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On Strength and Vision

By Cathugger.

There’s a sense in which all human ideologies boil down to local variations on two eternal warring ur-faiths. In my own private mental lexicon, I usually think of them as the Cult of Strength and the Cult of Vision.

The Cult of Strength, in its most theoretical form, is centered on the idea that it is desirable to be part of an antifragile system. Its driving notion of the good is something like “health.” Its doctrine holds that there is a right way to be, and that the rightness of that way is baked into the very laws of reality, rather than being derived from any kind of feeling or desire or abstraction. Truth to them is that which alligns with reality, success grows from knowing that which you work with well. That action is good which realiably leads to positive outcomes.
Vision Cultists tend to misinterpret this as being pure fideism or conceptual authoritarianism – but it’s much more correct to understand it as being a form of moral judgment that is inextricably paired with a commitment to a particular empirical understanding.
The right way to be is noteworthy, at least in part, because it works. Other ways don’t work, no matter how much you might hypothetically wish that they did. Living well makes you strong and secure and happy. Success breeds success, and it is good to be successful. Living poorly on purpose is a sort of perversion, an active embrace of misery and weakness, which is a thing people do only when they’re so ideologically possesed that they care more about empty ideas than about the reality of their experiences.

The Cult of Vision, in its most theoretical form, is centered on the idea that the world in which we live does not inherently support our flourishing. There are a million different Visions of the good, but what unites them all is that they are not natural, they do not represent the base state of untamed reality (and do not purport to do so). While the cult of strength for example views a farmer that grew to know the earth and the seasons and through this gained sucess over his peers with admiration and as someone to be looked up on, the cult of vision views him with suspicion. His knowledge is threatening, his success is disturbing the peace, the wealth of his children breeds resentment.
According to Vision doctrine, unchecked unguided evolution and growth in any system will generally move towards making things morally worse until you hit pure Hell, because goodness is uncorrelated (or even anti-correlated) with survival or success, and therefore anything that expends energy on being good will be at a disadvantage against anything that is optimizing more ruthlessly. The only solution is to amass overwhelming power, enough power to thwart any agent trying to evolve, and create a walled garden in which the gravitic pull of optimal success/survival behavior can be negated, balancing the people out at an optimum medium in which nobody is too weak or too strong to hurt their fellow citicens. Artificially lifting up the weak and oppressing the strong is not a harsh price they are willing to pay for utopia it is a moral good. Utopia must be conceived of, and it must be built, and the act of doing these things is a constant war against entropy and nature itself.

I have a strong sense that these ur-faiths appeal to very different sorts of personalities. The Cult of Strength allows for a certain rooted security in life in a way that the Cult of Vision never can. The Cult of Vision allows for hope for those whose relationship with nature will never be fruitful.

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