Karma. Dogma. Self-assembling, in the long run.

Charles Hugh Smith recently examined dogma versus karma, and pointed out some inevitable truths.  He spoke from an economic perspective, but his words apply equally well to our nation as a whole.

Karma covers a lot of ground, but it boils down to consequences: consequences not just from your actions but from your convictions, schemes, obsessions, and yes, dogmas.

The reason why Karma runs over Dogma is that nobody clinging to a dogma sees themselves as dogmatic. The true believer never sees their conviction as dogma, but as Revealed Truth, as self-evident, a view that is buttressed by all the other True Believers who surround the believer, reinforcing their conviction and soothing any nagging doubts by mocking, “debunking” or marginalizing heretics and critics.

In our society, the mass media serves as a soothing echo-chamber of dogmas. It must be true, the news anchor said it on TV, etc.

Dogmas generate power and profits. Trillions of dollars flow into a few pockets because people believe the dogmas that “you need a college diploma to succeed” and “America’s healthcare system is the best in the world.”

As evidence-based doubts seep in, those at the top of the “faith” who have the most to lose become increasingly fanatical and rabid, pushing an increasingly restrictive Orthodoxy on true believers and establishing an Inquisition to excommunicate or eliminate any heretical doubts or dissenting views.

As the increasingly detached-from-reality leadership senses their power waning, they double-down, exhorting the faithful to support the orthodoxy even as the orthodoxy reaches new heights of fanaticism.

As moderates drift away (or sneak away, loudly proclaiming their fealty to cover their escape), the leadership triples down, demanding unwavering loyalty of the remaining believers, who themselves triple-down by reassuring each other that they really are on the right track and the world is about to awaken to the correctness and righteousness of their cause.

The problem with dogmas is that they are detached from the real-world consequences of dogmatic convictions.

. . .

Military dogmas get discredited on the field of battle, often in dramatic fashion. Financial markets (unless they’re manipulated, of course) also provide painful real-world feedback. Those predicting one side of the trade will eventually be proven correct or incorrect.

To an alarming degree, the U.S. is dominated by dogmas that benefit the few at the expense of the many, and by leaders who are doubling or tripling down to defend the dogma and their power … The leaders, safely protected from the consequences of their elitist dominance and fearing the loss of their wealth, power and prestige, ramp up the time-honored strategy of increasing demands for loyalty and public virtue-signaling, jacking up media propaganda in support of the orthodoxy, and moving to ban, shadow-ban, suppress, punish, discredit, demoralize, de-platform, demonetize and marginalize critics, i.e. heretics who challenge the status quo’s foundational dogmas.

. . .

Dogmas collapse first in the minds of believers, when they slowly awaken to the reality that the dogma no longer serves them, it only serves to prop up the wealth, power and prestige of their increasingly fanatic leaders. Propping up a failed system doesn’t actually fix what’s broken; it only guarantees the banquet of consequences will include shackles: the option to escape the consequences will no longer exist.

There’s more at the link.

What worries me is that I’m seeing both sides in the American political divide concentrate on dogma to the exclusion of karma (reality).  Both sides are absolutely convinced they’re right, and the other is wrong.  Both sides are proceeding on the assumption that “their” right will triumph, and the other side’s “wrong” will be defeated.  There’s no effort to compromise, no effort to look at things through the other side’s spectacles for even a moment and concede that maybe, just maybe, there’s another valid opinion out there.

When two dogmas collide and shatter, the “true believers” will always blame the other dogma for their failure.  They’ll never pause to consider that perhaps reality is to blame, because they refused to take it into consideration . . . and because of that, they’ll double and triple down on their dogma, willing to plunge the nation into civil war rather than admit there can possibly be an alternate reality to that which they perceive.

We live in dangerous times.



  1. Our (right) side observably works well enough. Our enemies on the Left espouse a system that observably fails. They have also been attacking our entire culture, along with the economic and legal systems, for a century.

    Forget the "Both sides are equally guilty" dogma. Pick a side. War is coming, will we or nill we. And it's not the worst possible outcome. Giving up or pretending it's not happening simply ensures our doom.

  2. My take is a little different. One side has been pushing, pushing, pushing – and has escalated into destroying lives by getting people fired and (in some cases) actual shooting or other violence. A considerable amount of the other side's determination is self-defense.

    It's not our dogma to reduce or eliminate the first and second amendments, but rather to keep them. What's interesting is that many studies show that fear of losing something you have is a much more powerful motivator than the hope of gaining something that you want.

  3. The real fun begins when one side grows tired of waiting for Karma to catch up and decides to help it along a bit…

  4. Kind of what Borepatch said. The dogma of the Leftists is actively pushing the non-dogmatic into either camp. Those going left in self-preservation (not knowing that they will be thrown under the dogmatic bus themselves by their own side,) and those going right as the stupidity of the dogmatic left forces them to protect themselves.

    There will be an interesting period of the moderate undecided switching from one side to another in response to various things (We're Impeaching Him! switch to the left.)(New horrible leftist scandal! switch to the right.)(He's a criminal because he says mean things! switch to the left.)(He says mean things, but does the right thing most all the time… switch to the right.)

    Right now it's weird watching the middle oscillate. Some oscillations are dampening down, either ending up on one side or another with a few hardy souls trying to maintain the middle road no matter what. And then there are the oscillations that will leave the oscillator on one side of the political road or the other. Then there are the destructive oscillators that are flipping back from one side to another so hard their beliefs are getting whiplash.

    Hopefully the dogma calms down. We'll just have to see what happens once all the polls close next year. If we make it that far.

  5. The real danger from the Right comes when the Left completes its collapse into imbecility (and it's already well on its way). Without effective opposition, we could easily see dogmas such as isolationism, 'marriage is between a man and a woman', and Islamo – I won't say phobia – despising.

    Now there are sound reasons to limit illegal immigration (we won't stop it entirely), for pushing back against the 'Gays are just totally wonderful', and treating Islam with studied caution. But the for end of these thoughts won't work any better than the Left's opposite stupidities.

    We don't want to take caution about illegal immigrants to the extent of suspecting all Hispanics, or choking legal immigration.

    We want Gays to live stable lives. We can't very well ask that if we don't recognize stable Gay households. The so-call 'Gay Lifestyle' of serial promiscuity with comparative strangers is bad for them and for us as well. They need an alternative, and we need to give them one.

    We want the Jihadidiots reined in. We DON'T want to end up waging war on the whole Islamic world, because we would win, and then where the hell would we be? Playing on the freeway would have much the same effect, and cost less.

    1. Legal immigration could stand quite a bit of choking. The numbers are too high, and the criteria too low.
      It is not a good thing to have 15% of your population foreign-born. (That we can officially document. The real number is much higher.)
      The criteria for admission must be the benefit of the nation; not a dysfunctional culture, a sob story, and a relative already here.
      See above about immigration with respect to Islam. We're now energy independent. It is no longer economically necessary for us to play policeman for the Middle East. As such, our main problem with Musselmen, is the enclaves we've imported, and the foreign governments/heirophants that agitate for unrest and Islamic supremacy. (On the bright side, Santeria-practicing illegal aliens are doing the work Americans won't do and blunting the threat in many locations.)

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