Ye on Hitler

Ye is right, Hitler was not all bad.

No one is all good, no one is all bad. It’s embarrassing to live in a society where people pretend this is controversial. Only a Sith deals in absolutes.

Thinking that someone is all good or all bad will cloud your thinking. Everyone you love is flawed, everyone you look up to is flawed, and if you try to blind yourself to that, you risk corrupting yourself by rationalising or adopting their flaws, and you also become incapable of doing anything to help them with those flaws. It’s also an unfair and impossible standard to hold someone up to.

Similarly, if you convince yourself that some historical figure is a pure evil caricature, you risk corrupting yourself by opposing everything about them, including the good. And if you believe someone is pure evil you can justify a pure hatred for them, and this interferes with thinking clearly. Without clear thinking, you’re lost.

Pure hatred is also self-corrupting since it’s a rejection of love at a fundamental level.

The Power to Crush Those Who Claim You Have Power

I’m trying to understand…

It’s time for the Jewish community to take a seat at the table to use our power as institutional investors to ensure corporations are aligned with our values, and don’t fall for #antisemitic and anti-Israel pressures. That’s why we’re bringing @jlensnetwork under @ADL’s umbrella.

…this organisation will try to harm (financially and socially) people who claim that there are Jews who organise as a Jewish community to use their power to promote their interests… but then they openly claim to be doing exactly that?

I wouldn’t fault Jews for having an in-group preference–it’s natural and groups who don’t are the exception not the norm. But if we accept that, then we can’t really expect multiculturalism to work.

So it’s not really clear what the official/non-“hate” position is on this. Is it hateful to notice when some members of an ethnic group act collectively to further the interests of that ethnic group, and to consider the sociological implications of this? Or is it hateful to not be in favour of members of this ethnic group acting collectively to further their interests (which necessitates noticing it)–and just this specific ethnic group?

Is what the ADL is doing bad, or is it bad to say that what the ADL is doing is bad?

Might be about time we get this stuff clarified. Not really a fun topic, given that even just revealing that you’ve thought about these things opens you up to be accused of what the modern world considers to be the greatest sins (but if you know yourself, and you know that you don’t hate people because of their ethnicity, and you know you don’t just secretly want to do a racial genocide, etc., then it can be easy to risk this silly slander).

But it’s also a topic that’s becoming less abstract and less remote. The Canadian census doesn’t included ethnicity anymore, but if you extrapolate from when it did, Winnipeg becomes minority white right about now. Maybe it already is, mass immigration has been increasing every year. It’s one thing to be a hated race when you’re the majority, and it’s another thing to be South Africa. That’s obviously not inevitable, but even if it’s not likely, this kind of thing is absolutely a legitimate concern. I don’t want my kids to be members of a hated minority.

I don’t know what the solution is, I really don’t like the idea of treating people differently based on their ethnic group, even as some kind of “defensive” necessity. But I think the best options are available when we’re honest about what is happening and are motivated from genuine love rather than what’s comfortable or expedient.

Rick Roderick on Baudrillard

“The struggle in the future may be to maintain the real against the unreal or the hyperreal or irreal.”

Conversations I’ve been having/overhearing lately reminded me of this lecture by Rick “I’ve been in Compton” Roderick on Baudrillard that I highly recommend. The subject matter is revelatory and interesting, and Roderick discusses it competently, engagingly, and with just enough well-fitting humour (I love the way he talks about pie charts).

“This video is 8th in the 8-part video lecture series, The Self Under Siege: Philosophy in the Twentieth Century (1993).”

We can easily forget the nature of the world we now live in, like a fish forgets water, but this exposition on things like simulacra and hyperreality that characterise postmodernity is a great reminder of how utterly different is our experience of life and ways of thinking from all of human existence before us—even from recent history, from the world that some people still alive today can remember. Baudrillard’s first book was in 1968, this lecture is from 1993, and even back then Roderick notes the generational divide between modern and postmodern when he questions his son on why he’s getting emotional at a machine (Nintendo), and his son not understanding why that would be questioned. The distinction between computer and human has blurred.

These kinds of things can help us make sense of peoples’ behaviours in recent years (as Roderick says, “this is a practical issue!”)–implicitly placing much more trust on some faces on screens than on what they can perceive and think about for themselves. The immediate physical environments around them, observed directly by their senses, unmediated, the flesh and blood people all around them, all this is just real (boring, too complicated) and can’t compete with the hyperreality produced/manipulated with computer technology. And when people are nudged or forced into communicating primarily via computers (by literally encouraging social distance, banning in-person gatherings, formalising and scheduling and regulating interactions that are allowed so that spontaneous and natural/organic interactions don’t happen, heavily promoting virtual replacement of real events, and mandating face coverings in person so that faces are only fully seen virtually) these effects are greatly amplified.

Probably people are aware of this delamination between their inner world and the outer world on some level, but usually it’s only experienced as a dull, nagging sense of vertigo, an unpleasant disorientation that only results in another impulse to seek distraction. There is no longer any stable ground (shared fundamental metaphysical assumptions) from which to evaluate statements or experiences, and seeking such a ground independently is inherently difficult and necessarily involves more unpleasant uncertainties, and so in order to maintain a pleasant psychological state, and in order to just get on with day-to-day life and its demands, it’s most expedient to unthinkingly allow the official broadcasted values and models of reality (saturated as they are in all media, due to widespread censorship and content moderation, and monopolisation and interlinking of the institutions that own those media) to supplant one’s own.

Roderick speculates that in the future it may become a revolutionary act for a couple to decide to have real sex rather than a virtual technological simulation of it; this made me think of Demolition Man, and this lecture does predate that film by a few months. I wonder if there was some influence, or if this kind of concept was just in the air at the time.

God is not a Writer, nor a Director, but a…

God is like the author and we are like the characters, but this doesn’t work so well because the characters–their nature, their choices, etc.–are total creations of the author, and have no independent existence. The story is fully set, crystalized, solely from the author.

God as writer and director and Men as actors works better, since actors need to bring something from themselves into their characters, and even more so if some improvisation is allowed. Then the film or play is a creation of both the writer/director–writer role planning the story, director role bringing it about, executing the plan, providing the filling and details–and the actors–pretending to be the characters. But what the actors bring is still very narrow, and while this analogy includes the qualitative difference that there is some creative contribution from the analogised Men, it doesn’t satisfyingly capture the degree of possible contribution.

What is wanted is something that gives real and full significance to the choices of Men while maintaining the ultimate supremacy of God. Men are free to choose as they will, though they are extremely constrained on the actions they can take from their choice. And though God will always guide things as he will, this is not without influence from Men. God does not override the choices of Men, but incorporates them into his plan. The choices of men–good or otherwise–will be used as the means to achieve God’s will, with the resulting “story” being richer for it.

So God is like the Game Master of a paper-and-pencil role-playing game, like Dungeons and Dragons. He has a plan for how the game will go, and provides the world and orders its inhabitants and decides how they might interact, but the players are free to choose to do as they will within the game. Since the players don’t know the plan, the Game Master is constantly arranging situations and intervening “behind the scenes”, creating other characters and situations to aid or hinder the players or otherwise move the story along, but probably these interventions are best–in the sense of best story, most enjoyable game–when not heavy handed, when they feel natural and fit well with both the pre-intended story and the spontaneous choices of the players that arise from an ignorance of those intentions. This includes balancing the difficulty of achieving the intended hurdles, and an invisible hand that guides the course of the players towards the intended quests.

If a player’s character dies in a fight with an enemy, the GM could just bring them back to life, but this would be unsatisfying, because it removes the significance of what happens. A clumsy deus ex machina plot turn can ruin an otherwise good story. If the player knows that if he fails the GM will just fix it, then it doesn’t really matter if if fails or succeeds. On the other hand, bringing a character back to life might fit the story and world well in the right circumstance–as when Illuvatar intervened directly in Middle Earth to restore Gandalf’s life after his battle with the Balrog.

At one extreme, an RPG game where the GM just tells the players what is happening to their characters is not fun. At the other extreme, a game where the characters have total freedom is… not actually conceivable (not coherent, chaos), since they at a minimum need a world in which to be free, and this must be provided by the GM. Balance is maybe not the right word for a good game that avoids both these extremes, because a good game where a rich world and meaningful goals created by the GM combining (interacting on a moment-by-moment basis) with the free choices of players is not merely a midpoint or average between extremes but something more, the way adventure is more than just story.

Life is an adventure, and God is running the best RPG game possible, even if (or probably in part because) we don’t know the whole world or plan.


Going off the trail on a hiking path, even if the intent is to take a shortcut in order to take less time or travel less, often ends up taking more time and resulting in more travel. Often, shortcuts are not quicker, easier ways to get somewhere. If the goal is only to arrive somewhere quickly and easily, shortcuts are often a bad idea.

But that’s not always the goal. Hiking paths are almost never used to get somewhere quickly and easily. Actually, most of the time the hiker intends to arrive exactly where they start. In that case if the goal was to get there quickly and easily, there would be no hike.

The real goal of hiking is typically something that can be attained better, despite the risks, by going off the path.

Thinking is similar.

The Rich and Powerful Who Want to Become More Rich and Powerful

The people who own massive corporations have an interest in reducing the barriers between countries, because that allows them to expand their pool of potential customers and potential employees. A massive corporation provides massive wealth and power to its owners.

Especially in an age when people don’t pay for news media directly–meaning that people are not even providing a financial incentive for news outlets to cater to their interest–a news outlet provides control over public opinion and sentiment to its owner or dominant influencer, such as advertisers. Because of their massive wealth and power, the owners of massive corporations have the means of massively owning or influencing news media and therefore public opinion and sentiment.

The least corrupt and most ideal form of democracy grants the power of government to the people, that is, to public opinion and sentiment.

Power of government can be used to make some corporations more successful (and therefore greater generators of wealth and greater sources of power) with things like regulations (that for example burden competitors more), tax policy, special jurisdiction (for example, a government-granted/enforced monopoly), and affecting court cases (for example winning suits against competitors, dropping cases brought against them).

This means that there’s a potential feedback loop where rich and powerful people may be able to increase their wealth, corporate ownership, media control, and government power at a progressively more rapid rate to the point where a few of them have most or all of it.

At no point in this process is there any kind of selection for virtue, and in an environment where there are no disincentives for unvirtuous behaviour it should be expected that those who act without virtue (lie, cheat, steal, murder) will have an advantage over those who act with virtue.

There is also no guarantee at all that those who gain power this way consider themselves to be on the same “side” or “team” as the people they then have power over.

How could this process be detected? How would we know it’s happening?

It would result in a situation where the message from massive corporations, mainstream news outlets, and politicians is in alignment, and where the actions of these reinforce, support, and strengthen each other. There would also be a significant overlap in the ownership of massive corporations and mainstream news media outlets, and if that information is public knowledge then specific names could be found, and connections to politicians and top bureaucrats could be found.

To keep the sentences shorter, non-governmental organisations (charities, global entities), academic institutions, religious organisations, unions, ethnic groups etc. were left out, but it’s easy to see how ownership of or influence on these can be wealth and power accumulation multipliers.

Shutting down most businesses but leaving a few massive corporations running while at the same time providing money to a large number of people from the government is a transfer of wealth from the government (tax payers) to massive corporations, and is a situation that is very profitable to those who own those massive corporations.

Good Life

Good life is achieved by transitioning from being motivated by negative to being motivated by positive.

Choosing to be motivated by good rather than being imposed upon by bad.

Greatness of character, of deed, and of work can arise from terrible things. War can produce glorious courage, scarcity and famine can produce admirable work ethic and innovation, despair can produce profound insight and beauty. But these things are still terrible.

If one could be that gloriously courageous without needing war, disciplined and ingenious without needing scarcity, and insightful and artistic without despairing, this would be even better.

And the best way to do that is to be and do these things not merely to avoid the negative, but because they are good and desired themselves. In order to do that, a stronger motivation than the terror, suffering, and misery of war, famine, and despair is needed, and it needs to be chosen. Terror, suffering, and misery push, they are influences exerted from without, external to the self. The greatness and good the produce are reactive.

What is needed is something willingly chosen, and active impulse from within, something that is not merely a counter-action to external conditions and impositions, but is instead always present and is a source of motivation that is not contingent. At its core this is love, and is expressed in thought, action, and work in myriad forms of the Good–truth, beauty, and virtue.

This means subordinating negative, reactive motivations of fear, anger, and misery to the primacy of Good; not suppressing them, fleeing from them, opposing them, trying to ignore them, but just not acting from them as motivations. Fear can be information that warns, anger can rouse, misery can focus, but they should not be put in charge. In their right places, they are useful helpers.

Mental Grounding

It’s easy to get pushed around psychically by external influences, especially when they’re emotionally “loud”, or your tired, or distracted, or otherwise mentally distressed, and to have them influence your thinking in an automatic and reactive way, and thereby fall into fear and despair, so try to remember to ground yourself in that inner core of your being from which you are able to love (others and the good–truth, beauty, and virtue) and to perceive the ultimate benevolence behind the world.

When I manage to do this, I often become overwhelmed with gratitude for how good my life is, and I’m able to value even some horrific experiences.