A hardworking intelligent young person is out there looking at our social reality and trying to gain real hard-fought-for knowledge. He knows that he can’t know everything yet he must valiantly try. He realizes objectivity is a worthwhile but unobtainable goal. Despite his public high-school education, he still has respect for truth, reason and science. He starts visiting book stores and libraries. He’s on a search, but for what, he couldn’t really say. He is about to start on an intellectual journey but he is not naive. He knows that the world is filled with haphazardness and that he’s taking his chances like everyone else.
He Just Got Unlucky
He purchased a best selling book whose very first line is, “Taking knowledge less seriously.” The book convinces him that human beings are hoodwinked in life by seeing patterns that don’t exist. (Fooled By Randomness, N N Taleb), even though The Greatest Trade Ever and The Big Short kind of contradicts him. He learns also that humans are deceived by demographic phenomena and trapped inside our generation, (Boom, Bust and Echo, D Foot). He determines that modern chaos theory removes individual choice in events which lead to the collapse of civil structure, (The Upside of Down, T Homer-Dixon). He decides that it all comes down to time and place. What you’ve accomplished is out of your hands. Bill Gates may be no more than a farm hand. You can think without thinking. A human event occurring collectively can be looked on as a virus. (Outliers; Blink; Tipping Point, M Gladwell). He soon sees that his whole mind is working full-time against him. (Stumbling on Happiness, D Gilbert). He thought of himself as an independent-minded individual only to find that he is dependant on the herd. (Bowling Alone, R D Putnam). Incentive driven logic accounts for stupid choices we make, (Freakonomics, S Dubner and S Levitt). He’s exasperated to realize that the medium is more important than the ideological content. (Understanding Media, M McLuhan). [Note: books like Predictably Irrational D Ariely, Unanticipated Gains M L Small, Incognito, D Eagleman and other socialist and platonist’s propaganda are so without philosophic foundation that they warrant no comment and even the influential Bowling Alone is at times so naked in its biases (while pretending to be scientific) that it’s laughable.] Remember, the scariest idea to an anticapitalist and many a Neo-Marxist is that the capitalists might have original concepts, visions, work ethics, moral virtues and be muti-talented.
Stop Your Adventure in Self Education and Go Into Sales
These books are all dressed in colorful taffeta with appliques of gold shekals for the university educated folk who are far often less educated than they think. You can pull the coins out at dinner parties and parade them like real knowledge. They’re cute attention grabbers. They’re clever and the gold coins are generally real. However, their collective conclusion: our mental equipment which makes us generators of ideas, after all, keeps us in the dark. We are condemned to misery; trapped by our senses, blinded by our mind, seduced by our emotions and hoodwinked by the need for patterns? These writers have discovered the hidden reality just as those Platonists before them have. They’re clever enough to lead us to the light, adroit in criticizing middle class values and swift to reveal the culprits: the senses, mind, emotions, the way we’re wired, how we’re incapable of rationalism or immune to reason. Just being human is a hardship in knowing anything whatsoever.
Prearranged Black Swan Events
Is it really true? Indeed, human beings have the wonderful potential of growing, learning and achieving wisdom. For instance, economic profligacy and market meltdowns are separate events often occurring together as calamity. Profligacy comes from the fact that when governments try to control the natural uses of human energy in producing and distributing goods, the amount of created wealth that they seize through tax must incrementally increase, and the sum of energy that they subtract from generative energy must unvaryingly get steeper. Market meltdowns occur usually from banks gambling in the market place or even Ponzi schemes. They sometimes arise because the Fed waters the currency down, enables a swelling of public and private debt and contracts the currency. They did this in 1929. In the NASDAQ crash in 2000, they didn’t. Current market morbidity is following a serious fall, but it is the ominous American debt-liquidation which is going to send this into a world changing event. If there is an economic explosion then it turns out that it is human made. It is a political reality created by a whole university-educated community of clever people similar to the authors of these books–the spokes-people for the New Ancien Régime who unthinkingly promote the herd mentality.
The naysayer in the bull market may buy against the bubble, he knows it will burst, but not when. In a bull market, investors want in at the beginning and to sell off just before the crash. Staid investors know it. They know this as well: it’s casino gambling–100 percent. That is why Wall Street isn’t a philosophically important event even while the global market economy is. The thing is though, the cycle of boom and bust is exaggerated by fiat money and debt. Open societies are not as dependant on capitalism as some such intellectuals might think. I suspect that free markets with equitable arbitration would reduce intellectual sarcasm about human nature by half. Do we really care about the winnings and losses of gamblers in a philosophic sense? Enormous market bubbles are often generated by government policy. Economic dissoluteness has collapsed the American arm of the global economy. State-run capitalism created this horrible scenario. Gambling by private investors had an impact only so far as the government allowed easy credit, unregulated play and the soaring of all forms of liability. Essentially, guaranteeing banks’ solvency, leads to risky behavior in the financial sector.
What does this have to do with the above books? Well, nothing. And everything. Depth of perception is often a second look at what you see, especially taken in tandem with philosophic incredulity. When will we ever see a church-state-like separation for the market and government? Do you blame the market economy for your unhappiness? Do you yearn for the state to make you better off? Educated people often long for control of nonlinear stochastic events even to their own peril as nearly all the above books demonstrate.
Ultimate Gambling is Betting the Farm on the State
Perhaps the state of nature in an un-arbitrated market brings out the worst in us? Who would have ever thought that out there in the capitalist markets were crooks and gamblers wearing suits? The intellectuals who write these sorts of books are always shocked at it, but no, it is inherent in its essence. If you can’t afford to lose your retirement funds, don’t play for money. Buy gold and other hard commodities, or at least possess your own home and have a back-up generator with a full larder.
Seven years or so ago you could say that real-estate was overpriced and selling your property would have been a safer bet than holding. While you would have been right, if you entered the market in 2002 and sold in 2006, you would have made a good profit. In other words you’d have been wrong except if you were buying American in 2007.
Nonlinear stochastic processes can’t be determined with any precision. That’s why it’s a game of chance. Most people with even a modicum of common-sense understand that. If you manage your life on the basis of your best reasoning, some management is going to occur to reduce randomness. Crossing the street is gambling, especially jaywalking with you eyes closed at rush-hour in downtown Manhattan. Russian roulette is gambling. Depending on the government for your future? Now that’s real gambling.
San Francisco is going to be destroyed by an earthquake. Is living there gambling? Judging that a nonlinear stochastic event is predictable is a relapse into a sort of comfortable magical thinking. Reducing your risks has to be set against the whole scenario of life. Belief in prediction has an ideological component: the supernatural position of absolute knowledge rejects the skeptical world-view in favor of certainty. It’s an impulse in human beings but not a compulsion.
Religion Is Invisible Magical Comfort-food
For the Soul of the Intellectually Self-indulgent
Tentative knowledge is no hell, whereas absolute knowledge seems to be, if you get the pun. Individuals must fight the tendency at omniscience; yet, let’s not get distraught over it. Gambling away an economic future is foolish and greed isn’t pleasant to see in mature adults, but most human beings are responsible about risks and modest in their wants. In this sense, the world is filled with heroes.
Tentative Knowledge Reduces the Risks in Life
Human’s subjective nature has a bias in seeking confirmation rather than the preferred falsification of an idea. (To use Popper’s language). Scepticism is not our forte. Just as surely as objectivity is intrinsically hard, doubting is a difficult philosophic inclination. However, neither are impossible and both are worthwhile intentions. Induction often leads us astray. There is a tendency to draw conclusions from insufficient information. Mathematics frequently shepherds us to hell. Just as ineluctably as we are fooled by induction, our search for certainty has lead us to our sorry fate in the market.
A regular observable pattern like the seasons helps with the building blocks of civilization. It leads to societies which can afford critical thinkers who write books that are really cute. They are Socrates in the square without the courage to drink the hemlock. If you were married, constantly employed, continually educated, had law and order in your society and were relatively healthy, the results don’t guarantee either success or happiness. Everybody understands that. You are in a sense, waiting in line for fortune to strike. You could say from the outside that we are all deluded. However, most of us see the backwash: the uneducated, drug-addicted, hedonistic lazy mismanagers of life. Is it coincidence that they fail? You know it’s not!
Of course, we see, also, innocent tragedy–failure from no fault on anyone’s part. If you didn’t seek a stable lifestyle, nor educated yourself, invested in family, developed moral fiber and were chronically unemployed, there’s no assurance that you’ll suffer the results, especially if you’re one of the takers in the welfare state with no legitimate claim.
If you’re a Nazi war criminal on the beach in an Argentinan resort in the 1950s, you indeed might be happy. If you’re Alexandre Solzhenitsyn in a Siberian gulag, you too, might achieve happiness. If you’re Aung San Suu Kyi under house arrest for the last six years (and held in the dreaded Insein Prison in Rangoon, Myanmar, on her 64th birthday), you might find it as well -- in 2016 she was a Pyithu Hluttaw MP for Kawhmu Township. Even the beleaguered sanguinary Ayatollah Khameni from Iran might be happy. But this concept of happiness is hopeless.
Why Life for a Human Being is Not a Random Event
Human beings are idealists and generators of ideas. Most of the ideas – not unlike the above books – are delusory, fantastic and failures. We are frontal lobe universalizers. This conceit gives us actual freedom to make choices with reason being the arbitrator despite antecedent factors. We’re not trapped by our animal-ness. Our progress hasn’t been an accident. We really do invent things. Human subjectivity – being fooled by the senses and deceived by randomness as these books claim – can be somewhat corrected for. These frontal lobe valuing capabilities allow the individual – the dissenters as it were – not to be trapped inside the Platonic Cave. We don’t have to place the so-called philosopher kings in charge to get out to the light.
We invent philosophical rose-colored sunglasses to stare into our own harsh reality or actual telescopes to study the stars. Elitists often have a negative ideological impact on humankind, but nonetheless people are resilient. If they have stability, law & order and liberty in their societies, they bloom into the most variant array of equilibrists: balancing the heart, mind and soul.
The Real Black Swan Event is Everyone’s Mortality
What’s free choice but the result of the savage mentality? What’s happiness except a middle-class bourgeois delusion? Reason is related to felicity in some important manner and so is moral goodness. Reason, happiness and moral goodness are somehow connected.
The Nazi war criminal on the beach sipping margaritaes doesn’t have it, and neither does the hedonistic youth who no more deserves a holiday than his lazy professor merits a sabbatical. The fading paper money regime makes these things possible, that is, the New Ancien Régime. Suu Kyi and Solzhenitsyn’s happiness, like Nelson Mandela’s, is real. It isn’t mediate – it’s ideal – they are legends in their own minds as well as the rest of the watching world. They know that happiness has little, and even nothing, to do with utility or pleasure. It is brand, character, personality and has much to do with self-denial, asceticism, motivation, sacrifice, sharing and heroic projection. Whatever happiness is, it isn’t rational hedonism. Though it’s true that mammals are guided in life by pleasure, and that we are sensual and directed in the same manner, many people fail to realize that given a choice, a rational animal whether a Greater Kudu or a Black Jaguar would immediately turn aside the pursuit of pleasure for a life in reason if they ever had the chance.
We Have by Fate Been Given the Chance to Reason
Skeptics deny real success, human happiness and moral goodness for the same reasons that they reject objectivity, reason and sensual comprehension. They believe in the hidden obscured reality just as Plato did. Sometimes, masking their negativity, they think they’re the new philosopher kings of science and mathematics here to save the people from themselves. Why work at all at the mundane tasks which help give us a stable society and establish civilization? (“Don’t you know. People are stupid!”) You can become a political scientist and you get to sneer at the middle class. Or, you can become an investment gambler/slash philosopher on Wall Street and never actually produce a solid consumer good. Or, you could be a belligerent professor with tenure protected by the state and disdain the whole system as a capitalistic ploy to exploit you.
Their disdain for a work ethic is another brilliant downcast of one of the building blocks of civilization. Who has ever met a good person who was lazy? Things like working hard and saving money are solid values not only for society but for individuals. Frugality, producing actual goods, rationalism, working, saving, honesty and the kinds of things that these thinkers reject as baseless in reason, are what allows us to progress, to be able to trust and love one another. Whatever wealth they have earned with their books, there is no nobility in it. And most of them fawn over leftist economists, back-dooring socialism without having to defend those nasty nondemocratic Marxists. Their economic insights are oblivious to the counter interpretation of the unfolding economic events in the last hundred years. Though perhaps this (Classical Austrian) conservative view isn’t yet beholding to a majority perspective yet, it has a huge stamp of endorsement from many sound economists.
Soft-Bellied Government and the New Ancien Régime
In this regard, enormous amounts of inflation – the New Ancien Régime’s hidden tax – have been generated in the last 40 years from the incremental and alarming growth at all levels of the state in the industrialized West. The cost of consumer goods over the last half century have held steady or even declined. Adjusted for inflation, they have plunged in a long steady deflationary cycle. Without the expansion of the state and its fiat money supply, the real cost of living would have plummeted for producers, their employees and as a side effect, for everyone else. Instead the amount of producers has plummeted, replaced by paper-wealth capitalists, consumers, civil servants and welfare clients. Inflation has so distorted the value of money that nobody even knows what it is – least not governments.
Economics aside, Gladwell’s idea about the month of your children’s birth and how it can affect their future in professional sports should have been greatly expanded. Levitt’s discovery that abortions and unwanted children have a scientific co-relationship with crime should be elaborated. Putman’s claim that social capitalism is essential to human welfare is yet to be proved. McLuhan’s theory that the modern media itself is a revolution is probably true, but only in the most negative sense; it’s certainly a boon to the New Ancien Régime.
We could go on in this vein for some paragraphs. The books are exceedingly entertaining–they are also sexy, short, simple and they should come with proviso: Reader discretion advisory.
Read at your own risk: Philosophically insouciant. Reading this sort of work, like trying to get all your information through magazines and newspapers, could possibly cause you to abandon the important intellectual adventure in life of which you as an individual are obligated to partake in.
© 2020 - E. A. St. Amant