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

Japanese Takeout, or the Continuity of Cultural Narrative

Dearest friends,

Consider the burrito. It is a tortilla wrapped around a delicious filling. Now, we can derive another idea from this core burrito concept – the sushirito. A sushirito, or sushi burrito, is a burrito with rice instead of tortilla and raw fish as the filling. Imagine a world where the burrito suddenly ceased to be, but the sushirito would remain. Over time, the name and idea of burrito would come to be associated with the sushirito, since only the sushirito remains as a reminder of the burrito past. The sushirito would be the burrito. And then no one would know the  burrito, only the sushirito.

There are only so many narratives that exist. We appropriate from the past.

People want to fill their egg role.

The HR person is not just the HR person. Some of what they do comes from economic or practical necessity. But much of it is simply passed down, unquestioned tradition. People act in a certain way because that’s Just The Way Things Are. An HR person is the vessel of the clerisy long dead.

Much is made of pivotal shifts in economic conditions, but so long as the cultural identity survives, these can be adapted to. It is not the way of life that defines the man, but the man who makes a way of life amenable to himself.

So long as an identity survives, the people can change. To propose the reverse is fundamentally wrongheaded. Economics is merely how a people sustain themselves. But it does not constitute what *values* they have. Compare the Plains Indians to the Cossacks. Both were people of wild, horsed steppes, fundamentally nomadic. But the Indians are a dying people and the Cossacks are not. It is not a story of economic obsolescence. The Cossacks no longer sustain themselves with the old ways. The world has changed to a world of steel and factories. But the essential character remains. On a steel horse, he rides. It is the spirit of a people that endures. When economic conditions change, so long as the identity lives, people find a way to adapt their mores to their circumstances.

The aristocratic identity is alive and well, despite the obsoletion of living off land rents. The traditional form of sustenance died out. But the idea of living above labor survived into the concept of the rentier, a repackaging of the idea of shunning labor. When that also ceased to be viable, the aristocrat took on the form of the professional, an adaptation of the idea of the noblesse de robe. They arbitrarily carved a certain kind of labor as “intellectual” and “professional” and therefore not work. The similarities were used to bridge the gap. A modern person of the upper middle class has almost nothing in common with an old style aristocrat – except for cultural continuity. They are much less chop, much more suey. And this is the way things go. But if you crush a people’s spirit, it’s over. Culture changes as a Ship of Theseus, but when it sinks, it sinks.

And then you’re drowning.

Cultural identities aren’t useless. They’re life scripts. They help you navigate life. They structure its trials and travails. They overcome decision paralysis. They give meaning. They say – this is what life is, this is what life’s about. They tell you how to butter your toast.

You butter it wrong, by the way. Blasted knave.

And… cultures provide customary restraints. Rules. Laws. Taboos. They mark some things as off the table. Many sins can be thus avoided. Some taboos are obsoleted by time. But many taboos have to do with people, and people never change. Human nature remains what it was. In forgetting traditional culture, we forget everything we knew about what people were.

That’s significant.

This all started when Babs shitposted a question at me: What’s with the Asians that act like… disadvantaged Negroes?

The truth is a little deeper than that. Ghetto culture is not black culture. As Sowell points out, much of it is taken from white cracker culture. What Asians take from Black culture removes one more layer of cultural veneer off the underlying thing. What is the thing that chavs, ghetto blacks, white trash, and chiggers share in common? It’s the essence underlying all of those cultures. Ghetto culture is deracinated prolishness. It is prole nature without any guidance or restraints to channel those energies and desires somewhere productive. It is prole culture without any of the taboos against the worst poisons. That’s how it can be so similar across time and space. What all of them are practicing is the emergent behavior of people on the bottom without identity-behaviors to constrain it. It is pure class tendency, raw and harsh. When medieval peasants… misbehave, it is not in imitation of blacks centuries in the future. But their unique cultures provide answers to the problems posed by these class tendencies. Memes adapt to their memetic niches. The solidarity and clannishness of the holler protects against the corrosion of dumb shit. The humble white man remains upright because of a cultural narrative prizing work. Without these little stories, you collapse back into deracinated prolishness. Why *should* you work when all your efforts will amount to nothing anyways? Even the hardiest and most diligent laborer earns a pittance for their troubles. But a culture that thought that way would go extinct. It is only when the layers of culture are removed that the ugly question rears its head once more.

So what is globohomo? Globohomo is deracinated aristocracy. It is the tendency of the elite to move left, subverting the existing order, combined with its international and cosmopolitan outlook. By nature, elites of all countries have more in common with each other than their people. But being connected to your people is necessary to maintain asabiya, and peoples that lacked asabiya were relegated to the dustbin of history. Within a culture, there will be adaptations to draw the people and the elite closer. Noblesse oblige. Shared rituals. A common cult. But these adaptations are not cross cultural. Prussia had its soldier kings and warrior junkers eating beans and sleeping alongside foot sloggers, and while this fulfills the same cultural niche as, say, WASPs taking townies under their wing, ala Our Kids, they are not the *same behavior*. It’s just convergent evolution. A mixing of all elites does not result in the practice of all of these rites, but the practice of none of them. Globohomo unleashed.

And when globohomo is unleashed, elite power knows no checks and limits. Just as a wolf pack let loose soon kills off all its deer, so too do the elites salt their own soil. For the elite do not feed themselves, but rely on value extracted from the proles. Starvation ensues.

Starving for a sushirito,
Monsieur le Baron

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

Candy Canes, or High Society and the Discontinuities of Society

(With thanks to my pal Babs)

Dearest friends,

When you look at a cake, you have frosting on top, but also little squiggles of chocolate and fruit and stuff. People always focus on the frosting, so much so that the top part is basically just called frosting, not “frosting and fruit and stuff”, but the other stuff has distinct properties as well, properties very different from frosting.

I don’t really like cake.

Anyways. Enough talking about dessert. Let’s have our main course.

As far as most of society is concerned, the UMC is the upper class. When people think of the upper class, they think of the 1%, and they create a sort of phantom chimera of UC and UMC traits mashed into one group. But the two are distinct in a number of ways.

To know why, we must consider the Slate Star Codex idea of classes as cells. I call this the Candy Cane Hypothesis. To wit, classes resemble each other when they are two cells apart. Because the UC has no fear of being confused with the MC, they are able to adopt behaviors which resemble MC behaviors without any possibility of confusion. Indeed, the UC is not even really aware of the MC’s existence. When prompted, their conception of MC careers is that they are the lumpen, the poor, out-of-sight underclass. Thus, we see a circling around.

Where I buy Costco shirts, they buy from Brooks Brothers. The idea is here is signaling quality, but the MC focus is on the signal, that they can buy such wonderful clothing (that they really can’t afford), while what the UC focuses on is the *quality*, because their goal is to minimize the hassle in their lives. My shirts may last me somewhat over a decade, but their goal is to have shirts as old as houses.

The MC has expert worship because they’re midwits. They are just smart enough to learn the answer by rote and repeat it. This becomes the sign of intelligence, the ability to repeat the “correct” answer. When they see someone with a “wrong” answer, they scoff, assuming it is a prole too stupid to know the right answer. The UC has expert worship because they know they are no longer the class of ideas and that their minds have atrophied with disuse. They are insecure regarding their intellectual superiority because they do not have to go through intellectual trials and the gauntlet is that is the academic-corporate-industrial complex. Instead they rely on their “idea guy” servitors, who pitch them at social clubs and venture capital events and golf greens.

The MC doesn’t know the value of a dollar because it is disconnected from the standard mechanisms of the means of production. The teacher and the bureaucrat are not paid by profit-making private entities, but by a gargantuan government bureaucracy. They do not eat what they kill. The UC is disconnected from the work chain and the value of a dollar in a similar way. All their kills are done by their men, and the money flows up to them like a bubbling spring. Accordingly, the MC and UC both do not support their kin in times of need, as they feel the need to teach the value of a dollar through actual jobs and work.

The MC focuses on culture and right ideas to signal its own intelligence and worthiness, and thus distinction from the tasteless proles. The UC focuses on culture and right ideas because in a world without work or struggle, that’s all that matters.

And most of all, both the MC and the UC stand atop their respective worlds. For the MC, American meritocracy means poor people can work hard, save money, and go to college just like them, receiving a “good job” that pays “good money” with stability. They do not perceive anything above them, and when they have to deal with the UMC, they scoff at them as boorish and beneath them. Much to my chagrin. And the UC stand atop their laboring servants, their whims law over the world, their every desire fulfilled. What they see as the story of American meritocracy is one of the Stuy people being able to, after decades of cube service, being able to golf with the beautiful people as a VP. For both classes, what this creates is a sense of narcissistic benevolence. For the MC, the emphasis is on the narcissism, the sense they are more deserving and more worthy of special treatment, the “Can I speak to the Manager????” mentality. For the UC, the emphasis is on the benevolence… because they actually get all the special treatment they want from their servants (but not wider society, even if your name is on the building. Being out of sight of the proles means nobody gets why you matter. A cruel irony.)

Both the proles and UMC gravitate to common sense ideas. The proles because they disdain the education that gives the MC the “right answers”, while the UMC is forced to continually confront what is taught with what works – their genteel survival is on the line. Pragmatism often ends up trumping what is fashionable, and so UMC society is defined by doublethink, where people praise diversity while living in gated communities, talk about intelligence being taught while searching out high IQ mates, etc etc.

Both the proles and the UMC are forced to be generous and supportive of their kin. For the proles, kin constitutes their primary support network, because they lack the capital and educational assets of the MC. For the UMC, the value of House and name, the game of Namm und Stamen, is often their last link to high society, and their position is so precarious that they take every competitive advantage they can get. That means paying their kids through college, buying or paying for a home in Manhattan, and funding their first deal. The big Christmas present of the proles doesn’t spoil because it is contrasted with rather meager living the rest of the time. And the pampering of the UMC doesn’t spoil because parent and child both know survival is at stake. To be returned to the peasant dust is a fate worse than death.

Both the proles and the UMC know intimately the value of a dollar and of work. The prole is the worker, the UMC owns the means of production. The UMC person has to take stock of their stocks, bond with their bonds, and do the business of running their businesses. A doctor is no doctor if he doesn’t understand his craft, regardless of how many honors he may have. One owns the means of production, the other is subjugated under them, but both know the score. And so there is a kind of respect between owner and worker that classic Marxists can’t really understand.

Despite actually having the guns and doing the labor, when it comes to class conflict between a working man and a government regulator or a meddlesome social worker, the latter always comes out on top. And despite holding the reins of corporate power, when the TOOS coming knocking at a corporate vice president’s door, it is clear who holds the whip hand.

Ultimately, despite making their worlds tick, both the proles and the UMC have a deep sense of being on the bottom. The proles recognize that they don’t have the means of production (it is very easy for union leaders to get them to read and understand Marx because it is so very real), while the UMC also lacks the means of production – the means of political production. As the class truly producing the ideas, they are resentful that their plans have to be mediated through the filter of people who play tennis and have good cocktail parties. When a man like Bill Gates or the Zuck or Vladimir Lenin rises from the UMC to the UC, they finally have the chance to make real their ideas. And when those ideas are of the ant farm variety, terror ensues.

The UC is like a chicken, and I am the Chinasaur. What is functional in me as striver-killer instincts becomes vestigial in the UC, as the selection pressures of constant competition are replaced with the selection pressures of being charming and fun at parties.

Two little worlds, both unaware of each other. Scholars of class almost always hail from the UMC because they’re the ones best positioned to see the whole spectrum.

I have an affinity for the proles. Does that mean the UC has an affinity for the MC?

No. Everybody hates the MC.

Resentful he can’t go to the Slavic titty bar,
Monsieur le Baron

P.S. To be continued in Sausage Links, or the Shared Values of Neighboring Classes