Immanentizing the Abyss

“Immanentizing the eschaton” means to bring about the state of heaven on earth: to transcend the ordinary state of the world and bring about a divine, final state. The eschaton is a religious version of “the end of history”. Political and religious movements often aspire to bring history to an ultimate fulfillment in some kind of utopia that transcends the ordinary conditions of life. Humanism, the successor religion to Christianity in the West, has its own version of the eschaton.

Humanism transfers divinity from God to humanity. The omniscience of God is transferred to humanity as faith in reason and science. The omnipotence of God is transferred to humanity as faith in technology and progress. The benevolence and moral authority of God is transferred to humanity as faith in human compassion, empathy and altruism.

The eschaton of humanism is the full actualization of the human potential for knowledge, power and goodness.

Because they situate divinity in human nature, humanists believe that everything bad is due to something outside human nature, or at least, to something that can and should be expunged from it. “If you can learn to hate, you can learn to love” is an example of the humanist attitude toward both human nature and evil. Humanism has its own “problem of evil”, which is analogous to the problem of evil for Christianity. If humanity is wise, powerful and good, why is there so much suffering and evil in the world? Every religion has the problem of explaining the divergence between reality and the divine will.

Humanists solve their problem of evil by situating the causes of evil in external or historic forces that prevent people from reaching their full potential. Humanists believe that all humans have the potential for rationality and goodness, but that potential can be stifled by external conditions, such as poverty, ignorance and oppression. They believe that with enough resources, education and love, almost everyone will reach their full potential.

So, humanism envisions a utopian future in which humanity is liberated from the constraints of poverty, ignorance and oppression, and the full human potential for divinity is actualized on the Earth. That is the humanist eschaton.

The 20th century was dominated by two versions of the humanist religion. Communism is an authoritarian version of humanism. It proposes to immanentize the eschaton by force. Liberal humanism, the humanism of the West, proposes to immanentize the eschaton through freedom and progress. Communism failed dramatically in the late 20th century. Now, in the early 21st century, we are witnessing the failure of liberal humanism. The humanist eschaton is refusing to immanentize. Instead, we appear to be going toward a dystopia at best, a disaster at worst.

Because humanism is the de facto religion of the modern West, and because it situated its paradise on Earth and within the grasp of humanity, the failure to actualize the humanist eschaton is provoking a religious crisis. There is a crisis of faith in the modern West. People are losing faith in the institutions and assumptions on which their societies and their lives are based.

For example, people are losing faith in democracy. If humans are truly wise and good, as humanism assumes, then democracy ought to produce good governance. In recent history, however, we have seen many failures of democracy.

The left views the election of Donald Trump as a failure of democracy. Russians must have hacked the election!! The alternative is much worse to contemplate: that a huge number of people are either evil or ignorant, in spite of their privilege and in spite of all the efforts of the left to educate them. How could this be? The left tried to sweep this failure under the rug by calling it “populism” (as if democracy isn’t populism) or by blaming it on Russian bots, but those pathetic efforts didn’t work. The left has lost faith in democracy and (more importantly) they are losing faith in human nature.

The right has its own problems with democracy. They voted for Trump and a wall. They got Trump but no wall. There is a growing understanding that, even in a democracy, society is controlled by the will of elites, not by the will of the people. Also, the will of the people is largely determined by propaganda and is highly irrational.

Both left and right view the other side as misled by partisan media and social media. Both have conspiracy theories that imply that democracy is a sham. Both view the other side as largely irrational or evil. Both have lost faith in democracy.

How should we govern ourselves? That is an ancient question. Plato wrote a book on it, and people have been arguing about it ever since. For a brief part of the 20th century, the problem seemed to have been solved: democracy was the solution! But that philosophical problem has come back with a vengeance.

Philosophical problems don’t enter the minds of ordinary people as explicit problems. Instead, they are experienced as the absence of solutions — as anxiety and confusion. The ordinary person cannot think philosophically. He cannot formulate the question of how people should govern themselves, let alone try to answer it. That question is too abstract for him to even think about. However, he can take a political system for granted as an unquestioned assumption. When he can no longer take his political system for granted, that generates anxiety and confusion. He will probably continue to hold whatever political beliefs he had before, but he will no longer have confidence in those beliefs. He will no longer have faith.

The crisis of faith in the West goes well beyond democracy. People are losing faith in almost every assumption of the ordinary worldview.

The “fake news” meme is another example of lost faith. People used to believe that the “free press” was a reliable source of truth. Over the last few years, people have lost faith in the media. Truth has become a matter of tribal affiliation. Even though people might trust their tribe’s media more than the other tribe’s, they are aware that the media are unreliable. Even those who align with the establishment are becoming aware, through social media, that the establishment media cannot be trusted. This creates cognitive dissonance. It undermines their faith in their own knowledge of the world.

The problem of “fake news” is one step removed from the philosophical problem of knowledge. How can we have knowledge of the world? This is a profound philosophical question. The ordinary person, of course, never explicitly asks this question, let alone attempts to answer it. However, he can feel the absence of a reliable source of truth. Again, this manifests as anxiety and confusion. He doesn’t trust his own judgment on a lot of things, so he relies on authorities such as the media, the academy and the government. When those authorities cannot be trusted, he doesn’t know what to believe. He loses confidence in his knowledge of the world. He does not become a philosopher and formulate an explicit critique of knowledge. He simply loses his faith.

People are also losing faith in their moral assumptions. Humanist morality is based on altruism. We are supposed to be nice to each other, and altruism is supposed to solve almost every social problem. The humanist eschaton is filled with “love, not hate”. To bring about that eschaton, we must love one another and reject hatred.

There are two big problems with altruism as a moral or social foundation. The first is that we aren’t altruistic by nature. We can’t really love one another. The second is that altruism doesn’t solve social problems. In fact, it creates social problems. For example, welfare subsidizes dysgenic reproduction, because unproductive and destructive people can reproduce at the expense of others, and so they tend to increase in numbers until the welfare system is overwhelmed. Altruism is self-defeating.

Mass migration into the West is bringing altruistic morality into direct conflict with reality. People can see the flow of migrants into the West. In spite of relentless propaganda to the contrary, they intuitively understand that it is unsustainable and dangerous. The West cannot absorb the surplus population of the world, and the West cannot function as a global welfare program. Multiculturalism does not produce a utopia in which we all love one another. Instead, it creates an incoherent society. It is becoming clear that mass migration will destroy the West if it is not stopped. But stopping it would be evil!! Even worse, it would be admitting that altruism doesn’t work. And if altruism doesn’t work, there will be no humanist eschaton.

Again, this conflict is not experienced as a philosophical problem, but as a state of anxiety and confusion. There is a loss of faith in the moral assumptions of the humanist worldview. People might still believe in those assumptions, and even profess them hysterically to the point of absurdity, but they can no longer take them for granted.

Meanwhile, science is undermining the humanist view of human nature. Humanists dare not look too closely at humanity through the lens of science, because of what it reveals. Humans are not divine. We are organisms shaped by evolution to reproduce. We evolved to be selfish, not altruistic. Our intelligence and rationality are bounded and imperfect. Human potential is profoundly limited by biology.

Humanists reject science when it conflicts with their view of human nature. They reject genetic explanations of human differences not because they think those explanations will lead to oppression, but because genetic explanations expose the reality of human nature. If blacks have lower IQs than whites for genetic reasons, then human wisdom is limited by biology. If crime is due to genes rather than poverty or childhood abuse, then evil is intrinsic to human nature. Science conflicts with the humanist conception of human nature, and this creates cognitive dissonance.

People are losing faith in the humanist ideals of romantic love and sexual freedom. The myth of romantic love is a very important part of the humanist worldview. It portrays love as a mystical, inexplicable force that brings together “soulmates”. Romantic love is presumably necessary for an individual to reach his full potential, and it is assumed to be attainable by everyone. Humanism also has an ideal of sexual freedom: that there should be no constraints on sex between consenting adults. These ideals might generate entertaining scripts for TV shows and movies, but they don’t work very well in real life. Romantic love is not magic, and it is not attainable by everyone. Sexual liberation did not produce a utopia in which everyone gets to express their sexuality, enjoy sex, and find true love. Instead, it has produced an epidemic of loneliness, a breakdown of relationships, a breakdown of the family, below replacement fertility, and even a decline in sex.

People are also losing faith in happiness. According to the humanist worldview, the combination of affluence and personal freedom should make people happy. Supposedly, we were held back in the past by poverty, ignorance and repressive social conventions, such as sex roles. In the modern world, people have been liberated from those constraints. They have enough to eat, they are educated, and the repressive social conventions have been swept away. And yet, they are not happy.

Not only are people not happy, they often feel that their lives are meaningless. The personal eschaton of humanism is “self-actualization”. This vague term means something like “reaching your full potential as a human being”. The modern lifestyle, however, seems to go nowhere. The things that gave people a sense of purpose in the past, such as family, membership in a community, ascending a social hierarchy, and traditional religion, are fading away. People work at boring jobs that offer little sense of accomplishment or progress. They often live alone. Pornography has replaced sex for some. Promiscuity has replaced love for others. Pets have replaced children. There is no sense of community in the cookie-cutter suburbs or the vibrant urban centers. Countries have become nothing more than political and economic units that anyone can join or leave. People pursue experiences, such as climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, rather than objectives, such as raising a family. But mostly they just entertain themselves. They go to ethnic restaurants. They watch TV shows or YouTube videos. They virtue signal on social media. They fap.

The ordinary person in modernity is going nowhere. He does not have an intuitive sense of personal progress — just stagnation and iteration. His society does not seem to be going anywhere either. Economic progress has stalled or even reversed in many ways. The eschaton is not coming closer. It is fading away. And, as the illusion fades away, the abyss is being revealed.

The abyss was always there. It is just the absence of an objective foundation for subjectivity. It is the absence of a foundation for belief and action. As subjects, we are floating in the abyss, not standing on firm objective ground.

Normally, the abyss is hidden from the ordinary person by the tacit assumptions of his worldview. He assumes that his beliefs and choices have a foundation. He simply takes it for granted.

The abyss is hidden by faith. It is revealed by a loss of faith.

As we go into the 21st century, the assumptions of the humanist worldview are being undermined by realities that cannot be ignored, because they intrude into people’s ordinary lives. The abyss is being revealed to the ordinary person, in the form of anxiety and confusion. He may not philosophically understand the lack of a foundation, but he feels it. That is the cause of the current political and moral hysteria in the West. The humanist worldview is unraveling.

The endgame of humanism is not immanentizing the eschaton. It is immanentizing the abyss.


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    1. doesn't work in my browser - my cpu spikes to 100% and nothing loads after I login. I'm also very skeptical that firefox would work - interfacing with all the competing layers of audio/video here in linux is messy. I also don't install binary blobs, I would need to compile firefox with the appropriate features, that's just how I roll. I already offered a proper cross-platform open-source solution (Tox). But most importantly, I don't want to debate with people who think it's a waste of time to lookup the basic definitions of their oponents, who call people (many with phd's) idiots literally before they heard their arguments, who ignore the most basic questions that I ask them - BG has repeatedly proven himself to be dumb and dishonest.

    2. The absolutely autistic rants about your shitty OS are - while absolutely hilarious - the cowardly evasions of a low IQ grandstander who can't admit loss.

    3. Tell that to those Chinese citizens who installed backdoor'ed Skype, et cetera. Also, why is it hilarious or cowardly that I insist on Tox/open-source, but not when BG insists on his preferred programs? Also, how am I admitting loss when I'm willing to answer all of his questions, in live irc chat too, while he has yet to answer a SINGLE one of mine - and I've asked him several specific questions?

    4. BG suggested you meet up at Starbucks or McDonalds, whichever you choose, and you countered with a dinky motel 3h away meanwhile rambling about how awful your totally cool Segway is (which literally no one in the world except you cares about).

      You are just morally grandstanding and trying to extricate yourself from this situation with your self-image of superiority intact. It's not going well, because you keep obsessively responding.

    5. You're naively ignoring the risks of installing binary blobs on computers. You might be okay with having viruses and backdoors on your computer, but you shouldn't expect everyone to. This isn't merely a question of aesthetics or popularity - it's about security - so your "dinky motel 3h away" analogy doesn't work because tox and other open source stuff is FAR safer and more public than the closed source alternatives that he prefers.

      I'm interested in truth and logic, not so much "self-image". By the way, what do you think of BG's ideas of morality (ie. his How I Became Amoral post here) - his idea that because of the Law of Conservation of Energy, every energy consumer comes at the cost of an energy producer, and thus there is no such thing as good or evil because every alleged good deed comes at the cost of hurting someone else? ... or, as he describes it, because he didn't want to kill grasshoppers, but other people did, killing people must also be subjective too? Or, what do you think of his idea that people can't be allowed to peacefully leave a country and start their own, like Liberland - do you think people ought to be able to start their own communities on uninhabited land?

    6. I don't believe in the metaphysical concept of objective natural rights, no. It's a self-contained logically consistent loop hanging from thin air. *I* wouldn't stop you from seasteading, but that's not the issue. Reality just doesn't allow it to happen, and in the event of it ever occurring, the anarchic freedom would quickly collapse into war or evolve into a hierarchy anyway. I'm against it in the same manner that I'm "against" us travelling to the Andromeda Galaxy to mine gold and become billionaires.

      Now, this debate for the ages continues on the copyrighted communications application of your choice. God, I love intelletual property.

    7. I don't believe in "metaphysical objective natural rights" either - but I do believe in logic. If you think it's wrong to hurt people, or to force them to do things, or if you claim to care about consent and "social contracts", then you can't logically support Statism (which is specifically defined as not letting people opt-out). Supporting seasteading is a fine start, but why only there - if you're aware that good people strongly disapprove of certain laws, and you're aware that there is plenty of available land out there (like Liberland, or 90% of empty Canada, or Antarctica, etc), surely you'd do all you can to avoid forcing them into things they oppose?

      Also, again, ancap is not anti-hierarchy, it's anti-involuntary-ruleRs. Hierarchy is natural and good and unavoidable.

    8. Is it possible to record a voice conversation on tox? If it is possible, maybe Blithering Genius will agree to debate you on tox. If both of you are rational and adult human beings, it means it is possible for both of you to be as least biased as humanly possible while listening to each other's arguments. Please have a voice debate with him!

    9. BG is not rational though. He calls people "idiots" before he even knows what they have to say. He doesn't want to be corrected when serious mistakes are made (like when he says he refuted anarchocapitalism, but actually never even addressed the issue, but was merely talking about some ridiculous non-hierarchical strawman definition of anarchy (the ancom/antifa version). or in this post when he refers to statist welfare systems as "altruistic".) And he proudly supports keeping me enslaved in his Canada-gang. He proudly insists on voting in favor of his gang having complete territorial control of this mostly un-inhabited top of the continent, because as he says, there might be natural resources there that his gang might want in the future. So he knows there are serious people, good people, who have fundamental irreconcilable disagreements with his gang's laws, but he won't let them leave. There is nothing to debate at this point. We both know where each other stands - he wants to keep people enslaved by his gang. Only bullets will resolve this.

    10. @Dennis What? You think being a taxpayer in Canada is equivalent to "being enslaved"? You really need a reality check if you think paying taxes is the same as being a slave. It's not. Moreover, it is offensive to real slaves who were actually enslaved that you equated paying taxes to slavery.

      Essentially everybody supports having a government that is funded via some taxation system, and then there's you who thinks that everybody else is the insane "violent" people. You so closed-minded won't even entertain the possibility that *you* are the crazy person who's trying to envision impractical ideas that don't make any sense.

      And if you took your radical view of consent to the most logical extreme, then you should be an anti-natalist since there is no guarantee that some potential parents would not give birth to children who wish that they were never born.

    11. How is statism different from slavery? Irwin Schiff died in jail for refusing to pay "taxes" - even slaves weren't kept in cages like that.

      Nobody should support violently forcing people to do things against their will, with no option to opt-out. (I'm still amazed at the shit I have to explain to people.) Anyone who does is evil. If 51% of people support evil, that doesn't magically make it good.

      There's nothing "impractical" about a peaceful society where we get what we want through peaceful negotiation and hard work - instead of via theft and violence.

      Re: anti-natalism, my "radical" view gives anyone the option to opt-out. Nobody is forcing you to be alive.

    12. Dennnis, your beliefs *are* radical. Over 99.5% of the world population thinks your ideas are crazy and impractical. Statism is not slavery because the vast majority of sane rational people do not believe that government is slavery.

      And even if people in Ancapistan can choose die by suicide or assisted suicide, parents will still have violated their children's consent if they create children who wish that they were never born. The children *never* signed a contract agreeing to be born. Just because it's possible for someone to end their own life, that doesn't justify the length time that they had to involuntarily spend on Earth before they died (all because their parents gave birth to them without their expressed consent).

      By your own logic (with respect to anti-natalism), nobody is forcing you to pay taxes either. Literally anyone could opt-out of paying taxes any time they like by choosing suicide.

      Nobody ever signs a contract where they consent to pay taxes, just as nobody ever signs a contract where they consent to be born. If someone is ever unfortunate enough to have a non-consensual relationship forced upon them, you apparently believe that said relationship is justified as long as people are able to opt-out via their own suicide, according to your own words.

    13. > Dennnis, your beliefs *are* radical. Over 99.5% of the world population
      thinks your ideas are crazy and impractical.

      Not exactly. 99.5% of the population does simultaneously say that people shouldn't be violently forced to do things against their will. This is why the nonsensical myth of "the social contract" was conjured up. 99.5% of the population is kinda insane.

      > Statism is not slavery because the vast majority of sane rational people do not believe that government is slavery.

      slavery (n) 1: the state of being under the control of another person.

      Truth isn't a democratic majority-based thing :p.

      > And even if people in Ancapistan can choose die by suicide or assisted
      suicide, parents will still have violated their children's consent if they
      create children who wish that they were never born. The children *never*
      signed a contract agreeing to be born. Just because it's possible for
      someone to end their own life, that doesn't justify the length time that
      they had to involuntarily spend on Earth before they died (all because
      their parents gave birth to them without their expressed consent).

      False. There was no consent to violate. The instant kids are able to consent, they're free to opt out of life. They don't have to spend any length of time involuntarily alive on Earth.

      > By your own logic (with respect to anti-natalism), nobody is forcing you to
      pay taxes either. Literally anyone could opt-out of paying taxes any time
      they like by choosing suicide.

      "Forcing people" = "do this thing or die". Stop it with your dishonest sophistry. In the cringe absurd unrealistic anti-natalist case, they WANT to die, so it's fine.

      > Nobody ever signs a contract where they consent to pay taxes

      They should. The basis of any contract is supposed to be consent. Any contract made under duress is invalid.

      > just as nobody ever signs a contract where they consent to be born. If someone is ever unfortunate enough to have a non-consensual relationship forced upon them, you apparently believe that said relationship is justified as long as people are able to opt-out via their own suicide, according to your own

      I explained this retarded confusion 2 paragraphs up :p.

    14. You're still being inconsistent about consent regarding people who never authorized their parents to give birth to them. No matter what reasoning you may use to justify the creation of new sentient life, you are always going to have a contradictory ethical philosophy unless you concede that consent should not be the ultimate value.

      Yes, most Efilists and Antinatalists want to die. But do you even realize how difficult it is to commit suicide? Virtually all life has a natural instinct to not kill themselves and to avoid death, so even if someone does want to die, it's not like they can just make it happen instantly. It might take them years or decades of suffering before they ever take their own lives, if they ever even manage to accomplish that.

      If your own children told you that they wish that you had never created them and that you violated their consent in causing them to exist on planet Earth, are you really going to tell them that you never violated their consent and that it's their own responsibility to die if they want to?

      > Truth isn't a democratic majority-based thing :p.

      You have to define truth first.

      > "Forcing people" = "do this thing or die"

      Nope. "Forcing people" means "violating their consent". You don't get to change definitions just to avoid confronting the inconsistencies of your philosophy. All Voluntaryists uphold consent as the most important moral value. And since it's not possible to give birth to people without a 100% guarantee that the children would consent to being born, you cannot be a True Voluntaryist if you're not an Anti-natalist.

      The Non-Aggression Principle itself is kind of a misnomer because it's not just about maximal Non-Aggression, it's also about maximal Consent. Because if consent is present in an ethical scenario, then there's no aggression. The inverse statement is also true: If someone's consent is being violated, then aggression is present.

      > In the cringe absurd unrealistic anti-natalist case, they WANT to die

      This is not a "cringe absurd unrealistic case". This is a *real* thing that happens in real life every single day. There are at least hundreds of thousands, probably millions of antinatalists who wish that they had never been born. You can easily find these communities on the Internet too if you query your search engine.

      Aside from your moral and philosophical beliefs, I think you're otherwise relatively smart compared to the average person. But I doubt that you're ever going to resolve your philosophical contradictions, so I guess I'll just end it here. Have a nice life!


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