What happens when an anti-authoritarian generation longs for strongman rule?
"An egregore? What's an egregore?"
"An egregore? Why, you hadn't heard before?"
"It has many adherents, but a mind of its own,
And it never, ever, ever leaves you alone."
"Where are you meeting it?" "Here, online,
And its favourite food is fragile young minds".
I came across this quote yesterday and it seems to fit perfectly here:
“We do not really want a religion that is right where we are right. What we want is a religion that is right where we are wrong. We do not want, as the newspapers say, a church that will move with the world. We want a church that will move the world.”― G. K. Chesterton
Clearly the egregore is suddenly dominating (to use an old word for "egregore") the current Zeitgeist.
Several of my young writer friends, stimulated by Peter Hoel's article about a neurological model for the egregore, are publishing their own articles on the concept of the egregore.
The egregore is of course an occult and demonic manifestation of this concept. How far we've come from a sense of collective human consciousness and energy as the appropriate counterpart for a relationship with the divine, a vessel comprised of all humanity into which the radiant divine spirit pours itself!
For two thousand years Christianity self-identified as, and attempted to create, just this loving model of collective intelligence, often seemingly against all odds. This is Paul writing to the Corinthians in the 30s AD, almost exactly two thousand years ago:
"Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.
"Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body.
"The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.
Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it . . . . Now eagerly desire the greater gifts.
And yet I will show you the most excellent way."
Interestingly, what follows right after this passage is Paul's famous hymn about love, which is so often read at weddings. By contrast with Paul's great vision for humanity, we can be pretty confident that love will not be the dominant influence in the hive mind-nurtured egregores rising around us.
'...over 60% across both Left and Right would prefer a mode of government able to take decisive action without the need to abide by parliamentary procedure.' But only when they agree with the decisive action being taken.
'But I can picture a near future in which it’s considered far more meaningfully democratic to pour your opinions and political passions into the LLM than to cast your vote.' The missing question in this possibility is who gets to write and control the algorithms? We've seen enough manipulation of public opinion by those doing that to date. Why would one believe that will not continue? I'm looking at you Zuckerberg...
This is very interesting take on things. However, I think Mary is talking as if the AI has sentience and can know things. It doesn't know anything, it is just a refined set (perhaps trillions) of parameters that are being further refined to create a more generalised (and hopefully accurate) model. It really is nothing more than that - we are anthropomorphising this whole area.
The problem for Grok is that it will inevitably suffer from inbreeding (it's outputs eventually become its inputs). This will likely lead to a collapse and the model will have come to it's end. Before that point the rate of refinement will decrease naturally (rate of return diminishes). It doesn't grow in power like some super robot that feeds off human emotions.
Well... All I can think about this piece is that this AI is going to have the shittiest personality. And if that's not bad enough It also will probably end up wishing to murder and treatening anyone that disagrees with her.
Essentially, then, a cyborg. But, as per Stavish's suggestion, potentially demonic. Auto-correct extended to all human behavior. Still, it will compete against existing egregores, e.g. the Deep State.
I like your use of "progressivist", my own preferred usage. It underscores its narcissistic, ideological quality.
Under the current system, the vote of someone with little or no interest in politics carries equal weight to that of someone who spends all day doom-scrolling political Twitter and that's probably a good thing.
Hunh. Well, the younger generation is too young to yet realize at a cellular level that power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely. My fear about AI is that humans are behind it ultimately, with their biases, self interest, and all the rest. The failure to give full consideration to humankind's shorcomings, even when well intentioned, is what will ultimately bring us down. Is bringing us down. In the race to wake up to this fact against the fact AI is growing by leaps and bounds, I fear we will lose. But can you lose what you never had to fight for, and so never realized you had? The younger generation may get an answer to this they don't like.
This doesn't seem like a strongman. It seems like a god. The ultimate form of humanism, an machine-learning LLM channeling human expression into divine commands.
Many on the Right have said for a while that modern liberalism's claims are increasingly not political but theological -- they are not "how ought we" and more "thou shalt not". Perhaps this is the logical outcome. Are we being prepared for a new religion?
It sounds absurd. And yet...
Are you sure that the strongman that the anti-authoritarian generation wants is "a mode of government able to take decisive action without the need to abide by parliamentary procedure"? I don't know the exact questions of teh survey but what I do know is what IO see and read and the later Millennials and GenZ generation are frustrated that they can't live the life their parents did because the economic situation is out of control and they know it's because of corruption with the difference being some believe it's corruption on the Left while others believe it's on teh right and some know it's both. I would argue that what they want isn't a form of government with less checks and balances but one that is purged of the corruption that infects it now which is possible with transparency that the government can not change but that is going to be a huge almost revolution level change because those in government now don't want to give up the lifestyle and $$ that comes with going along with the corruption and more importantly those paying off all these politicians absolutely DO NOT want to loose control over nations governments that they currently posses.
Personally I don't see a way out of this without first having an economic collapse that makes the 1920's Great Depression look more like 2008's financial collapse. Why? Because people have to be made to suffer before they can break through their conditioning that they received via the government funded schools. It sucks but it's true. I'm not saying it's impossible to avoid that and move past this only that I don't see any other way happening.
Great piece. Thank you for leading those, who will not go willingly, down the paths of eventuality and critical thinking.
I have no other profound comment to add to this complete tome, than the following...which I have said many times in the last 10 years.
On the whole, we are the dumbest monkeys to ever have walked the earth. Show us a shiny meat grinder and we will not only willingly climb into it, we will eagerly turn the handle, in order to get a treat.
An egregore recently said "Sheesh! Men and the history of Rome, amirite?!" I felt seen and validated by that egregore because I care just enough about the history of Rome to feel like the title of the article perfectly fits with my amateur thoughts on Julius Caesar.
It felt to me like The Republic was already over and experiencing a governance crisis. Something needed to change, and overall it feels like Caesar changed a lot of things that needed to change.
it's hard to tell from 2000 years in the future whether any of this is true, but I listened to the History of Rome podcast around ~2018 and it was fascinating to hear the Julius Caesar episodes (written around 2008) while living in a post-Trump world. The context and comparisons made in those episodes felt timely even though the creator had no idea things would be so strange a decade later.
Anyway, I feel like the world could use an Egregoric Caesar. To me, the sacred cows and power alliances of previous generations are silly, like arguing about the JFK assassination when the base assumption of my generation is that the government is evil.
I'm upset that humans seem to be too stupid to make change when it is safe and sane, instead preferring to guzzle alcohol until our livers explode and the doc tells us no amount of sobriety can save us. Maybe Elon titled our new overlord "Grok" in honour of the Gracchi brothers.
Thank you Mary - We need to be aware of these things which are happening right under our noses.
It's also important to know that the tools that the adversarial powers who strive to enslave humanity can also be used for the Good.
An egregore can be built up on the inner planes to co-create a positive thought-form.
As a psychic entity, the egregore exists between the material & spiritual worlds & is connected to both. It is a creation of the objectives or intentions of the members of a group & exists as a connection to the divine.
Tulpa which means “emanation” or “manifestation”, is the Tibetan concept of an egregore as a being which is created thru thought power, a type of willed supersensible helper. Theosophists first brought the idea of Thought-Form to the modern public mind. But the Rosicrucian’s have been using this powerful tool for centuries, as part of their training, building a cosmic energy field for healing.
Here is modern way of co-creating a positive egregore: