Akhenaten was a pharaoh of the 18th Dynasty, one of the last such pharaohs. His reign saw the instatement of one of the world’s first monotheistic religions, Atenism. This was a period of social upheaval and political instability that saw the collapse of the 18th Dynasty. Aten was analogized to the Sun God, but was not entirely the same as previous understandings of Egyptian deity. Instead, he was a sole and supreme creator god. Unlike Egyptian polytheistic gods, he was not to be depicted with graven idols, so he was symbolized by the sun. Interestingly, Akhenaten was not the eldest son of his father. He had an older brother, Thutmose, but for some reason, Thutmose did not inherit, despite not dying in infancy, and living to adulthood. But some time in his adulthood, the crown prince, Thutmose, disappears Akhenaten’s reign is troubled and he is succeeded by a chaotic succession of pharaohs, including women and his child son, “King Tut”. Eventually the chronology dissolves into a muddle entirely, with all manner of alleged (rival warlord claimant?) pharaohs, before the 19th.
There is a myth, the Osarseph myth, which is said to describe this time of instability and the end of the 18th Dynasty. The rightful pharaoh, Amunhotep, the name of several pharaohs of the 18th Dynasty, including Akhenaten, desires to see the true God. He is given a prophecy in which Egypt will suffer ruin unless he drives out the unclean people. For some reason, he does not drive out the unclean people, but instead enslaves them and sends them to quarry for no reason. Then, also for no reason, he gives them a city, Avaris. Because he is schizophrenic, he decides to besiege Avaris, but his army turns against him and he cannot press the attack, and instead, fearful of the gods, he flees into exile for twelve years. At this point, his child son grows up into adulthood and restores the throne. The leader of the rebels, Osarseph, is driven out. Ramesses, the child pharaoh, restores the worship of the Egyptian pantheon and brings peace to Egypt.
This is said to be a mythologized history of the Amarna period and Akhenaten. Ramesses is a new founder, so he needs a myth. Instead of being Ramesses I, random warlord done well, he is Ramesses I, son of Amunhotep, rightful pharaoh, restorer of Egypt. Osarseph is said to represent Akhenaten, because he destroys true religion. But Amunhotep also desires to see the Gods. Well, whatever. There is a duality of Osarseph and Amunhotep both being the pharaoh and possibly Akhenaten and this being some sort of complicated mythmaking around Osiris and Horus, ending in reconciliation. Great. Except why make one figure into two?
And there’s one more thing.
Although the Egyptians called him Osarseph, Manetho says that he called himself… Moses.
Gentleman, we have a mystery on our hands. Why would Judaism and Atenism both come about, independently, at about the same time? Two cultures inventing monotheism simultaneously? Perhaps the two are related. Perhaps this myth deserves more attention. Josephus identifies the Jews with the Hyksos, a Semitic Sea People that invaded Egypt, establishing the 15th Dynasty. Confusingly, the 15th Dynasty coexisted with the 16th Dynasty and 17th Dynasty, only ending with the founding of the 18th Dynasty and their subjugation. So now we have a name for our mysterious enslaved people and a motivation to keep them down. After all, these are foreign raiders who conquered Egypt, and your dynasty restored legitimate native rule. And if the Hyksos are the Jews, then of course they set up in Avaris. Avaris was, after all, the capital of the 15th Dynasty.
But why would Pharaoh be unable to overcome them? Why would he struggle to siege the fortress and have a weakened reign? Perhaps his soldiers saw the strange leader of the unclean people as more legitimate. Where does the name Moses come from? It is not Hebrew in origin. It’s Egyptian. It derives from the Egyptian Mose or son. And it was said that Moses was an (adoptive) Egyptian prince. Perhaps the Pharaoh could not overcome the great host at Avaris because it was Hyksos warriors. And perhaps Pharaoh could not prevail over Osarseph, or Moses, because his soldiers did not trust him. Perhaps Osarseph is not a strutting Priest of Osiris gone bad leading a band of lepers that can somehow overpower Pharaoh himself, but a Prince of Egypt. Prince Thutmose. What then? The story of Exodus, as narrated by both Egyptian and Jewish sources, becomes the retelling of a story of dueling legitimacies between Princes at the dawn of monotheism, a belief so explosive it ends Egypt with all manner of (possibly divine) calamities. Why do the Jewish slaves long to worship the pagan gods again and wax nostalgic about Egypt? Would a crushed slave people do such a thing? Probably not. But a people that remembered *ruling* Egypt would. Especially if many of the living were not slaves, but of a prince’s retinue. And Moses’s tablets. Are they just fictional? Or are they evidence of an already present writing system? One that is said to be derived from the cultural meeting of a Semitic people with Egyptian culture and its hieroglyphics? Maybe this happens by trade. But maybe not.
But we are modern people who believe in modern histories, and not silly stories like Exodus. Exodus has been deboonked. There is no evidence tying the Hyksos to the Jews. It says so right there. Josephus and Manetho, despite being ancient scholars, are far less informed than us.
What is the true origin of the Hebrews? Well, obviously, the Habiru. Who were the Habiru? Well, they were a social caste of outlaws, mercenaries, thieves, and laborers, and their name meant unclean, and they lived like Roma. Modern scholars sound awfully anti-semitic.
One problem with the Habiru theory is that the Habiru were explicitly not a people, but a social class and a descriptor of a group outcast from society. But they do have some evidence that, at some point, there is an ethnogenesis moment where the Habiru organize into a people. At this point, this band of thieves and nomads spontaneously transforms into an organized people which run an complex agricultural society and kingdom. I am sure that if we observe the Roma long enough, this will also spontaneously happen, one day. Okay. So how do we know this and when does this happen? It’s simple. The Amarna letters. Amarna? Why are they called the Amarna letters? Well, because they date to the Amarna period. The late 18th Dynasty. The period of Akhenaten. What a strange coincidence. So right at the time that the mythical Moses is said to be leading his people out of Egypt, first to Avaris then to exile in the Syrian Levant, the Habiru, heretofore nomads, spontaneously organize into an settled agricultural people. But wait, there’s more. What did Manetho call these followers of Moses? Lepers? Outlaws? Unclean people? … Habiru?
The Great Retreat in the 14th Century BC. Behind you is a palace, a kingdom, a people, and your own family. Ahead of you is an unknown future full of struggles, pain, and long wandering. All you have to guide you is faith in God. But your reward? Immortality. No looking back.
Now, is this true? I wouldn’t be able to tell you definitively. Do I think it is plausible? Yes, absolutely, and this was a scholarly hypothesis people generally held only fifty years ago. It was debunked alongside Carthaginian child sacrifice and Aztec human sacrifice rites.
The modern hypothesis is that humans come up with these highly complex myths with no basis in reality for no reason other than self-legitimation or to slander or praise other ancient peoples. But maybe they don’t. Maybe all the myths are in some way essentially true. And that’s a greater point I want you to think on. How winners and losers write history. How we frame the past. What myths mean. And fundamentally, how do we, as peoples, remember.
There can be miracles when you believe.
PS Exodus says the Jews dwelled in Egypt 430 years. Stratographic layer G, where the temple to Set/Hadad was erected by Canaanite settlers in Avaris, dates to 1780BC. 430 years from that is the reign of Akhenaten. So I was talking about this with a friend, and he pointed out that the garbling (and there must necessarily be some garbling) could easily be a garbling of Amunhotep/Akhenaten and Horemheb, the last pharaoh of the 18th – in a sense. He was not related to the dynasty.
Horemheb, like Manetho’s Amunhotep, is exiled, and eventually names his “son”, Rameses I as the next pharaoh, even though he is not the same as Amunhotep/Akhenaten. If this is the correct interpretation, then some more things come into focus. While I am more romantically attracted to the idea of Moses returning and dramatically confronting his brother, ala Prince of Egypt, the Horemheb/Ay theory clarifies the verse where God tells Moses that all those who sought him are dead. The death of Ay in 1320BC is the death of the last of the Thutmosids and related pharaohs. The dynasty is now thoroughly extinct. Nobody who would remember Moses is left. This would be a mercy from God. When he returns to Egypt, 40 years after 1360BC, he is confronting a stranger.
It is also a time of persecution. Egypt is destroying Atenism and its temples to return to the old ways. If Atenism is related to proto-Judaism, then certainly, these are now an oppressed people. Why does Horemheb pass his throne to Rameses I? Because he has no surviving sons. Now, like the previous interpretation, this takes some garbling – this time to mash Akhenaten and Horemheb into the Amunhotep figure. But I think, regardless, this era is the right era, and the figures are broadly correct. More corroboration? The wife of Amunhotep III. Tiye was non-Egyptian and had unusual religious views. Jewish? Or rather, Hyksos? If so, then perhaps the mother of Akhenaten and Thutmose was Jewish.
The Aten moment would have been the big eruption of a cultural syncretism reaching back centuries.
Yes, centuries. After all, the Hyksos flight is downstream of another interesting event – a shogunate in the land of pyramids and sand. But that’s a thread for another day.
Editor’s Note: At the time of compilation, I have completely accepted the Horemheb hypothesis and accordingly praise the great mercy of God, who spared his beloved Moses from confronting his actual brother. One of the proto-Semitic stele is also a praise of God (as Ptah-Osiris) and Amunhotep, Moses’s father. This is very sweet.
The 13th Dynasty, which began in 1803BC, was a time of great unrest. It was contemporary with the 14th Dynasty, and was characterized by great decline, plague, and famine. It would eventually retreat south, leaving the north to the 14th Dynasty.
The 14th Dynasty was a dynasty of Egyptian origin which ruled over the West Delta from Xois, and lasted 184 years. Little is known about it, and it was ultimately subsumed by the… the 14th Dynasty? Wait, let me check my notes. The 14th Dynasty, which began some time between 1800BC and 1725BC, was a dynasty of Hyksos origin which ruled over Northern Egypt. Its rise to power is obscure and so is its collapse. Like its contemporary, the 13th Dynasty, it presided over a period of famine. Though while the 13th Dynasty was declining, this 14th Dynasty was rising. It came to rule over all of Northern Egypt from its capital, Avaris, and eventually pushed the 13th Dynasty out of even historic Memphis, looting and pillaging the city to decorate Avaris. This is why the 13th Dynasty moved its capital south to Thebes, since it had lost Memphis, and why it proudly proclaimed its rule over Memphis in its twilight hours. Wait… what? The 13th Dynasty was in decline almost as soon as it was founded, as the 14th Dynasty emerged early. The 13th Dynasty was tremendously short lived by its monuments. The 13th Dynasty was tremendously long lived per Manetho, with a staggering 76 pharaohs. Hrm. Eventually both the 13th and 14th Dynasties are swept away by the rising of the 15th Dynasty, which, per Manetho, comes to power without conflict. Huh? How can the 15th Dynasty displace the powerful 14th Dynasty without issue? The 15th Dynasty is founded by a “Salitis”.
Some have attempted to connect this name to “shallit”, one of those titles Joseph had during Genesis. Obviously, we don’t believe such silly myths – the Bible is a work of fiction. We are hard-nosed realists who only believe in power politics. But for curiosity’s sake, what does “shallit” mean? It’s simple. It’s the Hebrew word for shogun. What were the problems plaguing the 13th Dynasty? Famine. The loss of crops. Why is Avaris a power center? Because Avaris was built with massive granaries, making it a focal point of Egyptian power in a time of mass starvation. It was a natural spot for a capital. Manetho doesn’t recognize our archaeological 14th as a dynasty – because it wasn’t one.
Avaris was not the seat of a dynasty, but the site of a shogun using control of grain to rule over northern Egypt. Why did the 13th Dynasty claim rule over Memphis until the end? Because, from their point of view, they had never lost Memphis. It was administered by the shogun. Until, of course, it wasn’t. How can the 15th Dynasty overthrow the 13th Dynasty and 14th Dynasty without a violent struggle? Because it *was* the “14th” Dynasty, the shoguns making de jure what was previously de facto. Who was going to stop them? Look at me. I am Pharaoh now. Of course, no action comes without a reaction. Why are the Hyksos enslaved? Perhaps, as Manetho describes, the population experiences them as cruel foreign tyrants who “got the granaries of Egypt into their possession, and perpetrated many of the most horrid actions there.” Nativist dynasties arise to oppose the Hyksos 15th Dynasty, the 16th, 17th, and eventually, the 18th Dynasty. The Hyksos were destroying the temples of the native gods and blaspheming the Egyptian pantheon. The people were appalled and begged to be saved.
Except Rameses isn’t the capital of the Hyksos. Or is it? Avaris was renamed and rebuilt in the 19th Dynasty. Its new name? Pi-Rameses.
In Manetho’s Aegyptica, Osarseph/Moses, rebel priest of Osiris, leads the Habiru army to Avaris, city of the Hyksos. In Exodus, Moses leads the Jews through Rameses, aka Avaris, on their road to freedom. And do you recall Prince Thutmose? He was a priest of Ptah. Ptah-Osiris.
With this in hand, we can construct a Biblical chronology.
1780 BC: First Canaanite settlers in Egypt in Avaris ~1800-1700BC: The Hyksos Shogunate begins with Joseph 1750BC(?): Joseph invites his brothers to dwell in Egypt, settling in Avaris ~1650BC: The Hyksos Shoguns overthrow the 13th Dynasty and proclaim themselves Pharaoh Middle 1500s: Ahmose I subjugates the Hyksos. The Egyptian captivity begins. This is in the 18th year of Ahmose I. If Ahmose begins his reign in 1539BC, this is 1520BC. ~1390s BC: Crown Prince Thutmose is born. He is made Priest of Ptah-Osiris. 1360 BC: Thutmose disappears from the record, possibly “killed” by Annan, Priest of Amun(?) in a power struggle 1320 BC: Thutmose returns as Moses. He delivers the Israelites from slavery.
Sanity check. “Now the length of time the Israelite people lived in Egypt was 430 years.” 1320 BC is 430 years after a possible date of Joseph settling his brothers during the Hyksos Shogunate. Seder Olam says the time the Jews were in slavery was 200 years. 1520-1320BC. The chronology of Exodus is internally consistent so far. What about the arrival in Canaan? 40 years from 1320BC is 1280BC, and the Conquest of Canaan takes 7 years, so that the people of Israel are settled in the Promised Land in 1273BC.
Except there is an alternative explanation. Early Exodus holds that the Jews depart in 1447BC, wander for 40 years, make war on Canaan, and Jericho falls sometime shortly after 1400BC.
Why 1447BC? Because that is 851 years from the ruin of the Temple, and the LORD says that Israel will be exiled one year before it grows old (852 years). The first exile begins in 597BC, so the exile happens 850 years and change beforehand, in 1447BC. And this too is consistent.
And for this chronology, they have the ruins of Jericho. The 1550BC dating of the sack is rejected because within Jericho exist scarabs of Amenhotep III, which means logically Jericho did not fall until his reign. And it did not fall after, otherwise there would be more scarabs.
Except… 597BC is a secular date. If we are counting with Rabbinical years, why not start counting backwards from the Rabbinical year of exile? By the Rabbinical tradition, the sack happened in 423BC. And what is 851 (850 inclusive) years before that? 1273BC. Our settling date.
47 years before that? 1320BC, when we have Moses returning to Egypt. Game. Set. Match. As a bonus, Pharaoh’s daughter. It’s two different people. One is the mother of Moses, the other simply is another Pharaoh’s daughter. Not all of Akhenaten’s daughters have tombs.
Neferneferuaten Tasherit is unaccounted for and she would have been 25 when Moses returned to Egypt, with no other living relatives. A perfect candidate to marry one of the Jews and get pregnant, rather than a 100 year old woman being seduced and impregnated. One last loose end. How can Jericho can be sacked by Joshua when it was sacked in 1400BC, before Moses? The dating of Jericho depends on the scarabs. So it must be at least the reign of Amenhotep III. Except there’s one thing. Amenhotep III was the last Pharaoh to issue scarabs.
The sack of Jericho can not occur before Amenhotep III, but certainly it can occur after. And carbon dating has a margin of error of 150 years.
When I wrote this thread, I never expected to find a smoking gun. There’s a smoking gun! There’s been a smoking gun for SIXTY YEARS. Gerster I is an inscription of Sekhemrekhutawi in PROTO-SINAITIC in 1760BC asking El to give rest to his companion Heber.
THE JEWISH PHAROAH ASKS EL TO BLESS HIS COMPANION, HEBER, ONE OF THE DESCENDANTS OF JACOB WHY IS THERE A JEWISH PHAROAH And I found this being used as evidence AGAINST THE BIBLE
The Jewish Pharoah with a coat of many colors, blesses Heber. I thought his coat of many colors would be more stylish. Kinda dorky.
But it would change people’s characters. Why are there distinctions in character? Because all those traits have purpose. That which is purposeless is slowly selected out. What we call evil is often us failing to understand how things, by nature, can have bad consequences.
Those bad consequences do not come because that thing must always be bad, but because the badness is from a disordering from the circumstance. The evil is because the thing is out of its place. If only everything could be in its proper place, then there would be no evil. Why is aligning your will with God’s the highest good? Because God is love and his order *is* good. If we were all in place, the unfolding of reality would be like a beautiful dance, with intricacy beyond knowing, fractal complexity which, nevertheless, is sweetness and light. Yes, you were not born a sexual sadist. But is it not right that some are? Because sexual sadism is only the disordered expression of an urge that can be channeled in a positive way. Every day, I have the choice to either smite evil or indulge sexual sadism. What tells my brain that sexual sadism is pleasurable is also why I take great pleasure to exert my power against evil. This is also what witch hunters on Twitter and elsewhere are doing, but they have misidentified evil. But if they were hunting real witches…? These women aren’t the descendants of witches. They’re often the descendants of Puritan white women who burned witches.
Tell me the witches shouldn’t be burnt.
Go on. The monsoon brings fertility to the land. Isn’t it the fault of our stupidity and reckless desires to put ourselves in the way? The wolf regulates the deer. “Natural evil” is merely the consequences of natural laws playing out in a way *we* find undesirable. How prideful we are.
Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding. Who determined its measurements? Surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it? To what were its foundations fastened? Or who laid its cornerstone
But why have that dynamic at all? Precisely because it is a dynamic, a negative feedback loop, a cycle. When you have a cycle, it can adjust – the high part of the cycle or the low part can become the new baseline in response to shifts in environment. The homeostasis can change. Humans don’t design in dynamics, they design in statics. We like to pin things down and make a machine. Machines break. Machines are fragile. When a machine finds an unsuitable environment, it cannot adjust to the new parameters. A dynamic can, because its high can become low. A disordering is never as disordered as it *must be*, because the brilliance of God’s design allows to reclaim goods from evils, even when we choose the evils. Our children and their children can find goodness after adapting to a new, imperfect order. But we deprived ourselves of what could have been without the Fall. What else is dynamic? Music. God is using the laws of reality to play a great symphony, but he depends on us to play the instruments. Yet so great is His majesty, he can turn sour notes into a stunning movement.
Let’s have an example. The founder of the Plantaganets, Geoffrey Plantaganet, Count of Anjou. We’ll call him Jeff. Jeff, like many nobles, was autism golem. Like many autism gremlins today, he wanted succubus gf. You should not want this. But he did. This was an evil desire, and because of this, the House of Plantaganet was cursed with the madness of their demon blood. But yet, good came of it too, because when their nobler members submitted to the will of God, England was brought to greatness. Their qualities were leveraged. Richard the Lionheart was a great man *because* of that which also made him terrible, but it was his Nephilim character that was harnessed to do great and just things in the Crusades, so long as he submitted to God, who takes our clay and makes it into a pot.
Another analogy. Our houses are like structurally unsound houses that have not yet fallen in. God is trying as hard as He can to save our all houses, but we insist on dwelling in them, and we also love the way the roof sag complements the drapes. We adore the dismalness. My soul is like a house in ruins! God is the Contractor of my soul. If I let Him in to do His work, I can yet be saved from the consequences of my own actions, like my sinful desire to masturbate to /gif/. But the house may yet fall in, and thus, I am damned, because of *myself*. I chose to OWN that guy or tell myself I’m not so bad or so many other things which are like a man running the sink to overflowing in a home, causing flooding and water damage, and yet I blame God for the consequences of my own actions? Absurd. We all see the NPCification of people who get addicted to weed or video games or gambling or any other pleasure. We see the NPCification of those who indulge in pride (virtue signaling) or greed (get rich quick schemes and shitcoins).
Only by abandoning our pride (our virtue signaling and conviction in our own virtue) can we achieve real virtue. Only by abandoning get rich quick schemes do people actually start getting rich. Our disordered desires keep us away from the actual goods they pretend to point to. There’s a unifying theme there that I can’t put my finger on, but I’m not just rambling, I swear. It’s all one thing. Or another thing. Why do famines and plagues come with the falls of empires when they are natural phenomena? Isn’t that weird? Well, they hasten the collapse of that regime. But why would that be good? Can you name a single bad regime that lasted more than a century? Yes, famine is very bad. But the disasters that strike down failing governments are like amputating an arm.
Imagine how bad the Thousand Year Lib Reich would be if the trends we see now continued for another thousand years.
Who will starve? 1. People who have no friends and family that love them AND 2. Who refused to see warning signs and prepare for themselves In some sense, it is a *targeted* attack that nevertheless obeys natural laws.
January 1st, yet again.
“And now, lest he put out his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever”-
Eternity is a terrible thing indeed. Eternity is a wondrous thing indeed. People often ask why a loving God might condemn mankind to Hell. This is a misunderstanding, I think. Hell and Heaven are both choices, and Hell is a separation from God. Absent this connection, the love of God is like an unending burning agony. This life is the time for toil and the time for choices, while we still have a body and flesh. Continuously, we face choices, where we must choose between good and evil. These choices are, in many ways, the choice between The Good and The Evil. Though men act as if the choice is hard, the choice is often easier than we think. The wages of sin are death. We find often that sin is self-defeating. The greatness of the great comes not from their sins, but their virtues, which are often twisted. To paraphrase CS Lewis, what is Attila without his courage? It is the only things present in great but wicked men that allow them to do their deeds. And given these gifts, it is all the more tragic when they freely choose evil. So what is eternity? Eternity is a time when choices end, and our existence stretches on forever. When we are wrathful and seethe, it feels like our soul is burning up, but it does not harm our enemy. When we are greedy, we obsess over wealth to no avail. So on, and so forth. What if we were perpetually locked in a state of cope and seethe? And moreover, we no longer have the fleeting distractions and pleasures of the flesh to assuage our pain, but exist in an unmediated spiritual state of cope and seethe. When we die, therefore, unless we have achieved a state of total depravity or Sainthood in our lifetimes, we exist in an impure state, but one which is either inclined to choose either The Good, which is God, or The Evil. Given this, what is our conclusion?
Everything not fit for eternity must perish. What then is Hell? It is not the arbitrary cruelty of an evil God. Rather, God is full of love. When Adam and Eve ate from the Tree of Knowledge, they became like God, able to discern Good and Evil – and thus sin.
Nevertheless, God will save us. What are our souls? Our souls are like rotting mansions, deep in disrepair. The roof is caving in, bed bugs and spiders roam the roams, every hall is covered in mold and grime, and it is terribly drafty. We do not notice.
We are always out in the world. But one day, that long night will descend upon us, and we must go home to sleep, and sleep for the long sleep. What we will return to? Dwelling in our sin, we will tormented by the bugs and winds and rains forever, and the burnings shall never cease. But it need not be that way. God wants to repair our houses, however shabby they may be. He has sent His Son to us.
After all, Jesus was a carpenter. Every time we repent of one of our sins, we are fixing one of the broken parts of our houses, making it fit for eternity. We are trading the temporary joys of sin – or oftentimes, the temporary excitement, less than even joy – for something permanent. Every time I discard a sin, I feel a new calmness descend into my soul. With truly holy people, one finds them almost totally at peace, unbothered by the swayings of the world.
Such is fitness for eternity. So why must Job suffer? For Job was a righteous man. And it was true that Job was blameless in his ways. But Job was not the Lord. His own right arm could not save him. His talents, in the end, do not come from within himself. Some lessons can only be taught by affliction. To continue, what is path dependence? Path dependence is a sequencing of events such that each step depends on the previous step. Certain things only unfold as they do because of the sequencing. What does this mean? On Thursday, you go grocery shopping but forget the milk. After a workout on Saturday, you suddenly realize how thirsty you are. In a panic, you rush down to the nearby corner store to get milk. You bump into someone. She becomes your wife. Very romcom. The Battle of Midway. If the bombers hadn’t come then – if the planes – if they hadn’t – if – if – if
The mark of path dependence is that you can’t really recreate it in a training situation. In exercises, they can’t make Midway go as it did. Instinctually, we crave path dependence and weave it into our stories. We love our serendipity. But we close ourselves to it in real life. What are our earthly plans? We have plans and goals. And an earthly plan posits steps that reach that goal. The path dependent route of serendipity is more of a series of unexpected shocks that nevertheless advance towards the goal, such that you approach the end with a series of flourishes and arabesques. But embracing it means losing control. In retrospect, I can say that God’s plans have always been more glorious and satisfying than even my wildest plans, and if they disappoint, they only disappoint compared to totally disjointed and bizarre daydreamings which never had any steps or plans. Single moments must pass a certain way.
And in this, we see the hand of God.
He is the one weaving the past from the future and weaving the threads of fate into a tapestry.
Why did I link my Exodus threads to people? Because I wanted people to see them and be astonished. It was my vanity as much as anything else.
My natural state is a rebellion against God. The line between Good and Evil falls in the middle of your traits. A man such as me wants to brag about the things I have made.
But it took a man such as me to make them.
We are called to be a lantern unto the nations. To shine that light, we must kindle our flames. People think of Christianity as a cucking, a meekness of humiliation, a submission and a lessening. But it can be a greatening. To stoke the fires of our greatness may burn us, may sear our very souls. The greater the glory, the more the risk. As we face towards God and remember the purpose of who we are and what we do, we can kindle the glory of our flames while staying safe from the heat. I have a bone to pick with modern psychology. Big Five et al quantify traits vis a vis an imagined baseline. The presumption is human neurological uniformity. All traits are deviations from an imagined normal neoliberal man. Personality styles become personality disorders. The flattening is an attempt to have the positive sides of every trait without the negative. Instead, we medicate ourselves into being nothing at all. The Jungian is the archetypal. People are archetypes. What we have are not deviations, but natures. MBTI is by nature a typology positing a number of heroic archetypes. The purpose of psychology in this framing is not to level us out into being nothing, but to guide us to becoming our Heroic Self. When we become a light unto the nations, what we become is not flat, but the Heroic version that we ought to be. We are becoming more like ourselves, higher and brighter, and not less.
We are becoming who we really are… and fit for eternity.
Militant Politics by Class: I’m going to break out it by more than social class here, because the relation to the means of production matters a lot, a lot, a lot when the rubber actually hits the road and civil war is afoot. Aristocracy: It’s Bolshevism. I’ve talked at length about the OGs, the Oldsheviks, but the pattern repeats elsewhere. Communism has taken root not where feudalism is weak, but where feudalism is strong – because the feudal element pushes it. It reinforces their class interests. There’s a meme about Early Life for cultural subversives. And if you dig into Communists, Early Life often reveals a rather… blueblooded origin. Che Guevara’s family has had a castle in Ireland for a thousand years. Do you have a castle? Fuck off. We even have the evidence of revealed preference. In WW2, more old titled Italians fought for the Communist partisans than for the Monarchists. Given a choice, the noble officers of the Reich surrendered to the USSR, in defiance of Hitler’s orders to keep fighting. The morale collapse came from the top. And not only that, once they surrendered, they immediately turned coat to form the NKFD, the Free Germany Committee, hoisting the Black-White-Red in defiance of Hitler. Count Einsdel, Bismarck’s grandson, gave a speech at the founding. What happened to them? They won. Combined with the SDP partisans, they were appointed the new ruling class of the GDR.
More like the Prussian Aristocratic Autocracy.
Uncle Joe didn’t let them keep the flag though. A real shame. Petit Bourgeois: They’re Fash. If you look at the voting patterns that put Mussolini and Hitler in power, strength came from the middle class and lower middle class. The sample size here is small. There is no scholarly consensus for the base of Peronism – too current. When people talk about Italy’s Fascist nobility, you have to remember that Mussolini created a new nobility whole-cloth out of his supporters. That doesn’t change their class character or interests. It’s like if all the “kshatriya” of NRx got titled. They’re still what they are. Anecdotally, my time observing the Alt-Right does suggest that a petit boug class character is approximately correct. They’re disgruntled suburban kids who are getting chewed up and spit out by modernity. They do a lot of the WASP-as-ethne thing rather than WASP-as-noble. In practice, some may say Fascist and Communist regimes are similar. In practice, who wears the boot matters. кто кого? Will the middle class oppress the bluebloods or vice versa? Of course, the latter is the natural order of things. Soldiers: Soldiers like juntas, soldiers support juntas, junta leaders come from the military. I would put Nationalist Spain and WW2 Japan under the military junta umbrella rather than Fascism. Japan had signalling spirals among officers – not so in Germany. Spain is obvious. Peasants: For lack of a better term, Non-Aligned Libertarianism. There’s not necessarily a clear ideology here so much as there is a desire to tell the government to fuck off. You see this in peasant revolts where they don’t necessarily oppose divine order, just local oppression. Bundy Ranch et al, that’s about a land issue. Don’t tread on me. Get out of my face. Spanish anarchism, which had a real government, was rooted in the Spanish hill country, with people that trusted their villages and hated the G Men of the monarchy. The Russian Civil War era Green Army was less ideological anarchism or libertarianism so much as it was resisting the unjust and ruinous taxes and drafts the Bolsheviks were imposing to win the war. It’s less of a positive vision and more “stop oppressing me, bro”. As Moldbug puts it, they just want the dick in their ass to pound softer. That’s the extent of the demand. Political changes rarely come from any kind of spontaneous rising of the lower element because they’re, by nature, pretty disorganized and non-ideological. They get used. Bureaucrats/Eunuchs: Technocratic Liberalism, which actually precedes liberalism anyways. Bureaucrats want the reign of the unelected bureaus. I hate them. They want to expand their bureaus and suck up more tax dollars into them ad infinitum. They don’t value posterity. Because they lack long-run interests, their loyalties, like soldiers, are to their institution. Unlike soldiers, their pay depends on the creation and failure to solve problems. Bureaucrats create their own poisons and every eunuch regime has trended towards anarcho-tyranny. The Janissaries plundered the Ottomans and the Serbian revolt started because they were robbing Serbia blind. When the noble lord of Serbia fell, the (Christian Serb) soldiers elected one of their own as Duke, and he wrote to the Sublime Porte to swear fealty. Well, the treachery of bureaucrats and the rest is history. His oath was rejected, he revolted (win or die!) Eunuchs regularly despoil China in periods of imperial decline. If bureaucrats ever solve their issue, they get defunded. It’s a self-licking explosive ice cream cone. “Resist” techniques are nothing new. After Lenin took power, the remnants of the treacherous socialist left, along with the Kadets, tried to organize bureaucratic resistance to his regime. They got shot. Good riddance.
Never try to out-lawfare these people. You can’t win. The Late Janissaries had stopped being an army and had become a bureaucratic class – should specify that to avoid confusion. Big Capital (The Haute Bourgeois): As opposed to the petty or even much of the middle bourgeois, they’re not Fash. They’re Liberal, with a capital L. All that is solid melts into air, yadda yadda yadda. Wokeism is simply the most liberal of all liberalisms to date. Liberalism tells you that everything is universal, nothing has a nature, everything is a choice. In a sense, it is the opposite of materialism and the spirituality-cum-pastoralism of Soviet realism. Just consoom, bro. Everything is a consoomer product. Identities are products. Woke Capital was woke before woke existed. Back during segregation, segregationists, obviously, held the whip hand. Nobody was forcing Coca-Cola to support the Civil Rights movement. They did it anyways, in defiance of local authorities, because it serves their class interest. Priests: Insofar as anyone can be real, pure Reactionaries, priests are it. I don’t mean “Brahmin” – those are usually NGO-bureaucrats or regime officers. I mean literal priests. Reactionaries believe in some divine, ordained order – the Tradition. Well, priests obviously are very likely to have sincere belief in the religious, civilizational traditions of their culture. And beyond that, as the interpreters of said traditions, a real Reactionary regime gives them immense power. That’s a win-win situation. Not for nothing were priests so powerful in Ancien Regime French government. A Pope could make the Holy Roman Emperor kneel in the Middle Ages. Priests were like lords in their own right. A RETVRN to the Three Orders (Those Who Fight, Pray, Work) would be immense power. Conservatism isn’t an ideology, but the resisting of any movement towards a pure ideological power. It has its class basis among no single class, but the unradicalized.
The White Army was a ragtag array of mild monarchists, moderate liberals, fascist cadets, and Cossacks. The characteristics of a regime reflect the class coalition that supports it. In practice, you will see a lot of hybrid ideologies and admixtures. Pure colors are rare. As the situation grows more dire, class consciousness rises, much like in Vicky. People come to align themselves more with their class.
When push comes to shove, people act according to their material interests (I would say that, being a Marxist, itself is my class interest). “Socialism never took root in America because the poor see themselves not as an exploited proletariat but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires.”
True. America, not totally without reason, sees itself as a classless society. It doesn’t have the class elements for socialism. The class elements for socialism are not proles. America is overflowing with proles. Where America had an unbowed nobility, the WASPy Northeast, Red infiltration was everywhere.
When you look at things with IMMORTAL SCIENCE OF MARXISM-LENINISM and MATERIALISM, things make sense. To my beloved kulaks and oppressed proletarians, I cordially invite you to form a red-brown alliance to oppose the tyrannical, totalitarian regime.
Yours, Monsieur le Baron
How should a state be governed? What is the nature of good rule?
It is often instructive for us to ponder the writings of past leaders.
I present the Political Testament of Cardinal Richelieu.It may surprise you, but despite being a clergyman, Richelieu was pretty bullish on the aristocracy. Being raised with plenty gave them generous temperments which loved virtue and honor.
Nobles in positions would act with mercy and not disdain the small stuff as beneath them.
Of course, the clergy had their advantages. Nobles could be indolent and unserious. And most importantly, a consideration so important it could singlehandedly make Richelieu recommend clergy for the highest posts – clergy were loyal. Here is the seed of the bureaucrat problem.
So a significant amount of the Testament is dedicated to the noble problem. And specifically, noble relief, for the nobility was suffering from severe debt burdens which made it difficult for it to carry on in a virtuous manner and sustain itself.
Part of this was the lavish living of court life. This may sound familiar to anyone who knows someone who ruined themselves to enjoy the HUSTLE AND BUSTLE of the BIG CITY. But there was another problem. The university system was totally corrupt and this was proving ruinous to the state. It needed to be reformed. Those who became educated became prideful, refusing to engage in productive work, as it was now beneath their dignity.
The proliferation of colleges was doubly injurious. Firstly, it allowed mediocrities and dullards to be awarded the dignity of professor and spread false doctrines. Secondly, it meant all had to study despite a lack of talent for letters, lest they be stigmatized.
If France was to prosper, the schools would have to be brought in line. And once brought in line, the King must keep a firm grasp on them, for they are one of the most vital organs of the Ancien Regime. The power must be divided and watched lest these problems emerge again.
This excess of schools created an excess of sophist lawyers, mad monks, and greedy bankers. Instead, more ought to be doing the mechanical arts (STEM) and becoming soldiers (France had a shortage of cavalry officers).
Sophist law professors created men without integrity, training young men who merely parroted opinions they did not understand. Law became onerous and expensive, allowing the rich to abuse the poor through the court process itself.
The financiers thieved the wealth of the nation by turning their tricks towards converting all enteprises into interest farming schemes, replacing real commerce with financial trickery.
The mesalliance of the nobility and the financiers was one way in which noble families attempted to avoid their ruin through multiplication. To solve these issues, Richelieu proposes pro-natalist financial support, primarily through the military.
Send failsons to boot camp.
Fortunately, since our modern times are so enlightened and our leaders so educated in statecraft, we have avoided these problems and the ruin of our own state. Enough about the problems a King must solve, the forces of entropy that constantly tear down a state. What should a good minister be? What are the qualities of a fine ruler? They are competence, loyalty/integrity, courage, and dedication. To find someone excellent in all qualities is needed for a great state – merely being good results in mediocrity.
This is not necessarily possible, so one is happy to find the best you can get.
Competence may seem self-explanatory, but one thing may surprise you: trust not geniuses. Geniuses are often too enamored with the past and with theory over action. Like, a genius might be reading some old book by some dead church faggot.
History rhymes, but it never repeats.
The second fault, common to both geniuses and idiots, is that they don’t listen to others. A good chancellor must be an excellent listener, so as to learn the good advice of all around him, and to be aware of the problems which plague the state.
Integrity is not about having a soft heart. Indeed, doing what is just often requires doing that which is ruthless, for the enemies of justice are the enemies of all, and to pardon injustice is to license all manner of crime and disorder.
A person with integrity does not uselessly complain or pridefully virtue signal. They are not vindictive. They do not seek recognition, for none will give it. They possess the strength of strength.
They bear up under the unbearable.
What is political courage? It is the strength to do small things, not just big and grand things. It is the ability to disdain snark and love sincerity. And above all, it is the strength to face opposition and not bend one’s course. To resolutely hold one’s stance.
Finally, a chancellor must be dedicated, which means to have a certain purity of will. They must fully align their being with the state. They do not react, but act to steer the ship of state. They do not play favorites or petty social games.
A ruler that lacks all four necessary qualities may appear fit, but soon disaster will strike as one of the disordered natures reveals itself. There are many more exciting insights in the book itself, like how to persuade and discussions of early modern logistics and army management.
That’s all for now.
This is my response to @ConceptualJames Repressive Tolerance series. I do this not because it is weak and I wish to dunk, but I believe it is a fair presentation of liberal views, and the reason why James Lindsay resonates with so many Americans is because Americans are liberal. So repressive tolerance and Popperian intolerance. The liberal society is Popperian, which is to say, it must intolerate intolerance. Those who act outside of liberal norms using violence rather than reason must be suppressed. Liberalism cannot tolerate illiberalism.
Repressive tolerance takes this a step further and says even ideas which promote intolerance must be intolerant – which they define as the right wing. Therefore, there is an asymmetric tolerance of the left but not of the Right. We can agree that this if enacted violates Popper. But the fact is, they didn’t enact their ideas until very recently. The Weather Underground did some bombings, but these acts were *irrelevant* to the final victory of the Left, what brought them to the point they are at now.
The Left won because it was persuasive. In the non-violent battle of ideas, the marketplace of ideas, where no fists were thrown, progressive ideas successfully marched through the institutions and seized power, thus allowing them to instate formal state progressivism and arrest people who try to fight Antifa. And why is that? Is it that liberalism has worse ideas than progressivism and loses the battle of reason? No. But unfortunately, these battles are not won by reason. People pick their ideas because of material reasons: gains in money, status, or base animal desires.
By advocating progressive ideas, you are admitted into the company of the cool kids saying cool things and you can get a sweet job at one of these leftist institutions (at this point, all of them). You can get a crappy paper published. Who cares if it’s true?
And animal desires. Marcuse has children as an oppressed category because they lack autonomy – autonomy to do what, exactly? To have sex. Vaush wants to diddle kids. People like that will adopt any idea that allows them to justify their own desires to fuck kids. Reason loses.
So pure Popperian recognition *fails* to stop progressivism because progressivism, wokeism, does not need to resort to violence to win, *even if it advocates violence*. If you accept that advocacy of violence alone constitutes violence, you have recreated repressive tolerance.
But even if you don’t, what if you keep to the Popperian principle alone? Then persons like myself will point out, correctly, that you cannot stop progressivism without repression. But because we will be precluded from violence, the progs will win. De facto repressive tolerance.
In effect, you have created the ratchet which can go only left and never right. Popperian intolerance is only a specific case of the general: Schmittian friend/enemy distinctions. All regimes necessarily must repress that which would dissolve them. You implicitly recognize this.
“His thing is the blue pill now because it has power.” Because Marcuse’s ideology has power now, it has become the “blue pill” silencing all outside thought. And this is why Marcuse was right about totalitarian democracy – liberalism really MUST silence him to survive.
And because liberalism ceased silencing those like him, he was able to spread his ideology which then took power and now attempts to silence you and those like you. Power must be exercised. It cannot go unexercised.
But maybe this is fine? You recognize subversiveness is fine against Fascism. You say white supremacists and fascists must be defeated. If this is the exception that permits liberals to repress, then progs will simply paint all of their enemies as fascists. Republicans Fash!
But I think you are too smart to make this kind of unforced error. Why then appeal to wokies? Why sympathize with Marcuse? “He has a point here, of course, but he goes too far.” “The world Marcuse is criticizing is also the world we’re living in. He’s created the monster.”
Which brings me to my second point: values. Values, not just tactics. I think you and other liberals often sympathize with progressives because you share a value: liberation. Progressivism is liberatory. Both progressivism and liberalism cheered the Civil Rights movement.
The difference is that liberalism settles for equality in bourgeois legal rights while progressivism demands equality of outcome – “equity”. And progressivism demands not only equality in rights, but equality in actual treatment. To undo wrongthink. But racists have rights too.
Should racists have equal rights? You take for granted the far right is about the triumph of unreason over reason, of arbitrary oppressions. But we have far right writers today, albeit suppressed ones. Noticers. And they compel us ask questions. Reasonable questions.
Why does hyperfeminist Sweden have such unfeminist ratios in its female labor force? What if white boys really can’t dunk? What if different things really are different? What if humans are made differently and tabula rasa is false?
If most females, say 80%, really do want masculine men and not feminine men, then patriarchy is not an imposed oppression but a social innovation to get men to be manly instead of, as now, simping for OnlyFans thots (they called them temple prostitutes in the old days).
If that is so, then those liberatory values are not so clear cut – not merely unreason vs reason, but one set of trade offs against another. And what are my values?
Faith. Family. Fatherland. Labor. I believe that the purpose of politics is to allow an average person to raise a family in peace and prosperity.
Which brings me to my third and final point: What comes next? Because, to be clear, I do not hate America. There is and there was an America that could satisfy those values. It existed once and it can exist again. Once, every working family got more or less a fair shake.
Some people accuse BAP of being a neocon, but this is a wrongheaded accusation. He is merely adapting his politics to America. Fundamentally, America is a liberal nation. You fear Communism, and Americans fear it in their gut. It may be impossible for America to become Communist.
BAP’s adaptations go deeper than just partying hard for the McLarty Party People. Why advocate for Trump? Because of what Trump could be. And what it will take for liberalism to save itself. If liberalism wants to save liberal values from progressivism, it will have to repress.
That means a dictator, one with the power to discern the exception, a sovereign. But not just any sovereign, but a liberal sovereign. A liberal emperor. A Bonaparte. If Trump had so chosen, he could have been the American Napoleon. Hence, BAP’s support.
If you agree that progressive hearts are fundamentally in the right place, then progressivism is a part of liberalism and cannot be disavowed. It will be your responsibility to police them and keep them sane. You will have to provide the exception.
And if liberalism produces an American Bonaparte, I swear upon the sacred honor of my family’s blood, I will go and join him. Because as much as I bluster and boast of my illiberalism, even one of my stock coming from my autocratic lands cannot help but be changed by America.
In @BuyBookBuyBook‘s Mine Were of Honor, the Soviet general Odinsky asks Wrangel to join him, for they must fight for Bolshevism to save the Tsarist idea. And Obolensky, in One Man in His Time, receives a similar offer from a Soviet admiral, who toasts the Imperial Guard.
But Obolensky refuses. Because the American idea is genuinely beautiful and can be genuinely transcendent. Even a Prince could renounce his birthright for America. A German baron died at the Alamo. But that was the old America.
I love the American proletarian. I love the revving of his jet ski, which is like the tinkling of bells. I love the slow croon of country music on a night drive through the backwoods. I love to see the proles at work on their trucks. And what has happened to them?
You revile Communism, and so do most Americans. But why did Communism come about? Because Russia was embroiled in a disastrous war. Because proles were fighting the senseless war of a bunch of elites. Because the grain economy was collapsing and vodka in shortage.
Because the country was ruled by a cabal of madmen entranced by a Satanic mystic and they were seizing the children of the peasantry, some as young as 7, to use in their perverse sex rituals. Because Russia had become a sinful place, not the Holy Russia it was meant to be.
No noble with a conscience or sense of duty could let that stand.
And what happens now in America? The good jobs have been shipped away. People do not have any wealth or buffer for disasters. And petty tyrants have been locking people up for more than a year, and plan to do so again. They destroy businesses kulaks worked their whole lives for.
They glorify criminals while leaving the honest to die of opiate addiction. They despoil and they plunder and they laugh about it from their gilded mansions. And they worship the Great Enemy.
Can liberalism do what must be done? Can liberalism provide an answer, a Bonaparte? Because if it cannot, then I, or someone like me, will. And you will not like that answer. But it will be necessary.
I make this argument because I am willing to argue my points with reason and in good faith, because I do love America and its people.
Fidei populi, vox Dei. Salus populi vult Deus.
Let’s talk about purges. Let’s talk about Stalin.
This came up during a recent @GoodOlBoysPod episode where @Maarblek and @bog_beef were debating Stalin, and I think it’s an interesting and serious question.
So why does Stalin purge and how secure is Stalin’s power, really?
That comes down to another question. Who the fuck was Trotsky and why did he matter? Well, Trotsky was the Left wing of the Party. He was originally a Menshevik, but joined Lenin when events became clear. But more importantly? He was Soviet Commissar for War. This motherfucker built the Red Army with his own two hands. And if you know anything about power, then control of the military is extremely important. At the end of the day, laws are only laws when men with guns enforce those laws. Without a loyal army, you have nothing. That’s a problem if you’re Stalin. Another problem? Lenin probably wanted to make Trotsky his successor, not you. And Trotsky has a damn good claim to things. More problems. Trotsky has loyalists in the power structure.
What does this mean? Trotsky can overthrow you. If you’re Stalin, you have to get rid of Trotsky. And he does. But that still leaves a weakness in your grip on power. All those generals are fucking loyal to Trotsky. He was their leader through the Civil War. He’s their guy. And not only that…
The Red Army is full of aristocrats, who have a real material interest in seeing politics change – again. I mean, being a noble right now, it’s alright. But you know what’s better? Going back to serfdom, but this time with way less nobles so we all have massive estates. This isn’t an idle threat either. Trotsky, at one point, proposed reinstating serfdom. Politics is a constant juggling act because you have to keep all your guys happy, and they have to keep their guys happy, and so on. What have you done for me lately? Have you given me a dacha? Once you have a change in politics, the balance of power changes again – which means new configurations can potentially destabilize it. Enemies of today can become the allies of tomorrow and vice versa.
So you gotta get rid of these potential malcontents. Stalin needs to purge the military and he needs to get rid of Trotsky. But purging people is hard. You need people who are loyal enough to you to get rid of people. Or you need help. Trotsky’s in the Left Opposition, right? Well, enlist the help of the Right Opposition. Who’s the Right Opposition? Bukharin. Who supports Bukharin? The kulaks.
I think the game plan becomes clear from here.
Using Bukharin’s support, oust Trotsky and send him out of the country. And what does this mean? Bukharin was strong enough to help you oust Trotsky. That means Bukharin is fucking strong. His support base, the kulaks, are fucking strong. You can’t have that – he’s a threat.
You gotta get rid of the kulaks. They’ve proven themselves dangerous. But what if Stalin weakens his grip? The more absolute power is, the more dangerous the power struggles to get it. Insecure power must make itself secure before someone offs it. There’s not a lot of political violence in America because power was divided. The problem is that power in Russia is expected to be absolute. No weak man can be Tsar. This was proven only a few years ago by the fall of Nicholas II. If you try to divide power, making concessions, you look weak. The most dangerous thing for a king is to look weak. So strike first, strike best, and strike last. Wipe out resistance before it even has the possibility of realizing itself. The dynamics of purge show themselves not only with Stalin, but with Ivan the Terrible and Peter the Great. Almost every civil war is followed by a purge. After a civil war, there’s no legitimacy. There’s no Schelling points of how things are supposed to be to calm down conflict and prevent organization of credible revolt. The throne belongs to the strongest. That means you can’t show weakness. Mercy must come from total strength. Which leads me to an important point I’ve wanted to make for a while. On the Right, there’s been a lot of handwringing about giving up our principles. What is the difference between Brahmin and Kshatriya?
Nobility is not about cultivating superb internal attributes. This is the essence of being a warrior noble. The bloody, brutal game of power. It is a game of unprincipled exceptions and getting yours before you get got. The only currency worth spending here is loyalty and all the prices are in blood. The reason why there must be a distinction between “priest” and “noble” in a political movement is because we must not try to execute the ideal within the bounds of the real, which is real political conflict, which is a war. War is politics by other means and vice versa. Someone not pragmatic gets crushed. And yet, to abandon all principles is not a good thing. These principles must be kept, but we cannot allow the ideal to forestall real action. And similarly, we cannot allow the real to taint the ideal. To confuse pragmatic actions with the actual ideal conditions of our ideologies or beliefs is to taint thought with the practicalities of a fallen world, and so make monstrous the thought forms. If we define compassion as mere human compassion, we pervert it to meanness. I intend to expound more on this in a companion essay to an upcoming book release. That’s all for now.
Reward your friends, punish your enemies. Loyalty is the lifeblood of politics. Nothing else matters.
Anyways, I’d like to elaborate on this. If you’ve been following me, you know I have a one main schtick, which is Leninist class analysis. It’s almost a truism that rich people lean Left. “Coastal elites”. But there’s a lot that gets lost in “rich people” and “Left”.
I’d like to break this down using a historical example.
Let’s compare the Bolsheviks with their main rival on the Russian Left, the Social Revolutionaries.
Broadly speaking, neither were peasant or workers’ parties, with both being dominated by middle or above elements. But not all “middle and above” elements are the same. What was the class composition of the Bolsheviks? Broadly speaking, the class coalition of support came from a coalition of proles, peasants, and nobility. And what about the members themselves? 1/6th of Bolsheviks came from the highest estate, the nobility, the top 2.4%. 2/3rds of them came from either the noble estate or bourgeoisie, which together were 13% of the Russian population. The remainder were mostly workers and peasants. The top Bolsheviks were 27% noble. So what about the SRs? Aren’t they similar? Only about half of the SRs were workers or peasants, a similar proportion to the Bolsheviks. But a lot is hidden in those figures. The SR party, by comparison to the Bolsheviks, was middle-heavy.
It had a lot of “PMCs”. 24.2% of the SR party was clerical workers or minor professionals. Only 4% of the SRs were nobles or high professionals, as compared to over 60% of the Bolsheviks. But that’s not the best part. 15.9% of them were students. That’s right.
The SRs were fucking grad students. And not only students. 2/3rds of these students were first generation college students. The SRs were your classic overproduced elites – new entrants trying to get seats at the table at a time when the pie was shrinking. But I’ll get back to the shrinking pie later. That was class composition. But there’s more than that. The age distributions of the SRs and Bolsheviks were also different. The Bolsheviks were substantially older. 40% of SRs were under 20. 89.9% of SRs were under 30. The Bolsheviks were wealthy people with a stake in things. The SRs, by contrast, were younger people who were well-educated but barely holding onto what they had during a time of economic collapse. They were willing to do radical terrorist actions to stir the lower classes to action.
As a rule, the lower classes did not care for this. Finally, the ethnic component. The Bolsheviks were predominately a non-Russian party. Probably 65% of them were non-Russian in a half Russian empire. The SRs were 65% Russian, so the opposite skew. The Mensheviks were almost all minorities, and 1/3rd Jewish. And the distribution of ethnic identity in the Bolsheviks was not random. The 2/3rds of them that were minorities also tended to be the bourgeois and noble element of the party – most of the Bolshevik workers were Russians. Whereas the SRs were predominately Russian PMCs. So who was the Tsar’s support base? It was fucking rich assholes, right?
Ah. Not quite.
It was the peasants. Of the 68 peasant deputies in the Third Duma, 34 of them were right of center (Right, Nationalists, Octoberist) and another 15 were Progressists or Kadets (center). What the fuck? How can that be true?
To answer that, we need to look back at those unstable, chaotic years leading up to the Russian Revolution. But from a new perspective. There are many narratives of the Russian Revolution and Tsar Nicholas. Broadly, they are as follows: Menshevik-SR (and our textbooks): The Tsar was a bad autocrat who oppressed the peasants but was overthrown by DEMOCRACY which was snuffed out by totalitarianism Bolsheviks: The Tsar was a bad man who oppressed the workers and we shot him White Army: The Tsar was a good but weak man puppeted by the warlock Rasputin and our honorable forces could not overcome Bolshevism
But what about the Tsar’s side? There’s a very interesting book that’s been republished by @TsarPress. While I don’t agree with all of its interpretations, it brings up a number of interesting facts, all verifiable, which start to make all the pieces of the puzzle start to click. What does Last Tsar by S. S. Oldenburg say? It says that Russia got richer. A lot richer. This is true. It says the Russian peasants were prospering like never before. This is true. Also very true.
It says the court, possessed by madness, grew more hostile to their Tsar. Madness? No. Patronage.
Reward your friends, punish your enemies.
How could the peasants be getting richer? They needed property. And what is property in this time? In an agrarian economy like Russia’s, it meant land. One problem with land: they’re not making any more of it
You have to take it from someone. What did the new Tsar do when he took the throne? He told the assemblies of notables, the zemstvos, to go fuck themselves. He did land reform. Complete land reform? No. But he did it. Noble land ownership declined by a quarter. That land went to the peasants. They became kulaks. That’s all great, except they’ll remember that. They’ll bide their time. And they’ll never support you. Where was Lenin radicalized? His school. His gymnasia.
Almost 70% of the students there were the children of nobles. Well, whatever. For the time being, you’re still rich. Except… as the rest of the world mechanized, agriculture became more efficient. Why did Lenin admire American industrial farming in its large plots? It produced a lot of grain. Grain flooding global markets. What does that mean for the landed gentry? Only bad things. Your estates didn’t produce as much income anymore – but your costs don’t go down! You still have to send your kids to college. You have to get them good jobs.
That’s a bad situation. Nobles became more radical. So why didn’t the Tsar fall immediately? I’m a big proponent of the elite lens of political analysis, but elites are not omnipotent. Without popular buy-in, they cannot overthrow the government – the mob would lynch them.
So long as Nicholas II had the peasants, he was safe. So what is the final narrative of the Russian Revolution? Nicholas II, the benevolent Tsar, lost the trust of his peasants.
They were lured away by the siren song of peace, land, bread.
And down, down, down falls Humpty Dumpty.
Why do different classes matter? In a pure democracy, they don’t. One vote is as good as another. But the more the raw state of power asserts itself, the more the distinctions between classes asserts itself. Class is primarily occupation and role – so classes have powers
What can the peasants do? They can farm. But they’re also tough. The peasants would form into units of Black Hundreds and be a paramilitary force for the Tsar and the Hard Right. So long as Nicholas had that, who could challenge him? Only a fool.
But what do nobles do? They provide high professional labor. Okay, so they’re lawyers and doctors and engineers – who cares? Gonna sue the Tsar? But in war? In war, they were the officer corps. And Nicholas II went to war. You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t…
When classes aren’t politically reliable, they won’t perfectly execute your orders. They won’t give it their all. And the more your grip slips, the less they care about your orders. Early on, sure, let’s fight a good war for the Tsar. But as the years drag on…
Well, maybe when a Bolshevik agitator shows up, you look the other way. You go out for a smoke. Sure, you’re the CO or the XO, and you *can* impose unit discipline. But you won’t. You can lead a horse… Whole units went bad. A fish rots from the head down.
Remember the different narratives? What is the White Army take on Rasputin? This was a scandalous warlock, a magician and devil-worshipper who hypnotized the Tsar. And the Red? The same. But the Tsar’s? Rasputin was a healer who saved my son and a peasant in an evil court.
The peasants agreed. But what happens to Rasputin? The court kills him. The only peasant to rise into the court and have the Tsar’s ear, and the court kills him, even though he was healing the Tsar’s son. Maybe it’s time to tear the whole *system* down.
In brief, a materialist class analyst of the Revolution, based on the Pokemon powers of each class. The Tsar falls, the SRs rise. The SRs are backed by the Russian PMCs. What are their powers? “Push papers.” Helpful.
Kerensky purges the Army for being politically unreliable. Over 100 senior officers are fired. Some call him foolish for this. But to be fair, they *were* politically unreliable. How can you trust a hostile Praetorian Guard?
Hey. Guess what happens after Lenin coups Kerensky? Over 100 senior officers volunteer to join his new Red Army. Ha. That’s a lot of generals.
And more than that, Lenin moved to get the loyalty of the legionnaires. He offered them 25 rubles. A day. That’s $450,000 a year in today’s money. The Germans gave him billions in gold. He spent it all. And he got the grass crown. Secure your essentials. Reward your friends.
What did the SR government do against Lenin’s military putsch? They threw a government strike. On November 8th, the government worker’s union went on strike. Shortly afterwards, the Russian banks froze all the Bolshevik bank accounts. Lenin had the Army. He had them shot.
Ultimately, the class composition of your coalition is not just a curiosity, but determines who, in civil unrest, will take your side and fight with vigor, which in turn, determines what powers you have. Nobles can lead armies. Peasants make food. Workers make steel.
Kerensky had grad students, government workers, and bank tellers. Kerensky lost. The SR party *vastly* outnumbered the Bolsheviks. The Bolsheviks were a tiny fraction of a tiny party. But they were disproportionately elite. They hit above their weight class.
And they secured essentials. They got the support of the most vital elements of a polity: those who make basic goods, those who make food, and the security forces. You may not *like* cops and soldiers, but you *need* them. You do not need leftist teenagers and paper pushers.
Finished reading “The Persistence of the Old Regime”, a book @WolfgangHutter2 recommended. Solid book account you should follow if you don’t already. First of all, this book is interesting as one of the first instances of a growing genre I’ll tentatively call “continuitist” The first half of the book is about the “persistence of the Old Regime”. The standard Marxist historiography proposes that the Ancien Regime was overthrown by the bourgeois revolution, after which the bourgeois became the new ruling class and imposed commercialized democracy.
Just as the bourgeois displaced the aristocracy, so too will the proletariat displace the bourgeois. This is a view of history which I think is largely discredited outside of hardcore Leftcoms, Reddit, and “Spiritual Aristocrats” on Twitter lamenting the bourgeois butchers. Here, I more or less endorse all of Mayer’s facts, if not his explanations or conclusions. This is a groundbreaking claim to put forward because it was a *challenging claim*. This was an upending of traditional Marxist framing, which still held sway among Marxist academics.
The gist of the argument is that the nobility, far from being in decline, had successfully integrated rising bourgeois elements. Not only that, it was finding success in the new economy anyways, and its members were often successful businessmen. Furthermore, the state of capitalist development in 1914 was overstated by traditional Marxist analysis. Capitalism had only *just arrived* at the monopoly-managerial stage of production, finance capitalism. Monopolies were infant. The manufacturing sector remained small.
Although he overplays his hand, I think, and often overstates the case, one must remember the *context* in which he was writing. He was presenting the antithesis to a strong thesis of Orthodox Marxist historiography. He was being revisionist. Where do we disagree, and strongly disagree? I had an uneasy feeling when I bought the book and noticed it was published by Verso and dedicated to Herbert Marcuse. Fortunately, the book mostly sticks to hard numbers in the first half. But it is clearly building a thesis. The thesis is thus: the aristocracy’s mode of material production was obsolete, but it managed to survive and hold power through cultural hegemony. It did this by privileging modes of cultural production which exalted the rituals of the nobility and made bourgeois assimilate. The low rate of ascension of the bourgeois, 7-8% elite turnover per generation, is contrasted to the rapid rise of the bourgeois and lower elements in Germany afterwards, during Weimar. The nobility is supposed to have suppressed meritocracy to maintain dominance.
There’s a problem with this though. What is the long run turnover rate of the elite? 7-8% maps almost perfectly onto a 10 generation, 250 year half-life of decay, which matches the empirical results found by Professor Clark and others in studies of various non-Indian countries. In fact, almost half the salarymen at the zaibatsu are samurai descendants. Normans continue to have disproportionate influence in modern American politics. Half of the Boston Brahmin surnames were Norman in the 19th century, almost a millennia post-Conquest. Can all this be the product of aristocratic cultural hegemony? Perhaps we still live in an aristocrat’s world! I doubt it. One of the signs of aristocratic cultural hegemony? Everyone tried to be aristocratic. If you couldn’t be a hereditary noble, you wanted to be noble-like. Thus, non-nobles styled themselves gentry if they could get away with it, bought manors, aped aristocratic norms, tried to get into noble educational institutions, invited to society balls… But who holds that kind of dominance today? Do our engineers call themselves lords? No, not even those who would be lords proper in the past call themselves lords, let alone the aspiring shopkeeper with pretensions of gentility. What do they call themselves instead?
[Baron Thread quoted]
Monsieur le Baron@Mssr_le_Baron·Apr 29, 2021Let’s talk nobility! Imagine! Grand palaces! Luxurious feasts! Dictating the course of world history with your whims! Conquering! Being a tiny king in your own right! Yeah, I’m not talking about those guys. No counts or dukes or princes today. I’m talking about the baron.
If there is a cultural hegemony today, it is a cultural hegemony of the middle class, and especially its newest component, the PMC. All other classes are renamed in its likeness. Proletarians become the (lower) middle. Aristocrats become the upper middle. We are all middle. Not only that, all life stories are filtered through the middle class lens. “We” can’t afford houses. “We” struggle with our student loans. As if all Americans came from hereditary homeownership but now struggle or had student loans. Most Americans lack a bachelor’s degree. Medicare4All/single payer is something for “all”, even though below the middle class, people get government healthcare, and above the middle class, people get platinum plans through their work. Particular class interests are universalized, because their class has the loudspeaker.
And yet it moves. If cultural hegemony could keep the nobility in control and economically secure, why can it not do the same for the increasingly precarious PMC? Why can they not speak their bread into existence like the nobles? Because materialism, not idealism, is true.
The first Muller cabinet is 0% noble. That’s right. 0%. This presents us with a conundrum. Either the Weimar government was persecuting nobles far worse than the Bolsheviks, or, if we suppose it was a pure meritocracy, the Bolsheviks were pro-nobility. To some extent, the latter is true. But that does not rule out the former. I have a question: if the Weimar government was a pure meritocracy, then why did it achieve nobility numbers so low they cannot be replicated in today’s free and fair democracies? Here you have your democracy, folks. Come pick it up.
Here is the fate of the szlachta under Soviet occupation vs the German nobles under Weimar. Those bloodless middle class bastards of Weimar, motivated by black envy, inflicted such cruel humiliations and indignities! You can never trust these “socialists”, they have no honor. After the purges, one could live a dignified life running a collective farm under the Soviets. It’s a fine enough life. Weimar… these people wanted nothing more than to undo the old order and reduce the great to subjection. It gives one sympathy for the Freikorps.
Minecraft your enemies or else forgive them. The Soviets cruelly executed many Polish szlachta. But the survivors, they could live. Some even held office. The Weimar liberal-socialists broke the aristocracy and reduced them to welfare dependant caged animals, like a zoo exhibit.
@WolfgangHutter2 I think you’ll find it deeply interesting that the course of the 21st century, to a large extent, came down to the decisions of minor aristocrats during the ruinous end and aftermath of WWI. In Germany, disaffected minor nobles saw the Socialists as the traitors who had doomed a successful war effort. By joining the Freikorps, they ironically guaranteed the survival of the new Weimar government that would destroy them. Years later, they would correct this mistake. And in Russia? The victory of the Bolsheviks was ultimately the victory of the Red Army. And what was the victory of the Red Army? That came down to its ability to create a successful officer corps. Per Mayer, ~70% of Russian generals were aristocratic. 28 of those senior officers immediately enlisted in the Red Army in the first volunteer call up in February 1918. Ultimately, 775 Tsarist generals would join the Reds, a substantial number of the pre-revolution senior leadership.
Arno Mayer’s conclusion is about the origins of the First World War. Here, I find him totally off. Obviously, as a Leninist, I am partial to the imperialism/economic rivalry explanations, but the diplomatic entanglements and intrigue of the prewar also matter a great deal. Mayer’s conclusion is more or less that the aristocracy launched WWI as a preemptive strike against the meritorious middle that was rising up to replace them, and that their martial ethos and bloodlust led Europe into war. I think this is totally ridiculous. Mayer makes this argument assuming the interests and ideology of the aristocracy lie in preserving the dominance of the manorial economy and landowning and the conservative social order, despite noting (and dismissing) the fact that many hardliners came from a peasant background.
The question that he didn’t ask (and I won’t fault him too much for it, given he was early to ask the other questions) is that, if Marx was wrong about the sequence of history, then why is Marxist historiography correct about the ideology and class interests of nobles? Far from being staid and ultraconservative, nobles were often on the forefront of radicalism in both post-war Russia and Germany. The collapse of the Ancien Regime was often the collapse of socially necessary *constraining institutions* for the madness of nobles. The next cycle of history will have to put those fetters back on, one way or another. No privilege without responsibility. No power without connection to the people.
Had this chat with Rupert before the ban, but I noted, with shock, a few weeks ago, that the homebuyer purchase rate (a function of the prime rate) had surged above my own borrowing rate (semibond + 4), which meant it was now cheaper for me as investor to finance purchases. This is bad, because it means the same house is now *cheaper* for Big Capital to finance than a homebuyer. It was already bad enough when Blackstone could brute force the issue using printed funds. Now even small hedge funds and private investors can outbid homebuyers. Credit is tightening across the board. Last December, Citi revoked my preferential World Elite Mastercard interest rate of 10% APR and raised me to prime + 22%.
They also regularly send out emails offering $5000 cash to deposit $1,000,000 in a cash or savings account. Prime class A CRE, which is used to secure countless “safe” AAA bonds, is teetering on the brink. If it is forcibly revalued, all those bonds will breach covenant and default, resulting in a trillion dollar real estate crash. Class A was overbid by institutionals and millennials. For the past decade, these groups have tried to put lots of their money into “safe” assets, fearing another subprime default. This caused a radical glut of money flowing towards “class A” real estate, basically blue chip luxury apartments and offices.
These are now worthless. Very quickly, the real estate curve inverted. Normally, you pay a premium when renting, the surplus being the profit an owner derives. You can price out this yield based on location and tenant risk. During the past decade, class A yields became *negative*. How is this possible? When you’re not getting cash-on-cash yield every month, your return comes from increases in your equity. That meant that class A property became dependent on constant price spiraling. Accordingly, rental income became irrelevant. It was dwarfed by price increases. In fact, under such circumstances, renters can be liabilities. A renter locks in the nominal value of the income stream and poses risks that can reduce the valuation of the building. An empty building is a “more valuable” building under conditions of an inverted rental curve. But you can’t keep raising nominal rents forever, nor can you infinitely increase the multiple. A 3br in Manhattan now costs 110% of my post-tax monthly income. As a VP at a bulge bracket. With cash yielding investments.
There’s not enough people on Earth to rent those homes. The market *must* rationalize. This means de-inverting the rental curve, such that rents now drive a profit above costs, the profit matching a curve following location and tenant risk.
That, of course, means the ruin of those who aped into overvalued assets. Luckily, nobody important has bought massive amounts of real estate at record valuations, otherwise we’d have to keep printing money forever to keep those asset prices from rationalizing, or at least long enough to annul the debts used to lever up.
Inflation forecast 2022: 20%.
Some of you may have read my blog and wondered what the rationale for industrial judgeships and self-regulating guilds might be.
I don’t like to be too pedantic with my explanations on the blog. Fortunately, there’s nothing too pedantic and spelled out for Twitter. Let’s talk about Uber. What is Uber? A taxi company. But what did people conceive of it as? A tech company. Why was this advantageous for Uber? Because it allowed it to skirt the regulations that normally apply to taxi companies. Uber drivers are “contractors”. Is that really true? Some may claim Uber is just a platform. But real platforms, like Fiverr, permit free latitude in contracting and many customers. On the Uber “platform”, a “contractor” is given a standard set of terms with no contracting. What distinguishes contractors from employees? Contractors are independent, which mean they do not depend on one customer as their source of business, freely set their contract terms, and do not depend on the client’s provided tools as their primary source of sustenance. Uber “contractors” do not fit these criteria. Uber contractors are employees. But why would Uber want to designate employees as contractors? To avoid regulations. Employees receive many more rights and benefits than contractors, by law. Similarly, Uber styled itself as a tech company, not a taxi company. The taxi industry is heavily regulated, while the tech industry was not, at least in regards to providing taxi service. Did that make Uber not a taxi company? No, not at all. So why mess around with such word games? It’s simple.
Any rule or metric used to confer benefit or harm will be gamed, because the incentive distorts it as a measurement.
Once employee became tied with benefits, it created an incentive to skirt having employees. This isn’t just an Uber thing. Many sectors of our economy now have these reclassified operations where the new firms are substantially equal to the old firms, just with some razzle dazzle word games to justify calling new and disruptive.
But it’s still a taxi company. For instance, take banking. After Dodd-Frank, debt hedge funds began popping up left and right. These debt hedge funds, “shadow banks”, perform a role that would be considered banking. But they evade the legal definition such as to avoid Dodd-Frank regulations. And before Dodd-Frank, there was a proliferation of complex derivatives to achieve relatively simple tasks. You can do things the easy way, or a hard way through a complex series of derivatives.
So naturally, we’ll do it the hard way… You may be thinking: So now you’re going to tell me we need to close the loopholes and regulate more. Not quite. What is it called when business happens in an illegal, unregulated environment? A black market. But black markets do not pop up arbitrarily. Is there a black market for groceries? Why not? But there is a black market for cigarettes. Lots of people selling loosies. A black market appears when regulation makes illegal business significantly more profitable or easier to do. And this has to be a high bar because being on the wrong side of the law poses significant costs and risks. Therefore, business will operate within the law if easy to do. We have to ask, therefore, why there’s so much regulation that makes business impossible. Is it to protect the workers?
In normal negotiations, there are the owners and the workers. Both will attempt to pass rules that make their own stake more profitable. But making business impossible is in nobody’s interest, because they have to split the pie, and destroying the pie means no pie. Therefore, neither party will knowingly and willingly kill the golden goose, and they have a fairly good idea of how the business works. But who writes regulations? Not workers. Although it’s claimed, ostensibly, to be written in the interests of workers, bureaucrats write the regulations. And the more regulations there are, the more bureaucrats can be employed. Therefore bureaucrats have an incentive to regulate. This incentive operates independently of sectoral profitability. All regulations impose costs which shrink the pie, except for the regulation of overuse of the commons. Workers and owners are both in a position to see what fair rules are, as well as to decide what the commons is. But the bureaucrat doesn’t have a direct relationship with the industry’s pie. So they can and will write as many regulations as they want, until it kills the golden goose. The thing is, businesses usually exist because they provide some essential service that people need. So when regular business becomes impossible, it doesn’t destroy that value stream. Instead, it moves to a new form which can argue itself to be unregulated. A black market.
And that’s why workers should write their own regulations collectively rather than the government.
Today I was reading the Real Deal and last year set the all time one week sale record for luxury homes in Manhattan. Can you guess how many sold? No cheating. 27. All time one week sales record. The inventory? 5000.
5000 luxury homes are trying to be sold in Manhattan. Folks, the math doesn’t add up! All around the country, there are empty luxury homes. The fact of the matter is that the math can’t add up. The median sales price for one of these was $6mm. The median Goldman partner makes $1.5mm. The 3x rule applies, but we can apply some cash down payment fudge. There are not many partners at Goldman. The higher you go, the more rarefied the air. Beyond mere luxury is “Billionaire’s Row”. There are 700 10mm+ units for sale lining Central Park. There are only 5000(?) or so billionaires on Earth. Total. Are they all going to live next to Central Park? Massive amounts of capital are being deployed to build these castles in the sky. They make no sense. They can’t make any sense. It takes someone like me to buy an *entry level* luxury home. Folks, the math doesn’t work! Or Manhattan apartments. An analyst does not meet the 40x standard requirement to rent even a studio alone. This week, I finally figured out the reason why clouds of analysts huddle in Murray Hill. They split the peculiar multi-bedrooms there that are built as attached studios. People packed, sardine-like, just to make rent. And these are the lucky ones. But I’m sure you’ve heard enough rants about unaffordable cities and ZSHC. That’s not what I wanted to talk about. That’s not what this thread is about. This thread is about TikTok. The reason why I bring up the homes is because they are empty shells. They exist as an idea of the attainable, but they’re not really attainable.
A day in the life where I spend so much money, I could not actually afford it on an entry-level salary if this was the typical day. It’s bullshit. But this kind of bullshit is so *pervasive*, it has supplanted our ideas of the real. The image we built of reality has come back as hyperreality, as Galatea haunting our dreams. And it is now so strong, nobody even remembers what the real is. People act wholly on illusions and the real is dismissed as fantastic. Let me give you an example. I fly into town and stop by Nobu, available by reservation only. This is the real version of our mythical Dorsia of American Psycho fame. I have a delicious meal by very talented chefs that rightly merits the head chef’s Michelin star. Parallel to me, an American middle class tourist has an Instagram moment. They photograph themselves at Saltbae’s eating a golden steak. The steak is bad. But it is gold. I spent $150 for a seven course meal. Or maybe $225. Or $100. Depends, obviously, on the day and market prices. They spent $1500 on their photo op imitating this idea of the real. The symbolism of the idea has become more important than what spawned it, ostensibly. I’ve raved about the food and Instagram before. But what occured to me today is that the image, which is fake, can be manipulated to market the real. We have created a reality bubble enveloping the vast majority of Americans… to sell things. A few months ago, I shopped for clothing, as many Americans do. I went to Nordstrom Rack. I am a millionaire and I was with a millionaire. My classmates also shop at Nordstrom Rack. There are clothing pieces there, allegedly at vast discounts. Even at some of the most famous and prestigious private schools in the world, the kids wearing real, full freight ultralux designer are rare. It’s a few nouveau riche brats with indulgent absent parents. How much in sales can they possibly do a year? Not enough. You sell a few dozen or hundred of these $3000 shirts or pants to rappers or rich kids or whatever. It doesn’t matter. The ultra high end is a simulation. The ultra high end exists almost solely to market the high end, which is the real luxury that exists in the world. People *do* buy these $200 shirts or $1000 handbags, but the “entry level” is the real level. The “real” luxury is just an idea *invented* to sell the entry-level product, which is the real product. It’s like the Costco chicken, it gets you in the door. Most Teslas are Model 3s. Most Beemers are 3 series. Most luxury home sales are in the couple million range. Talking to young people, I am perhaps the only one who habitually takes black cabs. But they all have the idea of balling out in black luxury SUVs, showing up like bosses.
Here’s the problem: Uber is upgrading me for free. Because I’m rich. I don’t pay sticker. But these hopefuls, with dreams of Dom Perignon and black cars and black cards… do. And they pay handsomely for the privilege. Uber probably makes 10 or 20x as much profit on these rides as a normal cab ride. The entire luxuries segment is built on vast, pervasive deception. And yet, like the man waking up to his champagne room bill after a drunken night at the strip club, the bill must come due. To sum it up, I want to point out the case of The One mansion in Bel Air. The hyperreality is now so powerful, it has consumed its creators, the merchants of magnificence.
A developer built a $500mm mansion. The deck alone was 10,000 square feet. The problem? The home of Bezos, then the richest man in the world, was only a third of that price. He built a megamansion for a hypothetical triple Bezos that did not exist. The customers for this ultraluxury do not exist. People write cultural analyses about these shrines of excess, they bemoan our decadence, they revel in “not being poor”. But it’s all fake. A house of cards. Up and down the glittering downtowns of Tier 1 cities around the world are luxury boutiques selling things no one can buy to no one. And they are closing. The dreamers are consumed by their own dream. It’s time to wake up, America. You’re hung over and you just spent $17,000 at the champagne room of Sapphyre. And you didn’t even get laid.
While I think it’s always lovely to read books, a significant amount of the discourse about Always With Honor seems to be driven by the desire to cast the present conflict as the Russian Civil War and relitigate it as the White Army.
Is some of this romanticism? Yes. But I think the roots of this run deeper than this. Many of our modern reactionaries sympathize with the White Army because they are precisely in the position of your typical White Army recruit: a young junior officer – the precarious aristocrats of the Russian empire.The question of how the White Army could have won the war is thus a question of how a young aspirant PMC on the Right could win in our coming chaotic political situation, and thus is a fascinating one. The White Army, originally the Volunteer Army, fundamentally had a manpower problem. Actually, both armies had a manpower problem. The issue was that peasants didn’t want to fight in this stupid war. The Soviets came up with one answer: commissars. Another answer was criminals, but this was fundamentally a bad move in terms of both yield and image. An army is a creature of morale. The criminal element is an unsavory element, unfit for prolonged service without heavy supervision. It’s also not a large source of manpower. In the initial callup, the Red Army was 8% Tsarist officers, 62% veteran grunts, and 30% criminals. This was not a working solution. The Red Army needed more meat. It actually never had a shortage of officer candidates, only an initial lack of political desire. The peacetime Russian Army was 3 million men with 56,000 officers and 1,000 in the General Staff. The 1917 Russian Army had had 15mm serve, including 250,000 officers. 75,000 of those officers and 1726 of the General Staff would serve in the Red Army. What does that mean? That means that a huge number of officers served with the Red Army. In fact, 8000 officers volunteered for the initial callup, while 3000 joined the Volunteer Army. And the Red Army share of officers was *higher* in more elite cohorts. The General Staff of Russia was disproportionately drawn from the top performing cadets of the military academies, and not only that, but from its most noble members. The General Staff officers joined at a higher rate than regular officers. The Generals even higher. The more senior the officer, the more likely they were to go Red. From “The Formation of the Russian General Staff. 1880-1917. A Social Study.” It was these *more aristocratic*, *securely placed* officers that forced the Tsar off his throne.
And why would more senior officers join the Bolsheviks? Because of class affinity. The same classes that disproportionately comprised Bolshevik leadership would, in the Army, form a discontented revolutionary core.
So how did the Red Army get recruits? It built a robust system of military conscription and discipline enforcement run by a mixture of NCOs and senior officers, conceding an advantage in field leadership to the Whites. The Reds won by logistics – the forte of the General Staff. The Whites, by contrast, had more junior officers, the field grade officers. This ultimately made them very well commanded, but they had a *severe* manpower shortage. The Red Army ultimately peaked at 5 million men.
The White Army… didn’t. Why do you need CHUDs? Because the CHUDs fight the wars. The CHUDs are the grunts. You need *some way* to get the CHUDs in line, even if it’s just dekulakization and terror. But even with terror, you need trigger pullers who will *enforce* the terror. The Red Army had NCOs. The White Army did partially solve its manpower problem. It got Cossacks. The Cossacks were an ethnic minority that, for some reason, was convinced the Soviet government would oppress them. Of course, history would prove this an unfounded assertion, as the Reds ruled with love.
Play the game carefully, because the price of losing is high.
If I might offer some free advice to our modern would-be Whites, it’s not to spurn the CHUDs. Ultimately, an army has to be *an army*. Armies, by necessity, are made of large numbers of CHUDs. CHUDs are the ones with the mettle and lifestyle to serve in the military. If you want them to defend your lifestyle as a precarious lesser aristocrat, you have to give them a good reason. Otherwise, you’ll be the grunt.
To reiterate, the Feds have a number of tricks to hide the football in inflation, and probably have even more that I miss because they’re sneaky about it.
Let’s go over some. t.co/Nfb4MqP5zk1. Hedonic Adjustment: This is when the price changes are adjusted to reflect real (or, importantly, fictive) increases in quality or product enjoyability. It’s a technique invented and most suited for electronics, where there was and is massive improvement each year. 2. Government-set Prices: The components of the CPI include markets, like healthcare, where the government has a large say in the prevailing prices. By refusing to change Medicare and Medicaid rates, the government can hold elements constant or increase them less. 3. Consumer Basket Substitutions: When prices for some goods increase, the basket they use to measure CPI is reweighted to substitute cheaper goods for more expensive. This is invalid because goods are rarely true substitutes, but exist as preference substitutes. This is a little harder to explain, but if you like pork and only switch to chicken when pork is too expensive, you have experienced a degradation in your subjective quality of life. The *bundle of goods* American consumers really consume is non-arbitrary. True costless substitution is only valid in industrial inputs, where different oils are treated as perfectly interchangeable inputs, different carb sources are just building materials, etc. There can be real substitution only caring about cost. But consumer value is subjective. 4. Cost of Housing: Owner’s Equivalent Rent, aka voodoo. This is a measure of the hypothetical rent the owner would have to pay if renting. Instead of using YoY home price increases and YoY same-unit rents, weighted by home ownership %, they use this hypothetical number. Let me put it to you this way: How often are rental and sale Zestimates off? And that’s with all the resources of Zillow behind it, and Zillow has all the revenue sharing of the whole MLS services funding that. Huge amounts of ML go into it.
It still can’t account for factors. OER fails because of the calculation problem: prices are a fast heuristic to measure true value because they have huge incentives to correct mispricings, so they have bounded wrongness. We are not good at calculating hypothetical situations and values. This problem is much, much worse when you calculate OER by doing a survey of homeowners (which they do, they literally ask people how much they think rent in their area is). People *consistently* underprice rents for the same reasons Boomers think candy should be a quarter. Our emotional memory of our home price is built when we actually cared about these things, which is when we bought them. The less it matters to us, the less the average person will bother keeping their idea of market rent or market price accurate (they won’t, ask Boomers prices). The CPI print for June says YoY shelter was 5.5%. In Manhattan, 23.1% own and the rest rent. If we take a 10% drop in YoY closed sale prices and a 36.9% increase in rents, we get a ownership weighted increase of 22.4% in cost of shelter. If we could do that for every market and weight by population, we would have a true and traditional cost of shelter index. OER is a new method of calculation that fundamentally and systematically underestates housing cost inflation, which gets pegged to close to 0% by design. 5. Shrinkflation, Classic and Hidden: Classic shrinkflation is when product sizes go down or become less substantial. It’s relatively easy to catch size decreases if they care to (they don’t). Watering down is hardy, but you can measure by active ingredients or headliners. What we are seeing, new to this economic depression, is Hidden Shrinkflation. This operates by quality fade. Every product has a QA process which determines what products are rejected or accepted. Products that receive less QA or pass lower bars are graded accordingly. How does this operate in practice? For a branded product, the best grades will end up in their flagship brand. Slightly less high end, but still high end, is often resold to Costco under the Kirkland brand. The middling cuts go to a middle market brand. Below that, store brand. Below that, you get factory rejects sold at their factory outlet as “funny vegetables” or other similar products. Or they get industrially reprocessed – dog food veggies, product bag textiles. The worst stuff is discarded. What happens with QA fade? Everything moves down a step. What would be rejected is processed, what would be processed is sold as store brand and sometimes literally rots on the shelf (don’t eat dog food, kids). Everything seems to go bad faster or break more often than it should. That’s because QA costs money through reject rate. 6. Direct Intervention Analysis: The BLS has discretion to factor out “outlier events”, discounting massive one time, temporary shifts in price.
Good thing we don’t hear anything about that lately. Eheheheh. It’s hard to know how much they’ve adjusted with this technical method, because the details are proprietary. Assume, however, the worst, and that the magnitude is similar to other adjustments listed.In conclusion, these statements do not represent the views of my employer, a bulge bracket bank, nor do they constitute investment advice. They are legally not statements of expertise, they are personal opinions.
I’m shitposting, lads.
Besides how obviously fucked the situation is, I’d like to take a moment to make an aside about Society. What is Society? The social grouping of the combined upper and upper middle classes (sometimes with an fashionable upper-only component, Real Society), and *its values*
Man does not live on bread alone. The choice of a career is not just a money calculation. Otherwise, the labor crisis in the trades would have ended a long, long time. I feel it every time I pay $80/hr rates to an electrician. Put another way, me and an Australian miner make a similar amount of money, although we spend it differently. Do you think my parents would be happy to see me hit the Outback underground? Ha.
No, they wouldn’t.
And why not? Because a career is more than a job, it’s an identity. I *am* a Miner. I *am* a Banker. Part of why being a NEET is so spiritually corrosive is because you end up saying I *am* Nothing. Your work says a lot about who you are. And who you are has status connotations. What does this have to do with Society? (High) Society is a set of values which prescribes certain lifestyles and ideas. Part of this means assigning status in different amounts to different professions. In short, the norms of Society decide what jobs our elites take. So far, I’ve said Society as if it was unitary. But it’s not really. In the US, there are – or were – three main Societies. The WASP/Eastern Establishment, the Southern Planterocracy, and Texas. Beyond that, a minor Society develops where there is new, alien wealth. Eastern Society comprised the following cities, plus every city where people from these cities engaged in further settlement/colonization: New York, Philadelphia, Boston, Chicago, and San Francisco. The genteel of Socal are those who moved south from San Francisco, for instance. The Planter aristocracy is not urban, but was founded by the Cavalier plantation owners. After the Civil War, it reorganized, switching to industrial production in order to drive out or assimilate all the Yankee carpetbaggers. It succeeded. The Debutante balls go on. Lastly, Texas. Where did Texas come from? Why is it just “Texas”?
Let’s go on a detour. Within the main Societies, there are local variations. Furthermore, there exist minor Societies wherever wealth accumulates culturally independent of an existing Society.
In midcentury Detroit, they said everyone in Detroit was a parvenu. Three generations of parvenus. Where did the parvenus come from? From the car money, of course. Life in Detroit Society revolved around the Fords and the car business. The charity balls were all run by that Grande Dame, Mrs. Ford.
So obviously, who comprises it? The people who can make a lot of money in cars. But it’s not just Detroit. This kind of divergence can also happen *within* an existing Society. Connecticut is hardly a barbarian frontier. But Hartford Society was about insurance. And whatever you were outside, inside, you were defined by your rank at Travelers or Aetna. You could be a pure bred Count and it wouldn’t matter, because here you’re just a junior executive. You think you deserve a Rolls Royce? Fuck you.
Get back to work. Why are these elites elite? Partly because of breeding. But especially in the case of parvenus, who lack breeding, it is because of one thing: their wealth. And why are they wealthy? That sounds like a stupid question, doesn’t it?
But think about it. This money comes from coordinating the production of socially useful labor. In fact, it always has. A significant amount (between a quarter and half) of the gentry of China were dam engineers. A warrior aristocrat is an aristocrat is a society where the industry is war. You make money in cars because people need cars, man. It’s important. You need competent army officers to win wars, and this is of the utmost importance in an agricultural society constantly at war. And what happens with a Society specialized for a purpose? It gets better at its task, so long as it is not decadent. When you breed a Car Guy with a Car Girl, they get even better at Cars. They accumulate genetic fitness and cultural traditions about how Cars work. If being The Best Actuary Guy is the highest status thing you can be in Hartford, Actuary Guy gets the ladies, and everyone will gush. All the Debutantes will giggle at his approach.
“Hey ladies. Did you know the years of additional life on a 75-year old man with gout?” An aristocrat is every bit as much of a thoroughbred as a good race horse. It is a creature shaped over generations and raised from birth for its tasks. The perfect Hartford Aristocrat is the holistic fulfillment of the Hartfordian Civilization, the Actuarial Race. The WASPs were literally breeding The Faustian Man, who would be a guy, the Faustian Guy. He would be a new kind of guy who would exemplify the world-historical mission of our civilization. To a great extent, they succeeded too. Look at the Winklevoss twins.
They are autistic guys because they almost invented Facebook and they were bitcoin early adopters. They are tech entrepreneurs. They are bankers. But despite being autistic, they are also Chads. Based. We did it team, pack it in. So to end our detour, where did Texas come from? Oil. Black gold, baby. Texas Society was born in oil and oil fortunes. It was made by good oil engineers, who knew where the oil was and how to get it out. They spoke to the earth. They knew the land and were its sons
But what about today? Does anyone today believe Texas A&M is the peer of Harvard? No, but outsiders never did. The important question is whether *Texans* believe Texas A&M is the peer of Harvard. And I don’t think they do. That’s a problem. The traditions of the earth were hard won insights. Many things cannot be taught from a textbook, but must be felt and shared from a master. Where will the oil engineers come from? From the masters. But to apprentice, apprenticing must be held to be worthy. It’s not about the money. Oil engineers make plenty of money. It’s about the status. It’s about knowing you are a true highborn son of Texas. You’re better than any East Coast blueblood because you are a blackblood and your heart beats industrial modernity. Fuck them outsiders.
When everyone takes cues from Harvard, and Harvard sucks up the talent of the nation, that’s dysfunctional even when the talent really is the talent and Harvard is what Harvard is supposed to be. Because Harvard is not going to teach kids how to be good petroleum engineers. When everyone goes to Harvard or sees Harvard values as the highest status values, you get the Harvard distribution of elite labor. Enjoy your apps and financial derivatives.
I was at a Costco. I was also at a different Costco. Both Costcos were Costcos. The forms of the Costcos were substantively the same. 95% of the products were the same, as they sourced from the same regional distribution centers. And yet, despite this, there were clear class differences between the two, apparent not just from the clientele and the neighborhood, but in the internals of the stores themselves. If you took away all the people, you could still tell which would be the higher class Costco. One Costco had a 4.5lb chocolate pie and 6oz cupcakes and a sushi deli counter, and the other Costco had artisanal cheeses. Though both Costcos had a wide variety of steaks, one Costco advertised USDA choice and the other USDA prime. As one more divide, one Costco had employee vests with a message saying “Ask me about Costco”. I leave this one as an exercise for the reader.
I was discussing class with my dear godsister and nonna this morning. My godsister had found an interesting article about someone’s experience with (partial) upward mobility and their discontent about it. In order to facilitate the transition upwards from white trash to PMC/middle class, the journalist’s family instilled strict shaming protocols around white trash behavior like getting drunk and substance abuse. One-above countersignaling behavior is almost always a reliable class indicator because the strict countersignal is usually functional. If you have to worry about falling in with heroin addicts in your community, then signaling about heroin addicts is important and functional to create a divide so you don’t fall into the wrong crowd. But it leashes your status as only one-above what you have to worry about, and reliably, because abandoning that countersignaling would be *extremely costly for you*, as you would fall into heroin abuse, so people two or more levels of class above you can countersignal the countersignal to show they don’t have to worry about the problem. This journalist had distinctly prole physiognomy, but my first glance assessment of her was middle class. Why? Problem glasses. And that led me to an insight.
Some signals are so informationally rich that they overwhelm all the information that led a person up to that point. I will call these absorbing barriers. Wearing problem glasses and having SJW behaviors is an absorbing barrier, because information about what led someone up to that point now has minimal value. We can know that they’re white trash, or we could know they’re failsons from wealthy families, or they could be generationally middle class but underemployed, but their new tribal markers are reliable to signal a complete message about their new state of being and mode of living. Similarly, the alt-girls in Lower Womanhattan may come from a variety of backgrounds, but by putting on that particular style and living in that place and socializing the way they do, they have announced their new way of life is to try and snag one of the young junior bankers in the area and pair off. But I don’t mean to imply the main absorbing barriers are primarily in fashion. Indeed, most aren’t. Going to college is an absorbing barrier. Once you go to Harvard, you are henceforth and forevermore a Harvard graduate, which is your main identity until you pass another absorbing barrier superseding it. People, rightfully, stop caring about what GPA or extracurriculars got you into Harvard. All that information fades into the background. Another important absorbing barrier is your first job, or the first job you get at successively higher tiers of employer prestige. After your first corporate job, you’ll be corporate material for the rest of your life. After working at McKinsey, your Harvard education gets distilled into the larger signal of “McKinsey Man”.
We can divide putative upward mobility into three categories: 1. Lifestyle Branding: This is not upward mobility in any sense, but adjusting your consumption choices differently so as to project a higher socioeconomic status than you do. The Gods hate cheap signals and lifestyle branding basically gets you nothing except from credulous idiots (but there’s enough of those that a few people do get genuinely rich selling Bugatti videos on how to get rich after throwing on a $10,000 suit). 2. Absorbing Barriers, or Partial Upward Mobility: This is the most common type of movement mistaken for true upward mobility. This is where you’ve created a true costly signal by enacting a genuine change in your identity, like going to college or abandoning a provincial accent. However, while it is in the upward direction, it is not a total change of class. Sooner or later, people get reality checked because passing the barrier is not self-sustaining. While a lifestyle brand can be easily walked back by changing your consumption status again, an absorbing barrier is a barrier both ways. Once you cross it, you can’t uncross it again without being harmed. 3. True Class Mobility: True class mobility is distinguished from absorbing barriers because it is self-sustaining. One achieves true class mobility when you are able to sustain your lifestyle at your new class with your new resources and reproduce it for another generation. In short, you are now at a new stable equilibrium. Every class is a stable equilibrium socio-economic tribe. Absorbing barriers tend to be cultural or social shifts that can act as stepping stones towards economic mobility, but economic mobility is the most necessary part of true class mobility. Once you have the economic habitus of your new class, you are almost to the end, and the cultural shifts are mostly useful to enable that shift.
We can illustrate these categories with an imagined Regular Huwyte Man from Middle America. 1. This would be our humble hero considering himself an upwardly mobile elite because he moved to NYC and eats expensive hamburgers at the Shake Shack in Soldman alley. Fake and gay. 2. If our hero moves to New York, gets a job as an investment banking analyst, and then washes out and goes home, he has passed a number of absorbing barriers, but cannot maintain the new classes which he has genuinely experienced in part. This is not true upward mobility, but it is *partial* upward mobility. It’s a failed attempt to strive. 3. If our hero moves to New York, gets a job as an investment banking analyst, exits into another high paying, high prestige job, finds and marries a WASP woman, and has children after retiring to Westeaster County, he has successfully strived and achieved genuine class mobility. Good work, hero.
We can imagine upward mobility as a rocket ship ride to another planet, the Planet of the Aliens Somewhat Richer than Yourself. We must prepare enough supplies to get all the way to the next planet on our home planet, our class of origin. But absorbing barriers, despite not being true class mobility, do represent progress. We can imagine our planet as being encased by several atmospheric layers of thick jelly. These are the absorbing barriers. Because of their thickness and stickiness, you can stop to rest on them along your journey and you won’t lose progress. Once you graduate college, you can take a break and you won’t ungraduate college. But at the same time, you can’t rest too long, because this is not true ground. You are still being pulled back towards earth, and until you reach your new planet, you have no permanent progress. A college graduate who doesn’t use that degree to secure a college job is actually worse off than a non-college prole. They’re not just a barista, they’re a barista with a lot of useless debt and a lot of wasted years. Because passing through an absorbing barrier is the adoption of a costly signal, if you have to return to your class of origin, you have to bear genuine cost. In video game terms, they’re like a checkpoint where your progress is saved, but you still haven’t completed the level. And absorbing barriers obsolete the steps you took to break through the barrier. If we imagine our rocket travelling at a fast speed towards the jelly wall ceiling, then after it passes through, it loses most of its momentum. Anyone not going fast enough to break through hits the jelly ceiling and bounces off, back down to earth. Everyone starts over at more or less the same point after the jelly ceiling. All Harvard graduates are Harvard graduates. All McKinsey Men are McKinsey Men. People can have accrued advantages or disadvantages from their speed when they hit the ceiling, but these become modifiers on your speed rather than the main event, like a +10% or -10%. It’s like a new World of Warcraft expansion releasing. All your epics from the last expansion become slightly better leveling gear for the new content. Your prestige and your achievements may carry over, but the new content runs on new rules by new standards. Or Cookie Clicker or other idle games: there are points where you unlock new powers that make cookies 100x faster. Your old stuff still makes cookies, but being twice as good at the pre-barrier stage only carries over as a 5% advantage for the next stage of competition. Like a rocket, what you did to bust through a barrier is like a rocket booster, and the moment you don’t need it, you should discard it as dead weight, because it’s not going to help you in your next upward climb anymore. America has lots of bilingual and trilingual teenagers, because elite colleges mandate it. America has almost no bilingual and trilingual adults. Keeping multiple languages fresh is hard work indeed, and it stops mattering to your life once you get into your college of choice, because you only needed it to get in, so people ditch it. It’s a spent rocket booster.
People who pass through several absorbing barriers but don’t reach a self-sustaining point of genuine class mobility sooner or later get a reality check. Oops, you can’t consume the culture to which you’re accustomed to without going deep into debt. Oops, you can’t raise kids in the city and have to move back to your hometown. Oops, that college degree is useless without a good job to go with it. Because the change was costly, people end up in a worse position than when they started. To strive out of the ghetto, a ghettoid has to cut off their family, or else their hungry mouths (cousin needs a new TV, brother needs braces, we need mo money for dem programs) will drag them back into the crab bucket and the abyss. What happens if you cut off your family to chase upward mobility and then have to slink back to the ghetto? You’re even worse off than before.
Once you’re committed, there’s no looking back. You have to go all the way. If you cut the thrust halfway through, you’ll burn up on reentry.
We return to the example of our Lower Womanhattanite. Imagine a 7 from Minnesota, a blonde in the top 10% of attractiveness. In order to enroll in the game, she has to move to Lower Womanhattan and rent an apartment there. Once she’s there, she’s on the clock. Every month, $3000 will be deducted from her bank account and she’ll get closer and closer to the wall. If she runs out of time, she has nothing to show for it but a bunch of stories about getting pumped and dumped by a bunch of autistic men named Brad who are a little too good at math. She puts on her war regalia, a nose ring, a tastefully subtle tattoo which can be covered up, and a single streak in her hair. The moment she makes this choice, she has devalued herself to her tribe of origin. She is no longer a debt-free virgin without tattoos. People can, and do, cite all sorts of statistics about people being better and better marriage material the further up you go the socioeconomic ladder. It’s true. It’s also irrelevant. It’s cope. What our heroine is doing is trying to signal availability to a rival socioeconomic tribe, a higher status one. Goth girl brain is a form of striver brain. And it’s a very old brain. It’s the same brain that led French girls to try and marry the invading German officers. And what did the French do? They shaved most of them and hung a few, as examples. You can’t defect from the tribe to a new higher status tribe. You stuck up whore, you think you’re too good for us? You uppity bitch. The actual n-count is fucking irrelevant, man. Actual sluttiness is a different bell curve and rural country girls have plenty of sluts too. But this is a deep disgust instinct. Any tribe that didn’t punish women and humiliate them for trying to leave the tribe to a conquering tribe would have died out a long time ago, because every tribe has been conquered at least once in history. So yeah, fuck that uppity bitch. But you normally let them back in after that. Eggs are expensive and sperm is cheap.
Now you may be wondering why pretty women don’t skip all this and try to maximize their lustful attractiveness as much as possible instead of playing subculture games. It doesn’t have to be alt-girl-fashion, but you do have to play at least one cultural game acceptable to the tribe, like Old Money aesthetic, or Tomboy Archaeologist/Ranger/etc, or Girlboss Executive. Why not just get pretty? Men online like to tell women that all men want is a pretty face and that rich men love to marry waitresses. That’s bullshit. It’s not true. Mating is about mixing genes, and you don’t keep your status generation after generation by breeding with waitresses. But there’s more to it than that.
In the game Cultist Simulator, the goal is to ascend to occult godhood by passing through the Tricuspid Gate. But there is another door, the Wrong Door, the Spider’s Door. And while you can enter the realm of gods through the Wrong Door, you cannot linger. You have a guest pass to eternity. This is what women are doing when they try to move up by focusing on their beauty alone. These are the yacht girls trapped between parties on the Social Club circuit, the lost and the damned. Why are they outcasts? Don’t men only care about beauty? Certainly, every once in a while one of them succeeds. There are plenty of idiots even among the elites and the oligarchs, and they tend to vote Republican! A scant few of them will pair off with a Donald Trump or some kind of megakulak who owns a megadealership, but most are doomed to be the cumrags handed out in the bags of party favors. For one thing, someone like me finds it incredibly disturbing when a model comes up and asks if you and your friend want to spitroast her. But men are horny dogs and some people will still find that to be… marriage material. However, one need only observe the behavior of the wives to see why the yacht girls are doomed. The wives do not like the yacht girls, and not just because they are literally looking to create affairs. If that were the case, the wives would relax when the yacht girls mingled with the young men on the make. But the yacht girls are unwelcome even when they are promoted to a wife, because they’re never acceptable as a “real wife”. Why? Because they didn’t play the game. They didn’t accept the tribal competition. They never did the alt girl thing, they never founded some fucking Airhockey startup. They cheated. It would be like an West African woman’s daughter not circumcising her genitals or a girl from the lip plate tribe not putting in a lip plate or a Chinese woman in certain eras not crushing her feet. Oh, you fucking bitch. You think you can skip the line? We’re going to ostracize you. And that means ostracizing your idiot husband. He doesn’t get to come to the smoky backrooms where deals are done. He can’t attend the dinner parties where the world spins. He’s cut off from the tribe.
And that’s what it is. Class mobility is about changing one tribe for another, where the tribes happen to be approximately hierarchical. A ruling class is also a ruling ethnicity, a clan of clans, a family of families. In all the paths of upward mobility, people are exchanging a combination of cultural signals and intelligence in order to get real economic resources and influence. But you can’t directly show your intelligence. So really, you’re exchanging a combination of signals and signals to get real economic resources. That’s the game, exchanging signals for resources until your resources are enough to secure a self-sustaining wealth pump of some kind. In the past, that was a landed estate, and today it’s a white shoe job, and tomorrow it may be a GPU farm, but the concept has not changed as long as there are humans. Autistics and sociopaths are often better at this because they have to construct their social matrix from zero, whereas most neurotypicals just imprint on their tribe of origin and that’s that. And nobody can ever signal their new tribe as well as if they were born in it because there’s a billion subtle things that can’t be aped except by being immersed in it. The signals are a sign of showing your commitment to your new tribe.
And this answers the mystery of why social mobility is constant over time. If we study our NRx canon and read The Son Also Rises, we find that class is hereditary at .8 in Europe and Northeast Asia. Astonishing! But what’s more astonishing is that this mobility rate has not changed for hundreds and hundreds of years.Why? Across that time, we’ve seen the rise and fall of feudalism, liberalism, Communist revolutions, civil wars, technology – and it keeps chugging along. Part of that is IQ. IQ is hereditary at 0.65 or so, so we should expect this to be the absolute maximum level of class mobility, for class mobility to have 0.65 heredity. Smart aristocrats have smart aristocrat kids. But why has it not moved at all, despite vast institutional changes? Because all our attempts to change mobility do nothing about what mobility actually is. Mobility is allowing people to exchange signals for resources. Our attempts to increase class mobility are nothing more than making signals cheaper and more accessible. The prime example is college. College used to be a ticket straight into the elite, now it’s a gold star you stamp on your resume just to get into the door of an unpaid internship. That’s because signals are only valuable insofar as they are both rare and costly. A signal that is not rare and not costly is worthless, which is why lifestyle branding is pointless and people who signal their spiritual aristocracy by eating at Shake Shack and living in a city writing a blog do not move a single inch on the Great Class Ladder.
What class mobility is is a market. The supply of class mobility is however many slots in a higher class organically open up through failure to reproduce and downward mobility. The demand for class mobility is how many strivers want to move up. Every striver is every other striver’s competition. And the price? The price is signals. The more people want to strive, the more you need people to pay more in terms of signaling. The winners of the competition are the high bidders, more or less, just like a regular market. What liberalism and meritocracy did was not permit more class mobility. Class mobility isn’t a coup complete program, it’s a jihad complete program, because the amount of class mobility is the amount of slots that open up each generation, which is a product of how an ethnicity lives and breeds and expels unworthy talent from its tribe. Instead, these reforms made it cheaper to signal, which made the signals less rare and less valuable, which meant that people had to spend more resources to create more signaling currency to outbid their rival strivers, while simultaneously vastly increasing the pool of strivers. After the French Revolution, every fuck in your whole country could try to strive and become an aristocrat, and after globalization, the whole world could gun for your spot, theoretically. Humans are evolved for inefficient, localized status competitions. We want to compete with our monkeysphere. People are going insane.
So what can be done? If reforms aren’t about increasing class mobility, what are they about? Well, competition is good in that it creates more of what you compete over. Intensified signaling spirals create more of whatever good is incidentally created in the signaling spiral. The post-French Revolution period was immensely good for science and technology. Aristocrats around the world have convergently evolved to loving ideas as a signal of high status, because having complex, interesting ideas is a good way to convey intelligence, which keeps your tribe full of smart people, which keeps you on top. You’ll notice that most of the men who countersignal smart wives and focus on beauty are proles. Proles stay proles. Once the signaling spiral was let loose, you had to make as many ideas as you could to stay on top, which meant science went ballistic. But we don’t value genuine knowledge anymore, for many reasons.
So why strive at all, if it’s so fraught and if failing has real consequences? Because Man is not content with his lot. Because the mark of an ambitious soul is to peer out past the foggy crests of the mountains and wonder what lies beyond, to look at the setting sun and want to chase it into the strange unknown, to see a throne and imagine yourself atop it. To never settle, but with a restless murmur, carry on, towards an unimagined and unimaginable infinite.
Though I’ve flown one hundred thousand miles, feeling very still, Monsieur le Baron
PS: The Costco with the “Ask me about Costco” vests was the wealthier. If you got it wrong, check your gut instincts.
I was gobble gobble gobbling over my Turkey Day, and as always, there was an argument. Or we might call it a spirited debate. Let me take you through it.
Imagine a man. He is a stereotypical resident of a stereotypical neighborhood we’ll call the Upper Rest Side. The man is a professor at You Pork University, one of the best “State Schools” in the country, despite being inexplicably private. He wears square glasses and a tweed coat, is balding, and he collects African masks. He is a very wealthy nouveau riche, but his family is from the shtetl. Every year on Thanksgiving, he gives a lecture on an obscure African tribe and their sociology and praises Hashem for His grace.
Is this man high status?
Everyone agreed he was.
Now imagine another man from another place. This man is from Snark Pope, a neighborhood across town. He’s rich, but he’s not as rich, and at any rate, the money is vulgar. Not only is he shtetl people, he’s first-generation rich, having made a few million as a marketing executive. Nevertheless, he is also thankful, for he does also live a blessed life. His hair is starting to go salt-and-pepper and he has a body that, while not as chiseled as a Grek bodybuilder’s, is well-maintained from regular aerobic exercise and clean living. His business affairs prosper and his dinner is well-attended by both friends and family. He gives his own speech, and this one is about Black Lives Matters. It is cribbed from MSNBC and consists of platitudes and cheap slogans.
My interlocutor asserts this man, the Snark Poper, is higher status than our first subject. He’s more socially dominant, which I am forced to agree to. When the two meet, the Snark Poper owns the Upper Rest Sider. And not only that, he’s more evolved! What? How can he be more evolved, man? This guy is just worse than the Upper Rest Sider. Well, exactly! I object to this. Of course I object.
If you don’t believe the Snark Poper would own the Upper Rest Sider, I will provide an illustrative example:
Upper Rest Sider: So you see, the tribesmen of the Ombombo eat the tree fly as part of their coming-of-age ritual because the tree fly has a particular life cycle in which the larva embed into the fruit and emerge fully grown – accordingly, the youth is told to eat the fly to gain its nous, so that he may also taste the sweetness of life.
Snark Papist: Are you saying that Africans eat flies because they have no food? That seems really inappropriate.
Upper Rest Sider: No, you misunderstand. This is an example of their rich culture, they have different moral standards from Weste-
Snark Papist: Oh, so they don’t have morals and that’s why they eat bugs? That’s racist. You’re racist!
The Upper Rest Sider sags in defeat. Later that night, he will return home, log onto his anonymous Bird.com account, and write an esoteric racist shitpost.
Well, think about it, continues my interlocuter. His status-seeking features are more refined. The Snark Poper is doing prog-to-mog. If you’re optimizing yourself to be a mogging machine, then objectively the actual knowledge, money, etc is dead weight. It’s much better and more effective to become a bigger asshole. In fact, we can go further.
Imagine a third man, from a neighborhood adjoining Snark Pope: Billionswurg. He has no money. He has no taste, at least not any taste an art critic would grasp. His favorite painters are Bart Simpson and the guy who draws graffiti dicks on the brick walls of alleyways. He knows nothing about Africa, instead cribbing racist jokes from his favorite podcasts. But this guy is cool. He’s way cooler than the Snark Poper.
At this, I was speechless.
This is what happens when those two meet.
Snark Papist: Hey there young man, do you know where the subway station is? I’m afraid I’ve gotten a little mixed up.
Hipster: Why the fuck are you bothering me?
Snark Papist: Oh, I’m just trying to figure out where to go. I’m not from here, I came down to see the Art of Niger exhibit.
Hipster: Whoa bro, did you just say the N-word? The NIGGER word? C’mon man, you can’t do that.
Snark Papist: No, no, it’s Niger. It’s a country in Africa.
Hipster: I don’t think you know anything about nigger. Name every African.
Snark Papist: I’m sorry?
Hipster: Damn right you’re sorry. Ooga booga bix nood mufugga watermelon chicken! Gronk! Snood! Do you even know what that means? That’s Nig-Nog, the language of the Nogger tribe.
Snark Papist: Well, ah, uhh, um, that’s why I’m trying to learn more, so I can grow and thrive.
Hipster: Ummm, you’re Chinese.
Snark Papist: I… I am? No, I… I’m Jewish.
At this point, the Hipster begins aggressively pelvic thrusting towards the Snark Papist. The Papist flees in terror. When he gets home, he wonders if he was raped. He resolves to be a better feminist ally in the future.
What is status? Social dominance. And what is social dominance? Social dominance is the ability to force your way in social situations. If everyone agrees on something because it benefits them all, that doesn’t take any social dominance to do. What takes a lot of social dominance? Pointing at a deer and calling it a horse. Or better yet, pointing at an empty box and calling it a horse. Not just a horse, but the most majestic stallion you’ve ever seen. And the act of exerting social dominance and getting away with it is itself both a signal of and a producer of more social dominance. The act is its own social proof if you don’t get called out on it. Roughly speaking, we can say social dominance has two components, which I will call Nerd Power and Cunt Power, and your total social dominance, which is your status, is a function of the two factors.
Nerd Power is your ability to generate objective value. In a relationship, it’s your ability to provide, to bring home the bacon. In the white collar tech world, engineers have the Nerd Power. But it’s not just things like that. If the standard of value is muscles, then the jock has a lot of Nerd Power. In fact, it is commonly observed, and true, that many jocks are just Nerds for Sports. The value of Nerd Power is the ability to give people carrots. In the carrot-and-stick of social dynamics, your Nerd Power is how many carrots you bring to the table. One problem is that without a stick, a lot of your carrots can be bullied out of you for very little. And the traits that make people good at things often make it harder for them to defend what they make. Cooperativeness, high trust, and affability generate value in most parts of life, but it’s easy to be walked over if you do. The most conscientious person on a work team ends up carrying the project. But there’s an even worse failure state. Sometimes people don’t want any carrots out of you. At that point, you reach Nerd Power’s failure mode. Nerd Power’s value comes from objective Survival Constraints. The more you need that value, the more you’re going to have to negotiate with someone with Nerd Power, and the better their conditions will get. The classic example of Nerd Power achieving utter social dominance is when you have Employee #1, the only one who groks the mainframe. People like that set their own rules and name their own price. But much of the time, Nerd Power can be pushed around by the other source of social dominance: Cunt Power.
This is what happens when Nerd Power has no carrots the other party wants.
Let me tell you a story. How many layers of recursion deep can we go? As many as it takes to fry the brains of the censors. There was a junior investment banker who had a girlfriend, a journalist, he wanted desperately to please. But no matter what he did, none of it ever seemed good enough. Not that he had enough time. He hated that. Every day, he woke up – too early – and rolled out of bed, sometimes clothes still on from the last night, and dragged himself into the office.
He wanted to die. He was counting the days until that bonus check hit. Was it worth it? Could it be worth it? Was this all there was to life?
He was neglecting her. Was he abusing her? Was this abuse? He hated himself. He didn’t want to hurt her, he really didn’t. He wanted to love her. He wasn’t worthy of loving her. He wanted to be. He couldn’t. He hit himself, a lot. Stupid, stupid, stupid. Stupid! Even his nights didn’t belong to him. He could leave the office, but he couldn’t escape the office. Ping. Ping. He checked his phone. It was Teams. It was his boss, actually. He was supposed to spend some time with her. He wouldn’t get to. Was this his fault? He should have checked his work more. He should have asked for comments before leaving. Stupid. Stupid!
I’m sorry, he croaks. I have to do this. Ten minutes, babe. Twenty, tops.
He spends the next hour turning comments. By the time he finishes, she’s bored. She’s gone.
He wants to crumple up and blow away. He can’t. Yet another thing he can’t do right.
When they make love, he thinks about death a lot. Mortality. Death would be the end of his pain. At least he could die right. Everyone can. But death also seems like a door. Who knows what’s beyond death? At night, he dreams about a different, far off world. It is full of fairies and dreams and sweet princesses and noble princes. Everyone lives happily ever after. Is that the place beyond death? Maybe this is his sleeping life. Maybe that’s what’s wrong with his life. She’s out there, in the woods. She’s waiting for him to wake up. Death. He tells her this, once, well, at least the first part. He thinks of death when they make love. She looks at him with sheer contempt. He never brings it up again.
He takes her to the Hamptons by Blade. That helicopter service. He thinks it will be magical. The house is his parent’s, but it’s his for the weekend. She thinks it’s too loud. Her hair gets messed up. She blames him. She mopes. He wakes up before dawn. He stands in the sand, water up to his ankles, and looks out, waiting for the sun to rise. The cold wind nips at his face. He subscribes to Jezebel. He wants to understand her better. He doesn’t understand the articles. Stupid. Stupid!
He’s going to do it. He’s going to quit. He’s going to love her like she deserves to be loved. He’s going to move to New Hampshire and become an English professor. He’ll have a large dog that he walks every morning. He’ll grow his own flowers. They’ll sip coffee and watch the swaying of the trees. They’ll be happy. Come with me. He tells her.
She leaves him. Later, she writes an article about him. My experience dating a toxic finance bro who pretended to be a feminist!
He cries. He wants to die. He takes a fluffy, woolly blanket, and wraps it around himself until he feels safe. Then he picks up his pencils. And he begins to draw.
A world where the pain will stop.
The mind is its own place, and in itself Can make a heaven of Hell, a Hell of Heaven.
I am on the train heading into New York City.
Summer is over. It’s always better to spend as much of summer outside the swampy, murky mess of New York summer as you can.
I am pacing the halls back and forth, agitated. Bored, mostly. You lose signal sometimes – often, frankly too often. The infrastructure in this fucking country. You can’t put cell towers all along a fixed railroad route? Of course they can’t. They used to have booze on the trains. It was something to do. Killed time. They got rid of that a little while back. Still, I can’t hate the train. I love the train. I love cross-country trips by train, and I even love little commuter hops. I love the sleepers and I love the Amtrak food.
At the very least, you might run into someone interesting, someone to talk to. You meet all kinds of people in the train. I’ve met Italian dukes who run painting contractors (there’s a lot of money in that, apparently). I’ve met retired medical professors. I’ve met ranchers headed back to their vast herds in the trackless Midwest. You never know, you know?
I walk up and down the seats. I see someone reading. Tall kid, young, white. Square jaw, but a bit of softness around the eyes. Well, you don’t want to interrupt that, it’s rude. They’re reading. I spy the title of the book on the front. Kirstin Lavransdatter. Oh, what the hell. I know that book.
“Hey,” I say. “Is that Kirstin Lavransdatter?” He doesn’t respond. The hell is this? “I’ve read that book,” I say again, loudly, staring directly at him. He jumps a little up in his seat, looks like he’s about to bolt. Maybe that was a little much. I think about conquering the world while he opens his book more widely, then reaches a hand into his coat pocket, retrieving… a fucking flower? He places it slowly in the inner fold of the book, then pauses, then picks it up, adjusts it slightly, and gingerly moves it so that the bloom of the flower isn’t disturbed by the book. Then he slowly closes the book around the flower.
“I’m sorry,” he says. “I didn’t realize you were talking to me.” “I’ve read that book too. It’s interesting,” I say. “Really? I can never get enough of it. You know, the way flawed people… women, they can find grace. People getting caught up in themselves, but… it works out.” “Well, that’s the beauty of the Catholic tradition, I think. It doesn’t demand perfection, but penance. Grace is a gift, freely given, to sinners, if only they reach out for it. Lord have mercy.” “Lord have mercy,” he repeats.
There is a silence. There is only the rumbling and shaking of the train.
“I’m Clive,” he says. “I teach this book at a local liberal arts college. Local to Nassapaqua, I mean, not New York. It’s, uh, the subject of my doctoral work. I find it really interesting… women, feminism, sacrifice… coming to terms with a broken life. I don’t- well, that is, I mean… it’s not feminist like that, not in… It’s not clear that she’s right or wrong. Can any woman be happy with a disappointing man? But can she do anything but blame herself when the man she does pick… he’s… well… It all comes down to the grace of God, I guess. What do you do?”
“I work in finance.” He winces.
We pass through the internet dead zone. I sit down in a row I can have to myself, whip out my phone, and doomscroll the Bird the rest of the journey.
When I arrive at the station, I call an Uber. The app spins a bit, then picks up a driver. Because I’m an Uber Diamond Rewards customer, Uber upgrades me to a black cab automatically. A tank-like SUV pulls up to the curb. “Ahmed?” I ask. He nods. He repeats my name back to me. I confirm. We’re on our way.
I’m headed down to Dimes Square. Dimes Square is a microneighborhood, a little lemon wedge squeezed next to Chinatown, a little slip of a place. That’s what it is geographically. Culturally? It’s the scene.
All cultural roads lead to Dimes Square. Here is the intersection of Trumpism and breast milk and tradcaths and racists and leftists and dirtbags and poasters and troons and and balloons and drugged out freaks and artists and geeks. It was, in short, the worst place on Earth and the only place to be. Anyone who was anyone was there, and there were there to be a tastemaker and a tastetaker.
And me? I don’t know. I supposed I wanted to see it. Just to know about it, and that it was there. Grandly, I thought, I would give voice to the voiceless stories. Lowly, I thought, this was my version of Little Honey Boo Boo. The truth is probably something in between.
I showed up at the door, only to be checked by some bro in a jacket.
“Do you see this jacket? Do you know what that means?” he screamed. “No,” I said, nonplussed. “That means I work at BOAR’S HEAD, BRO. I make SANDWICHES. I decide who pees! You want to pee, I’m the bathroom king.”
I just wanted to go inside but this guy wouldn’t let me. But then, a black man looked at me, then looked at him, and spoke. “Ay, what do you think you’re doing? Crazy motherfucker,” he said. The Boar’s Head Guard stammered. “I’m Black,” said the black man. He was black. The Boar’s Head Guard’s eyes widened in realization as he realized the black man was black.
“Sorry,” he murmured. “Right this way,” he said, ushering me in.
I went inside. I scanned the room. Some people were clearly and visibly dysgenic, their physical mutations no doubt only matched by their mental ones. The others were not. They were attractive. Art hos. The place was swarming with journalists. They loved it. They hated it. It disgusted them. It was that curious mixture of emotions that was closest to them being collectively aroused. They were aroused by this, The Scene. And they were here to observe it, write about it, fawn about it. I wasn’t sure which group disturbed me more. This was not a place of honor. A man was hitting himself in the testicles with a hammer. That was his art. Another was reading his poetry. The poetry was about masturbating to his dead cat, who reminded him of Garfield the Cat, who he was sexually attracted to. It climaxed and so did he. I sidled up in that awkward mixer way to someone to strike up a conversation.
“So what’s your deal?” he asked. “I work in finance,” I mumbled. “Pfft. You know where I work?” he asked, puffing out his chest. “I work at a fucking movie theater, man. A mo-vie the-at-er.” “Like for ar-” I started. “Man, we show the best pictures. Probably. I make the popcorn. I pop the popcorn. I put the butter on the popcorn. Does a faggot financier even know what butter is? Fucking retard.”
I started to talk again, to tell him that I did know what butter was, but he interrupted me again.
“Butter is,” he said, crinkling his nose. He paused. He was thinking. “Butter is that yellow delicious stuff.” He looked me up and down. “So where do you live? Can you even afford your own place? Loser.” “I live on the Upper East Side,” I said. He smirked condescendingly. “I live in SoHo,” he said. “My rent is $15,000 a month.” Then, triumph crackling in his voice, he said, “Daddy dearest pays for me.”
He scoffed, concluding I wasn’t worth any more of his time, and turned around. It didn’t matter. The King had arrived.
The King was the coolest guy in this crowd, the New York scene, which made him the coolest guy in New York, which made him the coolest guy in the Western World. He wasn’t just a tastemaker, he was *the tastemaker*. At least until someone knocked him down. But that would be hard to do. He was a magnificent specimen. His hair formed a greasy Jewfro. His eyes were beady and poorly spaced, so it was never quite clear what he was looking at. His jowls were too fat, and bulbous, and he looked around the room with the cool, dispassionate gaze of someone who knew he was the shit. Idly, he picked at himself with his fat sausage fingers.
With him was 2022’s It Girl. Everyone knew he was the most beautiful woman in New York. He had broad shoulders, like a linebacker. His jaw was thick enough to crack granite. He was wearing a wig, which was starting to fall off. He had a hairy chest, which the King licked with lust. He was hot with desire for his Queen. They began to make out. As one, moved by this sight, the crowd stood to clap. And clap. They kept clapping.
I kept clapping. They kept clapping. We were clapping. Seconds passed. Sweat dripped down my forehead. I shouldn’t have worn my coat. But I couldn’t take it off now. I was busy clapping. What, was I gonna stop to take off my coat? But still, that was making me thirsty. My arms were getting tired. I was clapping. How long were we clapping? Five minutes? Ten minutes? Clap, clap, clap. Finally, one of the journalists, she began to slow down. She stopped clapping. Bit by bit, the crowd slowed too, then stopped.
The King locked eyes with her, his gaze steely.
The next day, she was cancelled on Twitter for transphobia. Soon afterwards, she was fired from her job.
Better to reign in Hell, than serve in Heaven.
HE WASN’T THE FINANCE BRO SHE WANTED HIM TO BE.
Cunt Power. What is Cunt Power? If Nerd Power is the carrot, then Cunt Power is the stick. Cunt Power is how much of a dickhead you are. The more you can cunt people out, the more power you have over them, because people will do what you say to make you stop. Cunt Power is bragging, Cunt Power is being overbearing, Cunt Power is shaming people into line. One of the reason why women like assholes is because without any ability to be an asshole, people will just walk over you and take all of your value. They will win by Cunt Power. But absent the survival constraints, Cunt Power tends to dominate Nerd Power. Any time Cunt Power interacts with Nerd Power, Cunt Power will simply own Nerd Power. You can only deal with someone pushing you by pushing back yourself.
The problem with a pure Cunt Power strategy is that people can easily disengage with you. Social status is not a one person game, but requires other to acquiesce to your will in order for you to be high social status. You can cunt people out, but if they have no reason to stay, then they will stop interacting with you. So most people have to balance carrot with stick, and on balance, they tend to need more carrots than there are sticks. But cunt power can spiral out of control if there’s no need to bargain for the other person’s social presence in your life. That creates an inherent power imbalance. So someone’s Mother-in-Law can get a very high social status by cunting out their Son-in-Law. If his status is high, then her status becomes his status + 1, which is very high. The ideal status-maximizing position to take there is for the Son-in-Law to be a real catch, but still not good enough for your daughter, and have to sit and take it while you ream him out. That’s the visceral feeling of winning. Similarly, a Bridezilla is essential to her own wedding, so she can feel and demonstrate high social status by making everyone else’s life hell. That’s, on an animal level, the definition of winning. And we are just status apes deep down.
But we can go further. What if you could cunt out total strangers? What if you could achieve maximum cuntiness all the time with people you don’t even know? You can. All societies have sacred myths which they find legitimate. In ours, wokeness and progressive morality plays that role. By becoming holier-than-thou in the reigning ideology, you can cunt out random people, and if they resist, you can shame them inside the dominant moral paradigm, bringing down force against them. Damn, that feels good. You’re winning as an animal. There is, however, a problem. Status showing behaviors almost all come at a cost to the signaler. A peacock’s tail is a drag on the peacock. Philanthropy comes at great expense if you do it for real. The ancients used to have their Big Men throw grand feasts or make sacrifices of their fine animals to the gods. To show off your status usually makes you poorer, not richer. Even pure social shows of status rarely turn out well for the signaler – nobody really likes a braggart. But we still do it. High status means high mating chances. And those hipsters mate like crazy, for what they bring to the table (nothing but how cool they are). The problem with constantly degrading your own life when you already have little, though, is that you break right through rock bottom and keep going. In some objective sense of life achievement, these are some of the worst losers you can imagine. They’re not smart, they’re not successful, they’re not learned, they’re not working to benefit society, they’re not good company, and they’re not nice.
I suppose that gives us a good working definition of a true Status-Maximizing Sociopath. A Status-Maximizing Sociopath is someone who looks at that and thinks “Good deal”. Love of the world, or perhaps, love of the world loving you.
But almost everyone will do something for a few status points more, unless they’re literally fighting to survive.
Later that night, I had the opportunity to own my interlocuter. And I took it. He was complaining about venture capital. How come he couldn’t raise a bunch of VC money? It’s because he didn’t have the right credentials. Someone like my friends had the right credentials. But his ideas were good. I took this opportunity to own him.
In fact, his ideas being good were the problem. I was in that world long enough to know that many of the companies that raised the most money came from the stupidest ideas. Why? Because it’s, again, status signaling. It takes a good VC to make money. But it takes a great VC to lose a lot of money. First, because you need that money to begin with. And secondly, the stupider an idea, the more “visionary” it seems to champion it, which benefits the VC’s status. I had won.
But I had also lost, in principle, the argument I had made earlier in the night. And so, to my interlocuter, who I know will be reading this, consider this essay my concession speech. You have won the traditional Thanksgiving political argument, and proven yourself to really have become an exceptional young adult. I am thankful for another year passing – after all, we only get so many.
May all of your lives be blessed and may we all get through the coming trials.
Do you know why the caged tire man sings? Probably because we keep poking his rubber fat rolls. But why does he sing for his supper? Because he must, because we all must. And what does he sing for?
Well, often for the Japanese. Japan was a place where the Tire Man food guide found a lot of traction. Why? Because the Japanese, like the French, found a lot of success in the technique and artistry of food. The presentation and the experience of food was given a lot of focus. In the Japanese, the French had found a kind of kindred spirit. And what they had in common was a very important thing.
What is high and low cuisine? High cuisine is defined not just by its deliciousness, but about the care of preparation, the quality of ingredients, the presentation, and especially the technique. While many 3 stars exist in the realm of novelty and experimentation (the chefs have ascended to the food equivalent of modernist composition – is molecular gastronomy not akin to atonality?), the far more common 2 and 1 stars are almost always very delicious. But deliciousness itself does not make something high cuisine. The aforementioned elements of high cuisine combine into one thing: the pursuit of a perfected dish. It is not only dumplings or whatever, but the attempt to create dumplings with such art that they are really what they ought to be. By contrast, low cuisine is cheap, mass produced, and delicious. Fast food is delicious, but in a crude way. Hearty peasant foods are delicious, but able to made by an ordinary, non-professional chef household with commonplace tools – they do not emphasize strange and exacting techniques. Stewing and roasting are popular – cheap on attention, even if they can take a long time. Between high and low cuisine is middle cuisine, which is often not delicious but is a statement of fanciness – you go to show that you are a person who can go to fancy restaurants.
Of course it was always a fit for Japanese culture. Japan is a culture of monomania – it’s not just the katana meme. While Japan pretends its claims to fame are all ancient, many are really imported. Oh, you think you know trucks? We’ll take those trucks and make the perfect truck. Oh, you think you know noodles? Those noodles are bullshit. We have made the perfect ramen. This fruit, the grape? Watch this. We will grow a grape the size of a fist, watching the skin every day to make sure it doesn’t split open. Beef? You think you’re a beef eater, Texan Man? Behold my marbling! The case of the peach is instructive. Peaches are not from Japan, but Japan loves its peaches. And Japan has a myth about peaches. But as one normally imagines myths, we have a problem – peaches showed up in Japan in 1875. The peach blossoms were not used to grow real, eaten peaches prior to then. How could real, modern humans invent a myth? I suppose the same way one invents a religion.
While Shinto is fake, what we might call the Shinto ethos is real. That is, objects that are real and physical can deserve worship. And that mastery or perfection can be obtained with physical pursuits. I’m sure you’ve seen things like the “God of Swords” or the “God of Spears” in anime or manga. What the peach man is growing is not a peach, but a Peach. Not an ordinary peach, but the God of Peaches. So of course the God of Peaches can have a myth and dwell in mythology. That is rightly where it belongs. Like the Bronze Age brave, the peach man undergoes a quest to the realm of the divine. Through ritual, the physical passes into the realm of the mythical, much like burning offerings changed them from the meat of men to the meat of the gods. The mythical is a realm of stories, and these stories are true lies about what composes a culture.
To the extent you can invent a religion or a myth, it must be reflecting of the deep nature of a people, such that it can survive the quest to the mythic realm. That is the secret of the Gloranthan hero quest. The safest way is always to reenact the myth as told. But if circumstances dictate, you can introduce novelty to the realm of the gods, and in doing so, hopefully find the answer fitting your own time. However, the novelty must conform to the realm of the gods – what is introduced must reflect the deep nature and essence of a myth, which is the people that produced it, in the same way, or it will be ejected from the Godrealm – painfully.
Consider that a warning for all our would-be right-wing Brahmin.
And what is this mythic realm? It is an imagined place, certainly. But it is also an imagined time. It is a particular imagined time, which becomes the Mythic Age. It is an idealized past from which all things of antiquity must descend. The common mistake is to imagine this Mythic Age is always the Ancient Age, a distant, far-off place beyond human recording. But that is not so. The Mythic Age is deeply tied with the birth of a culture, not the strictures of absolute time and absolute technology.
The birth of a culture, like the death of a culture, is a long, drawn-out thing, and it is hard to draw bright lines. Take, for instance, the long, strange death of Late Antiquity. Rome fell, Rome will fall, and Rome is falling.
“We are born into this time and must bravely follow the path to the destined end. There is no other way. Our duty is to hold on to the lost position, without hope, without rescue, like that Roman soldier whose bones were found in front of a door in Pompeii, who, during the eruption of Vesuvius, died at his post because they forgot to relieve him. That is greatness. That is what it means to be a thoroughbred. The honorable end is the one thing that can not be taken from a man.”
An honorable culture, like an honorable man, must seek an honorable end. When did Rome fall? 476? And yet, for a while longer, the lingering energy of the empire and its institutions persisted. The men who felled Rome did not think they were felling Rome. They admired Rome. They wanted to be Rome. When Rome fell, they styled themselves as continuations of such. Successors.
What happened to the legion? The legions started out as free men of property mustered to serve Rome. Marius transformed them into a standing army of career professionals. But as Rome decayed, it proved incapable of paying and upkeeping the classic Marian legions. There was a shift to a two-tiered system. There would be interior legions which more closely resembled the classic legions combined with the limitanei, troops that manned permanent border fortifications and which could quickly muster to confront threats. When Rome fell, the limitanei did not. They stayed at their posts because no one relieved them. When the Merovingian Empire rose, it found willing servants in these final legions. The nature of birth and death can be seen in the evolution of the Merovingian military. Roughly, it had several components: royal retainers (belonging to one or many kings), the retinues of the magnates, the yeoman levy, and the Roman legions. Each of these had different operational ranges. The yeoman levy had to stay close enough to home to return to do farm labor. The magnate retinues had no business but war, but had a magnate master who would not allow them to do tasks disagreeable to them or stray from their control. The legionnaires were professional soldiers but had a home base in the fortification they manned. The royal retainers were highly mobile and well trained, but few in number. The Merovingian army was primarily an infantry army, with 10-30% cavalry. The Merovingian legionnaire was an armored heavy infantryman with a throwing axe or javelin that was used to break or disable an enemy’s shield before closing into melee combat.
What is the life or death of a culture? While a culture lives, it is vital. It self-reproduces and evolves and comes up with new variations. It is, like a living thing, learning and growing older. A dying culture is not the same way. We can see this in the decline and fall of the last Roman legions. Youthful Rome had an inexhaustible supply of manpower, but had not yet found its way – it had not yet invented the legion idea. Marius’s mules were strong, vigorous, and many. As Rome passed through adulthood to enter old age, the legions changed again to this center and border model. But the fall of the Rome, the death of Rome, did not usher in a new form of legion. That is what it means to have a dead culture – despite the radically different world, the legions did not become radically different. Rather, they were conserving a fixed supply of vitality inherited from their dead world which ebbed over time. When Romanness was the living culture, the ability to raise legions was – while not unlimited – certainly not a problem. Strong and willing men could be recruited and *formed into* legions.
When the early Merovingians summoned these legions, they found this still to be the case, and were able to form a few of their own. But while Rome mustered whole armies into being, the Merovingians, despite holding substantially similar territory, could only create a few legions. A living and vital culture has the power to assimilate and absorb. The legions could always reproduce the culture of the legion through their institutions during the time of Rome. During the Merovingian night, the institutions and their military science disappeared – but there was still military tradition. And this tradition was alive enough that it was understood, and being an understood tradition, it could be used to raise more legions. As this vitality waned further, no more legions could be raised. The last reinforcements had arrived in that long, dark night. What legions remained could only reinforce themselves, reproducing themselves. The military traditions still survived, but they were now merely dead tradition. The preservation of fire had become the worship of embers scattered among ashes. The ability to teach military drills and maneuvers had forgotten the purpose and reasoning of such things. You were a legionnaire because your father was a legionnaire and his father before him, going back into a forgotten antiquity. And you would do your duty until one day, the Emperor returned to relieve you. The one thing that could not be taken from you was an honorable death.
The wars continued. Bit by bit, the last Roman legions were chipped away, lines ending before they could renew themselves. And some time in the final decades of the 7th century, the last legion fell, two hundred years after their emperors did. Only in death did duty end.
As the last embers fade, a great relearning must occur. Traditions are a culture’s answers to the great problems of life, and those problems do not go away just because an empire declines and falls. Who now speaks of the Merovingians? Because the Merovingians are only the shade of Rome, rapidly fading away. The traditions are necessary because the problems remain. But the old, dying culture cannot adapt its traditions to meet changing times, and more and more, they fall out of step with a world deeply unlike the world that created them. Meanwhile, the rising culture is confronting the constant problems of life and happening into solutions that work with those problems while reflecting the reality *it* is born into.
This early misty age, when the culture exists but is not aware of itself, is not conscious of itself and what it is, becomes the Mythic Age of the culture. Cultural Antiquity, the age which we consider a thing to have existed since time immemorial, is not a fixed thing, or even a time relative to the present, but refers back to the Mythic Age of the culture. The Romans had their own Mythic Age in the founding of Rome, the kings, and the early Republic, the early Republic becoming the moment of consciousness. What is the British Mythic Age? It begins with Late Antiquity and King Arthur and ends with British self-awareness in either Alfred the Great or William the Conqueror. The mythology of Britain thus hearkens back to an imagined Romano-British age, which has a *fixed chronology*, despite being mythical. You can place the unreal events in a particular time and a particular place. It is the mythic Britain behind the real one, as C.S. Lewis might say. And the Mythic Age and the Mythic place are perhaps not real, but they are a reflection of what should be real, the Britain that Britain imagines it should be. For the French, this Mythic Age is a time spanning from that same Late Antiquity to Charlemagne, when the new culture realizes it is born and that it exists.
When writing new myths, they place themselves into that Mythic Age. Stories set long ago, in a vague past, are set at a particular time, the Mythic Age. It is the symbols of that Mythic Age that confer legitimacy. The scepter is not a universal of rule, but there must be a thing that fills the role of that scepter. For instance, the Dahomey, a gunpowder culture, coming of age in the Early Modern, had a shotgun of state as a symbolic weapon conferring legitimacy. In their primal myths, metallurgy and the forging of iron are very important, developing into themes of duality, reshaping, and a metaphysics of creation. From a real historical viewpoint, it does not make sense to have iron and gunpowder as primal, metaphysical elements when they were created in real history at a real time at a documented place and were not eternal and coexistent with the universe. But from a mythic point of view, there was only one thing the Dahomey could call their god of iron, war, and ur-masculinity: Gun.
What is America’s Mythic Age? The Early Modern period through the Civil War. When do we set our Disney fairy tales? For the most part, they are set in the Early Modern era, the time preceding the American and French Revolutions, but succeeding the Medieval. Like European Gothic civilization before us, Americans struggle, on a folk and gut level, to comprehend a past beyond the Early Modern. When medieval painters painted antiquity, they dressed up the figures in a style familiar to them, and they could do nothing else. To really live and perceive the past beyond that would mean reaching into a time where their culture did not exist, which they cannot recall and which does exist in the scope of their oral and cultural traditions. When Americans imagine the past, everything before our infancy is blobbed together with the events of the Early Modern, becoming one theme park of Pastland, the world of a vague yesterday. When we try to imagine the Medieval, we get not the Medieval, but knights in shining armor (Late Medieval/Early Modern) and regulated grand jousting tournaments (Late Medieval/Early Modern), and to top it all off, we call it… a Renaissance Faire. Nice. America does not remember the world before the New World. The Old World is shrouded in mystery. There are Mythic figures for America from the Colonial Age and the settling of the West and Manifest Destiny, but with the Civil War, we were forced into being one nation. We exited childhood by seeing our parents fucking – traumatic.
So it doesn’t matter if peaches came to Japan in 1876. The peaches have a peach spirit and they’re a part of myth now.
So we return to food, and with that, the safe exotic.
What is the safe exotic? The safe exotic is a thing which is culturally distant that does not transgress the axioms of the culture, thus becoming a boundary limiter between us and the alien them. Whenever the benefits of multiculturalism are brought up, the safe exotic is cited, ignoring the fact that the safe exotic is necessarily of the host culture and not alien. When people say chicken tikki marsala is as British as British gets, they’re right, but they’re also lying, and this is obvious because they cite it as a benefit of multiculturalism and thus the alien. The safe exotic exists in the boundary, the liminal space between us and them. But it cannot be them, because it being them would make it unsafe, would actually end up challenging the assumptions of the host. Honor killing is not the safe exotic, because it transgresses the cultural frame and values of the host culture, despite being another ubiquitous product of mass immigration.
Why did Chinese and Japanese food find wide adoption in America? Because, for America, they are a safe exotic. They are different – but not too different. Not every cuisine takes off in America. Chinese food is a safe exotic. Chinese dishes are a lot like regular American State Fair food – here’s some shit, fry it. Fry it some more. Drown things in oil. Blunt, meaty flavors. Japanese food is an analogue to French food, a relationship the French also acknowledge. It is a safe exotic mirror of French cooking, a traditional style of fancy food for Americans. So in your small town, you will have a fancy European (Italian or French, usually Italian in a small town) restaurant, a diner or burger place, a pizza place, and their safe exotic analogues: a Chinese takeout place and a Japanese (or, more often, an “Asian fusion”/”fusion hibachi”) restaurant. It’s a way of leaving the comfort zone without actually having to confront the alien. In the fictional small town of Twin Peaks (population 5,120.1), you have a Thai-Italian restaurant (fancy, also combines the safe exotic with the local version), a BBQ restaurant, a tavern, and a diner.
The safe exotic doesn’t just apply to food, but the boundary markings of any culture or subculture. Another kind of culture is class culture. Some people assume things which are expensive are things consumed by the rich or high class. This is not the case. UMC people do not buy and wear T-shirts with large Gucci logos, despite their high price tags. That is because that item transgresses their cultural values. Rather, those items are for proles who get rich. The gold-covered, flashy aesthetic is an expression of prole values given a lot of money: that’s why they love Donald Trump. These items constitute the safe exotic for the prole. If you get rich and consume these luxury items, you are not a class traitor because you have not transgressed our cultural values, you have not violated the taboos of working class life. But if you do something far cheaper that goes against prole values, like becoming a blue hair – even if that lifestyle only costs $50k/yr, you’re still a class traitor. Because class is not just an economic condition, or even purely a relation to production, but is the tribe which forms out of those people who have a particular relationship to production and socioeconomic status. There is no necessary material condition that demands high professionals from Wall Street and Silicon Valley wear those stupid vests, but they do because it symbolizes their membership in a particular tribe with particular values. Antiques are not much more expensive than new furniture (or throwing out IKEA every few years), but buying antiques signifies membership in the world of Fussell’s Uppers (the upper middle and upper class), new furniture is a liminal space, and IKEA is firmly middle class, despite the lifetime costs being roughly similar. After all, people – in an economic and material sense – can only ever afford to spend so much on furniture. The divides are not primarily price, but cultural and tribal.
What is the thread uniting the safe exotic and the Mythic Age? I’m sure, dear reader, you have already figured it out. But sometimes it takes me a bit to puzzle out the implications of my own statements.
It’s boundaries. Both these concepts establish the bounds of the familiar. The Mythic Age is the boundary age of our culture, beyond which all things belong to an unreal past. For the modern progressive, dictatorships are a real fear, but feudal monarchies live only in storybooks. The latter precedes the Mythic Age and thus is too alien to be real in any gut sense. It’s fantastical. The safe exotic establishes a boundary for a culture and its people, while the Mythic Age sets a chronological boundary. And these boundaries matter. Across the boundary, those “in the know” will assume everything is alien (Those who are less cosmopolitan, like hicklib progressives and Protestant Universalists will assume every culture is more or less like ours, which is definitely untrue. There’s more to life than all bleeding red.). Thus, paradoxically, the distant is familiar. When we deal with the truly alien, we are often shocked by how familiar, human, and real it all seems. Rome is often as alive to us as the friends we greet each day. That is because, across the frontier of the alien, we assume everything must be strange, and thus chalk up peculiarities to them being different from us. What remains are the human universals, and we marvel that Romans were humans just like us. Amazingly, the Romans bleed red like us, and we marvel. They, too, cry and die and love and live and scheme and sleep, perchance to dream.
That is the familiarity of distance.
That which is near to us often feels more alien precisely because it is so familiar. It is chilling and dreadful for a progressive to remember slavery, because to remember slavery is to know that people almost identical to yourself, living the same lifestyle as you, in the same place as you, in the same time as you, condoned it.
What does that say about you?
In conclusion, I got a dinner reservation at prime hours on a prime day at Dorsia (MICHELIN STARS AHAHAHA). Fuck you.
The Three No’s: 1. No Culture By Steam 2. No Politics By Memes 3. No Fulfillment of the Dream
No Culture By Steam In a near-off past, fools dreamed of a world-computer that could compute all the correct decisions men would make. It is the dream of every technocrat. This is the government-by-steam, a contraption to rule men. But men are not automatons, so to make the government-by-steam, you must have men-by-steam. Are we to be clockwork men, machine men, ruled by our Heart Machine in the hideous underdark? Will we submit fully to Moloch? But that’s a normative judgement. I will go farther – government-by-steam is impossible, precisely because of *normative judgements*. To have government-by-steam presumes that man is, like a rock or a machine, governed by purely physical laws. But it is not so. We make choices because we have free will, and what drives our choices is some idea of the good, or The Good, which is the Holy Spirit. It attempts to collapse human subjectivity into objectivity – our thoughts are merely the collisions of atoms, and therefore the universe could be predicted from the first state if we had a complete Theory of Everything.
And what is Culture-by-Steam? Merely the same thing. It presumes memetics is governed by purely physical laws, rather than being a thing of Man and therefore Manmade in a contingent way. The laws of culture are not like the laws of physics. What a perfect theory of memetics would give us is a prediction of what *sort of thing* might thrive in an environment, but not the shape of that thing in particular, contingent reality. To wit: Objectivism and Orthodox Marxism are, dialectically, the same ideology. Ayn Rand and Karl Marx are the same kind of person, NEET-Prophets of the Industrial Future, which now is the Industrial Past. Both of these ideologies are ideologies of High Modernism. Both of them exalt the productive over the idle, the machine over the plantation, because both exist in and are reactions to the age of the machine. And yet it’s clear that Objectivism is not Orthodox Marxism. What material conditions create are cultural ecological niches. But though different animals across different continents convergently evolve similar shapes to meet similar environments, they are not *the same animal*. The mistake of Culture-by-Steam is to imagine these laws are deterministic, that they dictate a path rather than laying out a set of possibilities that conform to the material pressures of the time.
You must forgive me for being shallow and pedantic, but I feel the need to spell it out, even though it should be obvious now what the role of the artist from the above. Obviously, if a path is contingent, what moves it? Happenstance events and the choices of *men*. And what men here? I am a little slow, so I have to work it out, but it seems clear that it is artists. This is why DALL-E et al cannot replace the artist, because the artist is not creating bulk art, but is envisioning an aesthetic and *translating* their aesthetic into something which can be perceived. An aesthetic is an imagined future, an imagined possible, a statement of an ideal. So the act of art is an act of vision, of perceiving the transcendental values of a given age. What the artist tries to capture in a scene of a battle is not the battle, but what the battle represents: Valor. To do otherwise is like the bulk landscapes of hotel rooms… kitsch. The material conditions create the ecological niche, they create a certain moment. But the artist’s goal is to draw out the essence of the moment and render it.
It is clear to any man of passing intellect why RW Artist Twitter is wrong then. But, again, I have to work out my gut assertions sometimes, because my brain is a little lacking. Imagination is not action. Words are not deeds. By being men of imagination, the artist divorces himself from the real. So too does the intellectual and the propagandist. What matters is no longer the real, but the words around the real. They are charting the map and not the territory. They are guiding imaginations, which set out a distant horizon, but to get to that horizon, you must steer the ship.
What is the revolutionary’s task? The revolutionary is the one who sees changing material conditions and re-adapts our present state to conform to God’s will. We are evolved for a more or less feudal structure, and feudalism is the natural form power takes, but material conditions killed Feudalism 1.0. We are designed to live in certain ways, but modernity and technical progress alienates us from our nature. The job of the revolutionary is to reattach ourselves to our nature and God’s plan for us, given that things are so unlike the natural state of things.
He sees the ideal of community, but he does not resurrect the old village commune and other obsolete things. He is not one who retreats from the world, but one who confronts it. He is not a reactionary, he does not react. He is the one who dictates. From Alexander to Caesar, from Washington to Lincoln to FDR, from Napoleon to Lenin, the revolutionary is the World Spirit on horseback, the one who cuts the Gordian Knot of an age’s contradictions, and leads it to a new settlement.
The Revolutionary rules by the Divine Right of Kings, for a Revolutionary, in truth, is the natural King. Just as there is always a natural aristocracy, there is also a natural King, the man who is the master of the age.
No Politics by Memes What does this imply? The ruling class, the real elites, are not primarily men of words, but first and foremost, men of action. And what is action? Action is something that must exist in the world of the real. The artist is a man of visions and imaginations. But the king is a man of property and a leader of men. The artist dreams of Valor, but Darius dreams of cows, and frets about the trade routes for wool merchants. This may seem snarky, but it’s not. High ideals are not the place of princes. The prince is on the ready line at all times. I sneer at those who talk about being natural aristocrats because they are natural idlers. The prince sleeps on the ground and eats beans with his men. He must bleed blood for blood, and clash iron against iron.
Above all, the prince must be rooted. The thing about ideals is that ideals are impossible. You can measure how idealistic a person is by looking at how much they sacrifice for their ideals. It’s easy to say you’re honest because you always tell the truth when it benefits you. But that doesn’t make you honest at all. An ideal is held true when it costs something. A true idealist is not a sunshine soldier. And so with art. The best artist must understand best their subject. But because their subject is an Ideal, a Vision, an Aesthetic, it unroots them from reality. The artist does not swim in reality. Originally, we came up with symbols to depict and describe reality. Then people learned those symbols absent experience with those realities. Eventually, those symbols take on a life of their own, becoming hyperreality, an image reflecting reality run amok, taking on a life of its own. Bill Gates is real, the media depiction of The Billionaire is a symbol, and the 50 Shades of Gray Billionaire Romance Novel Character or The Cabal is hyperreality, that media depiction coming to life. Symbols have become detached from their referents. But if we go by the symbols without referents, we are only combining together these memes without concern for reality, what they originally described. Ridiculous constructions like Ancap Marxist-Bidenist or Hoxhaist Appalachian or Barbie Girl Nationalism are products of this sea of symbols without referents. Rather than evolving from pressures in the material world, describing material reality, they come about from the conflict of these symbols with each other, and the contradictions and tensions present within the symbols. People pick up these labels not to propose some policies or change things for their loved ones, but to own other people online who exist in the sea of symbols.
Zealots are the most extreme idealists, because they will actually shed blood for their ideals. But most men are not idealists, let alone zealots. That is why politics is driven by material concerns or status (which is our lizard brain approximation of material conditions that will lead to us mating). Men will not die to meme, but they will die to protect their material concerns. Men have died to protect their property, men have died to protect their class, and most of all, men die to protect their people and their family. In doing serious politics, we must start from serious concerns rooted in the real world.
For these reasons, Lenin said we must focus on praxis. And a man with praxis but no theory is a better king than a man with theory and no praxis. Why do ordinary soldiers and ordinary businessmen make better kings than a reedy intellectual? Because their lives have forced them to confront the real at every turn, and therefore they know reality by her shape and feel, even if they aren’t capable of intellectualizing. A king is an executive, and certain pursuits demonstrate, by necessity, executive capacity.
No Fulfillment of the Dream The Left always wins, I say from my Soviet dacha. I mean, uhhh, my star fort. Long live Louis XIV! My free love commune.
Oh, none of those things lasted?
The thing about the eschaton is that you can’t immatenize it. The Left always wins, but every particular Left fails to accomplish its goals, because its goals are the imaginations of an artist, and what must exist in reality is some manifestation that can be real. Therefore, the utopias of every particular Left will fail, and in time, the Left of a time becomes the Right, in some sense.
All these different aesthetics and visions are arbitrary vectors in an impossibly complex multi-dimensional space, but we can’t actually reach the infinite end of the proposed vector. The mission of our civilization is always beckoning us forward, but at the end of forward is always collapse, as the contradictions of the idea pile up and undo it.
Fully Automated Space Luxury Gay Communism is no more the end of history than Fukuyama’s ramblings or Louis XIV’s absolutism. The main difference, I suppose, is that the Left that was Absolutism had less delusions about its own impossible megalomanias. There is no end of history. Rather, history is a record of contingent events in sequence, and dialectics is a process of continuous cyclical adjustment. It is like the roundabout approach of prices towards equilibrium, even though equilibrium never comes. Nevertheless, it is approached. It is the process by which the sine wave moves around the changing line such as to continuously approximate the best response for a given set of material conditions. Part of why every great modern leader gets an “-ism” is because that is what a leader must do. A leader must divorce from the impossible demands of the artists and their symbols without referents and enact practical solutions to practical problems. Paradise never comes, so it behooves us to take care of ourselves in the world as it is.
What’s the deal with brown white supremacists? Har har har.
No, but seriously.
Why are all the Fascists Jewish or homosexual? Come on. You know it’s true. As Gorky said, “Exterminate all homosexuals and fascism will vanish.”
The answer to both these things is the same, of course. It’s classic dialectics.
I believe we are now able to express dialectics in a more formal way, dispensing with the obscurantism of German Idealism while capturing the essences in a straightforward, plain English way, because our understandings of certain phenomena has grown far, far more advanced in the machine age. By observing convergent evolution and adaptation in technological contexts and genetic algorithms, we are able to gain an understanding of our own cultural development. Memetics was a paradigm shift in the idea of cultural development. But it doesn’t really answer why certain memes are fit and propagate, especially the propagation of memetic supercomplexes, the most interesting memes, the complex life of memetics. What a modern understanding of dialectics will provide us is a fitness equation for memetic evolution.
We will propose Three Laws and Three No’s of Dialectics:
The Three Laws: 1. Signaling 2. Cultural Hydraulics and Escape Pressure 3. Dynamic Cycling
The Three No’s: 1. No Culture By Steam 2. No Politics By Memes 3. No Fulfillment of the Dream
Signaling The dialectical process is the dominant law of sociological and cultural processes. It is why Cubism does not become “Super-Cubism”. Physical processes usually follow a cycle, linear growth, exponential growth, or a logistic curve (S-curve), but social processes do not evolve that way. Instead, social processes seem to operate by dialectics. What does dialectics describe? Dialectics describes a process of thesis, antithesis, and synthesis, a unity of opposites. What is the main dynamic of signaling? Signal, counter-signal, counter-counter-signal, with the counter-counter-signal being opposed to the counter-signal, but in a way that distinguishes it, and thus incorporates it, by reflecting the imagined Other in what it counter-counter-signals. The counter-counter-signal always bears the mark of the counter-signal in the way that the signal does not, because the purpose of the counter-counter-signal is to signal against the original counter-signal, which incorporates an opposition or criticism of the original signal not addressed by the original signal. The original signal is naive to the opposition, the counter-counter-signal bears adaptation. Signaling is the basic law by which culture moves. As culture moves, trends are opposed as lame or tacky and the cultural vanguard defines themselves against the old trend. But what determines where the new opposition heads? What fads catch on and what fads die? Signaling is well worn ground, but this isn’t.
Cultural Hydraulics The Unity of Opposites is more illusory than real. Phenomena like brown white supremacists or anti-white whites only confuse us because we confuse the map for the territory. Concepts are the map. Concepts are the means by which we try to transform real things, which are messy objects, into word-categories, the basic building blocks of meaning from which we construct language and logic. The problem is that, having mapped reality to concepts, we confuse our map for the territory. But what is real is not our concepts, but the objects themselves. We might conceive brown white supremacists as contradictory, but what makes it so? Only the opposing concepts of “White person” and “Brown person” and the negating concept of “Racial Supremacy”. But there is no law of the universe which makes a brown person explode if they put on a swastika. Water and fire are held to be opposites culturally, but water can worsen an oil fire and fires can burn on top of rivers. Water has a reason to be considered an “opposite” to fire because water puts out fire, but that’s not because water is the opposite of water. Rather, the water reduces the heat of the fire and smothers it of oxygen. To wit, opposites are only truly opposites when there is some physical reality that compels the oppositional relation. Otherwise, all we have is conceptual opposition. And it is in conceptual opposition that the Unity of Opposites might occur, because nothing keeps the opposites from uniting, and by uniting, a tension is resolved. Let us define two kinds of physical opposition: Strong Physical Opposition and Weak Physical Opposition. Strong Physical Opposition is when some scientific law creates a physical impossibility. For instance, water putting out fire comes from a physical law. The law of gravity is a physical law, and someone countersignaling gravity will meet a very stupid end. Weak Physical Opposition is when some person or a group of persons in an institution take it upon themselves to enforce some conceptual opposition. For instance, under the Third Reich, Nazism and Judaism had a Weak Physical Opposition because the state was enforcing this relation by murdering Jews. Nevertheless, Weak Physical Oppositions are imperfect because they require the constant enforcing of the law. They require the actions of men to remain true. The Third Reich had many ethnic Jews serving it because there was no scientific law that caused their heads to explode if they became Nazis, and absent that, they could cross over if Hitler did not have them killed and they found it interesting and agreeable. Conceptual Oppositions are often rooted in past historical Weak Physical Oppositions. People think that rich people cannot be Communists – which is a ludicrous idea both now and historically – because Mao and others enacted a classicide. That’s like saying investors can’t buy high and sell low because that means getting wiped out. As Galileo would say: And yet it moves. To some extent, we must suffer the blind spots that Conceptual Oppositions impose on us, because we cannot reason without the map. Only by simplifying and categorizing things into these rigidities can we do any sort of analysis, even if real objects are too messy for the categories, but the messiness of the realities always strains our attempts to categorize and lexify them.
The structure of most midwit arguments: Person: Rule Midwit: Exception? Midwit: Therefore no rule Did you know your generalization is not perfectly accurate? Wow whoa.
The reason why this is a very, very stupid line of attack is that without generalizations and categories, we cannot think at all. The midwit likes to make this attack without realizing *all of their* concepts are equally flawed from this perspective.
So far, we have only established the Non-Contradiction of (Conceptual) Opposites, not their Unity. The Unity is a process, the process of dialectics. In the signaling/counter-signaling process, there are unguarded avenues. Because we are blind to the illusory nature of Conceptual Opposites, we are always surprised when Nixon Goes To China. But why should we be? Not only can Nixon go to China, only Nixons can go to China. There is energy from outflanking. Where do the rich go when the middle imitate them? The rich countersignal the rising middle by adopting the fashions of the poor, which their adversaries cannot adopt, because that would collapse the cultural distinctions signaled between middle and poor, which the rich have no fear of. Similarly, Nixon has no fear of being accused of being a communist, because he is the anti-communist. Political arguments break down into two sides, pro and anti, friend and enemy. Centrists are merely those who have different friends and enemies for different issues, rather than some wishy washy mystical not-pro, not-anti position on an issue (this can only be maintained by indifference, which conceptually is negative liberty, the basis of libertarianism – the state shall be indifferent to most matters). In a very abstract sense, you can conceive of Left and Right as basically two arbitrary teams, and one’s level of Leftism or Rightism is a level of purity. That is, on how many issues does this person deviate from their “team’s” friend/enemy distinction? Of course, deviation requires a fixed reference point, and this is where culture matters, because the cultural vanguard sets what the “goal” of maximally pure ideological Rightism or Leftism is for an era, which in turn determines who is “more Right wing”. The Unity of Opposites occurs when someone from the Left or Right adopts some stances of the other side *without accepting the overall frame* (this is just changing sides otherwise), thus rotating the issue such that both the original Left and Right positions are invalidated compared to the obvious correctness of the new position. The correctness is obvious because the synthesis position incorporates the good components of both sides, and both sides in a hard fought political conflict must have at least *some points* that carry weight. In short, the Left outflanks the Right from the Right or vice versa. The White Army was forced to champion mealy mouthed liberal democracy while also being castigated as incompetent Tsarists because Lenin had outflanked the Right from the Right – he was the perfect autocrat and democratic centralism was a (more) perfected autocracy, undermining any argument that might propose the virtues of Tsarist autocracy.
After Caesar, there are no Populares or Optimates because the issue is simply obsolete. A new political distinction must and will come into being.
Dynamic Cycling Men and machines think in straight lines. But nature thinks in cycles. Why? Aren’t cycles inherently inefficient? Yes. In the overshoot and the undershoot, there exists inefficiency. As the Austrians might say, prices approach perfection in a roundabout way, always going over or under, alternating between wasteful glut and shortage. The classical Marxist-Leninist Plannerist might say the solution is obvious: Pick the perfect, correct price using your intellect and calculation. And they have, historically, directed their energies towards increasing calculation power as to *find* that perfect price.
But there’s a problem with that, even if perfect calculation was possible.
It’s simple: the perfect price *changes*. Nature loves a cycle because nature does not know what the ideal carrying capacity of an environment under changing conditions and imperfect information. Even if you could calculate a perfect price, or even a system of perfect prices, a change in conditions will perturb the whole system so much as to shake it apart. The flaw in planning is the same as the flaw in the supply chain: hyperefficiency, even *when real*, is fragile, because reserve is robustness to change. And the negative feedback cycle, so loved by engineers, is better than inventory or reserve, because it is not only robust, but adaptive. Small changes are absorbed and used to reach the new ideal equilibrium. Machines are fragile because they are built for perfection. Even the best and most robust machines have assumptions about operating conditions. Biology and cycles are anti-fragile. They learn.
To wit: Human history in a graph.
If the carrying capacity of the woods increases, then the amount of deer genuinely can increase. And the characteristics of our physical environments are always changing. The business cycle isn’t just healthy because it clears out deadwood with every brush fire. No, it’s also healthy because bubbles and busts don’t have natural lengths. The pendulum is swinging, but when the pendulum swings back, it can either swing back to its original position, or nearer or farther depending on what has changed. We can think of the entirety of the Industrial Age as a “bubble” or “boom” driven by the changed conditions of cheap energy and machinery. And if we fall from here, we nevertheless stand far beyond our ancestors in the levels of knowledge and mechanical sophistication we have attained. The new equilibrium of our bubble burst is not the old 16th century stasis, because we know how to build many fascinating machines which could exist in a low energy paradigm, but which we did not conceive of back then. The future is not quite the Ancien Regime, but perhaps the Ancien Regime and however it might be altered by trains and organ-sized vacuum tube computers and machine guns and any other low-energy, high intellectual sophistication technology. The dodo dies, the mammoth is reborn. And in a distant, unremembered future, youthful Mormongol adventurers slay Rationalist GPT-3 Technoliches still guarding the ruins of Harvard TS/SCI labs, plundering ancient secrets from beneath the shadows of vast and trunkless legs of stone, the thickened lips of a Pharaonic Floyd still gasping for breath, and the lone and level concrete flatways swarming with gray goo techno-slimes.
There has always been a scene. In the glittering heights of Rome, there were the special ones, who ate and drank and wrote fine things. When horses raced across long tracks to the clink of champagne glasses and gold coins, there was a scene, the beautiful people. It Girls and Bright Young Things, all crystal and shimmering and light, gowns brushing over out-of-the-way cobblestone paths like fingers over secret places, soft warm breaths like gentle caresses, a whispered word to a secret ear, and a secret that is a promise.
Is there any wonder it holds such attraction? In the distance, they see it blazing bright. So far from the humdrum ordinary of their small town, so full of potential and possibility. Imagine a somewhat awkward kid who feels deeply that they don’t belong where they grew up. They know – and feel – that they are more talented than those around them. And some of them are told as such.
“You’re special.” “You’re special.” “You’re gifted.” “This is not your lot in life.” “You are going to go far.”
And where is far? How can far be anywhere but that bright sun over the horizon? Are they headed for their very own sun? Are they kindling for the bonfire? Are they moths to a flame?
Up flies Icarus, towards his destiny.
Once upon a time, the world was in ruins. America stood alone. America stood triumphant. Whatever you may think of China today, being the workshop of the world has made thousands of billionaires and countless steel and glass towers. America was that tenfold over. After WWII, America was the world’s premier industrial power, and all the markets of the world stood available to it.
This was the whalefall, a tremendous surge of economic nutrients that made fortunes across the country. When members of the new Creative Class, the Bureaucratic Class, the PMC, whatever, talk about the blond fratboy Chad as an elite, it is not merely a figment of fevered imaginations. Rather, it is an observation of a newly formed class, the Middle American Nouveau Riche, which came about from the outpouring of prosperity during mid-century. Normally, the rise of a new elite occurs mediated through existing elite institutions. Someone doesn’t just magically become rich, they become rich after going to Harvard. Or they make business deals and create a business network which draws them into contact with the established elite. The New Money of the Gilded Age was assimilated into the social set by being seen, mutually recognized, and invited in. But that didn’t happen in the last mid-century. What was created was “free wealth”, wealth that existed independent of and unaware of existing elite institutions. The closest thing today is the crypto boom – some NEET who bought bitcoin earlier has now become New Money without being drawn into the formal institutions of eliteness or building those social or cultural connections. But Middle American regular white people were able to build their own businesses and other operations that allowed them to amass fortunes of a few million dollars. And lacking any reason not to (it means Anglo-Saxon, right?), they styled themselves WASPs. It made sense, of course.
The reason why the Creative Class sees the Ohio State frat boy as the picture of the WASP elite, something that is almost mind bogglingly confusing to the real elites I talk to, is because that is what they see. And part of this comes from the receding of the WASP from public life. People often talk about the death or replacement of the WASP elite. They’re not dead. But they have gone West, beyond the sea, past the ken of mortal men. This agglomeration of PMCs and nouveau riche readily take the name of UMC because they don’t see any other credible claimants. Why should they? The traditional elite establishment is invisible.
At the same time, the Managerial Revolution was underway, creating a new class, the PMC. When you imagine what people call middle class, what are some things that come to mind?
First of all, there’s the high prole or labor aristocrat. This is an old kind of person. There have been skilled laborers in guilds or other organizations since time immemorial, and they have earned comfortable wages. They, like the regular prole, produce value and receive a fraction of that value back. But their skills allow them to create far more value than the average unskilled laborer, and their rarity means they have a lot of bargaining power: see the Freedom Convoy. In economic terms, they’re proletarian, with a few owning their tools (this does not meaningfully make them not proletarian), but they make as much as the other middle class categories here and sometimes culturally blend into the middle class. And they are usually called middle class in American pop culture. Class is complex and exists on material, cultural, and social levels. These are things like plumbers, truck drivers, electricians, nurses (nurses produce the value of medicine, despite being called “professionals”), and pilots.
Secondly, there are those who teach and culturally condition the population. Because there are so many people, this class is also relatively numerous, because there must be so many for every group of people. A classroom can only be so large. In the past, this was the clergy and clerisy, dispensing the opiate of the masses. Today, it is the teachers of primary and secondary school, still dispensing the opiate of the masses. This is another social relation which is very old and likely to continue.
The last category is the PMC, the new class. As it was being born and expanded, it created a huge demand for people who were brought into it and thereby achieved a middle class lifestyle. But what is the PMC? Does it exist in history? The instinctive answer people want to give is “yes”. But the similar roles in the past are not middle class, but minor aristocracy or haute bourgeois. In business, there were clerks, but clerks were paid much better than administrators now, and clerking was a path upward through the firm to become a partner. Clerks in haute bourgeois family partnerships were more like law clerks today, the larval form of a future haute bourgeois. You might say that the bureaucrats of Imperial China, the mandarins, were the same as modern PMCs, but were they? A mandarin held sway over hundreds of acres of land and earned the equivalent of hundreds of thousands of dollars. A mandarin was more like a European baron than he is a modern paper pusher. The same applies to things like UX “programmers” vs the engineers of old. In fact, software allows for easy illustration of this idea. There are many people earning a decent wage being UX *programmers* or UI *programmers* or C++ *programmers*, but the big bucks and prestige belong to *full-stack engineers*, especially when the *full-stack* element is so assumed as to no longer go unsaid – everyone is fully versed in all skills and potentially able to take on all tasks. Here we see what has happened. In the past, you had the service aristocracy, the baronage, which earned income and lived as what they were, which was landed gentry, minor members of the aristocracy. Why do the PMC often make pretenses at being UMC? Partly because they kinda are. But only kinda. What is a PMC? A PMC takes the responsibilities of an old-style baron, but only part of them. The baron’s work is divided among many people. A lawyer is replaced by a small group of paralegals. The old haute bourgeois becomes a team of administrators and bookkeepers. One UMC becomes many MC people. But because they do similar work, in some sense, confusion and pretension is natural. This also helps account for some of the parasitic nature. The aristocracy was already often considered a parasitic class. What the PMC is is a minor-minor aristocrat, an even less skilled and useful version of the old aristocrat. In short, the PMC is a historical novelty that comes from the splitting of UMC work into many people, brought about by the high demand for information processing in the monopoly-managerial mode of production, because a monopoly is always implicitly doing central planning and therefore cannot depend on the easy information of the price signal.
So what happens as prosperity recedes? The whalefall could not last forever. America’s ability to maintain a large amount of PMCs was conditional on it being the world’s greatest industrial power. But the world was always going to recover. Furthermore, all those nouveau riche fortunes require energy to keep going. They must find growth – or at the very least, sustenance. Otherwise, inflation will waste them away into nothing. These newly prosperous classes are facing the void. Shirtsleeves to shirtsleeves in three generations. Part of why Twitter posters insist the regime is invincible is because they need it to be invincible to guarantee the continuation of their way of life. Without the regime, who will provide these PMC jobs? This huge swath of the middle class was created by managerialism. The crisis of scarcity was brought home by 2008. After 2008, the broad middle realized the good times were over.
No one takes proletarianization lightly. Even though their grandfathers might be proles, of either the skilled or unskilled type, labor sucks. People do not like doing labor. Part of why Marx’s vision seems to never come true is that he thinks there will be a classless, stateless society because people will actually enjoy and find fulfillment in their work. Nah. Only ISTJ freaks think that way. The rest of us need to get paid, son, and desire to do as little work for as much pay as possible. Real work, labor work, is really hard.
For the modern gifted kid trying to hold and or get a middle class lifestyle, only a few avenues remain.
One is to try to shoot for the stars and secure a position in the true upper middle class before the music stops. The horn is blowing, the train is about to depart the station. Last call. But the trip is already overbooked – can you make it? The traditional cutoff to be gifted in America is 130IQ, the top 2%. This is roughly as big as historical aristocracies, as I have repeatedly said in my various posts about the upper middle class. But part of the problem is that there are not many Harvard slots. The top 2% of America is millions of people, but Harvard only admits a few thousand. Now, you could shoot lower than Harvard, but given the fever pitch of competition, you may not make it. And is our gifted kid 130IQ? Are they as talented as the traditional elite? This is in doubt. Nathan J. Robinson, the Plantation Riddler, went to one of these no name gifted schools. He got a perfect SAT, a +3SD result, roughly norming to an IQ of 145. The problem is that he was the only person to do this in decades at that school. If the cutoff to enter a gifted program in Middle America really is 130IQ, then something is fishy, because the rate of perfects should be much higher than that, mathematically. I suspect there are two problems at work. First, the standards in Middle America are lowered, because the point of gifted school, like “good schools”, is not to guarantee a path to the elite, but to avoid minorities. This is why Twitter posters are often incredulous when I explain to them the importance of IQ to the American elite or the purpose of GATE, which is assumed to be occult or some kind of scam. No, in the coastal metropoles, the elite schools really are designed as paths to the elite. But in Middle America, it seems like gifted programs are not full of the top 2%, but often are broader than that, because the real point is to separate white kids from minority kids. This creates a bunch of kids with 110-130IQ, the proverbial midwits, with hugely inflated egos but actually mediocre talents. The other explanation I have is that skilled laborers are often precocious in youth so that they can learn skills in an apprenticeship from trusted community members or their father, before settling down into their skilled labor life. When these kids were creamed into the gifted system, they really were gifted as kids and maybe teens, but that spark burned out. That mental suppleness was used to learn things like calculus, which they will never use again, instead of blacksmithing or how to fix a Chevy. I believe it is a mixture of these two explanations. And that’s just the merit side. Middle class kids exist at a severe disadvantage when it comes to the social connections, networking, cultural context, and financial capital elements of getting ahead in the upper middle class pathways.
So the gifted kid “burns out”.
But they’ve seen enough of what lies above to be resentful and envious. They deserve better than working at Starbucks.
The other path is to fight as hard as you can for what you’ve already got. The scene has always existed. But the scene has gotten worse – more venomous, less creative. Part of the problem is competition. When everyone around you is a competitor, you can’t engage in free and easy collaboration. This goes into my recent thread about Achilles and the political Right, but part of why Frogtwitter and 4chan were so open and creative was the zero stakes environment. You could tolerate all manner of heresy and weird but potentially interesting losers because it didn’t matter. After all, people liked Achilles’ tweeting until they realized who he was. If this thing wasn’t a movement or pseudo-movement, if it didn’t have political pretensions, if there weren’t political sinecures and podcast dollars at stake, would it matter if there were losers among it? No, it wouldn’t. It didn’t matter for the longest time. But these dynamics of gatekeeping and cancellation must occur because there is something at stake. And the stakes are only getting higher because the pie is shrinking, so any slot must be fought for more desperately. A cancellation is an excuse to off a rival and get their job. But this kills the open air, making the space sterile.
Furthermore, part of why the creativity has declined is the inability to experiment. The same has happened with movies. Arthouse movies can still be weird and creative because the budgets are small – they can afford to go wrong and nothing will happen. Indie games still have many gems. But with big blockbusters and triple A gaming, they stick to a formula that guarantees mediocrity because mediocrity is not failure. Failure means being out hundreds of millions of dollars. Mediocrity means a modest profit, even if no one will remember it in future ages. Part of why the scene of the past was more creative was a lack of economic anxiety. If you fooled around in your twenties, you could still return to a comfortable middle class existence. Or you could have rich parents bankroll you. But now, those middle class jobs are in short supply, and those nouveau rich parents are getting poorer by the moment. What can be done?
And these are the origins of the war.
All’s war in love and art, Monsieur le Baron
PS: These two essays relate to the last part of the series. They were sent to me after the last post. While I don’t endorse everything there, they are interesting.
Imagine a whale, free and fair, swimming the ocean blue. Then kill it. Kill it dead. Let its corpse drift askew, down, down, down into the abyssal depths. The fat and gristle and bone and blood to be carrion for the worms.
A good day for the worms.
Speaking of, let’s talk about Brooklyn. There is a class of people there. They are the scenesters, the tastemakers, the take merchants. They are the hip people. They call themselves an elite, if not *the elite*. I call them, in line with Fussell, the “middle class”. Others call them “upper middle class”. Sometimes they are called the “creative class” or the “bohemians”. But what are they? What sort of labelling is most apt? Can this question even be answered in a short essay or series of essays? Probably not, but let’s take a crack at it. We can at least trim down on the effort by not going too deeply into describing the characteristics of this class, as a full book would. If you do not know what the “Brooklyn scene” or the urban cool look like, count yourself blessed.
Are they middle class? That’s how I usually lump them, but is that really true? Fussell describes the NPR listening urban New Yorker readers as middle class, being below the upper middle class. In his Three Ladders post, Church has a middle ladder of the “Gentry” where the traditional middle class is G2 and there exist a higher form of professionals and creatives at G3 and G4. This ladder is defined in opposition and against what I would call the uppers, the elite ladder, which comprises the upper middle class and upper class. But is this a good lumping? Are teachers and nurses and accountants really the same creature as the Brooklyn Twitterati? To propose one gentry ladder or middleness is to suppose that these people are the same as regular minor white collar workers, or, more generously, that they are an evolved form of the latter, that given enough money, a teacher will move to Brooklyn and start a podcast. And while I continually scoff at their pretensions to being elite, in some sense, they are elite – they are part of the power apparatus. This class is the minor government functionary class and the media class. They are the people on Twitter angling for government sinecures or trying to start a podcast or sucking to newspaper blue checks. They do the bidding of the regime and in some sense control it, since they write all the “policy” “white papers” and the thousand ant farmer plans always ready to enslave the American people. They may only be the Outer Party, but the Outer Party is still in the Party. Is the archetypal middle class American a Party member? As for money – they seem to have a lot of it. They’ll drop as much in one night as one of my paychecks. And someone’s paying that expensive New York rent – and their jobs can’t seem to cover it.
Are they upper middle class? That would seem to be the natural conclusion from the above. But that doesn’t seem quite satisfactory either. First of all, they’re… not rich. Their financial situation seems almost contradictory – at the same time that they’ll drop massive sums at thrift stores, they will also scrimp and save and struggle to make rent or pay for drinks or a thousand other things. And they’re always complaining about their debts, especially their student debts. They can’t buy houses either and also seem to have no savings. What kind of a capital class has no capital? Seriously. They are constantly hit by the slings and arrows of financial fate, and this is because they lack capital. When you have capital, passive income from capital levels out income and expense variance, and when times are tough, you can draw down on the principal as a last resort. Still, one might object that these people are young and haven’t had time to accumulate capital yet. But there are other discrepancies. When one is part of a culture or group, invariably this shapes their identity. What do I mean by this? I define myself as a member of a cultural group, the upper middle class, which has certain traditions and assumed norms. Like Curtis Yarvin, the milieu of the Left was so dominant as to go more or less unsaid. My current identity is defined in opposition and in contrast to the assumptions of left-liberalism – I am a right-illiberal. But that identity comes about through a dialectic between me and the assumptions of my environment. The shape of my rebellion is determined by what I take for granted. It is rebellion for me to be a redneck, but conformity for the son of a small town. The shape of the rebellion of a child of the upper middle class looks like a reaction against center-left neoliberalism. I will elaborate more on what that means later, but needless to say, this is not the specter that haunts the dreams of the dirtbags. Instead, they define themselves in relation and against the “boat dealer” or “jet ski dealer”. This is my concept of the imagined other – we discover what things are by seeing how they define who they are not. Is it possible that they define themselves in opposition to “boat dealers” because they are wealthy globe emojis looking down on the plebian boat dealers? I find this unlikely because one of the key characteristics of the boat dealer is their wealth. The reflection of the boat dealer is tinged with a sense of *superiority*, class and cultural superiority, but mixed with a resentment of the boat dealer’s wealth. For someone like me to condescend to a boat dealer would be condescension full stop, but here is mixed in resentment – there is envy in this hatred.
There’s a parallax effect going on here. To the Brooklyn crowd, I am a far-left boat dealer kulak (inaccurate). To my own people, I am far-right for a landed aristocrat, a real eccentric who flirts with HODLER. The exposure of my views to those in my circles who are not my friends would lead to an extreme loss of face for me – I’d be painted as a Nazi.
So we return to the conclusion of various books of the last decade about the Creative Class or Creatives or Bohemians and term it its own thing. And yet many persons will lump this group either upwards with the traditional upper middle class or downwards with the traditional middle class, myself included. Sometimes the lumping goes both ways and all of it is grouped together as one broad elite. Many people have done lumpings, myself included, despite the discrepancies. Why? Is it because we’re all insane? No. There are genuine traces of the lumped classes present in this Creative Class. When these people describe themselves as upper middle class, it’s often not unfounded. Many of these people really are the children of doctors and lawyers. When they’re described as Midwestern strivers or the children of teachers or accountants trying to make it in the Big City and move up in the world, that’s also true. And when they’re described as first generation college students scammed into crippling debt for shitty, worthless degrees, that’s true too. How can this be possible? Because the socioeconomic backgrounds of this class are heterogenous.
Let’s break them down.
First is the otherwise downwardly mobile son of the traditional upper middle class (or very rarely, the upper class proper). These are people who come from the traditional elite, the WASP Establishment so to speak, but have to resort to affirming the values and status of their new Creative Class/Bureaucratic class milieu in order to not descend into penury. These people must know, unless they are particularly stupid or unobservant, that the stories told about who and what the traditional elite are are bullshit, but a man will readily believe what they have to believe if it’s what separates him from starvation. Nevertheless, there is something insidious and soul-rotting about repeatedly affirming that which you know is true.
Second is the child of the nouveau riche. What does the Creative Class imagine the elite to be? Often, a blond cornfed Midwestern with a square jaw and winning smile. When they say WASP, they usually mean some white guy, probably a Chad, rather than a Norman-American Boston Brahmin – more Biff Tannen than Gore Vidal. This “WASP” elite goes to a Midwestern state school with good football and then goes home to run his dad’s boat dealership or construction company. Some of them aren’t so crude, being doctors or lawyers, but they’re fundamentally conservative people who believe in pulling themselves up by their own bootstraps – because they did! That’s the Creative Class prototype of what an elite is, or sometimes what a “WASP Elite” is, a right-leaning person who became incredibly prosperous after going to college in the middle of the 20th century. And the reason why is because, predominately, the members of the “upper middle class” within the Creative Class are not traditional WASP elites, but the children of these very same boat dealers. The prosperity of midcentury created a whole generation of nouveau riche who came into being *unmoored and unattached* to the traditional elite establishment. While some of these people were eventually assimilated into the old elite, the rest existed blissfully unaware of a parallel elite, and their children grew up thinking of themselves as the top of the top. These types attempt to form the upper echelons of the NGO-bureaucratic complex, with varying levels of success, but one avenue with particular draw is the chance to become a media or artistic figure, using parental wealth to bankroll a foray into culture, which exists as a path in opposition to their (at least perceived as) unsophisticated New Money parents. I will discuss this set more in part II of this series, the Whalefall.
Third, we have what we might call the traditional middle class striver. Here we have a person who is not what we might call elite, but who may consider themselves elite for standing above the working class CHUDs. These people come from the middle class milieu – broadly, people who work ordinary white collar jobs that aren’t considered prestige professions, things like accountants and insurance adjusters. They consider themselves college people, but unlike the upper middle class, their world is not related to going to a prestigious college, but rather, they take status merely from going to college (as opposed to non-college people). They are drawn into the world of Brooklyn in pursuit of “the good job”. As corporate offices centralize into a few major metros, so too follow the middle class strivers seeking the same jobs their parents had – or better. Increasingly, to find a middling white collar job means working in HR or administration for a corporation or for the government (the NGO-bureaucratic complex). This draws them into the scene. And for some of them, it’s not just about doing as well as their parents (though even this is rarely accomplished), but the possibility of moving up in class and becoming the elite they believe themselves to be. As before, the middle class so rarely encounters people above it that it considers itself to be the top of the world – they see themselves as the upper middle class and sometimes even the upper class, the elite, the privileged.
Part of the frustration of the scene is the mismatch between expectations and reality. For both downwardly mobile nouveau riche and middle class strivers, the world has not been as kind as they expected. This status pain creates a desire to rebel, but the rebellion is not about destroying the system but getting a place in it – getting a seat at the table. For both the middle class and nouveau riche, a college degree was often the ticket to great worldly success: a “comfortable” life for the middle, and a few million dollars for the nouveau riche.
Finally, we have working class people who are entering the college world and faltering. These are people whose parents saw the great windfall of mid-century or who saw their parents suffering while others they knew prospered, and received the lesson that a college degree is the way to get ahead. And it was. Emphasis on was. The college boom of midcentury came in response to the Whalefall. Those working class kids were now fighting to join institutions they had no folkways to navigate, resulting them getting lost and confused. Because they were marginal to begin with, they often ended up at the most marginal institutions with less than prestigious credentials, and because they lacked the cultural information to navigate how to pay for college, they frequently are saddled with debt, debt they cannot pay off with a credential that got them a one way ticket to the same working class jobs (or worse, if their parents are skilled labor) their parents do, but with extra resentment on top. Both the middle and working class students end up with student debt. To compound the insult, the working class kids that stayed behind and built skills outpace them economically, if for no other reason than lacking any debt. This creates a characteristic poisonous mixture of resentment and superiority, where the targets of their resentment are simultaneously demeaned as stupid hicks, but envied for their relative prosperity compared to the failed striver.
All these classes come together to form the “Creative Class”. But all too often, what the Creative Class does for a living is not create, as that doesn’t pay anything, but work for government or media. More properly, we can call this the Bureaucratic Class. These would-be creatives, in their day jobs, either work or aspire to work at a media outlet or at a quasi-public bureaucracy, one of the numerous policy NGOs that dot the landscape. Sometimes they find themselves in the formal public service, if they are particularly successful, but this is a harder task because the real public employees guard their pensions jealously. NGO-work is the Uber/Doordash/Rover gig economy of the government sector – same jobs, shittier pay and benefits. Why is Twitter fake? Why is Twitter real? Because the media discourse is actually manufactured on Twitter every day. This is where new government policy is written, drawn from the minds of resentful goblins poasting about the frogs that live rent-free in their heads.
Chapo Trap House are high priests of the “Cathedral”.
Because this class comes from heterogenous socioeconomic backgrounds, they don’t have a shared discourse by nature. As I’ve said before, one of the huge costs of diversity is the loss of unspoken assumptions. When we are around people like us, we communicate a lot without having to verbalize it or even grasp it consciously. Because we grew up the same way and have similar experiences, there is a huge amount of shared context that can be drawn from unthinkingly. When you don’t have that shared context, everything must be explained in painstaking, explicit detail. You can’t subtly allude to things because the others won’t get your subtle allusions. Furthermore, the subvocal communications people make end up misinterpreted. Flexes are seen as signs of weakness, offers of help become insults, etc. Diversity adds huge transaction costs to everything, as everything has to be constantly translated back and forth to make sense, even if everyone speaks English. They speak the same language, but they don’t speak the same experiences. When I say upper middle class, I mean a WASP gentleman of New England. When a middle class person says upper middle class, they mean a standard white collar worker who lives “comfortably” in a suburban home who watches MSNBC and has proper opinions and behavior. To reach understanding, we have to drop out of shorthand and explicitly explain what concrete realities we are referring to, and even then, there may be an outside context problem. I may not be able to understand the Mall of America, for instance, because I’ve never been there (I have, but I am unusual among my class). It really is quite impressive, but try explaining that to a white shoe lawyer type.
A mall? A fucking mall? People go on vacation… to a mall? Absurd.
When a new group forms, therefore, it cannot exist in this state of diversity. Groups want to homogenize in order to reduce the cost of transaction and communication. They therefore form a creole culture in their new environs. To deal with the diversity of socioeconomic backgrounds, the Brooklyn set develops its own norms. Because they are heterogenous economically, the currency of interest can’t be monetary, but cultural. A new scene is formed, and advancement, status, in it is governed by knowing certain cultural touchstones or having clout on Twitter. Furthermore, because they are used to doing things through culture, it naturally lends itself to forming many circles. When dealing with classes as large as the traditional middle class, these middling strata in general, they are too big to have one ladder or cursus honorum as the upper middle class or traditional aristocracy does. Therefore, they form multiple ladders that exist laterally to each other. With the old middle class, you weren’t necessarily a big deal in the US, but you could be a big deal at your local bowling alley or Elks or other parts of civil society. With this new PMC/Bureaucratic class, you can create several distinct subcultures to advance in, like craft beer or hipster literature or extreme kite flying. You can’t be capital E Elite, but at least you can be an Elite of Punk Rock Trivia. The problem is that a status mismatch still exists. Even if you’re an amazing craft brewer, society as a whole doesn’t give a shit, unlike the old traditional Middle Class, which got some degree of respect for being upstanding citizens and doing charity work through the Elks. This is a problem, especially for nouveau riche or traditional middle class kids, who are used to seeing themselves as the Elite, above the deplorable masses of Middle America.
They must go to war.
Change indeed in the Commonwealth. What shall become of me?
But what led us to this war in the first place? Where did all these people come from anyways?
To be continued in The Whalefall, or the Anatomy of a Gifted Kid Burnout: The Brooklyn Notebook Part II.
O’er better waves speeds my rapid course, Monsieur le Baron
Happy Halloween and merry Election Day! It’s hard to say which is scarier some years, eh? While I’m sure many of you came for treats, as the kids say, I’ve only got tricks. Then again, so does Joe Brandon. You’re fat and spoiled anyways, you don’t need any more treats!
Remember the leftist creed: “The strong will eat, the weak are meat.”
So this is a post I promised to make in my latest thread in the Class Megathread, attached below for your convenience. It will also be included in Twitter Volume IV.
What is the principle of similarity? It is simple: Every class imagines that every other class resembles itself, psychologically, by default. The main differences are supposed to be the quantity of money, and to the extent they can imagine difference, it is because they see that quantity has a quality all of its own. So it is easy to imagine things like Vimes’ Boots Theory, because it is about everyone being essentially rational actors with the same motivations but different economic constraints leading to different results, qualitatively.
It’s a neat just-so story, but it’s also untrue. Allow me to present Monsieur’s Boots Theory.
Proles buy expensive shoes – sometimes. Proles are often buying expensive things, because they like them. Jordans are cool and it’s fun to look cool in front of your friends. For very small children, there are designer shoes that will invariably be grown out of in a few months, but people still buy them, because they are cool and you look cool to your peers (other low class moms). The middle class just buys regular shoes for a regular price, generally. Men buy men’s shoes cheaply, and women buy women’s shoes for a staggering price. I’d say that a woman’s shoe is 3x as expensive as a similar man’s shoe. For the upper middle class, I’ll share some stories. All my life until college, I went shoe shopping at Payless and bought sneakers that wore out in six months. Then one of my friends, of my class but who went to boarding school and thus had different tastes than me, said we should go buy some high quality shoes. We went to the mall and he saw a Foot Locker, which he said looked like an interesting store. That day, I spent over $100 on shoes.
They wore out in six months. I told my friend this is why I shop at Payless.
But later, he took me to a store he learned about from his boarding school friends, Nordstrom Rack, and there, the quality was exactly as advertised. Sometimes.
One last story. I was with an upper class friend whose shoes were wearing out after several years of service. He wanted them to get resoled, but being rubber cup soles, this would be prohibitively expensive. And yet, the desire remained there, strongly, despite the inability to reasonably fulfill it, and he lamented the decline of the age of cobblers. You see, it’s not primarily about cost and utility, as in Vimes’ Boot Theory. Fundamentally, clothing is a statement of identity through which we try to express our belonging in our sociocultural tribe and our values – his values here being longevity and legacy.
If Vimes’ Boot Theory were true, we would expect to see either a straight line or log-line relationship between clothing price, market segment targeted, and clothing quality, such that the rich pay the most and get the highest quality clothing while the poor pay the least and get the lowest quality clothing. I’d like to start with market segment and price and show why that isn’t true to begin with. Here we have shirts – and as best I can, I am going to use the same kind of clothing across all demos.
Click to expand gallery:
The Paul Stuart item is upper class, the Brooks Brothers item is upper middle class, Vineyard Vines is middle class, and the loudly branded Gucci is prole. You may notice that the prole item is consistently the most expensive by far (you can tell it’s prole because of the very large and obvious brand logo), the middle class item is somewhat more expensive than the upper middle class item, and the upper class item is several times the price of the upper middle class item. This is not consistent with Vimes’ Boot Theory in the slightest – there is actually a inverse relationship with customer income and price except with the upper class, an extremely small and almost insignificant cohort that shops at basically small boutique stores/brands.
But what about quality?
Have you ever heard of a “market for lemons”? The idea is that products are heterogenous, information is limited, and the cost of information is high, resulting in every used car being priced as lemon-like except for things like CPO cars. Well, imagine all those things are true, but your purchases are now high pressure and necessary. This is what I call the “market for quacks” – the archetypal example being healthcare. Because products are heterogenous and information is limited, you can’t effectively shop around. But unlike lemon cars, you must have your product, and therefore, rather than the limited information forcing all offers to be lowballs, it causes all offers to be highballs. Fashion is a market for quacks. I have gone into Nordstrom Rack and bought the highest quality item on the rack for $200 when all the other items are $2000. But at the same time, the $2000 item may be the best thing on offer and the $200 blazer might melt in the rain. There is not a consistent relationship between price and quality. All you know, vaguely, is whether a given clothing item is for your tribe, and you *must* always signal tribal allegiance or be ostracized. As such, we develop a market for quacks. If the prices are allowed to find a rational relationship between price and quality, then it ceases to be a market for quacks. That sounds good, right?
After all, not all luxury goods are markets for quacks. In steaks, wagyu A5 is better than prime (A3 equivalent) is better than choice, and the prices reflect that. In alcohol, ultrapremium liquors ($1000+) taste better than premium and superpremium liquors ($100-$300/bottle) taste better than a nice liquor at your local store ($50/bottle) taste better than some trash booze. So why is fashion a market for quacks? Why does it not follow the price of commodity textiles?
Well, commodity T-shirts are… a buck a shirt. If fashion simply reflected the cost of the textiles used to make it, every fashion brand would go out of business, and that includes the fucking Walmart store brand. Necessarily, we must have a market for quacks, because only massive pricing uncertainty allows for such outrageous price multiples over commodity textiles to survive.
Now, you may protest that fashion is a special case and thus a bad example for class markers and pricing. But what other categories of goods are used for class signaling?
Restaurants? Books and cultural products (the price here is time, not dollars)? Home decoration?
These are also markets for quacks.
You can see that the quality widely varies, the price widely varies, and the market can only be navigated with tribal knowledge corresponding to one’s class (or other identity) positions. For the most part, what you know is what others like you consume, and so your choices do not reflect rational shopping to maximize quality for price (impossible in markets for quacks), but a desire to signal belonging, causing wildly variable prices.
With me so far?
Oh, but you may protest – this is just basic class dynamics in the Fussellian manner.
Certainly, but I am merely refuting the money-as-quality-of-quantity thesis. The price points of various class categories in markets for quacks reflect not price-for-quality, as with normal goods, but the values of particular classes. What does that mean? Proles love to be flashy and splash their wealth around, when they have it. When they are saving, they buy bizarre, chthonic products like Tampico and Flavor Aid, but when they splurge, they splurge. As a rule, they are imitating the most showy, brash luxury they can find – proles like to go to restaurants like Red Lobster as a special treat, because this is the meal most like 1950s-esque high luxury still around. The middles are trying to keep up with the Joneses, so they can be milked pretty hard as well. Their products are often quite expensive (in the case of restaurants, places like Saltbae et al are far, far more expensive than anything else out there), and the goal is to project an image of sophistication and wealth that you don’t have. The upper middle class, loving a deal, is attracted to miserliness, or at least the appearance of miserliness. Though they won’t always have the absolute cheapest prices, they will almost always be paying less than the middle class.
The upper class has a personal relationship with its products. For instance, much of what is made for Nordstrom Rack was manufactured for the outlet as an outlet product. But haute couture? The total market of haute couture customers is a few thousand people on the whole planet Earth. These are the tastemakers, and fashion is their world. We just live in it.
So what governs the markets is not price-for-quality, but a reflection of values. What are those values? For a more detailed examination of class values and characters, please consult the Class Dynamics category. To finally, finally get to the point: Each class projects its own values onto every other class.
The long digression about fashion was to establish that the idea of price-for-quality and money having a quality of its own merely from quantity does not apply in markets for quacks, which happen to be the markets most used to signal class. But nevertheless, people believe that differences in class are merely differences in the quantity of money. Therefore, their idea of what people at different classes do is merely a reflection of what they would be doing – or what they imagine they would be doing – with different levels of money.
When classes above prole propose solutions to prole problems, what they are proposing is usually imagined solutions to the imagined problems they’d have at that strata – and that’s when they’re being sincerely benevolent. What proles generally want, more or less, is to secure their precarious existence, and then to live “good”, to have nice things that they enjoy and leisure time, and to be left the fuck alone from meddling interventions.
So that is the idea of the Principle of Projection. But why does this projection come about? Well, first of all, America systematically denies the idea of class. Ask any Briton whether class exists and the answer will be obvious and immediate. Britons understand class as a sociocultural tribe of birth that grants certain, largely immutable, characteristics which shape one’s experiences of the world. It is totally natural for them to believe that. But both America and Britain are class societies. In fact, every complex settled civilization on Earth is a class society! And yet, this understanding must still be taught. The only way most people learn things is through drilling, and culture is a way to drill complex understanding in an intuitive way.
Absent this, what we have is epistemic solipsism. That is, absent being taught that people are different in certain ways, the default is to assume they are the same, even when this doesn’t make sense. I’m sure everyone can relate to being asked if they were cold when someone else is cold, followed by a baffled insistence that you must be cold. No, I’m not cold. If I was cold, I would have put on more clothing, like you want to. Or, encountering fresh Midwestern Protestants, the bizarre insistence that Buddhism is another form of Protestant Christianity, only with Buddha instead of Jesus. It’s not, but they have this mental category of real religion, and Buddhism, being a real religion, is therefore like Protestantism but recolored. The news constantly writes articles about how millennials can’t afford houses. Well, I bought a house and my first paycheck was enough for the down payment. I am a millennial. And some millennials come from strata that can never buy houses and their parents and grandparents are also permanent renters. This housing narrative is only true for a given slice of the population, largely urban, coastal, and middle class, but it is projected onto the whole.
The world of acknowledged differences and possibilities we might call a universe of possibilities, and whenever a person encounters something outside their universe of the possible, they will often have an emotional reaction of some kind, followed by a small loss of sanity. Only one’s own existence is real, anything else presented is probably some kind of LARP. Something too far outside the universe of the possible will be rejected entirely – written out of one’s mental map of reality, forcibly blanked out. The Babylonian Hebrew has had this experience many times trying to explain the upper class to his middle class peers – it will not sink in at all. The height of epistemic solipsism is “theater kid”-ism, in which all differences are merely LARPs, and therefore anything can be put on by putting on the right costume. I am not sure why people go on Reddit so often and tell fake stories from an obviously fictional viewpoint (I AM BAD MAN. I AM VERY BAD. YOU NEED TO COME INTO WORK EVEN THOUGH NINJAS KILLED YOUR PREGNANT GIRLFRIEND’S SISTER-WIFE-FATHER. AND NO OVERTIME PAY.), but I suspect it’s an outgrowth of this theater kid mentality. Anything can be true if you believe it is and put on the costume.
The final rejection of epistemic solipsism, which results in a “redpilling” and a permanent shift to the “right” is the understanding that different things are different. This is only an abstract, theoretical statement, but it lays the mental groundwork to conceptualize new kinds of groups as being merely different things in a highly varied and complex world. I would describe this as the foundational concept of anti-liberalism: anti-universalism. Things are particulars, and particulars are different. Different things are different.
I will tell you that as a child, I was a “high-functioning autistic” and also scored high on those internet autism diagnosis tests. Well, once I understood that different things are different, and that people are a matter of pushing the right buttons, which vary by person, my autism score declined from autistic to neurotypical, and my Hare checklist rose to clinical sociopathy, which proved to be inconvenient during certain employment screenings. Ah well. Such is life. Full anti-liberal understanding, of course, only came later. Why is this relevant?
Epistemic solipsism is not actually a problem in a socially homogenous environment. The main differences one encounters in such an environment is mostly the personality difference, the gender difference, and the age difference – and one notes how often the class war is instinctively framed as the generation war (boomers fighting millennials over housing) – because age is one of those easily grasped natural categories. But cultural differences are very different to grasp. It often takes a lifetime, or at least a good few decades, to write a proper ethnography of a strange culture. Even to grasp class differences *within* a culture often takes several years to articulate. Diversity, therefore, is inherently costly because it raises the cost of social transactions by doing away with informal shared understandings born out of a common cultural environment. When social environments are heterogenous – diverse – the normal person becomes, effectively, autistic, requiring all social norms and rules to be formally verbalized. Which is not something that most people can do, absent exposure to the different. A fish does not know what water is. Only the contrasting of water and air can teach that.
What does it matter if our Midwestern Protestant biddy doesn’t understand Buddhism if she never meets a Buddhist? But drop Buddhists into her world, and now you have a problem. Of course, with enough decades, the two communities can come to understand each other, and Creolization will occur (hybrid cultures are cheaper than maintaining two cultures apart like a salad bowl). But in a world of infinite diversity, this can never properly occur. The result is perpetual social autism. Nobody can understand each other.
This is probably one of my least well-written articles, but I hope you won’t mind. I find the topic of talking about minds is almost inherently awkward because you have to formally articulate everything – which obviously does have some artistic merit in mimicking the experience of being socially atomized by diversity.
Well… what the fuck is Tampico anyways?
Lost in a sea of unknown water, Monsieur le Baron
APPENDIX: The Imagined Other
So our last class thread was about material relations and how they relate to radical political tendencies. But I’d like to go back to class as a sociocultural formation for this thread. Today, we’re going to be talking about identity as it relates to the imagined class Other. It may surprise you, but the judgement of one towards the Others can itself be a class marker, and an even more reliable one than consumption markers or belief systems. Why? Because the judgement of the Other tells us where someone situates themselves in the universe. Tell me what you hate, and I will tell you are what you are. The Other is always a mirror of the anxieties, hopes, and prides of the Self.
For America, there is no China and never was. China does not exist.
There is only a projection of our own fears and hopes. On this website, you’ll often see people talking about the opulence or lack thereof of the rich. This says more about them than the rich. There are a number of assumptions that need to be unpacked. First, that the minimalist aesthetic of the rich is not conspicuous consumption. It is. But it is conspicuous consumption with a particular culture in which it is valued. Making this mistake immediately gives away the game and reveals the speaker as middle class or lower. But what they propose as a motivation is indicative of the speaker’s class. For the proles, they have an Imagined Rich. Their idea of the Imagined Rich is much like a prole, but much richer. Their reaction to minimalism is confused. They often believe that the rich want ugly and stupid things (not untrue) or that they are hiding (very untrue). If the UMC+ wanted to hide, they wouldn’t buy minimalist things because nobody else likes that crap, so it sticks out like a sore thumb – as it is meant to! It is conspicuous consumption, just with a terrible aesthetic.
But the Prole Imagined Rich is a Trumpian figure. I will explain the concepts further in a full blog post, but this is an extension of the Principle of Similarity, or Class Solipsism. Everyone assumes their class experience is the default and normal.
Therefore, deviation from sameness requires some sinister motive. The Prole also has an Imagined Middle, but this Imagined Middle is mostly the product of the Middle’s own interaction with the Prole. Which brings me to the MC. Being in the middle, they have a lot of perceptions. And being in an insecure spot, they have a lot of Imagined Others. The interactions of the Middle with the Prole are dominated by the fear of falling. What the Middle has is a “comfortable” lifestyle (comfortable is the watchword of the middle for their wealth/status), and what they fear most is losing this position. Therefore, the MC, to salve their own fears and ego insecurities, tries to create as much distance between themselves and the deplorable CHUDs as possible, to minimize the possibility of falling and becoming them, as they then build themselves up to be so much better than them. This can express itself in a benevolent and malicious way. The benevolent manifestation is to try and baby the proles, to be their valiant “protector” because they are too weak to protect themselves. This is the impulse behind defending petty ghetto criminals. The malicious way is to mock and demean the proles as all stupid, evil, ignorant, and all manner of bad things. They’re simultaneously spoiled and hungry. They’re jet ski dealers but illiterate. They’re everything bad at once at the same time, somehow. Fuck them. The unifying theme, either way, is to condescend and create distance to assure the insecure Middle that they are, by character and nature, superior to these proles, and thus not at any risk of falling.
The Prole response to the Middle is to deride this unearned condescension. You think you’re so much better than me, college boy? Just because you have that stupid degree?
I’m gonna kick your ass, you weedy twig.
The Prole restores their own ego by creating an inverse of the Other’s Other. This allows the Prole to dismiss the attempts to condescend.Education becomes overeducation. The lack of practical skills of the middle class white collar worker becomes uselessness and also a lack of commitment to “real” skills and hard work. In a Marxian sense, the Prole takes pride in being a producer of surplus value. But the Middle is also in a dual role of looking upwards. They are always reassuring themselves of their own classiness, because if they lose their class status, then they fall back to hated Proledom. This fear is projected others.
The Middles also have an imagined Rich. The Middles want to go to classy expensive places because their Imagined Rich do. The Imagined Rich are always consuming the most sophisticated things, because they are so sophisticated. The Imagined Rich are always perfectly composed and mannered because they are so classy. Swearing becomes a kind of “socialist” transgression against the Imagined Rich, which is defined by “classiness” as a kind of purity totem, but so too does being a gigantic slob and pooping on the street. The content Middle emulates the Imagined Rich while the malcontent rages. The Imagined Rich must be obsessed with being classy and obviously classy and rich because the Middle imagines they, too, fear falling. Therefore, the Imagined Rich must spend their time showing how classy they are. Then the Middle tries to keep up with these imagined Joneses. This is the market for things like Salt Bae and fake private jets. The Middle imagines the Imagined Rich eating at Salt Bae and showing off as they fly private. But these pictures on RKOI and other places come from other Middloids as they show off (and torment) each other. Well, I happen to know a real story of a private jet (there are very few of these in the world). The wife is autism golem, like many noble women, so they need a private jet because otherwise she has sensory overload and starts autism screeching at everyone. To finish out this line, I was visiting a city and a person once, and she, of the middle, wanted to impress me by reserving a table at a fancy restaurant. I don’t reserve tables. I walk into Michelin restaurants and demand to be served. The food was pricy and “cosmopolitan”. Contrast this with a recent lunch where a young UMC person petitioned me for assistance, looking to raise a million or so for their startup. They proposed a “hole in the wall” tucked away, with “authentic” cuisine, then showed off by thanking the waiter in a foreign language. He did not walk away disappointed.
This fear of falling narrative also, I believe, drives how the Middle sees the Imagined Rich, politically. This is partly speculation, so I may be as off about my Imagined Middle as the Middle is about their Imagined Rich. So appropriate caution is needed here. But I believe the Middle frames history as a series of struggles by Middles to attack and replace Elites. History is thus a series of events in which intellectual Middles rally the Proles and overthrow the Elite, becoming the Elite. The only problem is that this isn’t true. History is filled with countless peasant revolts, though few peasant emperors – peasants are disorganized. And history has many, many noble revolts. But middle revolts? The most common example given is the French Revolution. Well, at best, that’s one. And while Robespierre may be of the middle, the Society of Thirty had a very high number of noblesse d’epee. Other instances of rising middles are not “Middle” in the way we understand it, but lower elites who are denied status for one reason or another. Like factory owners. Because history becomes framed as Middle leading Bottom vs Top, the strength of the Elite is imagined to be the strength of their Middle opposition. If the Middle is weakening, the Elite must be strengthening. Therefore, society worsening is evidence of a strengthening Elite. To crush the Middle becomes the main task of this Imagined Rich, because that is the main threat in this framing. The more the Middle suffers, the stronger the Elite. Arbitrary, random suffering becomes a flex, a show of strength. Humiliation compels obedience rather than hate. Well, let me tell you this: the noble families, as a class, have ruled for thousands of years because that’s just how humans work, just like how ants have queens. It’s not evidence of supernatural competence, it’s more of a fact like the sky being blue. It doesn’t mean anything.
But this obnoxious striving by the Middle does create a reaction coming from the real UMC (and not the Imagined Rich). And this is epater la bourgeoisie. The obsequious brand worship and conformist worship of fanciness is amplified into an Imagined Middle which is mindless NPCs. To spite the Imagined Middle and their trend loving and swallowing of propaganda, the real UMC tries to create as many destructive, transgressive ideas as possible, so that the Imagined Middle copies them and ruins their own lives, resulting in the UMC laughing disdainfully. The UMC lives by an ethos of “Go Fuck Yourself” and “Fuck You Money” because this is a way to show you’re not like those NPC Middles, you are a real man. And a real man is a Free Man. Metternich, consummate baron in material terms, said “Humanity begins at the rank of Baron.” Wear gray T-shirts because you can. Board planes bare-chested. Buy an anime car. Be eccentric, but obnoxiously and obviously so. Above all, fuck everyone else. Fuck them, fuck them, fuck them. Fussell advises driving slowly on highways to make everyone who needs to work angry. This is not the same as “Can I speak to the Manager?” because the point is not get better service. It’s to ruin someone else’s day and then laugh about it, getting the delicious pleasure of causing a little more pain in the world. Haha.
The Imagined Middle, which is a perfect NPC, exists downstream of the UMC’s own self-perception, which is the perfectly competent and universally skilled gentleman. They are the doers. They build things and get shit done. They move fast and break things. They are Hank Rearden. The UMC is a man of wealth who chooses to work regardless because they see themselves as so competent and capable. Metternich is a perfect diplomat but also the sinister Grand Inquisitor. A scholar and a gentleman. An officer and a learned man. Well-rounded. The cream of Eton. Gore Vidal’s own description is telling – at boarding school, there are the rich kids and the smart kids, himself being one of the latter. The UMC carries on a self-perception deriving from the traditions of being the strong sword arm of feudalism and of the Ancien Regime. While the modern managerial state runs more on middle class minor supervisory employees and bureaucrats rather than eccentric gentlemen managing estates, doing gentleman science, and personal industrialization (owning your own factory), the memory remains strong. The UMC is born with agency, if not hyperagency, and this can never be stripped away. If the MC tends to blackpill irrationally and give up in despair at the first obstacle, the UMC, as a stereotype, are often irrationally whitepilled. Elizabeth Holmes still thinks she’ll win.
This agency also leads to a tremendous mental burden. I say to myself frequently that there is no cavalry coming. I am the cavalry. I am always the force of last relief, the Triarii at the back of the line. Is this true? Nevertheless, it creates a mental burden. “What if I’m not good enough?” Imposter syndrome. “What if I can’t hold the line?” Burnout. A desire forms to have a simpler life. This creates its own imagined Other, the Imagined Prole. The Imagined Prole lives a carefree life because they are not responsible for others. Obviously this is not true, but this becomes an idealized lifestyle to emulate. This is the practice, still around, of gentleman farming. Of giving up the UMC life to live the simple life of a prole. One of the WASPs in WASPS: Splendor gave up his wealth to become a mechanic. Successful UMCs, ones that have made it, will spend tens or even hundreds of thousands on a chicken coop so they can pretend to farm chickens and be a redneck. Some of them even succeed at making eggs! But they will never know the essential fear of being at the whim of crisis. When these UMCs slumming it impact Proles, they invariably leave a curious impression. Damn, what a rich idiot playing games. Of course, these encounters are rare enough that no lasting and durable Other is formed, but it would probably be something like the “Butter Bars” Lt.
If the UMC imagines themselves as the hypercompetent hyperagent, then the Imagined Upper is the mirror of that. Other classes are far enough from the top that they lump everything together into a generalized Imagined Rich, which they often call “upper class” or just “rich”. But the UMC is personally acquainted with the UC. If Gore Vidal is the “smart kid”, then the UC is the “rich kid”. Rich, not smart. Or, as Fussell would snark, the UC are a class without ideas.
This is highly uncharitable to the upper class. The Imagined Upper is a complete dolt. They are the thoughtless people Woody Allen implicitly parodies. They are the people without ideas. Actually, most real UC people have plenty of ideas because they need them to be charming (dinner conversation always revolves around ideas). But as with many interactions, there is a seed of truth. In feudalism, you had kings summon their lords to provide a levy. The Italian word for knight, capo di lance, is the origin for our own term, Lance Corporal – an E4 marine. From “miles”, Latin for knight, we get militia. The lord was expected to bring his knights to fight in war. In peace, the knights protected the land. They were the baddest dudes around. They were given land so they could gear q***r to their heart’s content. But the baron was their field grade officer. So they are also *there*. This persists into the Industrial Age. The noblesse de robe, the professionals, your doctors, lawyers, engineers – they are not workers. But they are still *there*. As such, they can only be so disconnected from reality and the understanding of labor and production. The real upper class may not be as big of twits as the Imagined Upper, but like the Middle they still live in @GmorkOfNothing‘s Richard Scarry’s kids book world because all they do is party and socialize all day. Their view of the world is the world seen through cocktail parties. And the upper class? Well, they live in the Richard Scarry world.
I don’t think I can generalize their Imagined Others, but they are interesting.