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What exactly is going wrong with society lately? Here’s a useful lens.
I’d like to introduce a new concept to you today which I have come to call corruptionism. It’s the best candidate I have found to unify several disparate moral terms that are some combination of outdated or off-topic yet still very relevant in contemporary politics today.
Most thinking people can understand, at least in the abstract, the meaning of corruption. Corruption is, put simply, the abuse of public trust for some other benefit or ulterior purpose. But there is more to corruption than that, and this is what Americans especially have not yet come to understand.
In Indonesia, this is understood somewhat better. The Suharto era was one of profound corruption, so sweeping and totalising that it permanently changed Indonesian culture. Even decades after his fall, it is normal for wealthy parents to seek bribes for entry into elite schools, for money laundering through casinos and all sorts of ministers and government appointees, and so on. If you live in Asia, you know that Indonesians are not the only like this. They expect it. What does this mean? This means that there is more here than corruption; there is cultural acceptance of corruption, which necessitates a belief that corruption is the way the world works. In a sense, this is similar to an ideology. Where corruption becomes more than just observational fact, it is called corruptionism.
Americans don’t have a good time noticing this, and there are a few reasons why. The first one is that there is no mainstream cultural apparatus for acknowledging and self-regulating this. That is probably a feature of corruption, but knowing is nonetheless half the battle, and many Americans know. But the larger reason corruption persists in America is because it’s all legal. Americans of all classes openly engage in rampantly immoral and unethical behaviour on a massive scale, and whenever people point out that it is wrong, they get redirected to the legal system, which of course is also corrupt in its own ways. We’ve seen this story play out several times now in American history, to the point it’s almost thematic.
But how does this happen? How does somebody come to adopt corruptionism as an ethos? Perhaps unsurprisingly, it happens the same way most people end up down dark paths: they are lost and looking for ways out. Everyone else is doing it. They probably know better. Is there any other way? What do you know if you haven’t banked on it? And so on. There’s a key ingredient of nihilism borne out of ignorance and want here. The eternal blackpill fosters just enough idealism and hope without ever forcing the believer to come down from cloud nine and actually figure out how to achieve the desired improvements, and the cycle repeats.
Since 2013 or so, this has come to poison much of the mainstream Web. Instead of trying to construct false realities and give people something positive that’s worth fighting for, the propagandist concedes every argument against them and then points to their enemy, correctly observing that they too are no better. This often confuses and defeats the person being used, because if you look at the facts in a vacuum, it’s all true.
There’s a sleight of hand going in all this, and it’s really simple. It all comes down to the hidden fact that there are two kinds of beliefs: there are beliefs about truth, how the world is, and then there are beliefs about ethics, how people should act. The latter kind of belief is never spoken of in the sleight, and if it was, the whole grift might just fall apart. If you have not settled into believing the want for anything in life, then you do not stand for anything your own, and are a sitting duck for this kind of hack.
It’s not hard to imagine where this leads people to (utter insanity), but how was this made possible? How are Americans so vulnerable to this kind of manipulation tactic?
I believe our schools shoulder a lot of the responsibility. We have a 19th century public education system that has been obviously obsolete for generations, and this system is supremely focused on contriving conformity and obedience out of students. It does this by being ruthlessly authoritarian, micromanaging every single behaviour of every child beyond breathing, including bathroom breaks, talking, and standing.
It’s important to remember that all of this is accomplished through words, and equally important to notice that this supremacy of words is achieved by utterly extinguishing the power of free action by students. You cannot leave and go wherever. You cannot do what seems right. You need a bathroom pass which literally has words on it, or a pink slip, or whatever. You cannot act with any sense of agency at all. The only student agency that is given any legitimacy is the agency to talk, which is the easiest to amicably regulate because all of the real power through discretion in action is already reserved by the authorities. No matter the phrasing, students are forced to beg for literally everything the school doesn’t impose upon them. This strips them of their dignity and makes it exceedingly difficult to find purpose because no one was ever taught how to act, only how to behave.
When we look at the inversion of group disparities and see them coinciding with a universal rise in negative tells like suicide rates and academic performance, this is the simple explanation for it all. Rich schools are less marred by this effect, where they have more resources and less stress, so they can tolerate the eccentricities of students more. Poor schools take the beating lying down, hoping they can hold their arms up to their face for the 13 years of it they must endure.
Remember that Atlantic article that made the rounds asking why Gen Z is so sad? This is why! Sadness is the only permitted emotion to be displayed of the subset of real feelings these people have. Anger is violently suppressed by institutional levers of control, and dissent is made impotent through authoritarian controls. Schools are literally prisons, why would dissent be tolerated? It’s been more clear than ever that public school has lost the plot, but they actually lost it a long time ago.
This loss of narrative and loss of purpose is the result of corruptionism at scale. This is the default outcome when all of the groups in power afford nuance and restraint only to themselves, throwing the book at everyone else. I’m talking about faculty. I’m talking about administrators. I’m talking about teachers’ unions. And yes, I’m also talking about parents. Those notorious bastions don’t even act in their own children’s interest much of the time. How hard is it to simply give a shit?
And what about the working world? The style depends on what colour shirt you have on, but at the core it’s basically the same. Corporations have been full tilt on greed, and employees are finally biting back with… also greed. This is not going to work out for anyone here.
Looking beyond the mainstream, corruptionism rears its ugly head in countless ways that you would never expect, such as this unfortunate conservation I had about armchair general posting about Ukraine on Twitter. When you get caught up and carried away in what everyone else is doing, and you don’t have your own ethos that motivates your behaviour from the outset, you can end up with some strange, horrifying bedfellows. Nothing good comes out of this, and truth be told all but a few engage in this unwittingly. They think it’s just people talking, or that it’s just shitposting. They think this ultimately isn’t relevant, all the while Elon plots his hostile takeover of the website because he understands what it really is: the front lines of the war on information. Yes, go ahead and plonk another quarter into the “Alex Jones was right” jar. We’re all reasonable sceptics here.
The war in the Ukraine burst a lot of people’s bubbles because it was a real moral imposition upon everyone online, when the Web has come to coalesce into a form where the mainstream is taken genuinely, if half-heartedly, by default. The Web of today exists in a new context that has no precedent, and many people have a hard time distinguishing what is what around the dichotomy of Eternal September. This is neither the professional Web of Neverland, where emails are always cordial and swears don’t exist, nor is it the unprofessional Web of yore, where Tubgirl and Goatse reign supreme and noobs fear the classic Fifty Hitler Post. This is a Web that takes itself seriously, yet pulls no punches. If you’ve been modelling this by hand, you’re probably lost by now, but most people aren’t. They generally get it.
A lot of people were found swimming naked, posting takes that were absolutely inhuman, as if Ukraine was the same as every other contrived controversy that predated it for years. Unfortunately for them, this was a mask-busting miscalculation, because to most people in the real world, Ukraine is a grave human travesty deserving of a basic sense of restraint and dignity towards those involved. Of course, corruptionism points towards more shitposting, more indignation, and so on, because it is demanded by the Almighty Idol of Engagement. That guy’s deranged Ukraine threads are exceedingly popular, and the algorithm has a heavy hand in that.
Since then, a lot of these “prolific shitposters” have turned on each other, having run out of steam from being so relentlessly and continuously dragged by the rest of the website for their insensitivity. All the while U.S. intelligence continues its onward death march, systematically purging even slightly pro-Russian sentiments from Twitter and elsewhere. What good was all that for? Corruption freed you to choose your own beliefs, only for the NSA to ban you anyway. Remember the two kinds of beliefs above, and you will then see how corruption ruined the action potential here. The ends do not, in fact, justify the means. Or, as I said to the DM guy above, you care more about One China than the people actually living there. Not a good idea.
Relatedly, this is the same concept you may have heard some conservatives, especially of the libertarian stripe, refer to as Communism. As a matter of fact, they’re about as Communist as Benito Mussolini, but beneath the label they are pointing to something very real. What does Noam Chomsky do, if not supporting and advocating Communism? Corruptionism. What is the end result of the culture of terror that has taken over schools? Corruptionism. What is the end result of all the shenanigans in the Middle East, if not the defeat of terrorism? Corruptionism. It’s whatever you have to be made to believe in order for you to hate yourself, prostrate yourself to authorities, and perhaps even self-sterilise and constantly act explicitly against your own interests, leaving the door flung wide open to complete strangers to take vast riches and powers for themselves using manufactured consent, just because they can. Christians call this Satanic, but Satan or no Satan, they are right to observe that this is an affront to life itself.
The reason all of this stuff matters so much is because it seems to be the central unifying mechanism by which aggregate outcomes, quality of life and human happiness and fulfillment have been robbed from the American public. Trillions in Afghanistan, the state of SF and NYC, college discrimination, you name it. It all came raining down from people who didn’t actually believe in any part of their job and sacrificed you to get more for themselves. Entire classes and generations of people decided the only thing they could agree on was fucking other people over – whomever was most convenient. There’s a reason Madoff died serving a centuries-long prison sentence while Belfort got a redemption arc. (Follow the money.) And if you think it’s just the Boomers, I’ve got more bad news.
This may be endemic, but it’s not okay. Americans must move to reform or abandon institutions which propagate this grave affect, as pragmatically necessary to protect the things they have come to hold and the people they know and love. If you can’t do this, you won’t be able to redeem your life or the society you live in. Act now, order today, send no money, offer good while supplies last, 2 to a customer, each item sold separately, batteries not included, allow 6 weeks for delivery, some assembly required, some restrictions may apply, and void where prohibited except in Indiana. Good luck!
This has been another free off-topic post from yours truly. If you like my content, please consider subscribing, it’s only $5.55/month and it helps me leave my security guard work for good. Thanks for reading.