Egalitarian Rhetoric and a Schelling Point for Purges, or On Revolutions Pt. II

Dearest friends,

Lee Kuan Yew is a brilliant man. And to be honest, it was an insight of his that prompted these points.

The human being is an unequal creature. That is a fact. And we start off with the proposition. All the great religions, all the great movements, all the great political ideology, say let us make the human being as equal as possible. In fact, he is not equal, never will be.

The words of the great man himself! And yet, if egalitarianism is transparently false, why is it the cornerstone of all these great movements? It can’t just be because it’s absurd. Many things are absurd, but the Cult of the Flying Spaghetti Monster has never attracted many sincere adherents. One answer, one very true answer, is that it widens your coalition, helping you seize power. But once you’ve seized power, why keep paying lip service? Why not discard it like other parts of the pre-revolution rhetorical crap? If you’re an elite, doesn’t egalitarianism paint a giant target on you?

Yes. And that’s the point. The fact that a revolution occurred shows that there were too many elites to begin with. Look at some other points adopted by the USSR after the Revolution. Great Russian Chauvinism and a hatred of intelligentsia as “bourgeois specialists”. A campaign against rootless cosmopolitans. Combine an anti-nobility campaign, an anti-intelligentsia campaign, and an anti-non-Russian campaign, and you’ve managed to implicate the entirety of the Party as class enemies. Which is precisely the idea! Killing people is bloody work. Killing people who are your friends, your comrades-in-arms, even your family, is even harder. Even worse is doing so basically arbitrarily. But in short order, you run out of enemy elites to purge. And there are still a lot of elites. You need to kill randomly, but no humans ever agree to kill randomly. That’s monstrous. You need a Schelling point to rally around. So various persecution campaigns are made that conveniently damn the Party’s whole membership. After the Great Purge, the number of Old Bolsheviks is reduced by 2/3rds, and only 1% are pre-Tsarist nobility. Sure, a lot of those people get politically rehabilitated instead of killed. But you cut down drastically on the numbers. And why does egalitarianism keep showing up in the mix? Because egalitarianism is always against the presence of a standing elite at all, by denying the justness of eliteness and the existence of genuine differences in ability. If all people are equal, any elite must necessarily be comprised of oppressors. And therefore, any member of such an elite can be justifiably purged.

Furthermore, the ability to arbitrarily purge elites allows the new post-revolution sovereign to restore order and the supremacy of the throne. One of the problems before the revolution is an unruly, disordered elite with outside power bases. How do you fix that? You purge the shit out of the elite. You’re disloyal? You’re fucking purged. I think you’re disloyal? Purged. Take too long making the waffles at the Politburo breakfast? Purge, motherfucker. When a revolution occurs, the country is mired in the aftermath of the conflict, and leftist signals are spewing everywhere, like a fire hose. By purging the elite, the sovereign is able to take control of the holiness spiral and reassert control of the situation.

Furthermore, any statement of holiness which must destroy the ruling elite when carried out to its natural conclusion is a negative feedback loop. Nature loves negative feedback loops, and for good reason. The end of a Christian holiness spiral was to become a monk – a celibate monk who disdained worldly power – and that was the end of you as a political entity. It’s too bad Protestantism did away with that, and look at how badly Protestant countries holiness spiral! When you have a negative feedback loop like this, if you go too far, it starts destroying you or even the elite as a whole. At the height of the purge, people were selling out their wives, their families, their children. That’s a tremendous psychic pain and creates a huge incentive to bring the holiness spiral to an end. Hey, fuck this Marxism crap, let’s just have intra-Party peace. As soon as there is enough economic surplus to sustain every surviving elite, there’s a very good reason to call it quits before the monster consumes you too. And so, the French nobility end the French Revolution with a higher median wealth.

But it’s not just egalitarianism. Egalitarianism is just a great universal negative feedback loop. Any creed can work so long as it places disproportionate burdens upon the elite. Let’s take Germany. Specifically, Nazi Germany. A million or two mischlinge survived Nazi Germany – isn’t that fucking weird? That’s a lot of fucking Jews, not just a few freaks. Why would Jews work for the Jew hating machine? Well, one reason is that regime has them by the nuts. If you’re a Jew, and the state’s ideology is to kill all Jews, and you don’t cooperate, you will be killed. But if you do cooperate? Here’s this Certificate of Official Aryan Blood, you’re a good fellow. And there are a lot of Jews placed in that position. Germany was not a particularly anti-semitic place before Hitler. It had full Jewish emancipation. Jews were over-represented in the nobility, and even more over-represented in business. That means there are a lot of Jewish elites. Far from being destabilizing, it builds tremendous loyalty.

To quote Hermann Goering, “I decide who is a Jew in the Luftwaffe.” Far from being a quirk of history, the anti-semitism of Nazi Germany necessarily creates Jewish Nazis. Now let’s go invade Poland and gas their Jews. After all, our Schelling Point demands we put the Jews in camps, so we must round up some Jews.

You would think that noble defectors from the USSR would despise it, but the US troops recording the defectors noted the highest class defectors were the most loyal to Communism, and lamented the excesses of the purge – if only Stalin knew!

Any point which implicates the ruling elite in injustice or perceived injustice can be used as a Schelling Point for purges.

So now we can finally explain the tragedy of Spain, the expulsion of the Jews. It’s because Isabella and Torquemada are nasty, bigoted, closeminded Christian proto-Nazis, right? Spain, the earliest fascist state. Well, actually, there were marriages across religious lines, and the Umayyad elite had mixed with the Christian one. And Jews were fully emancipated, and made up a substantial portion of the Spanish nobility. Well, maybe Torquemada or Isabella are particularly bigoted? Torquemada came from a Jewish family, and Isabella’s father died at a young age, leaving her to be raised by a Jewish father figure. What did happen? The crowns of Castile and Aragon were joined as one. The Reconquista was finished. Great! Spain was unified! And a unified Spain means no more Spain to take as your own.

And with so much Jewish freedom, everyone has a little bit of Jew in them.

How convenient.

And so it came to pass that the Spanish monarchy was able to make a Big Book of Jews, in which any family suspected of being crypto-Jews could be placed, and in it was written the whole Spanish nobility. If any Spanish noble fuck started holiness spiraling about the brown babies? Hey, is your aunt’s name Mary or Miriam? Are you sure your grandfather was named Henry and not Hebrew Shekelstein? How curious. Would you care to step into my office for a moment? Some Jewish peasants get exiled too. That’s politics, baby. It’s not like Stalin wanted to kill off a bunch of kulaks either, it’s collateral damage.

And Daddy’s little girl makes Papa take the wafer and eat a nice juicy pork sausage. He cries. Tears of joy, of course.

The rest of the spares are shipped off to the New World.

Spain enters a Golden Age. Until it ends.

Sic transit gloria mundi,
Monsieur le Baron

EDIT: Some of you may have seen I left my notes/outline up top! That’s why you don’t publish in the middle of the night.

As an addendum, I might as well make a point explicit. You need that negative feedback loop otherwise your movement consumes itself in wasteful signalling before you ever reach power. A political movement with a Schelling point of fitness just turns into a fitness movement. Only when signalling imposes political costs can it keep checking itself long enough to reach power. Egalitarianism works. BLM works – if you are white.

Aristocracy, Leftism, and the Moment of Radicalization, or Revolutions Pt. I

Dearest friends,

America is burning. And so I thought I would finish a post I’d been keeping on the backburner for a while, about the elite and revolutions.

If you read this blog, you almost certainly read bigger blogs, so you are probably familiar with the concepts of Bioleninism (See: Spandrell) and Elite Overproduction (Turchin). I won’t go too far into that, so please read up on that before continuing if you haven’t.

Instead, I’d like to talk about the social composition of revolutionary parties and the significance of that. It is often asserted that revolutions are the middle class using the proles as a bludgeon to pry their way into elite status, killing off the innocent pre-Revolution nobles along the way. There is a lot of handwringing about Jewish bolsheviks killing off the Russian nobility or the rising merchant bourgeois in France destroying the Ancien Regime. It’s a neat little story.

It’s too bad that it’s bullshit.

In my typology of class conflict blog post, I explained that the middle class can rarely create a critical mass of followers because it’s too transparently self-serving. I’m going to elaborate on that. What would you expect the social origins of the early Bolsheviks to be? One would guess a bunch of Jews and middle class people and middle class Jews, right? To some extent, that’s not unfounded. The Party is about 15% Jewish and 44% middle class (Riga). Sounds pretty over-represented, right? Well, Riga is coding noble origins conservatively, since the line between service gentry (upper middle class) and true noble was blurry in the late empire, and still comes up with 13% of the Party being noble. I am less conservative about this, and estimate 15-20%. Commentary’s estimate of Jewish bolshevism skews higher, at 20%. Jews were 4% of the Russian Empire. At most, Jews are 5x over-represented in Bolshevism. The middle class numbered about 10%, so the middle class is also 4-5x over-represented. The nobility was 2.4% of the population (and formally included the service gentry upper middle class, so the broadest definition of noble), and at the very least over 5x over-represented, and perhaps as high as 8x over-represented. No wonder Trotsky, who was both Jew and noble, was a Communist.

Well, some people may say that the NKVD was 75% Jewish. For them, I have a quote from a man who went to observe the Red Army in action.

“Among them, many come from old Russian noble families, where military service in the position of commanders was a tradition of many generations, where military science, one might say, was im- bibed at the mother’s breast, and where military talk surrounded the child from the first years of his life. Cadet schools and military academies were the next steps in their training. Formerly 80 or 90 percent of the famous Russian military leaders as well as the rank and file of officers came from these privileged classes of old Russia.”

80 or 90%, huh? That’s a backbone of the Party. The Red Army wins the Russian Civil War. The Red Army kicks the ass of all the foreign powers intervening. Without the Red Army, there is no USSR. And not only are these the Tsarist officers, they’re the creme of the Tsarist Army. A scholar, Kenez, says of the White Army – their officers are cadets and young, unestablished men. The Red Army gets the old grizzled veterans, real nobles that have been blooded in war. And Trotsky leads them! If you’re Stalin, you can see why you have to purge the Red Army after purging Trotsky, even though you have wars to fight. Can’t have that power base lingering. So it’s a really important part of the power structure.

Okay, so let’s talk about the French Revolution then. Bunch of fucking bourgeois, right? Bzzt. 21 of the Society of Thirty are from the highest levels of the French nobility, almost half, and a majority are noblesse d’epee, which tend to be older and more established than the noblesse de robe. So what about the loyalists? What about the regime? Only 3 out of 36 of Louis’s ministers are of ancient feudal extraction. Far from a rowdy bourgeois element trying to make room for itself, it was the membership of the most pedigreed families that were upset.

So why would an established elite do this? The standard Marxist explanation is economics, historical materialism. Why would a old Bolshevik turn class traitor? True, there is some virtue, but don’t deify them, they are the product of larger material trends. In 1905, the Russian elite was more conservative – and then things went totally to shit. Agriculture produce prices were plummeting, roving bands of anti-semitic thugs called the Black Hundreds roamed the land looting, manors were attacked. Basically, it was becoming really fucking hard to be a noble. Even with so many impoverished peasants, there was not a lot of economic surplus to go around.

What about in France? Well, the French revolutionary families often had one thing in common. They were disfavored at court. That meant they didn’t get the juicy sinecures. Louis XIV was a smart guy, and he always distributed titles and sinecures around all the old families fairly, so that everyone felt like they got a piece. Not so with Louis XVI. Guy is dumb, and he lets his wife award all the best sinecures to her friends and favorites. Bad, bad move. But even with that, the kingdom was broke. They made a big stink about the necklace. Louis XIV did lavish stuff for the court, who complained then? But France then was able to handle it, and the cost of all his many wars. The American Revolutionary War was ruinous for Louis XVI’s France.

You may be sensing a theme here. By the time of the collapse, the state was no longer able to sustain all of its elites. This is Turchin’s elite overproduction in action, a classic set of examples. So why are these revolutions identified as bourgeois? Because there is a grain of truth to that. A truly middle class person has no resources or credibility to rouse the masses, since they have no skin in the game. But as history passes, new forms of maintaining elite power arise (See my post “The Second Technocracy”). One of the leaders of the French Revolution, the Duke of Biron, ran an early form of hedge fund. Does that sound like bourgeois merchant behavior to you? Yes, it does. While not all of the Party was middle class, almost all of it was “middle class” in the sense the early members almost always had a time they spent as itinerant intelligentsia. The managers and thinkers of the coming Managerial Revolution. These new ways of holding power create ways to be powerful and elite without being directly dependent on the state for your power base. It creates an origin point for an alternative state. When the state is rising, it is able to successfully assimilate a new counterelite. 19th century France assimilates the rising medical establishment into its power structure. But when the state is weak? They will have their pound of flesh.

And how do they do it? Signalling spiral. Leftism. Easy enough. Do they believe it? I’m sure they do. Few people are so cynical. You can very easily hold a belief even if it benefits you in a cynical way. Humans are wired that way.

It is too bad they picked an ideology so disastrous for them to personally signal. On comes the guillotine.

Luckily, we humans are smart.

As a non-white, upper middle class person, I would never associate with a political ideology that would harm me. Ha! That would be stupid. Oh wait.

Perhaps this deserves explanation. To be continued in part 2.

Knitting by the rolling carts,
Monsieur le Baron