Stop Game Acceptance

Readers of a conservative bent have probably felt a streak of satis­faction reading my former post on game denial, while the radicals and liberals have cringed and condemned me.  So be it. If game denial was the only part of the story, conserva­tives would sim­ply be right. Deep down they’ve always known, or so they think, that drea­my idealism isn’t quite “real”; that all those liberals are, in a sub­tle but pervasive sense, brimming with mendacities, filled with pomp­ous self-deceit. There’s a real world out there, a practical world of real peo­ple, and real limitations.

Ahh. “Like ‘me’, the no-bullshit conservative. The good person is not who­ever can dream up the nicest fantasy and have us drive off a cliff in search of it, but rather those who can look at the real world, be strong eno­ugh to face it—and from there on, try to do what’s best and most real­istic given the circumstances.” The conservative mind seeks a darker, but soberer, point of depar­ture: What to do with violent criminals? How should free-riding, cheating and loafing be discouraged? How do we get people to come out of their com­fort zones and make sincere efforts for the good of themselves and others?

The following is a slightly edited extract from Hanzi Freinacht’s book ‘Nordic Ideology: A Metamodern Guide to Politics, Book Two’. This is the second book in a series on metamodern thought, a work of popular philosophy that investigates the nature of psychological development and its political implications.

So what are the “hard truths” that we must all relate to? Here’s a per­spective from a “pickup artist”, i.e. a man who has be­come a pro­fessional at seducing women:

“There is a pride in being a pickup artist. It is a challenge. I have performer friends who can explode on stage like samurai and kill five hundred people, but they are afraid to approach a girl in a bar. I don’t blame them. Most audiences are horny to be fucked. They want it hard and deep. But the girl sitting on the bar stool is more difficult. She is scarier. She is the five hun­dred pound gorilla in a little black dress. And she can bust you up, if you let her. But she is also horny to be fucked. We are all horny to be fucked.”[i]

“Juggler”, as is the nom de guerre of this fellow, tries to “tell it like it is”. He tries to face up to the inherent challenges of life, ones that cannot be bru­shed aside with idealistic visions and wishful thinking. In short: he acc­epts the game of life (in this case seduction) and tries to take its con­sequen­ces.

But it doesn’t sound very nice, which is probably why Juggler is part of a secret society in the first place, where knowledge about the games of seduction is spread and refined. Speaking one’s perceived hard truths often makes you sound like a douchebag.

This puts the con­ser­vative at a constant rhetorical disadvantage; you gen­erally tend to sound less nice. Which is quite annoying—a tired and irr­itated look on the con­servative’s face unmistakably presents itself when lib­erals and rad­icals go on, performing their moral braggadocio and “vir­tue signaling” in the med­ia or at any given dinner party.

Conservatives generally talk less. They tell themselves they are prac­­tical, down-to-earth, realistic—doers rath­er than talkers. And in more or less refined manners, they resent the game deni­ers, these cheap fakes who take every opportunity to shout out their opinions and to shine their own poli­tically correct medals; liberals who choose moral bombasticity over sober analysis.

This “conserv­ative silence” is suppor­ted by res­ear­ch, which clearly shows that the farther left you are, the more you tend to voice your opin­ions in everyday life. If you’re rooting for the nationalist party, you talk the least about it. One such study was undertaken in Sweden by the poll­ing com­pany Dem­o­­skop: When asking over 4000 people, 56% of self-reported soc­ialists were com­fortable with voicing their opin­ions to stran­gers, while the same figure for nationalists was 27%—the other ideol­o­gies neatly arran­ged in order of left-wingness.[ii] Similar figures have been found in the US, as shown by a recent Cato Institute report.[iii] Ours is a world of lib­eral loud­mouths and tight conservative lips (and quiet support of pop­ulist and con­servative leaders).

And since nationalism and Trumpism are the least kosher and most difficult to publicly def­end, people even hide supporting them when asked in polls (which, by the way, is likely a major reason that polling has begun to be less accurate lately). When they do support the Trumps of the world, they often add in small exc­uses, justifications, hedgings, accounts and dis­claim­ers: “Well, I don’t like Trump, I just thought we should shake things up a bit” and so forth.[iv]

When rhetorical tal­ents who understand the metamodern games of the media landscape—like the young, posh Brit Milo Yiannopoulos and per­haps, to some extent, Donald Trump himself—finally manage to break thr­ough and say the things that conservatives wish they could express, the response is huge. A sigh of relief echoes through many as what might loo­s­ely be termed the “Alt-Right” gains momentum. Even if Yianno­poulos and Trump may embody exagge­rations of conservative sentim­ents, at least they rain some sweet venge­ance upon the often so suffocating polit­ically correct establishment, the smoth­ering welfare state and per­ceived status quo. A mellow sen­se of satis­faction arises in the conservative tummy.

Don’t Hate the Player

But I have argued elsewhere that reality consists of more than “actuality”; that a deeper and fuller reality lies in the realm of what is possible. And the conserv­atives have a strong tendency to­wards accepting the games of life in their current, actual form in a way that disregards the very real pot­en­tials for alternatives and change.

I have said that crimes against reality are crimes against humanity. But crimes against potentiality are also crimes against humanity, and aga­in­st all life on our planet—against all beautiful futures. Game accep­tance also kills. In fact, these killing grounds are far greater and more brutal than the ones of game denial.

Game acceptance means to prostrate before the game and take it as a law of nature in its current form, denying that the game can and must evolve. Or, more often, the game accepter holds that real and substantial changes are only ever poss­ible in a distant and irrelevant future.

This makes us justify illegitimate force and injustice. It makes us think the un­fair sides of the game are somehow indeed fair, because some­one, some­­where “deserved it”. And that injustice is all for the best in the long run because it serves the game. Game accept­ance is the tune of pol­itical real­ism, “political theology” (Jean Bodin, Thomas Hobbes, Vilfredo Par­eto, Niccolò Machiavelli…), neo-liberalism, conservatism. The game acc­epter quietly mumbles:

“It has to be this way! It’s how the world works. We have to let them starve, get screwed over, get stuck and crushed in systems that are not for them. If we only let the system play out and the game be played the way it is, it will turn out for the best for everyone. Besides, I can’t help I won. Don’t hate the player, hate the game!”

But game acceptance really loves the game and hates the player—corr­ection—hates the player who happens to get the short end of the stick.

The billions of enslaved, tortured and murdered animals under global industrial farming find no heroic defenders among the game accepters. The unjust international order which keeps the global South exploited and subjugated is defended under the auspices of “free markets”. The losers of everyday life—the unintelligent, the ugly, the sickly—they all deserve what they get.

The central principle of game acceptance is hence: That which could be is not, and hence it should not be. As David Hume warn­ed us already in the 18th century, this is a fallacy—deriving an “ought” from an “is”. That some­thing is the case doesn’t mean is should be the case.

At its most extreme, game acceptance goes beyond the existing games of life to invent fictitious ones so that we may revel in what “necessary evils” these games demand of us: “Western culture is trying to destroy the Arab world and undermine all of Islam. Ergo we must stop them by ram­ming airplanes into buildings full of innocent folks!”—or “The Jews are plotting to destroy Germany! I don’t like it any more than you, but we must kill them! It’s either them or us. Race against race!”—or “Species against spe­cies! Hum­ans must kill and torture billions of piglets, lest we all starve! It’s the terrible game of life. Alas!”—or “Men must be superior to women and make more money and be more respect­ed in public life, or else—the im­pending collapse of civilization!”—or “We must have a schooling system which more or less systematically perman­ently breaks the souls of the less gifted and less privileged and lets them know their lowly place in society! And we need to beat the kids! I wish it weren’t so.”

But now that it is so, mumbles a voice at the outer fringe of your con­scious mind, you might as well enjoy subjugating the weak and feel exalted with every proof of your own power.

And just as there is an embodied form of game denial, so there is an embodied form of game acceptance. Especially those of us who have had high social status during our upbringing and reflexively assume we can win out in any confrontation that shows up can be tempted to think all such confrontations are necessarily good and just. Losers get what they deserve; that’s not just an idea, but a felt bodily experience that sets our mind up for game acceptance.

Exaggerated forms of game acceptance lead to the most brutal forms of social organization. If you look at Nazi Germany, it killed less people than the communist experiment, numerically speaking. But if you look at the relatively small spread of fascism and its shorter period of existence, you notice the killing rate was much higher and the brutality much more an end in itself. Game acceptance, at its most ext­reme, murders a lot more people than does game denial.

But it doesn’t stop there. The worst crime of game acceptance is that it blocks legitimate, necessary and very possible change. If you look at the thousands of very preventable maladies that have been perpetuated by game accept­ance throughout history, you see a silent, invisible death toll looming larger than any other crime in world history.

Of course we could end slavery. Of course we can end animal slavery. Of course the rich world can and should support sust­ainable global growth with a significant percentage of its GDP. Of course the trade system should be fairer. Of course most wars were avoidable. Of course everyone can have free basic health care. Of course we can live less waste­fully and still be healthier, happier and have mean­ingful lives.

Crimes against potentiality are crimes against humanity.

Hanzi Freinacht is a political philosopher, historian and sociologist, author of ‘The Listening Society’, ‘Nordic Ideology’ and the upcoming books ‘The 6 Hidden Patterns of History’ and ‘Outcompeting Capitalism’. Much of his time is spent alone in the Swiss Alps. You can follow Hanzi on his facebook profile here, and you can speed up the process of new metamodern content reaching the world by making a donation to Hanzi here.

[i]. From Neil Strauss’ The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists, 2005: chapter 2.

By the way—I don’t mean to equate conservatives with pickup artists or vice versa. I am just looking for the general “let’s keep it real” sentiment, which they both share.

[ii]. Santesson, P. “Vem vågar prata?” [“Who dares to speak?”], Demoskop, September 14th 2015.

[iii]. Ekins, E. “The State of Free Speech and Tolerance in America”. Cato Institute Survey Reports, October 31st 2017.

[iv]. These concepts, excuses, justifications, hedgings and accounts are discussed in social-psychological research and the discipline called “eth­no­meth­odology”.

See Scott, M. B., Lyman, S. M., 1968: Accounts. American Sociological Review, Vol. 33, No. 1: 46-62.

See also: Buttny, R., 1993. Social Accountability in Communication. London: Sage.