Worshipping the Future
The spiralling catastrophe of transformative politics
This is a series of essays dissecting the social mechanisms that have led to the strange and disorienting times in which we live. Helen commissioned them from (Lorenzo Warby) when it became clear that this Substack was going to be much more popular than expected.
Helen is a retired corporate lawyer so is in the position to maintain a free Substack without financial impost. If there is sufficient interest in the essays, she will explore print publication in book form, either through a mainstream publisher or an outfit like Unbounders.
Each essay will be published on a weekly basis.
Below this introduction is a publication schedule, although there may be some minor variations as responds to comments, clarifications, and criticisms. Remember, too, that Lorenzo is on Twitter @LorenzoFrom. I’m on the Bird Site @_HelenDale
Both of us will tweet each essay as it’s published. At the end of each essay, you’ll find a detailed bibliography and suggestions for further reading. Helen will also link each essay here as it’s published, so this (pinned) post serves as a “one-stop-shop” for interested readers.
While I’d love you to subscribe, do be aware this substack will always be kept free for everyone.
Of course, in addition to Lorenzo’s writing, Helen will also continue to write her own substack pieces regularly.
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There are endless critiques of ideas currently labelled “woke”. It can be fun, even informative, to trace the intellectual history of those ideas. To dissect their limitations, failings and falsities. This despite the fact that those to whom it is applied reject it, yet other folk can readily understand what is meant.
What is, again and again, lacking in critical explorations, no matter how clever, insightful, funny or witty they may be, is any serious sense of what we should do in response. The critiques neither contain nor imply any useful response, any useful action plan.
Relatedly, the sense of the underlying mechanisms that led to where we are is thin, weak, or absent. Key elements about how woke ideas became so socially pervasive are neither understood nor explained. Hence the critiques do not lead to any useful response.
If you do not understand mechanisms of how and the why, it is hard to develop, even articulate, how to do better. Moreover, without useful and substantive explication of the underlying mechanisms, it’s all too easy to fall prey to conspiratorial thinking.
We Homo sapiens love stories, we love narratives. If we do not have an accurate and understandable analysis of how things happen, it is easy to tell each other emotionally satisfying stories.
Conspiracies make emotionally satisfying stories: think grand tales of powerful malign villains and our own heroic rejection of them and their purposes.
So, this series of essays explores underlying mechanisms of how and why. They will then lead into, and conclude with, an action plan.
The basic thesis is that we are dealing far less with a set of ideas—these keep evolving and shifting—than a set of status-and-social-leverage strategies. Seeing the proponents as holding to a set of ideals with which compromise is possible—so they can be mollified by various concessions—feeds the strategy.
It is only if the status and social leverage strategies are rendered dysfunctional that processes of “wokification” can be halted or reversed. These essays will explore those strategies, and the mechanisms that make them effective, allowing readers to see how to respond usefully.
Is social justice advancing our evolution or gaming it?
How to (murderously) not understand commerce.
Surplus drives history: states create surplus.
The state protects against social predators and is the most dangerous of social predators.
Imagining the future has power: past and present both pale in comparison
The ever-evolving template of transformational politics, from Marxism to the current thing
Informing you of the acceptable
We are far too conscious of being conscious
We game ourselves to better game others
Networking and signalling do not a conspiracy make
Sovereign choosers and other self-deceptions of Theory: I
Sovereign choosers and other self-deceptions of Theory: II
Too common or too costly—truth is a weak social signal
The evolutionary novelty of largely abandoning presumptive sex roles.
Women are not a finer form of Homo sapien
Shifting away from solidarity
Degrading the bargaining politics of human flourishing: I
Degrading the bargaining politics of human flourishing: II
The functionality of dysfunction.
You pay an organisation to do what makes its resources go up: I
You pay an organisation to do what makes its resources go up: II
You pay an organisation to do what makes its resources go up: III
You pay an organisation to do what makes its resources go up: IV
You pay an organisation to do what makes its resources go up: V
Gaining leverage by replicating religion’s social role
The status and social leverage strategies of a socially imperial class.
When denying reality is a great strategy.
Extending the feminist revolt against biology.
Normative flux and the end of a civilisational cycle.
Sucking joy and hope out of human history and taking humanity from stories
Frustrating bargaining, bypassing voters, denigrating the citizenry, delegitimising what democracy has made.
National populism as a response to Anywhere arrogance.
The politics of the institutionally alienated and culturally repressed.
Critical Constructivism—popularised as “wokery”—cuts off any route to what works
The toxic consequences of worshipping the splendour in your head.
Few famous books are as wretched as The Wretched of the Earth.
A civilisation of broken feedbacks generates expanding social dysfunction: I
A civilisation of broken feedbacks generating expanding social dysfunction: II
A civilisation of broken feedbacks generating expanding social dysfunction: III.
A civilisation of broken feedbacks generates expanding social dysfunction: IV.
A civilisation of broken feedbacks generating expanding social dysfunction: V.
Essay 42: The progressive revolt against equality
Grading and balkanising the demos.
Essay 43: Dominion capital
The use of human and social capital for social domination.
Essay 44: Capacity without character
Not selecting for success.
Essay 45: Delusions of technocracy
Theory creates destructive illusions of knowing.
Essay 46: Lack of character, avoiding reality, selecting for approval
The moral and intellectual decay of the universities.
Essay 47: An imperial ideology of aggression and cruelty
Destroying lives, reputations, careers, businesses.
Essay 48: Pandemic responses and the colonising of fragility
Using an available template.
Essay 49: Marxism as original sinning
The poisoned well from which so much intellectual decay arises.
Essay 50: The rise of skin-suit institutions
Being increasingly (mis)ruled by the flayed shells of once vibrant institutions.
Derailing the transformational-future “social justice” status-and-social-leverage strategy.