs to be kept in mind. Nature itself works slowly. Only disasters and calamities happen very fast.

Where we need to be fast is in avoiding paths that are guaranteed to lead to disasters and calamities.

But we prefer a greedy approach that gives quick, quantifiable results. Even that, we can’t do very well.

This is the dark side of solidarity, which we like to avoid thinking about. But by saying this, I don’t mean this. That’s the risk of pointing out the dark side of solidarity.

Why is this so? If only one knew the answer to that. Still, there are partial explanations.

By the way, where does Alex, the Ultra-violent kid of Clockwork Orange, go when he is ‘cured’? He joins the mainstream and becomes a Warrior for Mechanized Superhuman Collective Evil. You may recall that his equally ultra-violent buddies (fellow group members) had already joined Law Enforcement, without the necessity of being cured in any way whatsoever – as they were. They were the ones who, as Law Enforcement Agents, tormented him between his first cure and his second cure. He gets killed in self-defence by a Flawed Hero, but the Mechanized Collective Evil not only lives on, and is made further Superhuman by Collectives of Psychos who Make the World Safe for Democracy. So It Goes.

But we need at an example of real collective evil, that is, collective evil in real life, not fiction? Here is one:

The Confession Tapes

[The Confession Tapes Trailer]

All episodes in this documentary series are chilling, but one stands out in particular, because it deals with a globally organized phenomenon, and therefore much more dangerous:

Season 2, Episode 4: The Marching Orders

I have been kind of preoccupied with Collective Evil for a long time, but this one still ‘blew my mind away’. For some more moral context, have you watched What’s Eating Gilbert Grapes?

After watching this episode, does the phrase ‘rape, abduction and (possible) murder’ (as in Rape and Pillage during wars in the centuries and years gone by) come to your mind? Is #MeToo allowed for victims of that? You probably owe your prosperity and may be even your existence to that. As Peete Seeger said, we are all descendants of Good Killers (good meaning efficient).

Here we have Robert Mueller, following in the tradition of that Great One –  J. Edgar Hoover – among those Making the World Safe for Democracy. He is an authority relied on in this area of research and implementation even by the ‘radical left’ whistle-blowing exceptional media outlet, right on the fringes of investigative journalism, including and particularly that goes against the powers that be (a very rare thing these days). He is as important a figure in the History of Evil as Dick Cheney, whose wet dreams Barack Obama lived, before Trump arrived in the White House.

Am I reducing men to their penises and objectifying them? I know a case like that can be made, but in this particular instance?

There are many worse but similar examples of Collective Evil that I could give from real life, documented ones. Well researched one. No guts.

Not valid because based on anecdotal evidence? Be honest with yourself.

Law of Standing Up

Standing up for anything non-trivial that goes against the powers that be has never been easy. It makes them see you (in a not-benevolent manner). That is why the Monty Pythons told us that one of the way to avoid being seen is not to stand up:

[How Not to be Seen: Monty Python’s Flying Circus]

It is not entirely true that you can’t stand up for anything. The above sketch may be a little exaggerated (as intended). The thing is, at least in democracies (or societies containing many groups), you can stand up for someone or something within very strict constraints. For truth and justice, for example. Or for those who are being wronged. Or against something: falsehood or injustice.

The Law of Standing Up describes one of the constraints for such standing up. It says:

If you stand up for everyone (who is being wronged), no one will stand up for you.

This is not very obvious from conscious reasoning, but most people know it intuitively. And they obey this law, because not obeying it is one of the most costly things an individual can do in his or her life.

See, it works like this. There are many groups in the world. Many organizations (implemented or not) and many institutions. And, of course, there are more than seven billion individuals. You have to choose which group(s) you get yourself affiliated with. The affiliations can change, but as long as you have them, you have to keep something in mind, which is inviolable. In principle, standing up for those who are being wronged is acceptable (almost) everywhere. However, in practice, whatever may be your affiliations, there are certain groups or organizations or individuals that you are NOT supposed to stand up for, NO MATTER WHAT.

The world works by conflicts. For that to happen, under no condition should anyone stand up for everyone. For if that were to be encouraged, many of the conflicts may get resolved, which are needed for THC or TGG, that is, for the meta-organizations. The unsaid assumption, therefore, is:

Our side(s) is/are always right. The opposite side(s) is/are always wrong.

This assumption is what makes it so dangerous to stand up for everyone. There are certain people (groups, organizations) you simply cannot be allowed to stand up for, even if they are being wronged, depending on your affiliations.

If you oppose a group, you not only become the enemy of the group, you become the personal enemy of every individual in the group. You will be targeted accordingly.

If you stand up for everyone, then you will have to, at some point or the other, whatever may be your preferred affiliation, oppose everyone. Then everyone will become your enemy. Your personal enemy.

Well, of course, not literally (not seven billions plus people). The point is that all kinds of people will become not just your ideological enemies, but your personal enemies. They may then take it upon themselves to punish you and teach you a lesson. They may keep doing that.

There is security in obeying the Law of Standing Up. Being affiliated with some group(s) gives you some protection. If you follow the above assumption, then, even if you oppose some person(s) or group(s) or organizations(s), you will have the protection of those who are opposed to them, or at least of those you are affiliated with. If you don’t, you won’t get any protection from any one.

To be everyone’s enemy, you don’t have to be yourself everyone’s enemy. That is not required, even if it were possible. What is required is just that you are, in the true sense, no one’s enemy. And show it by standing up for everyone.

In the 21st century, we have seen, quite literally, the working of the world on the basis of the above assumption, which is the False Dichotomy fallacy. It’s not just common, it’s universally practiced. And now it is being encoded in AI.

Remember ‘you are either with us or against us’? That was not just George Bush Jr., who by the way, has now become almost a ‘liberal’ icon.

To give another specific example, any of Trump’s long time buddies who falls out with him, automatically gets the support of a large section of the ‘liberals’. Anyone who is not Trump is good enough now, even if he or she is far worse than Trump. So it is with other ideological orientations. It is true for even specific issues. This is due to the combination of the above assumption with excessive focus on the individual.

That is why Person-Cancelling (a super-dystopian notion) is such a big thing now. Ideally, it should be a wakeup call for everyone, because anyone, SIMPLY ANYONE, whosoever he or she may be, can get cancelled for one or the other reason. It seems to largely depend on luck. About who will get cancelled next. One of the things it reminds one of is Mao’s Cultural Revolution; only it is worse.

Even to oppose Person-Cancelling can get you into trouble. You might be cancelled yourself. Guilt by Association again. Or you might even be blatantly harassed, publicly, in the guise of reporting.

At one point in the above interview, Laura Poitras had to plead:

Can we talk about the film that I made?

The ‘interviewer’ (more like inquisitor) droned on at one point, and she finally had to engage with his “denounce Assange now, or else” drift:

But there’s propaganda, and then there are the things that I’ve mentioned, which are actual things that happened that raise serious red flags.

So tell me your theory. What’s your theory? And what’s the evidence for the theory?

[Another round of inquisition]…

[Laughs] Go do that reporting. Go ahead, I’d love for you to do that reporting. The question I have, and I don’t know if anyone has answered it, is: Was he being played or not being played? Did he know or not know? He could have been being played. But I also think the other question that you need to ask is: Do you think the DNC emails are not newsworthy? And the Podesta emails?

This is classic example of How to Kill a Good Cause, in this case, that of gender-based bias and injustice. The Useful Idiots and Flying Monkeys are in charge of this cause now, and the genuine supporters of this cause are being systematically either marginalized or targeted and ‘neutralized’, another one of those anti-septic psychopathic terms, used to great political effect.

Standing up for everyone can lead to not just cancelling by some people or groups (say, fans of a celebrity), but universal cancelling. Perhaps for all time to come. It leads to becoming fair game for everyone.

In terms of group behaviour, how on earth can Person-Cancelling be assumed to be restricted to ‘good causes’ (even if we assume that was somehow justified). It’s just about which group has more power, ultimately. And groups almost always have more power than individuals. It is socially-sanctioned vigilantism taken to its logical conclusion.

Such solidarity can be called the Lynch Mob Solidarity. It’s more common than most people want to believe.

Should we posthumously cancel Jack London, not to mention Rudyard Kipling? Even if we do that, what do we do with Sophie Scholl?

Why not death penalty for the cancelled people or of members of the cancelled groups? Why not public beheadings in the town square? With videos circulated on the Internet? Or burning cancelled people at the stake? After all, once they have been cancelled, what life do they have? Of what use they are to the society or themselves? There can at least be public entertainment at their expense, as there is/was in these two cases. Also, examples can be made for others to see.

Sounds familiar?

That will teach them!

The Presumption of Innocence until proven guilty has now been turned on its head. And taken way beyond. Also normalized.

This presumption was for those accused of crimes, i.e., criminal acts. Now, it need not even be a crime. A crime may not have been committed.

One of the extremely cruel ironies of human life in a society is that, there is a conditional converse of the Law of Standing Up, which says:

If you don’t really stand up for anyone or anything (even if you pretend to), then, if you play your cards right and the circumstances favour you, there is good chance that a lot of people (even an amazingly large number of people) will stand up for you. They might even worship you. You do have to stand against something, very hatefully. Often just that is enough.

The collective psychology ensures that if people are given the following two choices:

  1. We will make your life better (everyone says so: it need not be convincing at all, or have any credibility) and we will act strongly against (who you think are) your enemies (this one has credibility).
  2. We will do this and this and this within this time period, using this plan or this plan to make your life definitely better (even if you are quite convincing). We will also take on your enemies (not very convincing).

Then they are more likely to go for the first choice. It is somewhat like a person saying, I may not make my own life better, I may be going down, but I will take down my enemies with me. There is, however, a self-deceptive hope that I might survive the disaster after the enemies have been taken down and my life might be better. Needless to say, the ‘enemies’ need not even be enemies.

All the worst man-made disasters have worked through collective evil. The above is just a particularly senseless version of such evil.

If only it were a wakeup call!

We are hurtling down a Black Hole, happily and eagerly.

Let’s just hope there is a Wormhole through it.

Who is ‘we’? Who is ‘you’? That’s for another day.

Today (3rd August, 2019), I once again looked up for the term meta-politics on a search engine. It seems I coined this term independently, because several others, across the political spectrum, have not only used this (or a very similar term) with similar meaning (although not similar interpretation), but have also argued for it. These range from the radical left (anarchists) to the far right (racists: white nationalists) through the academic apologists of the Global Establishment as it already exists.

The full title of Fassbinder’s film Effi Briest goes as follows:

Fontane: Effi Briest or Many People Who Are Aware of Their Own Capabilities and Needs, Just Acquiesce to the Prevailing System in Their Thoughts and Deeds, Thereby Confirm and Reinforce It

Last updated: 3rd August, 2019.

The Moral Laws of Comedy and a Paradox

The Moral Laws of Comedy

According to Eklavya, the three moral laws of comedy can be stated as follows:

  1. The First Law: If you can’t laugh at yourself, you have no right to laugh at others.
  2. The Second Law:If you can’t laugh at more powerful people, then you have no right to laugh at less powerful people, irrespective of where you are on the power spectrum.
  3. The Third Law:If you can’t laugh at the society (or the institution or the group) you live in or belong to, then you have no right to laugh at the individuals in that society (or the institution or the group), including yourself.

An extension to the first law is:

If you can’t laugh at your own society (or institution or group), you have no right to laugh at other societies (or institutions or groups).

The revised (and recommended) statement of the same laws will have the word ‘can’t’ substituted by ‘don’t have the courage to’.

The zeroth moral law of comedy defines ‘laugh’ as a specific kind of laugh that is meant to be a negative comment or critical judgement, such as the laugh associated with ridicule, sarcasm etc. It also defines ‘comedy’ to include humour and satire.

A corollary of these laws is that if you violate any of these laws, then you are not creating comedy (or humour or satire). You are just being mean spirited, petty minded, spiteful, nasty, hateful, bitchy etc.

Simply put, you are being immoral.

A generalization of the laws can also be derived. Such a generalization would apply to criticism and punishment too. Thus, the Moral Laws of Criticism (Punishment) can be given as:

  1. The First Law: If you can’t criticize (punish) yourself, you have no right to criticize (punish) others.
  2. The Second Law:If you can’t criticize (punish) more powerful people, then you have no right to criticize (punish) less powerful people, irrespective of where you are on the power spectrum.
  3. The Third Law:If you can’t criticize (punish) the society (or the institution or the group) you live in or belong to, then you have no right to criticize (punish) the individuals in that society (or the institution or the group), including yourself.

Punishing the society needs some explanation. You can’t obviously punish the society in the way you can punish individuals. And one of the axioms of morality says that collective punishment is immoral, so punishing the society in the above sense can’t mean collective punishment (something whose innumerable manifestations we see in all ages and from all kinds of people, institutions, societies etc.). For the purpose of stating the above laws, punishment of society means changing it in some way. And only that way will be moral which changes it for the better. This sense of punishment, therefore, is nearer to treatment or curing in the medical sense.

The zeroth moral law of criticism (punishment) defines ‘criticism’ in a way that would include the ‘comedy’ mentioned above, thus the generalization.

That extension of the first law also applies here:

If you can’t criticize (punish) your own society, you have no right to criticize (punish) other societies.

The Sin-Song Paradox

Any application of the Moral Laws of Comedy (among other things) is associated with and complicated by a Paradox known as the Sin-Song Paradox.

This moral paradox can be stated (according to Eklavya) as follows:

In most societies, we are taught from our childhood (at least in schools, or perhaps only in schools) that we should hate the sin, not the sinner, i.e., it is wrong to hate the sinner (an individual) and right to hate the sin (an act). However, in practice, the norm in all societies is to hate the sinner, not necessarily the sin (if at all). That is why we have all the systems of punishment, whether legal or social or otherwise.

Similarly, we have another such inversion with regard to systems of belief. Ignoring the cases where a system of belief is respected only because of the power it wields (that being covered by a different moral paradox), we are supposed to (or we pretend to) respect those systems of belief which are shown (or proven) to be rationally and/or morally correct, but in practice, we respect those systems which are advocated by people who are, as individuals, rational and/or moral in their lives and their conduct. In other words, we are supposed to like a song because the song is good (musically and/or lyrically), but in fact we like that song (a system of belief) because the singer is good. The converse is also true.

Thus, in the first case, we focus on the individual, when we should, in fact, be focussing on the act. And in the second case, we focus again on the individual, when we should be focussing on what the individual is saying or advocating. This moral inversion is closely related to violation of the third moral law of comedy, which involves focusing on the individual, when we should actually be focussing on the society.

It is a paradox, and not simply a contradiction between theory and practice because the norm that is followed in practice is assumed to be a moral norm too.

In fact, the violation of the three laws as well the above paradox, all involve wrong focus on the individual, when the focus should be on something else.

From the moral view of the world, it can be derived from the above laws of comedy and the Sin-Song paradox that a lot of our (i.e., the world’s or the society’s) problems stem simply from this wrong focus on the individual.

Screwball Horror

This movie is supposed to belong to a genre called ‘screwball comedy’. Well, there was some comedy in it, of a very black sort, which is fine with me because I like black comedy. It is the kind of comedy found in the real world in the most abundant quantity.

However, what I felt most while watching the movie, especially after the first twenty minutes or so, can only be described by the word ‘horror’. Screwball horror.

The movie I am talking about is called ‘His Girl Friday’. It is a story about an unbelievably unscrupulous newspaper man and another newspaper ‘man’ who is actually a woman and who was previously his wife and his primary reporter. His Girl Friday, as the title says. She is almost equally unscrupulous, but this we find out a bit later into the movie.

Since she is just a bit less unscrupulous than him, she got fed up at one point (before the movie starts) and divorced him to go and become ‘a human being’. At the start of the movie, she seems to be on the way and has found a human being (an insurance agent) to marry (who loves her) and comes to the office of her former husband to inform him of the news.

But her former husband has other designs. He is determined to not let her go. As we find out later, not because he ‘loves’ (whatever that means) her, but because she is too good a reporter (of the kind shown in the movie and of the kind often found in real life) to be let off and also because, as a person, she is of the same flock, and would have been much better off had she stayed married to the reporter.

As it happens, a man is going to be hanged the next day and there is great news capital that can be made out of that. The man happens to be a poor man who was fired after a long spell of loyal service, who started getting drunk and started attending some union meetings just because he had nothing else to do. Then something happened some day and he shot a cop. He says accidentally. The cop happened to be a colored man and the colored vote is important in the locality concerned. So, the governor doesn’t want to give him a reprieve as the elections are coming.

So far so good. But, as the reporter (editor? owner? all in one?) tries every trick in his morally anarchic bag, and after he has got his former wife to stay for a few hours (he has a plan) and interview the convict (which she does) for a great story, the convict escapes during his ‘psychoanalysis’ by a shrink from New York.

The Wikipedia page says this is where the fun begins. I don’t think the statement is accurate. Actually, this is where the little bit of fun (as I understand it) that was there ends and true horror begins.

I don’t have the patience (or the stomach) to describe everything that happens after this. We begin to really understand the distinction made by the screenplay writer between newspaper men and human beings (which a notice at the start of the movie indicates doesn’t apply in the ‘present’ times).

Basically, what we see is almost everyone (newspaper men, cops, politicians etc.) behaving like monsters, except that there is no (visible) blood and gore. Without batting an eyelid. Or bowling an eyelid for that matter.

The game of the hanging to be (which later becomes shooting to be) gets dirtier and dirtier, till we realize that the director is not just showing us a screwball comedy, or a satire, or a black comedy. We realize that the genre to which the movie belongs is that of the blood and the gore which flows thick through the stream of rapid fire dialog but is not directly visible to the eyes.

Because it is not directly visible to the eyes, some people (who don’t look at such things very hard as it might upset their constitution or their life) can understandably call the movie a screwball comedy.

The director has to be given credit for sticking with the idea throughout and not giving us a falsely feel good ending.

Almost all the characters in the movie, who all belong to a particular class, are not bothered, even superficially, by such trifles as deaths of human beings. Even when they might be causing it. They are not shaken even by the most moving emotional outbursts by one of the few ‘human beings’ in the movie who had talked kindly to the man to be hanged and is therefore branded a murderer’s girl friend.

So there is enough horror in the movie to make it feel more like amplified (albeit sanitized) ‘Clockwork Orange’ than, say, ‘Some Like it Hot’ or ‘It Happened One Night’.

But there is some more horror off the film. Like in the movie, this horror can also be seen in the trivia:

  • The director Howard Hawks, who could be perceived to be a closet commie (by many) in this movie, was known to make anti-semitic remarks. Ben Hecht, whose play was adapted for the movie, was Jewish and is known for his anti-Holocaust activism.
  • Rosalind Russell, who played the female lead (the newspaper ‘man’), hired her own writer to ‘punch up’ her dialogs to make them as good as that of Cary Grant, who played the male lead. Did she mean her dialogs were not as horror inducing as that of the Hero?
  • The man to be hanged is white (even if trash) and he had shot a colored cop. Not vice versa, which would be much more likely given the demographic and other statistics.
  • The fact that I mentioned earlier. That this movie is considered to be a screwball comedy. Not even a black comedy.
  • The corollary to the fact mentioned above. That horror can be mistaken for fun and enjoyed accordingly.

I won’t accuse the director for giving us some escapist fare. Not even of making a feel good movie.

Nor of making a comedy.