Bloody Shovel 3

We will drown and nobody shall save us


Foseti asks What to do? i.e. what should we (people who understand that society is going to hell and why) do to prevent/palliate/fight the collapse.

It's a good question. But it's so 2012. Or 2010 maybe. As bad as dysgenics/balkanisation/moral collapse is, the sense of urgency has been totally replaced by the new Big Story. Which is the automation, and the Neo-Luddite panic that is sweeping all over the punditsphere. You know something is Big when Half Sigma just won't shut up about it. The guy really has a good smell for what topics are popular. I guess that being a Jew on NYC will do that for you.

Of course the new automation economy is a bigger news story than The Fall. Everyone can see how automation might affect them personally, so there's a general panic mood floating around. Even Razib had a gloomy post on it.The Fall is a metaphysical concept, it normally happens slowly, and hey we can all think of ways to profit from it. But if Skynet is happening we are all screwed. People are scared, there's talks of Butlerian Jihad around. All of which is justified. Factories are getting robotized, and good software is making many office workers irrelevant. I helped introduce labor saving software in an old office, and kicked out a bunch of fat ugly proles. It felt good. Now I'm in the other side of the business, and I'm scared too. Sorry proles, I didn't mean it.

But the fact that present stuff is getting automated doesn't mean that eventually everything will be. We have to start thinking in making other stuff. It's hard to change production models, or relations of production as Marx called them. Extremely hard. For all I know it might be impossible. But other ways of making stuff do exist. So we better start thinking on it.

Go to Japan, and enter any convenience store. It's full of weird food and snacks and gadgets, and they all change every month. There are huge industries producing weird stuff, say rose-flavored Kit-Kat or 10x magazines for every teenage subculture. Agriculture is generally a small plot, family affair, and tons of labor goes into making every process more artisanal and high quality. Seriously, the quality focus and labor intensity of the food industry in Japan is insane.

See, there's shitloads of stuff to do. They do it. But we don't do any of that. Why? Because we don't need them. The Japanese don't need a different Kit Kat flavor every week, nor to do fix robot rails by hand, neither they need 10 cute co-eds in every McDonalds.  Nobody *needs* that.

But they do demand it. They feel very strongly that they need all that stuff. So they go and buy it. Of course it's all an evil plot, fed by an immense advertising monopoly, which tells people to buy, and what to buy. See the myth of Japanese quality. People there just won't buy foreign stuff. They eat their outrageously expensive 70% fat beef before actual Australian meat. They actually buy Japanese smartphones before Samsungs (which are cheaper and way better). There's a long lasting theory about English education in Japan being horrible because the government doesn't want the people to go abroad and buy foreign stuff. It certainly helps nourish a huge translation and publishing industry.

People are used to a consumption pattern, and over time they feel it's natural. They get pissed if they can't have all that stuff. So it gets done, and people buy it, and the money moves around, so there are jobs for everyone. Pretty inane, inconsequential jobs for the most part. You could argue that it's subemployment, producing trivial, frivolous stuff, and employing armies of people to dupe the populace into consuming them. But it is also undeniable that the average quality of products in Japan is very high, and that having access to all that contributes to a higher quality of life.

Japan not only has a lot of jobs, it consistently overworks its people. Japan invented karoshi, and 200+ overtime hours a month is quite a standard affair. What are they producing with all that labor? Well not that much. Japan's workplaces are famously inefficient. Paperwork is eerily stagnant since the 50s, company meetings happen daily and last for hours, and late night male-bonding with the boss is also common. As good as Japan was always with electronic hardware, the IT era has passed them by, and the Japanese IT industry is famously backward. Do you know any good japanese piece of software besides videogames? Well me neither.

If Bain Capital or some other US vulture come over and put its heart to it, they could rationalise any Japanese company and cut the labor force by 50% with no effect on output. But nobody wants that to happen, because the Japanese economy is based on consumption. Lots of it. For all the fame of thrifty Asians who save and export, but exports are only around 15% of the Japanese economy. Japan's economy is based on using loads of labor to produce a lot of high quality weird stuff and push/bully/shame people into buying it. It was quite a shock to myself, but you really get to understand Keynes. Japan works because the country has successfully manipulated the people into a particular kind of consumerism. It won't matter how much stuff robots produce, if the people are primed to buy 'human quality', or whatever buzzword they pump out to get the economy moving.

It's funny, because most of the solutions, to the coming economic/societal crisis in the West are based on abandoning consumerism towards a more rational, frugal life, i.e. lower incomes are ok if you don't buy so much stuff. The left is pushing hard for extending welfare into a universal Basic Income. With Open Borders.  Just think about it for a second. Ok stop shivering.

And the mood in the right is getting quite medieval actually. Talks of inequality bringing back the old patron-clients network of Rome, or feudal society where the masses would be employed in serving the property owners. The aspies at GMU talk about it like it's no biggy. But think about it. Today's inequality is orders of magnitude greater than Rome. How many servants does Warren Buffet need? Want? I guess Larry Ellison wouldn't mind having a 15 year old Thracian slave girl making his laundry. But most rich people would rather have Miele appliances and be left alone.

A more frugal life is a choice I have made personally, but if all society went that way it would bury the economy for good. I agree that the benefits of scale are way past the point of diminishing returns, and further scaling of industrial production might be  positively harmful. A move towards smaller, more labor intensive enterprises might mean smaller communities in less dense urban settings. All high IQ populations are losing numbers, so that's a factor too. But that doesn't meant that people should stop consuming. Until we find a way to raise IQs so we can all design our own robots and forgo status-whoring, or the singularity devours us all, the only solution to over-supply is matching it with (picky) over-demand.

Either that, or Marx is back.


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  • In a broken economy, people are two poor to buy basic machines. Look at Africa, where or India, where people work the fields by hand, even though that became obsolete almost 100 years ago.

    Without profit there is no investment.

  • Here's my completely knee-jerk hunch. It's a giant subject and deserves a lot of serious thought. But, for now, instead of that:

    The biggest role of government in the near future, though many people both within and without it may not consciously understand it, will be the redistribution and recycling of value created by cheap automation. A small slice of narrow-elite ultra-wealthy people who control and manage globally-scalable production, service, or content platforms will be taxed (but not so much as to erode their extreme eliteness), and those taxes will be used to pay an almost entirely quasi-governmental-employee/contractor middle class to provide "free" services to the omni-nannied lumpenprole masses.

    Education, Health Care, Legal Assistance, Housing, Social Work, Therapy, everything. The more middle-class "bureaucrats" this model employs, the more human-functions it can think of to occupy them with to sustain the underclass, the better. Not better for the underclass, which never gets better, but that's not the point, because the middlers get to feel like they're doing something worthy.

    It's The Wealthy Soviet.


    • The whole problem with the Soviet model is that it doesn't work. Capital does not build up. There isn't real wealth created and the system becomes a net minus.

      If automation is revolutionizing productivity and corporate productivity the stock market should have been on a tear. Instead, it has merely treaded water for the last 14 years and is down by like 1/3 over the last 14 years after adjusting for inflation.

      Wages should not be stagnating. Instead people who have jobs should be earning much more with automation.

      The falling prices of goods due to automation should mean deflation (as in the Industrial Revolution) and real wages, and standards of living, should be climbing. The fact that a man's median wages have been flat in America for 40 years is not a good sign.

      Look at what happened in the Industrial Revolution and the years that followed to see what BS it is to blame automation. It was genuinely worse then in terms of the rate of job replacement. Agriculture was shrinking from like 50% of the workforce to like 2% and yet wages were soaring in real terms. People struggled mightily with great turmoil in the job market but at the end of the day, the economy was vital and people found new things to do. These days, it is huge trouble to create a job.

      There was a time when you could train an apprentice and for several years he is a net zero, but that's okay because you are paying him little. That doesn't work well now. There is lots of demand for skilled work, but no process for people getting skilled that covers employers for all their trouble and risk. Some people just aren't trainable to a high level

      • In theory, and over the long term, a good national stock market index should scale to nominal gross domestic product. Yeah, there will be still be long periods of stagflations and bubbles and crash-recessions, etc. where you get volatile deviations up or down, but there should also be pressures to restore the scale ratio. And overall it seems to hold up well when you look at the data. It's interesting to look at the last three bubble-deviations - tech, housing, and QE.

      • > If automation is revolutionizing productivity and corporate productivity the stock market should have been on a tear. Why should it? I haven't noticed automation revolutionizing consumption. You have to sell stuff to turn a profit. That's why some investors consider distribution and sales to be future growth industries.

    • That's the logical conclusion. But I don't see the US pulling that off. Barely Japan. Maybe Finland.

      You need *a lot* of social cohesion to have a Soviet work.

      • "Soviet" isn't quite the apt word, more of a rhetorical flourish, I admit. As for whether it will "work", I'm reminded of the line from the Architect in The Matrix Reloaded movie, "There are levels of survival we are prepared to accept."

  • Machines are capital accumulation. America can't even transition to electric cars very easily, even though this makes good sense from an investment standpoint. People are lacking the capital to make the leap and push down the costs. For all innovations, the early adopters have to pay a ton to make costs reasonable for everyone else, but you need a sizable fraction with wealth to do that.

    I think the real reason employment is poor is that a growing share of the population aren't worth hiring at any price. I could use some in-home childcare, but the kinds of people I would get for my money (without paying a big sum) are people I wouldn't want around my children or in my home.

    Hiring someone has a huge cost beyond their wages. There is payroll tax, healthcare, liability, and especially the time it takes to supervise them, teach them, and keep them busy. In the kind of low-trust society we are becoming, having lots of people with the keys to your business or home is trouble.

    • The people aren't worth employing. The food isn't worth eating (toxic, actually). The clothing is unwearable. The barbers can't actually barber and the dry cleaners ruin your items. Modern America, man.

      You have to learn to sew a little, maybe grow some food, and be pretty handy around the house. It's getting to the point where you can't find somebody to pay to do these things without them fucking it up.

  • It should be noted that the unemployment rate of college graduates is 3.7%.

    Remember, that this includes all those people who majored in General Studies or Psychology from We Admit Everyone State.

    The problem is not the economy, which is eagerly lapping up anyone that is remotely capable capable of completing any four-year program at all.

    • The white population is decreasing. You should be having wages grow like crazy. But they're not. What you have is college graduates picking up phones in the office.

      And that's the US. In Southern Europe you have 40% youth unemployment! Of course taxes on labor is an issue. If you could do training like they do in Japan (week long military bootcamps, verbal abuse), you could make a lot of people more productive.

    • Most of the graduates are working two part-time jobs, or one full-time job answering a phone or running errands. Lots of "non-profit" work in there, or work somehow heavily subsidized by the government. So, yes, the economy is lapping up workers, but the economy will never be able to pay these workers very much. Few ladders to climb.

  • "And the mood in the right is getting quite medieval actually. Talks of inequality bringing back the old patron-clients network of Rome, or feudal society where the masses would be employed in serving the property owners."

    Right, totally unrealistic. Consider Downton Abbey.

    Now can you imagine a modern rich person letting a ton of the diverse poor live in his house?

    Can you imagine the diverse poor who outnumber the family by like 5 to one not turning that house into a hellhole?

    And can you imagine the diverse poor actually doing their jobs and not feeling and acting like aggrieved victims of racist oppression?

  • The answer Dear Sirs is UP. The Lure of the Void. America certainly gets necrotic without a Frontier. Perhaps the race itself does...

    That's how we get out of the rut. I like societies as well, but it's time to recognize we rather need to make a move as a species. Imagine Europe without a New World - which they stumbled into pushing for Asia of course. Stop looking for paradise, look for out and UP.

      • No perhaps you don't have the energy, others certainly do...did you check the link? I'm as reactionary as Timur, but my hero didn't sit around all day feeling woe is me. Energy? You want it bought to you. TAKE IT. If you are castrati what do you expect other men to do? wait for you to grow a new set?

        Look it's safe to say our leaders have betrayed us. So get new ones. And take what's yours.

        Or be silent.

        • We were not talking space mining, which is plenty starry-eyed as is (come on, "serve customers in space"? who's that, NASA? China? little green men? Pfui.) We were talking space colonization, which is a different proposition entirely. Still, I wish you well.

    • I agree it's the answer. But we need to get out shit together first. Say in 100 years time, when we have shedded enough population, are in a growth path again, we have fusion running and have workable massive battery technology.

      Not to mention that's quite impractical to colonize space with a 100 IQ population.

      • > Not to mention that’s quite impractical to colonize space with a 100 IQ population.

        It's OK provided we get education right (see Aretae's latest). Space colonization isn't rocket science, there are rocket scientists for that. I'd love to see space colonization, but it's too expensive (in energy) yet to be practicable. We'll have to wait for carbon nanotube spacelifts or some unexpected breakthrough, not that I think the latter is likely as things stand.

          • Politics, maybe. I haven't made a study of his politics. His objections to formalism (start here, though it's been a long time since I read that) I thought quite reasonable. As for this particular instance, he happens to say basically the same thing as Arnold, a mathematician and teacher I respect immensely, although Arnold is talking specifically about mathematics education. And the neurological part is pretty obvious too. The eye-hand coordination module has been evolving much longer than language, which has evolved quite recently as a cheap replacement for grooming, as a tool for maintaining group cohesion not for ratiocination. Spoken rationality is very, very new. No wonder it's so difficult.

            • Read his crap on immigration.

              Language is pretty new and can be inefficient, but humans are wired to speak to an incredible degree. We talk a real lot.

              Verbal ability is of course normally distributed, and some people are quite bad at it. It doesn't mean that there's an alternative though. Chimps can't talk, they also don't seem to be able to do much. Where's the evidence that the same kid that didn't learn math verbally got to learn it through other ways?

              Smiths and other artisans in Japan still learn through imitation with little speech involved. Yeah they get to do a lot of nice swords and other tools. It still takes them decades to do it. No real breakthrough.

              • > Read his crap on immigration. I won't bother, thank you. We all have our failings though.

                > Language is pretty new and can be inefficient, but humans are wired to speak to an incredible degree. We talk a real lot. Sure, we are. But what do we mostly talk about? Gossip, weather and gossip again. That's what language evolved for. Chimps don't talk and have to spend all their time grooming to maintain group cohesion.

                > Verbal ability is of course normally distributed, and some people are quite bad at it. All people are bad at verbal ability. Most are unspeakably bad, some horribly bad, a few just very bad and a handful plain vanilla bad. Of course, there's no alternative, but it's not a reason to discard the other stuff we're better at, like geometry (in favor of algebra). We must use both. You know what Ancient Greeks' proofs looked like? A drawing and the exhortation "Look."

                > Smiths and other artisans in Japan still learn through imitation with little speech involved. Yeah they get to do a lot of nice swords and other tools. It still takes them decades to do it. No real breakthrough. So they do. We have forgotten how to do even that (see tmp's comment above). Recalling it would be quite a breakthrough, when added to our other sterling qualities.

  • What is point of this blog post? I don't get it. The problem isn't economic. The problem is moral. When things go to hell, what will matter is whether you are a part of a moral group whose members you can trust to watch your back. So what to do now? Form such groups.

  • How many Americans want to own guns?

    How many Americans can craft ammunition? (I am told that the primers are the hard part; the business of clamping a slug into a casing is supposed to be quite easy.)

    How far can an economy go by mandating that every American must have at least one firearm, and must consume ammunition for training sessions?

    This is the kind of thing that would only work in the USA. But here is my modest proposal (apologies to Reverend Swift) to stimulate the USA economy.

    1 - Every adult must show proof of gun ownership or the county of their residence would pay a penalty. The Amish, the principled pacifists, etc., would be squeezed by this.

    2 - Every county would be required to be self-sufficient in ammunition assembly.

    3 - Firearm safety and tactics training would be a required course of education for all persons aged 14 to 16 years.

    4 - The legal duties of deputization and jury duty would be required courses for all persons aged 12 to 14 years.

    Think of all the jobs this would create! Furthermore, education in the actual discharge of expensive weapons would teach the young to appreciate the value of their dollars. The celebrated Yankee ingenuity would soon devise more affordable means of ammunition production. Furthermore, the locally elected sheriffs, who have too long dilly-dallied, would be force to become involved with their communities.

    Of course this proposal will never be inflicted on the USA from the top down. But individual counties could make it happen from the bottom up. I am told some jurisdictions require all homeowners to own a firearm. There is no reason why firearm training could not begin before automobile driver education.

    If (e.g.) 95% of Americans aged 14 and up owned firearms, the current USA economic system would rapidly develop into a more robust form. That form might consume fewer XBoxes and more 30-06 shells, but it would have a better chance of long-term viability. Spending would have to be cut on some items, of course. There might be (e.g.) fewer Justin Bieber concerts, and more unamplified banjo hootenannies. There might be less candy and more venison. There might be fewer op-ed pieces from highly paid writers like Maureen Dowd, and more blog posts from unpaid volunteers like Eric S. Raymond.

    • Hey, long time no see.

      That's exactly what I'm talking about. Forced demand. Mandated make-work. Keynesianism made right. If you think about it most cultures in the world spent time doing absolutely useless and inefficient stuff. Say, traditional clothing or and festivals and crap. It just served to keep people busy, yet it was/is a central part of the culture. We're going to see a lot of that come back.

      • Yes. The problem is which demand to force and what kind of make-work to mandate. USA is mandating shitloads of make-work right now with the various regulations and what-not, but doesn't seem to get much good out of it.

    • WOAH. Slow down here. Like 50% of 14 year olds today are black or hispanic.

      Hellllllllllllllllllllll no.

      • > Like 50% of 14 year olds today are black or hispanic.

        Imagine how vibrant the diversity would become.

        Those riots with black looters being fended off by Korean store-owners would become something much more dynamic and ethnically inclusive.

        The inner cities would blossom under the unquestionable good of multiculturalism.

        Not unlike Yugoslavia.

  • >. All people are bad at verbal ability. Most are unspeakably bad, some horribly bad, a few just very bad and a handful plain vanilla bad. Of course, there’s no alternative, but it’s not a reason to discard the other stuff we’re better at, like geometry (in favor of algebra). We must use both. You know what Ancient Greeks’ proofs looked like? A drawing and the exhortation “Look.”

    That's a very odd way of putting it. Look I know that the idea that verbal IQ and visuospatial IQ are separate is of course a fact, and that some people would prefer to look at a drawing rather than hear an explanation is of course true. But that's at most half the population, and I don't see how you're going to tap into that. Brains are brains are brains, do what you will you aren't training anything greater than what Japan or Korea is already doing. And that's rote.

    >. So they do. We have forgotten how to do even that (see tmp’s comment above). Recalling it would be quite a breakthrough, when added to our other sterling qualities.

    Not arguing against that, I just don't see where the great breakthrough in teaching will come through non-verbal education as per Aretae. He's not saying that he's gonna produce great swordsmiths, he's going to teach programming by osmosis or something. I'll believe when I see it.

    • > But that’s at most half the population, and I don’t see how you’re going to tap into that. You're implicitly assuming that a unit of verbal IQ is interchangeable with a unit of visuospatial IQ. There's no a priori reason for such an assumption.

      Programming is essentially playing with toy blocks, on steroids. Toy blocks are not very verbal. Most good programmers learn the stuff by themselves, building, testing and trying. Those who learn the stuff verbally are mostly useless because they don't really understand what a computer is and what it does. Their mental models are often so completely wrong you don't know where to start when they ask a question.

      • I always sucked at toy blocks, no wonder.

        So what's the problem then? Good people learn through trial and error. Bad people learn verbally. Does learning it verbally handicap you forever? Renders you unable to learn it again? Are bad people bad because they don't have what it takes, or is there room for improvement? If so, how much?

        • I won't say it handicaps one forever, but one would have to unlearn all the wrong mental models and start from scratch. This is much easier if the subject is still young, and it's even better not to learn the stuff verbally in the first place.

          Probably there are some who are just bad at it — no head for numbers, as they used to say in related cases. As for the others, it's certainly better for almost anyone (excepting the minority of super-verbal types) to learn by doing, or at least reading books which describe what happens inside a computer rather than define it. How much better? I don't know how to quantify it. I'm not an educator myself, only taught the basics to a few close people.

        • Didn't know about mental abacists and verbal interference. Here's an article about the core systems of number in humans and other animals. It covers a bit more ground than the female blogginghead. Basically there are two core systems, one which can represent exact quantities of similar objects as long as the objects are few (2-5 maximum) and do addition and subtraction on them. The other represents approximate quantities, has logarithmic "precision" and corresponds to the number line we learn in school.

      • I'm a programmer, programming is mostly verbal ability, which is not limited to language. It is mainly what do we have to do to achieve this, first step1, step2, step3.... It's all linear. Visuospatial ability has to do more with imagining shapes, places, estimating lengths, sizes, having a sense of location when navigating.

  • The Japanese model's weakness is that people living in a cage with no purpose but consuming bullshit don't reproduce.

    • I don't mind Japan's TFR because its so mother fucking crowded over there. The US may have room for new white babies, but get shoved into a train and then tell me Japan needs more people.

      In Japan, despite what should be a major labor shortage, young people are actually having trouble finding jobs. Yes, they are getting a bunch of shitty part time work with no future, but the young today and not getting the kind of lifetime upwardly mobile jobs their parents got.

      • Can't have lots of upwardly mobile jobs for long in a technologically stagnant society. The widespread expectation that upwardly mobile jobs will be plentiful indefinitely is essentially a bubble phenomenon and now the bubble's burst (not my idea, I forget who wrote this — please tell me). Still, in Japan right now they are discovering that young people work a lot better in permanent positions, even if the pay is low. Give some time for expectations to adjust and you're set. TFR will go up. It is already going up. As for trains, you're just not used to it. You want solitude in Japan, you jump on a shinkansen and in under two hours there's no one around.

        • Rural Japan is still quite dense if you look closely. Any little plot of flat land has a bunch of houses around. Of course in 30 years they'll all be dead. God it's going to be fun.

          • Not necessarily dead. Quite a few youngish people have already moved out of the cities to farm, and more are following. Farming vegetables etc. affords quite a nice income once they get the business off the ground and avoid JA's clutches, and it's arguably more fulfilling than waiting tables or ringing register in convenience stores.

            • I mean the old people. There's no way near enough young people to replace them all. I do know some too, and I think it has potential. Not too much though, it's not a life for everyone. Women like shopping and all that. Where do you meet these people though? Playing go?

              • We'll see. The motion is just beginning. As you've said yourself, food is the future growth area. Other people are going back to take up their parents' businesses — fish etc.

                > Where do you meet these people though? Playing go? Young people in Japan seldom play Go, it's considered an oldsters' pastime (a pity if you ask me). There's an Earth Day market in Shibuya, near the NHK hall, on some Sunday every month, free entry for all comers.

    • Point taken. But if they didn't consume your orthodox buddies wouldn't be able to sell enough stuff to feed their children. Nativism is zero-sum.

      • I've always found "consumption" as a thing unto itself a weird concept. There are things people have a use for that they consume, and products that consume them, and they are all somehow the same (good) thing because they are made and exchanged for dollars. It's a way of thinking about a big part of life that strikes me as inherently stupid. I guess a parallel could be seen in the modern way of thinking about sex as a (good and fun) thing unto itself, which also has very bad results. These modes of thinking are very alienating, because they make the thinker see himself as an object with certain features (spending, copulating, producing,) and project this state on everyone he encounters.

        I think that those who come out on the other side of the current genetic/cultural bottleneck will think about both of these things very differently, with huge effect on the way they live. I don't expect to see a lot of modern Japanese on the other side.

        P.S. I am sure things will continue to be made, sold and used as long as people exist.

        • Well unless you have in place a extremely tight political framework that makes cooperation easy, the only way you can get people to cooperate is by giving them money to do so. And to have enough money going around you need keep people busy by producing stuff and consuming it so we can keep on producing. Even the Amish sell stuff.

          Japan has plenty of frugal, anti-consumption fellas who you would feel comfortable hanging out with. They'll make it.

          • No, people cooperate naturally, just like they fight naturally, reproduce naturally and produce naturally. The question now is that this natural urge and behavior, like all the others, are being channeled into something between the Matrix and a Gnostic social religion.

            By the way, this is at the root of my lack of faith in neoreaction. What good is reading Evola or Moldbug (may they both forgive me for mentioning each other in the same sentence) to someone whose realest, sharpest, most joyful life experience is masturbating to YouPorn?

            • >people cooperate naturally, just like they fight naturally, reproduce naturally and produce naturally

              In tribes. When surrounded by enemies. Not in a large scale polity, ever.

              Some amount of bs is necessary to sustain civilization. People's natural urges aren't civilized.

              I'm not to keen on porn, but that doesn't mean I'd like to live in King Solomon's era. What do *you* want? You traditionalists sometimes forget that we got here from somewhere.

              • People naturally organize in tribes, clans, etc., in a large polity as well as anywhere else. It takes an immense amount of energy to keep this from happening and to keep them alienated, unproductive and jerking it.

                Naturally, a successful civilization works on the redirection of people's natural urges into productive channels. I do not see this happening in today's civilization and draw the conclusion that the enterprise won't be successful long. It's not the porn that bothers me, by the way. I'm not a prude or a eunuch. It's the complex of ideas and institutions it implies and represents. But from a consumerist standpoint, there's nothing bad to be said about it.

                What I want is first, to know the truth. There is arguably greater value in accurate descriptive thinking than in prescriptive thinking. At the very least, the latter depends on the former. After that, I want to see a world where man lives in accordance with his nature, potential and purpose. Of course, I take a religious view of that, because in the irreligious view, man's nature is bestial, his potential destructive and purpose an obvious absurdity, like the taste of violet. I wouldn't call myself a traditionalist.

  • "The Fall is a metaphysical concept, it normally happens slowly, and hey we can all think of ways to profit from it. But if Skynet is happening we are all screwed. People are scared"

    And that is what it all comes down too. The modern reactionaries response to problems is, "how do I avoid/profit from it personally." For all the ink spilled about how its a problem none of them really give a shit, it makes you wonder why they don't just become hypocritical progressives and practice double think if their only goal is their own survival.

    Of course when there is a problem that they don't think their high IQ will save them from all of a sudden its something that we all need to band togethor to deal with. Funny how the kind of stuff that we exort for collective action are only those things we can't personally deal with.

    Let's be honest what all this spilled ink is about, people with too much time on their hands trying to kill time. That's why nothing will ever be "done". What should be done isn't complicated, the will to do it is the hard part.

    • blablabla my grandfather blablabla fought for his people blablabla

      Hey call me when you have an army. I don't even have a people to fight for. Might as well spill ink. And God knows I'm not really profiting from The Fall. People will band together, when it's too late. That's what always happens.

  • The robots and jobs issue reminds me somewhat of the immigration and jobs issue. At the critical juncture the debate becomes about feelings.

    In both cases, the idea is to be invited to give talks to people who think they are immune to losing their jobs so that the speaker can salve their collective consciousness. However, they needn't worry. They too will probably lose their jobs. They won't even be able to compete with the sex droids in the "new service economy".

    So what's the _real_ answer?

    Here's something that could be talked about but isn't because it is depressing to think about how hard it would be to implement given the powers that be:

    A citizen's dividend paid equally to all adults that is financed by collecting the economic rent of civilization.

    Since the powers that be have increasingly turned to rent-seeking, they will, of course, resent the very idea that "their" rents should belong to everyone. And they're in a position to make sure that doesn't change, aren't they? As a result, things _will_become dystopian.

    • I think there's a middle ground. Or a continuum of middle grounds in different places. Blade runner isn't coming, but of course a citizen dividend is not feasible.

      • Replacing all government transfer programs with a citizen's dividend - a simple cash dividend paid equally to all citizens - is the single-plank political platform that can, in the present climate, be used by a minor party to capture control of virtually any parliamentary government in the West.

        The rationale is simple: immigrants are not citizens and they would be deprived of public benefits. This would be immensely popular. More importantly, it would “empower” the populace to fight for their “entitlement” to their own country in a manner far more effective than any “get out the vote” campaign.

        The response by the political parties now in power — traitors that they are — would, of course, be to fast-track “a path to citizenship” for immigrants, but they would be doing so in an economic environment far from conducive to popular apathy toward such shenanigans.

        This can’t work in the United States without the take over of one of the 2 major parties because of the way the electoral system works in the US. But in parliamentary governments, minor parties can get a foot in the door, as demonstrated by recent EU elections. That’s all it takes because once this idea is aired in the halls of power, it will necessarily attract an enormous amount of attention from the usual suspects:

        “Isn’t this racist? Isn’t this inhumane? Isn’t this xenophobic? What about refugees? Why should immigrants pay taxes if they aren’t going to get a citizen’s dividend?”

        It would be wonderfully clarifying.

        As for the economic effects, I’ll simply point out what should be fairly obvious by now: The current economic crisis is caused by centralization of wealth to the point that the populace isn’t simply impoverished, but is so deep in debt that the consumer base has collapsed. This was caused not by “easy money policies of the central banks” but by the subsidy of wealth built into any society that protects property rights by taxing economic activity. The would-be upwardly mobile pay the bills — not the recipients of the primary government service: protection of unnatural concentrations of wealth. Although it is true that this means the proper source of revenue for the citizen’s dividend would be a net asset tax on in place liquidation value — a tax that eliminates taxes on economic activity — it is not essential to political success that such a tax reform be another plank in the platform of the citizen’s dividend party. That change would come in due course as people were empowered to fight back against centralized wealth’s capture of government. However, once the tax reform is adopted, the populace would be very motivated to maximize the net in-place liquidation value of the nation’s assets. They will become keenly interested in the real externalities of immigration, graphically demonstrated in places like California. They might even start thinking other taboo thoughts about human ecology, sociology, economics and politics.

  • >People naturally organize in tribes, clans, etc., in a large polity as well as anywhere else. It takes an immense amount of energy to keep this from happening and to keep them alienated, unproductive and jerking it.

    Naturally, a successful civilization works on the redirection of people’s natural urges into productive channels.

    Perhaps this is playing devils advocate, but natural tribalism is zero-sum. It's prone to conflict. The whole point of a tribe is to fight the others. All successful civilizations have directed a huge amount of time and resources to warfare and other nasty stuff. Now we have nukes, so this tribal ganging is getting expensive.

    We are just starting to see the downside of enforcing individualism. But the downsides of tribalism we know all too well.

    • It's true what they say-if you want to control what people do, control what they say and what they think. And to do this, control their language. For instance, if you want to turn people into alienated atoms, with nothing to stand between them and the application of your power, destroy the web of interlinked social institutions which exists fractally at every level of society. To do this, you can call the natural urge to create such institutions "tribalism." An extended family? Tribalism. A community organization? Tribalism. A trade guild? Tribalism. Etc. Now there is no difference between having cousins and uncles who can help you build your house so you don't own your soul to the bank for the next 30 years, or an organization that will help you learn a trade and bargain on your behalf with employers, and a bunch of African savages chopping off their neighbors' legs with machetes. Mission accomplished.

      • Lol. Extended families don't really exist as a cohesive group in the NW European societies we all love. Trade guils were evil rent-seekers whose abolishing created massive economic growth. I don't know what a community organization is. Sounds like something Obama was doing.

        The psychological urge to have small tight-knit exclusive groups to help each other go through life is a human universal. Savages will use for headhunting, Amish will use it to farm. I don't see how I'm playing with language. What are the Amish if not a tribe?

        I can see your point, but if what you're seeking is truth, trade guilds and bucolic cults aren't going to help much. Life inside them is quite comfortable though.

        • Do you mean today, when those societies (which I personally neither love, hate nor see as exemplar) are in their terminal stage of decay? Or in their heyday? In the latter, perhaps people didn't live in the same house as their cousins and uncles, but they surely lived in the same area, went to the same church and helped each other out. In any case, the glorious age of Europe started not with them but with the Hanseatics and the Mediterranean states. Trade guilds were great-they were massive international repositories of professional and cultural knowledge, upholders of standards and educational establishments. Of course, today you can go learn a "trade" at ITT and compete with Indians on Odesk-great!

          A tribe involves a network linked by descent and marriage. What I'm talking about is social structure beyond that.

          It doesn't have to do with comfort. It has to do with things like resilience, safety and affordable family formation.

          • "Trade guilds were great-they were massive international repositories of professional and cultural knowledge, upholders of standards and educational establishments. "

            For a while sure. Then they were just rent-seeking cartels.

            Feudalism for a while was also a great system where noble and honorable knights protected the people from bandits. For a while. Then they were just rent-seeking bastards living off the peasants with ever increasing taxes.

            But even if they weren't. Even if guilds produced pure genius ever generation and family life was fucking paradise. Well it's gone. What you talk about does sound kinda like the idealized picture of North Italy's city states. That didn't last long, did it? There's tons of political and societal frameworks that would work much better than modernity does. But you have to pass the Napoleon test. It doesn't matter how functional your society is, how happy your people are, if the neighbouring son of a bitch runs a decadent slave camp and invades your ass, obliterating your society. Charles V, Napoleon, Roosevelt-Stalin. All that happened. How are you going to stop it?

            • I am not thinking about setting up my own country. I already have a country, within the confines and framework of which I am building up my own networks/integrating into existing ones. Or, to put it another way, the way to deal with the 20th century hollowing out of vital social structures by the state is not to scrap the state; it is to rebuild new, functional social structures within it, using its structures to your advantage in the process. For a real world example, you can go to Split, Croatia, and see Diocletian's Palace. When Emperor Diocletian retired, he went across the Adriatic and built himself this palace, which is an enormous fortress with walls 8 meters thick. Centuries later, when Rome collapsed, people moved into this palace and built a city within it, then used the city as a platform to push outwards.

              In general, I am talking about what John Robb refers to as "resilient communities." Which already exist, under the name of "settlements." If you wanted to, say, rebuild Detroit, you wouldn't destroy the functional remaining physical infrastructure-you would build a colony and use the infrastructure to your advantage, right?

              But to do this, you need people who are thinking about the future, investing in it by (most importantly) having kids, and building stuff. Not consumerist masturbators waiting for death.

              • I know what you're doing. I'm also a big fan of John Robb. I just don't think that total societal collapse is happening in the short term.

                I get the recreating the Dark Ages, building up societies bottom down sounds fun. But people will cling to their present material standard of living, and that requires trade networks that are based on superfluous consumption. You can't just say that the enlightened should build resilient tribes and the frivolous be damned.

                Still I'm not in the US, I get that your mindset might be more apocaliptic, and with good reason. I'm a comfy expat in a central node of the world system.

              • The marginal utility of subsidizing superfluous consumption has peaked quite some time back, and the standard of living is falling.

                The enlightened need to take care of themselves first. Then, if the frivolous are still around, they can start figuring out the framework for a symbiotic relationship where the labor of the frivolous and the brains of the enlightened work to mutual advantage. I'm sure I don't need to tell you the names of similar frameworks in the past.

                I no longer live in the US, in large part for the reasons we've been discussing. I passed through Singapore on my way to a job in Afghanistan a couple of years ago, and stayed a couple of days. Fun place, but no depth, which is to me much more important than being comfy or even elated (if I wanted the latter, I would have lived in the American West.) BTW, do you know the one country and group of people LKY consistently shows admiration for?

    • Individualism isn't any more or less zero-sum than tribalism.

      "Enforcing individualism" doesn't get rid of tribalism. It just selects against those susceptible (for whatever reason) to individualism, and selects for more dishonest and deceptive tribalism.

      Also, I'm not sure what you're describing can actually be characterized as 'individualism'. People behaving as components of the larger group entity of civilization are not acting as individuals, just as the cells in your body are not individuals but are mere components of the individual body.

      • People are wired to behave as cells of a group. If you break up the small groups, they'll behave as cells of whatever is left.

        Little to disagree with you really, here or up there. The best hope is that, say, Finland adopts a citizens dividend, and shows it works, but It won't be easy.

        • Alaska has a citizen's dividend. Seems to work very well there, although it's quite a bit smaller than most proposed dividends. The best thing about a citizen's dividend is that it would be a self-destruct switch for the Cathedral, as it would crowd out pretty much everything else in the budget. It would also be pretty much impervious in the political economy.

  • asdf, if you really think ideas and writing and media -- the vita contemplativa -- make no difference . . . study with master Thrasymachos. Specifically here:

    The diffuse, non-centralized, redundant nature of control in the system- I’m sure those with more IT knowledge can think of more precise descriptive terms- fascinates me. It’s been pointed out that even if our rulers decided to quit and end it all, they couldn’t, because they would just be replaced by others.

  • "See, there’s shitloads of stuff to do. They do it. But we don’t do any of that. Why? Because we don’t need them."

    They do need it. They need it to create full employment as full employment is needed to create social cohesion.

    We - as in the bulk of the population of the western countries - need it too (if not necessarily in the exact same form). The difference is the ruling elites in the west have defected as a caste and are operating solely in their own interests.

  • "Foseti asks What to do? i.e. what should we (people who understand that society is going to hell and why) do to prevent/palliate/fight the collapse"

    We shouldn't try to prevent the collapse. We should seek to explain *why* the collapse will occur *before* it happens in the hope that whatever can be salvaged from the ruins can be made more sociopath-proof in the future. Secondly we should fight the last stage of the pre-collapse i.e. an attempt by those who caused the collapse to use totalitarian forms of government to hold back the tide they unleashed.

    The sooner the collapse comes the more there'll be to rebuild from. The longer a totalitarian form prevents a complete collapse the less there'll be to rebuild from.

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