Aesthetica McNuggetica, Or Idealism Real Word Count by the Baron

Dearest Friends,

I’ve talked a lot about pragmatic action, Realpolitik as it were, but there is a time for lighter things: Idealpolitik. The time is McDonald’s, the place is McDonald’s, the why is McDonald’s. Mcdolans. What could be more ideal than a crispy, juicy Chicken McNugget dipped in Cajun Sauce, available for a limited time only as part of the BTS meal! Two great tastes that go great together! I’m Lovin’ It!

Or maybe you’d like something more refined? A steak, maybe. As we all know, the medium is the message. Medium is the message. For some people, it’s a job well done that’s the message, or perhaps a rare well done steak well done – with ketchup? Some people would call that a missed steak, but the thing about taste is that it’s subjective, right? That Trump trumps trump is well done well done, that cats up catsup is the postmodern condition, and the postmodern condition is to post modern conditions, not realizing the pointlessness of less points. All is subjective, and this is derivative, a meat slurry of discourse formed neatly, neatly, gently, creeping, into a boot shoop, sloop mast down into the Cajun sea, a imitation of spiciness, the appearance but not the reality of controversy!

Is there anything more passe, more banal, than lamenting postmodernity in the postmodern age? So I will eat the McNugget, for the McNugget is the sacred mystery of meaning without meaning and meaning for meaning, and I tell the whispering demon – yes, yes, a thousand times yes, let me face it again and again for eternity.

To make a long story short, if you eat a thousand McNuggets, you will go to the hospital.


So what am I talking about?

Meaning my meaning, of course. What does it mean for medium to be the message? The nature of a medium is by nature constraining, and this imposes a certain necessary shape to the art itself, which affects the kind of art which it can produce. Shot length is both a limitation on film and something to play with, something to explore, which affects the art. But it’s more than just physical limitations, but also the elements of style present, and the tropes. Every genre of art has its own expectations. Strunk’s Elements of Style has many counterparts. In either hewing to or subverting these structures, we come to recognize a piece as of a genre through the patterns present in it – it matches its peers in some way. And the definition it hews to – or subverts – comes to define it in some way. What is constrained, what is restricted, forms the negative of what we think ought to be present, but which we often overlook, assuming it without thought. The structure of our art is a negative of our values, just as an interior is defined by its borders. This creates a point. The values create and present themes, and themes are recapitulated throughout the life of a civilization. Art is not pointless and authors are not dead. All art has a nature which itself encodes the point – the medium is the message, no matter how much one might deny the *intent* of art, to deny that it has a *point*. When a postmodern gazes upon the Baroque, even an atheist, they cannot help be filled with an immensity, because within the *nature* of the Baroque, points are made about the divine and a Catholic, Christian civilization which expressed itself not only in the content of this kind of art, but in its form itself, in what makes Baroque Baroque, for the immensity is the immensity of God, for the starkness of the chiaroscuro must clearly separate dark from light and good from evil. These elements of a kind of art are its thematics, the messages which can be played, straight or inverted, with the medium at hand, and which in turn combine into an aesthetic. All the elements of Baroque together are Baroque, and all the elements each have a message within which together form the aesthetics of Baroque, which is a way of communicating the ethos of Catholic, Christian Europe not through mere words, but through emotion to the soul. The Renaissance art thus patronized was not ruined by these structures, but defined by it.

I know, I know. Dull, derivative, boring midwittery. Heard it a thousand times. But let’s stack one derivative layer upon another and see if we can’t make a flavorful lasagna.

What is pop art? Simply, pop art is art with a use. It’s created to do something. Whereas high art exists for itself, it is art for art’s sake, pop art has a use. When people make pop art, it can be a creative endeavor, it is often an artistic endeavor, but fundamentally, it has to accomplish what it is here to do. An ad that does not sell product is not a good ad. Whatever you may think of Marvel movies, they exist to sell tickets, and they do sell tickets. Even if they are schlock. This imposes restraints on what can be done, which the common artist takes as an insult to their creativity. But a negative, a medium and its constraints, exists for all forms of art. Art exists in the managing of constraints. Like eros, or a really clever engineering problem, it is the act of the hidden, the unshown, not the shown, which generates excitement. The act of artistry is to create the good within the bounds of these restraints. The commercial object at its highest is art, and high art indeed. Warhol. That’s the message of the soup cans – one need add nothing to these objects of beauty, so often overlooked.

And more than that, scorned.

To return to the McNugget, what we have these days is a kind of vulgar contrarianism which is mistaken for sophistication. The barbarian artist, seeking to make themselves a name, looks and disdains the beauty present in the popular pop art. What is a McNugget? The McNugget is the craft of a French chef who was the top of his class, a head chef that served kings and emperors of the world, working to design the perfect dippable chicken object which could be prepared by anyone for anyone. It is a reenactment of the sacred mysteries of Prometheus, a descent with the fires of Michelin to the masses below, a delivery of light to the darkness. In short, the McNugget is a masterpiece. And what is the negation of a masterpiece? Ugliness. Trash. The vulgar contrarian seeks to elevate by negating the popular object, not realizing that the pop object possess not only vulgarity, but beauty, and thus creates an object which negates the beauty of the common – an uncommon ugliness. An anti-masterpiece.

Le hecking subversion of Star Wars, with twists which made no sense, with points that go nowhere, with themes almost schizophrenic in their inconstancy, eaten up by fourth rate minds from third rate colleges.

The mark of a great artist is to create beauty out of the ugly. What we have now is the reverse.

So what is aesthetics? It is simple. Aesthetics is the pop art of hyperreality. We are drawn to believe in these larger than life things, these unreal specters. These visions of wealth beyond wealth, power beyond power, beauty beyond beauty, are the demons which drive postmodern man, and like Tantalus, they always recede beyond his reach. There never was such a man as Chad. Not even Gigachad is really Gigachad. In the beginning, we have the things which are real, the referants. To represent them, we create symbols, which exist as some insightful distillation of the real. But these symbols take on a life of their own. When the symbols begin to interact and recombine on their own, and reach frightful exaggerations or mutations, they cease to relate to reality, but become idols or objects of obsession and worship. These are the demons that haunt postmodern man indeed.

Or his gods.

Because, to return to the question, what is aesthetics? Aesthetics, like hyperreality, is unreal. Like the hyperreal symbols, the objects of an aesthetics never really exist and never really will. This is why small-souled bugmen accuse trads of falling in love with Coke commercials. Because this is essentially true. But while hyperreality, like high art, exists for its own sake, fighting as it will, aesthetics do not. Aesthetics embody the values which a civilization chooses to uphold. They are its objects of worship. An aesthetic is a picture of a societal ideal – of course it cannot be real, it is impossibly unreal – and yet, like beauty standards, it is something to strive for. A society’s aesthetic is its purpose, what it’s heading for. And so why do people thirst for better aesthetics and hate modern art? Because the ugliness reflects the meaningless – that there is no higher ideal being conveyed. The postmodern man, the Last Man, has no higher ideals because he believes in nothing. And when men lament art, they lament that we have no great vision of the good to move towards. Instead, we are drawn by our own inertia, we are a runaway train headed off a cliff. The crisis of art is the crisis of democracy. It is the crisis of a West which no longer believes in itself.

Why did the proles yearn for Trumpian magnificence? Why do they applaud the magnificent? Because they yearn for beauty. They want something greater than themselves. The showy rich, for all their many faults, are so full of themselves that they burst and overflow. So assured is Louis XIV that all wish to soak in his glow. And while they may not be able to create art, they know art when they see it. Trump was a well done well done steak, the slab of American red meat cooked almost to shoe leather, a reflection of Reagan’s reflection of Jackson – and yet something. Even the shadow of a message retains a voice, enough to still the deathly silence, if only for a stolen moment. Trump was a gasping of an ancient and powerful American dream, a man of proletarian culture done good, bedecked in all the golden splendor that entails. A Mr. Smith gone to Washington to drain the Swamp, to throw down the scoundrels from their high places, and restore power to the sovereign people. Trump himself, orange as a McNugget, was himself an art object. For a brief moment, there was an operation of the setting sun, and it blazed streaky scarlet into the sky before being snuffed out.


Here is where the rubes from Kansas sputter and point about Orange Man Bad, so fearful of tainting themselves by any association with low culture that they reveal their own lowness.

To channel an aesthetic is to channel the hyperreal impulse towards a higher end. From ugliness, beauty. To give that hunger something more, something that will fill it.

The disdain of the modern artist for the commercial is not a sign of their own good breeding, as they so suppose, but in fact evidence of the smallness of their souls, for they are unable to emerge from the smallness of their own souls and submerge themselves in anything greater than themselves. For the act of creating such is the act of channeling the essence of the greater thing, whereas they can only write of their own meager selves. Depression this, anxiety that, and a lot of Brooklyn status panic. That about covers the bulk of modern artistic production, doesn’t it? A self-absorption.

Now, go back and read it again.

Double dipping the Eternal Recurrence,
Monsieur le Baron

Twitter Volume 1 (Start – June 2021), Part II: Class and Culture

Exactly what it says on the tin, bruv.

Grendel was a good book. Grendel himself is a fantastic pointless man as crybully. But all of the mortals struggle. Grendel and other mortals are most like the Dragon and have the Dragon scent when they transcend their pathetic meat forms to grasp eternity. By inhabiting the story-forms, they become things beyond time and more than meaninglessness. What angers Grendel most is that someone might try to match his pitifulness. But at the same time, he drives them towards it. When he sees Unferth trying to live a story, he destroys him. Simultaneously, he wants to drag people to his level while also remaining the most pitiful. He’s the happiest when he can be the monster, and this is also when his dragon scent is strongest. But he loves to hear the stories too. We are so eager to defy structures because we see them as impositions on our absolute freedom. But we are defined by our relations to others and the world. If we never make a mark, what are we? By breaking free of these relations in their entirety, we abolish our own meaning. We become Grendels, pointless monsters, in love with our own pitifulness but afraid to admit it. Everyone is so wrapped up in ironic and gesture that nothing sincere or eternal remains. We cut off our families because we are afraid to love – and hate – them. We abandon friends. Where does that lead us? The Dragon. And the Dragon as timeless thing is no accident. The Dragon is Nietzsche’s timeless value creature, with an eternal and recurrent lifecycle. The Dragon is the Ubermensch completed, the Ubermensch the larval Dragon. Unferth is only a mortal man, and thus must steel himself with mere words of heroism. Beowulf *is* heroism. And thus Beowulf can restore meaning, as the Ubermensch, and banish the hideous nihilism.

Does Grendel sacrifice himself to religion, or does religion sacrifice Grendel? Does it matter?

There is a difference between sleaze and filth, and this is the difference between the crime wave coming now and the high crime times of the 1980s. Sleaze comes out of an unrestricted freedom, and this freedom begets psychological emancipation. An indifference to tired pieties. The crime of that day was *selfish*. The crimes of today are *selfless*. Crime then, and the accompanying filth, came from an abundance of ego which denied the rights or wellbeing of anyone around them, so eager was it to get some for itself. It is the behavior of the outlaw.

By contrast, the selfless criminal, the anarchist, behaves not to fulfill a hunger within them so strong it cannot be denied, but as a yearning for meaning, for something to coalesce self around. It is empty. It is narcissist in the Lasch sense. The anarchist struggle becomes an attempt to construct a cosmology, a narrative, some thing which will justify the person. The totally selfish person needs no justification. Their own hunger is the only meaning in the world. This is not to excuse it. But it is different. “Natural Born Killers”. That’s the crime of egoism. They have a message, as savage and brutal as it is. They have desires. They are full, so full, they impinge on others, and take from the weak to fill their own bellies.

And that is why the 60s, 70s, 80s, saw an outpouring of art. Art was the spontaneous expression of these selfish, cruel selves. But they were *selves*. Why is the modern Leftist censorious? Because they are a devourer of art, because their self must consume art, not create art, because there is a hole there. So it goes. Once as tragedy, again as farce. And that’s the difference between sleaze and filth. The filth is a product of sleaze, but it isn’t sleaze. Sleaze is the run-down nature of absolute egoist freedom. The filth cult of the modern left is just a cargo cult to sleaze, vainly hoping to be the same.

Let’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. How much does a modest manor produce? Between 20 and 30 pounds sterling in Britain. In France, just over 20 livre tournois. Today, this purchases about $20,000 in goods. But we don’t care about that. We care about relatives. I’ll explain later. This is about 2500 days wages. Converting back to modern money, 2500 days wages is about $200,000. So a manor produces about $200k/yr in income. How many manors does a baron own? Well, some own several. Some are even as mighty as a count or duke! But probably not. You see, the medievals did do censuses. In the County of Champagne in 1252, the count had 1182 fiefs under him. 42% were held by knights, 39% were held by bourgeois, 15% were held by barons, and 5% by clerics. The average amount of manors for a fiefholder was ONE, regardless of the official title. Single manor. But what about Britain? British barons are so important! Yeah, title deflation. Norman barons became major landholders in the new England. The English equivalent to the baron is the gentry. I will treat knights, barons, untitled lords, gentry and high bougies as interchangable.

So what did the barons do? So what are the barons? The barons are the people who rule your little shit village for the great lord, the Count, who can’t be arsed. He’s too important. And in times of trouble, they are marshalled for war. That was their original purpose. There are tons and tons and tons of these guys. Whenever you hear a historian quote a stat like “France had 1% nobility” or “Russia had 2% nobility”, by weight, that’s all fucking barons. They’re everywhere. The British peerage is a few hundred people. How many French? About 200 Frenchmen were ranked Count or above in medieval France. That’s not a lot of dudes. In fact, it basically rounds to zero. You may be noticing something similar in our lives. Millionaires and billionaires, perhaps? There are a few thousand billionaires ON EARTH. We’ll return to that and many other things later. The role of the barons was intricately tied to the feudal regime. They administered its lowest levels, managed its peasants, and fought its wars. So when early modern states formed with professional armies, they were gone.

Right? In evolution, Nature doesn’t come up with new organs willy-nilly. Limbs are adapted into other kinds of limbs. Systems are repurposed. So too with memetics.

The new system needed a labor pool to staff it. The baronage is dead. Long live the baronage. Why are college students upset when they have to be baristas? One could say it’s the income, which is terribly low. But they won’t be tradesmen or factory workers either, even when those can easily pay high 5 figure incomes. No, they want particular jobs. What jobs? Things like, I dunno. Doctor, Engineer, Lawyer, Banker, Bureaucrat, Professor.

What jobs did the baronage take up after the 16th century Crisis of the Nobility?







College degrees are minor titles. Always were. So, recall the average incomes of a barony? $200,000? Familiar, eh? What are the average incomes of a midcareer BigLawyer, Software Engineer, or Banker? About $200,000?

Applying Piketty’s 5% land value rule, we find a barony is worth $4mm. The average wealth of a US millionaire. Funny how that works. And what did they need the money for? Maintenance of honors. So dowries, housing, and… college tuition.

It all starts to click, doesn’t it?

All these figures are constant over time because the social-material relations have not changed in 1000 years. This is the dead hand of feudalism reaching into the present. Material conditions remain the same because social-material relations remain the same, regardless of whatever ideological garnish you put on. Call them professionals, managerials, nomenklatura…

The Eternal Baron. It is often said that the 19th century marked a new crisis of the nobility. And it did. But don’t we still have doctors, lawyers, etc? Of course. The decline of the traditional landowner was a minor crisis to be sure. But it merely finalized the shift to professionalization. But what was changing? And changing in a big way? Capitalism. The old world was being upended, and with it, the social order. Peasants became migrant farm labor or prole city workers. The communal village was destroyed. The *status* of the nobility was under attack. Remember our old friend, the haute bourgeois? In the middle ages, we see he earns about the same as the baron. They’re peers. The baron and the boat dealer are friends.

In the 19th century, the bourgeois stops being a boat dealer. And now he earns 100x what you do. Engels’s father is a factory owner, a typical New Man, a bourgeois. And he hates what Engels writes. So how can Engels always get a living? His mother. His mother adored him and gave him her moral code and values.

She was an aristocrat.

And Marx married Jenny von Westphalen.

And why? Imagine those peasants, whom you have lived with, loved, cared for, and struggled with, for a thousand years, turned into grist for Satanic mills. Their children devoured by machines. Their lands despoiled by belching steel monsters run by migrants for a profit. Your communal village, destroyed. Overrun by foreigners. Your nursemaid’s family, gone. As Marx says, capitalism reduces the qualities of the proles to quantities.

Numbers. Data points in a spreadsheet. Dehumanization. Atomization.

All that is solid melts into air. Welcome to Hellworld.

There was only one thing to do. Make common cause with the peasants and proletarians being destroyed by this system and destroy Moloch.

Revolt against the Modern World.

Tragedy is the pain of facing irresistible fate. All politics is material interests, not ideology. Always remember that.

Blessed proletarians, will you join me again?

We will not eat the bugs.

And we will not go gently into that good night.


In the year 1666, a strange thing happened. A rabbi from Turkey, Sabbatai Zevi, had declared himself the Messiah and was gathering up quite the following. He was marching to Constantinople (still of that name in that day) where he would confront the Sultan and depose him.

When he arrived, he did not depose the Sultan. On the contrary, he submitted – totally – not only surrendering his mob, but converting to Islam. The Sultan gave him a modest pension but later revoked it, because the man was troublesome. A few followers remained, but only a few. They disappeared back into Judaism or converted into Islam, like their leader. A few stubborn holdouts remained. About a century later, they rallied behind a leader, Jacob Frank, who claimed to be Zevi’s reincarnation. But Frank also converted, to Catholicism. Thus ended a curious footnote in history, as the Frankists followed their leader into Catholicism and Mother Church, assimilating into Christian Polish society. So it goes.

And this is where the textbooks end. So what did these curious people believe? Some of it may be familiar. They believed that the God that others believed in was a false God, a material God, a demiurge that created a world of wickedness, and that the true God had to be redeemed through special knowledge. And they were feminists! Yes, they believed in #girlbosses, slay. There could even be a female Messiah, and women had to be delivered from the bonds of marriage, a wicked, patriarchal concept. They were free, like us.

Is it any wonder that the like were drawn to the Enlightenment? They found themselves influencing movements as disparate as Enlightenment liberalism, Reform Judaism, and even @bog_beef‘s favorite, the Quakers.

So obviously they were hounded and hunted by the authorities. Such bigots never appreciated the Sabbateans in their own time. Orthodox Rabbis and Christian authorities attempted to root out this heresy, which was spreading both high and low.

Some, uneducated as they were, claimed the Sabbateans were engaged in magic, mysticism, strange rituals…


Ridiculous notions, all absurd.

After all, the Frankists had many friends, distinguished friends. They had protectors among powerful Christian magnates, such as the aforementioned Bishop Dembowsky, but also other wealthy Polish Christians had taken an interest in Sabbateanism, as well as wealthy Jews.

The influence of Sabbatai and Frank immediately calls to mind other charismatic religious figures. One obvious parallel is, of course, Rasputin. As we all know, this mad monk, unkempt and wild, quickly rose to prominence in the Russian court. Why? Well, the Tsar’s son had a terrible disease: hemophlia. But Rasputin could make his son well using his special technique of hypnosis. Of course, those outside the royal family didn’t know this. They were disgusted by this man and his disgusting and immoral behaviors. Rasputin slept around. Rasputin seduced noble ladies. And most of all, Rasputin had terrible hypnotic eyes that could draw anyone in. There is an essence in the eyes. A magic to them. In the eyes are marked terrible, horrible things. Princess Marat saw the power of his eyes.

What beliefs did Rasputin have? Although he was not a Whip himself, Rasputin was influenced by the Whips and their doctrines of holy sin and magical sex. The struggle of sin led to the heights of redemption. Holy sin.

His influence was vast. Trotsky himself remarked on this “leprous camarilla” ruling the state. They practiced magic. They had sex. They had sex… with children. Some as young as 7. “Widespread child seduction had become associated with the ‘best’ members of society.”

That is what held sway over the monarchy.

So let’s return to the Sabbateans. What did they believe in? You see, the conversion of Sabbatai Zevi was not an apostasy, but a sacrament. To save the world, Zevi had to pass into the world of gentiles, which meant converting. And so too did Frank. Zevi became a Muslim and Frank became a Catholic.

So what did these Sabbateans, these Frankists believe? They believed that they had to join their Messiah’s fight and do as he did.

Firstly, they too had to falsely convert, and enter the kelipot, the Kingdom of Evil. Their true faith would be that of the prophet of 1666.

But their false faith would embed them among Quakers, Reform Jews, heretical Orthodox and Reformed Christians, Enlightenment thinkers, Masons, and all manner of people. There they would spread their beliefs. And what were their beliefs? Why, the same as Rasputin, of one of these very heretical sects. Holy Sin. Sex Magic.

And… other things.

In the darkness, they helped each other prosper.

It may be instructive to inform you that Sabbatai’s name? It means Saturn.

The Sabbateans were the Saturn worshippers. They infiltrated sects and ideologies around the world. And their beliefs sound awfully familiar, now don’t they?

“I know the slander on the part of those who say that they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan.”


The mail order catalogue is dead, but shopping is not. Consoom is dead, long live consoom! Today, many people buy things at the Big Box stores or Amazon. And here, at the Big Box stores, you have class distinction. You see, there are many, fundamentally the same… But different. Big Box stores are all Big Box stores, but people will describe a vague distinction between them, not in the products, but in the atmosphere. That’s class culture at work. We respond to market segmentation by class.

So let’s start. Walmart is working class/lower middle. That one should be obvious, but I will still state it. The focus is on frugality and everyday low prices. The working class, by necessity, counts pennies. Walmart is bulk, but bulk of low grade/commodity grade items. The customers are usually dressed in a slovenly, prolish manner, and they act accordingly. I see a lot of arguments and messes at Walmart. I like it. It feels earthy, secure, down to earth, authentic. There’s not a lot of focus on projecting an image – people are here to shop.

Up a rung is Target. Target is middle class. You can tell by how it markets and positions itself. No longer are you here for [product], you’re here for the Target experience. You’re not a customer, you’re a ~guest~, like you’re at a hotel. And there is conspicuous wait staff. The middle class like the experience of being conspicuously waited on and treated as special, worthy of distinction. The analogue here is how the middle class in Fussell’s day loved “posh” French restaurants that focused on the continental atmosphere and wearing fancy clothes. They’re not just there for the food, they’re there for the atmosphere. Target shoppers aren’t just there to shop, they’re there to live – and Tar-jay will help. The price is a little higher, and this keeps penny-pinching proles away. It is subtle things that classgate.

Next in our list is Costco. Costco is upper middle class. Costco is very austere and minimalist. Customers are still waited on, but silently. At Walmart, you have to go flag someone down. At Target, the wait staff gets in your face. At Costco, everything runs smoothly, invisibly. The theme of frugality returns, but in a variant form. Things are cheap because they’re bought in bulk. But what’s being bought isn’t cheap. The Costco promise is the cheapest price *for the finest of goods*. Real extra virgin olive oil, imported wine, wagyu steak, Mexicoke, etc. The message is clear – Costco customers expect the finer things in life, and they treat it as the everyday, not as a conspicuous expenditure for which costlier is better. Steak is just the grocery bill, and you’ve got to keep it down. It is similar to another class marker. Costco is the dusty car of Big Box stores.

But there is also another side – the luxury car. And what’s the Luxury Car?

Well, you had to have guessed it. Whole Foods.

Whole Foods/Costco represent New Money/Old Money. Frankly, Whole Foods is a place that makes me incredulous. It’s flashy, it’s showy. Everything about a Whole Foods is meant to show off gaudy, conspicuous wealth. What they sell is often ridiculous and they sell it at ridiculous prices. At Whole Foods, you make a splash. So what above? Is there a Big Box store of the upper class? No, frankly. It would go out of business. There are simply not enough upper class people to sustain a Big Box store. But they do have their own stores. They’re smaller, more specialized stores. The upper class has small, boutique stores selling basically handcrafted or specialized versions of goods. These stores are expensive, and the products are almost indistinguishable from generic – but they are fine, very fine. You will find them in the back alleys of cosmopolises. Does the upper middle class have boutiques? Yes, but not for regular stuff.

Basically, you spend lots of money on amusing white elephants. The upper middle class has plenty of money and likes to be amused. Being amused is an important class value.

The old Fussell wisdom still holds true, mostly. A general disdain for education is prolish. Proles (rightfully) mistrust the higher education system. The education system forms a key part of the American class system. I won’t belabor the old points, but I’ll quickly sum it up.

The middle class is very proud of having gone to college. If they are from a small town, they may be convinced this makes them much better than their origin. This is the transplant of CB’s “Midwestern Excellence joke”. It’s middle class to draw the line between college-educated and not.

The upper middle class assumes college is a given, since most of them have been getting an education since time immemorial. The thing that brings status here is going to a good, prestigious college. Don’t just go to Podunk Directional State U. You’ve got to be a Harvard man like your uncle and your father and your grandfather – carry on that legacy. The principle of legacy. This is what matters.

Uppers often go to silly little Lib Arts colleges that cost a king’s ransom.

Speaking of king’s ransom, let’s move on from Fussell and talk about what’s new. In his day, college was cheap. Now it isn’t. While the uppers can pay their way, lower classes must figure out how to pay for college. The proles, often first gen students, get need-based aid if they can wrangle the education bureaucracy/FAFSA. What they misunderstand is the generosity of need-aid at prestige schools. If they get loans, it is often because they go to for-profits or stingy low-grade schools. It is the middles that bear the brunt of student loans. Their parents are too well-off to fairly qualify for financial aid, and yet they are not well-off enough to pay their children through. So the middle class ends up saddled with student loans, made worse by high tuition. While uppers often go to these strange liberal arts colleges, they’re not an unpopular choice among the middles, since they’re not as competitive as fighting for one of the Harvard slots. But the price is steep, incredibly steep. So the upper middles. The more prestigious universities have incredibly generous aid packages and fat endowments to fund them. As such, many upper middles end up getting full ride need-based scholarships or sometimes full ride+ merit scholarships that actually make money. This is helped along by generous loopholes in the tax code that allow them to maximize the financial aid given to them by shielding lots of income and assets from FAFSA. Piketty has studied the US tax code, and the tax rate begins to decline at the UMC as SSI phases out. Tax and asset shelters allow the UMC to game the system and get “welfare”. The result is that I graduated to a higher income than most of you and without a penny of student debt.

Remember, privilege is what you get for free.

If you pay for it, they’re selling you something. The tax gap in action. Note the dip that starts at the top 10% and dives at the top 1%. That is the UMC hole. Red is with sales tax, blue without.


So that’s paying for the party. What about getting there? Let’s talk about school. This is something else that has changed since Fussell’s day, and it deserves some looking at it. What does schooling look like for the classes? For the underclass, school is like an tiny prison. The purpose is discipline. Rarely can enough order be imposed to teach anything, and the students often aren’t terribly interested in learning anything anyways. These schools are usually failing. Teach For America kids go here. The working class will send their kids to whatever’s around. They don’t have the luxury of uprooting to chase a school. This can be good, this can be bad. For what it’s worth, I had a working class Latina classmate in Calc, and these people get sucked up into the UMC stream. The middle class is the beginning of school consciousness and the desire for a “good school”. Their main goal is to avoid the disorder of the underclass, so for them, “good school” is a euphemism for white school. You can admit that here. Ha! Any school is enough for “college”.

What is alien for Fussell’s generation and probably most of you is what I call “The Thunderdome”. It is a school system of intensive winnowing and it is the main pipeline from which our nation’s elites are produced. This is the form of intense American meritocracy. It begins when the aspirant elite is a toddler. They begin to take IQ tests to qualify for an elite preschool as well as personality screening. The cutoff for these tests is usually somewhere about 130. Some parents make their toddlers do test prep. The stakes are high. If accepted, the Thunderdome begins. The toddler, then child, then teenager, begins to compete with their rival-peers for resources and attention. The best survive, the rest are winnowed. Rank and yank. Ace the test or don’t come back. At every stage, advance. Never fail. A grade that isn’t an A is a permanent black mark on the transcript that will ruin your chances for Harvard. The child must have perfect grades, perfect grades, and perfect extracurriculars. The leadership requirement means they must outmaneuver their rival-peers to take a club. Many cannot handle the pressure. The suicide rate is not insubstantial. Coffee is common. A common coping mechanism beyond caffeine is performance-enhancing drugs. A swift trade in amphetamines has developed, as well as cocaine. Anything to get an edge in the academic race. The winners are the products of “meritocracy”, its blighted fruits. They are, as a rule, both brutal and conformist – conformity is a must to reach “perfection” as defined by a grading rubric. No principles but obedience. No desire but hunger. An Ivy league professor, himself an alumnus, compared the commencement speech he had received, one calling for noblesse oblige and reminding them of their responsibilities, to the one his young students were receiving.

They were told thus:
You are the fruits of meritocracy, and you deserve this and more. The world belongs to you by right. You must take of it. So eat, eat and never be full, and feast until the world’s ending – this is the truth of the world and what is right.

Anyways. On to the upper class. More cheerful! The upper class is schooled and socialized to be affable. Their schooling is not as intensive, generally, because the goal of their education is to make them good members of the upper class: socialites and networkers. For the upper class, the world can be treacherous, so school networks can be some of the most honest and true sources of friendship. In addition, a lot of their education doesn’t just come at school, but exists passively, in their upbringing. The upper middle class is cultured and sophisticated by education and training, the result of 10 hour school days. The upper class absorbs knowledge by osmosis. They end up with a passing knowledge of fine art because everyone knows it. They read books by whim. The goal is to create that charming affability and the perfect manners for which the upper class is famed. Imperturbably fine spirits, level moods, and a willingness to cover. Generosity befits an upper class person. This leads me to manners, but that’s a matter for another day.

A subject conspicuous in its absence from the Fussell book. Money and class are not the same thing, but, of course, they are related. Without money, one cannot maintain the expenditures needed to live above low proledom for long. So then money. For proles, money is a means for consumption. Proles convert money into goods or services and then consume them. For the lower sorts of proles, this consumption is primarily for survival, but the higher proles enjoy many (very expensive) luxury goods like jetskis and boats. Why is this so? Precarity. @acczibit has a concept “Hood Post-Scarcity”, where one can satisfy all one’s needs, but a single emergency would wipe out any savings. Luxury goods are expensive but “cheap” compared to wealth. Money is here today, gone tomorrow. Spend while you can.

As you move into the middle class, incomes are not necessarily higher, and often lower. But the tone is different. The watchword of the middle is “comfortable”. 90% of the time, when you meet someone who self-describes their upbringing as comfortable, that’s middle class. If they describe themselves as upper middle class but have low class consciousness, they’re also middle class. Twitter is a very middle class place – most of its users are middle class. The middle class no longer fears starvation – here is the source of its comfort. Instead, the middle class uses its spare cash for *status*. The middle class is always attempting to keep up with the Joneses, because its key value is respectability. So the middle class is in an arms race to maintain its status. It buys trends because it is forced to *conform*. And why must the middle class conform? Because little separates them from proledom. Certainly not their income. Respectability means keeping up the habits that keep you from becoming another “deplorable”, who often have lots of personal and life drama. Middles live by codes. Because of these material realities, the middle class plays the role of morality police. Their main asset is their home, and the patrolling of morality helps preserve the niceness of their neighborhood – and their net worth.

Remember: Class is downstream of material conditions. Above this, the upper middle. Here, many living expenses are permitted to fall, since the UMC does not have to follow (expensive) trends, while income drastically increases. This creates an inevitable and perpetual surplus. Within a year of graduation, I had >100k. Here begins the accumulation of capital. What is money here? Money is a tool. Money is power. Money is not hoarded, but deployed to useful ends. The UMC readily uses money to solve its problems. But it primarily is a means of accumulating more money and projecting power. Money can be donated to buy influence, and influence can be used to advance the self. Every investment begets further investment. The UMC is funding political movements, research, etc. Bill Gates was born UMC. As Burnham says, the UMC is the strongest part of the ruling class. Now, let us digress.

Imagine the classes as celestial spheres in the firmament. Hydrogen gas is capital.

The life of the underclass is fragmented, bizarre, full of misadventures, prison, and drama. They go from gig to gig, and sometimes prison to prison. They are space debris. If the space debris can cohere, if some semblance of order can be brought to life, then there appears a terrestial planet out of these space rocks. The proletarian has a functioning life now, a routine, and steady work. But no savings. No capital. That can change. When a proletarian internalizes the disciplined living of the middle class, the need to live respectably, it begins to save. It develops a small capital buffer, which is the “comfort” of the middle. The middles are gas giants. They have capital, but it is inert. However, the process of saving is long. Eventually, a successful middle accumulates enough gas that something changes. The capital begins to work upon itself. The gas ignites.

A star is born.

A Novus Homo takes their place among the Nobiles. Which, finally, leads me back on track. The upper class. While the process of entering the nobiles is slow, the ascent of a lesser noble to the greater is exceedingly fast. It happens in the “liquidity moment”. The UMC have, on average, a few million. They’re multimillionaires. In the liquidity moment, one very quickly experiences an increase in wealth in an order of magnitude or multiple orders of magnitude. A critical point is passed and explosive growth occurs.

A star becomes a giant. And what is money for these giants? Everything. Nothing. What is water to a fish?

Money is merely the reality they dwell in.

Fundamentally, the upper class does not understand money. In this, and many other ways, they are the most alien class of all. When I met @babs11111111, he asked me how much my Camry cost. His guess? $500,000.

But at the same time, the upper class can be quite frugal. I make money. For better or for worse, the upper class is beyond making money. That means no more is coming. The Banana Test. I do not know how much a banana costs ($10?) and don’t care to learn. By contrast, Babs knows how much a banana costs, down to the cent, because the principal must be preserved, but for big prices, he has no understanding, while I am shrewd and haggle. The upper class just has money. It’s always there. Like the tap, you turn it on and fill up a glass. But it has to be respected carefully, because one day it might go away forever and never return.

That’s the balancing act. The principal must be preserved, at all costs. From this, we see a material reason why the upper class is fundamentally anti-consumerist (whereas the upper middle is minimalist but can spend a lot). Consumerism would devour the fortune and return them to the lower nobility from whence they came.

Not that that happens often. In the act of rising, the upper middle class striver builds ideologies and movements, which become funded into small NGOs, which grow into large bureaucracies of power in triumph. But what happens after the rise?

The NGOs, finally, begin to do their ostensible goal. Where the UMC spends to create power, the UC is beyond striving. The NGOs stop being a front for a machine (or at least, not their machine), and become real charitable endeavors. The main living of the UC person is to be a socialite, and that means charity, charity, charity. For a long time, the upper class family exists in this kind of philanthropic stasis, throwing many fantastical and spectacular charity galas. But eventually, all things end. At long last, the star’s fuel burns out.

Things begin to change, once more. The final change. An upper class family, spending all its time socializing, builds up deep and wide connections across an entire civilization. Normally, it exists in torpor. When the money ends, it wakes. In its waking, it stirs, and it moves the world. Activity goes out across the connections. This causes the entire civilization to shake. When an UMC family ascends to the upper class, that makes the news.

But the decline and fall of an upper class family? That makes world history. The conditions which create and sustain an upper class family are fundamentally rooted in some reality about material conditions. When those are invalidated, the era is changing.

The liquidity moment is so explosive because its agent becomes an avatar of world historical trends. The ending and undoing of those world historical trends is not only as spectacular, it is more spectacular.

The giant goes supernova.

Elements are scattered to the far solar winds in vast, billowing clouds.

In some distant cloud, the fragments begin to cohere again…


So why does Fussell not talk about money? Part of it is that money played a much less central role back then. And why is that?

Something has happened since the 80s.

Let’s talk about consumer debt.

Do the proles have debt? Yes and no. Many of you are familiar with payday lenders, which charge hundreds of % in interest a year. Now that people have cottoned, they are evolving into “social justice microlenders” that… charge hundreds of % in interest a year. But that’s not the only scheme. Witness CreditOne and other shady credit card companies which charge fees for carrying a balance, fees not carrying a balance, a fee when you pay, an annual fee, etc. Like the NASCAR card (NASCARD). Scams. Or rent-to-own, which started with furniture and appliances, but has actually expanded to housing, with the same exploitative terms. In this context, Walmart’s layaway program, with an APR of 7-20%, like the rest of Walmart, is exploitative but relatively benevolent. Subprime car scams involve setting exorbitant payments and luring customers in with promises of zero or almost zero down, then repossessing the car when they inevitably fail to make the payment. Or they might, like the others, charge really high interest. Which leads to the other side of prole debt. No debt. Proles come to distrust this usury, and for good reason. So the other side of proles is movements like Dave Ramsey and going totally debt-free. It makes sense. The kind of debt they run into is almost all totally predatory.

Leaving the proles behind, how does the middle class interact with debt? The middle class believes in having a sanitary credit score. Why? Because it wants debt. But only some debt. Instead of all-or-nothing, like the proles, the middle class separates out its debts. There is good debt and bad debt, and these differ primarily by category. Good debt includes house debt and at least used to include student debt. Car debt is also considered good debt. Bad debt is debt for frivolous purchases and other things. Credit card debt is bad debt.

This is a middle class credit card ad. Let’s analyze it, shall we? The card level is fairly basic, but it is treated as an aspirational goal (gotten after building credit with a pointless card). This is topped off with the symbolism of climbing a mountain. This act of climbing a mountain on vacation, a status expenditure, is treated as far more important than the boyfriend (not husband). Marriage still carries a lot of cultural cachet with the UMC while it is slowly dissolving in the middle. Class matters in how things are marketed.

So to transition to the UMC, let’s look at an ad for a similar product, but for a higher class. Same thing, different culture.

Like the previous ad, it has a travel motif. But the vibe is artsy. Furthermore, the card opens the beginning of a journey, not the end. While the Gold card is the result of building credit for middles, I got offered one (and similar cards) as a broke, 0 income college student.

In this ad and the next ad, we see the principles of amusement and countersignalling the high – shows you don’t hold it in awe. One of my friends, descended from a colonial governor, wears work boots and T-shirts smeared with truck grease to Whole Foods. The card the Vikings are pitching is one of CapitalOne’s top cards.

Here we have big deal Wes Anderson treated with humor and irreverence. Countersignal the high.

Before I forget – note the importance of family in the sincere commercial! What is the end of the journey she undertakes? A good marriage! Striver middles, take note.

So how does this tie into UMC relations with credit? First of all, everything is cheaper for the rich. As mentioned with Costco, the prices are lower. When I shop on Amazon, I get special Amazon Business Prime discounts not available to the hoi polloi. You apply corporate discounts, that’s another price cut. But the credit cards play into this. When you spend, you get money or points. These programs synergize. On UberEats, I pay with a Samsung wallet discount offer on UberCash, and those purchases earn Marriott points. So I get cashback on the underlying credit card in the wallet, points with Samsung, points with Uber, points with Marriott, and all of these get redeemed in my normal life – on top of cheaper sticker price to begin with. All in all, my prices are probably 20% less. The rich do not go into debt on the same terms as the poor. Like many things, it’s cheaper to be rich.

But the relationship with debt, like money, also differs. Money and debt are both part of one pool, liquidity. It’s all lumped together. What matters is the cost (opportunity cost + APR, cash has APR 0%), availability in crisis (cash is perfect), and liquidity needs. In that sense, debt is not necessarily a meaningful concept. Debt becomes part of a general pattern of money deployment to maximize asset efficiency. It’s not debt, but leverage, to be used wisely. It’s all of a kind.

Now, for the upper class, which has money for everything, why would they need debt? And generally, they don’t. But there are exceptions. When an upper class family begins to decline, they still need to maintain their social and philanthropic obligations. It’s all they know. In those times, you begin to see noble estates take on debt. And as these estates become increasingly indebted, they reach a crisis point. They have to act. Let’s take a look at an example. In the late 19th and early 20th century, a grain glut and economic shifts led to the collapse in value and income of vast landed estates, a ruinous event for great magnates and small alike. In Eastern Europe, the result was communism and collectives run by these very nobles. But in Britain? The great lords decided on marriage. They went across the pond and found wealthy heiresses.

The birth of an Anglo-American empire.

The birth of its champion.

Churchill was the fruit of such a union.

His old (American) home is down the road from my lake house. Like I said, the decline and fall of upper class families? That shapes world history.

That’s all for today.

Twitter Volume 1 (Start – June 2021), Part I: Basic Marxism

Many threads, together, a post!

This first section mostly deals with basic Marxist theory, but with fun analogies.

Trying to find the old Luke Ford show where I said the future was out-flanking from the Left so I can soak in my own status points. Occurs to me that Twitter/reddit politics/protesting is a form of parasocial relation where people can pretend to be friends with powerful Dems.

Blue check culture and its hangers-on is like celeb culture but for RBG and others. Incredibly cold takes here, for sure. But the social effect has an added effect – it adds psychological plausibility to the narrative talking heads propagate. Would my “friends” lie to me?

And this is made possible by the dissolution of traditional social bonds. Melt the family, replace it with commoditized Twitter bonds with your designated pal. Secondly, this is part of a greater “theme parking” of life, for lack of a better word. Everything becomes clean, fake.

Bugman technocracy is a natural outgrowth of this cleanness. Everything looks tractable and controllable, ready to be directed. Entertainment further encourages this outlook. In vidya, everything is easy and predictable. Use the Bird Mana to stoke your pops for war!

As if it was a matter of pulling the right levers and pushing the right buttons. People lose sight of the essentials. Politics is zero-sum. Politics is about power, not policy. The lives of the people are reduced to numbers to be regulated.

The people who fall for this feel like the rulers, when in fact, they are the ruled. The more reality separates from their own ego image, the more they have to lash out. Truth is, every society is ruled by a small clique of mostly hereditary elites. The reaction of liberal elites to Trump and the reaction of this author to Yalies shows status illegibility. Status competition through consoom only impresses those of limited means. They aren’t hiding from the plebs. They don’t even know what plebs are.

Without consumption signals, you end up like Twitter. Taste and idea signals dominate. Plebs think about what they’d buy with their money, so to show your class, don’t buy anything. The tension is greatest at the new money/minor nobility descendant barrier.

Showing off your new wealth is a signal that it’s new and therefore bad. 40% of Japanese salarymen at the zaibatsu are samurai descendants, and a sizable minority of the non-noble are going to have 3 generations of PMC pedigree or more. The pattern repeats everywhere.

The university is intricately tied with this status dance as the repository of Ancien Regime values. 80% of 16th century Provencal nobles had degrees. It’s symbiotic. Unis today basically have trained like fucking half of American young people to be Versailles-style leeches.


The deep concern and involvement of increasingly vast swathes of the population with politics is bizarre. It’s bizarre because, well, Sticky Shoe is right. Politics, left or right, is the manipulation of ideological symbols to manufacture consent so some elites can topple others.

Hence Che Guevara (read: Che Guevara Lynch of the Lynch family, noble for nearly a millennium) topples other elites of another stripe. And Lenin topples the Romanovs and sets up his own shop. Rent still gets paid in the USSR, just to a State Owned Company.

Stalin restores order by purging a potentially hostile Party elite. Is he essentially reactionary? Yes. Why shouldn’t he be? Why shouldn’t any ML vanguard party be? Exit Jin Yuzhang, Manchu Prince, nephew of the Emperor. Enter Jin Yuzhang, vice director of Beijing.

Ideology is the belief that literally the same people (hereditary elites) with the same acculturation doing the same things will produce a different result. Hierarchy is conserved through many forms. One man saw through this: Mao.

Mao is able to see that the party structure itself constitutes an elite and will reproduce class privilege, ergo, a revolutionary state must undergo Permanent Revolution. Well, it turns out, that is a frightfully unpleasant and unpopular state of affairs. It’s rolled back.

When you see someone super excited over politics in that blue check way, what you see is either an elite scheming to get a bigger hat, or a striver who would put their own yoke on you instead. Why does the OWS founder flip as soon as he goes to Davos? Because that was the goal.

So what is the worker to do? First of all, vote for me goyim. I’m your pal. But secondly, recognize no elites are inherently their friend. Instead, the worker can strategically strike in favor of weaker elite factions opportunistically, extracting concessions from the new regime.

This means rejecting the left/right dichotomy as essentially a hobgoblin of capital. Instead, strike for those who you can exert leverage on, like in Yugoslavia, where young noble children allied with workers to overthrow their fathers. Then they rewarded the workers with coops.

But wait, Monsieur! Stalin was a working class man! How can he act according to aristocratic or bourgeois class interest? Because the nature of a vanguard is to be a ruling class, and all ruling classes trend towards aristocratic class consciousness. All nobles began as peasants.

I suppose I’ll expand on a comment I made on Spandrell’s blog. I am capital. Tucker Carlson represents a faction of capital. The Pentagon is capital. Why would Redgov, the military-industrial complex and its interests, red-bait? It’s simple – the tendency of profit to decline.

The long run interest rate and long run profit rate are intertwined. The developed world is facing widespread ZIRP, or worse, NIRP. Many investment classes have reached negative profit levels. That represents capital destruction. Productive capital is being destroyed.

While the billionaire class can flee this through imperialism and globalism, minor capital like myself cannot. Neither can the Pentagon, for obvious reasons, or domestic industry. Bezos is happy to take a larger share of a shrinking pie. I’m not.

What’s the answer? Worker coops have proved a durable method of raising profit rates, as seen in domestic coop industry and Austrian social housing. I won’t get into particulars. If you raise profits by 4%, and the long run interest decline is .02%/yr, you buy 200 years.

Thus, a reform towards socialism and worker-owned means of production extends the life of the ruling class. I’ll see you in 2220 for the next crisis of capital, the showdown between the Party-State vanguard and the new self-owned proletariat.

And yeah, the idea that Twitter anarchists seem to have where the Revolution swoops in tomorrow and they get to have FALGC is utopian fantasizing. Just remember, my class interests aren’t yours, even if they sometimes intersect.

Anyways. Speaking of this little gremlin, Matt, we have another solution to the 2020 crisis of capitalism. What if we just import, like, a billion people. Whoa. Naturally, the woke left defends the principle of limitless immigration as sacred. But what does it actually do?

Why don’t we “listen to Bernie?” To quote Mr. Sanders, “Open borders is a Koch Brothers proposal.” Not only do more workers drive down the cost of labor, more identities allow for capital to play a divide-and-conquer racial game. Diverse communities are less cohesive communities.


So who gains? Well, the GDP goes up. But what does that even mean? The GDP per capita doesn’t go up. And the median income goes down as the population composition is shifted downwards to lower classes and the great mass of the proletariat loses bargaining power.

So why should it matter if GDP goes up? It’s simple. Just as socializing the means of production can raise profits and rescue the capitalist class, so too can generating more growth. While the people remain poor, the corporations are able to grow. The capitalists prosper.

Markets, ever more markets, seeking ever more growth. Not only does the domestic grow, so too does global consumption as a whole, since First Worlders consoom more goods than Third Worlders. And there you have a solution for capital’s woes.

One way or another, capital will find a solution. At the end of the day, the ruling class rules, and it will find a way to save itself, taking its materially governed course into the future. But you can move it towards a path that also benefits you. Seize the means of production.

Finally, as a followup to my last thread on this crisis of capital, in 2220, when the Stalinist state runs out of profit in turn, it will also try to save itself. What’s one way to open a new market? The market of space. And that’s how you get United Empire Space Stalinism.

Endless markets in Endless Space… 2.

Unironically love me a slimeburger with cheese as I guzzle liquefied corn in my pod while watching liquid modernity on my Armeniaphone.

I like to think a lot about ads and what they reveal about society. Its wants, its fears. The adworld is not the real world, but some sort of twisted reflection. We despise it, but clearly, we also want it. Adworld is the promised hedonist utopia.

No wonder the average DSA “socialist” thinks not about political economy, but consumption as the key marker of the socialist future. Working only 20 hours a week on hobby amusements. Living in free housing anywhere. It’s a reflection of a fixation on consumption.

All politics becomes, like a T-shirt, another product. And the politics, in turn, reflects the spirit of consumption. Where are the builders? All we have are the eaters. But you cannot have a world where everyone is a hobby farmer working 20 hours a week.

The bourgeois socialist dream implicitly rests on economic assumptions that must demand exploitation of *someone’s* labor, forcing *somebody* to do the unfun, unhobby work. Like the slimeburger itself, DSA socialism is “Impossible”.

The impossibility means it will never come, thus preserving the current class order. Thus, real class interests are reproduced using the fantasy. Price is only the flip side of cost. So long as products must be produced with depreciated capital and labor, there must be cost.

Claims we will use wealth taxation to *pay for* this or that program are in reality regressive claims because they feed a common myth. The falsehood is to conceive of wealth as a movable stash of consumer goods. Large fortunes are not dragon’s hoards of gold.

Even if they were, gold cannot conjure new hamburgers or horse buggies into being on its own. Rather, large fortunes consist of control of the means of production through debt or equity instruments. Amazon cannot be converted *into* universal healthcare.

This common misconception leads to one of the most common (and not misguided) criticisms from the average working Joe: “You just want free shit. You want gibs.” If wealth taxes were framed as means of redistributing the means of production, one sees what socialism is.

Socialism is the promise that the workers and their respected foremen can labor in peace without the depredations of coastal elites and meddling Washington bureaucrats. They themselves will control the means of production. Framed like that, the worker understands.

Chasing the bait, or failing to outwit a system. Let’s take the power instinct. In the primal environment, why chase power? Because power is status is women. As we are complex apes, not simple apes, this relation no longer holds as strongly. Power can often mean no women. Between the Silicon Valley nerd and some kind of rugged, muscular warehouse worker, who ges more sex? Or what about Cardinal Richelieu and other such powerful clergy? The stated purpose of the urge and the actual biological purpose of the urge divorce. Power becomes unfitness.

But a funny thing can happen. The TRP movement accrued a crust of rhetoric about building power. At the same time, it advised various alpha behaviors which often do not lead to power. And yet… what is the result? The result of adopting those alpha behaviors was not power. But it did result in sex! And sex was the biological purpose of the urge to begin with! We can see that the urge, ironically, did loop back around to fulfilling its purpose, through the failure of achieving the conscious purpose in favor of the subconscious.

We can think about many of these biological and social systems this way. Success at the conscious goal may cause failure at the hidden, true goals. The system may look totally broken, but in its brokenness, accomplish some other goal, Chesteron’s Fence style People can fail at their stated goals and still get what’s good for them. Getting back to the theme of this account: The DSA fails at its conscious goals of revolution and pushing the party left. But it succeeds at the real class goals of networking its middle class members.

Good for a person vs good for a class.

The median wealth of aristocrats went up after the French Revolution, but individually, it could be quite the tragedy.

The DSA machine chews up a lot of middle class kids, but as a class, it produces government/NGO sinecures for them. Bureaucratization is a political strategy which allows an executive to achieve absolutism. FDR, Stalin, Louis XIV – all these power struggles create a bureaucracy to cut down an aristocracy, leaving a very strong central figure but hollowing out the future.

Après moi, le déluge. A similar principle holds in corporate politics. Top employees and department-fief executives are powerful, powerful enough to oust the C-suite. A strong HR department allows you to collar these threats to your power. By running hiring/firing through them, you can purge. But like the bureaucracy in the state, HR is not a value center. By itself, it is not an independent power source, power is delegated through it. So you always have your C-suite control over it. The monarch plays the bureaucrat against the peerage to maintain control. “The natural border of the US is the Rhine.” – FDR

By subduing all power in your polity, you are able to wield an immense amount of force. You can build a world empire. You can sprawl everything. The loyalty problem is what governs parties. Bureaucrats have perfect loyalty. The problem? Once built, the bureaucracy never goes away. Gore Vidal called FDR our American Augustus, and he was. But the machine he made didn’t go away.

Without a master, it grows unceasingly, and its master becomes itself. The bureaucracy, the eunuchs of China, the apparatchiks – all these are the same thing. They are the machine gone rogue, existing to enlarge itself. This is true of both private and public bureaucracies. The Ford Foundation no longer serves the Fords, but is a thing for itself. The point of the DSA is itself.

Political ideologies, if they are to be stable, must reproduce the power of the class that enacts them.

Good for a person vs good for a class.

The median wealth of aristocrats went up after the French Revolution, but individually, it could be quite the tragedy.

The DSA machine chews up a lot of middle class kids, but as a class, it produces government/NGO sinecures for them. Bureaucratization is a political strategy which allows an executive to achieve absolutism. FDR, Stalin, Louis XIV – all these power struggles create a bureaucracy to cut down an aristocracy, leaving a very strong central figure but hollowing out the future.

Après moi, le déluge. A similar principle holds in corporate politics. Top employees and department-fief executives are powerful, powerful enough to oust the C-suite. A strong HR department allows you to collar these threats to your power. By running hiring/firing through them, you can purge. But like the bureaucracy in the state, HR is not a value center. By itself, it is not an independent power source, power is delegated through it. So you always have your C-suite control over it. The monarch plays the bureaucrat against the peerage to maintain control. “The natural border of the US is the Rhine.” – FDR

By subduing all power in your polity, you are able to wield an immense amount of force. You can build a world empire. You can sprawl everything. The loyalty problem is what governs parties. Bureaucrats have perfect loyalty. The problem? Once built, the bureaucracy never goes away. Gore Vidal called FDR our American Augustus, and he was. But the machine he made didn’t go away.

Without a master, it grows unceasingly, and its master becomes itself. The bureaucracy, the eunuchs of China, the apparatchiks – all these are the same thing. They are the machine gone rogue, existing to enlarge itself. This is true of both private and public bureaucracies. The Ford Foundation no longer serves the Fords, but is a thing for itself. The point of the DSA is itself.

Political ideologies, if they are to be stable, must reproduce the power of the class that enacts them.

So, monopoly production. I talk about how this leads to a certain political economy in my latest blog post. But it occurs to me that it might be helpful to explain the concept itself. A monopolist is someone that is the only major producer in a sector. Why does this matter? Well, a monopolist can extract rents by using market power. It can control the labor supply and dictate wages as a monopsonist – the only buyer of said labor skills. It can control prices on its products as the only game in town. By this, it can gain excess profits. The problem with this? The monopoly is fragile. It is a big creature, like an elephant, and must consume extra economic calories to survive. It is more exposed to the whims of fate. It can create variance to destroy its smaller rivals, but it is exposed to systemic shocks. So if a monopoly just sucks blood, why not trustbust them all? That’s the answer the early 20th century progressives came up with. You can break it up into oligopoly pseudo-competition.

It doesn’t work out. It worked then, doesn’t work now.

Why? Lenin said Monopoly is Good, Actually. Why is that? It seems strange to praise such things.

First of all, monopoly is the progressive (here, meaning merely consequent) direction of history. Monopoly is the production-relation of the Managerial Age. Monopoly is a planned economy. Monopoly needs big government and big government needs monopoly. But why do the *people* need monopoly? What does monopoly do that that makes it not an aberration on history? Two words: irreducible complexity. What does that mean? There are products that are made up of so many different pieces with so specialized a customer that the constituent components of a monopoly business *do not constitute viable independent businesses*. As such, a broken monopoly must still function as a de facto monopoly.

But we’ve got problems. The USSR collapsed. Planned monopoly production necessarily suffers from the information problem because the planners are not close to the business, but far. Adding more plans and regulations doesn’t fix it. 26%. 26%. Today, 18% of Americans work directly for government and 8% indirectly through NGOs. A full quarter of our workforce as apparatchiks, and a mismanaged economy. That’s trillions of dollars of value being tied. The Revolution will make the world’s first trillionaire. Just as the French Revolution resolved the contradictions of feudalism and birthed the bourgeois democratic system in Europe, *increasing* the median wealth of the nobility, so too does the problem of moving from planned to social production present tremendous latent power. The stage is set for a politics of the 21st century. The stakes are high. Who will complete the system of the NEP?

Plannerism is not sufficient to have Socialism. I think this is a really important point to stress because of modern capitalism. Modern capitalism is not the early, primitive capitalism in which a few owner-operator-shareholder bourgeois compete, but the finance capital system outlined by Lenin, in which the power of the bourgeois is diffused and specialized into various roles and production monopolies. Under such a regime, we already have a system of central planning – by the key bankers and apparatchiks.

By the plannerist definition, we already live under socialism – and God save us from it! 18% of the US works for the government directly, 8% for NGOs. Some few hundred financiers call the shots and by this, the bulk of this industrial colossus is directed. But this leads me into my point – you collapse the distinction between socialism and capitalism. However, there exist intermediary stages between communism and capitalism. Suppose all businesses are privatized into coops. We’ll call this semi-NEP, because there will still exist a directing class of Red Technicians which serves a dual role as a ruling class and Party Vanguard. This is obviously still capitalism. But over time, the roles of the Red Technicians could phase out (not that they will). Under this “full NEP”, the only coordinators would be foremen and craftsmen, who serve a dual role as technical experts AND workers, rather than engineers/doctors/other professionals. In this, the workers would wholly own production. So they would not be self-exploiting. Profit would not be abolished, but there would be no fraction given to bourgeois. This does seem like an intermediate state between communism and capitalism.

The value-form still exists because the different coops must trade because labor, capital, and resources remain scarce. From each according to their ability, to each according to their ability, and no coercive control or extraction. The second criticism relates to your critique of “socialist money”. It is true that socialist money necessarily preserves the value-form and commodity production. However, the idea of money as labor-scrip to purchase use-value is genuinely a deviation from capitalist money.

You overlooked the dual role of money under a capitalist system outlined in Capital I/II. Money is the means by which labor and bourgeois acquire products to consume. However, money also can acquire control-power, and capital *ownership* is essential to understanding power under capitalism. Anyone can accumulate value and then exchange it for control, allowing them to direct production and politics. Thus, money is not just consumption… It is crystallized power, which can be saved, and which renders all consumption opposed to the goal of power accumulation. By detaching money from control-power, you prevent people from accumulating control outside the Party-State mechanisms, forcing power formalism. i.e. power lies in office and formal control of means of production by appointment/election, and not through purchase or acquisition. The oligarch is formally part of the State and his position is revocable. This is an advantage the USSR and China enjoy over wild oligarchy.

And secondly, by detaching this, one also undermines the inheritance principle. Not just that property go to one’s heirs, but *control* does. Party offices cannot be inherited even if cars, dachas, and cigars can be. And this is essential when considering the historical context. Stalinism did not emerge from the void but in the context of a struggle with the Bolshevik Party, substantially composed of descendants of Tsarist aristocratic elites. As such, the inheritance principle and power-accumulation principles are core to that class consciousness.

The creation of Socialist Money is not just an arbitrary revision, but a reflection of the need of Stalin to struggle against and prevail over the feudal-aristocratic Party, replacing it with a loyal and centralized bureaucracy. Without that, he would not be able to win WWII. It is a repeat of Peter’s struggle against the boyars, and Stalin much admired Peter the Great for these very reasons. And as a practical man and from a practical viewpoint, we cannot discount power politics as a real material source of conflict and engine of history.

On material conditions and ideology – by analogy.

Do you recall the Bush and early Obama age of gaming? With brown and bloom everywhere? It was dark, it was grim, it was grimdark! Reviewers said it reflected the tastes of consumers, who wanted gritty realism, not kid heroes. Consumers were adults now! Dark, edgy adults! They wanted a dark, edgy product with a dark edgy aesthetic!

Yeah, that was bullshit. It turns out that that age of gaming was actually one about noble heroes and traditional, if paint-by-numbers, narratives. Big damn shoothero. So why the grimdark narrative? Why brown and bloomgloom? Some sort of artistic subversion where noble heroes looked like… dirt? No, nothing so high-minded. Graphics were improving. Games were moving past origami paper blob creatures. The new tech was bloom/brown. The material conditions – improved graphics cards – required the backfilling of some bullshit ideological reason for why everyone was brown now, and why you should care. But it was all bullshit! It turns out that games were going to get way, way darker in tone and story content. Spec Ops The Line pointed out real conflicts aren’t sunshine rainbows where big damn heroes kill bad guys in comic numbers to protect FreedomLiberty. You’re possibly a monster! The games industry answered that self-awareness with a Nordic Gamer Yes. But the brownbloom went away! Games became about evil people, very very evil people, who loved murder and pillaging innocents while snarkily quipping. In tone, very dark. But the graphics turned bright and cheery. Darker stories, but in Amazing Technicolor. Not ideology, but improving technology.

Now the current gen of graphics cards, first developed to mine bitcoin, can do realistic water and mirror lighting. So there are mirrors and water everywhere. They’re going to come up with some kind of narrative, a sell-story, to push these graphics cards. But it’s all bullshit! I actually like this aesthetic shift, but it’s technology-driven. Game developers put in the latest graphics tech to flex and sell graphics cards. That’s all. It’s not an artistic decision. Brown realism was just to sell graphics. It existed to *manufacture* hype.

And so what is ideology? Ideology is the manufacturing of consent for changed material changes. They craft narratives for the same sorts of purposes as the games companies want to sell graphics cards – to sell a regime more configured for the material conditions of the era. Do maggot sausages save the Earth? Short answer, no. Long answer, no. Why farm crickets when they have a feed conversion ratio as good as chickens, and a worse taste? For the narrative. For the humiliation. For the story. But just to sell some bullshit, mostly. NatSoc racial war, USSR communism and social justice, American freedom and justice – all of these were selling the same *material* changes by creating a packaging for managerial-monopoly capitalism. The US is the last one standing, but the cracks are showing in this model. Industry is too big and complex to efficiently centrally plan now. The regime has to collapse into, revolution, or reform into a regime more well-suited to time. They’ll have a story for that. I have a story for that – monarcho-communism. But it’s just a story! What you get? What you will get is a regime well-shaped and well-designed for the coming age of production, an age focused on high-tech manufacturing, automated industry, and the information economy. China’s already there, arguably. The question is if America survives the transition. And what this age of production will evolve into! Perhaps something liberating! Perhaps something horrifying. Perhaps a monster beyond even Zero HP Lovecraft’s imagination.

Stalin didn’t know he was building the bureaucratic Soviet economy. Great Men are still swept by history. In gaming, as in politics, I pray that the future will bring a renewed age of heroes. Sure, it’s corny. But corny doesn’t mean bad. Ironic evil, the watchword of the late Millennial era, is bad. It feels bad. It does bad.

Snark is the sadism of neoliberalism asserting itself.

Compare the behavior of the wretched “Left” to that of Lenin. In the Third Duma, the so-called Black Reactionary Duma, 34 peasants of 68 were right MPs, another 15 liberals. Did Lenin conclude the peasants were hopeless? Castigate them? No! He went to war against the mystifiers! He attacked the Mensheviks, the Liquidators, the compromisers, and all those who would blame the *peasant* as regressive. He knew that the peasant’s faith in the Tsar could only be dispelled by destroying the myths of liberalism, and this had to be done through the PARTY. He purged the Party of the weak and built the strong. He spread agitprop. And most of all, he set out to prove to the peasant, through experience, that the Tsar’s cronies were bloodsuckers, a cabal of Satanic pedophiles who mercilessly exploited the poor workers – body and soul!

Of course, Lenin was vindicated – in truth, despite Menshevik lies, the deplorable peasants were in fact the *closest* to Red radicalism, not the *farthest*, and certainly not the bulwark of reaction. They desired the leadership of a true Tsar – and Lenin brought it. The Mandate of Heaven has been lost. The American CHUD awaits the coming of a true Tsar and a true peerage. Who will take up this heavy burden? Any seizure of power by the proletariat is necessarily premature – power is what conditions its wielder to power. The socdem is one who says “Riper, riper” to the fruit on the vine until it rots off, then smugly says that this fleshy carcass proved the prudence of their caution. The proletariat will never live up to the ideological purity tests of so-called red intellectuals because the proletariat does not exist as the theorizing class. The proletariat works – and the essence of working without burden is to work without burden, not to talk about it.

Can the workers protest without “tangible results”, win victories they do not profit from? Yes. But they have action and spirit. Don’t blame the mass for not knowing theory. It is the job of the party to provide the theory and the plan. It’s easy to be a lecturing intellectual. In the aftermath of 1905, the peasants were majority “right-wing”. Lenin had to show them that there were Black Hundreds police infiltrators among them encouraging them to Fedpost and misstep. Because these right-wing peasants? They were – and had been – revolutionary material. In the meantime, what is the task of the class conscious advanced worker? To develop and expand the reach of the secret, illegal press. To ensure the second uprising succeeds where the first one failed (and the first is always doomed), there must be secret, secure comms. Don’t worry about numbers.

Be a lion, fight like a lion. The SocDems, the liberals, the police will have the numbers. And still, with only a handful, you can make them quake, if you have the strength of God and an iron will. 50 of you must become strong enough to be a contender against the whole machine!

Be the light in the darkness.

Do not ask for a savior. Be able to save others.

Picture, if you will, an awakened proletarian, full of fire and brimstone. His passions are inflamed against tyrants, his gut burns with righteous justice. With hammer and sickle in hand, he strikes out against against the regime and its machine. Miraculously, the regime falls. It is joy and light. Everything can change. Now, the peasants can be free. The lion can lie down with the lamb. At last, oppression is ended.

Our proletarian hero soon finds that a bigger barrier to the reading of theory was apathy, not force. He was always a bookish sort, and assumed others were the same, and only lack of opportunity stopped them. What a shock to find that they preferred their crude amusements.

Try as he might, he could not make them read. Or listen to opera. Or appreciate the fine arts. There are many fine places left abandoned, with much beauty. What is a palace, after all, but a house for government? And we, the Party, are now the government. Should it not be our house? Our House of Government? Our luscious spas and grand dachas? After all… why shouldn’t I? And he deserves it, after all. His duties are vast. His responsibilities lay heavy. It is the People’s Army, but he must lead it. It is his charge as a Party man, one of the shepherds of the proletarian mass (is he no longer a proletarian himself?) Rest befits a warrior. And one day, on leave, he meets a woman who is not of the rough hewn sort, whose eyes glimmer with intelligence, who speaks easily of art and music and the high sciences. He embraces her – but she pulls back: “I am a former person.”

He whispers to himself: “I will change that.”

The wars come to an end. He is old now. And when he washes his face and looks at himself in the mirror, he sees a familiar face, scarred by battle, eyes full of callous pride – the face of a Tsarist officer. For what have the years done? They have taken this callow youth and made him a champion of culture, a student of the most progressive sciences, a defender of the commoner, and a loyal servant of his lord.

The concept of aristocracy is anti-fragile because it arises organically. So long as elites conceive of themselves as elites, as a thing separate and above, and so long as they value certain virtues, then the creation of this class is natural, for that is what the class is, regardless of the words used to describe it. What does competition do? If competition arises along the traditional virtues, then it acts as a thresher, separating wheat from the chaff. The most brutal conditions harden and purge decadence. Anti-fragility benefits from conflict, it is not harmed. Hard times make strong men. After all…

Piast the King was Piast the Wheelwright.

So bring the storm and call the lightning. Let the forest burn out the deadwood. Our body politic is in need of some chemotherapy. The end is the beginning. The beginning is the end. History moves in cycles.