Quote note (#151)

Fernandez on civilization versus entropy:

You are watching entropy at work, witnessing the destruction of information and seeing disorder take over the world.

To understand this more clearly, open the case of your computer and consider the arrangement of the jumper wires (assuming you still have jumper wires). There are only a few ways the jumper wires can be correctly connected but millions of ways they can be wrongly attached. Order (in the sense of a functioning arrangement) is that small percentage of outcomes that work. Entropy is all the ways it won’t work. Order is statistically hard to achieve. Disorder is relatively easy to create.

It took an ancient craftsman years to produce those statues preserved in the Mosul Museum, but it took a thug only a few minutes to pound it into rubble and dust.

Since order and knowledge are expensive, what we call civilization essentially advances by remembering which wires go where. The innovation of political correctness however, holds that since all jumper connections are equally valid, anything goes and one can even rearrange older wiring to suit aesthetic impulses. By declaring all cultures equal we open the doors to entropy. We may not notice the effect at first, because — to continue the computer example — there is still enough residual functionality in your machine to carry on.

By and by we disable the CD drive, the USB ports, then some of the keys in the keyboard. Then one day we pull out a really important jumper and the hard disk stops. But by then we cannot acknowledge the damage we’ve done since according to our progressive thinking we ought to have improved things. And this thought will still be in our minds as the blade of the machete slices off the hand we put out to ward the blow.

February 28, 2015admin 14 Comments »

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14 Responses to this entry

  • Jon Says:

    “civilisation was a thin and precarious crust erected by the personality and the will of the few, and only maintained by rules and conventions skilfully put across and guilefully preserved”


    Posted on February 28th, 2015 at 4:49 pm Reply | Quote
  • Mark Warburton Says:

    Knew you’d love the computer analogy, it’s a brilliant piece.


    SVErshov Reply:

    it is illustrative, but technically it is not correct analogy. Any one, who assembled computer himself, knows – it is impossible to plug wrong cable into wrong socket, or twist it and connect with wrong polarity. Idiot proof design.


    Mark Warburton Reply:

    Tell that to my mother!


    Scelus Maximus Reply:

    It’s a common trope with technogists that if you make something idiot-proof, the world will immediately set out to build a better idiot. At this point, we’re just waiting to see just how high peak idiot will be before it collapses under all of us.


    Posted on February 28th, 2015 at 7:24 pm Reply | Quote
  • Quote note (#151) | Reaction Times Says:

    […] Source: Outside In […]

    Posted on February 28th, 2015 at 8:32 pm Reply | Quote
  • forkinhell Says:

    Yeah… we’ve not really progressed beyond freedoom, have we?


    Posted on February 28th, 2015 at 11:28 pm Reply | Quote
  • vxxc2014 Says:


    Freedom is not the problem.

    We stopped being men, that’s the problem.

    In any scenario that’s doom.


    Posted on March 1st, 2015 at 1:34 am Reply | Quote
  • vxxc2014 Says:

    The other problem besides we stopped being men is we want it to run itself.

    It won’t, nor will any human system.


    Posted on March 1st, 2015 at 1:35 am Reply | Quote
  • Hegemonizing Swarm Says:

    “Order is statistically hard to achieve. Disorder is relatively easy to create.”

    There are two kinds of order that, at their interface, create disorder. The statues are smashed because they are not allowed to exist in one kind of order. Not because anyone fights on the side of disorder.

    “Since order and knowledge are expensive, what we call civilization essentially advances by remembering which wires go where.”

    Randomly rearranging wires for asthethic purpose is a sure way to break a system. But the ideological analog of ice-nine also makes sure that no better structures are ever created. There may be combinations of connections that work even better than the current set, and one way to discover them is to perturb and try different connections. Only then it is possible to adapt to changing conditions.
    (However if there is no selection pressure anymore, if defects are not selected against at all, randomization will be a crippling process as you describe)

    Note that computers, to stay in the analogy, periodically have to be replaced as the hardware is too inflexible to improve or adapt.


    Posted on March 1st, 2015 at 9:26 am Reply | Quote
  • E. Antony Gray (@RiverC) Says:

    RE: ‘aesthetic’ impulses:

    “Always think of what is useful and not what is beautiful. Beauty will come of its own accord.” – Nikolai Gogol


    Posted on March 2nd, 2015 at 8:22 pm Reply | Quote
  • Lightning Round – 2015/03/03 | Free Northerner Says:

    […] are watching entropy in action. Related: On saving civilization. Related: Vox: Is democracy […]

    Posted on March 4th, 2015 at 6:42 am Reply | Quote
  • This Week in Reaction (2015/03/06) | The Reactivity Place Says:

    […] Land pulls a beautiful quote from Richard Fernandez on The Trouble with Entropy and how modern Shibboleths are directly […]

    Posted on March 7th, 2015 at 3:51 am Reply | Quote
  • pseudo-chrysostom Says:

    >anything goes and one can even rearrange older wiring to suit aesthetic impulses

    my only personal quibble here. if anything, i would say that the first reaction before anything else to being faced with existing results of solipsistic leftism is aesthetic revulsion.

    progress would be much easier to stomach if progressives had better taste.


    Posted on March 8th, 2015 at 1:38 am Reply | Quote

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