Wednesday, December 13, 2017

The Metaphysics of Mystical Tyranny

The Principles of the Cult of the Mystic Tyrant

  1. There is no truth; the true nature of reality cannot be understood by mortal minds, nor express with mortal language.
  2. There is no morality; morality is a lie told by the weak to the weak to justify their weakness, and to the powerful to hobble them. The only true “good” is power. True power lies in the knowledge of what you want, and the strength to seize it.
  3. The world has no purpose; The world is chaotic, primal and unfathomable, and it is the only world that exists; there are no supernatural worlds, nor an afterlife. The only purpose the world has is one imposed upon it through will.
  4. All that matters is power; power is the expression of will and knowledge; All living beings have the ability to express will; the greater the being, the greater the will. Thus, psionic beings are inherently better than non-psionic beings (they have “greater will.”)
  5. Passion and pain indicate our true desires desires and thus our will. True power requires the alignment of all desire and will in the same direction; to impose your vision upon the universe, you must first impose your vision upon yourself.
  6. Those too weak to impose their vision on the universe crave having the vision of others imposed upon them. Through the power of the state and the submission of the people to the vision of a powerful tyrant can order be brought to a disordered universe.

The Beliefs of the Cult of the Mystic Tyrant

The Cult of the Mystic Tyrant on Morality

“The universe knows only power. Nothing else matters.” - the Emperor
At its core, the Cult of the Mystic Tyrant is nihilistic. It is defined not by what it embraces, but by what it rejects, and while it rejects a great deal, its core rejection is that of morality. It sees morality as a crutch used by the weak to justify their lack of strength, or to hobble those greater than themselves. Only when freed from the shackles of morality can men truly achieve greatness. From this, all other precepts naturally flow.

For the Tyrant, “good” is that which brings him power, and makes him better able to express his will and satisfy his desires. “Bad” is anything that weakens him or causes him problems, preventing him from being able to achieve his desires. The Cult is careful not to apply moral terms to these, often preferring to term them “fortunate” or “desirable”, and “unfortunate” or “undesirable.” What a tyrant, and all people, should seek is self-empowerment, and anything “good, desirable, fortunate” helps him achieve those ends. Note, critically, that what impact a Tyrants actions has on another is considered irrelevant from a Tyrant’s viewpoint. Let others worry about their own well-being; if they are too weak to take care of themselves, then they should either make themselves stronger, or accept their weakness and offer service to their betters in exchange for protection.

“The priest defies the king and says he does it not for his own glory, but for the glory of his followers, but is this true? No, all men lie! Then why don’t the whimpering masses question his lies? Because the priest’s lies flatter them, for he whispers that weakness is strength, which frees the lazy masses from all responsibility to better themselves. --The Tyrannical Manifesto, Satra Temos
Moral systems, according to the Cult of the Mystic Tyrant, lie. They assign moral weights to actions for the explicit purpose of balancing your personal interests with some perceived metaphysical reward. Now, the Cult of the Mystic Tyrant doesn’t necessarily view deception as “bad.” The Cult views eternal or universal truths as impractical at best (They see them as unlikely, and if they exist, the mind is too limited to contain them and language too limited to express them), and sees, again, no moral weight in truth or deception; instead, it tends to view “truth” as things that useful models. Deception is a problem in so far as it prevents you from achieving self-mastery (and can be useful if that deception helps you achieve mastery, say, over another). This can be an external deception, but is most often an internal deception. The “evil” of morality is not that a priest will use it to advance his self-interests (the Cult believes that this is the fundamental purpose of religion: to advance the self-interests of its priests), but that people use it to deceive themselves.

The first deception of morality is that self-interest is wicked. The Cult notes that history tends to label the ambitious and powerful as wicked. No emperor forged an empire without the slaughter of millions; no scientist ever achieved great discoveries without transgressing the boundaries of the well-understood or accepted; transformative leaders never accept the status quo. When the weak confront this fact, when they find themselves too afraid to transgress, or too weak to achieve their desires or to stop a great man from achieving his ambition, they label those ambitions as evil, and their own inability to achieve that ambition as “good.” The inability to get the girl becomes “chastity,” and the inability to get money becomes “prudence,” while the guy who seduces a woman is guilty of “lechery” and the business man who achieves success is guilty of “greed.” In this way, weakness becomes celebrated over strength, up becomes down, slavery becomes freedom.

The second great deception of morality is that pain and suffering are negative consequences associated with evil actions (that is, the lecherous man or the greedy man will come to suffer for their actions). Moral systems suggest that refraining from immoral action will lead to freedom from suffering. The Cult of the Mystic Tyrant reject this entire line of logic as backwards and counterproductive. First, one should understand the importance of suffering. Yes, one should seek to avoid it, but pain is important. Pain and suffering teach one what not to do, and goad one to action. Jealousy and loneliness reveal a need for companionship; greed and ambition reveal a need for power. Suffering ignites passion, and passion drives one to achieve greatness. That this greatness leads to more suffering is irrelevant. That is the nature of the world! Life is a cycle of achievement and then suffering and passion that points one to his next great conquest. Moral systems attempt to short-circuit this and place someone in a state of complacency.

This leads to the third great deception of morality, that the world is not as it should be. Moral systems point to the natural state of the world, where predator consumes prey, as wicked and point to a supernatural world where all is “as it should be.” The Cult of the Mystic Tyrant rejects this. They see the chaotic nature of the world, full of suffering and predation, as beautiful. What moralists call “predation” they call “competition.” What the moralists call “suffering” the cult see as a call to action. Moralists see a purpose to the world. The Cult sees no purpose to the world, other than the purpose you choose for it, and for yourself. Moralists demand a God or “destiny” or “Communion” that holds the secret purpose for everyone. The cult calls this self-imposed slavery and argues that once you accept that the world has no secret purpose for you, you realize you have the freedom to forge your own destiny.

“Mewling prey! You tremble before the predator and cry out for mercy from an uncaring universe! Why do you not save yourself? Do not condemn the predator that eats to survive, nor the pain that brings you to tears. Learn from them! Become a predator yourself, or suffer the fate you deserve!” The Tyrannical Manifesto, Satra Temos
So, the Cult calls upon all cultists to cast off the shackles of self-limiting morality, but to what end? Once a cultist has grasped the deep lie of morality, has seen his own weakness, has been made to face his own suffering and fears and grasps the futility of existence, then the true work can begin.

First, the Cultist must learn that he, like the universe, is a wild, chaotic mess of conflicting desires. A being has no singular “soul,” no “true core of consciousness,” but is instead a complex machine of parts that each have their own desire. The Cultist must learn to understand this and learn to understand himself. He must embrace the many conflicting passions within him, and choose the desire which he feels drives him the most. This passion must come to subordinate all other passions until it burns like a brand. Through the singular drive this passion (be it hatred, lust or ambition), he can achieve truly great things.

Next, the Cultist must embrace the doctrine of power. He must gain the skills of war, leadership, strategy and personal insight that will allow him to manipulate others and the universe itself to achieve the ends he wishes. He must cast aside that which holds him back or limits him. He must come to embrace the cycle of passion and success that drive all truly great men and in so doing, become great himself.

Finally, once greatness has been achieved, the Tyrant must grasp the ultimate virtue of self-direction. Morality, the Cult teaches, is a lie, but no one, not even the Cult, has the full truth. Lies can be useful, when you understand that they are lies. The Tyrant learns that if no purpose exists for the universe, he can impose his own; where no truth exists for the universe, he can impose his own. The Tyrant constructs his own code of conduct, his own morality, born of his own wishes and vision, and then imposes it upon himself and upon the world.

“The universe has no order but that which I impose upon it. Then I choose to give truth to the lie of morality. And why not? Is my truth of a just universe less glorious than your truth of a cynical one?” -The Gospel of Revalis White

The Mystic Tyrant and the Nature of the World

Mei luimen medra moritelor je namereu melvet; mei nimen imatikta va shane “Je hem medra, mei marvania merielum.”
I beheld a chaotic sea of writhing serpents; I raised my sword and said “With this sea, I shall forge the world.” -The Codex Anthara
The Cult of the Mystic Tyrant preaches a realistic vision of the world, one which embraces a harsh, chaotic and unrelentingly cynical view of the world. They categorically deny the existence of a “supernatural world,” of a God, or of an afterlife. All that exists to the Cult of the Mystic Tyrant is the world that they can touch, see, hear and reflect upon. The Cult of the Mystic Tyrant accepts the reality of psionic powers, of course, and practices them regularly, but they do not see them as “apart” from the physical world, like a supernatural overlay atop unfeeling, unthinking matter. Psionics, consciousness and physical material are all real and expressions of one another.

All things seek to empower themselves. Everything from the greatest mind to the lowest rock have either the ability to express will, passion and intent, or the capacity to do so if properly organized. They see the universe in a hierarchy. Base matter makes up the most fundamental layer, which contain within them only fragments and pieces of the possibility of will and desire, while chaotic chemistry has organized matter into life, which has the ability to express undirected will, and then sapient species have the capacity to express directed will (even if they rarely do so), and the greatest and most evolved of sapient minds have learned to direct all of their passion to a single goal and this manifests to the uninitiated as “psionic power.”

“Communion” to the Cult of the Mystic Tyrant is not distinct from psionic power, which to them is not distinct from thought and motion; all moves on a continuum of the expression of will and desire. The Cult accepts the notion that the universe brims with psionic power, but rejects that this somehow connects to the mighty power that brims from true Tyrants. The godlike power of the Tyrant stems from their supreme enlightenment and their transcendence of the limitations that sapientkind places upon itself.

The Cult of the Mystic Tyrant sees no purpose for the universe. It churns unthinkingly like a boiling cauldron, or writhes and lashes out like a wild animal. The universe has no eventual goal, no underlying secret, no “true destiny” in mind for each person. It has only the raw material of passion and desire turning in on itself, unsated. The greatest Tyrants accept this and then forge meaning out of the chaos. The Cult rejects the idea of Destiny as something bestowed to one by the universe, and sees it as something one forges for himself.

Eventually, all things die, though the Cult rejects this as some predestined, fundamental truth. They see nothing beyond death. Consciousness is tied to the machinery of the body and it ends when that machinery breaks down. No afterlife awaits the Cultist. The Cult argues that one should not seek to live for rewards in the afterlife, but for rewards in the present. If they can find a way to transcend mortality, they do so, and according to Cult lore, all of the greatest Tyrants have done just that.

The Mystic Tyrant and the State

Mei hediren va dri sevene dudia mei
I rose and all knelt before me –The Codex Anthara
The Cult of the Mystic Tyrant is fundamentally a philosophy of the state, at least in its original conception. It applies its skepticism on morality to all people and argues that all people act out of some mixture of ignorance and self-interest. The primary thing that keeps people from acting in perfect self-interest is a lack of knowledge about what course is genuinely in their best interest, or out of sheer weakness and inability to act out of one’s best interest. For example, if one makes a bad deal that loses money, this is either because one did not read the fine print (ignorance) or because the other party strong-armed you into accepting the bad deal.

The purpose of the state, in the eyes of the Cult, is to forge a code of morality for the weak and ignorant. This code, or laws, is not “true” in the sense of an inherently correct form of morality. Instead, it seeks to tame the wild mass of conflicting self-interest and ignorance of the populace and channels all of that self-interest in useful ways. In the same way that the Cultist seeks to direct and sate his own inner passion, the righteous ruler seeks to direct and sate the passions of the populace.

The Cult advocates outright deception of the population. To the Cultist, “the people” are fools, slaves to the Tyrant, but they are slaves by choice. True men, great men, would rise up against the Tyrant, or set out on their own to forge their own place in the galaxy beyond the reach of the Tyrant. Those who willingly suffer the scourge of the Tyrant ultimately accept their fate and even want it. Weak men find it easier to accept the orders of others than to command themselves. The Cult of the Mystic Tyrant does not argue things like “Slavery is freedom, freedom is slavery,” but does note that many people happily enslave themselves to kings, priests and kindred and call it freedom. The Master simply seeks to exploit this tendency for his own purposes.

The power of the state and the laws of the Tyrant forge order where none exists. Without the state, without the social contract, mankind falls into its natural state of anarchy. Just as the Cultist learns to impose his vision upon the shapeless mass of the universe by expressing his psionic will, so too must the Tyrant learn to impose his vision upon the shapeless mass of people by expressing his political will. Without so doing, neither mankind nor the universe has any purpose, direction or meaning, and mankind craves meaning.

And should the Tyrant take advantage of his position to enrich himself or indulge in his vices, is this wrong? No, because the Tyrant, and the leader of a state, defines what is right or wrong with his law. But beware! A tyrant who pushes his populace farther than he his power allows will find himself torn apart by the wild forces his will has unleashed. The Cult of the Mystic Tyrant does preach restraint but only when the Tyrant has reached the limits of his power, in which case the Cult expects the Tyrant to find some way to expand his power. War, taxation, slavery, executions and oppression are all justified if it serves the vision of the Tyrant and creates order and stability throughout the universe.

The Cult of the Mystic Tyrant and other Philosophies

“The time for superstition has passed. The time for justice, equality and rational government dawns today. Henceforth, let us set aside the old ways and embrace a long forgotten future.” --The Emperor
Broadly speaking, the Cult of the Mystic Tyrant sees the other philosophies of the Galaxy as exercises in self-deception. Each philosophy believes it understands the truth of a world that nobody can ever truly understand, or even properly express, and seeks to express that truth using the fallible medium of language. Even so, while Cultists often express amused disdain at other philosophies, they do respect what they try to do, even though they think they go about it the wrong way.

The Cult seeks to forge order out of chaos, while other philosophies deceive themselves into believing that the universe has some fundamental order. If the philosopher can set aside this one fundamental misunderstanding and accept that the universe is fundamentally disordered, they can then go about applying the order they believe the universe should have. The Neorationalist can create a rational universe; the Akashic Order can create a universe where humanity survives; the Divine Masks can create their Gods and their Divine Wrath.

In this way, the Cult of the Mystic Tyrant can act as a parasite on other philosophies. While it believes that all such philosophies lie, and that they lie for their own cynical self-benefit (whether they admit this or not), the Cult sees itself no differently, just a little more self-aware. An astute cultist, then, learns the underlying beliefs of another philosophy and then either embraces them as the vision he wishes to impose, or twists them to serve his own purposes.

Only True Communion really falls outside of this vision. True Communion’s basic tenets of self-denial, elevating the other above the self, and ultimate unity of all beings stands in total contradiction to the tenets of the Cult of the Mystic Tyrant. To believe one denies the other. At first, the Cult of the Mystic Tyrant just ignored the philosophy, but True Communion’s utopian vision of freedom and equality put it into direct conflict with the followers of the Cult when the Knights of Communion uncovered their machinations and made war with them. That secret war tore apart the Eternal Empire, and continues in secret even now.

The Cult does what it can to unveil hypocrisy it believes must lie at the heart of True Communion, and tries to draw away its members into the fold of the Cult, but the efficacy of True Communion and the purity of some of its members has shaken some Cultists to their core and made them question their faith in faithlessness.

Is the Cult of the Mystic Tyrant correct?

The default assumptions of Psi-Wars is that either the Cult of the Mystic Tyrant or True Communion is correct. Even if one decides that the Cult of the Mystic Tyrant is not correct, consider allowing them to have the Illuminated advantage anyway, as it fits their belief in “true enlightened masters” very well.

The Cult of the Mystic Tyrant can easily take on a true position, as it can slip behind any other philosophy and act as the underlying truth behind that philosophy: the world is not really rational/doomed/full of superstitions and Gods, but if you believe in it enough, you can make it so! They accept all the fundamental realities of the game mechanics, including Communion, and have secret knowledge of Communion that brings them real power. Their outlook on the world is also “realistic” enough that most modern, materialistic players will find their philosophy relatively easy to swallow, especially given the reality of psionic powers within the game. Finally, their deeply cynical take on the human condition is also an easy one to swallow.

The problem with making the Mystic Tyrant correct is that it can strike many players as hopeless. Ot\s a little on the nose to argue that the reality of a gaming world is “what you make of it,” and it offers nothing to truly have faith in. To argue that the world is chaotic and bad things “just happen” and you should just become as powerful as you could may disappoint players. It’s a universe where the Emperor is right, the rebellion is wrong, and eventually everyone will die eventually and there’s nothing you can do about it.

On the other hand, you can play down its cynicism and play up its belief in self-empowerment. If you dislike anything about the philosophy, it’s up to you to change the universe. The Cult of the Mystic Tyrant argues that nothing, not even immortality or divine power, is beyond your grasp, you just need the vision and strength to seize it. Perhaps the players will decide that the Empire’s oppression is wrong, and that they have an even greater vision. The players can argue, from within the philosophy of the mystic tyrant, that their morality is correct, and they might enjoy that, especially the sort of group that wants to revel in personal power!

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