Don't call it a spade
The Social Module
It’s common now among scientists of the brain to propose that the brain is made out of separate modules, which receive input, process it, and produce an output, often in the form of behavior. If you’ve read any Haidt or Pinker you know what I’m talking about.
Letting aside the question of whether the brain actually works like that, even if we understand the idea of “module” as metaphorical, it does seem to be a productive framework.
Imagine that human beings all have a number floating above their heads. Like the HP floats above a character on a RPG or a strategy videogame. Let’s say it’s a three-figure number. That’s your Status Points. It’s more of an ordinal system; 001 means you’re awesome, 999 means you’re some omega piece of shit.
Now, we can’t actually see that number (maybe we could in the lost ancient Golden Age of Magic); but we have a pretty good feeling for it. For all purposes a big chunk of a brain is dedicated to perceiving this number in oneself and in others. Some people are better, some are worse, there’s a bell curve of SP perception. But all humans are pretty good at that.
The number isn’t quite fixed. It hovers around a certain range, depending on the social circle you are at on a given moment. We all know people who are alpha at work and beta at home, people who are bullied at school but high status with a different group of friends. The SP number hovering around your head changes in these circumstances, and everybody else is able to perceive it, and act upon that knowledge.
Now one could propose that the basic principle of human behavior is to raise the SP number. Sure there’s survival and reproduction. Most people would forget all their socialization if left hungry and thirsty for days in the jungle. But more often than not, survival and reproduction depend on being high status; having a good name among your peers is the best way to get food, housing and hot mates.
The way to raise one’s SP number depends on thousands of different factors. We could grab most of them and call them “culture”. In China having 20 teenage mistresses as an old man raises your SP; in Western polite society it is social death. In the West making a fuss about disobeying one’s parents raises your SP, everywhere else it lowers it a great deal. People know that; which is why bureaucrats in China go to great lengths to acquire a stash of young women (who they seldom have time to actually enjoy), while teenagers in the West go to great lengths to be annoying to their parents for no good reason.
There are other modules in the brain; one allows you to see, another to hear, another to recognize faces, another to find your way home, another to make accurate predictions about reality. All of those are useful, which is why we evolved them in the first place. Brain tissue is expensive. But the SP optimization module likely has higher priority. It is nice to see; but blind people can make a living. It’s important to recognize faces; but face blind people can make a living. Being unable to appraise one’s status and try to improve, however, leads to likely social death, and human groups being what they are, social death leads with almost complete certainty to bullying, scapegoating, and eventual death. In the best of cases you are ostracized and sent to starve or be eaten by wild animals in the forest.
It thus shouldn’t surprise us that something as completely absurd as Progressivism is the law of the land in most of the world today, even though it denies obvious reality. It is not the case that most people know that progressive points are all bogus, but obey because of fear or cowardice. No, an average human brain has much more neurons being used to scan the social climate and see how SP are allotted, than neurons being used to analyze patterns in reality to ascertain the truth. Surely your brain does care a great deal about truth in some very narrow areas of concern to you. Remember Conquest’s first law: Everybody is Conservative about what he knows best. You have to know the truth about what you do, if you are to do it effectively.
But you don’t really care about truth anywhere else. And why would you? It takes time and effort you can’t really spare, and it’s not really necessary. As long as you have some area of specialization where you can make a living, all the rest you must do to achieve survival and reproduction is to raise your SP so you don’t get killed and your guts sacrificed to the mountain spirits.
SP theory (I accept suggestions for a better name) can also explains the behavior of leftists. Many conservatives of a medium level of enlightenment point out the paradox that leftists historically have held completely different ideas. Leftism used to be about the livelihood of industrial workers, now they agitate about the environment, or feminism, or foreigners. Some people would say that’s just historical change, or pull a No True Scotsman about this or that group not being really leftists. But that’s transparent bullshit; very often we see a single person shifting from agitating about Communism and worker rights, to agitate about global warming or rape culture.
Most people, including leftists themselves, perceive those different movements with completely unrelated ideas to be the same thing, i.e. “leftism”. There’s good reason for that; this feeling is not the output of a logic module; it’s the output of our SP module. We unconsciously classify people according to their character. “Character” is what we call consistent patterns of behavior. A large, if not the largest part of human behavior is SP maximization. It follows that what we call “leftism” is a particular strategy of SP maximization, used by a proportion of the population in all countries and cultures.
The leftist strategy could be defined as “psychopathic SP maximization”. Leftists attempt to destroy social equilibrium so that they can raise their SP number. If humans are, in a sense, programmed to constantly raise their status, well high status people by definition can’t raise it anymore (though they can squabble against each other for marginal gains), their best strategy is to freeze society in place so that they can enjoy their superiority. High status people by definition have power, and thus social hierarchy during human history tends to be quite stable.
This goes against the interests of many. First of all the lower status people, who, well, want to raise their status, but can’t manage to do so. And it also goes against the interests of the particularly annoying members of the upper class who want to raise their status on the margin. Conservative people can be defined as those who, no matter the absolute level, are in general happy with it. This doesn’t mean they don’t want higher status (by definition all humans do), but the output of other brain modules may conclude that attempts to raise SP might threaten one’s survival and reproduction; or just that the chances of raising one’s individual SP is hopeless, so one might as well stay put.
Leftists have a raging desire to raise SP, one which overpowers all other modules, and which doesn’t care much about risk assessment. Thus they seek to agitate to destroy the current social equilibriums, both local and wider, by any means possible. If agitation by lower class leftists reaches some momentum, they may ally with the upper class leftists (marginal SP seekers) and actually pull off a revolution.
Again the particular content of their ideas is completely irrelevant. As it happens, humans evolved in fairly egalitarian forager groups, so egalitarianism always has a pleasant feeling for many. In Western society, a tradition of Christian doctrine and state-church conflict meant that individualist egalitarianism also has religious backing, so leftists (sociopathic status seekers, S3) had so much material to work with.
The populace will agree or disagree with leftist agitation to the extent that their SP modules compute that they can raise their status by doing so. At first, most people might find it better to stay loyal to the system. Some may have proclaimed their commitment in the past, and thus would look very sneaky if they defected. Most would just think there’s little chance of actual change, so why risk it.
Once momentum rises though, the best strategy is to join the party before it’s too late. Of course this may not necessarily raise your status. The leftists may have coordinated among an idea that makes you evil. They may have coordinated among a set of rituals that you find repulsive. You might have committed in the past very strongly to principles that go against leftist ideas, and you can’t pull off a reversal. Even if you just went for it and lied your way in, eventually the purges will begin and you’ll be the first one shot. Which is why not everybody becomes a leftist; it’s not always a good individual strategy. I’m sure all my readers can relate to this.
Now, anti-social agitation is generally a one-off event, a rebellion, perhaps a long war or a revolution. The modern West, though, is very wealthy, and has been able to afford constant agitation for quite some time. Under this circumstances, the little radio in our brains which tells us how to optimize our status have a hard time keeping up. What people do is extract some abstract schema of what is high status now, and what leftist agitators are shouting about. The best strategy is to adopt some vague keywords from the conventional wisdom, and proclaim one’s loyalty to that, while leaving the door open for plausible innovations by new leftists. So yes! Racism is evil. Feminism is great! Global warming is a serious problem! Transsexuals? Well, I don’t know. But we’re a free country, right? Oh, you mean Bruce Jenner is on drag in the NYT? Transsexuals are awesome! Pedophiles? Well… people can’t choose their orientation… I think.
You can’t blame people for being logically inconsistent; because they can’t possibly know anything about all these issues. Few have any experience or knowledge about evolution and human races, or about the history of black people to make an informed judgment on HBD. Few have time to learn about sex differences, and stuff like the climate is as close to unknowable as there is. Opinions about anything but a very narrow area of expertise are always output of your SP module, not any judgment of fact. People don’t know the facts. And even when they know; I mean most people have enough experience with sex differences and black dysfunction to be quite confident that progressive ideas are false. But you can never be sure. As Hume said, the laws of physics are a judgment of habit; who is to say that a genie isn’t going to change all you know the next morning? At any rate, you’re always better off toeing the line, following the conventional wisdom, and keeping your dear SP. Perhaps you can even raise them a bit. And that is very nice. It is niceness itself.