Communal Salvation

The two basic drivers of social change are fear of death and caloric surplus. They exist, as Marxists would say if they cared about actual human behavior, dialectically — the fear of death prompts a frantic search for caloric surplus; once attained, caloric surplus makes the once-adaptive fear of death neurotic and dysfunctional, literally morbid.

This is why the behavior of the historically very small populations who managed to attain caloric surplus was so spectacularly weird. Consider this:

Feel free to google up more, but I’ll rest my case there. Indeed, you could go so far as to say that the story of culture — not civilization, culture — is the ongoing attempt to integrate the ever-increasing fraction with caloric surplus into the existing expressions. Hieroglyphic becomes hieratic becomes demotic.

At some point, the fraction-with-surplus achieves critical mass, and the culture shifts. Veda becomes vedanta — a warrior religion for the few who could win their surplus with the sword becomes a highly ritualized cult system for the masses, with a highly developed intellectual apparatus (which is a jobs program for the sons-of-surplus who can’t fight). Gods are anthropomorphized, until the fraction-in-surplus grows sufficiently large that the god — singular in this case — is literally a man.


See also: Greek and Roman demigods, the Cult of the Divine Augustus, etc.

One thing never changes, though: Salvation is only open to members of the collective. Yes, Christianity too, despite what Paul said, as a moment’s glance at actual practice will confirm. The whole point of the religious apparatus is to police the edges of the community.

This need for policing becomes acute when, as now, the fraction-in-surplus approaches 1. As with everything coming out of the Cathedral, the numbers on “hunger in America” are pure fantasy. In case you haven’t had your intelligence insulted so far today — and if that’s the case, stop logging on to Rotten Chestnuts the minute you roll out of bed — here’s the photo Wiki uses to illustrate “hunger in America;”

Not a living soul in that photo is anything less than stocky, and the dude in the burgundy shirt is grossly obese. If that’s “food insecurity,” then Mighty Pharaoh himself would’ve traded half his empire to be insecure.

Thus fear of death folds back in on itself. As pretty much every Victorian anthropologist remarked, “savages” all seem deliriously happy — when life is a constant struggle, your every moment is filled with deep meaning, high purpose. So, too, with men at war — Robert Graves or someone like that once said that his time in the trenches were the greatest moments of his life, because everything other than the now disappeared. I can’t speak from personal experience, but I’d lay good money that no combat veteran completely re-enters the civilian world, largely for this reason.

Those are reasonable fears of death. We all accept, intellectually, that we could go at any time, and we will inevitably go eventually, but unless you’ve had a brush with death — a moment where you know, with perfect clarity, that there’s a significant chance you’re going now — you can’t really appreciate it, emotionally.

Having never had that experience, those with the most surplus develop morbid patterns of thought to escape any possible reminder of their own mortality. Their goal is to be as childlike as possible — again, not in the right way, but in the sense of “utter dependence.” They have only their immediate bodily needs, and their only response to any situation is to throw a tantrum.

At the same time, they desperately try to shore up the borders of the community, any community, such that they and only they can be saved. Hence the legendary nastiness of Leftist infighting — both the Judaean People’s Front and the People’s Front of Judaea hate the Romans, of course, but their hatred for the Empire is casual. Their hatred for each other, though, is incandescent, precisely because they’re all but impossible for outsiders to tell apart.


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7 thoughts on “Communal Salvation

  1. Some Guy

    From wikipedia: “Low food security, previously called food insecurity without hunger, occurs when individuals experience a decrease in the “quality, variety, or desirability of diet” but do not exhibit reduced food intake.” So it’s definition shenanigans. Like when I went to the VA after I got out and was informed I was a homeless veteran. This was news to me as I was living with my parents, quite literally at home. However they informed me since my name wasn’t on a lease or a mortgage I counted as homeless.

    1. Severian Post author

      It always is.

      I remember being one of those “millions of Americans without health insurance” that Obama was always going on about. I’d left one job, and was going to start another job in a few months, but since I could’ve leased a Maserati for what that COBRA bullshit cost per month, as a young healthy individual I simply did without. Totally voluntary, but I was stupid – I probably could’ve had a million dollars in government “help” if I’d played my cards right, being one of the poor unfortunate “uninsured” as I was….

      1. Codex

        Yes. I did the same in my salad days.

        Did you know you can maintain good oral health dead cheap by using the “new patient” discount local and N00b dentists offer and paying cash?

        And a note to your prepper readers since this seems to be a masculine site, from the wife/mom interloper: Get your teeth cleaned and your dental work done *now* before end-of-year and the more punitive lock downs. And your kids.

        Poor oral hygiene kills.


        1. Severian Post author

          All are welcome here. It’s more male oriented, sure, but these kinds of topics are generally more interesting to men. But no exclusions apply, since we’re talking about the world here: the world is what it is; the facts are what they are.

  2. The Right Doctor

    We’ve only had dominion over nature since we began to play by her rules.

    The period of figuring out the rules was the Enlightenment. Playing by the rules of the physical sciences then led to the first of several Industrial Revolutions.

    Now, buoyed by the success of white-man civilization in providing a comfortable existence, some feel we can make up our own rules. I mean, we’re in charge, right?

  3. Codex

    A question for Mr S

    Could you elaborate:
    1. Salvation is for everyone (St. Paul)
    2. Underpants
    3. Religious communities are exclusive. (True)

    Dead serious: Based on the (in some cases loony) diversity of Protestant sects (and local Catholic variations) you appear to be playing the Non Sequitur Game*. But based on your other writing, I’m missing your mental steps.

    *You follow up whatever you say with something completely unrelated. If you get three in a row before your interlocutor shouts: “Non sequitur!” you win

    1. Severian Post author

      Sure, but in this case it’s not a non sequitur (it never *really* is). I said “as a moment’s glance at **actual practice** will confirm” (emphasis added). Theory vs “praxis,” as the commies say.

      Paul said we are all one in Christ. That’s the theory. In practice, *your* group isn’t really “in Christ,” because reasons; only MY exclusive group is.

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