by Max Barry

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by The Confederal Theocracy of Polis Diamonil. . 8 reads.

My Politics IRL (viewer discretion advised)

Contents may be rude; viewer discretion is advised. Contains discussion of sexuality, intense ambivalence towards religion, and a defense of nudist colonies.

I operate on a no-secrecy basis. I'm willing to talk about anything from any period of my life. Anyone I've known, any campaign I've participated in, and any aspect of personal history. Anything that can be dug up against me, I'll verify. I don't keep secrets about myself, although I'll warn you in advance that I'm a nobody who thinks much and does little. I've left it out of the art of Polis Diamonil in respect for the art of Polis Diamonil. Despite that, and despite the fact that I've operated on such rules since I was 11, I'm a political dissident who has in the past been accused of being 'darkness'.

I have strong opinions about darkness, and a complex history with it. I believe that people who have nothing to hide generally have no reason to violate the privacy of others. A society of people with nothing to hide would have no reason to violate privacy. The people who must be constantly observing all are the people who need scouts. With this perspective, one of the things I'm happy about in NationStates is the way that respecting privacy generally increases Integrity. People who have much to hide need desperately to know who is corrupt, who can be blackmailed, and who is exploitable. A society of people who can watch each other transparently - not through hidden programs, but open ones - can save each other from being exploited. If police were constantly under observation, they might be less effective at catching criminals, but criminals also wouldn't be able to blackmail or corrupt them, and even police assets which were previously corrupted would be redeemed.

I generally defend the privacy of others despite not living with any myself. My no-secrecy basis doesn't have to be everyone's no-secrecy basis. Indeed, I used to be upset at the literally eighteenth century ideal (it is!) of panopticon societies. I've softened on that. A "glasswall" society (where nobody has any privacy) intrinsically provides the tools to identify people who are abusing the freedom to observe others provided by the glasswall society itself. It does not intrinsically provide the tools to deal with abuses of the glasswall society, but where abuses cannot be hidden, humanity has always found ways to deal with them. So I think at this point I'd be willing to live in a glasswall society - and more than willing, indeed. I believe that humanity's early off-world colonies will be implemented as glasswalls, and I want off this rock!

Space Travel:
Humanity's need for off-world settlements would qualify as desperate on the grounds of the yield to social psychology research alone!

I've enjoyed thinking about God for as long as memory stretches. In Sunday School, I was a pious child who thought about theology more often and more seriously than little kids tend to. Unfortunately, by age 11 I had worked through theodicy to destructive conclusions, and I deconverted from Christianity while staring contemplatively at the ceiling of a church. I've since discovered to my shock that the international counterculture hates and fears Luciferianism, which despite abject secularism they seemingly cannot discern from zealous Christianity... Well, I've got a lot of thoughts about religion, and although they're hard for others to understand, I still enjoy them in my own thoughts. Those thoughts have gotten a lot nastier than they were, so I don't enjoy them quite as much.

I originally entered into political thought as a trusting globalist type. Despite a stark religious transformation around the same period, I did not collapse towards some generalized distrust, but rather was awed by the modern world and by technology. I believed in the probable virtue of all who partook in creating such a resoundingly neat society. I'm... not really that person anymore, unfortunately. Even stark transformations at age 11 have a way, perhaps, of not being the last transformations one undergoes.

The most basic nature of God is being not in evidence. When people do things to each other while the perpetrators are not in evidence, those things are such as must be concealed. Crime and corruption are therefore God, IRL. They occur because and to the extent that they are omnipotent. These things are performed by people who must be omnipotent, and who cannot be powerless. It is the nature of law to be powerless quite often, while it is the nature of chaos to be powerful. There is often no help arriving in the moment that it is needed. Despite this, civilization expands the rule of law, and although people sometimes complain about the loss of the feeling of being powerful, it is more important that the experience of powerlessness recedes. People can have simulated power in fiction where nobody is powerless; in the real world, it is more important that nobody is powerless than that anybody is powerful.

There is a less basic nature of God which is to be always-virtuous. Those who commit crimes against others tend to be always-virtuous, and to define their personas according to whatever seems least like criminality. This factor can also be described like this: the nature of evil is anti-inductive. Those who must have the freedom to act must achieve that they are believed to be people who deserve the freedom to act. Therefore, those who seek power seek to present themselves as virtuous, and to be "discreet" about all of their faults. I believe instead in indiscretion. It's really (obscenity) painful sometimes. (In Nationstates, this creates a challenge where it's hard to create a society that is polite yet honest... it's hard to do that IRL, too, but I think it's important in both contexts.) A post like this one is an indiscretion in the relevant sense, though also a potential example of how indiscretions aren't necessarily rude; certainly I've no intent of being rude by posting this, but it bares a lot about me.

Finally, God is omniscient, but cannot be observed. In this the difference between God and Science is this: Science can be watched, but God cannot be. There is no peer review when criminals post scouts, and those who stalk others do not publish the whereabouts in which they made their observations. Science seeks a mutually verifiable omniscience, whereas God seeks to have divine revelations trusted on faith. Trusting God is accordingly a lot more dangerous than trusting a scientist.

I don't hate religious people, chiefly because most religious people are not God. Even though I'm no longer Christian, I still love Christianity's assertion that all are sinners, because of the way that it makes Christians less likely to be God. Whole faiths can and often do repudiate both perfect virtue as well as that which is not in evidence while remaining faithful to their precepts; I have no interest in aiming repressions at faith, in game or IRL. I'm way more fond of religious education in NationStates than IRL, though. It seems to have favorable stat implications in-game, but IRL I don't know about it.

Sex is the nightmare component of my personal history, and that about which it is hardest to be indiscreet. I uphold my rule that I will answer honestly all queries, but no history I write will be complete. The central summation of my personal attitude towards sex is this: I don't consider myself human and I don't date outside my species.

I'm asexual. I'm also happily married, and have been for over a decade. If I ever have a child, advanced technology will be involved.

I am a formerly sexually active person who didn't get much out of sex. I sought it for my own curiosity, but I didn't like it. I stayed in sexual spaces for the benefit of other people, as well as because my attempts to get into politics IRL were diverted towards sex. I mistook that for a necessary aspect of life. My tolerance ran out because of people tending to develop a certain spectacularly horrendous fetish... that they disliked 'me' for having. There's a certain fetish which is always the other person's fault. Now, in fiction, all things are acceptable, and I do not consider the people who I'm speaking about here to have conducted themselves unlawfully, retaining as they did their interest to the fictional, and expecting me to help them rather than anyone from potentially vulnerable populations... but I didn't want to. I found that psychologically unpleasant. So eventually, the only connection I kept from that era was the one person who only allocated the interest to himself rather than pressuring me to treat it as my own.

All the other connections frayed with my patience for having something repulsive imputed to me that I was then expected to perform, and when at last I retained only the one guy who was chill about admitting that it was his own interest, my social life exploded. I've since put my social life back together, but nobody has ever admitted why the frag I was persona non grata for a while. The experience gave me a bit of a complex about unknowability and is linked to the part of my life when I was accused of being 'darkness'. "God wants to be treated like an abused child" has since become one of my favorite sayings. I'm not protesting Catholicism when I say it.

This is the paranoia-inducing history which resulted in my becoming very interested in acquiring my own brain scans.

Politically, I favor limited sex-positivity, liberation of gender roles, protection of homosexuality, and strong sexual education. All of these are personal, but only the last of the four is backed by trauma. There were commonly understood concepts missing from my upbringing that would have protected my social and psychological health, and indeed even my career potentials in my preferred field, if they'd been present. I used to favor radical sex-positivity, but I now believe that radical sex-positivity appeals primarily to people who want to do terrible things to vulnerable people.

I appreciate nudist colonies as evidence that people can live with exposure to sexual concepts without having their lives defined by sexuality, and I wish that sex was more often downplayed nudist-style rather than commercialized, instrumentalized, and/or made into a tool of rudeness. Nudist colonies can function stably because of the categories of psychological abuse that they put up blocks against.

I started into politics as an egalitarian capitalist. Now I'm an egalitarian planner-ist. The communism/capitalism divide is artificial. Large swathes of all economies are artificial. Economic reality is made of interlocking logistical networks. My history in this respect is the history of my early idealism bleeding out. I'm less tense about this issue than I was, but I've remained egalitarian. Once upon a time this would've been the entire essay, now it's just a paragraph.


I hold that attitude under control, politically. I'm aware that force must be opposed with force. I'm aware of the dynamic tension of geopolitics. I'm aware that soldiers can be good people, and that wars can have good causes. I'm aware that the intensity of my sentiment is potentially irrational. I'm aware that seething opposition is not charismatic. I'm aware that there are peaceful fans of military themes and that my opinions about military aesthetics are not universal. I'm aware of a few edgecases in military aesthetics that I do admire, and I'm aware of some technologies that wouldn't exist without military research. I'm aware of a whole bunch of reasons why I can't write with hostility to militarism bleeding through in every word, and shouldn't rule that way if I ruled the world, and... so... I keep the backbone of my opinion fleshed out with everything it needs to stay in balance. I give honor to the military when it is honorable. I believe in maintaining an appropriate defensive military. For that matter, I'm aware that it's economically rational sometimes to hire vandals as guards, which amounts to bribing violent people to stand still and not be violent. Converting a threat into an asset is a good work. I expect that this kind of thing is occasionally the easiest and most straightforward form of rehabilitation.

I still wish humanity were capable of spending all military resources on research! The economy would be so much more efficient if everyone was pacifistic to begin with. Information would flow much more freely if nobody had to worry about violent reprisals to their thoughts. There's no beauty in the military. There's no glory. Militarism is death worship in a species that might last forever if it can resist worshipping death. I believe humans will be immortal someday - if they can avoid killing each other. On that note...

Science is one of the common objectives of all large organizations, including not only whole societies but even all of humanity, being therefore one of the only human endeavors capable of operating on the scale of the entire species. NationStates models science as something that can go forward and backward, often with shocking instability. That's... sort of true, but not exactly realistic. Humanity has only lost ground scientifically a few times. Generally it seems to be really hard to lose scientific knowledge within scientific communities. I think of the scientific advancement graph in NationStates as reflecting mostly the ebb and flow of the public's understanding of science, with only the very large traverses (be they fast or slow) representing real gains or losses of scientific understanding within the sciences themselves.

In any case, funding science is one of the most essential investments of government. Integrity usually matters more, because science without integrity is God (corruption being the stuff of unknowable omniscience), but very little else does. I don't take this on a generic "noble quest of knowledge" level, either.

Y'see, I'm a biological immortalist. I believe that with sufficient advance of real scientific knowledge humanity can achieve mastery of biology. I believe that humans will eventually be capable of sculpting and fabricating flesh itself. Our nanites might be made of flesh, just as the body itself produces cellular machines. I believe that we will be able to make each other into new forms. Immortality in one form will be achievable through repeatedly resculpting people into the same form, rejuvenating that form with new tissues, and therapeutically restoring eroded genomes. Flesh-sculpting will also enable that if someone wants to become a gryphon, that will be possible with the same technology. I use that example because I write with them in Polis Diamonil, but I do not want to become a gryphon. Personally, I want to be a lizard.

I'm a shapeshifting reptilian. :)

Society should aim to achieve the highest possible standard of voluntary organization. The real safeguard of society is that most people do not want to be criminals. If slightly less can be accomplished with considerably less authoritarianism, it's often worth letting the tension out of society. Anti-authoritarianism is worth the admission of some risk. We can't find out people's true natures if we never depressurize them enough to let them have space to be themselves.

That said, there is such a thing as a virtuous authority, and people's natures are not completely static. Public education and psychological therapy would both be pointless if peoples' natures were utterly set. In practice, although these interventions are observably difficult, they are also observably functional. They tend to improve over time. My past position towards authoritarianism verged on anarchic, but that was due to my original position of extreme general trust. I thought that peoples' true natures were peaceful and polite, and if only we let them be themselves, they would no longer be pressurized by unjust authorities into behaving badly. With the acknowledgement of the potential of virtuous authority, I now consider myself a moderate anti-authoritarian.

Ironically, moderate anti-authoritarianism is less stressful than extreme anti-authoritarianism.

Public Health:
Maintaining public health is one of the central obligations of the state, but resources are limited, triage is essential, and even among people who agree that it's essential there's a lot of disagreement about how to go about it. Uh... I think I'm centrist? I dunno. Thinking about this is definitely part of politics to me! We should roll out rejuvenation treatments as widely as possible as soon as they're available, but... they aren't available yet, so it doesn't impact my politics much yet. I do believe that NationStates stunningly underestimates the health gains that would be achievable by a society capable of vat-printing organs.

I'll edit this over time. Apologies in advance if the sex stuff fades. It hurts to expose that. Even should it fade from public sight, my commitment to answering queries will still exist.

I'll conclude by saying something that doesn't really fit in any category slot. I'm a rhetorician, but my specialty is not public relations. My specialty is negotiating correct losses. There's no way to describe it in more detail than that without coming off like I'm describing a style of trolling, but what I do has only ever worked because I'm sincerely doing my best. I think the fact that I've never been able to instruct anyone else in doing what I do may be the basic reason why my influences have always been ultimately inadmissible. (I could show off somewhere that my words are in a national policy document, but I can't prove that my advocacy got them placed there.) People trying to imitate me have always treated my efforts like they're made of tactics rather than endeavors towards finding truth. Perhaps there's nothing new under the sun: sophistry was always a disaster.

I'm still hirable; recruiter beware, I work only for the wages of true belief! Otherwise I fill my time with artistic projects. I have Polis Diamonil, I have something else, and I have a bunch of other stuff in the background which is detritus that I occasionally pick back up to tinker with.