The Daily Austrian: Select quotes from seriously informed thinkers

Originally published in 1944, F.A. Hayek’s The Road to Serfdom is an eminently readable tome that, in my humble opinion, cogently identified the root causes of 20th-Century totalitarianism and provided a stark warning to the author’s still-nominally-liberal contemporaries that their respective societies were headed in the exact same direction as their totalitarian precursors.

The modern reader will marvel at the prescience of Hayek’s work and find that its passages still resonate in our own time, effectively elucidating the nebulous parameters of the current cultural malaise.

Today’s quote comes from chapter 14, “Material Conditions and Ideal Ends.” Broadly, Hayek is speaking about cultural values of his day, i.e, those embraced vs. those discarded by his contemporaries, a war of ideas between those who championed the inevitability of English socialism, whose partisans declared that responsibility for one’s well-being rested exclusively with the State, and that each individual therein must, by necessity, voluntarily submit his body and mind to the authority of his enlightened betters, and those who clung to the 19th-century liberal view that esteemed personal determination, freedom of thought and speech, and that moral responsibility was only attainable if one were free to choose to be immoral.

Rather than a utopia for all, in Hayek’s own day, “socialism” was (and is still) a closed-door, top-down process of deciding, unscientifically, what are the in-groups and what are the out-groups in a society. It is the educated technocrat’s attempt at being feudal absolutist, albeit in union with a cadre of his like-minded (and equally privileged) fellows. Socialism is a (more or less) modern name for the default setting of human governance: domination, selective exclusion, and eventual liquidation of undesirables. It is the enemy of freedom.

“What are the fixed poles now which are regarded as sacrosanct, which no reformer dare touch, since they are treated as the immutable boundaries which must be respected in any plan for the future? They are no longer the liberty of the individual, his freedom of movement, and scarcely that of speech. They are the protected standards of this or that group, their “right” to exclude others from providing their fellowmen with what they need. Discrimination between members and nonmembers of closed groups, not to speak of nationals of different countries, is accepted more and more as a matter of course; injustices inflicted on individuals by government action in the interest of a group are disregarded with an indifference hardly distinguishable from callousness; and the grosses violations of the most elementary rights of the individual, such as are involved in the compulsory transfer of populations, are more and more often countenanced even by supposed liberals.” (pg. 218)

Sound familiar?

Prediction 3: Words and their meanings will again matter

In a war of headlines and their respective underlying implications, it can be difficult to parse the truth, or, absent such certitude, the general direction of what is.

Doestradamus promises to do his level best, though, right or wrong.

Today, a headline dropped, right beside a second headline that helps to clarify the first, even if in backhanded way. The first:

The Joe Biden Administration, you see, says the MAGA movement is like “semi-fascism.” Wowzers. That’s a pretty bold statement. I’m sure the anti-Trump partisans have plenty of data points to prove the actuality of the claim: rallies, red hats, appeals to emotion and patriotism, etc. (Doestradamus is intentionally not including “attempted insurrection” in the mix because real insurrectionists definitionally attempt to actually seize the levers of state power, bring military-grade forces and weaponry, do not take selfies, and do not go home in the afternoon. A real insurrection would not require agents provocateur, nor would it require a pliant, corrupt media repeating the mantra “insurrection!” endlessly and at every opportunity to remind people who would otherwise forget about the boneheaded riot at the capitol.)

At practically the same moment that the first headline dropped, a second headline appeared:

Double wowzers! Zuckerberg actually goes on Rogan and drops this (not-so) bombshell, confirming what many who’ve been paying attention likely already knew. Another conspiracy theory bites the dust.

So, what is Doestradamus’s interpretation? While a tech oligarch, likely at the urging of his lawyers (i.e. go public to head off any future conspiracy charges), confesses to his naughty, the Biden admin runs distraction with a sensational headline of its own.

What better way to deflect from actual fascism (i.e. the FBI and private enterprise colluding) than by trumpeting at best accusatory allegations of “semi-fascism” — a meaningless phrase designed by dissembling, prevaricating insiders.

Words mean things, friends, and Doestradamus predicts that pre-2020 editions of dictionaries will be hot commodities in the near future as truth-hungry citizens attempt to rediscover the meaning of words.

Prediction 2: Another “authority” will soon tell you that you have to do X to fix Y

Now that long-held conventional wisdom about the link between serotonin levels and depression has proven to be a flop, the “authorities” are flipping the script. So, all those mood-altering SSRI drugs weren’t very efficacious after all. Pity that an entire generation of MDs, pharma reps, school counselors, politicians, and uncritically-minded parents will now have to rethink the meaning of their past lives.

Rather than confront, you know, the actual causes of depression, our esteemed experts devised pills, whose perceived efficacy was likely derived as much from the placebo effect as from any actual benefit.

But this is not about SSRIs or flip-flopping “science.” It’s about the perpetual, overly fearful reliance on “authority” figures to figure out our lives for us. The narrative goes something like this: Humans are imperfect (if not outright broken) machines that need fixing; “experts” in their respective fields are the only ones qualified to do the fixing; there is no questioning of these “experts,” and to do so is to be “anti-science.” It’s about thinking we know better than our bodies, about our inability to let go of what we think is right or best or proper. It’s about setting arbitrary standards of what it means to be and using them to measure all experience.

By analogy, think of the 1997 film Contact. After receiving instructions from an alien race on how to build some kind of transport device, the big science brains decide to alter the plans and add a harness that will ostensibly protect Jodie Foster during her journey, assuming that the alien plans are flawed.

During her tumultuous journey, the heroine realizes that something is off (starts about 2:55 in the clip). She then has the good sense to detach from her unessential harness, realizing that the whole thing was useless, that the safety measure was never needed.

Coming back to the junk science of SSRIs, “experts” assumed people got depressed because they were “chemically imbalanced,” and therefore needed fixing. They were never interested in what may well be the true causes of depression, only fixing perceived problems. If our society really wants to do something about depression, perhaps we should explore meaningful work for all rather than an economy of bullshit jobs. Perhaps we should focus on strengthening familial and community bonds to combat the alienating effects of an insipid mass consumer culture. Perhaps we should reforge our ancient connections to spirit or (gasp!) God, rather than submit to the atheistic, lifeless decrees of a scientismic dictatorship. Atheists are devout believers, too; they just believe in their intrinsic, materialistic deadness.

As far as SSRIs are concerned, rather than fixing anything, it seems more like the fix was in.

Will the “experts” apologize for ruining countless lives, for rewiring innumerable brains, and doing absolutely nothing to “cure” depression? Of course not. That’s not how “science” works. But one thing they will do is come up with something else to fix what ails us.

Doestradamus predicts that we will again believe them when they tell us X will fix Y. We already have. MRNA biologics, anyone? Puberty blockers and hormone therapies? How long will it take to prove that these fixes are flops just like the depression cure-alls? How many lives will be ruined by today’s “experts” assuring us we can eradicate microbes or permanently cure adolescence?

Fear, confusion, and self-loathing continue to guide us. As long as we try to defeat them they will grow stronger and we will lose. We must turn and face our demons, unafraid, like the apocryphal tale of a younger Socrates who, as the Athenians were being routed by their rival Spartans, stood by his injured friend Alcibiades; rather than run from the enemy in fear, he turned and faced them, and the oncoming Spartans, thinking this particular hoplite and his injured companion were under the protection of a god, gave them a wide berth and did them no harm.

Perhaps we never killed God as a syphilitic Nietzsche so long ago claimed. Perhaps we’ve only succeeded at killing that part of ourselves that dared to believe we are something more than we know.

Prediction 1: The Earth will be just fine

Don’t worry. It’s just a staging environment.

Earth-firsters, rejoice! The planet is going to be alright. A-Ok. Fish, birds, cute and cuddly creatures of all shapes and stripes will thrive in spite of ourselves. Carbon dioxide levels will, like empires, rise and fall. Cows will fart, coral will bleach and return, ice will melt, and water will freeze. Polar bears will have full tummies. Bees will pollinate.

Everything comes and goes, manifests and grows, decays, dies, and disintegrates. Worry about it if you must. Suffer your thoughts about it if you desire. But you cannot fix it. You cannot change it. It can only change you. There is peace is un-knowing. In unknowning. The Earth is a staging environment, perfectly designed to imperfection. It is unspeakably phenomenal and fleeting. Enjoy your time here.

Manifestation –> Experience –> Disintegration

For some it’s heaven. For others it’s hell. What will you make of it?