Saturday, February 28, 2009

Maximum Advantage - The Technical Morality (2008 Revision) #8

Any assertion contrary to the myth of progress will be met with circular arguments or proof by example. However, any system has components neither provable nor disprovable within itself. The whole is different than the sum of its parts. These theorems are true; it requires one sufficiently alienated to document this system created by the technical morality. The only self-awareness required is the extent of that disenfranchisement, and the ruthlessness to pull the wings off a fly... However, most believe such freedom from fear requires strength beyond them. Their perceptions have been lead like cattle. Under Maximum Advantage, "Nothing is forbidden; everything is permitted," may be allowed but will never occur in the resultant mediocre compromise. In truth, rather the opposite, but sweet lies are better. Some errors are necessary as a step forward.


Thursday, February 26, 2009

Intellectual Inbreeding: Corporate Free Traders

Here's an example of intellectual inbreeding. Although not the point, Wall Street and Bernanke by Dave Lindorff illustrates the flawed thinking of the corporate free trader crowd. Just like Marxists, this bunch began believing its own B.S. Its feedback did nothing but reinforce a flawed ideology of economic internationalism. It's interesting to note that both Marxist and "free trade" reacted similar: both grasped the remedies of its flawed rival.

The same kind of analytical brilliance has been routinely ascribed by economic pundits to investors when it comes to business decisions--particularly mergers and acquisitions, or divestments and breakups. If Bank of America announces that it is going to buy the foundering Merrill Lynch and shares of B of A fall, then the merger is a bad idea. If the shares rise, it's a good idea. And so it goes.

The whole idea that a bunch of people who sit around at computer screens betting on stocks and eating cheese doodles all day really know much of anything, or that taking their herd responses collectively as some kind of delphic oracle has always seemed the height of folly to me. But if you really wanted proof that investors taken collectively are idiots, you could simply look at today's stock market. Yesterday, every index plunged by about 4%, pulling the overall market to lows not seen in 12 years, because of concerns that the recession was deepening, that the big banks were toast, and that the government's economic stimulus plan was not going to help much.

There was every reason to expect the downward trend to continue, but up stepped Federal Reserve Chair Ben Bernanke, and, in a statement presented in Congress, said that in his considered view, the current recession could be over by the end of this year.

Relieved investors jumped back into the market and bought stocks, pushing the Dow and the S&P indexes back up by almost as much as they'd lost the day before.

But wait a minute! Isn't Ben Bernanke the same guy who was chair of the Fed last year and the year before? The same chair who completely failed to see the coming credit crisis and global financial collapse? And if that's the case, why on earth would investors take seriously anything he says about the future direction of the economy?
Why indeed? Maybe they're smoking a little too much hope?

The herd mentality can never be more than mediocre, and probably less. Anyone believing in its wisdom is a tool.

See also How the Economy was Lost by Paul Craig Roberts.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Intellectual Inbreeding: Achievetrons

The latest issue of Harper's has an article called Achievetrons by Lewis H. Lapham, which describes the consequences of intellectual inbreeding when influenced by Maximum Advantage. The resultant products all thing the same: Me First.

It also illustrates The recommendation deserves to be ranked with the ones until recently in vogue at the Palm Beach Country Club among the members acquainted with the achievetron Bernie Madoff. For the past sixty years the deputies assigned to engineer the domestic and foreign policies of governments newly arriving in Washington have come outfitted with similar qualifications—firstclass schools, state-of-the-art networking, apprenticeship in a legislative body or a think tank—and for sixty years they have managed to weaken rather than strengthen the American democracy, ending their terms of office as objects of ridicule if not under threat of criminal arrest. The Harvard wunderkinds (a.k.a. “the best and the brightest”) who followed President John F. Kennedy into the White House in 1961 hung around the map tables long enough to point the country in the direction of the Vietnam War. Henry Kissinger, another Harvard prodigy, imparted to American statecraft the modus operandi of a Mafia cartel. The Reagan Administration imported its book of revelation from the University of Chicago’s School of Economics (“privatization” the watchword, “unfettered free market” the Christian name for Zeus) and by so doing set in motion what lately has come to be seen as a longrunning Ponzi scheme. Take into account the Ivy League’s contributions to the Bush Administration—Attorney General John Ashcroft (Yale), Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld (Princeton), director of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff (Harvard)—and I can imagine a doctoral thesis commissioned by the Kennedy School of Government and meant to determine which of the country’s leading institutions of higher
learning over the past fifty years has done the most damage to the health and happiness of the American people.
The higher educational system has sold itself to capitalist ideology (as opposed to ideas) and the military-industrial complex. Although the people and examples cited above hail from different academic backgrounds, the most corrupted reside in the intellectually bankrupt economics departments whose theories and models where large contributors to the looming financial disaster. As was the case with Marxists, these sort too readily believed their own B.S.* Science is not about building a model and calling it reality. Ideology has been mistaken for fact. A real science would recognize the inherent limitations in its models. Assumptions are not laws; their economics has none. Complexity has more potential for instability. Constraints almost always exist. Standing on the Earth's surface, one does not float up. Perhaps they forgot where they were? Achievetrons indeed.

As such, the "best and brightest" can be described thus:
  1. In advertising law, best means as good as any other.
  2. The brightest create by burning.
When these sort promise to "fix" something, expecting the worst is completely justified.

* (The initials are not coincidence.)

From Hope latest victim of economy (Seattle PI):
"Right now, more than a crisis in mortgages or in housing, we have a crisis in confidence. That is the biggest problem in trying to analyze the current market," said James Stack, president of market research firm InvesTech Research in Whitefish, Mont. "You cannot analyze psychology."
The lights are on, but nobody's home...

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Maximum Advantage - The Technical Morality (2008 Revision) #7

Occasionally, the technical morality will miscalculate actions and reactions. The difficulties must be handled effectively for Maximum Advantage. For example, an incompetent national foreign policy may lead to reprisal terrorist attacks, but these events allow and provide justification for retaliatory attacks, increasing intrusive regional influence, enriching the arms industry, and even facilitating the establishment of increased domestic restrictions on suspected internal threats, thus enriching the prison industry, etc. The chains that bind have many parallel links. All approaches must be extremely malleable and reducible. Goals are accomplished by overcoming societal inertial forces, or merely providing the perception of change.[14] Obscured by the spectacle of instantaneous gratification, this system may expand or contract relatively slowly in actuality. A perceptual shift is far more efficient than even the small level of actual change demanded by technical requirements. This state is not an automatic consequence of adaption of technique, rather a result of anti-natural and unbalanced development. Efficiency encompasses everything. A mixture of belief systems must be accommodated or manipulated for Maximum Advantages. Those beyond a certain mean (in the base sense of the word) are easy prey for exploitation as well. A common enemy is a most efficient means for instilling unity in a suitably divided and pacified population. A jester is even better. For instance, UFO believers are ridiculed, perhaps rightly so, but every unidentified flying object is not an alien from outer-space. An aborted military test flight might unfortunately stray into civilian territory, but most potential witnesses would likely avoid talking much, beyond the anecdotal, concerning a "far off streak in the sky." (Let alone file an official report.) Lest reputations suffer, only the attention starved would bother. The government need not even bother with a cover story. Technique does not just apply to machines. The path of least resistance is identified then utilized for Maximum Advantage. Any potential difficulties will also receive a refined, most efficient, non-invasive response as possible, which further pacifies the populace. Sensationalism swells and overloads the senses, and earns a tidy profit to boot. "Infotainment" is not real news, but amuses and pacifies. The constant stimulation makes nothing very noticeable, even the corrupt and absurd. The technical morality does not care about cynicism, merely coopting expression for Maximum Advantage. The technical morality does not recognize any emotions, rather utilizes their effectiveness for Maximum Advantage. The unknown is exploited for Maximum Advantage. Any resistance is a measure of societal and cultural inertia, which may in turn be exploited for Maximum Advantage. Economic bad times create higher crime which may be utilized to saturate the media, which encourages fear and citizens stay indoors. Why bother with brute force methods like general curfews, when the population will do so by its own accord and pay money for it? Passive entertainment is the strongest American industry. Any unrest is vilified and demonized for Maximum Advantage. The meek stay meek. Maximum efficiency is constrained by thermodynamics, but may always be presented otherwise. Surpassing the natural, the technical morality will move into the realm of the anti-natural. No distinction is possible in the mythical realm of progress. The improvement can never end, although it must and will.

[14.] Hope is easily exploited as well (because it wants to be).

Friday, February 06, 2009

Maximum Advantage - The Technical Morality (2008 Revision) #6

Often society and culture become are erroneously perceived as synonymous. A blurring effect is maintained for Maximum Advantage in all Things, thus eliminating any possibility of distinction. History is erased, not by decree, but by context. Everything hitherto has lead to this height of attainment. The shining examples of strip malls and lame entertainment, are rationalized and excused by real accomplishments such as sanitation and infrastructure. Successive generations score higher on cognitive intelligence test, but becomes more stupid. The current crop will be eaten alive when the global economy depresses. The social dynamic has been supplanted by allowing malleable popular culture free reign across the consumer landscape. Decadent instincts become ascendant in any anti-natural environment. Nihilism eventually decays unto death, but may be mitigated for Maximum Advantage. Prime time snuff films bring high television ratings. Discontent is disbursed, then exploited for profit. The proper response is directed by consumer culture, which demands cash for overpriced goods and services even at the consequence of massive debt. Bankruptcy rates soar, but no matter. Credit may cold always be easily re-established (until 2008 anyway). Lifestyles must be maintained as required by progress, which means meeting or exceeding preceding (de-)generations (one way or another). Hence while the technical world spirals upward, the natural slowly declines. Even the decadent becomes less creative. A short attention span would not even note any passing of stronger instincts, merely run with the herd mentality. Even the propagandist is affected by the induced perceptions. The eternal present becomes manifest. Our memories become surreal. The question is permitted, yet still forbidden, and non-existent besides. The critical becomes blunted by contact vectors, which slowly drain vitality by overwhelming with constant over-stimulation. Befitting a spent technological dream, in the end, only rusting hollow shells will remain.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Maximum Advantage - The Technical Morality (2008 Revision) #5

The higher technical morality supersedes older traditional moralities by smothering. Good and Evil are re-defined, but not re-evaluated, according to the dictates of technical efficiency. The absolute adherence demanded has created a higher morality above all else. Propaganda is the language of the new mediocre religion of progress for purposes of a lowest-common mean unity. Stagnation, while scurrying about, supposedly promotes stability. The clergy are simply supplanted by technicians, which even a thinking atheist[13] might admit is alarming. In the modern incarnation, the priest has only verbal authority, rather than the full trappings of the ultra-rational and re-definable progress. One cannot see God. The protestant reformation is long over. The religious types have no power beyond annoying rhetoric. The possible social consequences inherent in cultural rejection of religion may pose serious difficulties. According to the 19th Century themes of Dostoevsky, the removal of God from peasant societies leaves a void. Mass murder is this enabled with a good conscience. Stalinist Russia certainly proved his predictions correct. The opportunistic will sight upon any available target. The population is a different matter. Its restraints must be removed. The priest would see slaves, but the technical would eliminate all humanity from consideration, ideally replacing it with a stagnant rationale. The result is lower than slavery. A slave can at least aspire for freedom. At least religion becomes decadent and decays into something tolerable, or at least easily ignored. Technical morality was born decadent. Development is hampered by religion, but denied by technique. Nothing is produced different only better. Absolutes are anti-natural. Faith in the anti-natural leads to ruin. However, the technical insulates through its inherent efficiency, effectively obscuring everything outside its spotlight. Hence, the individual becomes unable to discern differences, and therefore may be exploited to Maximum Advantage by the most efficient means. Socialization is blunted by unstable environments masked by the delusion of stability. The force required to maintain the facade must be legitimized by propaganda techniques. Intertwined among short and long term concerns, a double-spiral guides the ascension of technical reality. The most effective delivery vectors often act through the mechanisms of market bastard capitalism. The populace actually pays to be propagandized in the ideal docility required for the efficient operation of this technical society. Even elite classes become complacent by propagating the resultant system, because these groups benefit most rapidly and maintain their position. They believe their own bullshit. The most adaptable may become the new ruling class, but will see their heirs generally stagnate due to intellectual inbreeding and otherwise. Hence, dynasties are quickly toppled, although a parasitic leisure class by-product often emerges to be replaced by fresh meat. Hence, some artificial circulation occurs, thus enabling certain myths like the American Dream.

[13] As opposed to a rational or reactionary atheist. Progress and rebellion are both lies. Prayer is an order of rank higher than faith in progress. A mechanical contrivance is the worst god. The result is slaughter. Do you really want deities beneath humanity?