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Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Don't Hate the Player Hate the ... Fuck That Learn How To Play

Playing

Do you think you're not part of the game? I'm talking about the game of power, manipulation, knowledge, and seduction that perpetuates all facets of life.

When you go to a used car dealer, do they care about you when they try to set the price they want? Do you think they actually want you to "get the best deal you can" and "will work with you"? When you negotiate a business deal, do you think that the person on the other side of the deal isn't looking out for himself and his company? When you go to a bar, do you think the girl flirting and twirling her hair is not playing the game and doesn't realize what she's doing? Do you think the person in charge of your pension or insurance is not looking out for his own job, maximizing his stated returns for shareholders while minimizing the actual payouts?

He is; she is; they all are.

You are part of the game of power whether you want to be or not. You can wish things weren't so, and wish that people were truly altruistic, but instead of whining about it, learn how to play. Learn how to win.

The Self Gene by Richard Dawkins outlines the biological, evolutionary imperative to active selfishly. It's in our DNA.

Opting Out

Maybe you think that trying to achieve power for your own advantage means you'll have to break your morals about kindness. Maybe you want to protest the fact that a game is going on at all, and want to opt out. You would never hurt somebody for your own advantage, and in protest of that, you want no part of it. You'll be a "good" person, and what may come will come. You'd never do something for your own advantage. This is your silent protest.

Well to those people, I will let Robert Greene say it better than I ever could:

"...unless you are a fool, you learn quickly to be prudent...there is no use in trying to opt out of the game. That will only render you powerless, and powerlessness will make you miserable...If the game of power is inescapable, better to be an artist than a denier or a bungler."
-- Robert Greene, The 48 Laws of Power, Pages xvii-xix

The simple fact is that playing is not voluntary. By pretending you're not playing, you're simply letting others take advantage of you. You are consciously choosing to lose.

You will sit comfortably on your high moral horse while others lead your horse wherever they please.

What's ironic is that by protesting the idea of a game of power in order to claim moral superiority and righteousness, you are actually doing it to further your own emotions and are therefore actually acting selfishly.

"In truth, the use of honesty is indeed a power strategy, intended to convince people of one's noble, good-hearted, selfless character. It is a form of persuasion, even a subtle form of coercion."
-- Robert Greene, The 48 Laws of Power, Page xviii

Let's Play

Several times in the past, I've made reference to Buddhism, the religion to which I'd say I most closely relate. Buddhism preaches the concept of enlightened self interest. Buddhists recognize that every person wants to maximize their own happiness and minimize their own pain. When you help others, own the fact that it's really to make yourself happier. Recognize your own emotions and motivations for all your actions. See the world as it is.

In addition, Buddhism teaches that each person is responsible for his own emotions. You alone are responsible for your emotional interpretation of the world. By that logic, emotionally hurting somebody is not something you should feel guilty about. They alone are responsible for their emotions. If you break up with somebody because you are not interested in dating her, do not feel guilty about it. Own up to the fallout and consequences of that action, but guilt and shame should not be a primary consideration when you "next" somebody.

Let's say you're playing Mario Cart 64 with your friends. When you play, each person is trying to win. Your objective is to win. You'll crash other players into a nearby tree. At the end of the game, you don't feel guilty for acting competitively.

"Power is a game - this cannot be repeated too often - and in games you do not judge your opponents by their intentions but by the effect of their actions."
-- Robert Greene, The 48 Laws of Power, Page xxi

When you walk into a used car dealership and try to minimize the price you pay, do you feel guilty that you are also minimizing the dealer's commission? No, you do not. You play the game with all the tools and knowledge at your disposal. When you print out the kelly blue book value of the car you want, you are playing the game.

It's no different with picking up girls. When you put on certain clothes that make you look debonair or wear cologne that smells great, you are trying to manipulate the situation into increasing her odds of fucking you. "Just Be Yourself" is a platitude told to men to try to keep them from improving themselves and playing the game.

When you go into a business negotiation, you try to maximize what you get out of it. Even if you give them perks or don't act too aggressively on purpose, you are doing that so you can increase the odds of future business deals, and therefore are still maximizing your overall, cumulative return.

Morality

If you embrace this philosophy of having your primary goal to win the game and gain power, taken to a logical extreme would mean that murdering somebody in order to take his money would be acceptable, since it furthers your own power.

I believe that murder is immoral. But then how do I reconcile that incongruity?

Well let's explore this idea a bit further. Additionally, we need to explore the concept of morality from a logical, not emotional, standpoint. If somebody is going to attack me or hurt a loved one, I'd feel comfortable killing that person in self defense. I do not believe that is immoral. But physically hurting another for my own gain is, to me, immoral. However, as I outlined above, I believe emotionally hurting somebody to a lesser degree is amoral (neither moral nor immoral) since they are responsible for their interpretation of the world. Yet there are more extreme examples of physical and emotional pain (such as physical or mental torture which does not result in helping anybody else) I would consider immoral.

The dissonance occurs because if my primary goal is to play the game of power and maximize my own return, "immoral" actions can help further that goal.

To reconcile this, I propose the concept of empathy. Just as selfishness and the pursuit of power is embedded within our DNA because it holds an evolutionary advantage, I believe that empathy also holds an evolutionary advantage (at least in humans and other social animals) and therefore is another drive embedded within our DNA.

I have the capability to feel empathy with others. When I hurt them to further my own power, I can empathize with how that action will affect them. Power pushes me forward and empathy holds me back. Both are equally embedded in my biology.

Therefore, I would state that my order or priorities in life are:
  1. Power and empathy
  2. Short term gratification (drugs, alcohol, sex)
  3. Acting out on emotions
I placed power and empathy on the same line, because depending on the situation, one will win over the other. For example, when I negotiate for the best financial deal in a car dealership, I can empathize with the dealer getting a lower commission. However, in that situation my desire for selfishness wins. Yet breaking into somebody's home and stealing their valuables, while it would increase my personal gain, I would empathize too much with the action and would not perform that action.

Perhaps you could say that I could justify any action because it's evolutionarily advantageous (such as rape), and I don't have an answer to that right now, except to hope that one's inborn empathy overrides the desire to perform the most heinous crimes.

Notice how I put short-term gratification and acting out on emotions as the next two drives. I personally would restrain my emotions if it yielded long term or short term gratification. For example, playing the game of seduction and calibrating my own emotional responses to get sex.

That's also why I do not understand others when they act out and break things in a house or yell at somebody because they are angry with somebody, for example. It makes you look weak and out of control, and to me does not further any of my goals. If yelling at somebody would increase my reputation, power, or punish their specific action, then I would do it. But I am doing it consciously and with a purpose. Not to simply "release steam." That's the sign of somebody who is emotionally driven and weak.

Concluding Remarks

Perhaps it's a sociopathic view of the world, but I still believe it's either moral or amoral; definitely not immoral. I consider myself both ambitious, yet also empathetic. I will learn all I can about power and selfishness, and then make a conscious choice whether to use that information in a given situation, if I feel it's not immoral (notice how I didn't say moral; only not immoral).

"Power is essentially amoral...It is a game. your opponent sits opposite you."
-- Robert Greene, The 48 Laws of Power, Page xxi

If this makes you uneasy, and you wish for it not to be true, well the red pill is bitter with a sweet aftertaste; the blue pill is sweet with a decidedly bitter aftertaste. Please, I implore you, opt out.

(Reddit Discussion Link)

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