Hoe ‘Links’ dankzij een apocalypse ‘Rechts’ beter kan begrijpen

Dit is een stukje uit “A thrive/survive theory of the political spectrum,” gepubliceerd in 2013 op slatestarcodex.com door Scott Alexander.

Ik heb tot nog toe geen betere denkoefening gevonden waarbij links (liberaal gedachtengoed) rechts (conservatief gedachtengoed) beter kan begrijpen.

Voor iemand zoals mij, die qua persoonlijkheidstype eerder liberaal (pro-keuze, anti-hiërarchie, creatief, zie mijn Big Five test) neigt, en in het politieke spectrum eerder centrum-rechts terechtkomt (ergens tussen libertair, anarchokapitalistisch en een stadstaat-mens), merkte ik bij het lezen dat ik het typisch “rechts” gedachtengoed een stuk beter kon plaatsen.

Het hele essay is de moeite waard, en zeker het stukje over virtue signaling. Daar hebben we nog geen echt Nederlands woord voor. Deugdsignalering? Deugdexhibitionisme? Dieper in dit onderwerp duik je met The Elephant in the Brain: Hidden Motives in Everyday Life.


“I propose that the best way for leftists to get themselves in a rightist frame of mind is to imagine there is a zombie apocalypse tomorrow. It is a very big zombie apocalypse and it doesn’t look like it’s going to be one of those ones where a plucky band just has to keep themselves alive until the cavalry ride in and restore order. This is going to be one of your long-term zombie apocalypses. What are you going to want?

First and most important, guns. Lots and lots of guns.

Second, you’re going to have a deep and abiding affection for the military and the police. You’re going to hope that the government has given them a lot of funding over the past few years.

Third, you’re going to start praying. Really hard. If someone looks like they’re doing something that might offend God, you’re going to very vehemently ask them to stop. However few or many atheists there may be in foxholes, there are probably fewer when those foxholes are surrounded by zombies. Or, as Karl Marx famously said of zombie uprisings, “Who cares if it’s an opiate? / It’s time to pray!”

Fourth, you’re going to be extremely suspicious of outsiders. It’s not just that they could be infected. There are probably going to be all sorts of desperate people around, looking to steal your supplies, your guns, your ammo. You trust your friends, you trust your neighbors, and if someone who looks different than you and seems a bit shifty comes up to you, you turn them away or just kill them before they kill you.

Fifth, you’re going to want hierarchy and conformity. When the leader says run, everyone runs. If someone is constantly slowing the group down, questioning the group, causing trouble, causing dissent, they’re a troublemaker and they can either shut up or take their chances on their own. There’s a reason all modern militaries work on a hierarchical system that tries to maximize group coherence.

Sixth, you are not going to be sentimental. If someone gets bitten by the zombies, they get shot. Doesn’t matter if it’s really sad, doesn’t matter if it wasn’t their own fault. If someone breaks the rules and steals supplies for themselves, they get punished. If someone refuses to pull their weight, they get left behind. Harsh? Yes. But there’s no room for people who don’t contribute in a sleek urban postapocalyptic zombie-fighting machine.

Seventh, you want to maximize wealth. Whatever gets you the supplies you need, you’re going to do. If that means forcing people to work jobs they don’t like, that’s the sacrifice they’ve got to make. If your raid on a grocery store leaves less behind for everyone else, well, that’s too bad but you need the food. Are woodland animals going to go extinct as more and more survivors retreat to the woods and rely on them for food? That’s not the kind of thing you’re worried about when you’re half-starved and only a few hours ahead of the zombie horde.

Eighth, strong purity/contamination ethics. We know that purity/contamination ethics are an evolutionary defense against sickness: disgusting things like urine, feces, dirt, blood, insects, and rotting corpses are all vectors of infection; creepy animals like spiders, snakes, and centipedes are all vectors for poisoning. Maybe right now you don’t worry too much about this. But in a world where the hospitals are all overrun by zombies and you need to outrun a ravenous horde at a moment’s notice, this becomes a much bigger deal. Not to mention that anything you catch might be the dreaded Zombie Virus.

Ninth, an emphasis on practical skills rather than book learning. That eggheaded Professor of Critical Studies? Can’t use a gun, isn’t studying a subject you can use to invent bigger guns, not a useful ally. Probably would just get in the way. Big masculine men who can build shelters and fight with weapons are useful. So are fertile women who can help breed the next generation of humans. Anyone else is just another mouth to feed.

Tenth, extreme black and white thinking. It’s not useful to wonder whether or not the zombies are only fulfilling a biological drive and suffer terribly when you kill them despite not being morally in the wrong. It’s useful to believe they’re the hellish undead and it’s your sacred duty to fight them by any means necessary.

In other words, “take actions that would be beneficial to survival in case of a zombie apocalypse” seems to get us rightist positions on a lot of issues. We can generalize from zombie apocalypses to any desperate conditions in which you’re not sure that you’re going to make it and need to succeed at any cost.

What about the opposite? Let’s imagine a future utopia of infinite technology. Robotic factories produce far more wealth than anyone could possibly need. The laws of Nature have been altered to make crime and violence physically impossible (although this technology occasionally suffers glitches). Infinitely loving nurture-bots take over any portions of child-rearing that the parents find boring. And all traumatic events can be wiped from people’s minds, restoring them to a state of bliss. Even death itself has disappeared. What policies are useful for this happy state?

First of all, we probably shouldn’t have a police force. Given that crime is impossible, at best they would be useless and at worst they might go around flexing their authority and causing trouble.

Second, religion seems kind of superfluous. Throughout history, richer civilizations have been less religious and our post-scarcity society should be no exception. What would you pray for? What fear is there for faith to allay? With vast supercomputers that know all things, what lingering questions are there for the Bible to answer?

Third, assuming people still have jobs or something, we should probably make them as nice as possible. It doesn’t matter if it hurts productivity; we’re producing far more than we need anyway. We should enforce short work hours and ample maternity and paternity leave so that everyone has time to concentrate on the more important things in life.

Fourth, interest in the environment. We have no shortage of material goods; if our lives lack anything it is beauty and connection to nature. So it will be nice to have as many pleasant green spaces as possible; and if this means a little less oil, it’s not like our Oil-Making-Machines can’t make up the extra.

Fifth, free love. There’s no worries about STDs, the family unit isn’t necessary for any kind of economic survival, and the nurture-bots and trauma-erasure-centers can take care of the kids of anything goes wrong. And since we don’t have anything else to do, we might as well enjoy ourselves with infinite sex.

I was going to go for ten here too, but you get the picture. This world of infinite abundance is a great match for leftist values. I imagine even a lot of rightists and Reactionaries would be happy enough with leftism in a situation like this.

(Recent kwam van SlateStarCodex.com een verhaal van achter de schermen over hoe de online Reddit community de website ontgroeide. Een fascinerende kijk op de problematiek met ons huidig internet-media-systeem.)

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