The Second Technocracy: Elite Formation Pt. III

Dearest friends,

Witness the city of steel and silicon. Prostrate yourself before the throne of code.

Do you see the many petitioners? Do you see the glories which have been wrought?

To land in SJC is to land in another world. The air is thick with the scent of hierarchy.

The Second Estate lives. It reigns. All fall beneath it.

The machine men drink deep of globohomo and commune with the spirit of transcendent aristocracy.

It is strong.

It is confident.

It is hateful.

And it will not be denied.

In order to successfully reach the elite, a group needs strong asabiya. It must have the unity to form a meaningful organization. It must have the unity to assert one shared narrative of gentility, lest it be relegated to the category of mere “labor”. And ultimately, it must have unity of purpose, to be able to assert the necessity of its mission to the existing elite, and if need be, the unity to wage a war against it, just as the doctors defeated the old families of France and their ancient fortunes, subsuming them into their group. At long last, engineering has done so.

But a group with the asabiya to do all of this has the asabiya to go further. Just as border people do not stay at their border, so too do prospective elites not stay within their niche. The border men soon turn their sights on new conquests and back towards the center. So too did the men of machines.

In 1968, there was a crisis, a crisis that needed to be solved for the glory of the empire. Talented men flocked to the field to solve the crisis. They developed their own group identity. It had its own culture, a sort of nerd culture, which was in some ways traditionally elitist and aristocratic, loving board games, learning, and disdaining the masses, but also in many ways new. It was excluded from power. But economic necessity grew its strength, year by year. It yearned to be accepted. Bill Gates made electronics popular, then Steve Jobs made them cool. It became acceptable for a young Harvard grad to go into tech.

The men of machines went further, just like the men of medicine before them. In the end, the men of medicine sought to remake society in their own image. They changed the societal narrative to a biological one. So too did the men of machines go and take other industries. What is the difference between Uber and a taxi service? What is the difference between AirBnB and traditional hospitality? The difference lies in the narrative. The former are “tech companies”. That means they embody the tech company ethos, not the ethos of taxis or hotels. Tech went off the reservation. Bankers became quants, half-math and half-man. Trades went higher and higher frequency. Everything was and is to be technocratized. The words of the machine men went back to the center, to the Establishment. Everything would become agile. Everything needed management metrics. Everything would be technological, rational, data-driven. The Cloud had come, and Big Data was its prophet.

This is another turning of the elite cycle. Big whoop. It happens all the time. Why is it significant now?

Because of *why* Anglo society rejected the message of the machine men. Machines are things to be manipulated and changed to suit one’s purposes. Inputs and outputs. But in a land of sacred individuality and liberty, men could never be reduced to mere numbers.

This isn’t just a turning of the elite cycle. It is also a turning of our color cycle. The sacred ideology of liberty has been overturned. And so, the machine men reign. The machine men, the engineers, will most likely be the elites leading us through the final days of this stage of the color cycle, the final secular cycle of Anglo liberty, and into the brave new world that comes afterwards. In between, there will be conflict, and possibly even civil war. The empire long united…

The years will pass, and there will be cycles past that. Who will succeed the engineers? Nobody knows. But nerd culture is fascinated with Megacorporations and a marketized world. Everything for sale. No rights but property rights. What a world that would be. Such would be the work of Mad Men.

Writes articles just to make shitty puns,
Monsieur le Baron


Tales of Thrift and Nobility, or Human Fortress: Elite Formation Pt. II

Dearest friends,

Urist was punched in the head, bruising the brain and severing his nerves. I’m afraid I shall have to be your host today, shabby though I am.

Let’s get to it.

One of Turchin’s cycles is the asabiya cycle. Groups have asabiya – a sense of identity and cohesion. Asabiya forms along borders, where two groups are in conflict for long periods. Asabiya, the identity, is thus most strong near the edges of the territory it encompasses. Of course this is so, for without the other, there is no meaningful distinction to the self. Identities define their self, *who we are*, in opposition to the other, *who we are not*. Therefore on the borders, we see the most cultural conditioning.

It is the borders which are the seeds of great empires. It is ultimately the borderlands that unite the whole and make great conquests. China is periodically invaded by steppe nomads and marcher lords. Germany was united by the Prussians, half-Slav, half-German mongrels. Rome was a city on seven hills, but also a city on the border. America was a frontier state before it was the USG world empire.

But there is more than inter-group conflict. There is also intra-group conflict. Class conflict. Classes are also identities, just as national identities are identities. When they come into sustained conflict, this identity will grow stronger. Where do we see the most cultural conditioning today? Where are the borders of our classes?

On one side of the divide, we have the last of the prestige firms fighting for their survival in otherwise middle class fields. I speak of Accounting and Marketing. At places like EY and PwC, there is more cultural conditioning and orientation than I’ve seen anywhere else. That’s it means to be a marcher – it means fighting for your soul at every turn. Below you, the oblivion of the middle class. The Age of Mad Men never got off the ground. While they began to gather their strength, ultimately, society would reject its message. Yes to consumerism, but no to marketizing everything. The age of SEC-regulated kidtax and kid derivatives markets is yet to come. The Mad Men sleep, let them sleep a while longer.

And who lies on the other side of the divide? We shall see soon.

The beginnings of an aristocratic group are driven by economic need. A new field is born as a result of economic or cultural shifts. But there are many jobs out there, not all prestigious. Which drives the difference? When a job forms, it ideally would like to be as prestigious as possible. If it can do that, it maximizes the earnings of its members while minimizing their work. But how can it do that? First, it must make a stake to skill, to differentiate it from the unskilled masses. But many prolish occupations are highly skilled. To raise its status further, a job ought to make a claim to gentility, to claim that it is not just mere labor. This is something that accounting and marketing definitely do. But it is clearly not enough. To become aristocratic, a group must be accepted by the aristocracy. This requires more than just an economic need. It requires high society to accept its mission, its reason to be. It must impress upon high society the urgency of its spirit and the necessity of changing to accommodate it.

In the beginning, there were the warriors. Long ago, even before the beginning, there were scientists too, but the chaos had sent them away. The warriors battled and left carnage in their wake. At its basest level, government is the monopoly of force, and power the only law. But such a state of existence is a brutish one. As the kings grew in power, they desired to bring an end to the fighting and to bring the warlords to heel. For that, they needed centralized. Bureaucracy. Laws.

When you need law, you need men of law. But need the men of law be important? They must be if you are to be ruled by laws, and not men. And so rose the lawyers. The curtains closed on the Medieval Era. There was peace, of a sort. But with internal peace came external war. The states grew strong, and in their strength, they grew greedier. The crowns of Europe went to war, again and again. And the sinews of war were golden coins.

Governments needed money. Lots of money. The cry was answered, and so were born the money men. But, it turned out, money could be used for more than war. It could be used for development projects and long-term planning. Bigger, better, and more prosperous. The banking clans grew fat and happy. In the background, innovation continued its steady clip. And soon, a new thing was available to be financed. Wondrous machines that could save labor and multiply manpower like nothing ever seen before. One by one, the estates of Europe were mortgaged and smokestacks filled the sky. The machine men took the reins.

Except in Merry Old England. The Anglos accepted the Industrial Revolution, but not its implications. The Anglo economy changed, but Anglo society carried on. Stiff upper lip. The engineers of Britain formed a professional organization, changed the economy, and lobbied hard for recognition. But ultimately, their mission was not found to be compelling. The societal revolution of the machine men was denied, because of some mysterious X factor. Britain carried on much as it was. Among the British, engineer came to mean something similar to “mechanic”, a mere technical specialist.

The doctors had slumbered. While they had made their own colleges, their remedies had always been ineffective. No longer. As Europe prospered, it grew wise. And the secrets of life made themselves clear. Wondrous tonics and remedies multiplied. The machine men made men wealthy, but the medicine men would make them whole. And wasn’t society itself the body politic? Couldn’t it, too, be cured of what ailed it? New cities must be built, healthier cities. New works will be made, to protect the public health. But still, there lurked a cancer. Some of the denizens did not belong in this pure society. They were unclean. They had to be excised. It was time for chemotherapy.

Europe burned.

Across the sea, the ad men attempted to usher in their ad age. They failed.

But in the hidden war rooms of the new USG world empire, NATO, a problem was being discussed. They called it the crisis of software engineering.

The year was 1968.

The X factor was Anglo liberty.

We are now ready to see who sits on the other side of the divide.

Looking for the hidden fun stuff,
Monsieur le Baron

Compromise, Conflict, and the End of an Era, or the Virtue of Snobbery: Elite Formation Pt. I

Dearest friends,

It is early, it is late. There is coffee, there is melatonin. It is in these twilight hours just after waking and just before morning where the mind wanders free and light, past the boundaries of convention. It is at transition points that interesting effects occur. Fussell once said that America would be interested in class if someone made a work telling the stories of the boundaries, where the ghetto person becomes bougie, and where the struggling aspirant claws their way towards the upper middle class. If only there was someone to explicate the boundaries.

Ah well.

Why does old money disdain new money anyways? Is there a reason for it?

For that matter, why are those media types so disgustingly crass and prolish?

Well, the main goal of old money is to perpetuate itself indefinitely. As they say, three generations makes a gentleman. Why would you want to insulate yourself from new money? In the conventional view, there’s no reason to. They’ve got all the talent and the energy. But evolution doesn’t end at the neck, does it? Someone who has the talent to make it to the top doesn’t necessarily have the *genetic* talent to make it to the top. That is, there is regression to the mean. Some of that talent is going to be from environmental factors. And some of that success was just plain luck.

When you marry into the glitterati, you’re marrying someone that’s basically just a prole, but an extremely lucky prole. Luck is not heritable. The force of regression is going to carry you right back into the trailer park. Media types should rightly be shunned as perpetual new money. What they touch, they corrupt. The Met Gala was once respectable. Just look at it. Look at them. I mean, come on. Come the fuck on. I believe that’s proof enough of my point.

But what about the talented outsiders? That’s where the most danger lies. That handsome young lawyer may seem like a great bet, but *you have no idea how much of that talent is genetic*. A lawyer who makes more than a million a year sits at the top of their field. But if that’s an upwardly mobile lawyer and not a hereditary lawyer, then their kid might be fucking garbage. Selecting for old money means eliminating the noise. If a family sticks around for grandfather, father, and finally your new son-in-law, then you can be assured that their skill has genetics underlying it. Reasonably assured, anyways.

But a separation of middle and upper middle also has a secondary purpose. There are cultural boundaries between the two.

The middle class is “crass” and “boorish”. They shop at Target. They mistreat the staff. They buy Margaritaville mixers and wild, showy things. They flaunt their alleged wealth at every opportunity. In short, fuck ’em.

The upper middle is “snobby” and “dishonest”. They shop at Costco – a warehouse, really? It’s so not nice! And it’s full of that Kirkland store brand instead of real brands. In fact, how do your stuff won’t wear out if it’s not branded? And they lie. They lie through their teeth. Look at their universities – full of cheating and corruption. They’re clannish. They lack Hajnal values good character. In short, fuck ’em.

Who polices these norms? They’re policed by moralizers. Moralizers take shared cultural norms and moralize them, such that matters of taste become matters of right and wrong. It’s not just wrong to shop at Target, it’s EVIL. When moralizers from two different groups meet, it ends in conflict. While matters of taste can be dismissed, the same cannot be said for matters of good and evil. The proximity of the classes will lead to class warfare. With the end of the formal nobility, the classes are closer than ever. Before, the elites could be checked by intra-elite warfare. But with the introduction of the middle class, they are able to find a common enemy.

How can the two classes come to interact peacefully? For that matter, how do two sides ever come to agreement? There are equilibriums of compromise and equilibriums of conflict. 2/3rds of pro-life and pro-choice people have the same view – abortion, but restricted abortion. But the conflict between pro-life and pro-choice is deep and polarizing. It’s not because of false consciousness, it’s because the markers of pro-life and pro-choice constitute tribal boundaries. Having become a tribal issue, it behooves one to fight for the tribe’s identity, and to assert a more extreme version of the stance in order to distinguish one’s self from the enemy. The settling point of abortion DOES tend to be near the natural compromise point. But it settles there through conflict and cyclical movement. As you approach an extreme, less of your tribe fights and more of the enemy tribe fights. The momentum of one tribe stalls out as it approaches its ideal (its members don’t actually happen to want that ideal). If views change, conflict consensus will naturally adjust the settling point. It’s an organic settlement. Compromise equilibriums are ant farm equilibriums. They minimize short-run microconflicts at the cost of a bigger conflict erupting much later. In Taleb terms, conflict is antifragile and compromise is fragile.

Ironically, compromises are more foundational to a culture, not less. Compromises on heavily disputed issues simply won’t take. So a compromise that survives must exist on or create ground which is in common. It must either be in or form a low dispute environment. Its assumptions must be largely shared. And those assumptions being shared creates a feedback loop causing those assumptions to become more and more shared.

What is the core compromise at the heart of American culture? An agreement, loved by no one, for the classes to come to peace. We call this compromise Anglo liberty.

And it is dying.

Don’t panic, no, not yet,
Monsieur le Baron