The Earth is a Machine for Producing Idiots

The teleology of teleology will always be elusive, but occasionally, from our lowly position in the "omniscience vector," we may be vouchsafed a glimmer of the true purpose of our universe – or at least parts of it.

What, for example, is the purpose of our odd little planet circling – along with its gaseous neighbours – a mediocre star in what Douglas Adams famously called "the unfashionable end of the Western spiral arm of the galaxy"?

There are a number of ways to attain teleological insights. Aristotle deduced purpose by focusing on what was missing, and then conceiving how a state of completion could be arrived at. Man with his social nature is completed by civilized society in the same way that the meat of the prey 'completes' the teeth of the wolf. Other kinds of teleology seem mere forms of projection and wish fulfilment, commingled with some kind of death drive, in an urge towards an acceptable stasis.

Perhaps the most reliable method within our limited grasp for discerning the unfolding purpose around and beyond us is to look at the trends that no one wills and which complement nothing, but yet which happen nonetheless. From such trans-human forces, well beyond our ken and control, we can feel the slipstream of the great teleological hand working its purpose, and so extrapolate. To those with eyes, the World Teleological Spirit does not hide itself.

So, what are these trends? There are a number that suggest themselves: population increase, a burgeoning money/debt supply, growing consumerism, the explosion of porn, greater human interaction, greater virtuality of human interaction – and more pictures of kitty cats! It seems that one of the things that can be said with absolute certainty is that, since the earliest strivings of human consciousness, the world has been working its way towards more likes and shares of pictures of kittens on Facebook.

But feline feelings, population booms, credit expansions, and the rest – including the ballooning of hot air balloons – are all things that humans desire and crave. In this sense they are causal and intrinsic rather than extrinsic in the way a true telos should be. This can not be said of the other great trend, of which all the trends mentioned above are mere aspects and support characters: namely the trend towards increasing IDIOCY. Yes, in short, the Earth that we live on is essentially a machine for producing IDIOTS.

But IDIOCY, by its mere existence, seems to increase IDIOCY, as few people really understand it, and understanding is to IDIOCY what kryptonite is to Superman. IDIOCY is not about a low IQ. You can have high-IQ IDIOTS just as easily as low-IQ ones. In fact, I would suggest that high IQ actually increases the likelihood of IDIOCY is an almost exponential way.

It would be pointless to provide human examples, because IDIOCY trickles down a society from its leaders much more efficiently than wealth ever could, something which tends to distort intra-human comparisons. I prefer to use instead animal examples:

Nobody bothers to talk about the IDIOCY of ants. Compared to a mighty human with its brain "the size of a planet," an ant must have an IQ of less than one. But an ant could never be accused of being stupid in the way that a human could. This is because it exists and lives its life well within its admittedly tiny bubble of competence, doing only what it is designed to do for the greater good of its species, a humble task in which it never loses intellectual face or makes a fool of itself. You are unlikely to read in a newspaper of an ant accidentally asphyxiating itself while jerking off to ladybug porn. Humans, by contrast, are defined by their tendency to rush outside their much larger bubbles of competency at the earliest opportunity.

By saying this, I am not saying that mankind should never try anything new or different. Columbus, with his project to sail off the Western edge of the world, may have looked like an IDIOT to most, but he was far from being one. He stayed pretty much within his bubble of competence, in this case his ship, sailing, as he had done all his life, in pursuit of a relatively well-known concept that the world may in fact have been round and with the reasonable assurance that he would reach land.

The voyage that discovered the New World was hardly a kamikaze mission; more of a calculated gamble by creatures aware of their ultimate mortality and trained to their tasks in search of a goal that was to reap enormous advantages.

But, alas, the advantages reaped just helped sow the soil for the great IDIOCRACY of the future! The very roundness of the Earth contributed to this ultimate effect, and accordingly is exhibit A in my thesis that the Earth is machine for producing IDIOTS.

The reason Columbus or, going back even further, Eric the Red were not IDIOTS was because they lived with the fact that the consequences of their actions would impact directly on them – effective feedback loops. This provided an iron discipline that the world they helped create has lost. Although hardly IDIOTS themselves, they were catalysts of IDIOCY, as were all the other great men of the West who created the kind of global society that could tolerate fools on an unprecedented scale, while generating untold varieties and avenues for new kinds of stupidity.

As the roundness and navigability of the World first hinted at, the teleological essence of our planet and the global human society it has therefore brought into existence is interconnection and intercommunication powers our modern obsession with EQUALITY and equivalence.

Intercommunication also means that almost every post-ape hominid, whom we dignify with the name of "human," is increasingly in contact with an ever growing number of cultures, technologies, languages, moralities, sexualities, philosophies, legalities, and fine wines, about which they can ever know only a fraction of what they are supposed to know.

The only thing most of the cleverer members of this global society ever master is the art of bluffing, sensing as they do so that others are doing so too. Tacitly this intellectual elite sound each other out, mutually respecting each other's barely concealed ignorances, and in the process gaining a pass to expend their underpowered mental faculties in yet more areas of knowledge which they will never master. A smattering of fine wines, political theory, and a few comments on Zen: that’ll go down well at the dinner party and possibly get you invited on holiday in Tuscany, where you'll be drawn into acquiring a bit of misspoken Italian and a half-formed interest in Piero della Francesca. This is ascendant ignorance.

The less intelligent have a different response. They adapt to the incessant confusions, faux pas, and awkwardness by adopting irony and humour. Everything’s a "bit of a joke." It’s all a "load of bollox," "a bit of a laugh," etc., etc.

With bluffers at the top and jokers at the bottom, sincerity is leeched from society, along with anchored competence. Irrevocably the society slides en masse towards the pit of stupidity with ever accelerating speed.

This contrasts with traditional human societies, where a lack of the "equality principle" not only reduced superfluous and essentially pornographic interpenetration of different cultures and social strata, but also allowed disparate structuring of intelligence and knowledge, so that each knew what he should know: the carpenter in his workshop, the farmer in his field, the lord in his castle, the churchman in his church, etc. – a rigid and sometimes brutal and unfair hierarchy, but also a hierarchy of "competence bubbles," where only the fool wore a cap with bells on it, so rare was he.

But just as modern man has discovered the psychological and societal tricks that have allowed him to break out of the hierarchy of competence bubbles, he has also chanced upon technological tricks that allow the ever growing number of morons and out-of-their-depth dolts to remain alive.

Computers and artificial intelligence, data management systems, complex markets that bypass human intelligence by monetizing information flows, and a host of machines and technologies that small coteries of experts understand well enough to keep functioning, manage to keep the whole IDIOCY juggernaut on course. Thanks to such intellectual crutches our growing stupidity has not yet become a barrier to our collective survival, although already it is starting to single out certain groups for destruction.

The history of the last five million years has proved that the growth of stupidity has been the real teleological purpose of our planet. Without the Moon to control the tides and the trees to hang from would the right kind of puffed-up ape have evolved to strut his stupidity above the ants? Surely not. The teleology of the planet is clear, but the teleology of the teleology remains to be seen.

Alternative Right
2nd March, 2013

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