On Sartorial Correctness, or The Ties That Blind

Dearest friends,

I must admit to a deep and enduring flaw.

I cannot properly tie a tie. It’s really knot my forte. Windsors, Italians, Orientals, Hanovers – the technique escapes me. It seems that I will exist in a permanent state of scruffy dishevelment. True, true, I could practice for quite a while, and perhaps I’d get it. But if my younger self, with a juicier, more plastic brain, could not manage the task, then why should I suspect I’d be more able now?

So I won’t do it! Bah, to hell with practice.

Anyways. On to a more pleasant and easy topic. Let’s talk about class signals. Signalling is a topic near and dear to my heart, but it may be a hard cell for you. Still, humor my mad ramblings and accept that this behavior is generally true. Even then, a few behaviors would seem not to trickle down in the same way our black and white cells change color. Namely, we would expect the middle class to be the most fervent and reliable signaler of the ideology.

Why would I say this?

The middle class is plagued by its own anxious gentility. A strict adherence to the party line, the dominant signals of the day, can be considered essentially risk-averse. No one ever lost their job for expressing too much rightthink. Therefore, someone without any sort of independent power and who very much wants to hold on to their job will signal correctly. And cognitive dissonance being a painful thing, many of them will come to believe it. However, this does not explain why the middle class should be *especially* correct in its signalling. Wouldn’t higher classes also have an incentive to signal correctly to preserve their own status?

Yes, they do. But the strict adherence of the middle class to the perfect version of the signal creates its own opportunity to signal. Namely, if the middle class deploys a polished, well-rehearsed 100% signal, then the upper-middle class ought to deploy a sloppy, half-assed version of said signal. Why? Because signalling in that way shows that one is not afraid of the consequences of failure. If an upper-middle class person is fired – so what? What’s the big deal? He’ll retire to his estate to play Extremely Irate Birds on his iPhone XXX, perhaps listening to the lewd noises of the Pornograph and awaiting the next e-telegram from his fellows. A half-assed adherence to the norms of the day becomes, in and of itself, a signal of independent wealth or power.

Only the middle class, bless them, would do a foolish thing like go hundreds of thousands of dollars into debt for a useless piece of paper. We’ve got to follow the party line, after all.

It is relatively popular in the Manosphere and the Reactosphere to come up with all sorts of biological or cultural explanations for why women vote and act more reliably left-wing than men. They’re wired to love invaders, or kidnappers, or despise the ingroup, or have too much empathy.

And these explanations sound quite plausible. The problem? In the Weimar Republic, women were far more right-wing than men. If only women voted in Weimar, Hindenburg would have won the first round, and Hitler could have won an outright majority, or at least close to one. The same held true in France. It was a good long while before women won the right to vote in France – lest their irrational, reactionary natures strangle baby democracy in its cradle. And when they did, they confirmed the fears of the menfolk, voting right-wing 25% more than men.

So much for the left-wing nature of women.

Let’s consider class behaviors as emergent properties of g, that little blob of wisp we call intelligence. Women are middling in many respects. The standard deviation of their intelligence is lower, so you will see them cluster around an acceptable, but often not exceptional point. Many women go to college, but women geniuses are rare. Many women could play chess, but they do not number among the grandmasters. At the Most Selective institutions, these shining beacons of reasonableness and respectability, men outnumber women. And the women there are like the howling terrain of Dzungaria or the wind-swept prairies of Kansas – plain.

Women are the middle class of genders.

What does this mean for a would-be purveyor of ideology?

The Rationalist community is a pleasant place for debate. People constrain themselves with certain norms, thus ensuring constructive conversations and learning for all. It is polite. It is learned. It is elegant. What a wonderful place. Why can’t the world be more Rational, like the Rationalist community? And ideology architects have such lovely arguments for why their solution would be so much more efficient and orderly and well-run than the present state of affairs. The best part is is that they are often correct, and that their explanations and solutions are exceedingly simple. Simple is good and correct is better.

If you lived in an elite community governed by the norms of the Cathedral, you would believe it was heaven on earth. And though you might search and search for any imperfection, you would be unable to find one. Move over, Rasselas, your quest is at an end. This is the Happy Valley perfected. And it doesn’t have a damn thing to do with the virtues of the Cathedral.

As it turns out, if you give a bunch of IQ140 geniuses with relatively high conscientiousness *anything*, *anything at all*, as a blueprint, they will probably make it work and look damn good in the process. But the problem is that it has nothing to do with the merits of the ideology, and everything to do with them. The architects of ideology are usually of the upper-middle class, and if they are not, their high intelligence has allowed some of its behaviors to independently emerge, and so the unspoken caveat to every prescription is “except in cases where doing this would make no goddamn sense”. Take that privileging of logic and debate to a population more representative of the general populace, and you don’t get the Rationalist community. You get Reddit. And Reddit is a terrible, terrible place, full of all manner of trolls, scoundrels, circlejerkers, snobs, and plain idiots. Worse still, this probably represents a high estimate of privileged reason, not a low one, since there is reason to suspect Reddit is still somewhat more intelligent than the real average America. That beautiful ideology you designed as 100% Neo-Reaction? Remove all the implicit slack and take everything to its logical but retarded conclusion. Now you have 120% Hyper-Reaction and it doesn’t really work very well at all. Or swap for your favorite flavor of Neoliberalism, your own new infallible version of Communism (this one will work), Anarchism, etc.

You may object and say you’ve built some wiggle room in to account for the foibles of man. Wise, very wise. But unfortunately, this is not a one-and-done process. Who teaches the next generation? Teachers. And teachers are terribly female and terribly middle class. So even if 120% Neoreaction is fine, what about 140%? 160%? 180%? Sooner or later, your ideology will reach a breaking point where its solutions stop making any goddamn sense. This is how you start with the well-reasoned, eminently sensible writings of Saints and Church Fathers and end, through aeons of church ladies, with the dog-and-pony show absurdity of modern American Protestantism.

Imagine two principals. Both are issued a zero-tolerance policy regarding violent acts. One day, Count-Principal Maximilian Howe IV, clad in half-askew tie, notices two schoolchildren playing a rather rough game of Cowboys and Elizabeth Warrens. Now, the letter of the law would demand he crack down. On the other hand, he uses his expandingbrain.jpg and correctly assess this as not really a threat and not quite what the policy is meant to curtail and leaves it be. The other principal, Bob Smith, sees this and shuts it down. It’s in violation of the policy, even if it is a natural expression of the need of boys to play. Now, you might protest this is unfair to Mr. Smith – I’m not giving him the same intelligence as our dear Count-Principal. But suppose I do. Mr. Smith sees this play for what it is, something healthy and harmless. Then what? If he is found in violation, that’s the end of his fine career in education. For the Count-Principal, this is a non-issue. He didn’t need the job, as it was a passion project to begin with. He’ll retire to his estate to play 5 dimension hyperbilliards. But Mr. Smith? That’s his ass. That’s a foreclosure on his house. That’s a car payment going unpaid. So he’s going to crack down, even knowing in his gut that he’s wrong to. After all, he’s only following orders…

Only a perfectly fault-tolerant ideology would be immune. Let me know how formulating that goes.

I’ll be here.

Or… or…

I balanced some time between principle and inclination, till I recollected that, when the fish were opened, I saw smaller fish take out of their stomachs; then thought I, “if you eat one another, I don’t see when we mayn’t eat you.” So I dined upon cod very heartily, and continued to eat with other people, returning only now and then occasionally to a vegetable diet. So convenient a thing it is to be a reasonable creature, since it enables one to find or make a reason for everything one has a mind to do.

– Rucka Rucka Ali

Yours in shabbiness,
Monsieur le Baron


2 thoughts on “On Sartorial Correctness, or The Ties That Blind

  1. Dear Baron
    In my experience, there is indeed a generall tendency of any ideology to evolve as descibed in your letter. However, people have a finely honed skill of not doing what they don’t want to do, not doing what they feel is wrong. In your example, Principal Smith can simply not notice any behaviour he should crack down on. If someone forces him to take notice, e.g. by a specific complaint, he admittedly would have to something, but maybe not much, just as much as absolutely necessary. And he’d then’d know someone he crack down on really hard…

    Any man who has been in any large bureaucracy or the military knows how this game is played. Obey the orders you like as well as you can. If you receive orders you dislike, stall, interpret them, ask for clarification, execute them sloppily (everyone makes a mistake sometimes) etc.



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