Ave Machina, or the Rituals of Complex Labor

Dearest friends,

Eldar rule, orks drool. Get dunkt on, nerds. But if I had to pick the faction most true to life, I would pick the AdMech. Of course, I *would* say that as a tech worker. Forget the promise of technology, indeed. In the Foundation series, technology is only preserved by creating a new religion of Scientism.

Hail the Machine Cult.

Go read this things: my comment here and this blog post. While you’re at it, you might as well read both those blogs in their entirety. I’ll wait.

If you’ve read both those things, you may find this blog post a dull rehash. People are dumb. Obviously dumb people are dumb. The problem is that even smart people are dumb. Our greatest minds can, with extreme difficulty, grasp the basic entry-level ideas of a field.

When a person receives a professional education, they are often acquainted with all sorts of principles and rules. Every field has a wide variety of theories and explanations. Some people recite these as mantra. The truth is – it’s all bollocks. It’s tripe. As you go higher in a field, you realize that every field boils down to two things. 1. Do it right. 2. Don’t do it wrong. The problem is that this is very, very hard. Take finance. There are all sorts of fumblings about what the true value of various assets should be and ramblings about the rationality of markets. These crystal cathedrals of math don’t hold up in the real world. But great energy is maintained to pass them along.

What does Warren Buffet do?

1. Buy things which have good value.
2. Don’t buy things which have terrible value.

Easy enough? The trouble is determining what the hell value means. What is value?

Hence, theories. Wrong, useless theories. These theories make the problems of the field more tractable for midwit rule-followers. A Machine Cult makes it possible to tap far greater supplies of labor. There are many, many times more people of 120IQ than there are people of 140IQ. Analysts do labor and they do it according to the Cult, which they believe is true. The labor is useful, but the Cult is wrong. Only by promulgating the invincible truth of the Cult can the field recruit enough grunts to feed it data – data which slowly improves the truth of the mostly wrong Cult doctrine. The produce of the cultists is fed to the true initiates, those who have inducted into the complex and nebulous notion of “value” and actually making money. If these people actually believed the market was efficient, they’d abolish themselves.

Praise CAPM.

Those who can do cannot always write. It is an unfortunate reality that people do not have concrete explanations for all the things they can do by practice. Experience teaches us many lessons we cannot give words. Those who dismiss these practices as irrational do so at their own peril. The Cult allows one to “rationalize” the otherwise irrational by creating a system of true lies. Intuition is a noiseless understanding. We cannot always give it shape. The Cult protects intuition. The founders of a field saw the Truth, but only dimly. They needed more labor and more minds to reach it. Thus, they create a Machine Cult. The Machine Cult Hypothesis is a meta-theory about theories and their social purpose.

If outsiders knew that even the most learned were mostly incompetent, there would be a revolt. And if the cultists knew their labors were done for the sake of a lie, they would question things. How much trouble is caused whenever people realize the wizards of Wall Street bet billions on glorified hunches? And people grumble that the great scientific advances always seem to be 5 years out and never here. If that was revealed to be working as intended, then how many would balk at the vast expenditure scientific research requires? Both cultists and outsiders require certainty, but certainty is in short supply. In order for one to truly succeed, one must pierce through the lies of the Machine Cult and realize the truth. Those who come to understand there is much work to be done and that the problems remain unsolved are the ones able to make names for themselves by producing novel ideas.

But, you may be saying, “Monsieur, this is just a rehash of spandrell’s post. I’m bored and you’re stupid.” True enough, reader. And so far, it is. Still, even an idiot has some ideas.

If we accept the Machine Cult formulation, and an insider/outsider distinction, another property becomes self-evident to us. It took me a while to put this together, but I imagine you have already figured it out.

Across many fields, there is a curious phenomenon. HR departments are disproportionately drawn from the proletarian classes, and not from the aristocracy. The scale of this distortion demands explanation. The explanation is simple. The Machine Cult creates an insider/outsider distinction. The Inner Party does not police the Outer Party, as Orwell put forth in 1984. The Outer Party polices the Inner Party.

Why? How?

Heresy has a damaging effect on all beliefs. This heresy is even more damaging if it happens to be true. Imagine the ignorance of the learned was revealed for what it was. Imagine the politicians were fully unmasked. Chaos. Anarchy. The end of civilization. Global thermonuclear war, maybe.

To be initiated is to no longer fully believe in the Cult. One may believe in it somewhat, but there is always lingering doubt. The writings of the past have many true insights, but much of it makes leaps to try and make something coherent. One cannot be a true believer. Some even repudiate the whole enterprise in their heart. This is existentially dangerous to the Machine Cult, but also necessary to it.

The only ones who can zealously prosecute the faithless are true believers. By nature, the Inner Party cannot be true believers. So where do true believers come from? The Outer Party. The cultists. In the Cathedral and the Cathedral-Society complex, the middle class. To be a true believer is to be handicapped in the pursuit of further knowledge, but their labor is essential to the functioning of the Cult. And they provide one further purpose, a very dear one. How does one dispose of an Inner Party member? Feed them to the mob, and let them do the rest. When Tchen outmaneuvered Morris Dees, Dees was fed to the true believers. Now, Dees was a huckster. But Dees was always a huckster. Many people are pure hucksters. Heresy is a way of life.

As for a plan like Hari Seldon’s? One bumps into so many little secret societies that you start to wonder what they all originated as, before all the memetic cruft. Maybe some of them were meant to stave off the darkness of anarchy. Time reveals even the wise to be the fools they are.

Wonders if there is a 22.8% chance of his doom,
Monsieur le Baron

Cultures are not Greenfield Projects, or the Virtue of Pulling Someone’s Spinal Cord Out Through Their Ass

Dearest friends,

The biggest problem with building shit is that someone else, inconveniently, has already built things there! How dare they? It’s always nice to get out a fresh piece of paper and start anew. If only reality could be so yielding. Instead, you have to deal with the lumpy remains of the past. Still, even lumps become charming with enough age, though the roads remain narrow and cramped.

To make a long story short, if someone calls asking about an arsonist, I’m not home.

While I remain on the lam, I might as well write something.

Cultures are not greenfield projects. Much ink is spilled over the best way to structure society or government or a religion or money or whatever. People identify problems and devise all sorts of fiendishly clever solutions. I can’t understand them all – I am a rather thick and unclever man. But I do know this much. Clever solutions rarely see the light of day. Much as ant farmers and social engineers might wish otherwise, you’re never starting from zero. You’re starting from an existing culture with existing norms. To get a new idea, you have to bridge from the old, and that means creating intermediate steps and watering down the old design. UBI is a functional idea – but to get it, you have to grandfather in the old welfare recipients. That means it loses quite a bit of its shine.

Well, what about revolution?

What about revolution?

Revolution is not some clean sweep of the old order. That’s gloss and infant formula for bright-eyed idealists. Revolutions are beholden to backers, backers with their own demands for power, wealth, and status. To get them their rightful rewards, one must compromise with reality and break with ideological purity. Comrade Director may be leading us into a bright syndicalist future, but it’s one where he has a stately manor and a staff of Comrade Cleaners. Furthermore, complex civilizations require legions of manpower. Society doesn’t run itself. New regimes tend to coopt the elites of the old order. That keeps the lights on (well, as best as they can be kept on when half the people at the plant are dead), but it also reintroduces many of the rigidities of the old regime. Here’s the new boss, same as the old boss.

I really do mean the same.

I understand the feelings of the wignats. Of course I do. They see a strange people who have invaded their home and dare to call themselves the inhabitants. Not only that, they call themselves *more* deserving of the home’s title than you.

That’s how I feel about the self-proclaimed Kshatriya. Sure, they’re not important in the modern Dissident Right. I still don’t like them.

What many would-be revolutionaries fail to understand in their historical narratives is that the house always wins. Those who praise aristocracy but damn the DC swamp monster fail to understand that the swamp monster *is* aristocracy. Sure, it has a bunch of annoying clerisy gnats goading it to be more progressiver, but the core of it is aristocratic. Any narrative that starts with the Jews or the Bourgeois or the smelly people down the street beating the Back-to-Back Every War Champs is, frankly, ludicrous. The aristocracy was not destroyed. It’s stronger than ever. The aristocracy reduced the monarchs into mango puree before rendering the Church into kibbles and bits. Sure, they may not make “good government” or “maximize profit”, but that was never the goal. The goal is to have power. Power is being had. Mission accomplished. The aristocracy is a tremendously fit creature. It is now superbly well-adapted to its niche of stomping on faces and turning avocado toast into poop.

We’re stuck with the consequences of the past. People don’t get to start over. People build over old cultures much like sushiritos follow burritos (TO BE EXPOUNDED ON IN FUTURE EXCITING SUSHIRITO MUSINGS). That’s it, really. You can’t start from nothing. You’re stuck with piles of cultural appendixes. Why do I wear a collared shirt? Why is this office open? Where do cubicles come from? Why do we drive on the right side of the road? It’s all arbitrary continuities of arbitrary traditions, sushiritos all the way down. The world isn’t built on the back of sturdy turtles, it’s built on sushiritos. That’s my word of the day, sushirito. Am I impressing you with my sushirito-based wordliness? Never use a two syllable word where a sushirito might do.

It’s not easy being an idiot in the Dissident Right. That’s why I have to keep shoveling sushiritos down my throat. It helps with cope with the pain of dumbness. But a dumb person like me can see all the layers piled up like a Taco Baal monstrosity offered up as a gift to the Altar of Excess. And the layers only get deeper, meatier, and cheesier with time. We are all creatures of forgotten, pointless rituals. We must be like Confucius and just accept they are what they are.

Instead of worrying about policy or institutions or inefficient practices, worry about power. Power doesn’t care about your facts *or* your feelings.

It’s fun to come up with policies. But when you get down to brass tacks, the most useful superpower is incredible spine-ass-ripping strength.

Plays too much Mortal Kombat,
Monsieur le Baron

Species of Class Conflict, or The Best Bestiary of Mawkish Marxist Marches Abridged

Dearest friends,

The plates of the earth constantly rub up against each other. They go up, they go down, they make mountains, they sink lands, they pop into volcanoes. Continents collide, continents separate. But there is no point to it, nor does it end (well, so long as the core burns anyway).

Life is conflict.

And so is class.

Marx was not wrong in speaking of class conflict as the engine of history. His only mistake was assuming, in that peculiar Western way, that there was progress and an end. But the wheel turns, and its turning humbles the great and makes great the humble.

What follows is a list of types of class conflict. I do not pretend this is a complete list. Still, I dare say it is an improvement over the unimaginative clods that constantly rehash the words of the Great Man and make all battles into wars over the means of production.

The Peasant’s Revolt
Proles vs UMC
This is the classic Marxist battle over the means of production, but framed in a new way. While classic Marxists believe that seizing the means of production will liberate the proles and usher in the classless age, this victory soon proves to be temporary at best. The reason is simple. One cannot run anything by committee well. Sooner or later, rule will devolve to a few key persons, and these people will be de facto owners of the means of production. Such was the case in Yugoslavia, where the Comrade Directors became just like the feudal lords they replaced (sometimes they were even their sons). Because of this, there can be no lasting seizure of the means of production. And because of that simple fact, seizing the means of production does not upend all of society and destroy the upper class, but merely the local lords. Because the local lords know they can be destroyed, these conflicts have become increasingly less total. You can’t throw out the lords for good, so you can only try to get the best terms you can. Replace the boss? Here comes the new boss, same as the old boss.

In medieval society, land was the means of production, so peasant’s revolts focused on abusive and greedy lords. In industrial society, factories are the means of production, so peasant’s revolts take the form of strikes and collective action intended to force a renegotiation between labor and capital. Proles know that paradise isn’t coming, so they won’t be duped into overturning society to immanentize the eschaton. It is not the emperor that they take issue with, but the local rapacious lord.

The Baron’s Revolt
UMC vs UC
Sometimes, the ruler is mad. Sometimes, the ruler is centralizing power too much. It is upon the baronage that power is built. They are the strata of the elite which is actively extracting resources from the rest of society and serving as coordination units. The center forgets this at its peril. When the center attempts to seize too much power from the autonomous provinces, they will grumble. Fundamentally, this is an intra-elite conflict about the distribution of power. Too much autonomy and a state disintegrates, too much centralization and it becomes rigid and fragile. And sometimes the ruler is just plain crazy. When their decrees cause famine and ruin, any right thinking person will begin to question the throne. That’s why some affluent persons in rural regions voted for Trump – their local communities were collapsing, and so they cautiously offered to win their districts for the insurgent, in hopes the country could be saved.

Conflict of the Orders
Proles and UMC vs MC and UC
You can’t keep men of talent down forever. In every society, there are certain persons with power, money, and influence… but no rank. When a man born to rule is kept from the halls of power, he soon grows resentful. And because he has power, he will use it. The result is class conflict. Some among the plebs became exceedingly rich and powerful, but they were still barred from Roman high society. The same was true of the high bourgeois in Ancien Regime Europe. In the modern Philippines, you have the high families of mixed Spanish descent ruling while the Chinese bourgeois take the reins of the economy. The Jews rose to professional positions, but they wanted a real seat at the table.

You can’t keep people out forever. Sooner or later, there will be a reckoning. The UMC challengers enlist the assistance of the proles by framing it as a battle between unprivileged, hard-working outsiders fighting against those who abuse privileged legal statuses to maintain their grip on society. The UC enlist the assistance of the middle class by appeals to propriety and the natural order. This is how republics form peacefully. The old elite and the newcomers soon reach a settlement, but the appeals to equality have a lasting effect. The Roman Republic after the conflict of the orders was a real republic. Bourgeois agitation in the late 19th century really did create a flowering of democracies across Europe.

But if there cannot be a peaceful resolution, then it must be revolution.

Revolution
MC and UMC vs UC
Negotiations have broken down. There will be no room made at the table. Elites are already overproduced. Revolution it must be, and revolution it will be. The Rome that accommodated the rising plebians was a young Rome, hale and hearty, with plenty more world to conquer and exploit. The Europe that fused the new bourgeois with the old aristocracy was a Europe at the height of its power and influence. But sometimes empires are in decline. When a power rises, it is easy to grant positions to new elites. But as a power declines, existing elites become more determined to hold onto what they have. Competition is too tight to permit upstarts.

Members of the UMC will want to take the UC positions they feel their talents and ambition have earned, but they will be frozen out. Similarly, a stagnant aristocracy will be unable to absorb all the middle class aspirants seeking to join it. Discontent rises. Ambitious UMC will seek to rise by hook or by crook. What they can do in peace through great deeds, they will now seek to gain by force. The armies of disappointed aspirants serve as natural cannon fodder. The deal is simple. The baron who wishes to be king will promise their followers that they will be barons in this new world. It is men of the upper middle that spark revolutions: Trotsky, Lenin, Guevara, Castro, the Comte de Mirabeau (not as rich as you would expect a count to be). That being said, a revolution, like a cannonball, and like the great conquerors who spark them, must go on. They soon find a way of carrying people away.

What foolish things men do for a crown.

Elite Liberation
UMC vs MC
Not all revolutions are classical. Some are cultural. When a society’s elites no longer feel that they must maintain its values, they will abandon them. To be a cultural repository is a great and restrictive burden. For a naturally liberal caste to safeguard tradition is a difficult ask. No religion can withstand questioning forever, and no rites can resist rationalization. The soul of the aristocracy inclines it leftwards, as do the pressures of court life. It is only duty that binds them to their society’s cult. When duty falters, so too does their dedication to the societal cult.

Natural spite for the middle class takes over.

What happens next? A total upending of traditions and remaking of traditional norms. The WASPs stop preaching traditional family values. Cults proliferate. Everything is questioned. And the fabric of society shreds.

Society cannot be without a cult forever. The new war is a war for the souls of men. In the end, one creed will reign. From the ashes of pagan Rome rises Constantine.

Aspirant’s War
MC vs UMC and UC
Occupy Wall Street! We are the 99%! In reality, they are nothing of the sort. They do not speak for the people but for a small frustrated slice. Occupy Wall Street attempted to paint itself as a populist movement, but it was really the movement of middle class aspirants who discovered, to their dismay, that their college degrees were not magic keys to power and prosperity. Rather than give up, they attempted to take things into their own hands. It went poorly. Prole America does not sympathize with dreamers who rack up tens of thousands of debt trying to become elite. When your biggest goal is not to destroy the system, but merely to be the man holding the whip, it is difficult to find supporters. At least a baron has true imperium and majeste, however minor. An aspirant has nothing.

Of course, what aspirants have in mind is this…

Top vs Bottom
Proles and MC vs UMC and UC
A dodo. A myth. This doesn’t happen. What these aspirants wanted was to rally all of society behind them so they could tear down the elites (and then sit in the now vacant chairs). Of course, any idiot could see that these folks were both greedy and stupid.

If there is one rule in class relations, it is that everyone hates the middle class. And so, an attempt to create a Top vs Bottom situation soon becomes…

The Tea Party
Proles vs MC
You see, bringing up aspirant grievances with the elite doesn’t inspire any sympathy. Instead, it inspires anger. When Prussia conquered Poland, the better szlachta were allowed to integrate into the new regime. The same occurred in Austria. But the szlachta also included the Polish middle class. These dispossessed szlachta attempted to lead a Polish revolt in 1846. Well, as they say, “the szlachta is the Polish nation, the peasants are the slaves.” A position in the regime is table stakes. It shows you’re risking something real. What does someone outside the system have to offer? What are they giving up to lead? The prole senses, rightly, the aspirant simply aims to swap one yoke for another. What is promised is not a radically new world as in a true revolution or conflict of the orders, but more of the same under different colors. To the prole, both the Occupy Wall Street protesters and those in the glass towers were the same damn coastal bastards. The hell with them all. The real issue was not whiny pansies and their frustrated ambitions, but the regulations and taxes being forced down their throat and the disenfranchisement of the masses. So they had a Tea Party.

As for the Poles? They took those damnable szlachta and butchered them.

Power belongs to those that will seize it, not to bloviating intellectuals attempting to exist outside the system. Plus, the cultural appropriation? Distasteful.

Just butthurt about Kshatriya LARPs,
Monsieur le Baron

Sausage Links, or the Shared Values of Neighboring Classes

Dearest friends,

I prefer condos to conventional forms of housing. It is far more convenient to delegate certain tasks to an association. The hiring of certain kinds of help simply does not scale down well to one home. But, of course, the Homeowner’s Association comes at a cost. I don’t just mean the fee for services. I mean conformity. Your neighbors are the same as you, your neighbors are a little different. There is comfort to that, but it straitjackets true creativity and individuality.

Anyways…

When it comes to classes, there are ways in which neighboring classes resemble each other. I will name a few examples, but this is key in successfully identifying which social class a given person is from. Some values are shared by neighboring classes, and some values exist in a candy cane fashion and are shared by classes two apart. By combining your observations, you can reliably tell how poor someone is.

That’s my superpower. I’m the Incredible Classist Man. Read exciting testimonials from people you don’t know!

“He cured the AIDS in my butt! It turned out to be tiny poor people!” – A Degenerate Homophiliac
“100% nonsensical ENTP blather nigger. What are you talking about?” – The Old Jew
“Really finds all the poors, even the ones that claim to be upper middle class!” – That angry wasp living by your storm gutter
“And I would have gotten away with it too if it wasn’t for you meddling kid and your damn Doge!” – A Poor, Rightfully Put In His Divine Place Farming Mud

Let’s start with brand names and status signaling through material goods. Proles love status signaling by buying expensive brand name stuff. Even if it’s not a terribly good idea, buying something like a fancy shirt, some nice kicks, or a BMW allows them to feel bougie. Why is this a valuable status signal? In Proleland, resources are relatively scarce. Accordingly, the ability to not only acquire lots of resources but to spend them on useless luxury goods raises their status in society. It shows they can make and dispose of great sums, which makes them great. The ceremonial feast and other such ritualized destructions of wealth are some of the earliest rites of showing status in primitive societies. To say that shiny rims don’t result in lasting social mobility is to miss the point. The point is to impress others *within* one’s milieu.

Material signaling continues in the middle class, but it has a slightly different character. Everything shared between two classes is manifested a little differently in each. In the middle class, the emphasis is no longer about big, flashy, one-time purchases, but about maintaining a lifestyle expensive enough that the proles cannot imitate it. As such, the wasteful spending is no longer about bling. Both the upper class and middle class buy organic, Whole Foods food… but only one can afford it. The middle class is always collecting stuff and cluttering up their homes with it. Not tasteful, intelligence signaling stuff like African masks (where are the masks babs show me the masks) and golden Maltese Crosses, but stuff like Margaritaville machines and CD collections. The middle class is trying to maintain the highest lifestyle they can, keeping up with the proverbial Joneses. When the middle class sees a brand, it sees a marker of quality that shows a product is going to last a long time while simultaneously advertising their lifestyle. The middle class loves Target because it’s like Walmart but everything is *slightly* more expensive, thus keeping out the proles, and because the poor retail drones are forced to worship the customer. The middle class believes, erroneously, that the higher castes love to run their servants and ritually humiliate them, and Target gives them a place where they can ritually humiliate poorly paid shelf stockers. Because of the slightly higher price point, proles avoid the store, reasoning that it doesn’t make much sense to pay more for literally the same crap. This comforts the middle class person, for the sight of proles reminds them of where they came from and where they could return if not careful, and it is this atavistic fear that really drives their extreme disdain for “trashy” people. It is the fear of death. Better to bury the past and cut off all the crabs that could drag one back into the bucket.

Now, if you’ve got inherited money, it doesn’t prove anything to be able to spend it at Target. So that’s not going to be a successful status signal anymore. When resources are no longer scarce, spending them doesn’t mean anything.

What bridges the middle and upper middle classes? Ideas. Ideas are the bridge.

Proles distrust authority and establishment ideas. They think, not unfairly, that experts spew lots and lots of crap ideas that make no sense. The middle class is different. The middle class is the class of expert worship. If a doctor tells you to do something, you do it. Expert worship is partly a product of social distance. You really can’t worship experts once you see them close up – they are too human, too mortal. And it’s partly because of the transformative power of ideas. The middle class is able to rise above the masses because it is skilled labor, not unskilled labor. It is able to do things through the special things it has learned. And furthermore, they acquire values which allow them to structure their lives. By living in accordance with bourgeois values, they are able to escape the chaotic mess of prole life. How can they not worship experts when experts are the ones that create these wonderful and powerful ideas? Science says! The middle class uses this new concept of ideas to look down upon the proles. The middle class knows all the right ideas, and the proles are so ignorant to them! In the middle class mind, every question has a right answer, and it is only a matter of being told what the right answer is. When they see someone with the wrong answer, they scoff, imagining that person never learned the right answer or that they are too stupid to absorb it.

Such an attitude makes a person very smug.

The upper middle class doesn’t need bourgeois ideas to structure their lives. Their lives are naturally quite disciplined and orderly. They have the money to protect them from proledom. What matters here? Épater le bourgeois! Only novel ideas can keep you ahead in the Baron’s Race! I have written extensively on this subject already, but suffice to say, novelty dominates conventionality. The Left always wins in the end. But… the Left can also be Right.

But the upper class is no longer the class of ideas. It was, once upon a time. But its members are now stagnant, and they are aware of this. To be nimble of mind when there are no dangers is a difficult thing. There is no selection pressure to stay sharp. To compensate, and to prove their domination over their nerdy minions (actual peasants are too lowly to even figure in upper class minds), they become more physically adept. The established WASPs could out-muscle the new Jews, but the fact that they resorted to this was a mark of insecurity – the new blood was stronger than them. Again, the fear of death reigns.

What bridges the upper middle and the upper? Pedigree. Prestige. For the middle class, just going to college is enough to be proud. But for the upper middle, it is not enough to get into college (a trivial task) – one must also get into a professional career. To do that, one needs prestige, as much prestige as can be gotten. It’s not what you know, it’s where you learned it, and who you learned it with. Seniority is out, names are in. The golden sheepskin serves as legitimation for one’s place in the world. And this legitimacy is necessary because one’s family name and ancestral legacy is no longer enough to carry a man. People first become aware of the great wheel of history at this strata. It is filled with the ruined legacies of great noble houses. Memory is long and history is short. Below is oblivion, above is a return to glory. But to move up requires one to turn the great wheel. The projects that might accomplish this increasingly become world historical and multi-generational. Alliances are made, plans are planned and then forgotten, and all the while, centuries slip by. Many families are extincted before they ever seize the grass crown, while others are destroyed by their attempts to grab it.

Yet people keep trying. Man is a creature whose appetites are never sated.

How can a man rise?

Revolution.

As above, so below,
Monsieur le Baron