Freaks, Geeks, etc, or Recounted, a Day at the Incredibly Large Miniature Golf Tourney

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Dearest friends,

I am, of course, a man of business and leisure. And business being merely leisure in haste, I suppose that makes me a man of double leisure. As such, I have a tale for you, although it may restate many of the points I have previously made here and here. With any luck, this form makes it less tediously obvious and banal. You could consider it a part 3, if you would like.

It was a lukewarm summer day, and the breeze was neither strong nor weak. It was, in short, a mild day. Naturally, everyone was annoyed. They preferred their weather cool ranch Doritos. Pseudo-Erastothenes was first to triangulate the hole, being a frequent consumer of Doritos and therefore a master of triangles and all related shapes. But he didn’t get there first. Because he had to advance his right and left wing in tandem, he couldn’t flap very well, so he was beaten there by everyone else. The challenge in Incredibly Large Miniature Golf was not in getting the ball in the hole, but in operating the flying suits. Also, there were flying suits.

Should have mentioned that earlier, I suppose.

We were also wearing boxers with lobsters and anchors all over. Boxers, brief, and no pants. Never any pants.

Mixotec of the Discotheque was the first to get into position, and he was already in a sour mood. He had studied Physics in school, making him an Aztech, but he abandoned the field. It paid too much, and his real passion was in music. And that was a fatal mistake for him to make, for he was never able to gin up the requisite irony in dealing with song – he cared too much. And one should never care *too* much, unless you should. So he always lost. Last month, he had lost again. Franz Ferdinand Magellan had circumnavigated the globe while playing rock music, and donated his bankroll to the Green Movement while he was at it. It was an act both expensive and supremely pointless, which is the only kind which makes life worth living. Some had protested the act of going around the world by jet for environmental causes, which only added to Franz’s prestige. After all, who was going to stop him?

In retrospect, Mixotec should have abandoned his disk jockeying to join AztLAN, the Neo-Mexican telecomms firm. But it was too late now, which was less a statement about time and more one about the loss of face that changing course would entail.

“Electronic music is too popular for me to get big now,” said Mixotec.

We all agreed. After all, one could not make a name for one’s self if something was too widespread. That made it common, and therefore base. And contrary to what one might expect, base was the opposite of based.

Mixotec had begun his career in the 70s, when the field was suitably obscure. But time passed, and the Seventies were now the Oughts. It is what it is, but an is not an ought, though the Oughts are what is. It is what it Ought to be, but not what it ought to be, and therefore ought not be the Oughts.

Regardless, he was doing fine. He could sustain his lifestyle. They all had trust funds, because they did not trust funds. Accordingly, they could live the busy lives of the idle rich. They traveled around various social circles, because they were squares, the proper shape for nerds. It goes without saying that they were all nerds, which is why I am saying it. A nerd was not the same as a geek. Geeks had obsessions. A geek’s obsession dominated their identity, because it was fitting to their identity for idiosyncratic reasons. Nobody told them to collect stamps or molest horses or trim tiny trees. They just did it because it was their reason to be. Our caddy was a geek, a freak, and quite meek. He smelled because he did not bathe, but he did not bathe because he did not smell. The Caddy, Bobby, was a Wej. While Jews had large noses, Wejs had no noses at all. Or at least, it seemed like that. To be honest, I could never tell. And to be honest, I could never tell if he bathed either – it was simply an assumption.

Torwell said that the greatest gap, the one we could never bridge to the Wejs, was that they were dirty and we were not. And even if they were clean, they were dirty. Walter Lyle Jr IV was next to large minigolf, and he took his club without acknowledging the caddy, no matter how desperately the caddy wanted to be acknowledged. He took the club because he was in the club, the club with the clubs. A country club is in the country, and has the country, but despite this, it is not for one’s countrymen. Another case of bad naming. People invested a lot in names, which meant they were in a terrible, terrible bubble. But for now, it was yet another unicorn success story out of Sans Serif, the world’s font of innovation. The Most Distinguished Care-a-lot Bear hated that place. He called it Silly Con Valley. Frankly, I agreed. It was all puffery. That was why it was so tremendously important. Puffery was always the most important thing of all. We had picked the game of large minigolf because it was obscure. That too, was puffery. But to admit puffery as puffery would be to give away the game. Only a very serious man could wear a very silly thing in seriousness, and it served as further proof of his seriousness.

Right now, it was just us and the caddies. The caddies had been the original players of the game, and they played it because it alleviated their Weltshmerz by speaking to their Weltanschuung. The only problem was that it spoke to ours too. We were the green men, because we were on the putting green. How could they keep outsiders out? They would have to make their hobby unattractive to outsiders, not through their social behavior, but by making the hobby undesirable in its own right. And some did, which is why horse jerking didn’t work, though it did jerk. But so long as the hobby could demonstrate prestige in some way, it would one day be colonized. Thus, there could be no peace for Peacehammer, Peacehammer being too subversively interesting to a world of perpetual war. A warld, if you were. Peacehammer would one day even get a televisor show. We were on the Eastern tip of the Western half of Oceania, and the wind was blowing north-“Buy Southwest stock,” said Lyle. Then he swung, and with a terrible thwung, the ball were flung. It went east, towards Eastasia, our perpetual enemy except when it wasn’t, which was every other Tuesday.

It didn’t go very far. Lyle only liked local flights. Puddlejumper trips. Up and down, down and up. They were like us, the Wejs. They were more like us than the normies, which is why they hated us.

Familiarity bred contempt.

After all, how much difference was there between Memelord and Memepeasant, at the end of the day? Little, and they resented it. For, despite this, we had everything, and they had nothing. The Caddy looked at us with hateful eyes. But he was a Caddy, and that was all. For all he was was Caddying, for the hobby was everything for Bobby, Hobby Bobby, and Hobby Bobby loved large mini golf with all his heart. We didn’t. We came because large minigolf was hard, and being hard made it a good test of our nerd cred. It was a game of Cred Dead Redemption, but with less horse testicles. Calculating the trajectories of large minigolf would kick the trajectories of our lives into high gear. Did we do it because we loved large mini golf? Only some of us did. Lyle swore. He had hit the Mourning Chicken, which meant he had to take three penalty strokes from the Kinoplex’s roof, and that meant battling through the popcorn mines. We called that one a “double bogey”.

Hobby Bobby showed the duality of it all. Top and bottom together. Together playing large mini golf. There was a phenomenon, Schrodinger’s Catgirl, and it was illustrated well when Hobby Bobby and the Most Distinguished Care-a-lot Bear were side-by-side. The Most Distinguished Care-a-lot Bear’s ancestors had come over on the first sunshine cloud to Oceania, and they had won the struggle for New Jersey, genociding the primitive Carebear Cousins that used to live there. He was, in short, a very big deal, and very old stock, and the pinkness and plushness of his felt and fluffiness of his stuffing was a testament to his good breeding. As he would put it, “I am no half-rate Create-a-Cub.” And despite this, he was a lover of Japanimation. And that was the essence of the Schrodinger’s Catgirl paradox. If you picked a random anonymous Japanimation early adopter, it would probably be a basement dwelling pee-bottler. But it could also be Mr. Care-a-lot. A person buying a bit of bitcoin in the early years was probably a weird outcast, but it could also be the Ginklevoss Twins, cream of the crop. There were only two kinds of early adopters, top and bottom. We were all autistic, which set us apart from the brown people outside.

The Most Distinguished Care-a-lot Bear put a spin on his ball, which worked; because it, spinning that is, tended to work; spinning works because spinning is a good trick; he had learned the trick from a Colonel Ardenti, amateur occultist and professional Sandinista, who taught him to use the right force. Spinning was the lifeblood of Isis and her mysteries. It was also a good trick.

The tragedy of it all was that both the brown people and the other brown people desperately wanted to be with us. The first, in imitation of us, the second, to chase our prosperity despite holding us in contempt. And thus, large mini golf was a doomed thing as soon as we came to it. Now that we played it, it would slowly gain currency as a social proof of high class, and thus would spread to people who otherwise would have no interest in it. Thus, it would pass from the geeks to the nerds and finally to a kind of fake geek cargo culting the object in a vain attempt to gain status. And then we would abandon it for greener pastures. We were the green people, and we could only live in green fields. In the end, it would be the Hobby Bobbies alone in a desolate field, but at least free to pursue their passion, the end being like the beginning, the top being like the bottom, the black squares of a checkerboard being the same as the white. The only way to stop this decay once the ball was in our court was for the thing to be so difficult and costly that it would be prohibitive for the browns to partake. I looked outside. There was already a brown at the gates. Like most early browns, he was white, female, and shopped at Target. She/he identified as he/she, but mostly to impress other browns on Twatter. The browns made distinctions among themselves, but to me, they were all browns.

“You see that one, Bobby? He will never get in. He is not of our kind,” said I.
“I hate you,” hissed Bobby.
“I know,” said I.

I had hit my ball poorly, and it landed in a sand trap. Sighing, I trudged, alone, over to it. Unbeknownst to me, Bobby had followed me. Bobby fell upon me, and he was strangling me, and his hands were crushing my throat, and I was grasping, struggling, straining, and my arms were trying to wrest his hands away, and he was bashing his head against mine, and I was bleeding, and he was bleeding, and our blood mingled together in the sands of the sand trap, and my face was bluing and it was redding and blue and red were playing together, and then it was all going dark, and Bobby had killed me, and I was Bobby, and I was alive, and I was getting up, and all I was dusting myself off. And then I was fine, because existential crises and out-of-body experiences were something, like hard drinks, that a wise man only had once a day. And besides, it was 6, and we, the bank’s bank men, lived our lives by 3-6-3, so large mini golf was over.

In the morning, the greens would be overrun, and by evening, desolate.

Sic transit gloria mundi.

“Hi ho,” said I.

And that was it.

As subtle as a Kelly cartoon,
Monsieur le Baron

The Value Proposition of Elites, or Why You Should Feed Me More Fudgesicles

Dearest friends,

I zoom around the world like Pac-Man around his maze, eating up pellets. And I have to ask, where do the pellets come from? Do they fall like mana from heaven? How do they obtain their marvelous roundness? Why do they taste like corn puffs? What sorcery empowers the big pellets to give ghostbuster powers? If I were a natural philosopher, I could answer such questions.

Let’s see what Edmund Burke has to say.

“A sermon from a noble duke, or a noble marquis, or a noble earl, or baron bold, would certainly increase and diversify the amusements of this town, which begins to grow satiated with the uniform round of its vapid dissipations. I should only stipulate that these new Mess-Johns in robes and coronets should keep some sort of bounds in the democratic and levelling principles which are expected from their titled pilpets.”

Or, in short, the aristocracy exists to undermine the basic values of our proud English Englishmen. Wonderful. Why even keep them around? Tradition? Tradition is lovely, but it doesn’t explain the value proposition in the first place. If time tells us anything, people told “because it is” will inevitably tear down the old ways. Burke’s argument is also rooted in property rights and the rightful place of people in society. We’ll get back to that one… another time.

For now, the value proposition.

If you’ve hung around this sphere of blogs, sometimes known as the Weblogoball, you may know of the notion of value transference. There exist projects which societies embark on – the usual stuff. Building factories, constructing dams, selling hot dogs, cloning orphans to harvest their organs, selling heroin, opening the Hellgate to Hai’lac’nox, the Pain Dimension, where our dark masters reside, milk delivery services, and maybe hanging the Christmas decorations.

As such, professionals and especially executives do not produce themselves. They coordinate production activities and take a portion of the proceeds. If you want to build a house, you’d rather have ten construction workers than ten civil engineers. Ten nurses will usually be more useful than ten doctors. But there can be no large or complex projects without coordination. The price you pay for that coordination is the skim, the value transferred for not directly productive activity. Yet Marx raises an excellent objection. Much of the time, this coordination is not done by the controlling interests themselves, but by a class of paid managers.

Furthermore, many jobs that are often done by the genteel have no relation to value transference at all. Take art and writing, two things often done by the rich. Not only is there no productive activity to siphon off of, the person is doing the work themselves. Anything produced there is done by the elite. They paint. Now, one might object that art is bohemian and is thus somewhat marginal. It’s a fair objection. But there is another elite vocation which also does not engage in value transference. It is academia. Not only is academia not bohemian, it is at the very heart of aristocratic culture. Ausonius was made consul for being a great professor. As Bourdieu noted, it is the font of honor. While, legally speaking, the sovereign is the font of honor, the actual granting or sale of a title to a graduate of a noble college is not happening arbitrarily, but within a pool of talent which the universities have already curated. Your ticket is punched. Here in Freedomia, we lost the titles but kept the system.

The next notion is that elites need to be paid off so that they don’t cause trouble. People of higher social status, by nature, are able to muster resources through their connections and prestige. Therefore, jobs need to be made for them and money given so they don’t maraud. In this model, the elite is a sort of stationary bandit, and the price paid to them is a bribe to not cause chaos. I think there is also much to recommend this as a factor in elite compensation. However, it holds more true in early stages of development, where the elite remains of a martial character. That is not to suggest the elite of today are totally disarmed – lawfare remains a valid concern. But most of them, if left alone, are unambitious nerds, more likely to hot glue a figma than to be a hotspur. If there is danger, then more of it lies with the frustrated will to power of the middle class and their agitprop protests. Antifa will bike-lock your head.

How are products made? They are made through labor. This is the input of the workers. But, as Ayn Rand noted, brute muscle alone cannot make a railroad. A railroad is not only muscle, blood, and iron, but also ideas, the concept of the railroad itself. This is why another name for the professional class is the creative class. What white collar professions do is provide the inputs of the mind, not the body. Mind and thought, not muscle and blood. Products require designs.

The academia sits at the center of elite culture in many civilizations because it stands as the symbol of thought itself. Why are elites often early adopters of new trends? Because they’re innovative. Because they’re new thoughts. Elites broke with the ancient tradition of nursemaids to start breastfeeding. This didn’t work out so well with small, flat chests. So infant formula was invented, and became a stunning success. Early infant formula killed babies. In this day and age, infant formula has become so safe and cheap that it has been adopted by the masses. Naturally, this means the elites have abandoned it to go back to breastfeeding. The more things change…

What does this mean? Ideas push out the long term production frontier. They make society more productive in the long run. So long as the civilization lasts, the idea never stops paying. The contribution of an elite may never exceed what they receive as compensation during their lifetime, but over the history of a state, it might. In that sense, the production of an elite is not the same as the production of a worker, since it may require many generations to pay back the investment, and it goes on long after the person has expired. In the short run, they can be said to be parasitic. In the long run, sometimes not. So what is the correct time horizon to judge their contribution on? And how should they be paid? Should they be paid based on how much they add while they live, or how much they add to the overall wealth of humanity in the long run? R&D labs are cost centers, but a nation that doesn’t encourage its corporations to conduct research falls behind. Across many settled societies, you keep seeing social classes arise. There’s a reason for that, and it’s not just “humans are assholes”. If it was a total waste, then more egalitarian tribes would not have been supplanted by settled hierarchical civilizations.

Secondly, many elites never produce anything. The value proposition is extremely high variance. Medicine had provided little of value for centuries. Then, with the invention of vaccines and penicillin, the whole profession was made profitable in an instant. It was undoubtedly worth it, but you wouldn’t know it from the first few millennia. Instead, you would come away saying that a significant portion of the gentry was upkept doing what was essentially voodoo. To borrow the expressions of a certain volatile Med, the payoffs of elites lie in Extremistan, while the payoffs of workers lie in Mediocristan. Workers are governed by physical limitations. Even a very strong and able miner can’t mine exponentially more coal than his neighbor. Markets are very, very good at pricing the labor of workers. The pay of workers around the world tends to be similar. The income of a Chinese machinist is not too different from an American one, but our corporate overlords are too cheap to pay extra.

Contrast this with elites. Some ideas they come up with solve previously eternal human problems. Hunger has been banished. Disease mostly destroyed. Some ideas are basically neutral or pointless, like pet rocks. And some ideas are actively harmful and corrosive to the host society. In that respect, elites resemble venture capital investments. You lose money almost all the time, but sometimes you hit that unicorn, and you make enough to make the whole enterprise worth it. And venture capital is not investing in staid, predictable industrial expansion, but is looking for the disruptive ideas that will change the world.

If we pay people based on their expected value times a certain multiplier for profit, then the pay of workers is easy to calculate. But the pay of elites? Difficult. If their payoff function lives in Extremistan, then the expected value must be dominated by the small probabilities of massive payoffs, the tails. And we have few means of assessing how likely these tails are, or how big the jackpots will be. So you can’t price out the “proper” pay for an elite the way you can for ordinary workers. The payoff function is too fuzzy. Two different capitalists might assess the productivity of a coal miner differently, but the valuations will still be in the same ballpark. Creative work? Not so much.

This is why the incomes of elites vary so wildly across time and space. Cross the pond, and every job makes a different amount. Many jobs pay far less. The tax structure for capital is different. Every payoff scheme is different. Is a doctor so much the worse for living in Germany? Is an industrialist a better industrialist if he lives in Ireland and not the mainland? Have America’s rulers become far smarter and more competent since 1950? In modern America, we expect scientists to make peanuts and to coast on the great prestige of their work. But in 19th century Norway, scientists ruled the roost. Wealth, power, and knowledge were concentrated into one set of hands. And so, the masses instinctively recognize there is something unseemly about the rising wealth of the 1% and their masters, the upper class. Because there is so much fuzz and uncertainty about the expected value of these things, getting paid more or less is just a matter of manipulating cultural conventions and norms. Elites write blank checks to themselves.

If you’ve got that kind of power, it’s best to write a low number, so that all will consider it reasonable, and to take one on the chin if you make a mistake. Often, what makes people mad is not the size of the checks, but the lack of consequences for bad ideas. People are perfectly okay if a CEO makes $100 million shoring up American industry. It’s seeing a CEO golden parachute out of a burning building that really pisses them off.

Especially since, as you ascend, money is not money. That is, money does not represent the same thing. For the bulk of society, money is the means by which they sustain themselves. It’s resources to eat. Their share of their productivity is what Marx would call the necessary labor to reproduce labor. Most people live paycheck to paycheck, and every dollar is another dollar to buy Stardollars coffee and pumpkin spice corndogs. Once you reach the upper middle class, you achieve satisfaction of these life needs. Money is no longer about getting another Margaritaville machine. It’s not about stuff. It’s about power. It’s shares of ownership of the means of production. It’s influence bought from politicians. It’s points in the game of prestige. As such, absolute pay doesn’t really matter that much. Relative pay matters, because relative pay and relative wealth is what determines your rank in the pecking order. This adds another fuzz factor to calculations. What they’re getting isn’t stuff, it’s power. It fills a different psychological need from the income of workers.

Was I supposed to set up a Pac-Man analogy? Eh. It’s an overrun. We’re behind schedule. Give me a million dollars and I’ll provide one, maybe. Probably. There are a lot of risk factors on my risk factor chart.

“Engineers like to solve problems. If there are no problems handily available, they will create their own problems.” “Work is for losers. A winner says ‘That’s on my list’ and never commits to a deadline.” – Bob the Builder, probably

Or maybe it’s all bollocks. Give me fudgesicles. I deserve it, since I am such a big value creator. Productivity = The Bigs.

Hates Mondays, meetings, and Monday meetings,
Monsieur le Baron

A Better Political Compass, or The Magnificence of Doublethink

Dearest friends,

Without a good compass, you will get lost. This is why I get lost so often – I have yet to find a reliable supplier of hiking supplies. It can be hard to navigate without being able to get your bearings. You can use the sun, but I find the sun has this unfortunate habit of swooping out of the sky trying to eat me, making this dreadful angry face all the while. And one can try to use the animals as a guide, but when I try to sing at the birds, they just peck me.

So a compass.

Similarly, if one is to wander the political woods, one must have a good political compass. Yet I find the ones available often too shabby. The first axis is often labeled Left vs Right. These two terms on their own don’t tell us anything. They might as well be team jerseys or colors: Red vs Blue. Indeed, many shabbier tests use party positions as the metric – to be a Leftist is to toe the Democratic party line. Needless to say, there are many flaws to this. Some go farther and call this the economic axis: leftists are socialists and rightists are capitalists. Yet, many would call positions like Traditionalism, Fascism, and Monarchism rightist. But these often reject capitalism for various reasons. Similarly, most people would agree progressives are leftist. But progressivism is usually defending the extension of Capital’s power – #wokecapital. And people point at something like, say, gay rights, and say that it’s leftist, even if it has nothing to do with economics. Clearly, capitalism vs communism is inadequate to explain this.

What does? The common thread uniting the Left is not socialism, but constructivism. That is, the Left believes that things are socially constructed. Things being socially constructed, they are, in some sense, malleable. Culture and nurture rules, not nature. Genders are a social construct! Laws are a social construct! Gravity is a social construct! By contrast, the Right believes in innate properties of things. There is an essence to everything, an immutable nature. Men and women are different. Capitalism channels man’s inherent greed productively. Human races are real and more than skin-deep. Going to the absolute extreme on the Left, one might expect someone to say there is no such thing as truth, only social constructs, so we can will away the Sun if we all clap our hands and believe. Going to the absolute extreme on the Right, one might expect someone to point out an ethnic group, say, the Yews, call them treacherous, and say that treachery being in their nature (as our qualities and weaknesses are in ours), and nature being unchangeable, the only path forward is extermination. Culture is downstream from biology.

Nowadays, political compasses often have a second axis going vertically, which they term Authoritarianism vs Libertarianism, and which is supposed to capture social attitudes. As we can see, lots of social attitudes can already be captured by the Left-Right dimension. But this dimension is also real, just mislabeled. The distinction which is being captured is not Authoritarian vs Libertarian, but Collectivist vs Individualist. Collectivism, in turn, is implicitly Authoritarian, because the group is privileged over the individual. Because of this, the individual necessarily must suborn their interests to that of the group. This creates a power differential and relation. When groups form, even anarchist groups, leaders and decision-making processes form, which people must submit to. Collectives imply authority. Collectives imply a relationship of authority. Collectivism is therefore implicit hierarchy. Individualists don’t see the world that way. For them, a man is born with rights. No government needs to exist for a man to be free to drink spring water, speak his mind (at the birds, presumably), or build a gunsword which shoots guns which shoot swords. Man is free because the world is free. Groups form and then IMPOSE upon the individuals, taking some of their rights for themselves. But for such an arrangement to be legitimate, the ruled must consent to surrender some of the freedom which they possess in the state of nature. Those who are Leftist Individualists we would call progressives or libertines. Because reality is socially constructed, they perceive reality as a group impingement on their innate freedom to socially construct themselves into being a Two Souled Karate Unicorn. God bless them. Those who are Rightist Individualists want to protect their natural right to have sex with twelve year olds because, actually, it’s ephebophilia not pedophilia and the attempt to define it otherwise is a plot by the government and its sinister roads, so buy up all the little girls you can using gold, which holds innate currency value. Leftist Collectivists see the perfect People Management Software as twelve easy gulagings away, and in the meantime, we’ve got to stop those wreckers sent by the Untied Shoelaces, land of godless materialism, people treating dogs as children, and negroid music. Rightist Collectivists know that if they can just get all those yahoos and punctuated merchants subverting the Ordnung back in line (or thrown out of helicopters), King Arthur will return, the mountains will jizz chocolate, and peace will reign in the land forever probably.

Except some don’t. And also, isn’t this just a relabeling of the existing compasses? Before you throw me out of a helicopter for being a shallow pedant and a hack, I have one more thing to add. And then you can throw me out of a helicopter for being a shallow pedant and a hack.

There’s one more axis. Constrained vs Unconstrained. This may sound familiar, because it is familiar. I stole it from Sowell. But it explains how monarchists and fascists are different, even if they might both be Collectivist and Rightist. Constrained thinkers tend to see the world as defined by tradeoffs. It is a fallen world. Things don’t really permanently improve. History goes in cycles. Mistakes are unavoidable because knowledge is costly and the future is messy. Conflicts come from people having fundamentally different interests. Unconstrained thinkers believe in progress, that things can and will improve, and that win-wins dominate, not trade-offs. Mistakes are a matter of ignorance. Conflicts come from failures to communicate. Fascists are Unconstrained, Reactionaries are Constrained. Ancaps with NAP attacks are Unconstrained, Old Libertarians are Constrained.

Looking over the long flow of history, technology tends to fit the Unconstrained pattern, while governments and cultures fit the Constrained one. So, naturally, engineers tend to be Constrained thinkers and sociologists Unconstrained. An engineer is trained to think about the tradeoffs made when building something. You can trade strength for weight, heat for power, speed for durability, etc. They are constantly confronted with setbacks and failures. And they see all human constructions crumble to dust in time. But every once in a while, one lifts one’s head from the cube and sees that the internet really has gotten thousands of times faster and you’ve made a fat bundle along the way. Similarly, sociologists and their ilk see so many human cultures that it’s hard not to notice the vast differences in the way cultures do things. And they are confronted by differences in values. In turn, it instills a kind of optimism. If so much can be different, why can’t we improve? And so they make another preschool program that doesn’t work. Aristocrats gain prestige by moving leftwards, and they are also constantly manipulating and messing with the proles, so it’s hard to avoid the conclusion that these cultures are constructed – you’re constructing them. But such a position means that your fancy hat is just as constructed, so why don’t we construct it off your head? The prole doesn’t have much margin for fanciful ideas, better the devil he knows. Besides, he sees the kids growing up and the animals breeding, and he knows temperament comes from the parents. But such an ideology means that his low status really is innate to him and deserved. Collectivism tends to attract people who have little but their group identity to be proud of, and in turn, Collective regimes purge those people as useless eaters. Individualists often find themselves asserting their special individuality, a unique identity that everybody hates, and which would be pounded to a pulp absent the government monopoly on force.

What’s the Matter with Kansas? is a mistitling. It should really be called what wrong wit humies atok their fecking stupid uezs.

Anyways, to make a long story short, I see eyes out in the trees looking at me. I’m cold and wet and hungry. I’m hoping you can use the IP posting this to find where I am.

Send hookers and bitcoin,
Monsieur le Baron

An Armed Society is a Polite Society, or the Warrior Aristocracy and Moral Codes

Dearest friends,

I cantered on over to the Crimson Crustacean, a chain cafeteria which is common ‘cross this continent, to chow on cooked clawed creatures and cows. Some of you may be saying, Monsieur, that’s not classy. To you, I say, those who put class over cash in the long run find themselves parted of both. Over many centuries, money talks and bullshit walks. Although, if someone had pointed a butter knife in my direction, I would have found myself short cash, class, and clothing.

It’s enough to make someone support a knife ban, isn’t it?

But you’re not here to listen to me talk about what I eat, even if sometimes I eat that wonder of the post-post-post-post-Modern post-scarcity age, the Eleventy Layer Quasispace Chalupa, the pride and joy of Taco Town (may the maior and the magister chililitarum live forever). So then, the main course.

It is often said, especially by old people, that an armed society is a polite society. And this was remarked by that venerable scholar, Thorstein “50 Cent” Veblen, that barbarians tend to be quite well mannered. “The barbarian of the quasi-peaceable stage of industry is more notoriously a more high-bred gentleman, in all that concerns decorum, than any but the very exquisite among the men of a later age, bitch nigga.” And it’s true that even I, of the genteel castes, am a rather rude fellow compared to even the Victorians, my nigga. It is only because the fucking shitty manners of the lower orders are even dogbothering worse that I pass for mannered. And it is true that I am hopelessly confused by cutlery, that I find the notion of restaurant dress codes outrageously outdated (though it was only a few decades ago), and many other things. A quick survey of the early Middle Ages confirms Veblen’s notion that ages of industry and learning and ages of war and politeness are inversely related. And why wouldn’t they be? Besides displaying leisure, politeness serves an important purpose in regulating the tendency of the warlike towards feud and random violence. What keeps people prim and proper is the threat of physical violence. In the World War International Netweb, there is no way to hit a bitch, so everyone’s asshole grows three sizes that day, threatening to consume human decency like a giant yawning goatse.

Hell, it seems like the malpractice of modern mastication alone would drive Miss Manners mad. Motherfucking monkey testicles. Gadzooks. So what does this matter? Politeness is the keeping of behavioral codes. Well, functionally, so is morality for most people. While I find ethical arguments and theology fascinating, most people do not. For most people, morality is a set of things they shouldn’t do because reasons. Even those who get off the Christianity train usually end up on the crypto-Christianity train, where they do all the things that Christians do except they justify it by some vague appeals to a fuzzy universal morality. They’re still essentially keeping the Christian codes. It’s like Western Buddhists. They’re just funny Christians who worship Buddha like he’s Christ. Truly alien moralities are just that, alien.

Here’s some Slate Star Codex. Uno Dos.

Creating conlangs is hard not because creating language is fundamentally hard but because we are bad at top down modelling of processes that are the result of a bunch of tiny modifications over time.

Human brain can’t into catallaxic effects arising from networks. That’s why proles perceive world politics as a vast conspiracy by the Illuminati, because world politics is the emergent order from an incredibly wide and ancient network that makes me, the nobody Monsieur le Baron, a second degree connection to multiple heads of state, and means almost every upper middle class person knows a centimillionaire or billionaire. The vast, byzantine Illuminati plans that span centuries are more the product of investments by people with a certain level of FTO. If normal humans have low FTO, and the conscientious, child-delaying or childfree middle class person has high FTO, then this level of FTO is stratospheric. Comparatively low FTO aristocrats like fatty fat fatty no self-control Lena Dunham live lives like high FTO prole city people, except the latter are convinced they’re exemplars of self-control, and Lena Dunham is a sister-molesting cow who lives by the spur of the moment (this moment is defined as one whole human lifetime). The idea that Lena Dunham isn’t planning for generations down the line is appalling to me. The idea that *anyone* could be investing for generations down the line is deeply alien to the prole. So, world conspiracy. I could go on, but I digress. Another time.

Adhering to ancient traditions when the context is rapidly changing is a recipe for disaster. No point in mastering seal-hunting if there ain’t no more seals. No point in mastering the manners of being a courtier if there ain’t no more royal court. Etc.

So why does politeness decline as we leave the age of warriors? Politeness is the keeping of a bunch of arbitrary behavior codes. In a rapidly changing industrial society, this presents a comparative disadvantage. To the innovative go the spoils. So having good manners, being socially conservative, makes you a weaker in the status battle. Or, as previously discussed, leftism is the language of power, rightism the language of losers. A tradition is not valid outside its context, industrial societies rapidly invalidate contexts.

So what? Monsieur, isn’t this all obvious. My apologies, but I was dropped on my head a lot, so I have to slowly spell things out. Furthermore, the obvious does not go stated often enough. There are too many contrarians and not enough metacontrarians. An armed society is a polite society is a quaint aphorism, and it doesn’t come with a justification because it’s held to be self-evident. So people throw it aside because they don’t have a good rational story for it.

So let’s get to something new. Why is neo-reaction, a predominately middle class movement, so attracted to the idea of the Kshatriya? We’ll throw out a lot of stated reasons right away. The high FTO, caring, responsible ruler, to the extent he exists, is a scholar-aristocrat, not a warrior-aristocrat. Unlike these lowborns, I have the advantage of witnessing military bloodlines myself. A knight, like any other jughead, loves Camaros and lives a reckless lifestyle. Live fast, die young, and leave a good-looking corpse to ghostride your bitchin’ Camaro. The reign of warriors is not the reign of Fnargl, it’s the reign of turning your national GDP into lots of Camaros and Dependapotami. So what are some real reasons to support the Kshatriya meme? Well, for one, it allows this band of usurpers and oathbreakers concerned citizens to seize power, since, obviously, a bunch of internet bloggers are the *true* warrior aristocracy we’ve been waiting for, which legitimates their claim to overthrow the existing elite. But, to be quite frank, I don’t think many people are fooled by this.

The second reason is more deep rooted. I’ve said before that the middle class is the keeper of morality. In Victorian times, they were the paragons of respectability. They called it bourgeois norms and respectability. Today, they are the most strident globohomos, the ones that walk their talk. Now, if a clever bourgeois notices something is up with globohomo morality, they are naturally disgusted. They would want a return to a polite society. And who offers the polite society? The armed society.

The warrior aristocracy.

The Kshatriya.

Alles in Butter, not just my lobster tail.

Every dog has its day, even celebrities, though Hollywood types are all sons of bitches. And one day, the Kshatriya will ride atop their steel horses, and there will be much weeping and revving of Camaros.

Next time maybe, I fill in for the Sad One and explain the essential similarities between Ayn Rand and Karl Marx. It’s Economics for Dummies with Monsieur.

Eats to fill the void in his head,
Monsieur le Baron

The Second Technocracy: Elite Formation Pt. III

Dearest friends,

Witness the city of steel and silicon. Prostrate yourself before the throne of code.

Do you see the many petitioners? Do you see the glories which have been wrought?

To land in SJC is to land in another world. The air is thick with the scent of hierarchy.

The Second Estate lives. It reigns. All fall beneath it.

The machine men drink deep of globohomo and commune with the spirit of transcendent aristocracy.

It is strong.

It is confident.

It is hateful.

And it will not be denied.

In order to successfully reach the elite, a group needs strong asabiya. It must have the unity to form a meaningful organization. It must have the unity to assert one shared narrative of gentility, lest it be relegated to the category of mere “labor”. And ultimately, it must have unity of purpose, to be able to assert the necessity of its mission to the existing elite, and if need be, the unity to wage a war against it, just as the doctors defeated the old families of France and their ancient fortunes, subsuming them into their group. At long last, engineering has done so.

But a group with the asabiya to do all of this has the asabiya to go further. Just as border people do not stay at their border, so too do prospective elites not stay within their niche. The border men soon turn their sights on new conquests and back towards the center. So too did the men of machines.

In 1968, there was a crisis, a crisis that needed to be solved for the glory of the empire. Talented men flocked to the field to solve the crisis. They developed their own group identity. It had its own culture, a sort of nerd culture, which was in some ways traditionally elitist and aristocratic, loving board games, learning, and disdaining the masses, but also in many ways new. It was excluded from power. But economic necessity grew its strength, year by year. It yearned to be accepted. Bill Gates made electronics popular, then Steve Jobs made them cool. It became acceptable for a young Harvard grad to go into tech.

The men of machines went further, just like the men of medicine before them. In the end, the men of medicine sought to remake society in their own image. They changed the societal narrative to a biological one. So too did the men of machines go and take other industries. What is the difference between Uber and a taxi service? What is the difference between AirBnB and traditional hospitality? The difference lies in the narrative. The former are “tech companies”. That means they embody the tech company ethos, not the ethos of taxis or hotels. Tech went off the reservation. Bankers became quants, half-math and half-man. Trades went higher and higher frequency. Everything was and is to be technocratized. The words of the machine men went back to the center, to the Establishment. Everything would become agile. Everything needed management metrics. Everything would be technological, rational, data-driven. The Cloud had come, and Big Data was its prophet.

This is another turning of the elite cycle. Big whoop. It happens all the time. Why is it significant now?

Because of *why* Anglo society rejected the message of the machine men. Machines are things to be manipulated and changed to suit one’s purposes. Inputs and outputs. But in a land of sacred individuality and liberty, men could never be reduced to mere numbers.

This isn’t just a turning of the elite cycle. It is also a turning of our color cycle. The sacred ideology of liberty has been overturned. And so, the machine men reign. The machine men, the engineers, will most likely be the elites leading us through the final days of this stage of the color cycle, the final secular cycle of Anglo liberty, and into the brave new world that comes afterwards. In between, there will be conflict, and possibly even civil war. The empire long united…

The years will pass, and there will be cycles past that. Who will succeed the engineers? Nobody knows. But nerd culture is fascinated with Megacorporations and a marketized world. Everything for sale. No rights but property rights. What a world that would be. Such would be the work of Mad Men.

Writes articles just to make shitty puns,
Monsieur le Baron

 

Tales of Thrift and Nobility, or Human Fortress: Elite Formation Pt. II

Dearest friends,

Urist was punched in the head, bruising the brain and severing his nerves. I’m afraid I shall have to be your host today, shabby though I am.

Let’s get to it.

One of Turchin’s cycles is the asabiya cycle. Groups have asabiya – a sense of identity and cohesion. Asabiya forms along borders, where two groups are in conflict for long periods. Asabiya, the identity, is thus most strong near the edges of the territory it encompasses. Of course this is so, for without the other, there is no meaningful distinction to the self. Identities define their self, *who we are*, in opposition to the other, *who we are not*. Therefore on the borders, we see the most cultural conditioning.

It is the borders which are the seeds of great empires. It is ultimately the borderlands that unite the whole and make great conquests. China is periodically invaded by steppe nomads and marcher lords. Germany was united by the Prussians, half-Slav, half-German mongrels. Rome was a city on seven hills, but also a city on the border. America was a frontier state before it was the USG world empire.

But there is more than inter-group conflict. There is also intra-group conflict. Class conflict. Classes are also identities, just as national identities are identities. When they come into sustained conflict, this identity will grow stronger. Where do we see the most cultural conditioning today? Where are the borders of our classes?

On one side of the divide, we have the last of the prestige firms fighting for their survival in otherwise middle class fields. I speak of Accounting and Marketing. At places like EY and PwC, there is more cultural conditioning and orientation than I’ve seen anywhere else. That’s it means to be a marcher – it means fighting for your soul at every turn. Below you, the oblivion of the middle class. The Age of Mad Men never got off the ground. While they began to gather their strength, ultimately, society would reject its message. Yes to consumerism, but no to marketizing everything. The age of SEC-regulated kidtax and kid derivatives markets is yet to come. The Mad Men sleep, let them sleep a while longer.

And who lies on the other side of the divide? We shall see soon.

The beginnings of an aristocratic group are driven by economic need. A new field is born as a result of economic or cultural shifts. But there are many jobs out there, not all prestigious. Which drives the difference? When a job forms, it ideally would like to be as prestigious as possible. If it can do that, it maximizes the earnings of its members while minimizing their work. But how can it do that? First, it must make a stake to skill, to differentiate it from the unskilled masses. But many prolish occupations are highly skilled. To raise its status further, a job ought to make a claim to gentility, to claim that it is not just mere labor. This is something that accounting and marketing definitely do. But it is clearly not enough. To become aristocratic, a group must be accepted by the aristocracy. This requires more than just an economic need. It requires high society to accept its mission, its reason to be. It must impress upon high society the urgency of its spirit and the necessity of changing to accommodate it.

In the beginning, there were the warriors. Long ago, even before the beginning, there were scientists too, but the chaos had sent them away. The warriors battled and left carnage in their wake. At its basest level, government is the monopoly of force, and power the only law. But such a state of existence is a brutish one. As the kings grew in power, they desired to bring an end to the fighting and to bring the warlords to heel. For that, they needed centralized. Bureaucracy. Laws.

When you need law, you need men of law. But need the men of law be important? They must be if you are to be ruled by laws, and not men. And so rose the lawyers. The curtains closed on the Medieval Era. There was peace, of a sort. But with internal peace came external war. The states grew strong, and in their strength, they grew greedier. The crowns of Europe went to war, again and again. And the sinews of war were golden coins.

Governments needed money. Lots of money. The cry was answered, and so were born the money men. But, it turned out, money could be used for more than war. It could be used for development projects and long-term planning. Bigger, better, and more prosperous. The banking clans grew fat and happy. In the background, innovation continued its steady clip. And soon, a new thing was available to be financed. Wondrous machines that could save labor and multiply manpower like nothing ever seen before. One by one, the estates of Europe were mortgaged and smokestacks filled the sky. The machine men took the reins.

Except in Merry Old England. The Anglos accepted the Industrial Revolution, but not its implications. The Anglo economy changed, but Anglo society carried on. Stiff upper lip. The engineers of Britain formed a professional organization, changed the economy, and lobbied hard for recognition. But ultimately, their mission was not found to be compelling. The societal revolution of the machine men was denied, because of some mysterious X factor. Britain carried on much as it was. Among the British, engineer came to mean something similar to “mechanic”, a mere technical specialist.

The doctors had slumbered. While they had made their own colleges, their remedies had always been ineffective. No longer. As Europe prospered, it grew wise. And the secrets of life made themselves clear. Wondrous tonics and remedies multiplied. The machine men made men wealthy, but the medicine men would make them whole. And wasn’t society itself the body politic? Couldn’t it, too, be cured of what ailed it? New cities must be built, healthier cities. New works will be made, to protect the public health. But still, there lurked a cancer. Some of the denizens did not belong in this pure society. They were unclean. They had to be excised. It was time for chemotherapy.

Europe burned.

Across the sea, the ad men attempted to usher in their ad age. They failed.

But in the hidden war rooms of the new USG world empire, NATO, a problem was being discussed. They called it the crisis of software engineering.

The year was 1968.

The X factor was Anglo liberty.

We are now ready to see who sits on the other side of the divide.

Looking for the hidden fun stuff,
Monsieur le Baron

Compromise, Conflict, and the End of an Era, or the Virtue of Snobbery: Elite Formation Pt. I

Dearest friends,

It is early, it is late. There is coffee, there is melatonin. It is in these twilight hours just after waking and just before morning where the mind wanders free and light, past the boundaries of convention. It is at transition points that interesting effects occur. Fussell once said that America would be interested in class if someone made a work telling the stories of the boundaries, where the ghetto person becomes bougie, and where the struggling aspirant claws their way towards the upper middle class. If only there was someone to explicate the boundaries.

Ah well.

Why does old money disdain new money anyways? Is there a reason for it?

For that matter, why are those media types so disgustingly crass and prolish?

Well, the main goal of old money is to perpetuate itself indefinitely. As they say, three generations makes a gentleman. Why would you want to insulate yourself from new money? In the conventional view, there’s no reason to. They’ve got all the talent and the energy. But evolution doesn’t end at the neck, does it? Someone who has the talent to make it to the top doesn’t necessarily have the *genetic* talent to make it to the top. That is, there is regression to the mean. Some of that talent is going to be from environmental factors. And some of that success was just plain luck.

When you marry into the glitterati, you’re marrying someone that’s basically just a prole, but an extremely lucky prole. Luck is not heritable. The force of regression is going to carry you right back into the trailer park. Media types should rightly be shunned as perpetual new money. What they touch, they corrupt. The Met Gala was once respectable. Just look at it. Look at them. I mean, come on. Come the fuck on. I believe that’s proof enough of my point.

But what about the talented outsiders? That’s where the most danger lies. That handsome young lawyer may seem like a great bet, but *you have no idea how much of that talent is genetic*. A lawyer who makes more than a million a year sits at the top of their field. But if that’s an upwardly mobile lawyer and not a hereditary lawyer, then their kid might be fucking garbage. Selecting for old money means eliminating the noise. If a family sticks around for grandfather, father, and finally your new son-in-law, then you can be assured that their skill has genetics underlying it. Reasonably assured, anyways.

But a separation of middle and upper middle also has a secondary purpose. There are cultural boundaries between the two.

The middle class is “crass” and “boorish”. They shop at Target. They mistreat the staff. They buy Margaritaville mixers and wild, showy things. They flaunt their alleged wealth at every opportunity. In short, fuck ’em.

The upper middle is “snobby” and “dishonest”. They shop at Costco – a warehouse, really? It’s so not nice! And it’s full of that Kirkland store brand instead of real brands. In fact, how do your stuff won’t wear out if it’s not branded? And they lie. They lie through their teeth. Look at their universities – full of cheating and corruption. They’re clannish. They lack Hajnal values good character. In short, fuck ’em.

Who polices these norms? They’re policed by moralizers. Moralizers take shared cultural norms and moralize them, such that matters of taste become matters of right and wrong. It’s not just wrong to shop at Target, it’s EVIL. When moralizers from two different groups meet, it ends in conflict. While matters of taste can be dismissed, the same cannot be said for matters of good and evil. The proximity of the classes will lead to class warfare. With the end of the formal nobility, the classes are closer than ever. Before, the elites could be checked by intra-elite warfare. But with the introduction of the middle class, they are able to find a common enemy.

How can the two classes come to interact peacefully? For that matter, how do two sides ever come to agreement? There are equilibriums of compromise and equilibriums of conflict. 2/3rds of pro-life and pro-choice people have the same view – abortion, but restricted abortion. But the conflict between pro-life and pro-choice is deep and polarizing. It’s not because of false consciousness, it’s because the markers of pro-life and pro-choice constitute tribal boundaries. Having become a tribal issue, it behooves one to fight for the tribe’s identity, and to assert a more extreme version of the stance in order to distinguish one’s self from the enemy. The settling point of abortion DOES tend to be near the natural compromise point. But it settles there through conflict and cyclical movement. As you approach an extreme, less of your tribe fights and more of the enemy tribe fights. The momentum of one tribe stalls out as it approaches its ideal (its members don’t actually happen to want that ideal). If views change, conflict consensus will naturally adjust the settling point. It’s an organic settlement. Compromise equilibriums are ant farm equilibriums. They minimize short-run microconflicts at the cost of a bigger conflict erupting much later. In Taleb terms, conflict is antifragile and compromise is fragile.

Ironically, compromises are more foundational to a culture, not less. Compromises on heavily disputed issues simply won’t take. So a compromise that survives must exist on or create ground which is in common. It must either be in or form a low dispute environment. Its assumptions must be largely shared. And those assumptions being shared creates a feedback loop causing those assumptions to become more and more shared.

What is the core compromise at the heart of American culture? An agreement, loved by no one, for the classes to come to peace. We call this compromise Anglo liberty.

And it is dying.

Don’t panic, no, not yet,
Monsieur le Baron