[Morgoth discusses Game Theory and an example of it in the “Prisoner’s Dilemma” where it would appear to be individually beneficial to snitch on one’s companion rather than act with group loyalty. He extends this analogy to British society and how the focus on individualism and self interest has been promoted by the system to the detriment of society as a whole.
The Equation that
Destroyed Our World
Feb 14, 2021
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Published on Feb 14, 2021
The Equation That Destroyed Our World
•Feb 14, 2021
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Thanks to Theberton for the intros and outros
[Intro music and imagery by Theberton.]
Hello again there folks. I’ve recently been watching Adam Curtis documentaries. Binge watching them, because there’s been a new, really big one, released. I think it’s about seven and a half hours long. And I’ve been a fan of Adam Curtis’s documentaries for quite a few years now.
And I recently re-watched “The Trap”. Now the thing about Adam Curtis’s documentaries is that in the more recent ones he’ll give and nod in a wink back to the earlier ones. And when you put them all together as a whole, on the one hand it’s kind of frustrating, because he is a sort of big brain liberal. You know, they go on the BBC. But when you read between the lines. Which is why something like “Century of the Self” is so popular in dissident Right circles, when you read between the lines you can see that he’s getting into some very interesting things.
And the one that I wanted to look at today – like I may do a series of Adam Curtis videos – but the ideas and the concepts and things. And what I’d like to look at today is the one which is his older documentary called “The Trap”.
And in The Trap, Curtis he gets into why the modern world has gone kind of mad. And he’s going to build on this. “Century of the Self” came before this one. So this is sort of an addition, but it comes before Hyper Normalization and the new one, which is called “I Can’t Get You Out of My Head”.
But the main gist of The Trap, I think, is a lot of scaffolding which he builds on later, especially in the new video, the new documentary.
So what is The Trap? And what is he talking about?
And in my opinion this is something, which has had a profound and deep impact on, especially Britain, but across the Western world. But it’s in Britain where I think we can see the most. Obviously I am British. So there’s a bit of a thing there.
But what he’s getting at is Game Theory which was made by John Nash, who looks surprisingly different in real life to what he looked like in that Russell Crowe movie. But there’s different strands to game theory.
But the famous one, or the one that Curtis uses, is called “The Prisoner’s Dilemma”. And in the Prisoner’s Dilemma it’s about exploring the altruism and self-interest between people. And so in the Prisoner’s Dilemma, it’s that if you’ve got two prisoners. And they aren’t in contact. They’re both in jail. Both of them can assume that the other one’s gonna snitch and give the whole game away, or he can assume that he won’t snitch and the sentences, they’ll both get equal sentences which will be sort of minimal, or they can snitch on the other one and get off scot-free.
So the incentive is to either you assume there is a trace of altruism and trust in the other person, or you don’t, and you do it through pure self-interest. But the problem is that other person is going to be doing the same, or is he? And this is what Nash gets into. And it just says there in the description of this:
“If both prisoners betray each other each serves five years in prison. If A betrays B, but B remains silent, prisoner A is set free and prisoner B serves 10 years in prison, or vice versa. If each remains silent then each serves just one year in prison. The Nash equilibrium in this example is for both players to betray each other, even though mutual cooperation leads to a better outcome. If one prisoner chooses mutual cooperation and the other does not, one prisoner’s outcome is worse.”
And so the model here is of one of pure self-interest over any kind of altruism.
And funny enough it also goes hand-in-hand with neo-liberalism, or the Hayek and the Chicago School of Economics. And it occurs to me that this is actually – as Curtis points out like – this is the framework which has been imposed on people across the West.
But I’m kind of going to stick with Britain on this one.
And at its root, I mean, somebody like Hayek he was saying that this is as far removed, or opposite, to the USSR and socialism that you can possibly get. Because if socialism is for the greater good of everybody, then what they’re looking at here is the opposite of that which is pure self-interest. And you can see it in something like neoliberalism.
And then when you move into the Thatcher years you do see this. You do see where it’ll become where everybody is just an economic animal out for themselves. And so it came from economics, but it moved into all areas of life essentially. And if you think of Margaret Thatcher and the famous thing about:
“There’s no such thing as society.”
She kind of did go in that direction you can see it. And I know it’s not as bad as what people tend to think. But nevertheless, it is there. That what you have instead, is a nation of self-interested individuals.
So, for example, Thatcher made it possible for people to buy their own council houses in the northeast. This was something which affected my family. Well, luckily my family was able to move out, they bought the council house.
And then you would get onto the property ladder. But the problem is what this does is shatter the community. Because then you’re going to have people who can’t afford to leave the council estate, they’re stuck in an area which is going to get progressively worse. They’re going to be stuck with the poorest people and there isn’t going to be any of this equilibrium.
And, in fact, it goes further, because a house becomes not so much something to just live in, a home, but also something which you can use to get ahead on the market. It becomes this investment. So all of this, the game theory, and this aspect of neoliberalism and the economics that we got in Britain, are pretty much they go hand in hand.
And if you go back to the 1980s when this was still really stuck in the economic realm, you can think of somebody like Harry Enfield doing his “Loadsamoney” routine, which was him kind of making a skit on this. On these yuppies, on this greed, and this pure self-interest.
I mean, over in America you get the Wall Street stuff coming out. The Michael Douglas movie. And so it really is this:
“I’m in it for myself and to hell with everybody else!”
But it’s what’s funny about Nash’s equation, the Prisoner’s Dilemma is that you can see it codified and then applied to the whole society. I mean, then you move on as well, you get into the 90s. And you see that Bill Clinton deregulated the banks. And because what they had was this theory that, almost like an algorithm, of how human populations should actually behave. That this is the perfect recipe to understand a society which is increasingly complicated. And you base it on rational self-interest to the cost of interpersonal altruism.
And so this eventually, if you carry on in that vein of thought, you’re gonna end up where the politicians will just hand over all power to financial interests and to banks. And then eventually they will themselves form these NGOs, and globalist organizations, because they believe that they’ve got it all figured out. Now this is, like a general moral good, is to just pit everybody, … Like this is the natural self-interest. And they can do it by pitting everybody against everybody else to get ahead on the market.
Where I think this gets a lot more sinister, and it shifts away from the economic so much, which is what Curtis points out, and in quite some detail, is when you get in Britain, Tony Blair and New Labour coming in.
Because what they did was introduce this system of targets. So the targets and everybody competing against everybody else in the job place. And you’ll see that they had these league tables in, for schools, where, you know, certain demographics, certain schools, were classed as being rubbish. And then what that led to in pure self-interest was basically middle-class White people pulling their kids out, because now they could see where the good schools were and where the bad schools were.
So then the same thing happened, as what happened with say when council estates went to hell and became sinker estates for chavs. Because this kind of pure, sort of animalistic, … It’s almost like the thinking of a reptile where you’re only thinking about yourself, which was encouraged from the top, by the way. Like this then sort of emanates across all of the society.
And it turns out to be massively destructive!
And so you’ll also see, which is interesting with the Blair government, is that it also leads to Neo-conservatism, because this went right to the top. This model of how people behave and how they are, it came from the top down.
Now there’s an even more sinister aspect to this, which I’ll get to in a moment. But Neo-conservatism was essentially that as well. If you go around the world you can genuinely say that you’re going to liberate all of these people in the Middle East from their traditional culture. And you can turn them all into “self-interested rational consumers”. And that’s essentially leaving aside some of the Israel stuff. That’s actually what Neo-conservatism was. That was the second side to it. You will go around the world, and you will liberate all of the these so-called “backward people” and you’ll turn them all into self-interested consumers and producers.
And what’s interesting is that it’s framed as being this liberating thing. But you can see that in the way that it comes in hand-in-hand with economic theory, you’re actually not! You’re actually being completely enslaved to this system. But it negates itself, because you don’t have any direct pressure put on you with it’s, this liberating force.
So Curtis points out as well that during the New Labour years they had all of these targets. And so then the individual worked towards the target like a donkey with a carrot in front of them. That was how they did, because they’d get rewards. Maybe you get a bigger Christmas bonus, maybe you get a promotion, you get more wages, and you’re doing it purely just for yourself.
And he points out that will then go out a little bit further. And if you take the NHS as an example, Curtis points out that during the New Labour years the NHS was completely overcrowded. And what they would do to meet their targets – so the point here is they’re meeting their targets, rather than seeing to the patients. And one of the things they’ll do is saw the wheels off of the trolleys which people are lying on the NHS. And then just reclassify them as beds! Or if the corridors are completely overrun and crowded, they would then reclassify the corridor as a ward.
You would have people who were going in there with, say an ingrown toenail, and then you’d have somebody else who went in there with some kind of tumor, or something really serious. And they’d prioritize the person with the minor injury, because that would boost up their numbers.
So they were just constantly thinking only of themselves and their targets to meet, which is pure Game Theory. And you can see just how horribly destructive it was.
And the thing is there was actually alarm bells ringing. You’d think all of this would be obvious.
But as Curtis points out there was a test done on a remote Amazonian tribe which was supposed to have been studying Game Theory. And what they discovered was that they were having this big fight over who got to be chief, or whatever.
And what they noticed was that when you had all of the men in this big punch up, the thing is they weren’t actually acting as just these rational individuals, they were actually acting tribal. And then they could measure that the closer they were to each other, if they were brothers, or cousins, they’d coordinate more closely with each other.
So this in a way was the game theory being debunked.
And this leads, I mean, this isn’t Curtis’s documentary. But it’s just my thoughts on it. Is that if this is the thinking of the elites, then you can begin to understand mass immigration. Because according to their theory they’re bringing in people who are in the same way, it’s like Neo-conservatism:
“Invade the world, invite the world.”
And the “invite the world” always seemed quite baffling. But if we look again at the “invade the world” part, where it was to liberate everybody into becoming the self-interested consumer, then you can also see it the other way around. And they expected that when they brought everybody in, they too would be sooner, or later, they assumed straight away, I think. But eventually they assumed then they could just bring all of these people in, because actual, say national, or ethnic identity, or traditional mores, it just didn’t matter, because everybody is just this atomized, self-interested, individual. And so therefore that model would hold true for everybody in the world.
And, of course, we see that it’s been a complete and a disaster!
And in a very minor way you can see it in the example of the Amazonian tribes, because it’s the same thing. The people will coordinate, they will form teams to book the system, if you like. To beat the Game Theory! To win the game they will form collectives. This is just perfectly natural.
Except what’s actually happened is that this has been imposed on the people in the West, and then they’ve brought all these other people in, as a group, in it for themselves.
So you can see that as a model it’s just being absolutely catastrophic!
But I think it’s even worse than that. When you go back to the incentives on the, let’s say, to use the NHS beds as an example. And you can look at some of the horrors which has gone on and the way as a system of control, it’s not supposed to be. It’s supposed to be a liberating force.
But how is it then a system of control? It’s a system of control when you are at the top of society. And then you form, you create, what the incentive is. You create the bubble in which the individual is going to be operating.
And if you look at some of the atrocities in places like Rotherham, political correctness was what they were operating in.
But then all of these counselors and these police officers, at a sort of more local level, in to the individual level, then, in fact, they’re going to have been operating within the Game Theory. Because they’re going to have been just looking out for themselves and their own targets. And they knew! They knew what the incentives were! They knew what the system expected of them.
And it was to always go in favor of “political correctness” and “diversity is our strength”. And all of this.
And so you don’t actually have to have this huge conspiracy theory when you’ve got Game Theory. What you can do is sort of set the incentives for the entire system. Because you are the one that’s going to put the carrot in front of them.
I would say something similar with the pandemic, and of what happens in the back in the NHS again, because of the pandemic now. People will say if you’re skeptical about what’s happening with Covid and everything, people will say:
“Well, is there this vast conspiracy that involves nurses, and doctors, and all the way from the top? Like they’re all on it?”
And, in actual fact, no! You don’t need anything of the sort! All you need to do, is have targets, and incentives, and they will automatically know which way to go.
I mean, when you go, if you go into a hospital now you get a little questionnaire. It’s quite clear how they want the data to be collected. It’s quite clear that the government have given them an incentive to boost the numbers as much as they possibly can. And once you’ve set that incentive Game Theory, and meeting the targets, and then self-interest, right down to the individual level, does all of the rest of the work for you.
And I mean, Curtis points out as well that this has been catastrophic for people’s mental health. Everybody has an incentive to jump on all of these pills that people, everybody, taking. And you can see that the amount of people taking these antidepressants and prozac, it all went through the roof when we started to live by these equations.
But I’m actually a little bit optimistic, because it is like playing itself out, and it can’t last forever.
But it does actually answer quite a few questions especially that you get. Why is everybody putting up with this? Why is everybody so depressed? Why is everybody so atomized?
And you can see that it’s actually an algorithm which is logged into the system from the technocratic elites at the top, all the way down to the local, the woman who works in the council office.
They all operate with this sort of individualist having a carrot dangled before them for their own petty gain. And this has seeped so far into a society that it’s just shattered it! Like, absolutely by design! Where altruism and caring about the people around you is just completely gone!
And what we end up with is all of these people sitting alone, and atomized, and confused about the world around them.
And I think Curtis’s documentary is kind of valuable, because you can see that it isn’t some sort of metaphysical force bearing down on us. It isn’t just the way things are. It was like a creation, and a policy, and a set of ideas, being implemented from the top and brought down.
And once we begin to see through it like this and expose it, which Curtis does, it’s all for the better, I think.
So I think he does have a lot of interesting things if you look at it, what he’s saying, properly.
Maybe next time I’ll take a look at the “Century of the Self”, which is the one that gets everybody excited, because it’s about the Frankfurt School.
But, all right folks. Take it easy! And don’t be atomized!
[Outro music and imagery by Theberton.]
[Readers: If you see any errors (however minor), or ways to improve things, in the transcript, please let me know in the Comment section. Also please share the link to this transcript, so others can benefit. Thanks.]
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Version 2: Feb 26, 2021 – Added note to readers.
Version 1: Feb 23, 2021 — Published post.