A Declaration of My Personal Values and Beliefs
As I have been writing a lot about politics, metapolitics, and ethics on this blog lately, I feel obliged to declare my personal Weltanschauung 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. For example, I do not 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, 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 or swimming in some lake. In particular, bodily exertion calms down my mind (pro mindcoolness) and a strong 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 wealth accumulation. And while I value social relationships because they help me to gain wisdom and to 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 the ratio of practical value to poetic, historic, and personality-cultish noise tends to be rather low in most scriptures.
- Will to Power. Life is a struggle for power.1 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. Also, will precedes morality.
- Enlightened Egoism. A mentally healthy, rational person can best maximize his own well-being by promoting his tribe’s flourishing, that is, by being virtuous. The need for social cooperation as well as evolved psychological mechanisms like pride, honor, loyalty, conscience, guilt, love, empathy, and compassion ensure that egoistic and tribal interests coincide in most cases. In case they diverge, I choose, depending on the context, either to be a selfish scumbag 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.
- (Direct) Democracy. Above all, I am a proponent of the political equality2 of citizens in a nation-state, because it is the best method to reduce bias in politics, especially when evaluating people’s interests and questions of good and bad. At the same time, I doubt that a representative democracy, although necessary to an extent, can fulfill that ideal. Representatives organically form a political class that primarily serves its own interests (salaries, privileges, and reelection). The party system constitutes, in effect, a rent-seeking oligarchy. Democratic freedom and communal responsibility are realized primarily through referenda 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 economic liberty (libertarianism) but with democratic interventions to realign economic incentives with common goods such as environmental protection. Moreover, 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 (neo-traditional social conditioning informed by psychology and human biology) to the extent that they do not prevent idiosyncratic women from rising to the top of the economic elite.
- Against dogmatic moral equality (human rights ‘dignitism’), I advocate pragmatic utilitarianism and ethnopluralist humanism.
- Ethnopluralist Humanism. According to my current biological understanding, I believe that ethnicity matters at least somewhat for human well-being. I also think that ethnopluralism (every people’s right to be different on a global scale) is a valuable heuristic for ethical international relations and that international cooperation for tackling global challenges requires strong (not isolated) nation-states. I am against mass immigration leading to European multiculturalism and soft totalitarianism, but pro controlled assimilatory immigration.
- Anti-Utopianism. Exhorted by history, I am against every ideology that aims at a utopia in the distant future. Left-wing utopianism (“Let’s
destroyunite all races, economic classes, and social inequalities to live in eternal peace and harmony!”) and right-wing utopianism (“Let’s purifyfree our race and align social order with a metaphysical caste system!”) are both rationally unjustifiable.
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 quite a bit, and I am curious to see how they will change in the future.