There’s a kind of conservative article which is by now very predictable.
Leftists are doing something outrageous. Where before they did it in the shadows, they are now doing it with impunity, which is causing dissatisfaction not only among conservatives, but also among normal, law-abiding, hard-working, and otherwise platitudinal people. This dissatisfaction will soon boil over, resulting in a much-dreaded conservative backlash against the Latest Excess of Librulism™. The liberals had better heed the mild-mannered, moderate conservative’s well-intentioned warning — otherwise, they might awaken Backlash Hitler, which liberals obviously do not want to happen, right?
Now, this sort of article serves several purposes. On its face, it is a friendly warning to Leftists that they’re overstepping their bounds, but these articles are usually found in conservative publications. Their intended audience isn’t the Leftists they’re supposed to warn, but other conservatives, usually more plebeian conservatives. The real message isn’t a warning to liberals, but a reassurance of plebeian conservatives that if the liberals transgress too egregiously, there’s always the scary Hitler Backlash option, in effect convincing the plebeian conservatives that they hold reserve powers that can be accessed at any given time. There’s also the bonus of painting the conservative writer as someone who defends the social compact from Backlash Hitler, therefore making him a good guy who is safe to invite to cocktail parties or even serve as the token conservative at a liberal publication.
Of course, at the bare bones game-theoretical level, this type of conservative article frames political life as an iterative prisoner’s dilemma, where the optimal strategy is mutual cooperation between Left and Right. Now, in the golden beforetimes, there was cooperation, although recently, the Left has begun defecting while the Right still cooperates. The warning is, of course, that further defection from the Left will result in a defection from the Right — and nobody defects quite like the Right (hence, Hitler). So this dilemma is asymmetrical. Defection from the Right results in catastrophic loss for the Left and possibly for the Right as well, given that they summoned Yog-Hitleroth who’ll soon devour their souls.
Reality, however, doesn’t bear out this version of the game.
Let’s first engage in a purely theoretical discussion of the classical prisoner’s dilemma. The standard game is such: two crooks are caught by the police. They’re given the option to testify against the other. If both refuse to testify (cooperate/cooperate), they each get a year in prison. If one testifies against the other, he is set free, but his buddy will get 3 years in prison. If both testify against the other, then each gets 2 years in prison.
On its face, the best outcome is to spill the beans while the other guy chooses to remain silent — the defect/cooperate result for maximum payoff, especially if there’s a stash of stolen money to be claimed once the prisoner is out.
However, adding iteration (more games in the future) allows the chump, the guy who cooperated while the other guy defected, to defect in the next iteration and punish the other guy, even at his own expense, a behavior which in evolutionary psychology is known as altruistic punishment and is disturbingly common among whites, especially Northwestern Europeans and their colonial descendants. So, when the element of iterative games — having to live in a society with the people you fucked over — is added, people choose to cooperate out of their rational self-interest, fearing retribution. Problem solved, right?
Let us now consider the possibility of playing the prisoner’s dilemma with someone who just will not defect, no matter how hard, how often, how egregiously, or how shamelessly you defect on him.
But before we can do that, we must find this elusive person who just will not defect. To that, we will make a foray into personality psychology.
We know from the research of Johnathan Haidt, Anonymous Conservative, and others that disagreements between what we call conservatives and liberals aren’t caused by differing convictions so much as different neurotypes, brain structure, and neurochemistry. I won’t go into the neurological science — suffice to say that the difference between liberals and conservatives can be spotted when comparing their split results on the Big Five personality traits test. Specifically, the dominant conservative trait seems to be conscientiousness, which has the two aspects of industriousness and orderliness, whereas liberals seem to be more defined by their openness to experience. An image emerges of the stalwart, disciplined, hard-working conservative and the freewheeling, head-in-the-clouds liberal. Indeed, the existence of such stereotypes shows us that folk wisdom comports with the scientific findings.
This is nice and informative and tells us that the conservatives like order and work hard, while liberals like new experiences and are more intellectually inclined (though not necessarily more intelligent). It tells us what people like to do, but personality psychology also tells us what deeply wounds and psychologically destroys people. As I painfully learned during the coronavirus lockdowns, denying a highly extroverted person the opportunity to mingle with people and frolic in the sun causes severe depression, sometimes leading to indulgence in the few hedonic pleasures left with devastating consequences. If you want to see what highly agreeable people act like when they have nobody and nothing to care for, look no further than your nearest refugee-welcoming, pitbull-keeping white woman. Leave open people without new experiences, and they wither on the vine, going slowly insane out of boredom. And if you really want to drive a conscientious person crazy, disrupt the order of their surroundings and deny them the opportunity to contribute to their societies. The opioid crisis in America is fueled by a sense of purposelessness in the highly conscientious white Americans who’ve lost their jobs to globalization and diversity.
Now, I mentioned that the conservative is highly conscientious and conscientiousness fragments into the aspects of orderliness, which describes a preference and propensity for following rules and imposing order on one’s environment; and industriousness, which describes a preference for working (or at least a lessened disutility of labor factor, in economic terms). Denial of order and labor to these people is torturous.
So, let’s go back to our game-theoretical discussion. The conservatives, who wither on the vine if they live in disorder or stop working, are supposed to defect on the ruling class.
I want to advance the idea that they physically cannot do it.
What does defection entail in political relations? It entails breaking with the way things have been. It means primarily a shift in the way in which the world is perceived, of a sudden realization that the old order is not your friend and that the sooner it is dismantled, the better for you. Defection also entails no longer feeding the beast, which means at the very least looking for ways to sever oneself from the beast’s economic system, shifting the focus of economic activity more on independence from the system rather than being the best you can be (which is often only possible within the system).
So, basically, it’s asking people who are very orderly and very hard-working to become achievement-avoiding anarchists. Ours is not a cause that seeks to eliminate order, but to replace the existing, bad order with a good one, so we aren’t anarchists. But to someone who cannot exist outside an orderly society, we might as well be. Compounding the problem is that no serious overhaul of any system can be accomplished without a little bit of chaos — and whether we like it or not, until globohomo falls, we are on team chaos. The conscientious conservative cannot brook chaos. He is disgusted and disturbed by the very idea of chaos. Conscientious people also tend to be risk-averse, and our thing is nothing if not risky.
“It can’t be like that,” you say. Who could keep on trucking after being as thoroughly and utterly betrayed as the people of the Right? You’d have to be a blind fool or a masochist not to have enough and just stop indulging the Left. Well, it’s not as simple as that. We do see conservatives flung into uncharted territory after the Left commits another hitherto unthinkable transgression, but there’s always a coterie of quasi-preachers ministering to them in order to nudge them in the direction their neurobiology already favors.
I’ve observed and will advance as examples three such philosophies of life which appeal to conservatives and serve to provide for them a narrative of heroic cooperation while the Left and the ruling class defect on them.
The first is the philosophy of Jordan Peterson, whose response to iniquities against white young men is to have them take upon themselves the burden of finding a need in society and filling it, to “sort themselves out” so that they may be useful to the system which humiliates and seeks to eliminate them.
The second is a nasty outgrowth of American-style social conservatism that blames young white men for the recent decrease in marriage rates, advising them to “man up” and marry that 37-year-old single mother with the triple-digit body count. Really, this is nothing more than the old Cosmopolitan magazine tripe about “commitment-phobic men” that mainstream social conservatism has seen fit to accept.
The third exhibit in our sad procession is none other than our old friend QAnon, a narrative which convinced Trump supporters to heroically cooperate (“trust the plan”) even in the face of multiple and egregious defections from Donald Trump. And sure enough, these philosophies and screeds have millions of supporters, whereas the Dissident Right screed of defection from the system carries no coin with them. To them, we are losers, Nazis, and other fine epithets.
The neurology of the conservative will choose order and labor, even self-destructive order and labor (there’s that altruism characteristic of whites again) over dissent and defection. The marketplace of ideas will always provide a narrative on why cooperation in the face of repeated and blatant defection is heroic, as well. Remember, the marketplace of ideas doesn’t produce the best or truest ideas, because value is subjective. Rather, in this marketplace, those ideas that are the most subjectively valued by people will receive the most traction, and so comforting lies — and few things are as comforting as the notion that following your neurological biases is heroic — will soundly outcompete uncomfortable truths.
Let us circle back to game theory. With this information in mind, we now understand that we’re playing the prisoner’s dilemma with someone who cannot defect; ergo, they cannot punish us for our previous defections. So, even in the iterative game, the most rational strategy becomes defection, given that we are certain that the other guy will cooperate. Grudgingly, with much grumbling, with many dire warnings of Backlash Hitler, but he will cooperate. And if this is true, it may be possible that we have reached peak redpill — that even if mainstream conservatives receive all the relevant facts, they still won’t effectuate the radical change in Weltanschauung necessary to defect — their neurology won’t allow it. They will be satisfied with merely their theoretical ability to summon Backlash Hitler, make a lot of noise, maybe even take a stroll through the US Capitol, but they won’t really defect on the Left.
This leads me to conclude that the real political battle will be fought over the heads of these permanent cooperators by the political Left on one side and the Dissident Right on the other. Conservatives will not win because they’re not in the game. They’re not just unwilling, but might be neurologically incapable of taking the plunge into the strange world of defection from the system. Someone who just will not defect is always someone’s serf.
The word “elite” is thrown around a lot these days. From the context of what they’re saying, I gather that a lot of people seem to conflate it with positions within government and society. I see things differently. Elite are those who have the option of defection. The normie Right cannot defect. The bioleninist client coalition is so addicted to chaos that they cannot cooperate. The elite are those who can choose and therefore engage in an actual battle of wills. Whoever wins in this battle of wills gets to impose an equilibrium of his own choosing on the so-called normie who cannot defect, who hasn’t got the neurology for it, who watches a TV program because it’s on TV.
With that, I leave you to think. Knowing all we do now, seeing history sprawled behind us, understanding human psychology and game theory, I ask you: can we really redpill the normies? What can we accomplish by redpilling them? Could the impossible have happened?
Have we reached peak redpill?
* * *
Counter-Currents has extended special privileges to those who donate $120 or more per year.
- First, donor comments will appear immediately instead of waiting in a moderation queue. (People who abuse this privilege will lose it.)
- Second, donors will have immediate access to all Counter-Currents posts. Non-donors will find that one post a day, five posts a week will be behind a “paywall” and will be available to the general public after 30 days.
To get full access to all content behind the paywall, sign up here:
Jesse James: Last Rebel of the Civil War
The Show Trial: Moscow to Minneapolis
Two Classic Social Guidance Films
Internet Bad for Braves
Counter-Currents Radio Podcast No. 488 Jason Kessler & American Krogan on the Carny Question
The Worst Week Yet: September 11-17, 2022
An Ethnographic Guide to Political Groups in America