Hate Is The Object

In my post Hating The Andromeda Galaxy I looked at the necessity of hate in politics. I discuss some of the repercussions of that in Strange Connection.

Today I came across a site discussing those very issues from a biological perspective. The Market for Sanctimony.

Two unspoken questions that religions and quasi-religions, in practice, have to answer are "Whom do I have permission to use as a scapegoat?" and "What lies may I tell myself in order to feel morally superior to my competitors?" In Jerry Falwell's church, you have permission to use homosexuals as scapegoats. At a Green Party meeting, you have permission to use capitalists as scapegoats.
Yep. Which is one of the reasons I suggested the human race unite in hating the Andromeda Galaxy. We could then be united in hatred.
When it becomes too embarrassing for people to engage in a particular kind of moral fraud, they will usually substitute a different kind of moral fraud rather than give up their feelings of moral superiority. Thus, to a first approximation, we have a principle of "Conservation of Irrationality:"

(1) much of the irrational behavior associated with religion is related to people having a craving for ego justification,

(2) changing a person's theological beliefs has little effect on his tendency to crave ego justification, and

(3) politics is the continuation of religion by other means.

Irrationality is Conserved? All the more need for a War On Andromeda.

Andromeda - 405px-1869_Edward_Poynter_-_Andromeda.jpg
Andromeda (1869) Edward Poynter

Well that last bit was just an excuse for a picture of a naked lady. Art don'cha know? Besides. I'm partial to red heads. And blonds. And brunettes. And given the right circumstances even green hair. Uh. Where was I?

...it's impossible to diagnose a problem correctly if the actual cause is not a member of the approved boogieman list, and one is committed to only blaming members of the approved list (having "ideological blinders" or what Eric Raymond called "historical baggage").
Question: "Why do you keep hitting that nail when what you have to do is tighten the screw?" Answer: "I hate nails. I'd rather be hitting nails than screwing." Yep there are folks out there like that. Almost all of them in fact.

The next bit doubles down on that question and answer in spades. (Can you double down in Hearts?)

Part of the reason for the "slippery slope" phenomenon is that Progressivism is a positional good. The point of Progressivism is to distinguish oneself as being smarter than and morally superior to the average voter. One consequence of this is that Progressives have no fixed goal for the optimal size and scope of government. There is no such thing as "enough." Whatever the average voter has become acclimated to has to be "not enough" so that the Progressives can be smarter than average.

The solution for out-of-control government is not constitutional change, but psychological change. To paraphrase what Andrei Codrescue said of the USSR, what we need are not economic advisors (or constitutional lawyers), what we need are psychiatrists.

Progressives want mommy to make it nice (especially for them) and Conservatives want to find the designated miscreants and punish them. Libertarians just want to be left alone. Forgetting Trotsky: "You may not be interested in war, but war is interested in you." Which is to say that in more than a few cases it is better to get them before they get you.
Different flavors of moral fraud may be equally irrational, but they are not equally harmful. By analogy, smallpox and cowpox are both diseases, but smallpox is very often fatal, whereas cowpox almost never is. Furthermore, cowpox provides immunity from smallpox, just as, to a lesser extent, I claimed above that different flavors of moral fraud (ie. various flavors associated with Christianity and Socialism) tend to compete with one another (conservation of irrationality). Mencius Moldbug describes "Revelationist" Christianity as a "counterparasite" for "Universalism" (the modern Left).
I'd rather live without parasites (dogma). But that is just me. Evidently most people can't live without them.

There is an answer:

We know enough about the sociology of religion to identify a number of key properties that a good religion should have. A successful religion will inevitably have scapegoats; ideally these scapegoats should be beyond human capacity to harm, and should also be unlikely to inflict harm on humans as a result of being vilified. Gods or god substitutes (demigods) are also pretty much unavoidable, for reasons that are outside the scope of this essay. (See Paul Bloom regarding people's cognitive biases, but also Laurence Iannaccone on the advantages to practitioners of the supernatural of having gods on whom to blame their failures. Supposedly irreligious people often project semi-divine qualities onto the State.) A low religious Herfindahl index is good for society, so it is desirable if a religion forms schisms easily or can be given features that limit its market penetration to a few percent. It is desirable for a new religion to have a cosmology that is compatible with its target audience (we need naturalistic demigods, not supernatural ones, to attract scientifically literate converts). A spectacular eschatology (ie. fire and brimstone) is also nice to have to add color and purpose. Any scientific claims that an attractive religion makes should be at least as plausible as global warming catastrophism.
Well Christianity comes pretty close so what is wrong with it?
Q. ...why don't you embrace Christianity?

A. Do you mean "embrace" in terms of me joining a Christian church, or "embrace" in terms of applauding the spread of Christianity? I am relieved to hear reports of evangelical Christianity spreading in China and Latin America. Also, as a living religion, Christianity continues to evolve, so I think it's possible that some new versions of it will make a major comeback in the first world. But as it stands, Western intellectuals have had plenty of exposure to it, and they have turned their noses up at it. And it is the rich, powerful West, where I live, that I most care about. So I do embrace Christianity in the sense of wishing there were more "skeptical enlightenment" Christians in the West, and fewer "radical enlightenment" types, but I'm not holding my breath. Also, I don't really trust Christianity in any of its many versions not to revert to its romantic roots, which historically is where much of the impetus of the American "progressive" movement came from (Jonah Goldberg documents this in Liberal Fascism, for example pp. 215-220). In other words, the Christian "cowpox" doesn't provide reliable enough immunity to the Socialist "smallpox."

Well I'm not promising Utopia. Which is where most religion goes wrong. I'm promoting war on the Andromeda Galaxy.

I have only excerpted from the exposition. The essay is both amusing and confronts a real problem at the interface between human nature and governance. Go read the whole thing. And if you have to hate: the Andromeda Galaxy is just out there waiting for your attention.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon on 01.30.11 at 07:51 PM


Tail wagging the dog, plus long-winded commentary.

jb   ·  January 30, 2011 9:39 PM

Andromeda delenda est, huh?

I'd be fer it if only so we worked hard to get ships that could make it there, I'd get one and go the other freaking way with a few dogs.

Eh,it still won't work. Unity will last about a week.

Some people will hate the arm at 5 degrees more and others will hate the arm at 86 degrees more and others will hate the core the most and all will hate all the others who don't hate the right part of the galaxy the most so we'd have the Arm Wars before we even have the keels for the ships laid.

Christianity surely isn't the answer.
My niece married a guy from Ireland. My brother in law bought the wrong Irish whiskey for Irish coffee over the holidays.
My nephew in law (?) wouldn't drink it, he had to have Bushmill's.

Apparently, the other stuff was made by Protestants, we needed a good, Catholic whiskey.
I laughed out loud because I thought he was joking, and it was a good joke. He almost acted as if he was joking, but he still wouldn't drink it.

People need to hate someone. It's just the way it is. I wish it weren't, but we are what we are.

Veeshir   ·  January 30, 2011 10:15 PM

Ugh, I can't believe I read the whole thing. But thanks for the link to Taylor's very long interview/monologue.

There is a lot of truth and insight packed in there. I wouldn't disagree with most of it, but he doesn't really get to the heart of religion. Rather, he deconstructs it from a libertarian atheist view, referencing intellectual superpowers like Eric Hoffer, Ayn Rand, and others along the way.

The two parts that stand out are the scapegoat section you've highlighted, and his analysis of what he continues to call the New Left which has evolved into an environmental religion.

Not to detract from the many good insights, but I find his initial justification for religion in the human need for social status, ego justification, and prestige as way down the list. It seems to me THE driving force is fear of death. Self-awareness of our own mortality is the more basic dilemma that religion attempts to answer.

Also, he approaches religion from psychological behaviorism, maybe not down to the B.F.Skinner level, but a perspective that is limited. After all, humans are far more than just highly evolved amoebas. We have minds and are not just reacting to stimuli. We have the ability to make rational choices. It is a choice to accept voodoo in place of science. Behaviorism becomes a cheap excuse for conscious evil. And the mass genocides of the 20th century constitute ultimate evil, if there is such a thing.

Frank   ·  January 30, 2011 10:49 PM

Let's not rile up a hatred directed towards Andromedians, cause you know if they show up- they will be able to kick our butz.

Dont hate Andromeda   ·  January 31, 2011 6:20 AM

Andromeda's a dirty, dirty slut.

Trimegistus   ·  January 31, 2011 8:20 AM


That definitely got my interest. Got her e-mail addy? Or her cell number?


I believe the essay was about how groups maintain social cohesion. Not why they start.

And all this wouldn't be so bad if the decision to hate was intentional/whimsical. So we wouldn't take it so seriously.

M. Simon   ·  January 31, 2011 12:41 PM

M. Simon, my bit was about groups of humans don't maintain social cohesion.

They splinter and end up hating those who believe 98% the same much more virulenly than they hate those who don't believe at all.

The splinter is inevitable and heretics are always treated much more harshly than non-believers.

And aren't I supposed to overthink things here?

Veeshir   ·  January 31, 2011 4:26 PM

Yep there are folks out there like that. Almost all of them in fact.

I guess that now we know your answer to the question - "Whom do I have permission to use as a scapegoat?" Pretty much everyone.

flenser   ·  February 1, 2011 12:00 PM

People need to hate someone. It's just the way it is.

Is that why libertarians hate Christians?

flenser   ·  February 1, 2011 12:02 PM

Progressives want mommy to make it nice (especially for them) and Conservatives want to find the designated miscreants and punish them. Libertarians just want to be left alone.

I'm starting to wonder if in fact this fairy tale really does constitute the entirety of your political philosophy.

I'd like to think that you wrote those sanctimonious words in response to "The Market for Sanctimony" in an effort to be deliberately ironic, but I'm afraid I know you too well for that.

flenser   ·  February 1, 2011 12:08 PM

Is that why libertarians hate Christians?

Do you mean "Libertarians"? If so, why ask me?
If you mean "libertarians", I don't hate Christians.
And I'm that most hateful of all libertarians, an atheist libertarian.

Why do you hate libertarians enough to distort their positions?
Or are you just trying to prove my point?

Veeshir   ·  February 1, 2011 4:27 PM

Christians are misled. The church is a fraud. How do I know? The Maker talks to me all the time and he told me so.

Now you will probably tell me I'm listening to Satan or Martin Luther. Nope. It is you who are being deceived.

Like Veeshir I'm a man without faith. Why should I need it? I have experience.

M. Simon   ·  February 1, 2011 8:27 PM

libertarians hate Christians

Does that mean Christian libertarians hate themselves?

Eric Scheie   ·  February 2, 2011 9:17 AM

I have faith, in math and in me.

Veeshir   ·  February 2, 2011 11:46 AM

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