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RADICAL CIVILITY

Summary

Global Definitions

There are specific terms that are used repeatedly in this thesis that have been critiqued as “loaded” or “confusing” due to the way they are used in this paper. In an attempt to normalize the language, the major sections will list the relevant terms that have already been discussed. Below is the full list with definitions so the reader can be primed to look for them.

  • Legacy: motivator of the existential self identity which can be used as a vehicle for immortality
  • Civil: inherent community approval
  • Radical: Motivating or acting in opposition to inherent community approval
  • Civil Radicality: expecting social critiques to be limited to civil action
  • Radical Civility: expecting a community to oppose inherent approval
  • Liberty: The ability to critique our own motivators and the truth of our perceived reality.
  • Alterable: in a variant state of being relative to the discussion
  • Population: all objects (except for possibly a statistically insignificant set of outliers) in a system which are alterable
  • Person: a member of the population that fulfills the axioms for life
  • Element: non-person member of the population that can be added or removed by will
  • Absolute essential: an element that is required for a person to live
  • Excess: an element that is not an absolute essential lacking the capability to be distributed with all persons
  • Normality: the minimum expected state of all persons when excluding excess
  • Relative essential: an element that is required to gain normality
  • Harm: causing normality to be unobtainable
  • Tragic: increases both normality and harm
 

Every effort needs two main tools to accomplish a goal: method and means. In an attempt to promote a useful view of society, the “method” will be the analytical approach and the “means” will be a rubric to evaluate it.

Analytical Approach

The following is a graphical interpretation of the motivation behind the analytical approach. While the concept shown is only applicable on an individual level, it is intended to show that our understandings of reality are strengthened and solidified over time. This is not because of some underlying truth (which is neither knowable nor falsifiable), but because our initial beliefs and practical experiences dictate them. Understanding how this knowledge can be used to analyze a general community or identifying which ideas can be used to promote the community’s well being will be the remainder of this project.

Hourglass of Perception clean transparent

Clarifying remarks:

  • The “Weight of Practicality” will always move the hourglass to an “upright” position assuming no outside influence is applied using the lever
  • Outside influences do not necessarily turn the hourglass and often keep it “upright”, reinforcing the solidification of the reality

An analytical system is only valid as long as it can be shown to be amoral and unbiased with regards to the environment it is evaluating. Since the chosen environment in question (community) can be generalized as any subset of living things, it is only appropriate to force the axioms of the analysis to align with the common properties which all life shares. For the sake of this paper, “living thing” will be defined as “the embodiment of a collection of impulses that developed (through evolution) the ability to compete for survival”, and the direct fallout will be that only two common traits can be identified:

  • Preservation of Legacy (Self Preservation)
  • Perception Bias (Limited Knowledge)

For the sake of clarification, “legacy” only exists as an assertion of self validation within the public consciousness. This leads to a conflict: where legacy necessitates a community to preserve it, perception bias will cause a community to partition due to individual legacy promotion beyond that of others’. Within that context, this need for – and institutionalization of – validation is the primary driver of how we interact with reality and this dueling foundation is at the core of legacy analysis (the name of the analytical system that is being presented). Understanding the chaotic dynamics of how a community will determine that one legacy can coexist while another is destructive is impossible for any individual.  It is therefore necessary to discuss the interaction using three independent types of consent within a predetermined population:

  • Civil – the self promoted cultural institutions and mythoi that promote historically approved and defended legacies
  • Radical – a community critique stating “part of the civil consent hinders less traditional legacies”
  • Constructed – the community’s conclusion on what legacies are acceptable and which must be excluded

While one may desire to look at these various consents as strictly opposing sub-communities, it is important to understand that they are not. Civil consent (which can be shortened to “civility”, “tradition”, “orthodoxy”, etc) is inherent to any community, and will always exist passively. In most cases, civility’s acceptance is often confused with the nature of reality itself. Radical consent – by contrast – is an active fight consisting of smaller communities that have their own civility. Constructed consent is a fluid discussion that can only truly be resolved (if that is possible at all) by the community as a whole.

Communities are dependent on civility’s protection from both historic and current threats, so – regardless of how many agree with a critique – radical consent will provoke pushback. It should be obvious that an appeal to the culturally dictated actions to counter a radical method of argumentation is circular. This appeal to civility to condemn a critique of civility will be referenced as utilizing “civil radicality” or demanding others to be “civilly radical”. While rationally vapid, those that fear their legacy’s rejection by an uninfluenced constructed consent do not have an alternative defense. In contrast, the radical consent will desire to tear down the specific civility in question. This is not to promote their own legacies (although the radical communities’ civilities will likely demand that), but because they trust the constructed consent will determine the best environment for the community once the civil dictation has been negated. The general desire to institutionalize a rejection of civility is called “radical civility”.  The thesis is named after this concept because it is the practical implementation which references both legacy analysis and the upcoming metric by which we will evaluate communities.

Applying these terms to practical scenarios is helpful in both constructing an understanding of how the theory can be utilized and identifying how the terms may differ from their common usage. While these examples attempt to be accurate, the purpose of this section is to show how the analysis can be carried out, not to rewrite reality. The more basic examples (which are included in the full text) show that – due to the axioms on which it is built – legacy analysis applies to communities of cells just as easily as entire nations. Summary analyses of the more complex communities are provided below:

The USSR

Due to the discontent of the citizens within imperial Russia, the Soviet Union was formed on the premise that the Marxian philosophy “private ownership of production is harmful”. When combined with the underlying legacy of dictatorship that the Romanov Dynasty embedded in the culture, it isn’t hard to see that the Bolshevik Revolution eventually created a central power that believed itself to represent the people and took it upon itself to suppress their enemies (the capitalists and oligarchs). This of course had no alternative than to create a civility that reinforced the mythos of “state above the individual”. In turn, the state necessitated promotion above other ideologies lest other legacies be considered, so external influence was restricted as to not undermine the declared mythos. The limited resources resulting from the lack of trade both inhibited the constructed consent from validating any form of radical critique and also empowered the need for civil protection and distribution of goods. Combined, these two forces eradicated the appeal to radical civility, leaving only the expectation for the populace to be civilly radical.

If this went on indefinitely, there may not have been an issue for the country, but Stalin died and with him the strong civility he personified. This allowed the critiques to manifest into radical consent. Constructed consent (having not been practiced) could not keep up with the radical critiques that were spawning in different communities and the country splintered slightly. When eventually radical civility was applied by allowing interdependence on other countries to meet the needs expressed by the critiques, the mythos of “state strength and success independent of capitalists” (which the already weakened legacy was heavily dependent on) was undermined and the civility fractured into smaller conflicting communities dissolving the USSR.

Nazi

Due to the blame the Central Powers incurred after WWI, Germany was both materially and existentially devastated. While Europe was striving to disperse power through democracy and the ideal of socialism, the inability to retain national essentials caused an increase in protectionism and an appeal to a strong civility. These two legacies were in direct contrast as Germany rebuilt it’s national legacy over the next 20 years. It is unsurprising the favor of democracy within the constructed consent weakened and – alongside it – the social cohesion. The result: few who demanded assimilation to their own legacies gave a purpose to the growing population that were disillusioned with the mythos of national pride they were indoctrinated under.

It’s important to note that the typical extremism associated with fascism (victim complex for the civil, enemies being weak and strong, anti-intellectualism, etc) can all be understood when considering the creation of the absurd mythos that is necessary to defend it. An appeal to deservedness requires a rejection of expertise in favor of a fictional past that supports the hyper specific legacy. Of course this past was both superior to all others, but also able to be defeated by the corruption that came with the infestation of inferior legacies (which is easiest to identify using physical traits). The mythos has the added bonus of blaming other cultures for personal failings since the fascist cannot partake in the utopian promises that came with the fictitious ideal; thus there is a desire to revert to this previous illusion in spite of and often to the detriment of all others.

Once in power, the Nazi civility demanded subserviance from the rest of the nation. Those that could not or would not abide by the demand were used for slave labor. This both excluded any radical considerations from the constructed consent and gave the impression that – due to increased production and decreased population – the civility had successfully increased the living conditions. With an inability to empower the unheard radical voices and the seeming increase in comfort, constructed consent further justified and empowered the new civility and the mythos that was generating around it, ensuring that civil radicality was absolute. The change from geographical boundaries to ideological and the demand for assimilation naturally caused the Nazis to overlap with other civilities that continued to define themselves with borders. This overlap isn’t necessarily an issue, but the exclusive ideology and unique cultural mythos of the Nazis directly opposed those they were infringing on. The clash of overlapping contradictory civilities inevitably became a war.

The USA

The founding of the US government designated a mythos of individual freedoms and egalitarianism along with an institutionalized diversity of rule which was an ideal setup for radical civility. This was all inverted by hypocritically exercising a practical empowerment of select legacies to the detriment of a second class majority. The empowered individualism was allowed to claim moral superiority while simply engaging in basic cultural authoritarianism that became synonymous with the US identity. Of course the mythos adapted to justify this, declaring “individual empowerment is possible for anyone, so support of a group to the detriment of an (empowered) individual is harmful and should be ideologically invalid if not outright treasonous”.

The allure of personal autonomy for an incoming populace generated an initial amplification for civil consent as the country grew (first geographically then strictly imperialistically). Even after the experiential realization that the mythos was potentially a mirage, the anecdotal success stories were enough to sustain the illusion for the indoctrinated. This combined with the (erroneous) denial of a civil authority, a complete undermining of direct criticism aimed at the civil structures (which were increasingly conflated with reality itself) was established. Because of the invalidation repeatedly met when appealing to the influenced constructed consent, any radicality was forced to focus on the local civilities leaving the national framework unopposed.

There were of course instances when the civil structures have been identified as so oppressive that a radical critique generated a large community despite their internal disagreements. In this case, out of self preservation, the US civility briefly acknowledged small aspects of the mythos that were identified as problematic. Ultimately this only had limited impact due to the foundational legacy of individualism: non-individuals could not be the cause of the problem, so instead a new aspect of the mythos – a villain – was established that could be blamed as the initial instigator. This has always had the result of redividing the radical community along new lines: the reduced radical consent that wasn’t satisfied, the legacies the new mythos protected, and the new “villains” that were sacrificed (all of which reinitiated the typical infighting). In general, this has the effect of incremental empowerment, but only insofar that it could not compete with the continuous promotion that civility grants to the historically empowered.

Unless the cornerstone of individuality is suppressed, the expectation is that success will continue to be based strictly on the value of the individual in spite of the system that is influencing them. Those in power will continue to feel they are deserving of it. Those without will continue to be marginally promoted if not outright ignored. The imbalance will eventually make it relatively impossible for those not in power to construct (much less preserve) any legacy of their own. The select few retaining power will institutionalize their legacies to such an extent that the general majority will (with no alternative) succumb to internalizing them. For these people, the legacy and mythos supplied by the empowered will be indistinguishable from reality itself creating a neo-feudalism. As this happens, those that have the most influence over the legacy will rightfully believe that they have supernatural influence and – with the support of the growing civility – will force their legacy as far as their imagination will allow it.

At this point, the audience is expected to have a clear understanding of what legacy analysis is attempting to present. If this section is too dense or abstract, there is a “plain language” explanation as well.

Optimization

Up to this point, there has been an attempt to remain amoral, but a metric necessitates values. Considering that “optimize” could mean anything from “ensure the continuation of civility regardless of those that are harmed” to “ensure that all legacies are equally made impossible”, any virtues based on a different analysis could cause this thesis to have horrendous outcomes. To avoid this, a value system will be derived with the goal of remaining unbiased.

When deciding which system to use, the following principles were appealed to:

  • Moral conclusions can not claim cultural independence, therefore a predetermined scope will be required before establishing any evaluation
  • Any system (moral or not) that is inconsistent will fail, therefore the system will not be reactive but constructed

With these in mind, the system selected (called relative normality) can be summarized with the phrase “individual comfort ought never detract from community comfort”. There is always a risk that practical needs will always adapt a metric to its cultural and mythological truths. In this light, while the motto may be useful in common discussion, it cannot stand up to scrutiny that will inevitably appear, so a more detailed description of relative normality is as follows:

  1. One ought not to critique people for making tragic decisions
  2. One ought to critique tragic situations
  3. If situations are not described here, one ought not to declare that someone ought or ought not to do them
  4. One ought to distribute relative essentials unless it does harm
  5. One ought to remove elements which cause strict harm
  6. One ought to use excess to increase normality
  7. One ought not to demand or strive to gain excess for one’s legacy
  8. One ought to instruct the population what they ought to and what they ought not do

There are some practical repercussions worth pointing out:

  • This rejects the classical notion that absolute essentials are deserved. While they are not excess by definition, they may not be relatively essential and attempting to gain these is – at worst – morally tragic
  • Temporary hierarchies are expected to distribute relative essentials (both material and non material), normalize absolute essentials, and to negotiate excess
  • The scope of the conversation must always dictate the normality being considered
  • Elements are not only material. Consider the relative essential “respect”

While this section is much less dependent on universal acceptance, it has still been attempted to present a valid claim which necessitates rigor and specific language. So – once again – if this has been too abstract or laborious, a more practical explanation is also given.

Ideal Society

Within this value system, an optimized society would dictate that civility fundamentally would consider community legacies, even – and especially – the ones spawning radical consent. This is synonymous with radical civility. Civil consent will of course exist inherently even if practicing radical civility at all times. Whether due to unchallenged assumptions or an inherent desire to be protected, we all appeal to civility for community cohesion. That said, the explicit cultural infrastructures expected in an ideal society is limited to the following necessities:

  • Accurate accounting of resources within the population
  • Accurate descriptions of the different subcommunities’ status
  • Current relations with external civilities

While statistical and systematic distribution of information necessitates a dependency on civility, the ability for constructed consent to thrive also requires trust in the knowledge they have. It is therefore prescribed that solutions to cultural conflicts do not rely on civility for solutions, but radicality and constructed consent. Expectations that communities cultivate an atmosphere of cooperation will promote social cohesion and normalize inclusivity.  By extension this will also provide a check for the civil responsibilities listed above. As with all latent civilities, there is a risk of both legacy promotion and exploitation which will be unintentionally promoted by the constructed consent. To combat these, it is necessary for civil responsibilities to be partitioned with preestablished “retirement” dates based on both time and trust in addition to promotion of subnormal communities which can correct systematic harms that are unknown to others.

While it is true that everyone is influenced by civility, with most there is the ability to critique new civilities with pre-existing ones; this is not true for children. Therefore – for the sake of radical civility – it is crucial to provide children with tools that will allow them the most liberty in their lives via education. The following topics have been identified as necessary to fulfill that goal:

  • Expanding Language: necessary for considering ideas beyond personal experience and perception bias
  • Epistemology: necessary for being able to reflect on and critique personal perception bias from an external point of view
  • Sociology: necessary for understanding the sources of legacy
  • Self reflection: necessary for understanding the legacies that influence us
  • Discovery: necessary for evaluating, adopting, and expanding other legacies

As a final note: it should also be mentioned that even with all the previous prescriptions for utopia, there is still a threat of civility stagnating due to tribalism. For this reason there is a need to constantly push the ideological boundaries of the community for the sake of cooperating with and eventually including others that we fear.

Implementation

It must be admitted that believing all cultures can reach optimization as described above is idealistic. Yet – even understanding that limitation – there is no harm in trying to achieve it with a non-aggressive approach. When attempting this, the natural procession already alluded to must attempted if there is any hope of success:

  1. Identify the conversation and the community being considered
  2. Empower and understand others using cooperation; this will
    1. Establish normality
    2. Identify those unwilling to participate in radical civility
    3. Identify external communities for future growth
  3. Enforce radical civility by
    1. Limiting civilities that are harmful which requires
      1. Deconstructing and replacing exclusive mythoi
      2. Redefining cultural success
    2. Empowering radical consent

If this is done organically, the constant reduction of civility and promotion of the radical can only result in a powerful community consciousness and constructed consent. This community cohesion will dominate any attempt to ideologically dictate legacy by use of exclusive external authoritarian civility. The only true threat then is if the community is forced to divide via metaphysical oppression (be it economical, physical, or other) which ought to be universally opposed by anyone believing in radical civility.

Some practical examples of how this may be implemented is included in the full text.

Anticipated Critiques

While the hope is that everything presented here is agreeable, it would be ignorant to ignore the glaring contrast to many existing ideas. To anticipate these critiques, included in the full text is a list of responses to many general oppositions:

  • axiomatic differences [e.g. objective virtues, civil radicality]; 
  • human nature [e.g. free will, individualism, inalienable rights, mob mentality];
  • different premises [e.g. materialism, religion];
  • practical success [e.g. propaganda vs reality vs truth];
  • different analyses [e.g. material analysis, consumerism]; 
  • utility monsters [e.g. insanity, fascism];
  • and – of course – personal hypocrisy.

Thanks for taking an interest in this idea, I hope this and the full text was worth your time and will help you with understanding the world in the future.