Friday, June 23, 2017

The Resolution of Ideology

In Antifragile, the author, Taleb, makes a reference to a phenomenon I'd call the resolution of information, but maybe it goes by another name already. The information we gather from data often depends on the scale in which we view it. Imagine some measurement in time. Perhaps the price of a stock index, or the unemployment rate, or the oil flow through a pipeline. If we view the data on an annual scope, we might gather some information from it. We might make out long-term trends and seasonal patterns in the data. The information we gather is the signal, and our task is to separate it from the noise. Suppose the data amounts to 50% signal and 50% noise.

Now imagine we view the same data on a daily scope. Suddenly random market fluctuations will become vastly more significant, with more like 1% signal and 99% noise. If we refine our resolution to hourly data, we will be so saturated with noise that there will be no hope of detecting any meaningful signal.

Taleb notes that this phenomenon highlights the uselessness of 24-hour news coverage. It is saturated with noise. Even if the mainstream media wasn't primarily an outlet for falsehoods, propaganda, and detergent commercials, it would be difficult to gain much of value from it. If the news actually was accurate and impartial, the "information" gained from viewing 24-hour news sources would likely be just confirmation bias of our own worldviews.

Something that has given me great trouble these last few months is that I frequently encounter or befriend people with whom I have much in common. We might share similar outlooks, interests, and attitudes on life. Generally we're on the same wavelength, with one major exception: politics. And as our society becomes increasingly split, being on the opposite side of politics is becoming a bigger and bigger deal. It bothers me that people who I personally align with end up on what is quite certainly the wrong side, and that the separation can be enough to strain, if not outright sever, what would otherwise be perfectly cordial and beneficial relationships.

How can people so loving acquire a political orientation that is so hateful? How can people who are such natural and caring parents side with those who want to destroy the family? How can those who desire a simple, elegant, and peaceful life advocate for the destruction of traditional society? How can those so beautiful and talented join forces with those who see aesthetics and success as inherently evil and oppressive?

The following video really lays out the ideological foundings of the modern left. It is worth viewing for its own sake.

How many of your liberal acquaintances, those who are otherwise decent people, know anything about the core of leftist ideology? How many know that critical theory is really just nihilism or, at least, anti-Westernism? The typical liberal doesn't know about any of this. They know that the left is "pro-environment", and the environment is important to us, so that's good. They know the left is "pro-woman", and we love our women, so that's good. They know the left is in favor of helping the poor, and since our Christian values uphold such belief, then that is good. But those viewpoints are the superficial resolution of the leftist ideology. They are just noise. They don't mean anything. The left isn't really pro-woman when they throw tens of millions of dollars to prevent the Georgia 6th District from electing their first woman congressman. And they aren't pro-gay when they ban gay Trump supporters from gay-pride events or ignore Muslim violence against gays. And they aren't pro-poor when they advocate for open-borders policies.

Most liberals only see the very narrow resolution of the leftist ideology, which doesn't reveal the full signal, which is that the leftism is an ideological movement that is quite open about its desire to destroy our current civilization. It is purely subversive and targets the good, stabilizing aspects of society while encouraging the immoral and destructive. One has trouble separating leftism from the works of Satan as described in Christian literature. They desire to destroy civilization so they can rebuild a better one in its wake. Given their historical record, this isn't likely, but that doesn't mean they won't have success destroying what's already there.

Someone with a narrow resolution will interpret the same message quite differently than someone with a wide resolution. For instance, we might interpret a sinusoid as a perpetually increasing value if we are zoomed in too far. Even when a typical liberal gets some of the signal it's usually incomplete. They see the feminism or women's advocacy and see that as its own signal. Perhaps such advocacy for women is a good thing (ignoring 3rd wave feminism, which is insane), but that advocacy is a portion of the larger signal. Leftists are pro-female only because they perceive society as pro-male, just as they are pro-gay because society is traditionally pro-heterosexuality, and are pro-drugs because societies tend to oppose them, on the whole. We see routinely, such as with the recent election in Georgia, that advocating for their preferred groups isn't actually a big priority for them, not compared to the prime objective of liberalism which, currently, is doing anything to attack Donald Trump.

If we look at a signal long enough, with a narrow resolution, contradictions will inevitably arise. Our example of a perpetually increasing signal in some cases appears to be decreasing. If we don't know that what we are looking at is a sinusoid, then we must come up with some rationalization as to why the signal is sometimes upwards, sometimes downwards, and sometimes level. If it happens that 9 observations show an upward trend, and the 10th downward, we would tend to focus our attention on the 10th to determine why it is an outlier. The ideology of being anti-society drives its own contradictions. Feminism and gender fluidity both result from the leftist ideology, but, without an understanding of the deeper leftist signal, rectifying them is an impossible task for typical liberals to undertake. Feminism is neutered if any man can call himself a woman as needed to get the desired gender preference. The only real response to the apparent contradiction is to either (a) acknowledge that the who point of liberalism is to destroy society, or (b) to resort to ad hominems, straw man arguments, and physical violence to vent their frustration with the intractable paradox. We tend to see a lot of the latter these days.

Many otherwise decent people are caught up supporting the leftist signal of evil because they only view it in parts and it is often buried in noise by propaganda and the 24-hour news cycle. While I'm a big advocate of r/K political theory, we have to realize that one's r/K leanings can be strongly influenced by their perceptions of reality. Many people are pushed away from the left when the intractability of its own contradictions become too exhausting, and many more are pushed away by the hysterical behaviors of its frustrated low-resolution acolytes. Our goal should be to always press liberals into the conundrum where they must either admit to the logical inconsistency of their viewpoint or that they wish to destroy western civilization. (Or, most likely, lash out in pathetic fits of hysteria.)

We on the right can take some lessons from all this. Note that the left has great success in persuasion despite a horribly flawed ideology that most of them struggle to rationalize. They do this by persuading with noise and signal fragments. How often do you hear leftists advocate to destroy society so that a better society can be rebuilt in its ashes? They never do that. It's always some partial signal wrapped in enough noise to give it the appearance of moral superiority and social approval. They also tend to insulate the truth of the actions from the superficial narrative with several layers of rationalization and plausible deniability.

"Why do you violently oppose free speech for the alt-right?"
"We support free speech, just not for fascists."
"Why are they fascists?"
"They're fascists because they want to oppress women, gays, kittens, ..."
"How will they oppress them?"
"blah blah blah"

And so on. There is a truth at the bottom of all this. They oppose anyone attempting to defend society. Traditionalism is equal to fascism. They'll never come out and say it. Most don't even realize what the truth at the bottom really is. Again, they've been sold on one little snippet of the ugly ideology that's been dressed up to look pretty. We need to keep these tactics in mind. At some point, we will probably be advocating for actions that are bitter to the palate. One example that is likely to be seen in the near future, and many are already arguing for, is the removal of Islam from Europe, one way or another. This is just a hypothetical, but if it came to that, our tendency on the right would be to make a grand case for the removal of Islam. That is, we'd expose and broadcast the full-spectrum signal. It might be wiser to follow the liberal strategy. Yes have removal as an academic objective, but keep public discourse fragmented and layered. People might be able to latch on to some snippets of an anti-Islam campaign if they are properly isolated and padded with noise to give them the air of moral superiority. For instance, banning halal meats because the process is cruel to animals. This is just an example, but the larger lesson is this: to properly counter progressivism and to bolster our own positions, we must always be consciously aware of the resolution of ideology.

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