Bloody Shovel 3

We will drown and nobody shall save us

Posts tagged as: plutocrats

Making the world safe for corruption

After writing the last post on Burma's opening, it just came to me why are Western governments always promoting democracy. I mean, democracy is a pretty crappy way of government, particularly in the Third World, where for tons of reasons, historical, cultural, biological even, it never works. Democracy also is generally bad for the economy, and Western governments are ostensibly obsessed by trade and economic growth.

Yet they do promote democracy with a fervor that is almost religious. It makes no sense. But wait. Roman judges used to say that about cui bono. Then I read this news: George Soros opens an office in Burma. Well, that's it. Soros bono. Bankstas bono.

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="468" caption="Business is goooood"][/caption]

There's a recurrent theme at Steve Sailer's about the paradox that, although the US is the world hegemon, many Third World plutocrats laugh at just how cheap it is to buy an American politician. It's true, and it applies also to Western Europe. At first glance it makes no sense that lawmakers in a rich country would sell themselves cheap, while lawmakers in a poor country will as...

Growth alchemy

Ed West, the journalist with the biggest balls in Europe at this moment, left this piece of wisdom in a recent article of his: The life of a man can be broken up in three stages: Worrying about sex, worrying about money, and worrying about health. It's really a brilliant way of putting it. Well it happens that I just got into the second stage, so I've been thinking.

I am no economist, although I have a fair knowledge of economic theory and the various schools. I don't really know whether Uncle Bernanke will produce hyperinflation, (I think he doesn't even know himself), nor do I know if NGDP targeting is sound or not; as I said I'm no economist. I don't really understand all the graphs and concepts and mechanisms that people talk about in Bloomberg et al., but beyond that I can see a pattern. I'm good at that.

Now we're in the middle of a global recession, with ungodly amounts of debt to be serviced. All economist agree that we need 'growth' to pay for the debt. The disagreements seem to be about how to achieve that 'growth', whether to make structural reforms that allow for more productivity, or to just inflate the currency and pay the debt with the resulting nominal 'growth'. There are merits to both positions. There is also a huge problem to both.

Growth is dead. Everybody knows the Ehrlich-Simon ...

Rothschilds desperate with China

The Economist just opened a new exclusive section for  China, taking China out of their Asian. So China is the new focus country of The Economist, besides the US. Here they explain why the interest: they will use the section to argue for political reform.

Read the whole thing, it's the most disingenuous piece of journalism ever. I'll take some representative quotes:

 But our interest in China lies also in its politics: it is governed by a system that is out of step with global norms.

So dissidents such as Yu Jie, who alleges he was tortured by security agents and has just left China for America, are harassed. Yet that reflex will make the party’s job harder. It needs instead to master the art of letting go.

for China’s rise to continue, the model cannot remain the same. That’s because China, and the world, are changing.

Freeing up the financial system would give consumers more spending power and improve the allocation of capital.

freedom to organise can help, not hinder, the country’s economic rise. Labour unions help industrial peace by discouraging wildcat strikes. Pressure groups can keep a check on corruption. Temples, monasteries, churches and mosques can give prosperous Chinese a motive to help provide welfare. Religious and cultural organisations can offer people meaning to life beyond the insatiable hunger for rapid economic growth.

No...

Making the world safe for corruption - Primaries edition

Say there is a power struggle in some country, and you don't like who's winning. How much should you spend, and how much influence can you buy?

Let's say North Korea.

There's the little fatso Kim Jong-un, and the elder fatso, Kim Jong-nam. Jong-un was the frontrunner, but he's too young, and many people would like Jong-nam to be the new king. What can they do?

Nothing. Kim Jong-nam has long been an exile in Macau, where he is survives only because China, t protects him against his brother's assassins. China being the guarantor of the NK regime. Kim Jong-nam has many friends in high circles in China, but even that didn't get him in power. Nobody can influence the NK power process.

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="304" caption="I spend a million every day in meals"][/caption]

Now let's say the USA.

See there are this primaries thing going on. Obama doesn't look too good so there's a lot of attention in the Republican nomination. So far there is a Ned Flanders-went-investor guy as the frontrunner. A loaded Mormon. Fuck that. Let's say you've got some spare dough and you wanna spend it in anyone but the Mormon. How much would you need to spend to make a difference?

Continue Reading →

Soros bargain watch

I've made the argument that democracy is just a conspiracy by the plutocrats to push down the price of buying political influence.

George Soros being the best player on the market. You know, buy cheap, then profit.

Well he sure knows a bargain.

See on BI:

George Soros Is Giving $2 Million To Democratic SuperPACs

So he's buying up leftist grassroots activist organisations. Astroturf is a booming business.

But of course the real point is not Soros buying influence. It's that he's spending a whopping... $2 million! Which is like his weekly income. Or the amount of tax breaks he can get after buying Sarkozy a beer.

We shouldn't be ofended the plutocrats are using money to influence the government. We should be ofended that it is so cheap.

She really just said that

A while ago I had the mother of all chats with Nick Land in our local classy bar in Shanghai.

It felt like we just reached the singularity just by ourselves. Might have been the whisky though. Yeah it probably was that.

Perhaps because I'm shy, but I tend to overcompensate the awkwardness of meeting strangers by talking too much. And the usual reaction to someone who just doesn't shut up is agreeing and letting me talk. I guess it's also me being the junior partner, i.e. I talk more mundane stuff that he can relate to. It's easier for the conversation to go on by me talking about China, than not Nick Land talking about Deleuze and Gattari, or the nature of time.

Still today we had a pretty even-handed debate, on tribalism and the singularity and expat life and all that. We actually reach several end points where no further debate was possible. When you start talking on macroeconomics you know there's little real data to throw around, and although speculating with scotch is fun, it's seldom productive.

There's tons of posts to be written to elaborate all we talked about, but it was all quite abstract and can wait really.

He did ask me to write about one of our most salient disagreements, which is about the political theory of Moldbug, i.e. Neocameralism. Or Formalism, or whatever.

Now I was a late comer to the Moldbug party, and forgive me if I'm wrong, but the idea of Neocameralism is to abolish democratic politics, and actually polit...

Badges

One of the most solid and enlightening findings from modern psychology is the extent to which people are tribal. It does seem that 80% of human behavior is used for social signalling. Most of what we do and say has little rational content, and is mostly intended to signal belonging to a tribe or some subset of it. Even most linguistic behavior, and languages themselves, are little more than badges of tribal membership.

Not to say that's a bad thing; you can't make bricks without clay, evolution works with what's available, and human brains were selected for sociability for a reason. But we happen to live in the post-Enlightenment, and the general assumption is that people are rational. Of course if people were rational they would agree in most issues, yet they don't. That's a priori very hard to understand. The typical answer to the paradox is that some people are evil. Which does explain some of it, but doesn't really solve the problem, in fact it makes it worse by exacerbating conflict.

Everything makes much more sense when you understand that 99% of disagreement is due to people's brains being tribal. The basic model is that people are hard-wired to choose a team, stick in it, and defend it no matter what. In the same way as there is a critical period for language learning (a vast majority of people are physically incapable of properly learning a foreign language after infancy), there probably is also a critical period for tribe-choosing. If you are a lef...

Unseemly

I think people are not getting the point of my last post.

Everyone is putting forward their ideas for the "moron problem" as Jim Donald puts it.

Honestly I don't think that's rocket science. We know what to do. We do what we have been doing for centuries. Ask Gregory Clark for details.

But that's not the thing. Nobody gives a shit about the long term sustainability of society. What people care about is feeling good about themselves.

Now imagine there's a choice between:

1-Being part of a tribe/thede/country in which the low-skilled are put to work in coal mines and worked to death without leaving descendants.

2-Being part of a tribe/thede/country which is so fucking awesome that poverty doesn't exist because we take care of everyone!

Well obviously 2 is a superior choice. And that's because people don't want to see poor people around. They don't want to be reminded of the existence of poverty. Lest their become poor themselves.

What's the point of being rich if there are poor people around in the same country? What's this, India? Not even Indians like India.

And that's why everyone likes the minimum wage.

Clausewitz, Lenin, Robin Dunbar

Power is fascinating. It shouldn't be though. Nothing good comes from the fascination towards power, especially for those who don't have it. But we can't help it. We are a political animal. Which means we share a common descent with these fellas down here:

.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TufiAgq--FU]

.

We being monkeys, we aren't really fascinated with power, in abstract. After all it's quite hard to even define what 'power' is. What does it really mean to have power? What does power do? How does it work? One of the first signs a word/concept is too vague is that it doesn't translate well. In Chinese 'power' generally translates as 力量, but political power is translated as 權力.  It doesn't help that 權 generally translates as 'right'. As in 人權, human rights. And that's a recent coining, borrowed from Western political science jargon. You'd think Chinese would have their own ideas about power after 2300 years of centralized empire, but they don't have a clue.

So most people don't have a good understanding of what power is. What we do know is powerful people. Those are everywhere, and God are we obsessed with them. Fascinated. They're everywhere, and everybody's talking about them. We are fascinated with the powerful. How did they get it? What do they want it for? And how do they use it?

And oftentimes, rather than fascination, we are more like mystified. Bemused. Stupefied. What the hell are they doing? I guess that is the commo...

Sanctimonious Fnargl

I don't remember who said it, that writing isn't something you consciously control; very often you just think of something, start writing, and once you get into it, the story just has a life of its own, and through inertia it goes on evolving in ways you didn't foresee when you started the whole thing. That's what happened with my previous post, I didn't set out to write a thesis on the intersection between Clausewitz and Dunbar. It turned out a pretty good post (the ways of the brain are inscrutable), but I wanted to write about something else at first.

I wanted to write about this guy:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8AXBX3e1T64]

This old man being interviewed is Price Hans-Adam the Second, the sovereign of Liechtenstein. As most of you will know Liechtenstein is just a mountain valley in the Alps, which was so tiny and inconsequential that nobody ever thought of integrating in any of the empires or nation states that were forming in Europe. Not even Hitler bothered to send some troops to draft some Aryan kids into the Wehrmacht. So this little alpine valley was just left there, the personal fief of the Lord of Liechtenstein, who had actually been living in Vienna for 1000 years, being an absentee landlord as all the cool kids used to be. He actually had way more land than that miserable piece of mountain, but he wasn't so lucky at keeping those from the onslaught of nationalism. Security through obscurity they call it nowadays. Come 1938,...

High Level Entitlement Trap

I wrote recently about the High Level Equilibrium Trap in which China had fallen to in the modern era. Point was that Chinese labor and infrastructure was just efficient enough so that developing new machinery was never worth the trouble. Not to say they didn't invent machines, but they never caught on, in a similar fashion to Classical Europe which we know was full of cool gadgets which the Graeco-Romans just couldn't be bothered to use. Accumulation of capital makes less sense when you're banging Thracian slaves in your Tuscan villa since puberty.

A famous anecdote is that China had automatic spinning wheels for hemp already in the 14th century, but after the introduction of cotton it fell into disuse. The funny thing is that instead of trying to develop something similar for cotton fibers, they just went back to hand spinning and never bothered automatic a process that had been automated for centuries. They just didn't bother. Or in modern parlance, the incentives just weren't there. Also see this story about why firearms never went mainstream in China: their bows were good enough.

This piece of history is universally acknowledged as a bad thing, as machines are good, more productive, and the inability to develop machines is a bad thing, a very bad thing as the subsequent history of China shows. People...

Plutocrats

A long standing debate inside the reactosphere is the question about what is driving the push for mass immigration into developed countries. Why would anyone argue for bringing millions of, to use PC speak, low-skilled migrants from Third World countries? Yes they are cheap, but it's well established than in the long run they cost more in externalities than whatever you could save with their cheap labor. Not to speak of criminality, dragging down of school performance and just general tackiness.

The most general, I'd say intuitive theory about why the establishment wants to bring all the poor of the world into rich countries is that they are cheap fucks who want cheap labor to exploit, and use as servants in order to feel classy and superior à la Downton Abbey. Let's call that the Sailer theory, after Steve Sailer's stellar takedown on Mark Zuckerberg's pro-immigration lobby.

I am pretty comfortable following my instincts and blaming the plutocrats for trying to transform rich countries into Brazil in order to enjoy the feudal lord lifestyle. But everytime I'd do so, the whip of neoreaction Vladimir would come by and strongly argue against it. See an example:

The idea of “cheap labor” as a major motivator for the political activity of businessmen is, while not completely irrelevant in practice,...

Exceptional Immigrants and Paul Graham

Apparently this blog still has an audience for short posts, so I'll put my two cents on a recent controversy which has been lacking common sense.

A lot of ink has been spilled about Paul Graham's essay where he begs for increased immigration into the US. His argument is that Silicon Valley need more geniuses, so please give us 1 million more Indians a year. Or something.

Now Graham is a good writer, and tends to make sense, but he doesn't make any here. You can read Sonic Harm's slightly incoherent rant to get a measure of how pissed people are.

The thing is, there is no need to refute Graham's argument. Graham's knows he's made an unfalsifiable point, so there's no point asking for data to rebuke his point. Graham says that Silicon Valley runs on geniuses, and these are evenly distributed around the earth. You disagree? Racist! You don't think Silicon Valley runs on geniuses? Ignorant! You disagree with both? Ignorant Racist. QED.

There's a much better way to answer his point. Doesn't he represent the engineers? The get-things-done crowd? The people who actually make things unlike the evil politicians? Well, why don't you make an actual proposal for a new immigration policy?

It isn't that hard. We had a discussion among the Elders and it came up pretty quick: make a new immigrant visa for genius programmers, only available for people who are to be paid 200k+ pe...

Corporate Leftism

I guess we're all aware of this not-Onion piece of news:

http://www.unz.com/isteve/starbucks-to-encourage-baristas-to-discuss-race-relations-with-customers/

The original press release is here:

http://news.starbucks.com/news/what-race-together-means-for-starbucks-partners-and-customers

I think the most productive way of thinking about this is asking: what would a Martian think? What are these humans up to?

A second-best option is to put yourself in the place of a 18 year old Chinese high school kid studying for an English exam. He reads this:

“we at Starbucks should be willing to talk about these issues in America," Schultz said. "Not to point fingers or to place blame, and not because we have answers, but because staying silent is not who we are."

What does that even mean? "staying silent is not who we are"? Why is a nominalized verb phrase the referent of "who"? And why is that verb the subject of "are"? English very hard mom do I really have to study abroad?

One of the best book of the 20th century was The Selfish Gene, because it gave a good explanation of human behavior in zoologic terms. Sex relations, tit-for-tat. Dawkins got a bit lost on Memetics though. Surely brains don't get infected just like that. That's where Haidt, Atran and others are trying to solve the problem. Humans are social; social behavior is complex, but it's still mechanistic. And that's why signalling explains so much.Continue Reading →

Science and Truth

http://www.cnet.com/news/mark-zuckerberg-45b-initiative-makes-investment-andela-facebook/

The start up presently trains prospective developers in Nigeria and Kenya. "We live in a world where talent is evenly distributed, but opportunity is not," Zuckerberg said in a statement. "Andela's mission is the close that gap."

Says he. I wonder how does he know.

Maybe he found at reading one of these papers while at Harvard?