Culture Wars/Current Controversies

Cybernetics, Hamilton, and Success


Politics is not metaphysics, so looking for an arche, one principle that rules all and explains all, is a wild goose chase at best, or a fatal distraction at worst. Being (with a capital “B”) is as different from beings (with a lower case “b”) as the Creator is from His creation, and although we can learn about creation through our knowledge of God, to think about creation as we would think about God would be a mistake, or blasphemy. Likewise, looking for an arche in beings, looking for what is proper to Being in what is not Being, is folly. Yet, there exists what we might call “pseudo-arches”, things that can act like an arche, principles which help us think about politics as such.

One “pseudo-arche” is the environment or the ecology. By “environment” or “ecology”, we do not mean simply the trees or the oceans, but our whole surroundings, be it language, traditions, or art. In the past, we have detoured into how Heidegger informs an ecological politics, but now we will reorientate to the topic of cybernetics. Cybernetics is the study of communication and, what is most important in political science, automated systems of control. A cybernetic politics, to paint the conclusion before we sketch the premises, is a politics where an environment of automated incentive and disincentive programs shape the culture and policies of a polity.

Energy flows, can be redirected, but cannot be eliminated. Sexual energy, for example, can either be directed at procreation, and solidifying the marital bonds, or it can be spent on pornography and casual hook ups. Humans have sexual energy, and it needs to be spent, but it cannot be spent in multiple ways at once, if for no other reasons that we cannot be multiple places at once. How this energy gets spent will depend on what environmental pressures exist. A society which praises marriage and values children, will encourage sexual energy to be spent with one’s spouse either for the strengthening of love or for procreating. If the society in question is narcissistic, or simply has less an emphasis on marriage or children, there might be more pressure to engage in casual sex or to accept the use of pornography. In addition to sexual energy, there is also violent energy, which can either be burnt off in safe ways, such as sports, or not given expression, and thus coming out in destructive ways.


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