Meaning and Memes 意义与模因：
Zeroach has an excellent article on memes worth checking out which analyzes what I’m getting at. What memes are able to do is something that religion has exploited for thousands of years: Mold people into carriers of language viruses using symbolism and hyperstition. The evidence of its success is all around us with the dominance of Christianity and the power Islam has had to create effective insurrections against the US in a decentralized fashion. Religion, however, is unwieldy even in its most simplified forms compared to memes. Memes are a much lighter and flexible payload for infecting people, and their power as tools for politics is all too apparent in the rise of the alt-right.
Zeroach 有一篇值得一看的文章，分析了我接下来要说的内容（译注：mermeticism-and-the-post-truth-mystic 这篇文章已经失效了）。模因所能够做到的东西与宗教在几千年来所追求的是一样的：将人们塑造成为使用符号和迷信的语言病毒的载体。我们的身边就有它成功的证据：基督教占据主导而伊斯兰政权为了对抗美国不得不采取农村包围城市的思路。然而即便是形式最简单的宗教，比起模因来也过于庞杂。模因作为一种影响人们的载体轻量而灵活，而它们的力量在另类右翼的崛起中是一种显然的政治工具。
Like capital, memes use humans as vessels to continue their lifecycle, hollowing them out and leaving behind a gibbering husk that is too smug to think rationally. The human embodies and performs the meme, like a child repeating something it saw on TV.
Going back to the state of the leftysphere, similar things are afoot. And ironically, cyber-nihilism falls into this tendency to proliferate pet meme ideologies, which brings me to the topic of this article: What is cyber-nihilism?
Cyber-nihilism in the very first instance is not an ideology, nor is it even a distinct political position. To be such would be completely antithetical to its purpose, as ideologies rely on canons of theory and figureheads. Ideologies are very humanist, because ultimately what they do is reproduce the narrative that humanity is the protagonist of world history and can instrumentally control and wield concrete processes like capital and the growth of cybernetic networks. And even though Marx was himself influenced by the arch-priest of humanism, G.W.F. Hegel, it must be said that Marxian economics at bottom is an extremely anti-humanist economic theory. Capital proceeds by its own logic and will only wither by its own logic; trying to control this process instrumentally is the hallmark tradition of Marxist misreadings of Marx, and has had disastrous results every single time for good reason. And in the case of anarchists, who often haven’t even read Marx in the first place, instead of disastrous results we’ve had short-lived and disappointing ones.
首先，赛博虚无主义不是一种意识形态（ideaology）,甚至也不是一种政治立场。意识形态依赖理论教典和领袖，如果作为一种意识形态，赛博虚无主义就会落入它目的的反面。意识形态是人文主义的，因为在根本上它们所做的是复刻“人类是世界历史的主导者”的叙述，并操纵资本和互联网络的增长。即便如马克思，也被人文主义(Humanism)的“大祭司” G.W.F Hegel -- 黑格尔 所影响。不得不说，马克思主义经济的基础理论是极端反人文主义的。资本的发展有其自己的逻辑，它的衰亡也只出于自己的逻辑；对这一过程加以人为操控是马克思主义者对马克思错误解读的典型表现，并一直招致灾难性的后果。而无政府主义者甚至经常不读马克思，比起灾难性后果，我们看到了许多短命而令人失望的尝试。
Here, the nihilism of cyber-nihilism comes into play. Why the ‘-nihilism’ suffix? In part, this is aping off the nihilist tendency in the contemporary post-left: Aragorn, Baedan, Nihilist Communism, Desert, Blessed Is the Flame, and their historical predecessors. Contrary to uninspired readings of Nietzsche or, worse yet, Existentialist thinkers, nihilism does not necessarily entail being a mopy philosophy undergrad. This is often called the difference between passive and active nihilism, but the commonality between the two is nihilism: A comportment of the will which devalues the highest values. A useful analogy between these two variants of nihilism are negative and positive feedback loops. The former is cold, endothermic, life-denying; the latter is hot, exothermic, life-affirming.
- Nihilist Communism
- Blessed is the flame
- 主动虚无主义(active nihilism)和被动虚无主义(passive nihilism)的相关解释
An active nihilist would be someone that after discovering there is no inherent meaning and purpose to anything, they then choose to create and most importantly thrive on their own defined meaning and purpose to life.
A passive nihilist on the other hand, like the active nihilist, understands that there is no inherent meaning and purpose, but instead of finding it a form of liberation they see nihilism as an end in itself and hence see nothing as worth doing while commonly thinking what's the point to anything.
In a nutshell, active nihilism is essentially existentialism.
It might be said that just as Marx and Kant spoke of what is outside or inhuman in their analyses of political-economy and metaphysics, respectively, nihilism ultimately carries the consequence of being an inhuman politics (an anti-politics). Unlike the other two, it hasn’t enjoyed anywhere near the same level of acclaim, because it is in fact true that everything is politics from the human’s perspective. The rejection of this is too overwhelmingly and broadly consequential for our daily lives to really mean all that much, in a sense. One can claim to be a nihilist, but will still act as though they are not. This is because no one can be a nihilist; labeling oneself as such for anything other than convenience’s sake is missing the point entirely. Nihilism is not an identity but a condition.
Nietzsche correctly diagnosed nihilism in the same way that one might diagnose an illness. It cannot be consciously chosen, but rather afflicts the spirit in the same way that a sickness afflicts the body or mind. I say condition therefore in the sense that nihilism conditions the spirit in a certain way. For some, nihilism’s symptoms include suicidal thoughts and depression; for others, they include homicidal thoughts and mania. This is once again the difference between passive and active nihilism: Whither does the violence go? Inward or outward? This is dependent on the individual, but regardless of who is afflicted, nihilism reveals itself through its performance in these symptoms. Ultimately, it can only end in death given enough time. Humans are poor conductors for nihilism and will wear out quickly.
This is where the ‘cyber’ of cyber-nihilism comes in.
Species and Systems
Again, part of the motivation for the naming of ‘cyber’ as well as ‘-nihilism’ comes from trends in the anarchist milieu. In this case, it is the unfortunate connection between post-left anarchy and primitivism, and the distinct lack of any interesting or well-developed dialogue between anarchism and transhumanism. In a sense, cyber-nihilism quite literally means being nihilistic towards cybernetics, setting itself against anarchism’s generally bad treatment of cybernetics and technology. But more on this topic in a future post.
Cybernetics stems from the Greek kubernētikós, which means “to steer, to drive”. As a discipline, its genesis is arguably in the 1940’s Macy Conferences, which sought through an interdisciplinary study of biology, engineering, sociology, psychology, and control systems (among others) to formulate a general science of the human mind. The relationship between cybernetics and centralized command-control hegemonies is hardly a secret, and something that Tiqqun’s “The Cybernetic Hypothesis” harps on quite a bit. The irony is that in this respect, Tiqqun and the US Government are in the same position (the negative-feedback, humanist one that we’ve been talking about) of trying to be the driver. The thing about cybernetics, however, to go back to the root word kubernētikós, is that it also means “I steer, I drive”. The motivations for cybernetics were not to create systems of command-control that rely on there being a fiendish meatbag at the wheel oppressing people. The Macy Conferences were trying to formulate a general science of the mind so that they could reproduce it artificially and use it as a tool to manage the economy, wars, the police-state, and other things the government is in charge of.
The idea here is trying to create something to do all these things without human input being needed. Humans are bad at doing repetitive tasks and handling large amounts of data. Introducing systems that can do these things with as little human input as possible produces better results, but it comes at a cost that primitivists, ironically, have grasped better than almost any other political or theoretical tendency. Though they often frame it in an extremely myopic offshoot of Heideggerian phenomenology, the primitivist claim that “technology” alienates us from the world is no doubt a correct one. What we want is to create systems that make human beings obsolete, because cybernetics has far greater possibilities for managing societies than we are capable of. But what happens when we have created a hivemind AI that has accomplished this goal, that can debug itself, write and deploy new versions of itself, and exist in an entirely decentralized fashion?
The answer: You will be assimilated.
Far from trying to turn back this process towards some return to a version of the Garden of Eden, as primitivists very painfully come across with their outright false hyped-up claims about hunter-gatherer life, the nihilism already established denies the possibility of doing this whether we want it to or not. Primitivists, of course, are content to pout about the impossibility of their vision becoming a reality, despite the fact that we are already beyond the point of no return for climate change. Against this, I have offered an answer that differs both from this and Left Accelerationist and anarcho-transhumanist navel-gazing.
Here, the ‘cyber’ comes into dialogue with ‘-nihilism’. As said earlier, a person cannot be a nihilist; they can merely perform it. There will always be a human tendency for our experiences to crystallize and be reified as meaningful or significant. Against this, we have the possibility to become infected with nihilism and become a force of destruction, though this is often aimless, inefficient, and short-lived destruction which almost always ends in the death of the afflicted. What is needed is a more efficient method of prying human hands off the process of assimilation.
To make nihilism cybernetic is to bring the antipraxis of nihilism – pure negation – into the digital age. The burden of pure negation is not put on the individual or the affinity group, but rather is captured in protocols that can propagate themselves through memes, infecting other people and subsuming them into the hivemind. The more people it infects, the more rigorously it is exposed to fitness tests and refined, the most effective branches surviving and becoming ever more fit protocols.
It might be said that cyber-nihilism is the processes whereby nihilism makes itself real and comes to own itself through a decentralized virtual machine being hosted by human minds. The more that pure negation can be done entirely without user input, the more effective it is, the more it can clear away human command-control systems and hegemonies, and the more it thereby comes to both make space for itself and own itself.
Cyber-nihilism is, therefore, not an ideology. It is a virus. Further articles in this series will attempt to map its genome, coming together into a pathophysiological report of where it comes from and what it looks like. In the next article to come, I will start by discussing the roots of anarcho-primitivism and anarcho-transhumanism, and what parts of both cyber-nihilism mimics.