Charles Manson, Liberalism, and Information Theory
It's a really outstanding book, not the least bit sensational or exploitive, and very well written. Not the sort of thing I'd usually read, but it got a rave review in National Review, and I like to have something on hand that doesn't strain the Gagdad melon.
It's not just about Manson, but about the whole cultural milieu(s) that made a Manson possible -- not the least of which being the Haight-Ashbury scene of 1967, where he found himself shortly after being released from prison in March of that year (by then he was 33, and had already spent most of his life in reform schools or prison).
The chaotic environment of the Haight -- full of troubled souls in denial of their troubles -- was the absolute perfect setting for a sociopath to ply the emerging trade of self-styled new age guru. There, where reality wasn't real, his abnormality would appear normal. He began deepaking his charismatic chopra to vulnerable dupes, and the rest is history.
Charlie was never much of a student, but during his last prison stint leading up to his 1967 release, he took a deep interest in two prototypes of modern-day self-help snake oil, the benign clown Dale Carnegie and the malignant clown L. Ron Hubbard. He took formal courses in How to Win Friends and Influence People, and drank deeply of Scientology. Of course, the last thing on his mind was "self-improvement" in any ordinary sense of the term. Rather, his goal was "other-manipulation" for purposes of helping Charlie.
In short, he just wanted to learn how to exert power over others.
So in that sense, he was a huge success. Aside from new-age guru, the only other career path consistent with his skill-set would have been politics or self-help books, but he obviously wasn't straight enough for those paths. So instead he practiced retail politics on the people around him, manipulating them to his advantage and organizing his own little community.
Not to compare the two, but I am reminded of Obama's friction-free passage through the liberal education establishment, in which he seems to have assimilated little but the fashionable leftist pieties and cliches of the day, resulting in nothing left standing in his head but the will to dominate and control others via politics. You might say that leftist politics is sociopathy for conformists.
Thus, if Obamacare should remain the law of the land, rationing alone will be responsible for killing many more people than was Manson. Leftism kills. Always has, always will. We'll leave it to God to sort out whether such destructive ignorance is culpable or invincible.
The book is a real page-turner, but I'm only up to Charlie in the Summer of Love. Which sounds "ironic" -- what with the juxtaposition of love and mass murder -- but of course there was nothing healthy about that disease-ridden revolt against human nature. It carried the seeds of its own violent implosion, and one of the seeds that landed there was a charismatic guru named Charlie.
Does any of the above have any possible connection to information theory? Yeah, probably, since everything does -- at least everything made of information, such as a human being. (Perhaps a better way of putting it is that information -- i.e., the logosphere -- is made of person(s).)
"Financial crises," writes Gilder, "are no more a product of evil machinations than are hurricanes." Rather, "If you build your house with the wrong stuff in the wrong place, with the wrong algorithm, you may be hit."
Likewise, if you build your psyche out of the wrong stuff -- for example, envy, ideology, the will to power, etc. -- things may not go as planned.
Again, in order for the economy to function, we need to conserve low entropy carriers such as the rule of law, stable families, religious values, etc. But the same principle applies to the successful individual. In Manson's case, there was no stable psychic foundation whatsoever, and genetics -- i.e., temperament -- took care of the rest. Or in other words, if you nurture nature in the wrong way, you're courting disaster.
How and why did the economic *surprise* of 2008 occur? Well, it "suddenly made transparent the values that had been artfully rendered opaque when packaged as low-entropy money and debt instruments."
In short, what we thought were boring, low-entropy investments turned out to be full of turbulence and downside surprisal. Investors thought they had transparent information about them, when the instruments were actually quite opaque, and were suddenly revealed as risky ventures instead of safe havens. And when the low-entropy carrier fails, then you've got economic chaos.
It reminds me of the parole board that released Manson from prison in 1967. Interestingly, even Charlie knew that this wasn't such a good idea -- that while he might appear stable in the low-entropy environment of prison, left to his own devices in the high-entropy world of reality, he wouldn't be capable of ordering his life:
"At the age of thirty-two he was finally going to be free again after almost seven years.... The facade slipped; Charlie panicked and told Terminal Island officials that he didn't want to be paroled after all. He felt safe in prison; he didn't think he could adjust to being outside again. If they let him out, he'd end up doing things he shouldn't."
No dice: "the wheels of the penal system bureaucracy were turning. On the morning of March 21 , Charlie found himself out on the sidewalk with a cheap suitcase and his guitar, not certain of where to go."
And to make the same pattern immediately relevant to the news of the day, check out Krauthammer's column on the Navy Yard mass murderer. Again, liberalism -- in this case, deinstitutionalization -- kills.