Politics of infiltration

I've been thinking a lot about HYDRA today, because I've been working on my Google conspiracy essay, and I'm basically making the argument that within Google there's a group trying to pull a reverse HYDRA: allowing this ethically compromised institution to grow in power so they can steer it toward anticapitalist goals.

I'm pretty Machiavellian in my political leanings -- not in the sense of interested in absolute power, but in the sense of "the means don't justify the ends." (That's closer to the correct translation of the popularly cited "The ends justify the means.")

There's a horrible belief that's very popular in the left right now, that if you do everything "right," in that you don't commit any individual actions that could be characterized as morally wrong, then it doesn't matter what the outcome of your actions were.

But if the outcomes of your actions amount to no systematic change, if you wanted to make the world a better place and you didn't, then you failed. The moral value of actions needs to be measured, not in their individual, categorical properties, but in their consequences.

This is a lot harder when you're trying to do good than when you're trying to do evil. Because the little consequences count, too. Lying to people and betraying them causes real emotional suffering. And that's an intrinsic part of infiltration.

Following strict personal moral rules feels like it's going to be harder, but it's actually a lot easier than acting with a constant understanding that the morality of your actions is determined by their consequences. Determining your practices based on ethical purity allows you to opt out of the practical political world, where you're forced to make imperfect actions based on insufficient information with not enough time and on not clear premises. Determining them based on outcomes demands that you wade in -- and not just that, but not fuck up when you do. Showing up isn't always good enough for consequence-based ethics. Failure necessarily entails real harm done.

But since all the things we set our moral compasses by are outcomes, and all the smaller goals along the way are outcomes, it's not okay to start ignoring outcomes when it gets down to the granularity of "Okay but what personally am I obligated to do?"