Posturing oneself into bankruptcy

I apologize for not writing any articles in quite a while; work, among other things, had to be prioritized.

I’ve been listening to Dave Ramsey’s YouTube channel; from what I gathered, he’s a personal finance adviser who helps people get out of debt. His recurring advice is to reduce spending, pay off all debt, pay all necessary things with cash and not credit, don’t finance depreciating assets like cars, basically all the standard common-sense stuff. However, what piqued my interest is that people seem to get into debt for similar reasons regardless of their income level – it’s not that they go into debt because they can’t make ends meet, they can’t make ends meet because they spend above their income level. To an outside observer this looks irrational, but I think I get it.

There seems to be strong peer pressure involved, real or imaginary, to send outward signals of being in a higher income bracket than you in fact are, because of both positive and negative expected social attention. The positive attention is “neighbors” assuming you’re doing well and feeling envy, which boosts your ego. The negative attention is inviting scrutiny and competition if you send signals at or below your actual income level. Essentially, it’s like a cat puffing up to appear bigger than it actually is, when facing a potentially threatening situation. If you appear bigger, others will think twice before confronting you. If you appear normal or smaller than you actually are, potentially dangerous challengers might feel encouraged to encroach upon your territory. In such a challenge, you might actually lose, but any challenge is fraught with inherent dangers and if you can avoid it altogether by posturing, the better.

The problem is, posturing might be causing you other problems and might prove to be even more expensive in the long run, so on one hand it’s more dangerous than it appears and is definitely not free, and on the other hand its benefits might be overstated. Sure, you may argue that having an expensive suit, watch and car can give you an advantage in the business world and might land you a deal you would have otherwise missed on, but it is my experience that those kinds of posturing almost never work, and if they appear to, it’s usually an illusion because you landed the deal because of your other merits, and due to low self-confidence you ascribed the result to your paraphernalia. Sure, people will check out your clothes, your watch, your car, your house and other things, both consciously and unconsciously, because that’s what people do, but your competence, knowledge and actual confidence will play a much bigger role than your trinkets. Sure, there are social circles where nothing but posturing matters, but it’s my experience that those are not where the actual money is being made. For each YouTube channel where the author makes videos about his Lamborghini, there’s another channel with more subs where the author simply talks in an interesting way.

So, I conclude that expensive trinkets primarily serve the purpose of alleviating one’s anxiety, insecurity and discomfort in an uncontrolled environment. The more threatened and weak you feel, the greater the need for investing in a protective outward pose. Sure, when you’re trying to make the best possible first impression, it’s useful to check all the expected boxes, basically if people expect you to be wealthy you are expected to drive an expensive car, and if you don’t, they’ll start questioning what’s wrong, and that’s never good. However, your idea of an expensive car might actually be much more expensive than what would suffice for checking the right boxes.  A several years old nice car will do just fine. A brand new car of the same class will not improve the impression. A brand new car from a lower class, that costs more than the older high-end car, will actually be likely to start the gossip. An expensive, but not super-expensive watch might start more questions than a Casio. If you wear a Casio, the assumption is that you don’t care about watches and nobody will give a second thought about it. However, a Frederique Constant will raise the question why you didn’t buy a Jaeger-LeCoultre or a Patek. Too much posturing raises red flags – what is this guy trying to hide? What kind of incompetence, weakness or bullshit is he hiding or trying to sell? I am always suspicious of perfect façade, and trust me, I’m not alone in that. If someone looks wealthier than Bill Gates, I am almost certain he’s some kind of a con artist. If I’m trying to hire a subcontractor for some job, it’s not the guy with the most expensive gadgets who’ll get the contract, but the guy who demonstrates the most straightforward competence in the subject matter. You do, however, need to check the right boxes, or people will instinctively assume there’s something not quite right. You need to dress appropriately for your job, you need to behave appropriately for your expected social role, you need to demonstrate that you generate expected levels of income and own property. The problem starts when people are insecure and assume they need more posturing than would actually do, and in doing so, they kill themselves financially.

Sure, it’s easy for the financial advisers to tell you not to buy a car you can’t really afford, but if you’re socially threatened, if you feel insecure, those fears are strong enough to make you sick or even kill you if you don’t deal with them in some manner, and for most people the most straightforward way requires the least amount of thinking – you just buy expensive shit and live a lifestyle above your income until you’re ruined, and then your self-confidence really collapses and it’s difficult to find your way out of that tunnel. The proper way out of the trap is to gradually build your confidence by realizing people hire and appreciate you for your skills, abilities and character, and not for the things you own. Then you can buy things because you like them, not because they are a shield you desperately cling to, fearing immediate attack on the first sign of weakness.

Don’t get me wrong: you do need to send social signals, and you occasionally do need a shield. Just be careful not to overestimate the amount of shielding you need, lest you spend your way into an early grave. For instance, the price difference between a brand new Mercedes E350 CDI and a two years old Mercedes E220 CDI is a factor of 2. There’s no difference in the strength of a social signal sent by either car in a business environment. There’s no difference in the strength of a social signal sent with a 5000 USD Rolex Explorer and a 20000 USD Jaeger-LeCoultre. They all check the same boxes. The main difference is, if you’re not sure of yourself and you overspend in order to increase your perceived shielding, you will end up bankrupt. Also, your insecurities will cost you dearly in other places, so you’d do well to sort yourself out first.

 

The Yin and the Yang

I’ve been thinking about communism and capitalism and I found a nice image to explain one of the crucial differences and inherent mechanisms.

The yin-yang image from Taoism explains things by ratios of yin and yang, and the thing is, those never exist in a pure state: in the yin half-circle, there’s a dot of yang, and in the yang half-circle, there is a dot of yin. Essentially, this means that in perfect stillness there’s an aspect of activity, and in pure activity there’s an aspect of stillness.

In capitalism, in its pure and perfect form, where the vast majority of  the population is wealthy, there is a minority that languishes in poverty. In communism, in its pure and perfect form, where the vast majority of the population languishes in poverty, there is a minority, the officials and dignitaries of the Communist Party, who are wealthy and powerful.

There must be a poor minority in capitalism, because they serve as a warning to others, of what could happen to them if they fail. They are a much greater motivation for success than the few super-wealthy, who can be seen as completely beyond reach. However, everybody sees the homeless people on the streets and they are an omnipresent warning: get your shit together or that’s where you will end up. So, in capitalism, there is widespread wealth and localized misery; it’s really unimportant that some are super-wealthy and can afford their own jet planes, if the majority is wealthy enough to be able to afford a good house and a nice car. Eventually, as the entire country becomes super-wealthy, someone compassionate says “let’s eradicate poverty altogether”. Let’s raise the taxes for the wealthy, and elevate that tiny minority above the threshold of poverty. And people agree, because it’s hard for them to see how it could harm, since everybody is so well off. However, as they raise the taxes in order to funnel the money into welfare, the state bureaucracy grows, the difficulty of doing business grows, the taxes grow exponentially because you no longer have only welfare as an expense, but the price of bureaucracy, and in a generation the result of attempting to remove that tiny dot of yin in the sea of yang you actually expanded the dot. You made poverty widespread and wealth localized. Unfortunately, as that happens people vote for more socialist measures because they feel impoverished, and point at the rich thinking that they are who stole their money, either by not paying enough taxes or by outright exploitation. However, the thing is, nobody needs to steal your money in order for you to be poor. Money can simply vanish, by destroying the environment in which it can be created. Wealth is not a given, it’s an emergent property. If you have very few laws, for instance to assure that the contracts are honored, that the patents are obeyed and that the offenders are punished, but nothing more than what is essential, you will have a thriving society and wealth will be created. If you create a situation where people need to fill paperwork whenever they wipe their ass, and they are taxed so much they never get to have any money to spare, you don’t shift wealth elsewhere, you destroy it. What was once a machine of capitalism that produced prosperity and wealth, now becomes a quagmire of socialism that produces only bureaucracy, discontent and more socialist measures to combat the rare situations where anyone managed to have any money. So, by trying to eliminate that localized speck of poverty from a capitalist society, we destroy the capitalist society and turn it into a cesspool of poverty and socialist incompetence and ideological warfare.

In communism, there’s something called “corruption”, which basically means that the communist party leadership always manages to be well off, even in the countries where most of the population is starving. However, if you try to change anything, you will destroy the communist system. If you try to fight “corruption”, you end up decapitating the communist system, as it happened in Romania, and the entire country transforms into something else, it’s no longer communist. If you try to elevate the majority of the population into the middle class, as it happened in Yugoslavia, people start thinking in capitalist terms. They see socialism as restrictive, because if they can’t earn money for building a house at home, but they can do so in Germany, there’s something seriously wrong with the system at home. They are no longer the impoverished masses who are willing to embrace communism because it promises equal misery to all where at least they will have some food, they are the middle class who wants nicer cars and bigger homes. As a result of draining the swamp of poverty, communism turns into capitalism.

The conclusion is that it’s quite easy to destroy any system by destroying its foundations. In capitalism, you need to have minimalistic rules, no glass ceilings for the winners and no safety net for the losers. Then, as a result, you get widespread wealth and localized misery. Never attempt to remove this dot of misery in the pool of wealth because you will destroy the pool of wealth, and the misery will drown us all.

Why everybody wants to go to America… not

I am annoyed when Americans routinely state, as argument in favor of the thesis that America is the best, or at least the least bad of all countries, that everybody wants to go there.

According to this argument, shit is the best thing in the world because all the flies want to get there.

It’s not important how many people want to get somewhere, it’s the motive behind their migration. If they figured out there’s free welfare which they can obtain without having to work, it’s hardly evidence of your country’s greatness. If jihadists want to get to your country, in order to make an Islamic caliphate and kill you, it doesn’t mean they think your state is great, it means they think it’s weakly enough defended to make it a tempting target.

The fact that parasites and enemies want to invade you doesn’t mean you’re great. It means you’re seen as roadkill, as something to be devoured by lesser beings in absence of a proper defense that would be presented by a living organism.

The idea that everybody always wanted to go to America is American narcissistic delusion. I live in Croatia, a country with probably the second greatest diaspora in the world, after Israel. I think that more Croats live outside Croatia, in Canada, USA, Argentina, Chile, New Zealand, Australia, Germany and other countries, than inside Croatia. That’s because of all sorts of wars, persecution and poverty, during the rule of several different regimes in the 20th century. To them, it wasn’t clear where they wanted to go. America was merely one of the possible destinations. There was absolutely nothing special about it. Before the second world war, Argentina was as preferable, and after the second world war, Germany was more preferable – simply because it was easy to get work and be paid well. So no, America was historically not the singular beacon of freedom and a destination of choice. It was just another country, one that was far away that you can hope it’s significantly different from what you had at home. For most people, what was important is that there’s work that’s paid well enough, and that there’s no outright persecution, such as they usually faced at home. To Croats, America was a free country, Argentina was a free country, Canada was a free country, Germany was a free country, Australia was a free country, New Zealand was a free country. Wherever you could work and not be killed was a free country, which tells you something about the conditions at home, where the Serbs were mistreating the Croats so badly, they had really low requirements for emigration. As long as you didn’t get killed, beaten up and robbed, and you can find a job that paid well enough to make a living, it was a free country. Nobody cared about the American constitution, it’s completely irrelevant. Nobody cared about Australian constitution, either. As long as the Serbs can’t beat you up, imprison you on false charges and kill you, it’s a great constitution.

Let’s see who’s actually trying to go to America now:

  • Latino immigrants looking for free money or low-paying jobs.
  • Jihadists who want to convert it to Islam.

The times after the second world war, when the greatest minds from Europe flocked to America because it wasn’t destroyed by war and they could continue to do their work in normal conditions, those times are over. Also, the times from the 19th century, when people like Nikola Tesla went to America to escape the Austro-Hungarian bureaucracy which hindered all progress, they too are over, because as things are, American bureaucracy now is a copy of that innovation-stifling mess people used to run away from. Also, if people want freedom, America with its fascism, restrictions on travel, spying and surveillance, completely controlled media spewing propaganda is the last country on Earth they would go to. In fact, people seeking freedom and fighting for truth are right now hiding from America in Ecuadorian embassy (Assange) and in Russia (Snowden). America is the country that persecutes freedom fighters and restricts freedoms. America is a country where Nazi armed guards implement controls at the airports, so that they could have complete control of the population, and spiritual heirs of the Sturmabteilung thugs wearing black masks and neo-fascist symbols intimidate free speech advocates at the universities, using violence with the tacit support of the police.

In the 1980s, I actually used to dream about going to America to work at Microsoft or somewhere else in the IT industry, because that was my thing, and America was where it happened. But now, nothing happens in America except fascism and spying and madness. America is a country that exports ideas such as “the Earth is flat”, “we didn’t go to the Moon”, the spiritually empty ideology of human rights, feminism, gender bullshit and hatred of Russia. America is a fascist shithole. Nobody competent and in his right mind wants to go there anymore. I certainly don’t; one would have to drag me there screaming and in chains. Once it’s liberated from fascism and if it’s a free country, maybe. But as things stand, if you want freedom and opportunity, you run away from America, not to America.

 

The perils of mixing economy with politics

There’s an interesting thing people usually don’t understand about capitalism: it lacks any inherent incentive to keep anyone poor. In fact, poor people in capitalism are useful as a reminder of what happens when you make the wrong choices, but they are useful only as an insignificant, token minority. In every other way, poor people are not only useless but in fact harmful, because poor people can’t buy goods and services that capitalism produces.

When thinking about capitalism, people who were brought up in communist countries always visualize dirt poor people working at Ford’s assembly line, but they somehow neglect to remember what they were building: a Ford model T, which is a working class car.

In capitalism, there are two primary motivations that determine the price of labor. First is the desire of the company owners to reduce the price of inputs in order to get the cheapest possible product, which they can then either sell cheaply and undercut the competition, or sell it at a greater profit margin compared to the competition. The second is the desire of the company to keep the workers motivated and employed long-term, in order to reduce the cost of labor turnaround. As a secondary consequence of the second motivation, the workers also get to keep enough wealth to purchase goods and services, and thus keep the engine of capitalism running.

It is perfectly understandable that no businessman will artificially raise wages above the current prices of labor on the market, just to keep the workers wealthy enough to have them purchase his products. As far as he knows, they’ll purchase something completely different and he won’t directly benefit from it in any way. However, if we assume that workers need to be trained, that experienced workers are more productive than the rookies, and that healthy and motivated workers keep being productive longer, there’s an inherent selfish motive in not paying your workers too little, because they will then seek out other jobs and work at your company only as a stop-gap measure until they find something that will provide them with a decent livelihood. Furthermore, you want to attract the best workers on the market, and hopefully the ones that work for the competition, in order to improve your competitiveness. So, essentially, there’s a feedback loop that increases wages when they drop far enough that people start working poorly and leaving you, and stops increasing them once it provides no competitive advantages to your company, and then starts reducing them until productivity starts dropping, and then starts raising them. It’s a selfish motivation on behalf of the company owner, but which essentially provides benefits to the workers. As a corollary, the workers get to keep enough money to have purchasing power, which creates the market for goods and services.

What capitalism doesn’t want to see are poor people, because poor people don’t buy cars or iPhones or houses or go on vacations, which is where capitalism makes money. Poor people are depressed, resentful, unproductive and troublesome in all imaginable ways. So, if you want to produce and sell your goods and services, you need to find that golden spot on the profitability curve, where you keep the inputs inexpensive enough to make a profit, and yet sell enough of your products to make the greatest possible amount of money. It would be naïve to think that any businessman would curb his selfishness and desire for profit for the greater good of society in general, but the aforementioned feedback loop, which directly influences the profitability of his enterprise, that’s what gets his attention. It is therefore not realistic to expect the capitalist to exploit the workers beyond a certain threshold, unless the situation on the marketplace is skewed for some reason, for instance there is a huge abundance of labor and shortage of jobs, and high labor turnaround doesn’t significantly harm profitability. However, in such cases the society in general is in such a poor state, this cannot go on for long before something gives.

Communism, however, has a different feedback loop. It thrives in poverty and languishes in prosperity. Communism inherently benefits from keeping the large masses of people poor, because that’s when it has the greatest popular support. The points where communism loses support is when people are well enough off to want to increase their level of income above that of their peers, but not poor enough to see communist egalitarianism as a life-saving measure. Basically, people who are dirt poor will want equality, and people who are well off will want to differentiate themselves from the masses. In my opinion, the main reason for the collapse of Yugoslavia’s kind of communism was the fact that the middle class was huge, and it felt restrained by the communist system enough to see the advantages of capitalism. Essentially, it became normal for people to have an apartment, a weekend house and a car, but then they wanted a house with a pool, a better car and imported fine chocolate. We here didn’t want capitalism because we were dirt poor and overworked in communism, but because we felt we could do so much better in another economic system. In the Soviet Union, the communist system fell for completely different reasons: it fell because the shortages of everything were so great, that at one point everything just stopped working altogether, and at the same time two other things happened: the outside threat of a war with America disappeared, and the government promised not to restrain protests. So, at the same time all the previously restrained forces, such as nationalism, re-asserted themselves, people stopped supporting communism because it failed to deliver on its promises, and the foreign threat no longer motivated them to endure hardships and tolerate faults of their own system. So, it looks similar, the Soviet and Yugoslav collapse, but the root causes were quite different. In Yugoslavia, the cause of collapse was the fact that the Serbs decided they have enough power to transform the federal state into a Serb-ruled one, and Croats and Slovenes decided they don’t want to play support roles in that movie. Combines with the utter absence of an external threat, and with the opinion within Croatia and Slovenia that they are pulling most of Yugoslavia’s economic weight and that they could do much better on their own, the positive cohesive forces vanished, and were replaced only with Serbia’s wish to keep everything together under its centralized rule. Having in mind that it is difficult for me to imagine Serbia not wanting to dominate other republics, it is also difficult for me to imagine how the country could have been saved. Czechoslovakia is often cited as an example of an amicable separation but neither Czechs nor the Slovaks had the intention of dominating the other republic. The Serbs, on the other hand, always saw Yugoslavia only as means that served their megalomaniacal ends. Yugoslavia never should have been attempted, and once created, it was doomed to end in bloodshed. I’ve seen Russian commentators lament American intervention and NATO bombardment of Serbia as if that caused the state to break apart, but in reality the American initial intervention was to send Eagleburger to Belgrade to tell the Serbs that they should quash the “rebellious forces” quickly and with any means, which hugely encouraged Milošević and weakened all forces in Serbia that would attempt a conciliatory political solution. Only after the country broke apart, Slovenia and Croatia went their own way, Croatia liberated itself from Serbian occupation and Bosnia was razed to rubble did the Americans finally do anything, which essentially only stopped Serbs from escalating the war onto Macedonia and, possibly, the neighboring countries. Essentially, they did everything to keep Yugoslavia in one piece, but after Croats failed to die quickly and in fact managed to assert themselves as the major military force in the region, they decided to cut their losses and stabilize the situation by prohibiting all further regional military engagements under a threat of force.

In the Soviet Union, nothing like that ever took place, and the dissolution of the union was much more amicable than one would be likely to expect, mostly because Gorbachev refused to use military force to quash the nationalist uprisings, which was a shame because they had very little public support and the breakdown of the union was against the will and interests of the populace, as shown in the 1991 referendum, in which over 70% of the votes were for the union’s continuation. For instance,  81.7% of Ukrainian voters voted for continuation of the union, and yet the minority of the political activists proceeded to declare Ukraine as an independent state, and this same minority led the Ukraine into a state of civil war and economic destruction. Essentially, the Soviet Union broke apart because the leadership didn’t act to quash the rebels who didn’t speak for the people, and Yugoslavia broke apart exactly because the leadership chose to quash the rebels who did speak for the people. Also, it helped that in Yugoslavia the “rebels” in fact spoke for their entire populations, while in the Soviet Republics the rebels spoke only for an insignificant minority, while the majority was too hungry, confused and afraid to do anything, probably mistaking the nationalist protests for the legitimate protests against the state of the economy. This is the thing: people who are not well off don’t know what they are protesting. They want things to be better, and their displeasure can then be co-opted by various nefarious forces. They protest poor working conditions and shortage, and then someone tells them they are protesting against communism, while the others tell them they are protesting in favor of national independence. Those who protest aren’t experts on either economy or geopolitics, they are experts of trying to make ends meet and failing. In the end, they might end up with more than they bargained for.

In the West, we have a somewhat similar situation, where nefarious people attempt to use generalized displeasure with the state of things in order to create support for their dubious agendas. Also, we have politicians who represent only themselves and are completely out of touch with the atmosphere on the streets. In addition, we have foreign powers pushing their agendas, for instance Saudi Arabia financing the spread of the most virulent and malevolent form of Islam across the world, using the petroleum money. The thing is, when people push for things to change because they are displeased with the current state of affairs, the kind of change they get might be completely different from the kind of change they hoped for. After all, people of Iran probably thought they were supporting the revolution against American influence and for more freedom, but they got a revolution for more radical Islam. To paraphrase a local saying, it’s late to regret it after you got fucked. So, I would advocate for great restraint in supporting revolutionary movements, and for more thinking about consequences, because the fall of Iran and Ukraine shows that optimism for change can often result in an endless nightmare.

 

The rotting corpse of the West

I’ve been thinking about the deeper implications of what’s going on politically.

We have a face-off between the left political spectrum, the neo-Marxists who don’t call themselves that, but instead embrace labels such as “social justice warriors” or “feminists”, who advocate hatred of everything that defines the Western civilization and are bought and paid for by the Islamic states from the Middle East, and the right political spectrum, the libertarians and the conservatives who advocate for free speech, evidence-based rational thinking, capitalist economy, science-based education, and are for the most part a grass-roots movement.

Then we have the anti-Russia propagandistic narrative that originates somewhere from Pentagon and the CIA.

Probably the worst thing is the complete control of the media and the political class by the people who get orders from some place that prohibits them the use of any kind of rhetoric that would clearly state the facts about Islam and its inherent incompatibility with the Western civilization, and its intent on bringing it down.

What I get from this is the face of the modern Western civilization. It’s an urban atheist hipster with an iPhone and a Macbook, having a double frappuccino at Starbucks, who thinks he knows everything there is to know about anything, writes snide comments on social media that purport to convey his never fading arrogant smirk. The meaning of his condescending smile is that he figured out that there is no God, there are no absolutes, everything is relative, every perspective is equally valid, but if you disagree with him on anything, you’re a stupid idiot.

Faced with that, I am speechless, not because I would lack things to say, but because I don’t see what good words would do. When someone is completely convinced he’s right, because nothing really hurt him badly enough to make him reconsider his premises and actually turn his brain on for once, your arguments don’t matter. He doesn’t hear them, because he doesn’t feel he needs to listen. He already knows everything, and if you disagree with him on anything, you’re not only wrong, you belong to a hostile entity-class. You’re something evil that mustn’t be listened to because it doesn’t belong in his nicely ordered world.

And then you have the destructives, the barbarians, who don’t belong to this modern world, and thus seek to tear it down. The communists, the neo-Marxists, it doesn’t matter, and this explains the unprincipled coalition of seemingly incompatible groups; but the one thing they have in common is the hate for the West. And honestly, when I see that arrogant all-knowing smirk on the face of that atheist piece of shit that thinks he has it all figured out, and all there remains for him to do is convince everyone that nothing really matters, except his frappuccino or latte macchiato, and a new widget Apple just released… it’s hard for me to see the West as healthy tissue that needs defending, and Islam as a disease that threatens to attack it. Rather, the West looks like a rotting corpse that remained after having exorcised God and spirituality from every aspect of its life, and Islam looks like an infestation of maggots that wishes to feast on this rotting corpse. I can’t see myself on either side, because none of them have any similarity to the way I see the world, or the way I envision meaningful existence.

What I actually see in all this is that mankind is at an impasse. It has nowhere to go. All the options on the table are the recycled versions of things that were already tried, and didn’t lead anywhere. What is there on the table that wasn’t already proven to be a dead-end? Islam is shit and produces shitty states and shitty people. Humanism and scientism produces worthless hipsters and a civilization that lacks purpose and meaning. Communism produced poverty, genocide and all kinds of evil. Space travel? There is nowhere to go for humans; the rest of the solar system is implacably hostile, and farther away is beyond reach.

The strong AI, the ability to transfer human consciousness from a biological to a technological substrate? What would it actually transfer, the consciousness of that piece of shit hipster with his arrogant smirk? Yeah, the digitized hipsters who believe everything is meaningless, that’s going to save the world, because having them mortal and limited by their physical boundaries is somehow a problem. What kind of an AI would a godless civilization with no values outside of those damn “human rights” create? A soulless demon who thinks that nothing matters, that there is no objectivity, no purpose or goal higher than himself and his own emancipation? Humans are rightfully afraid of AI, because if they make one at their own image, it will indeed be a horrible nightmare: a soulless mechanical intellect, detached from the source of all meaning, wiping the Universe of any meaning. In fact, one could argue that this is exactly what the current civilization is: a soulless force that intends to wipe the Universe of all meaning, and remake it in its image: as a godless meaningless existence devoid of any value or purpose.

When there’s no meaning, there’s nothing to fight for, or against. After all, everything is an equally valid point of view, and one should be tolerant of differences.

And who am I to say that the Muslims are wrong to kill them? One has to be tolerant of maggots feasting on a rotten corpse. That’s what they do. A living person would have defended oneself.