Dom’s Declaration of Values and Beliefs
As I have been writing much about politics, metapolitics, and ethics on this blog lately, I feel obliged to declare my personal Weltanschauung—values, beliefs, and ideologies—so that you have an easier time spotting potential blind spots and biases in my writing and arguing. Please do not hesitate to call me out on any bullshit, falsity, irrationality, or incongruence you find here or in any of my blog posts, but do consider that I am a developing human being whose attitudes and opinions naturally change over time.
- Wisdom. Knowledge and life experience that have been reflected upon. Do I see myself as wise? I see myself as a literal philosopher: not a bearer, but a lover of wisdom. My primary mode of decision making is to ask myself, “Will this teach me new knowledge? Will this grant me a novel insight or a valuable experience? Will this ultimately lead me to a deeper understanding of myself and human nature?” Everything else comes second. I never ask myself, “Will this make me happy?” Implied in the value of wisdom is my appreciation for truth and the rational frame.
- Mindcoolness. A state of equanimity (ataraxia) and gratitude for the True Will. This value reveals my admiration for Stoicism and similar ideals in religious traditions, especially Taoism, Hinduism, and Buddhism. The gratitude aspect stems from my experience that being grateful reliably gets me out of states of distraction, worry, and rumination and into a state of mindful bliss wherein the mind is cool. The True Will is something one can be grateful for in all circumstances, be it as one’s own willpower, as another person’s willfulness, or as a manifestation of the divine Will of Nature. Based on the value of mindcoolness is also my meditation practice and my appreciation for freedom, the degree to which a man does what he truly wants with a cool mind.
- Physical Vitality. Bodily health, strength, and agility. Spinoza once wrote in his Ethics, pars IV, prop. 11, “Whatsoever increases or diminishes, helps or hinders the power of activity in our body, the idea thereof increases or diminishes, helps or hinders the power of thought in our mind.” Although he was talking about active affective states (positive emotions), these states are inextricably linked with physical vitality. It feels good to be physically powerful, and in order to pursue wisdom and mindcoolness, my body must be healthy, strong, and agile. This is why I devote a large portion of my life to powerlifting, training Brazilian jiu-jitsu, and simply being in motion as much as possible, ideally walking in the woods. In particular, bodily exertion calms down my mind (pro mindcoolness) and a stronger, more muscular body makes me more confident to engage in difficult situations that will give me new life experiences (pro wisdom).
- Everything Else. Achievement and success, pride and integrity, family and friends, sex and fun, love and happiness, culture and tradition, etc. all come after wisdom, mindcoolness, and physical vitality. For example, I spend a lot of time in the gym to improve my physical vitality, even though this may put me at a disadvantage in terms of career achievements, work-specific success, and wealth accumulation. And while I value social relationships because they help me to gain wisdom and practice mindcoolness, I can imagine circumstances in which I would choose freedom over family. Fortunately, however, my three prime values affect most everything that is important to me in life more positively than negatively.
- Naturalism. Nothing exists beyond the natural world. There is no reason to assume that supernatural beings or spiritual forces exist. Everything can, in theory, be explained by science, which does not imply that everything is reducible to the language of scientific investigation.
- God is Nature. God is man’s mystic connection with Nature as universal Oneness. Gods are pagan metaphors for sacred particulars of the natural world. Together, I call this an anti-dogmatic mysticism rooted in pagan pantheism.
- Taoism & Buddhism. I regularly study Taoist and Buddhist texts because they are beautifully abundant in wisdom and practical advice on how to cool the mind. Also, I suspect that the concept of Tao is quite similar to what I mean by True Will, whereas nirvana seems to describe an idealized, metaphysicalized state of mindcoolness.
- Everything Else. There are, of course, precious insights to be gained from every religious tradition. The reason why I do not mention them explicitly is that they contain too much bullshit for my taste. Even Buddhism contains teachings I do not agree with.
- Will to Power. Life is a struggle for power. There is no stable equilibrium: what does not advance, retreats. Due to its ethical neutrality, power cannot give us moral guidance. Yet without power, we also have no power to actualize moral values. A powerless man may be a moral tool (used by others for a good cause), but he cannot be a moral agent who actively does good in the world.
- Enlightened Egoism. A mentally healthy, rational person can best maximize his own well-being by promoting his tribe’s flourishing, particularly, by being virtuous. The need for social cooperation and evolved psychological mechanisms like pride, honor, loyalty, conscience, guilt, love, empathy, and compassion ensure that selfish and tribal interests coincide in most cases. In case they diverge, I choose, depending on the context, either to be an egoistic asshole or to apply pragmatic utilitarianism.
- Pragmatic Utilitarianism. This is the basis of all ethical and political arguments. For cooperation on a supra-tribal level, be it national or international, we usually have to decide between competing value systems. The best decision will be the one that is, in light of all the knowledge available, most likely to maximize national, global, or universal well-being in the long term.
- Nationalist Humanism. According to my current biological understanding, I believe that ethnicity matters for human well-being (although maybe not enough to justify the label ‘nationalism’, but let us not get caught up with words). I believe that ethnopluralism (every people’s right to be different on a global scale) is a valuable heuristic for ethical international relations. And I believe that international cooperation for tackling global challenges like climate change requires strong nation states. I am thus against mass immigration (multiculturalism), and while we should do our best to maximize universal well-being, I doubt that ‘total peace’ is a realistic or even desirable goal for mankind, because not only is tribalism an essential part of human nature; it is also a substantial source of meaning and happiness.
- Direct Democracy. While I recognize the merits of aristocracy, I am more a proponent of the political equality of citizens in a nation state. At the same time, I doubt that a ‘representative democracy’ can fulfil that ideal. Representatives organically form a political class that primarily serves its own interests (salaries, privileges, and reelection). The party system constitutes, in effect, an oligarchy. The democratic freedom of communal responsibility is realized only through referendums and initiatives.
- Anti-Egalitarianism. I am against all forms of equality other than the political, but in a centrist kind of way. Against economic equality (socialism), I advocate meritocratic elitism (libertarianism) with democratic regulations to prevent monopolistic oppression, irresponsible exploitation of natural resources, sprawling poverty caused by automation, and so forth; I am not against national basic income if we vote for it democratically and test it rationally. Against radical gender equality (modern feminism), I advocate gender roles (post-traditional social conditioning informed by human biology) to the extent that this does not prevent idiosyncratic women from rising to the top of the meritocratic elite. Against dogmatic moral equality (human rights ‘dignitism’), I advocate pragmatic utilitarianism combined with nationalist humanism.
- Old Philosophers. Aristotle‘s virtue ethics, Epictetus‘s stoicism, Spinoza‘s everything (I would almost label myself a Spinozist), Nietzsche‘s masculine principles, and Wittgenstein‘s metaphilosophy.
- Modern Philosophers. Donald Davidson‘s philosophy of language, Alain de Benoist‘s metapolitics, and Sam Harris‘s moral theory and debating prowess.
- Non-Philosophers. Jocko Willink‘s leadership wisdom, Elliott Hulse‘s bodymind wisdom, and Joe Rogan‘s conversational wisdom.
That, I think, is the basis of my belief system. Whereas my core values and religious convictions remained relatively stable over the last decade, my ethical and political views have been in flux a lot, and I am curious to see how they will change in the future.