23 October 2021

It's insecurity management all the way down

 Insecurity doesn't make sense.  It's part of the reality map, the thing your brain constructs, not reality.

That means it's constructed directly bounded by (personal!) brain-constraints and only indirectly by reality.  (Which can take a long time to show up; consider society as ablative armour for the reality map. Consider the construction of power as how much of society is ablative armour for your personal reality map. (If you're Mr. Hohenzollern, the answer is "all of it".))

This makes how you feel about it inherently dangerous for any value of "it".  Your feelings might be valid, you feelings might be necessary, they are certainly yours, but they're also inherently dangerous.  Feelings produce certainty; they don't produce correctness.  There's an argument that, being your feelings, the consequences mostly happen to you, so this is a problem with its own built-in correcting feedback, but that argument's highly dubious at personal scales and it cannot be advanced at larger scales. (The internet is an extelligence; "my ignorance is infinite but google knows everything". It's also exo-feelings and exo-reality; the inevitable collective id-amplifier effect is not something from which individuals can plausibly defend themselves.)

Society is about insecurity management; "am I going to starve to death?", "will someone help me if I'm in trouble?", "how much custom and habit do we have for what kind of ganging up on problems?" and so on.

This is not amorphous; society is a bunch of sociotechnical assemblages, the active customs and habits for solving problems.  These do three things; most importantly, they decide which problems get solved at all.  Secondly, they constrain how you can solve a problem.  Thirdly, they express insecurity as logistical capability; insecurity becomes investment if you can connect the insecurity to something people believe will reduce that insecurity.

Simple example; owning your own home reduces your insecurity. (This is an axiom, rather than a fact.)  There's an awful lot of exceedingly similar residential construction because the machine, the socio-technical assemblage, consumes insecurity and delivers "a house", but it does it to benefit someone who neither lives in the house nor lives where the houses are built.

Less simple example; specifying the basis of insecurity is power.  Creating insecurity is more power.  People flail trying to explain this because there's no direct material connection; the complaint is an amorphous and statistical one about population statistics and how reality maps get constructed.

This has (at least) three consequences.

Firstly, if you have enough agency, you can decide to move the population statistics. There's been a lengthy right-wing project to this purpose, and it has obviously caused change in how people construct their insecurity for both material and axiomatic reasons.

Tabloid media and advertising are obvious examples; so is the way people recognize that they have a narrow range of choices if they want to keep on eating.  It's a control mechanism to embed people in a socio-technical assemblage where the only way they can survive is to surrender their entire cashflow.  This allows the appearance of agency; it doesn't have to be called slavery.  (It does diffuse the take across multiple owners, and you can can see this causing strain in the oligarchical class with the move to reinvent the company town.)

Secondly, if your personal construction of security relies on being obeyed because you said so—if you think you have socially constructed authority—reference to facts increases your insecurity.  Your core need for a feeling of security causes you to prefer to act to eradicate facts.

Thirdly, facts are a complex habit that addresses material security.  Facts don't come with an automatic mechanism connecting the material to the reality map, and this is difficult because the reality map works on narrative and facts are inherently statistical, distributed—it's not about what's in your head—and mutable as the best consensus understanding moves with the increase of knowledge.

In general, you have to be taught how to incorporate facts into your reality map construction; it's not easy, it takes practice, and it takes access to process models for how you do it with a particular category of facts.

So when we see people following any line of abject nonsense offered to them to avoid getting vaccinated, when people insist that there's no possible way their fossil carbon extraction socio-technical assemblage deserves to be shut down, or when people insist their personal construction of gender should control everyone else everywhere, the problem is not in the apprehension of facts.  The problem is that this happens because this course of action reduces their insecurity—they construct reality this way, and they do it this way because it's the easiest way to do it.

No amount of communicating facts will alter any of this.  (It's not just livelihood, it's self.  People do not want to increase their understanding in a way that alters their imagination of self.)

Teaching people how to incorporate facts into their reality map can have an affect on this.  It's a lot of work, and it supposes the people involved want to learn.  (One issue with educational funding involves whether or not your socio-technical assemblage has a general and effective mechanism for teaching this stuff.)

It's also really slow, generationally slow, and without any direct means of political articulation.

If you want effective, that's where the civil power comes in; public decisions are, well, public, and taken on facts.  The civil power acts to set bounds on conduct and enforces them with enough force to get people to do the work of altering their reality map to conform to the boundary.

A whole lot of people would go AIEE! at that; their reality map includes the idea that there's no licit exercise of power.  The folks with the authoritarian construction of insecurity management—reality is what I say it is, you are what I say you are, I can kill anything that upsets me to prove these things—aren't going to stop torturing trans kids to death until they're stopped.  There's a wodge of history that says the civil power—that idea that power is licit in proportion to the degree to which its exercise references no individual's insecurity—is the least expensive way to stop them.  Iterate for pandemic and endemic diseases, fossil carbon extraction driven climate collapse with attendant human extinction, and mammonism.

This is all the same problem; does an individual get to be much less insecure than the other members of society? (Of course I want to say materially insecure, but that's obviously not the actual problem, is it?)

If you want a functioning society, the answer is "no", and all that this implies.

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