Sometimes a cabal is a good thing.

Cabals are groups based on secrets. They’re usually small.  More may make merrier, but more does not make for better secret keeping.  Controlling ideas of the big brother variety or protective notions of the political or superhero variety fuel some real-life as well as fictional cabals.   Radical ideas like the Dead Poet’s Society or esoteric interpretations of existing thought such as mystical Judaism fuel others.  Thus cabals are often formed by people who find themselves in positions of power but are concerned others may misinterpret their ideals.  But they may also be formed by ordinary folk who fear or worry for the destructive or transformative power of their cabal’s ideals.  The powerless and fearless simply conglomerate and rebel, for better or worse.

But keeping secrets is slippery ethical territory.   At least when interpreted from the outside.  Obfuscation presents a sort of ethical hurricane where the weather in the eye – that is, the internal conviction of the cabal-ers – is necessarily fine.  Anyone who encounters the cabal’s lies, cover-ups, protection, and the like has to wrestle more or less knowingly with the mysterious turmoil in its wake.

Perhaps even more interesting than the ethics of cabals (if that’s possible) is the metaphysics of obfuscation.  On the most basic level, how can we expect to define a standard for reality or (worse) attribute causative powers to observation knowing that some information is hidden on purpose?  Or more subtly, there’s the question of the nature of the reality of what is possible.  Cabals are self-appointed protectors of the possible.  How can they harness it in this way if the possible does not have a metaphysical status?  Primitivism grants such a status.

Cabal-ers always believe themselves to be cabal-ing for good reason.  If it’s a selfless one at least to some degree, the ethical scales could easily tip in their favor.  The metaphysically real possibilities they protect are safe within their confines.

But what about when a cabal comes under pressure to un-cabal, to reveal.  Like a dormant seed exposed to moisture and heat, the possible moves beyond the confines of its protective husk to interact with the rest of its surroundings.   Does the plant that results enhance the surrounding ecosystem, or disrupt it harmfully?  Of course it depends.  Real or not, ethical or not, sometimes a cabal is a good thing.

One thought on “Sometimes a cabal is a good thing.

  1. Worth the wait.

    A very thought provoking piece presented with your characteristic clarity.

    There is one effect you didn’t mention.
    Laser-like, the confines of the cabal (the reactor) serve to amplify specific aspects within. Thus, a “microscopic” aspect can be grown to “macroscopic” size by the winnowing away of unreinforcing elements.
    Used with mindfulness and deliberation, I can see how cabalization would be a powerful tool.

    Unlike a laser though, the breakout potential for a cabal is usualy unknown and unstable.
    The natural selection process facilitated by feedback from the environment is ruthless and trustworthy. Balance is forfeit with its circumvention, balance unforseen and poorly appreciated from particular perspectives.