(Originally published June 22, 2020.)
I hadn’t planned on this post, but the ongoing mania compels me to contribute something toward the preservation of sanity and civilization. And so, here are some things to remember:
Humans are idolaters. Or at least most are when pressured. What we’re seeing now is an expression of idolatry and dogma. And bear in mind that the proudly anti-religious are often the most idolatrous and dogmatic.
Whenever people are getting whipped up for a cause – any cause – that’s the right time to step away. And if they start chanting, move away quickly. I’ll forgo the long explanation, but joining the pack slays reason, and for as long as you remain in the pack.
And this really is idolatry, because whatever we place above reason… whatever we place above open questioning… has become our god.
The crowd is always a deceiver. No one expressed this more concisely than Simone Weil, when she said, “conscience is deceived by the social.” Conscience is individual, social is collective, and the two are at odds. Likewise, sanity is individual and mania is collective.
Within the crowd, malice appears as duty, honor, order and justice. To reside in the crowd is to be deceived; the only question is how much.
Just a few specifics:
Any time you surrender your decision-making to outsiders, you are making an error. (And yes, that means that authority is fundamentally a scam.)
The more intimidated you are, the less your better functions can operate.
Moral courage is far, far more important than physical courage.
The mob is the enemy of what’s best in you. Separate from it at the first opportunity.
Civilization is not a function of systems, it’s a function of what’s in us. We are the primaries; all systems, good, bad or indifferent, are derivatives.
The great error of the democratic era, certainly true over my now-fairly-considerable lifetime, was that people believed Democracy would solve all their problems, and would by itself assure civilization. That was always an idolatrous dream. What matters is what we are as individual people.
No institution is to be taken as anything more than a blunt tool. The civilization we hold in ourselves is what holds the world in sanity, and nothing else can, no matter how it is advertised.
Grouping degrades human function. As individuals, we are magical creatures who can reverse entropy willfully. Within the group, we are a collection of pieces trying to feel powerful.
Being grouped degrades us and teaches us bad lessons. Standing as an individual makes us better, sometimes in spurts and sometimes slowly. Whatever exceptions and gray areas may exist, joining a crowd makes us worse. What makes us better is freedom of conscience, a recognition of human dignity, and a belief in our own efficacy.
I want to make one statement very clearly, and I hope you remember it:
The people who marshal movements are taking advantage of human weaknesses.
And yes, many of them are aware of it. So step away from the crowd, cultivate your individual mind, and have civilization in yourself.