Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Asymptotic psychology







I. Introduction:


There are different reasonsusually a complex of psychological and logical reasonswhy individuals remain asymptotic and do not graduate along the learning curve to the holistic position.

II. Terms:

To clarify the relevant categories for this discursus, we can extrapolate all the various extant dispositions with regard to the problem of Islam in vertical fashion, where the upper vector represents the more radically intolerant position, and the lower vector the more radically tolerant position:


Holistic


Asymptotic


PC MC


Leftist


Revolutionary/Gnostic


Islamic converts.

III. Preface:


1) The asymptotic area of this extrapolation seems to have the widest amplitude of any of the positions, whereby some individuals are closer to the holistic position on the high end, and closer to the PC MC position on the low end, with a wide array of locations along a spectrum in between.


2) The positions are not hermetically sealed off from the positions above and below them: each position shades off into the position above it, and in turn has roots in, and/or affinities with, the position below it.


3) We should add one final position at the top:
Islamophobicthough it is rarely linked necessarily to the holistic position below it, and more often than not simply resembles its logical conclusion. This position will become instructive as we explore the asymptotic psychology.

4) More than any other position on the list, the asymptotic position manifests a curious paradox whereby there is operative an impulse to progress to the logical conclusion of the holistic position, simultaneously with a vector inhibiting this progress from the opposite end. This paradox, in fact, is the reason why I have termed this position asymptotic. There is thus an inherent dynamism to the asymptotic position, a dynamism that either conduces to movement (of either regression towards PC MC or progression towards the holistic position), or creates a static tension insofar as the asymptotic individual shows signs of irrationally digging his heels in to a stubborn rigidity. More rarely, we will see an example of the quintessential asymptote (Hugh Fitzgerald, par excellence), whereby an asymptotic individual shows signs of increasingly approximating the holistic position over time, such that he seems to have come perilously close to within a razor’s edge of its threshhold; but strangely never quite arrives there.

5) Closely related to #4 above is a tendency for asymptotics to couch their objections to the holistic alternative in terms of a perfectionism. This is a curious tendency, for it quickly crumbles, since no holistic with half a brain would suggest that the policy measures which the West should take against Muslims are going to be perfect or will result in a definitive
“solutionto the problem of Islam. And yet, more often than not, the asymptotics persist in this tendency to criticize the holistic alternative as untenable simply because it cannot be perfect, when the holistic policy recommendations, like any other rational and sane policy recommendations, are not meant to be based upon the fantasy that they will be flawless, but are rather based on the eminently and unremarkably reasonable premise that they will be simply a better way, ultimately, to deal with the problem of Islam.

IV. Discussion:


The subsets of the asymptotic spectrum often can be explained through psychology. Some of the psychological predispositions include the followingthough note that they are all intimately convolved with each other:

1) A phobia of the West succumbing to the
slippery slope toward genocide against Muslims, and/or any number of less extreme collective measures (e.g., mass deportation, internment, etc.) deemed equally unacceptable. When this phobia is linked in the mind of the asymptotic individual with the paradigm of anti-Nazism and anti-Fascism (as it invariably is), this complex can become the main reason why the asymptotic individual is asymptotic, and more importantly, why they are seemingly stubbornly entrenched there: That is to say, for this type of asymptotic individual, the main reason why they refuse to graduate to the double epiphany of the holistic positionthat Islam is itself the threat we face, and that all Muslims are to be deemed agents of Islamis because of the aforementioned phobia linked to our collective memory of World War Two and the Holocaust.

2) More broadly, a more or less amorphous hangover of one or more axioms of the PC MC paradigm in the heart and mind of the asymptotic individual in question. Sometimes this is reflected in a misperception of the holistic position as tantamount to
Islamophobia”.

3) An innacurate, ahistorical and often irrational fetishization of democracyin the heart and mind of these particular asymptotic individuals representing a bundle of values including what they believe to be legal and constitutional impediments to the revocation of certain Western rights from Muslims in the West (and of certain international rights from Muslims outside the purview of the West) as a precondition for treating them as the collectively seditious threat they are.

4) Perhaps less prevalent in the still inchoate anti-Islam movement, a Christian humanism exerts itself
by which a combination of charitable concern for the “victims of Islam (usually women and children) and an evangelical hope that enough Muslims will eventually convert to Christianity to make a differencetranslates into becoming a psychological counter-pull to the logical conclusion of the inherently unstable asymptotic dynamic (which, of course, would cause the entire asymptotic paradigm to collapse).

V. Conclusion:

The stubborn rigidity mentioned above in III.4 psychologically reflects an internal tension in the asymptotic individual, whereby he simultaneously deems himself more moral than the holistic position (as well as more realistic of pragmatic concerns than the holistic position), while at the same time deems himself more conscientious of the Islamic threat than the PC MC position. This internal tension comes to feed on itself, as it simultaneously resists the seduction of both positions and increasingly fosters the self-perception of superiority to both, reinforced by its sense of a valiant centrism.

Because, however, of the inherent logical problems of the asymptotic position, illuminated by its inability to offer
refutations of the holistic position, it tends to result in an incoherent, non-positional limbo in between the two positions it is resisting. This limbo, in turn, feeds off of the prevailing PC MC climate, insofar as the pragmatic realization of the logical conclusion of holistic analysis that exerts itself as a vector within the asymptotic position is continually and massively frustrated by various concrete as well as more amorphous factors in our Western societiesreinforcing in the mind of the asymptotic individual simultaneously his superior sense of realism (against the holistic position) and his superior sense of conscientiousness (against the prevailing PC MC position).

P.S.:

On April 16, 2009, I very belatedly got around to excizing a passage in which I had confused the anti-Islam analyst Bill Warner with his namesake, some cranky private eye from Florida who is not only not asymptotic, he seems to be even beyond PC MC
positively Leftist in orientation.

14 comments:

Guessedworker said...

Erich,

You are grasping for the same inflation of the self as leftists, with their noisy pronouncements on racial and every other kind of equality. It's all vanity, just an attempt to impose a model on Man that installs you as a god.

Can't you see that?

No one with any psychological training is going to think highly of them or you. Quite the contrary.

Enough. If you are European by descent, use your talents to free your people from the coming darkness. If you are a Jew just say so, then we can all pack up and go home, leaving you to critique the goy with your kinsmen.

Nobody said...

Erich: 2) Sometimes this is reflected in a misperception of the holistic position as tantamount to “Islamophobia”.



Why is this a misperception? The holistic position is Islamophobia. Only that the above statement seems to assume that Islamophobia is a bad thing. Au contraire!

In fact, one could hate Islam/Muslims for reasons of the data mountain without knowing any ayats, and sometimes out of pure bigotry, and when they read the holistic analysis, it provides a very good rationalization for all those feelings previously unexplainable. This is such a thing as being accidentally right, albeit for the wrong reasons or no reasons at all. Nonetheless, Islamophobes are the asymptotes who are there throughtout, and at no point in time have been on the curve itself. In other words, they are perfect, but with the disadvantage of not knowing why!

Erich said...

Nobody,

You have a point -- but only for the likelihood that most of what could be called actual Islamophobes (and there probably aren't many of them) are relatively harmless and not "Nazis" or KKK hooligans.

On the closely related point, I'm not a fan of mangling the English language, and "phobia" strictly speaking means exactly what the PC MC people caricature anti-Islam critics as -- an irrational fear that has no basis.

As for your final point, that Islamophobes have "been there all along, but don't know why" -- that's precisely the point of my use of "misperception": the holistic person knows why he fears and opposes Islam, the Islamophobe does not, or at least nott as clearly. Hence, there is a significant enough distinction I think.

Nobody said...

Erich

From your previous essay, you combined an explicit opposition to Islam and an explicit opposition to Muslims as one in your defination of the holistic POV, and stated that one had to be both in order to be Holistic.

As far as 'irrational' goes, you are right that there is nothing 'irrational' about being anti-Islamic and/or anti-Muslim, but my point was that people who didn't/don't understand why they are that could be said to be irrational, even if their gut instincts happen to be correct. I've been that my whole life - an Islamophobe, and only in the last few years attained holistic nirvana [you should start a religion :-)]

For Islamophobic, do you define it as an opposition to either Islam or Muslims, or as opposition to both? Like I never had any clue as to whether Islam itself was good or bad, and really didn't care, since Islam was, in my mind, whatever Muslims ended up making it out to be, and in India even at the time, it wasn't pretty. But I've always been anti-Muslim: if somebody was Muslim, I'd practice a taquiyya of my own and only pretend to befriend him, if I had to at all in the first place, or else, I avoided him altogether. So would that fall in the Islamophobe definition?

In a way, Islamophobia is starting with the premise that Islam/Muslims are evil, and then acting accordingly on that basis, instead of starting with the assumption that they are all good, and inching towards the opposite conclusion through the Andes of data.

Erich said...

Nobody,

The specific linguistic problem here is that the correct (not PC, but simply correct) meaning of "phobia" must include that the fear has no basis in fact. Thus, on that correct meaning alone, holistic analysis is not "Islamophobic".

The problem is that the term "phobia" in general has become hackneyed and people in our societies tend to gloss over this basic correct meaning -- on both sides: thus a person will proudly proclaim they are "Islamophobic" meaning that their fear is justified in fact, but this is just plain incorrect linguistically. And the PC MC crowd will label people "Islamophobic" irresponsibly ignoring whether or not the person they are labeling is in fact even trying to use facts to make his case and whether those facts are indeed facts and warrant the interpretations which the supposed "Islamophobe" is deriving from them.

Your personal experience and attitudes over time do not, it seems to me, vitiate the distinction I'm making at all -- they simply represent a phase that then graduated into more clarity.

I.e., taking Islamophobia strictly (or any other phobia), one can be Islamophobic disconnected from facts and remain so, or one can graduate to establishing the rational fear and concern on the basis of facts. The problem with Islamophobes who remain so is that they would seem to be relatively too unconcerned about current events and civic responsibility to bother to do a little study, and a good number of them are probably also "phobic" about other groups of people on a kind of vaguely generalized and equivalent level (perhaps blacks, perhaps Jews, perhaps gays, etc.) and so their usefulness for the Movement becomes undermined.

Blode032222 said...

A phobia of the West succumbing to the “slippery slope” toward genocide against Muslims, and/or any number of less extreme collective measures (e.g., mass deportation, internment, etc.) deemed equally unacceptable.

You hit the nail on the head. Obviously the PC multicultists are phobic about this, but I think there are asymptotic types who are just in the stage of trying to think of responses - countermoves, as the Queen of Denmark would put it. This site concentrates mainly on terminology and epistemology; Gates of V concentrates on the news. Where is the proper forum to discuss policies? I'm just trying to get a better sense of what the West should do, beyond the obvious "Stop taking orders from the most irritating mullah".

awake said...

In guessedworker's eyes, once you eliminate the Jew from the equation, the "Muslim" problem becomes extinct.

I am sure he had a more specific point in there somewhere, yet failed miserably in the translation.

Erich said...

Blode,

"This site concentrates mainly on terminology and epistemology; Gates of V concentrates on the news. Where is the proper forum to discuss policies?"

That's a good point. I'd add that Jihad Watch concentrates mainly on news, and secondarily on analysis of propaganda in the War of Ideas (mostly Islamic and pro-Islamic PC apologetics), but like other sites, does not concentrate on policy.

One justification for this absence (and Robert Spencer has alluded to this more than once) might be that before policy can be discussed, we have to inform the Western public of the problem; to which I would add, before the Western public can properly assimilate and digest that information, we have to chip away at the PC MC paradigm by which the vast majority throughout the West filters most incoming information.

The problem is not that most people throughout the West are stupid, or cowardly, or selfish, or apolitical, or brainwashed by some dastardly cabal of Macchiaveliian "elites" who seek to destroy the West: the problem is that, through a sea change in sociopolitico-cultural consciousness over the past 60-odd years, a paradigm, a worldview has become dominant and mainstream, by which data about certain issues -- especially the politcs & geopolitics of multiculturalism -- is filtered in the mind of the average Western recipient. When incoming data that reflects poorly on non-white non-Westerners reaches the mind of the average Westerner today, that data does not go through its normal rational process of thought, but is re-routed such that certain axiomatic reflexes take over for rational thought. This same re-routing of data in the Western mind occurs for the other side of the coin -- viz., any data that reflects well on white Western culture qua white Western culture.

Since Muslims are predominately non-white and non-Western, they fit snugly into this paradigm; and because they have become the object (or potential object) of negative scrutiny and possibly criticism, the paradigm redoubles its efforts to bend over backward to protect them from said scrutiny and criticism -- and the gears of the paradigm's automatic mechanism do not care whether Muslims might have brought this scrutiny and criticism upon themselves due to their own horrible actions and expressions: all that the PC MC machine cares about is that Third World Noble Savages (and Muslims have become the #1 Poster Child for them) be protected and defended and supported at all cost, and that the white West be blamed, somehow, for anything that seems significantly amiss with Third World Noble Savages.

All that said, I don't think it would be a waste of time for one wing of the Anti-Islam Movement to concentrate on policy -- in the spirit of What Should We Do if We Could, Even Though Currently We Can't Even Begin to Put Anything on the Table for Discussion Due to Our Irrational and Insane Political Correctness Which Dominates Our Societies.

I know that Lawrence Auster has taken a stab at an adumbration of policy vis-a-vis Muslims; and so has Robert Spencer. But skeletal stabs collecting dust in blog archives do not have the same effect as ongoing sites that concentrate on analyzing and discussing policy.

Blode032222 said...

That's exactly what I'm looking for.

The problem is not that most people throughout the West are stupid, or cowardly, or selfish, or apolitical, or brainwashed by some dastardly cabal of Macchiaveliian "elites" who seek to destroy the West

Most critics of Islam don't talk that way. They talk like Westerners are 100% empty-headed livestock ... you know the drill. I suppose that is part of why your site is focussed where it is. People who assume that the West is completely incorrigible and doomed can talk about policy in a pure realm of fantasy. Your assumption that the West can be saved is obviously more optimistic but it also forces you to work harder.

I guess that is what this whole site seems like to me - hard work. It's because I am an incorrigible dreamer. Since I was a teenager I was writing little "If I ran things" essays - pure fantasy again.

Is it too early to start building a platform? I can't say. I know that, in the absence of a platform, the PC MC types are going to put all sorts of deathicide and genocamps and whathaveyous into the discussion. Just can't help it. Articulating a clear platform should help, but it probably won't. I look at the BNP platform, and the mainstream notion of what the BNP stands for - no relation. So articulating a clear platform won't shield us from strawmen.

So, I'm still mulling this over. I'm thinking an approach might be to divorce policies from holistic thinking. The latter comes off as "mere rhetoric" until the public starts doing a lot of work. The policies themselves can have narrower justification that don't require the public (opinion leaders, really) to understand the whole Spencer / Hesperado / VFR opus on the subject.

Erich said...

Blode --

Re: my previous comment about Spencer putting reportage/analysis over policy, I came across this statement by him coincidentally (while looking for something else):

"...the overwhelming majority of
Americans and others are still just as ignorant and uninformed about the nature of the problem as is Rohan Gunaratna. It is because of this that I spend the bulk of my time trying to raise awareness of the problem. In fact,I believe that pushing for certain policy recommendations before there is a general awareness of the problem they are intended to solve can actually make it less rather than more likely that the policy recommendations in question will be taken seriously and eventually adopted."


Ironically, I agree with him with one respect: I think it would be counter-productive to move too fast towards concretizing certain anti-Islam policies, if those policies are going to tend to set in stone (or at least reinforce) certain prevailing PC MC attitudes about Islam and about Muslims. What's ironic is that I believe Spencer's analysis of the problem, if it were to form a significant basis for policy, would do exactly that -- it would reinforce the asymptotic view which, policy-wise, would only be different in degree from PC MC anti-terrorism, not qualitatively different: i.e., it would target more Muslims in its net of whatever measures it would adopt (surveillance of mosques, rooting out "radical" clerics, making Sharia illegal, etc.), but not, in my view, enough Muslims.

Ideally, we should aim for all Muslims, even if this aim in concrete practice (because no system is perfect) would fall short. Wherever a holistic policy would fall short due to unavoidable imperfections would be most likely considerably better than where an asymptotic policy would positively aim for. And if aiming at more rather than less might save lives from a suitcase nuke attack in the future this -- at the very least, not counting many other good reasons (e.g., ongoing stealth jihad) -- should motivate us to push for the better, rather than compromise out of anxious deference to the sensitivities of our PC MC masters. (And one cannot be entirely sure that Spencer is simply motivated by some kind of realistic pragmatism calculating the sensitivity of our PC MC climate, or whether he in fact has some kind of Christian-humanist moral objections to treating the problem of Muslims more ruthlessly and collectively.)

Erich said...

Bode,

"Most critics of Islam don't talk that way. They talk like Westerners are 100% empty-headed livestock ... you know the drill. I suppose that is part of why your site is focussed where it is. People who assume that the West is completely incorrigible and doomed can talk about policy in a pure realm of fantasy."

Or the alternative is to place hope in some small part of the West -- perhaps some nucleus who will have a Civil War with the rest of the West who are under the control of evil "elites".

"Your assumption that the West can be saved is obviously more optimistic but it also forces you to work harder."

I'm pessimistic in the short term, but optimistic in the long term: I think over the next 50 to 100 years, it will be grim and Muslims will manage to massacre a few million Westerners in various locales, destroy lots of infrastructure, and also engage in an intensification of widespread, difficult-to-identify (especially when your identifiers, the Press, refuse to connect the dots to Islam) low-level violence (e.g., the beheading on the Canadian bus, and other examples of "Sudden Jihad Syndrome"). In the long term, however, as the Muslims inevitably push too far (since their perennial goal is precisely to have it all -- thus pushing too far by definition), the West will wake up, recoil, shake off its irrationality, and fight back rationally. Once that happens, there is no way Muslims can win, because the West is light years ahead of Islamic culture on all levels imaginable, both material and intellectual.

Having waited that long, of course, will mean that most likely our victory will be enormously bloodier and messier than it would have been if we started to fight now, rather than wait 50 to 100 years from now. But, better late than never.

"Is it too early to start building a platform?"

I don't think so. Someone should set up a site focused on that.

"...articulating a clear platform won't shield us from strawmen."

I'm afraid you're probably right. Also, we're not at the stage of actually articulating a platform, but rather of discussions and debates about a platform. The Anti-Islam movement is still inchoate and to some degree internally incoherent.

"I'm thinking an approach might be to divorce policies from holistic thinking. The latter comes off as "mere rhetoric" until the public starts doing a lot of work. The policies themselves can have narrower justification that don't require the public (opinion leaders, really) to understand the whole Spencer / Hesperado / VFR opus on the subject."

There are ways to simplify. My analyses try to cover all the bases of the complexities. The interface between the concept of holistic analysis and policy, in the context of the problem of persuasion in a PC-dominated West, can be illustrated by the following questions and their hypothetical responses:

1) Can you tell the difference between harmless Muslims and dangerous Muslims?

[Response A: This is a stupid, alarmist and Islamophobic question]

[Follow-up question:]

2) Why is question #1 stupid, alarmist and Islamophobic?

[There ensues a discussion/debate -- pretty much the one going on currently]

[Response B: Yes, we can tell the difference between harmless Muslims and dangerous Muslims]

[Follow-up question:]

3) Tell us how you can tell the difference.

[There ensues a debate on the methodology of telling a difference]

[Response C: No, we cannot tell the difference between harmless Muslims and dangerous Muslims]

[Follow-up question:]

4) Then how do we prevent terrorist attacks, if we can't tell the difference?

[There ensues discussion on policy in light of the conceded impossibility of telling the difference]

Nobody said...

Blode: "Is it too early to start building a platform?"

Erich: I don't think so. Someone should set up a site focused on that.

Blode

There is a party in the US called the Loyalist Party, whose mission statement is to confront Islam, since it's unique in identifying Muslims as the enemy. Their platform is a good place to start - they have it right on immigration and deportation of jihadis, and go from there.

You can go there when their website is up, and see what could be done in terms of formulating policy.

Of course, if you are a Brit, looks like the BNP is what you have. If Erich posts an essay on them, I'll wager that he'd have a record long thread, given the precedence on JihadWatch. ;-)

Blode032222 said...

Whoa, Nobody, I can't believe I missed the Loyalist Party. I consider myself a mini-expert on small political parties ... I've heard of the English Democrats but not a party in my own country! I suppose the Loyalists are very new but I haven't checked out there site too much.

One thing that struck me: "Aren't you just taking valuable votes away from the G.O.P.?" That one made me chuckle.

I'm fairly pessimistic about minor parties, but it can't hurt to take a look. We're not Canada yet!

Blode0322 said...

I finally got around to registering for the Loyalist Party forum. It is completely deserted. So it's obviously not "the liveliness of the party" that makes me interested - it's the greatness of the platform. I think I'll post there once a week or so for a while and see if I can get the snowball rolling again....