The Hard Truths

Since I just don’t have the time to put together a Friday Book Club — sorry — maybe we can all kick in on this: A list of the hard truths.

I don’t mean stuff like “Blacks commit way disproportionately more crime” or “the 19th Amendment was a big mistake.”  While those are true enough, they’re also common knowledge — why do you think the PTB go to such great lengths to suppress any mention of them?  For “hard truths” I mean things that we ourselves — the students of History, the “conservatives,” the saturnine — have a hard time looking at straight on, and indeed try very hard to forget.  Stuff like this:

Humans can’t handle abundance.  One of my favorite “jokes” is that I’m the only guy I know who really believes in evolution.  By which I mean: If you grant that we humans are, in fact, great apes — that we share 96% of our DNA with chimps — then 96% of our behavior follows.  Any group of humans will invariably behave like an equivalent-sized group of monkeys, because we are monkeys.

Monkeys, like all lower animals, are hardwired for life on the ragged edge of survival.  Malthus got it right, back in the 18th century – a given population will always expand to the limits of its food supply, and that explains the behavior of both the population and its individual members.  Dogs, for example, will breed any time there’s a female in heat, the males fighting it out among themselves for access.  Dogs will eat until they vomit, then go back and eat the vomit.

Humans work the same way.  But there’s one crucial difference — while every other population has hard limits on its food supply, ours is effectively limitless.  Ask any overweight person (these days, that’s pretty much all of us) who has ever seriously tried a calorie reduction diet.  It’s almost impossible, and not just because our foods are packed with high-calorie, glucose-spiking artificial crap like corn syrup.  Even if you go all natural, you find yourself overeating, because we have 24/7/365 access to all kinds of perfectly natural products that don’t suit us, and screw us up.  Yeah yeah, it’s “healthy,” “natural” food… but do you know how much sugar is in a cup of strawberries?

This isn’t some kind of Paleo diet manifesto.  I don’t care what you eat (and I myself am not the paragon of optimized nutrition).  I’m trying to point out that abundance is pathological in itself.  Because we’re just monkeys, our systems follow a kind of nutritional Say’s Law — supply creates its own demand, such that we give ourselves diabetes eating nothing but “natural” fruits from climates we’re not genetically adapted to.

And it’s not just our food.  Our environment, too, is far too secure for our firmware.  We’re wired for threat detection.  So wired, in fact, that city dwellers who go camping often freak themselves out in the quiet of the forest — did that bush just move?!?  Your threat-detection hardware can’t be shut off, so when you take away the constant barrage of stimulus in the city, you actually start to hallucinate threats.

In other words, the abundance of our environment has screwed up our eustress.  “Eustress” is beneficial stress, the kind that makes you stronger, and it applies to everything in your body.  Lifting weights is eustress on your muscles; solving math problems is eustress for your mind.  Everything about our biological life is designed around maximizing eustress — change your material conditions, and your body (and mind!) will adapt.  Humans are amazingly hard to kill — even in concentration camps, the numerical majority of those not killed outright by the guards survived to tell the tale.

That adaptability, too, is hardwired.  We can’t shut off our eustress-maximization mechanism — “life force,” “will to power,” whatever you choose to call it — any more than we can consciously, voluntarily shut off our hearts.  If there’s no stress available in our environment to eustress against, we’ll make some…

…and that’s modern life right there.  Again, look at the Kavanaugh circus.  The only thing wrong with those people is that they’re bored.  Feminism didn’t exist in the 19th century, simply — and it really is this simple — because sex often resulted in conception, and conception opened up the very real risk of painful death.  Add infant mortality to the mix — a 1 in 2 chance your child will die before the age of five concentrates the mind wonderfully — and you’ve got all the stress, eu- and the other kind, that anyone could ever need.  Only barren spinsters from rich families could afford to worry about politics back then; now we’re all barren spinsters.

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19 thoughts on “The Hard Truths

  1. nightfly

    “The blubbery arms of the soft life had Bond round the neck and they were slowly strangling him.” -Sir Ian Fleming, From Russia, With Love

  2. Jimmy

    Pretty sure you’ve covered this severian, so nothing new but – leftist subversion will always be with us. It’s built into the human condition to envy, complain, lack sense of proportion etc.

    No matter what we do or what political system we are able to establish, these…things, will always be there, working to destroy social order and harmony. From what I can tell (and I have a fraction of your historical knowledge so feel free to correct me), every social system since agriculture has been fighting (and over the very long term, losing) the leftist efforts to sow chaos and destroy the competent.

    It’s a long war but looking around it’s difficult to conclude they haven’t been consistently winning since at least mid Roman empire. This abortion of a society we live in is the masterwork at the end of the process.

    It’s enough to make you speculate wildly on entropy having a deeply social dimension like some inverted Hegel or something (430am here, pardon the rambling stream of consciousness response)

    1. MBlanc46

      Of course utopian fantasies will always be with us. And while hard times might make utopian fantasies even more appealing, hard times might also brong more people to the realization that there’s no sich thing as a free lunch.

  3. Martinian

    The one I always have a really hard time with is something along the lines of:

    Facts and Reasoned Argument are useless or even counterproductive in the face of a successful emotional appeal.

    Education was once supposed to train you out of this habit, which in turn suggests that culture at one point understood and generally accepted not only that emotions have a decisive edge over reason, but also that that was actually a Bad Thing. So you could at least count on educated people agreeing that it was the mature albeit difficult thing to do to step back and try to be impartial, and this allowed sufficient space for multiple points of view and civil disagreement.

    With the PoMo equation of Outrage = Morality, we now have mob rule, and I’m pessimistic about being able to buy the genie back in the bottle in the era of social mass media…

  4. Jimmy

    Yes, good one. I always thought a critical lesson for all smart kids to learn is: it doesn’t matter if you’re right. It’s amazing looking back how confident I was that having the right argument and being correct on the facts of the matter would provide a consistent and substantial advantage in life.

    Life experience soon taught me they were almost a disadvantage. We live in a society where reason, discernment, judiciousness, temperance, good faith – these things are literally maladaptive for those seeking power.

  5. MBlanc46

    This analysis is pretty much why I keep telling Mme B that what the republic needs is a serious, barnburner of a depression. People worried about where their next meal is coming from won’t be wasting their time on pussyhat marches and protesting SC nominations. Perhaps the likes of George Soros will end up throwing himself off a skyscraper.

  6. Frip

    Severian: “Humans can’t handle abundance.”

    Dr. Johnson on the pyramids:

    “I consider this mighty structure as a monument to the insufficiency of human enjoyments.

    …They seem to have been erected only because of that hunger of imagination which preys incessantly upon life, and must be always appeased by some employment. Those who have already all that they can enjoy must enlarge their desires. He that has built for use till use is supplied, must begin to build for vanity.

    A king, whose power is unlimited, and whose treasures surmount all real and imaginary wants, is compelled to solace, by the erection of a Pyramid, the satiety of power, and tastelessness of pleasures, and to amuse the tedium of declining life.”

  7. Jay Carter


    I kinda like this one penned by Rush.

    #24: Feminism was established so as to allow unattractive women access to the mainstream of society.

  8. Al from da Nort

    Excellent points. But you forgot war (the absence thereof due to nuclear weapons deterring it – so far) as another factor in the current dysfunctional situation. In the ‘state of nature’ among the great apes there is constant intra-species competition, often fatal. We don’t have that right now, in the West, that is.

    If the tribe from over the hill is likely to try to kill the men and take the women by force, there is no room to indulge female drama. And for any group so stupid as to tolerate it, said females will shortly end up slaves, if they’re lucky.

    1. Severian

      I didn’t forget it — as you say, it has been “overtaken by events” (but don’t worry, someone will cut loose a nuke here in the next few decades. Like the scorpion said to the frog, it’s in me nature).

      As the Cat Fanciers said, war keeps us hard. If we’re going to keep the widespread prosperity we have, we need to find some equivalent to war to keep us tough. I really don’t see that happening (though I for one would pay just about anything to see a pay-per-view broadcast of your average soyboi in basic training, getting yelled at by the saltiest old gunny the Corps can drag out of retirement. We could fix the national debt selling tickets to that).

        1. Pickle Rick

          Hahahaha that isn’t even close to the way they used to do it when the cameras ain’t around!

          That does bring up something important. “war” (or military service) of Current Year isn’t the hardening agent you civilians imagine it to be. I know, because I was there, and I know, because I’ve studied the culture and conditions of the past. It’s not even remotely the same.

          1. Severian Post author

            Is that because war is easier now, or because of technology? Or is it just that perceptions haven’t caught up yet?

            E.g. support to combat ratios. Even in the Civil War it was something like 2:1 – for every one soldier in the infantry there were 2 cooks, quartermasters, clerks, etc. It gets much more skewed as technology advances and conflict intensity decreases — I think in Vietnam it was something like 15:1, but I don’t have figures to hand. Those of us who saw “Platoon” etc. when we were younger hear “Vietnam vet” and we think of Tom Berenger mixing it up in the wire with Charlie; in reality, most Vietnam vets were in the theater, not in-country, and even those in-country weren’t in the infantry.

            This is not to take anything away from anyone’s service. However, a clerk is still a clerk, a mechanic is still a mechanic, a REMF* is still a REMF (is that the Marine term? or do they call ’em pogues in the Corps?). Even in WWII there were a lot of guys, probably the majority of guys, whose biggest hazard in the service was a paper cut. What’s the support:trigger ratio now? I’d bet it’s at least 25:1….

            So yeah, I can see that “going off to war” is, for probably MOST people, little more than an extra-long commute. Am I reading you right, or is that off base?

            *Rear Echelon Mother Fucker, another bit of ‘Nam slang my friends and I picked up from our Dads and older brothers, but probably not in wide use.

          2. Al from da Nort

            I was in during Vietnam (VN) but never ‘in theater’ much less ‘in country’. Why_?

            A great deal of military strength had to be at the ready should the Red Army or PLA (Chinese Peoples’ Liberation Army) decide we were tied down enough in VN to make their move. As you say, a supply ‘box kicker’ was just that *most of the time*.

            However, in VN the back areas were only sorta secure, so Charlie tried his best to make life interesting for the REMF’s whenever he was able.* So it behoved one to know where the slit trench was at all times. I knew several guys who were wounded by Charley’s rocket fragments at major bases. And whenever there was an alert, the supply guys, being temporarily unneeded, were detailed as auxiliary base defenders.**

            Even in the ETO (European Theater of Operations) it was a schizophrenic existence in that life was pretty easy but you knew that could change real fast to being really bad. And it was up to the officers to make sure everybody knew this and acted accordingly. Not whining, just saying. My perception, from talking to those who were there, was that during VN either your tour was pretty easy (so long as you avoided being stupid) or really bad with little in between.

            Bottom Line: Because we had real, capable enemies (even if over the horizon) a military attitude was still important for any and all REMF’s but only effective command could ensure that it was so. Sometimes this didn’t happen, particularly as morale collapsed late in the VN war. How to create and maintain this is today’s PC military has got to be a real challenge.
            * This was particularly true in the Pacific Theaters during WWII. Due to the Island Hopping strategy there were plenty of Japanese soldiers left behind in the various jungles. So most bases were only truly secure until after the was was over.
            ** The rule was, regardless of rank, if you were an auxiliary, the full-time base defender was in charge of your shared foxhole. Had to be on of each. Only REMF’s in a foxhole was asking for real trouble.

      1. Rod1963

        They’d melt into a puddle of goo and just whine within a hour of getting off the bus if you did that. It would be like sandblasting a Saltine Cracker.

        The average soy boy have T levels of a 100 year old man. Buzzfeed did a T test on their top soyboys and it was a horror show. Near non-existent levels of Testosterone.

        BTW the execs of BigTech look identical. Very frail little men, no musculature, bad posture, no visible expression of vitality, etc. They all look like they lost a fight with a vampire.

        To me they reflect the utter degeneracy that has gripped the West. Too weak to create the barbarian, we created a real life Eloi, fit only to be harvested for biomass.

  9. TBoone

    My add to thoughts already expressed: Facts & reason sadly will not ‘beat’ emotions in an argument, we won’t convince people against their feelings.

    Facts & Truth will help us identify serious people who are either in ‘our thing’ or at the very least interested. We have to be prepared to discuss the Truth when the time is right, when the opportunity presents itself…

  10. Pickle Rick

    Sev- it’s a number of factors, including the shift to “4th generation war” (or MOOTW-military operations other than war) instead of traditional army vs army of nation states that’s been the paradigm for centuries.

    With the advent of technology connections, even being in a war zone still allows military personnel to retain one foot in the civilian world and thus behave emotionally as a civilian, instead of immersion into the primary group and bonding of previous generations of soldiers, sailors or Marines. You can be in a firefight and go back to a base and argue with your wife about the kids. It creates a dichotomy that is unprecedented. That’s why the PTSD is through the roof compared to WWI or WWII.

    Feminization of male culture (as a whole for recruits before enlisting and within the military culture itself) is a real problem.

    Check out this book. Creveld knows what’s up.

      1. Pickle Rick

        That’s my hard truth- the Next Big War against any opponent who aren’t backwards muslim savages, who have the ability to match us technologically while surpassing us in fighting spirit (China) will win. We’ve been beating our chests about US military supremacy since 1945, forgetting that we’ve only fought proxy or limited wars or Muslims, who suck at war.

        Trump, for all his saber rattling, knows we have a hollow force, especially if our technical crutch is kicked out from under us.

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