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.
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