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Culture War Roundup for the week of February 20, 2023

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A brief epilogue to my previous post about the cabal of Former Theatre Kids who appear to be running every significant Western government and international organization:

On Thursday, the official NATO Twitter account posted a thread in support of the Ukrainians which included this jaw-dropping statement:

Ukraine is hosting one of the great epics of this century

We are Harry Potter and William Wallace, the Na’vi and Han Solo. We’re escaping from Shawshank and blowing up the Death Star. We are fighting with the Harkonnens and challenging Thanos.

The official honest-to-God NATO account posted that. Not some third-rate dingbat functionary, like the execrable Karen Decker who posted about how Afghanistan needs more “black girl magic”. No, this is the public-facing voice of a war machine that controls hundreds of billions of dollars, and it decided that the best way to make its case to skeptical world was to spam references to media primarily targeted toward middle-schoolers.

Besides being yet another Theatre Kid shande far di goyim (Rod Dreher had us dead to rights with that line) in an era that has been full of them, I think this is a data point in favor of a pet theory I’ve had about progressives/post-Marxist culturists/“the woke” for a while.

When I see some fat black woman or horse-faced lesbian activist rail against how society “reifies hegemonic standards of beauty and body shape which disparately marginalize the bodies of subaltern identities” or whatever, I cannot escape the impression that these people - mostly women, but not entirely - just never really recovered from the petty traumas of middle school. The jocky white boys were all attracted to the slim white girls with the straight hair, and not to the chubby girls, especially the black ones. And I’m not just taking potshots at my outgroup here; I’m guilty as hell of this in my own life as well. (“We must reimagine masculinity to de-center violence and the domination of others,” says the noodle-armed kid with low testosterone, certain that in the Glorious Future, women will prefer guys like him.)

If we’re getting deep into psychoanalysis, it seems at least plausible that for a certain personality type - highly neurotic (and thus liable to experience negative emotions acutely, leading to traumatic imprinting on experiences that non-neurotic people are likely to move on from with no issues), extremely creative and imaginative, great at constructing arguments and manipulating symbols - combined with some social/physical handicap which places them at the bottom of a local social/sexual status hierarchy, you get a perfect storm that leads to becoming trapped in a sort of arrested development - results in a failure to mature emotionally past that formative period, and a predisposition to escapism translating into political utopianism.

Now, presumably this is where someone like @FCfromSSC would jump in and dismiss my attempt to draw a clean through-line between psychology and ideology. Agency is key, and equipped with the right religious and cultural guidance, anyone with these baseline psychological traits and formative experiences can transcend them, becoming a normal and functioning member of society with a healthy worldview. In this telling, in pre-Enlightenment societies, either 1. this personality type basically didn’t exist at all, or 2. those civilizations were far more adept at social engineering, such that they could far more successfully integrate people like this into their social fabric and find roles for them which utilized their strengths and defanged their more dangerous and subversive tendencies.

I am genuinely unsure whether or not I accept this telling! To hear psychology researcher Ed Dutton tell it, these “proto-woke” people or “spiteful mutants” were precisely the type of people primarily targeted by medieval witch hunts. I tend to intuitively favor the explanation that these people have always been a sliver of humanity; maybe that’s because it gives me psychological comfort to imagine that even in pre-literate warrior nomad societies, there were scrawny little guys like me, preoccupied all day long with stories of the gods and ancestral heroes while they were supposed to be sharpening their spears and hauling bags of cured meats. If it is true that the Enlightenment unleashed the full latent power of this sliver of the population, propelling us first to great heights but then succumbing to the poison pill at the heart of the project, then perhaps this offers a roadmap to reintegrating the “spiteful mutants” back into the fabric of healthy society by showing them both the benefits of giving them a day and the grave dangers of letting them monopolize power. Certainly at the very least they shouldn’t be running NATO’s Twitter account.

Forgive my ignorance, but what does shande far di goyim mean? I know what "goyim" means.

It’s a Yiddish phrase, meaning essentially “a shameful act in front of the goyim.” It’s when a Jew does something particularly terrible, in a way that reinforces and confirms negative stereotypes about Jews in the minds of the gentiles. Bernie Madoff and Sam Bankman-Fried are two examples; not only is what they did bad inherently, but it’s also bad in a characteristically Jewish way that gets people thinking negative things about them as a people. Whereas a Jewish carjacker would just be considered weird and atypical.

Would the ADL cancelling Kanye’s business ventures count? Because it would have been far less stereotypical for the ADL to set up a non-struggle-session conversation with his pastor, a well-regarded rabbi, and a Jewish man high in a bank’s leadership structure, so he could get nuanced perspective.

Yes, that’s why you had publications like Tablet writing about “is the ADL bad for the Jews?” A lot of Jews are actually horrified by the ADL’s tactics, because it’s easy to start drawing associations to “the Jews run a network of major industries and can vindictively destroy anyone who badmouths them,” which is one of the stereotypes that many Jews are the most ardently committed to not letting reappear in the gentile consciousness.

Now, presumably this is where someone like @FCfromSSC would jump in and dismiss my attempt to draw a clean through-line between psychology and ideology. Agency is key, and equipped with the right religious and cultural guidance, anyone with these baseline psychological traits and formative experiences can transcend them, becoming a normal and functioning member of society with a healthy worldview.

This is literally a description of my own life. I too was once a doctrinaire progressive, and I suffered the afflictions you describe. Then I made some changes, and life got a whole lot better.

It's very easy to lose sight of the fact that your choices are choices. It's easy to lose touch with the concept of what a choice even is. It is even possible to make yourself less human, to strip away from yourself the capacity for meaningful choice. Still, choices remain, despite our ignoring them, or being blind to them.

I cannot escape the impression that these people - mostly women, but not entirely - just never really recovered from the petty traumas of middle school. The jocky white boys were all attracted to the slim white girls with the straight hair, and not to the chubby girls, especially the black ones. And I’m not just taking potshots at my outgroup here; I’m guilty as hell of this in my own life as well. (“We must reimagine masculinity to de-center violence and the domination of others,” says the noodle-armed kid with low testosterone, certain that in the Glorious Future, women will prefer guys like him.)

Have you heard of the Amish concept of Rumspringa? It's a traditional period when Amish youth "hop around" getting into a little bit of trouble, ordinary rules are suspended all together or only lightly enforced, after which the young Amish can choose to be baptized into the community as adults, when rules will be enforced.

That's high school and college for middle-upper-class Americans. Ordinary social and even legal rules aren't enforced, some activities can be done in high school and college that can never be done (for most people) in later life. If you're a 1/500 athlete at 16, you're a star on your high school team and a big deal on campus; if you're a 1/500 athlete at 36, you might have a hobby that you're pretty good at but most people don't care about. If you're a 1/1000 musician at 16, you're in the school band and playing lead roles, or you're in your own band and you're a big deal at parties; if you're a 1/1000 musician at 36 no one cares about your soundcloud.

In college if you're a bright kid, you can spend all night discussing philosophy or history with other bright kids, if you're the brightest you can hold a little court at the Algonquin in your dorm room; if you're a bright guy in your 30s, unless you're bright enough to have a substack no one cares except the other dorks on your message board. In college all I needed for a girl to think I was a romantic was a DVD of Midnight in Paris and a bottle of cheap wine; in my 30s well, I'm married anyway, but if I wanted to impress women it would take time, effort, money. And worst of all, if I wanted any of those things now, I would have to go find actual people. And finding actual people after college is harder for most people: as the quote ran around Twitter "Half the reason folks romanticize college is because it's the last time most folks lived in dense, walkable neighborhoods focused on providing community during plentiful off-hours." When you're in college single women your age are everywhere, other pseudo intellectuals are everywhere, your friends are a short walk away.

You don't get to be an athlete, an intellectual, or a lover after college; not in the same way you do in school, not unless you're really talented. There's room to be above average and feel extraordinary, do extraordinary things. In adult life, for most people, those opportunities are lacking.

In his excellent, and now both old and prescient, Coming Apart Murray argues that Upper and Lower class white Americans are becoming more and more stratified, with upper class Americans being more likely to preach left-wing tolerance while practicing traditional middle class morality; while lower class Americans are more likely to believe in solid family values while practicing dissolute and self-destructive lifestyles. His core thesis isn't as interesting to this argument as his theory that Upper Class/Blue Tribe/PMC Americans basically fail to practice what they preach: marriage is more common among white upper class college educated Blue Tribers than it is among working class white people, yet college is synonymous with hook-up culture and dissolution.

I propose that we can think of high school and college as a kind of Rumspringa in Blue Tribe culture, a period in which ordinary rules are suspended. You can't do the things you do in high school and college after you graduate, when you have to be a good and respectable member of the community. So of course the jealousies of high school and college run deep, run forever, scabs that keep getting torn off again and again. Because it's not that they missed the opportunity to do X in college because of those damn bullies; it's that for some people, rule following people, your hall monitors, they now missed their entire opportunity to do those things. They missed out on the easy parties, fun hook ups, the intellectual and athletic honors, their whole share for their entire lives. They'll never get over that, because they don't have the spirit and agency to do them later.

Because it's not that they missed the opportunity to do X in college because of those damn bullies; it's that for some people, rule following people, your hall monitors, they now missed their entire opportunity to do those things. They missed out on the easy parties, fun hook ups, the intellectual and athletic honors, their whole share for their entire lives. They'll never get over that, because they don't have the spirit and agency to do them later.

The parallels between this worldview and the "Nice Guy™" narrative of "I'm such a good Male Feminist, why don't women want to date me and instead want to date those braindead gymrat chuds who treat them like dirt?" are impossible to ignore. See also Tony Tulathimutte's marvellous short story/novella "The Feminist".

That was in my mind writing it, but I felt the comment was already too long for the value of the thought.

What a lot of people miss about the Alpha Male/Beta Male or Jerk/Nice Guy distinction is that it is ordinal and contingent, rather than universal and genetic. The Alpha is the Alpha because no one around is better, the Beta is Beta because the Alpha exists and is better. But the Alpha's existence is contingent, he could die or simply never be born or enter that space, in which case a Beta moves up.* Position in society is a contingent occurrence, outside of extremes of perfection there is no such thing as a pretty girl or a strong man. There can only be in any context the "prettiest girl" and the "strongest man;" followed by a succession of relatively prettier/stronger subordinates. It follows that there is no such thing as an ugly girl or a weak man outside of extremes of deformity or disability, only relatively uglier or weaker individuals. The latter identity depends on the existence of the former.

In modern alienated urban capitalist adult life, hierarchy is ersatz, it varies quickly between locations and people; the PUA game is to create the illusion of being the strongest man, even though that is an irrelevant concept.

But in the hothouse of high school, the hierarchy is a little more visible, you know who the strongest are. Speaking personally, I tried out for the basketball team freshman year, as is typical for me I was the last one cut, but I was cut. At some minor level, this lead to identity formation for me: I came to see myself as weak, and I came to identify more by intelligence than physical ability. I came to read stuff like the ancient pre-TRP Ladder Theory website and identify myself with the "nice guy" archetype as distinct from the dumb jock/CHUD. But, I wasn't cut from the team because I was weak or slow or ungainly; I was cut from the team because I was weaker, slower and less graceful than the other players. Eliminate a dozen of them, or just put me at a smaller school, and I'm a varsity basketball player in high school. How would that have affected my identity formation during those years? Would I have identified as a jock if only Bobby and Kyle had decided to take up golf instead of basketball, or if David and Juan's parents had respectively decided to move elsewhere?

The Nice Guy, inasmuch as he exists as an archetype, is only ever a couple of promotions from being a CHUD. Which is why women directly experience that dating the Nice Guy Male Feminist so rarely delivers being with a Nice Guy Male Feminist; getting a girlfriend is the ultimate promotion in status, so as soon as he has one he starts to act like a CHUD. The act of dating the Nice Guy inflates his ego and makes him stop being Nice.

So I guess my critique of The Feminist is that it doesn't matter if his shoulders are narrow or not, it matters that he perceives that they are narrower.

*This is one of those Platonic concepts that stretches from the man to the polity; see the Jews in 1944 in Poland and the Jews in 2023 in Palestine.

Did you mean "Chad" instead of "CHUD"?

This one?

A unattractive person whose defining characteristic of their personality is their egotism. Most often used to describe typically one-dimensional preps, chauches, or the like. A particularly mean insult; it should not be taken nor thrown around lightly.

Interesting. I checked Wiktionary before asking.* It has two (relevant) definitions:

  1. (US, slang) A gross, physically unappealing person.

  2. (chiefly US, Internet slang, sometimes derogatory) A person on the political right, and/or who holds socio-political views seen as regressive or bigoted.

The Urban Dictionary definition does say "unattractive", but your usage seemed to be more about personality, so neither of Wiktionary's definitions seems to fit. I guess this is a third meaning.


* "Normal" dictionaries aren't very good when it comes to obscure slang, and Urban Dictionary is sometimes helpful but is often full of completely unrelated nonsense; see e.g. the two entries that define "chud" as, respectively, a kind of poo and a piece of chewing gum. Both of those are on the first page, and there are 30 pages of definitions for "chud".

I hear it as just a vague slur for right wing or mainstream men. It's not really that deep, you could replace it with Chad or jock or whatever, I just used chud to mirror the above comment.

So it is all about old school grudges?

If true, we would observe that home schooled children who completely missed the whole uplifting experience of American education, would be the bitterest and most vengeful woke warriors.

Do we observe it?

Why would that theory predict that observation?

So it is all about old school grudges?

Considering the current culture war lines are drawn on SomethingAwful vs. 4chan I'd be absolutely willing to say that yes, it is.

Among those with Theatre Kids tendencies, or whose parents went too far, and mostly a combination, yes. See, for instance, https://homeschoolersanonymous.wordpress.com/

If true, we would observe that home schooled children who completely missed the whole uplifting experience of American education, would be the bitterest and most vengeful woke warriors.

You'd also want to control for religious conservativism.

Anecdotally, the most relentless and insufferable woke warrior I know was homeschooled in a left-wing religious family, but I suspect that it is hard to find statistically significant samples of such people because they're so rare.

Explaining great and influential social movements as "mere" revenge for schoolday grudges is not new idea.

Robert Nozick, one of leading theoreticians of libertarianism, tried to answer mystery why intellectuals oppose capitalism, when capitalism is the greatest thing ever.

Why Do Intellectuals Oppose Capitalism?

TL;DR of Nozick's argument: smart intellectuals get the best grades from teachers in schools, but not the best rewards from bosses in capitalist marketplace.

Therefore, they are justifiably angry and burn the whole shit down.

And when they still do not get what they deserve, they do it again.

Big if true. Is school is not mere waste of time, but factory producing unstoppable killer robots, the only way out is to shut the whole thing down.

But then, why do smart intellectuals like Nozick support capitalism?

I suspect that the Big Five model can be used to generate a more fine-grained explanation (most modern intellectuals are high in openness, neuroticism, and agreeableness, which inclines them towards libertarian democratic socialism; Nozick seemed to be lower in neuroticism, so ended up as a bleeding heart but free-market libertarian) but I don't have the time or expertise to do it.

Certainly, but e.g. Nozick didn't do those lucrative things. He was sincere to a fault.

it's that for some people, rule following people, your hall monitors, they now missed their entire opportunity to do those things. They missed out on the easy parties, fun hook ups, the intellectual and athletic honors, their whole share for their entire lives. They missed out on the easy parties, fun hook ups, the intellectual and athletic honors, their whole share for their entire lives. They'll never get over that, because they don't have the spirit and agency to do them later.

Correct me if I've got your wrong, but the compulsive rule followers are the people who want to overthrow society in this thesis?

I'm a little confused by what you're saying. Who wants to overthrow society and in what ways? What would overthrowing society constitute? I'm really just talking about why so many modern mass-psychoses seem to be rooted in school-age grudges.

I would guess** that his idea is that yes, ironically enough, they want to overthrow society to create a Just World where rule followers and Hall monitors gets justly rewarded for their superior virtue. This idea has echos of "Wokism as mutant, cancerous Christianity." In the Christian age you suffered the indignity and injustice of being a rule follower in this life in exchange for treasure in the next. But if there's no afterlife, you need to create your utopia on earth so that you can collect your reward before you bite the dust. There are vague parallels in a lot of Enlightenment-descended ideologies actually.

**I'm not sure if I'm fully convinced of the above myself.

That's high school and college for middle-upper-class Americans. Ordinary social and even legal rules aren't enforced, some activities can be done in high school and college that can never be done (for most people) in later life. If you're a 1/500 athlete at 16, you're a star on your high school team and a big deal on campus; if you're a 1/500 athlete at 36, you might have a hobby that you're pretty good at but most people don't care about. If you're a 1/1000 musician at 16, you're in the school band and playing lead roles, or you're in your own band and you're a big deal at parties; if you're a 1/1000 musician at 36 no one cares about your soundcloud.

biggest fish in ocean vs. big pond

This is why some of the alarmism over tuition seems unfounded. The value of college is more than just paying back the loans, it's the network too, especially for good colleges.

If you look actually at what the NATO account posted, they were posting a quote from a Ukrainian journalist turned soldier who said that. Here's a link to the start of the Twitter thread -

https://twitter.com/NATO/status/1628687934000885760

Now, you can disagree w/ any of this soldier's statements, but this isn't official NATO propaganda, in the way you're stating it is.

OTOH, yes, why are you shocked people point to widely known cultural artifacts as symbols. Far more people will know the Nav'i or Han Solo than some random underdog force.

It's cringe, but most change in society happens because normies w/ cringe views get on the same side as activists.

It's cringe, but most change in society happens because normies w/ cringe views get on the same side as activists.

Is this also how the rise of Fascism and Nazism happened?

Yup - the rise of the Trump Right, and QAnon all rose because of stuff a lot of people would consider cringe, as well.

It's cringe, but most change in society happens because normies w/ cringe views get on the same side as activists.

I'm curious as to how well this generalizes across history...

I mean, Uncle Tom's Cabin is a sentimental, overwrought story of the time, and I'm sure the Frederick Douglas and Charles Sumner kind of "cringed" at parts of it, but they also realized it was enormously helpful to get the still quasi-racist Northerners on the side of abolition.

I think that this is basically Nietzsche's concept of master/slave morality and resentment.

One thing I would add is that this kind of psychology is as common on the right as it is on the left. For example, /pol/acks tend to be people of resentment and sexual frustration, as is fairly obvious from all of the whining that they do about women and from their longing for sexual communism in which society would ensure that all men would have sexual partners. And even among more mainstream right-wingers, the whiny victim mentality is extremely common. "Why are the leftist meanies oppressing us?". Of course there is really is such a thing as leftists oppressing right-wingers, but the whining quality of some right-wingers' discourse exposes the psychology at work and also, among some right-wingers at least, contrasts comically with those right-wingers' attempts to put forward a macho persona.

The fascist/Nazi movements of the 1920s, too, were largely fueled by resentment and a sense that the people were being unfairly oppressed by the dominant world order.

Generally speaking, highly online political activists on both the left and the right are very often people who are full of resentment because it is precisely that resentment which drives them to spend most of the day writing about politics online. The nature of mass media means that one person who spends all day every day writing about politics online will end up creating 100 times more political content online than the average person. As a result, the Internet in particular very highly over-represents such people relative to the general population, which can lead other highly online people to sometimes have a skewed idea of what the average American is actually like. Off the Internet, a large fraction of people do not even care about politics at all. And the ones who do are often much more moderate than one might think from reading political social media.

The nature of mass media means that one person who spends all day every day writing about politics online will end up creating 100 times more political content online than the average person. As a result, the Internet in particular very highly over-represents such people relative to the general population, which can lead other highly online people to sometimes have a skewed idea of what the average American is actually like.

See also: Most of What You Read on the Internet is Written by Insane People.

Generally speaking, highly online political activists on both the left and the right are very often people who are full of resentment because it is precisely that resentment which drives them to spend most of the day writing about politics online.

Have you read The True Believer by Eric Hoffer? He goes into considerable detail on a very similar argument, and I think you might find it extremely interesting if you haven't read it already.

I have not read it but I will check it out. Thanks for the recommendation!

I don't believe for one moment that Dune was targeted towards middle-schoolers.

I get the feeling you wanted to rant about this stuff for a while, and used NATO tweet as a mere springboard. Okay, we've all been there, but it's not a great idea, because it's hard to engage with the meat of your argument with the subject matter still dangling in front.

I don't see what the horse-faced people or whatever have to do with it.

Just so you know, people – normal people, sometimes even smart ones – like this stuff. Avengers, Avatar, Harry Potter, Star Wars (even today's wannabe gopnik wears a Marvel T-shirt instead of Abibas, and buys his chick a counterfeit Baby Yoda for 8th of March). Videogames, movies, cartoons. More importantly, they know that everyone else likes or at least knows it, so it occupies the same niche as the Bible did for commoners in previous generations, or «the Western canon» did for intellectuals, or myths did for the ancients: it's a common inventory of archetypes and references. They cite its images and ideas, such as there are, completely unironically (if this fills you with dread, good: it should), and when institutions like NATO speak the same language, they are being at once pragmatic and democratic. Heck, the ostensibly brilliant rationalist community, of which we are an offshoot, is largely built around schlocky ratfics written by artistically inept nerds (okay, Wales is fine), chiefly a massive Harry Potter deconstruction by Big Yud (@ratboygenius, thanks, this is why I write). The modern culture is a culture of grown-up middle schoolers who have no meaningful rites of transition to adulthood, and the cultural power of your theatre kids is more a symptom than a cause.

Adding to that, Ukrainians (and as @Stefferi notes, that line comes from a Ukrainian guy) are just simple to a fault, so they mean it literally. Many Western far-righters, obsessed with the outgroup, pattern-match them to derealized current-thing-emoji Twitterati who support Ukraine, and very-online Russian influencers (as well as pretty, politically active young Ukrainian women mingling with the former crowd) are only too happy to confirm that impression, but it's mistaken. Ukrainian attitude is not from American middle school, it's more of a premodern innocence. «We are Warriors of Light guarding the gates of Europe, our enemies are Orcs, what's your problem, you piece of shit? Try me!» They don't like to overcomplicate things, like Russians do, do not stake their seriousness on big boy symbols of higher-class prestige (that's some Imperial crap!), and they suspect that self-awareness beyond the level of common sense, where it's sufficient to check if your shoelaces are tied and your fly is zipped, is either a sign of mental illness or some cringe Moskal psyop. Though, for all my condescension, I admit that pontificating on galaxy-brain matters with your fly open and slightly drunk, like Russians do, is surely worse.


The ex-advisor Arestovych, himself a fruity theatre kid par excellence and a person of unmistakably Russian intelligentsia culture (come to think of it, Zelensky is too), said in 2020:

[...] an average Ukrainian is an ideal victim of informational-semantic war. All connections in the brain are severed – causal, semantic, symbolic etc., so he's amenable to suggestion. There's an ideal gas instead of a brain: you bring a magnet to it, a dog, or Kyva, or someone else; you loom up with a meme, as we did with the blue lamp in our childhoods, and atoms of that gas, attracted, rush in that direction, stay there for a while, then rush back. From the point of view of a person dabbling in psychology it's a very edifying view. [...] Let's clarify. Information war is the war to occupy some position in the existing worldview. For example, if I as a political marketing consultant do not like your position, I try to move it somewhere. Whereas the semantic war is the war for symbols, myths and, in other words, for the possibility of creating that very worldview. The war which the professional in this question, and simultaneously the head of President Putin's Administration, calls «the war for the right to call things by their names».

Perplexingly, he means Vaino, a veritable retard who has not said anything cogent in his life. Dugin, meanwhile, wrote like 28 books in his series «Noomakhia, wars of the mind» on this topic; if there were a community of culture war scholars, I imagine its abridged version would be mandatory reading. The point of the semantic war or Noomakhia, in respect to mainstream media, is that the repertoire is loaded with premises. Say, when people's very language for discussing libertarianism and naming things pertaining to it is informed by Bioshock, you can tell their conclusions in advance (and observe it any time libertarianism is discussed within earshot of the mainstream public). Likewise for eugenics and Gattaca. Likewise for any other cultural touchstone. Avengers assemble to defeat an idealistic tyrant who threatens their zany status quo. Na'vi embrace degrowth and renounce industrial capitalism. For Ukrainians right now, only the most crude reading matters, but it's a package deal in the long run.

Arestovych goes on to speculate on four possible Ukrainian projects, mistakenly conflated into two: Nationalistic and European, and Russian and Soviet respectively. It's a shame actual Russian politics is below the level of a fruity theatre kid, and there is no positive project to offer that could challenge Hollywood propaganda. Hell, they can't even make use of it like this troll suggests.

Just so you know, people – normal people, sometimes even smart ones – like this stuff. Avengers, Avatar, Harry Potter, Star Wars (even today's wannabe gopnik wears a Marvel T-shirt instead of Abibas, and buys his chick a counterfeit Baby Yoda for 8th of March). Videogames, movies, cartoons. More importantly, they know that everyone else likes or at least knows it, so it occupies the same niche as the Bible did for commoners in previous generations, or «the Western canon» did for intellectuals, or myths did for the ancients: it's a common inventory of archetypes and references.

Crichton made mention of this in Sphere, which was published in 1987. The myths of Superman and The Wizard of Oz long ago replaced classical myth.

I'm surprised, then, that no one has apparently seized upon Mobile Suit Gundam for this reason, though maybe that's a good thing. I guess it helps that the Ukraine war has officially gone on for more than one year, and the end isn't quite in sight yet.

I don’t think that’s the issue. And if I might rant against your rant, the problem I see is that we take literally nothing seriously when discussing politics, technology or culture. I get that sometimes it’s helpful to make references to popular culture and media. But what I’ve seen, and Ukraine vs Russia is the exemplar of the moment is a complete lack of seriousness in the discourse around it. We’re pussyfooting around a situation where two nuclear powers are escalating tensions over a territory of questionable value in either direction. And we’re doing so on the basis of memes.

I can make the case for just about any possible position in response to the Russian invasion. Every one of them has serious pros and cons because war is a serious matter. A negotiation of a new border brings a hopefully stable peace, but would encourage Putin in further expansion. A proxy war with the goal of driving Russia to the 2014 borders risks a hot war between nuclear powers, but would send a strong message that we will not stand for invasion of sovereign nations. There’s a lot of history that should be a part of the discussion as well. We can’t, or won’t talk about this very very serious topic in a serious manner. Instead, Russians are uniquely evil “orcs”, and we’re talking about a potential world war in terms of movies while insisting on a new spelling for Kiev and chastising companies who still call their chicken dish “chicken Kiev” instead of “chicken Kyiv” as though Putin or anyone else gives a flying shit what we call the dish.

The rot goes deeper, and it was also quite common in discussions of COVID and the response. It wasn’t a cool rational debate about the merits of various types and levels of lockdowns. There was little discussion of the relevant risks of different activities and the risks at different ages and risk factors. We simply screamed at anyone who wanted to leave the house.

My thinking is that we are, as the Chinese observed at one point, and unserious people. We aren’t having rational debates and choosing reasonable alternatives. We aren’t discussing the facts on the ground. We’ve become the people defending Ukraine from orcs, Jewish space lasers, and freedom fries. And this is not a sign of a healthy civilization. This is a society clearly shrinking back into a deman-haunted world in which the entirety of thinking about very serious issues must be reduced to children’s movie references or image macros to be digestible by the public.

The fact we can be so unserious, yet still rule the world just shows how powerful we are. We can talk about the Avengers, then drop decades old tech in the DOD equivalent of the backyard shed and basically ruin Russia's ability to make progress.

Well, for now sure, but how long can a country that thinks in memes and slogans maintain its power? How does a people who consider “owning the out group” to be the height of discourse solve problems that face it? How does such a society build for the future? Especially given the near scientific illiteracy and practical innumeracy, this is a serious problem. We are amusing ourselves to death, or at least to irrelevance. Everything is a joke.

I mean, considering they were nerdy guys, I'm sure more than a few people who made the atomic bomb read sci-fi stories, still looked at the original comic book, and may have enjoyed some westerns or noir films. It wasn't all Oppenheimer quotes all the time. It's just today, the line is less clear, and people are more open about their hobbies. Hell, we had people involved in the creation of the beginnings of space industry that were weird sex cultists.

It doesn't really matter how scientifically literate the median American is, as long as the coffers still go to various scientific endeavors, who turn out can invent new things and use the gender somebody prefers the same time, just like they got used to having non-white males as co-workers.

It wasn't all Oppenheimer quotes all the time.

Oppenheimer's most famous quote is actually from a story anyway, the Bhagavad Gita.

True, the inventor of actual AI might quote an anime or whatever.

As Eetan said, we have always thought in terms of memes and slogans. Memes, are, after all, the DNA of the soul. The Bible represents one of the oldest memes still-extant in civilization, and its adherents literally referred to the central narrative of the New Testament as "The Greatest Story Ever Told," IIRC. When I was growing up, we learned about the history of America practically through famous quotes and slogans: No Taxation Without Representation; Give Me Liberty, or Give Me Death; Four Score And Seven Years Ago; etc.

Sure, it feels cheap that many of the narratives of the newer generation were forged by wholly human hands without even the pretense of divine revelation or the claim of being a genuine record of the ineffable acting in our world, but at least they're still narratives. Perhaps the conflict lies in the tropes (or, rather, their usage) and not the actual messages attempting to be imparted.

Well, for now sure, but how long can a country that thinks in memes and slogans maintain its power?

Power was always about memes, and West/NATO power had never been greater.

Ancient leader motivated his troops by talking about mythical heroes, medieval would motivate his troops with inspiring pep talk about Bible and knightly romances.

The conquistadors, who managed the most brilliant feats of arms in history, were weebs living in fictional world of trash literature of their day.

"And as we saw so many cities and inhabited villages in the water, and many other large settlements on land, and the road that led to Mexico, we were stupefied ['admirados'], and we said that it all these things seemed like the enchantments recounted in the book of Amadís."

Now, NATO has Harry Potter and the Avengers. What does Russia have?

Cheburashka?

What does Russia have?

Salacious refrigerators, as it turns out. And the cult of progress in general, as the other cornerstone post-Soviet myth has now been repeated, as Marx postulated, as a farce. Soviet heritage aside, we've been worriedly looking for new memes since 1999:

"You see, let me just explain the situation to you, like the way it is," said Vovchik. "Our national business enters the international arena. And there's all kinds of dough out there - Chechen, American, Colombian, if you know what I'm saying. And if you just look at them as money, they're all the same. But behind all this money there is actually some kind of national idea. We used to have Orthodoxy, autocracy, and nationality. Then we had this communism. And now that it is all over, there is no such idea at all, except for the dough itself. But you can't just have the dough justify the dough, right? Because then it is purely incomprehensible - why are some ahead and the others behind?"

"And when our Russian dollars are circulating somewhere in the Caribbean," Vovchik went on, "you can't even really understand why they are Russian dollars. We lack national i-den-ti-ty..."

"Get it? The Chechens have it, but we don't. That's why they look at us like shit. What we need is a clear and simple Russian idea, so that we can explain to any bitch from any Harvard: rub-a-dub-dub, and don't look at us like that. And we should know where we come from, too, anyway."

"The task is simple," said Vovchik. "Write me a Russian idea, about five pages long. And a short version on one page. Make it straightforward, no smartassery. So that I could sort it out with any foreign faggot - a businessman, a singer, or anyone else. So that they wouldn't think that we here in Russia just stole the money and put up a steel door. So that they would feel such spirituality, these whores, like they did at Stalingrad in 1945, understand?"

I largely agree that that's a completely horrible and infuriating aspect of our discourse, and I really really wish we could do better. But I want to question how we could do it better. Has there been a society that has done it better? It would be good to have the people in power giving fewer shits about what the mobs on Twitter say they care about. But before it was Twitter, was there probably some other mechanism that was the completely horrible public square. I just find it hard to believe that masses of people were ever able to make good rational decisions.

We don't have to look far or deep to find indications that masses of people always acted as a bunch of complete idiots. Just look at Shakespeare's depiction of Brutus vs Mark Antony's speeches and how the crowd reacts to them in Julius Caesar.

I don't see how you can ask who were the sensitive sexless moralizers of the past without at least mentioning the priest class, which has always existed. And this would clarify your view of the enlightenment which was clearly a secular movement away from this force. If anyone lost power in the enlightenment it was the moralizers.

Are you familiar with Steve Sailer’s Law of Female Journalism?

“The most heartfelt articles by female journalists tend to be demands that social values be overturned in order that, Come the Revolution, the journalist herself will be considered hotter looking”

There’s also Spandrell’s Bioleninism thesis which is that basically all of politics boils down to jockeying for status. So socialism is particularly attractive to High-IQ people who are ill-suited to a capitalist society (intellectuals, journalists, other wordcels, etc.). These people can then recruit various types of resentful underclass people (addicts, generally stupid or lazy people, ethnic and sexual minorities, weirdos of all kinds) who, since they have nothing to lose, are much more loyal and politically active than the people who are content with the system as it is. What makes his thesis “Bio”leninism is that in the 19th-20th century, society was less egalitarian and there were people being oppressed who would have otherwise been successful without these barriers which made socialism/communism attractive to a wider group of people than In current year, when all de jure discrimination is gone. Leftists then have to reach further and further into the dregs of society for loyal enforcers to the point where they draw from people who are biologically incapable of succeeding for genetic/HBD or mental illness reasons.

I’m not sure if I agree entirely, and I probably butchered the summary so it’s worth reading the actual blog. I think it does a good job of explaining why the people most loyal to the party (activist types) and enforcers (antifa types) seem to be fat, ugly, crazy, stupid, mentally ill, or some type of sexual minority.

To answer your question, I don’t think that something went wrong in these people’s development, I think most people’s politics are at least in part “taking a position that would benefit you personally, and then using whatever justification is available to explain why it’s necessary for society”, and the people who seem hilariously non self-aware about this are just in a bubble where nobody they respect has ever called them out on this. Didn’t some of the founding fathers have comically self-serving justifications for why slavery is good actually? I think pre-enlightenment societies had plenty of those type of people but most non-nobility had absolutely no ability to influence politics so probably didn’t worry about it too much, and no one with any power cared about the peasant’s political opinions. On a more local level, the scrawny wordcel who is resentful that he was born a peasant farmer’s only option was to become some kind of monk or something, where he can debate the number of angels dancing on a pin and scratch his itch for subversion (or become Martin Luther). What makes the “subversive” types dangerous now is that in a democracy these people as a whole have power, so harnessing their resentment becomes a viable political strategy.

so it’s worth reading the actual blog

Could you link it? Sounds intriguing.

From "Biological Leninism" by Spandrell:

In Communist countries pedigree was very important. You couldn't get far in the party if you had any little kulak, noble or landowner ancestry. Only peasants and workers were trusted. Why? Because only peasants and workers could be trusted to be loyal. Rich people, or people with the inborn traits which lead to being rich, will always have status in any natural society. They will always do alright. That's why they can't be trusted; the stakes are never high for them. If anything they'd rather have more freedom to realize their talents. People of peasant stock though, they came from the dregs of society. They know very well that all they have was given to them by the party. And so they will be loyal to the death, because they know it, if the Communist regime falls, their status will fall as fast as a hammer in a well. And the same goes for everyone else, especially those ethnic minorities.

Ethnics were tricky though, because they always had a gambit which could increase their status even further: independence. Which is why both Russia and China soon after consolidating the regime started to crack down on ethnics. Stalin famously purged Jews from the Politburo, used WW2 to restore most of the Tsar's territory, and run such a Russia-centered state that to this day people in Kyrgyzstan speak Russian. The same in China, a little known fact of the Cultural Revolution was the huge, bloody purge in Mongolia and the destruction of many temples in Tibet. After that was done with, the Communist party became this strong, stable and smooth machine. The Soviet economy of course worked like shit, and that eventually resulted in the collapse of the system. But as China has shown, central planning is orthogonal to Leninist politics. China, of course, had to know. It had been running a centralized bureaucracy for thousands of years. Leninism was just completing the system.

So again, the genius of Leninism was in building a ruling class from scratch and making it cohesive by explicitly choosing people from low-status groups, ensuring they would be loyal to the party given they had much to lose. It worked so well it was the marvel of the intellectual classes of the whole world for a hundred years.

Meanwhile, what was the West doing? The West, that diehard enemy of worldwide Communism, led by the United States. What has been the American response to Leninism? Look around you. Read Vox. Put on TV. Ok, that's enough. Who is high status in the West today? Women. Homosexuals. Transexuals. Muslims. Blacks. There's even movements propping up disabled and fat people. What Progressivism is running is hyper Leninism. Biological Leninism.

When Communism took over Russia and China, those were still very poor, semi-traditional societies. Plenty of semi-starved peasants around. So you could run a Leninist party just on class resentments. "Never forget class-struggle", Mao liked to say. "Never forget you used to be a serf and you're not one now thanks to me", he meant.

In the West, though, by 1945, when peace and order was enforced by the United States, the economy had improved to the point where class-struggle just didn't work as a generator of loyalty. Life was good, the proletariat could all afford a car and even vacations. Traditional society was dead, the old status-ladders based on family pedigree and land-based wealth were also dead. The West in 1960 was a wealthy, industrial meritocratic society, where status was based on one's talent, productivity and natural ability to schmooze oneself into the ruling class.

Of course liberal politics kept being a mess. No cohesion in a ruling class which has no good incentive to stick to each other. But of course the incentive is still out there. A cohesive ruling class can monopolize power and extract rents from the whole society forever. The ghost of Lenin is always there. And so the arrow of history kept bending in Lenin's direction. The West started to build up a Leninist power structure. Not overtly, not as a conscious plan. It just worked that way because the incentives were out there for everyone to see, and so slowly we got it. Biological Leninism. That's the nature of the Cathedral.

If you live in a free society, and your status is determined by your natural performance; then it follows that to build a cohesive Leninist ruling class you need to recruit those who have natural low-status. In any society, men have higher performance than women. They are stronger, they work harder, they have a higher variance, which means a fatter right tail in all traits (more geniuses); and they have the incentive to perform what the natural mating market provides. That's the patriarchy for you. Now I don't want to overstress the biology part here. It's not the fact that all men are better workers than women. In a patriarchy there's plenty of unearned status for men. But that's how it works: the core of society is the natural performance of men; those men will naturally build a society which benefits them as men; some men free-ride on that, some women get a bad deal. Lots of structural inertia there. But the core is real.

To get to the point: in 1960 we had a white men patriarchy. That was perfectly natural. Every society with a substantial proportion of white men will end up being ruled by a cabal of white men. Much of its biology; part of it is also social capital, good cultural practices accumulated since the 15th century. White men just run stuff better. They are natural high-status. But again, nature makes for messy politics. There is no social value on acknowledging truth: everybody can see that. The signaling value is in lies. In the unnatural. As Moldbug put it:

in many ways nonsense is a more effective organizing tool than the truth. Anyone can believe in the truth. To believe in nonsense is an unforgeable demonstration of loyalty. It serves as a political uniform. And if you have a uniform, you have an army.

Or as the Chinese put it, point deer, make horse.

The point again is, that you can't run a tight, cohesive ruling class with white men. They don't need to be loyal. They'll do ok anyway. A much easier way to run an obedient, loyal party is to recruit everyone else. Women. Blacks. Gays. Muslims. Transexuals. Pedophiles. Those people may be very high performers individually, but in a natural society ruled by its core of high performers, i.e. a white patriarchy, they wouldn't have very high status. So if you promise them high status for being loyal to you; you bet they're gonna join your team. They have much to gain, little to lose. The Coalition of the Fringes, Sailer calls it. It's worse than that really. It's the coalition of everyone who would lose status the better society were run. It's the coalition of the bad. Literal Kakistocracy.

There's a reason why there's so many evil fat women in government. Where else would they be if government didn't want them? They have nothing going on for them, except their membership in the Democratic party machine. The party gives them all they have, the same way the Communist party had given everything to that average peasant kid who became a middling bureaucrat in Moscow. And don't even get me started with hostile Muslims or Transexuals. Those people used to be expelled or taken into asylums, pre-1960. Which is why American Progressivism likes them so much. The little these people have depends completely on the Left's patronage. There's a devil's bargain there: the more naturally repulsive someone else, the more valuable it is as a party member, as its loyalty will be all the stronger. This is of course what's behind Larry Auster's First Law of minority relations: the worse a group behaves, the more the Left likes it.

This is also why the Left today is the same Left that was into Soviet Communism back in the day. What they approve of today would scandalize any 1920s Leftist. Even 1950s Leftist. But it's all the same thing, following the same incentives: how to build a cohesive ruling class to monopolize state power. It used to be class struggle. Now it's gender-struggle and ethnic struggle. Ethnic struggle works in America because immigrants have no territorial power base, unlike in Russia or China. So the old game of giving status to low-status minorities works better than ever. It works even better, unlike Lenin's Russia, America has now access to every single minority on earth. Which is why the American left is busy importing as many Somalis as they can. The lowest performing minority on earth. Just perfect.

This was a wild read, thanks for linking.

Are you familiar with Steve Sailer’s Law of Female Journalism?

“The most heartfelt articles by female journalists tend to be demands that social values be overturned in order that, Come the Revolution, the journalist herself will be considered hotter looking”

This, along with related comments in the post above, is just so lazy and trite. For one, the actual evidence for this is quite limited; people sometimes cite one study from 2017, which mostly takes election results from the 1970s and so seems of limited usefulness for today. Other than that there doesn't seem to be much. As a wise man once said, if you cannot measure it your knowledge is of a meagre and unsatisfactory kind.

In any case, the whole line of argument is just absurdly uncharitable. Republicans are much more likely to be obese than Democrats, but if I said something like 'Republicans only dislike public transit spending because they are fat fucks who can't arsed to walk from the bus stop' I would rightly be dismissed as an annoying twerp, which I am afraid is very much how you come across.

No evidence for what specifically?

It turns out an answer can be simple, obvious, uncharitable, and correct.

I don't think there's really much evidence for this one though. I haven't seen anything convincing demonstrating that such a correlation exists and is particularly significant. Especially when considering that obesity is correlated with R voting.

If someone found a collection of 100 feminist activists and journalists, and 90% of them look like Roxane Gay (who is, as polite as can be on the topic, not within the standard deviation of our culture's beauty standards), would you consider that perhaps the correlation is real, or would you say it was obviously a biased sampling?

Well one would need to parse out correlation and causation here, but yeah if there were a well-designed study that looked at this and found that, yes, feminist activists were considerably more likely to be obese then that would at least be a strong piece of evidence pointing in that direction.

Now, I think it's mostly a set of biases that cause people to think feminist activists and journalists are unusually unattractive; they're likely, as with almost every group not explicitly selected for attractiveness, going to average out to average

Yep, I think this is basically true. Most people look unremarkable so you don't remember them, but the strikingly obese ones will stick in the mind.

I mean, it is true that that seems to be the motivation behind the "fatphobia" push.

Doesn't it make more sense in a context of 'making people feel bad is REALLY BAD, yikes', as opposed to the journalists themselves being fat? Plenty of thin journalists dislike Xphobia

What does?

That the activists in question will be considered more attractive when they get their way and destigmatize fat.

While that may be some kind of motive for some activists in that specific area, in any broad sense I don't think it's really important considering the aforementioned point that there is a positive (though not necessarily huge) correlation between obesity and voting Republican. I mean, here are the ten most obese metropolitan areas in the US.

McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, Texas: 38.8 percent

Binghamton, N.Y.: 37.6

Huntington-Ashland, W. Va., Ky., Ohio: 36.0

Rockford, Ill.: 35.5

Beaumont-Port Arthur, Texas: 33.8

Charleston, W. Va.: 33.8

Lakeland-Winter Haven, Fla.: 33.5

Topeka, Kans.: 33.3

Kennewick-Pasco-Richland, Wash.: 33.2

Reading, Penn.: 32.7

Of those metros that I am familiar with that you listed, they are poor and black in fairly high %.

My point is that the most obese places in America are smaller regional towns, not the large urban centres from which most activists hail and which are generally the most clearly liberal in culture.

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yeah, this is why the right's preoccupation with body image risks alienating some voters. Go to your typical red state Walmart, or people who show up to rallies. most look overweight or average. not too many gym bros among them, and plenty of gym people vote democratic anyway. My dad for example is a huge health nut, voted blue forever.

I don't think it matters that much in the same way that red tribers want a Christian in office even if they themselves are poor Christians. Being healthy, physically fit, strong, and masculine/feminine (depending on your sex) is universally seen as a good thing by red tribers. Being too fat, too skinny, or too effeminate is seen as a bad thing.

My model of a physically fit red triber is a guy who does a bunch of free weight lifts, maybe does a moderate amount of cardio, maybe uses his strength for worker or outdoor hobbies, with a slight chance of being on roids or some other PED. He eats steak and eggs and burgers and might do CICO but that's about it. He plays pickup contact sports like football or basketball. He thinks the skinny runner physique looks DYEL or even "gay."

My (admittedly less clear) model of a physically fit blue triber is a distance runner or CrossFit-type gym goer. Probably uses Strava and has a bunch of exercises gadgets or at least an Apple watch. Eats a balanced diet of organic and locally grown foods heavy on the greens and micronutrients. Probably takes a collection of supplements, some of which are woo, some of which are not. His fitness is never really used in real life except for the 10Ks or half marathons he runs with his running buddies. He does a few other sports that require pricey equipment like snowboarding or paddleboarding. He thinks big muscles are gauche, low-status, and make you look kind of dumb.

As long as the Right pushes for the red tribe version of the physically fit man, they won't lose voters because even an obese habitual McDonald's patron acknowledges his superiority even if he won't say so outright.

I have a reflexive "I'm being lied to with misleading statistics" response these days whenever somebody claims some social pathology, such as obesity in this case, is correlated with Republican voting patterns. Generally these correlations go away the instant you start looking at the racial demographics of the cities involved -- it just so happens that many Republican voting cities happen to be located in areas with lots of minorities, and both hispanic and black people tend to have higher obesity rates.

From a quick glance at the statistics (1) (2) this seems to be generally the case with your list, with only Huntington and Charleston WV breaking 70% non-hispanic white. (And let's not even get into the whole age-obesity-convervativism confounder)

Fat acceptance is only about women and it's plausible that there's less of a correlation between being a fat woman and voting Republican than being a fat human of a random sex and voting Republican. It's also plausible that Democrats suffer more reduced status than Republicans do from being fat so a general attempt to reduce the stigma of being fat benefits Democrats disproportionately.

It's also plausible that Democrats suffer more reduced status than Republicans do from being fat so a general attempt to reduce the stigma of being fat benefits Democrats disproportionately.

This is very possibly true, but it rather proves my point

Yeah. Mentioned last time this came up, but "fat acceptance" doesn't seem to have increased the status of "people of Walmart", just changed the explicit mockery to focus on their fashion, hair, non-designer-brand mobility scooters, etc.

What makes his thesis “Bio”leninism is that in the 19th-20th century, society was less egalitarian and there were people being oppressed who would have otherwise been successful without these barriers which made socialism/communism attractive to a wider group of people than In current year, when all de jure discrimination is gone.

If you read something like Lothrop Stoddard's "Menace of the Underman" you find the exact same argument, that the revolutionary socialist movements are drawn from the resentful, biologically inferior underclass (what Stoddard calls the revolt of the "hand against the head"). It was a fairly common far-right line of thought that industrial workers, the primary base of support for bolshevism and other such movements, were in fact heredity 'undermen.' It find it a bit silly to say, "okay but now the underclass is really biologically inferior."

It find it a bit silly to say, "okay but now the underclass is really biologically inferior."

Is your position that the underclass has no biological differences with the elites? You should check out Gregory Clark, econ professor at UC Davis. His book The Son Also Rises would also provide support for Stoddard's idea that class distinction- particularly in the "long run", follows an inheritance that cannot be explained by generational wealth.

My position is that it's silly to say "the underclass back then wasn't really biologically inferior, but now they are."

Why? So we have one argument from the past about one group of people that you say was wrong (was it though?)

Why does that necessitate that a similar argument about a different group of people is wrong as well?

So we have one argument from the past about one group of people that you say was wrong

I didn't say it was wrong, assman did, more or less:

What makes his thesis “Bio”leninism is that in the 19th-20th century, society was less egalitarian and there were people being oppressed who would have otherwise been successful without these barriers which made socialism/communism attractive to a wider group of people than In current year, when all de jure discrimination is gone.

It would be surprising if previous claims of the biological inferiority of underclass groups turned out to be false but this time they were correct.

If you want to say, "the underclass was inferior back then, and they still are" that is a more consistent position.

I think they were back then and they are now. The idea is that in the absence of any discrimination at all, and the incredible living standards for even the most poor people, you need to search even lower on the totem pole to find the same kind of resentful people to form the most loyal members of the party.

I don't think it's an inconsistent position to claim that the upwards mobility of somebody hailing from the underclass but with good biological dispositions has improved in the meantime, meaning that the people who are still in it have been selected for NOT having those traits. I am not sure this argument is true, but it is not inconsistent.

It just seems like your position was trying to imply that "Bio"Leninism as a theory was wrong both then and now, and you try to demonstrate it's wrong by just associating it with far-right thinking.

But you do point out an inconsistency in the part of the post you quoted, but FWIW the original article on BioLeninism is consistent in the "both then and now position", and yes it is similar Stoddard's idea and the general thinking of ye-olde-racists... but that doesn't mean it's wrong:

Socialism works not only because it promises higher status to a lot of people. Socialism is catnip because it promises status to people who, deep down, know they shouldn't have it. There is such a thing as natural law, the natural state of any normally functioning human society. Basic biology tells us people are different. Some are more intelligent, more attractive, more crafty and popular. Everybody knows, deep in their lizard brains, how human mating works: women are attracted to the top dogs. Being generous, all human societies default to a Pareto distribution where 20% of people are high-status, and everyone else just has to put up with their inferiority for life. That's just how it works.

Socialism though promised to change that, and Marx showed they had a good plan. Lenin then put that plan to work in practice. What did Lenin do? Exterminate the natural aristocracy of Russia, and build a ruling class with a bunch of low-status people. Workers, peasants, Jews, Latvians, Ukrainians. Lenin went out of his way to recruit everyone who had a grudge against Imperial Russian society. And it worked, brilliantly. The Bolsheviks, a small party with little popular support, won the civil war, and became the awesome Soviet Union. The early Soviet Union promoted minorities, women, sexual deviants, atheists, cultists and every kind of weirdo. Everybody but intelligent, conservative Russians of good families. The same happened in China, where e.g. the 5 provinces which formed the southern Mongolian steppe were joined up into "Inner Mongolia autonomous region", what Sailer calls "consolidate and surrender".

In Communist countries pedigree was very important. You couldn't get far in the party if you had any little kulak, noble or landowner ancestry. Only peasants and workers were trusted. Why? Because only peasants and workers could be trusted to be loyal. Rich people, or people with the inborn traits which lead to being rich, will always have status in any natural society. They will always do alright. That's why they can't be trusted; the stakes are never high for them. If anything they'd rather have more freedom to realize their talents. People of peasant stock though, they came from the dregs of society. They know very well that all they have was given to them by the party. And so they will be loyal to the death, because they know it, if the Communist regime falls, their status will fall as fast as a hammer in a well. And the same goes for everyone else, especially those ethnic minorities.

I think it was true then and is true now, at the margins at least. Elites of revolutionary movements were highly intelligent, but they relied on a great number of deceived fools: peasants, workers, soldiers, lumpens.

The stratification has been going on for centuries, so children of upper classes have higher IQs, pass more complex Piaget tasks at earlier ages, and crucially more often have the temperament to deal with nuance. For all the improvement in social mobility, the cultural efflorescence fell short of expectations, with a great deal of accomplishment still carried by descendants of pre-egalitarian elites, middle classes, gentry. Evidence against this belief is usually circular – commoners like X, but we are all commoners now, so the consensus is that X is every bit as good as some elitist Y, or indeed much better.

Meanwhile in Russia, where actual Leninism took place, culture was practically erased together with a few percent of hereditarily advantaged population. I believe they sincerely thought that they'll be able to replace them with people of the correct proletarian descent and some schooling.

So socialism is particularly attractive to High-IQ people who are ill-suited to a capitalist society (intellectuals, journalists, other wordcels, etc.). These people can then recruit various types of resentful underclass people (addicts, generally stupid or lazy people, ethnic and sexual minorities, weirdos of all kinds) who, since they have nothing to lose, are much more loyal and politically active than the people who are content with the system as it is.

As far as I'm concerned, this is THE challenge for Socialism/Communism, and I say that as someone on the left. How do you make a leftist society that isn't run by the Managerial Class (because that's who we're talking about here) for the Managerial Class? There's a reason why I actually think a lot of the modern leftism is "speedrunning" Communism past the utopian for the workers stuff, straight to the "We are the new elites" phase, or at least that's what it wants.

There's a reason why I actually think a lot of the modern leftism is "speedrunning" Communism past the utopian for the workers stuff, straight to the "We are the new elites" phase, or at least that's what it wants.

Two possible explanations:

(1) Marcusianism: the real revolutionary isn't the proletariat, who have been co-opted by capitalism, it's an alliance of intellectuals and the socially marginalized. The latter group are not only more apt to revolt, but they're also more interesting and sexier. I am not sure to what extent Marcuse was influential, but he was certainly prophetic about the shift in the Western left, especially in the US.

(2) The American vanguard tradition. From the Puritans through the Quakers through the Social Gospel through New York Jewish intellectuals, the US left has many traditions of awakened (we might even say "awokened" or "woke"...) individuals who take on a heroic quest to improve the world. Of course, once the revolution is complete, then the masses will see the Truth, but for now, it's up to heroic individuals to challenge the system. After all, one person can make history - not a very Marxist idea, but a very American idea.

Well what other leadership classes are there? Surely any attempts at an electronic direct democracy will fail, either to the issue of 'who counts the votes', 'who decides what's voted on' or 'who controls the media'.

We've got the managerial class and the military class (only we're running low on Junkers and their rural equivalents with the Managerial takeover of the military). The very rich and the clergy are right out. Techbros have some wealth and organizing ability (somewhat distinct from the very rich IMO) but their sympathies are surely capitalistic on the whole.

The best option is reforming the managerial class. They're the people whose whole purpose is to lead. All modern industrial civilizations regardless of ideology need a good managerial class.

Weren't there scrawny noblemen who wound up inheriting by surprise? Off the top of my head there's Catherine the great's husband, who wound up getting murdered by her lovers, which is definitely a beta-ish story. And it's worth mentioning he was generally considered childlike and switched sides in a major war due to personal sentiment. But, also, the past was a lot more brutal than the present(see "murdered by his wife's lovers") and people who were weak or unwilling to grow up just... didn't make it, even if they were relatively high in status.

What about The Last Psychiatrist take?

"If you are seeing it, it's for you". In other words the war machine knows its potential supporters are harry potter loving mentally stunted noodle armed horse-faced lesbians, and as such it crafts its messaging accordingly. That does not mean it's executed well every time as seen here. Executed well it will use "Kyiv" instead of "Kiev" and avoid "the Ukraine" at all costs, the audience is the same!

But I think the notion of messaging being a better reflection of not the messengers but YOU the audience should be the prior, it explains the stupidity far better than "{billion dollar enterprise} is retarded and run by diversity hire nepo babies".

it explains the stupidity far better than "{billion dollar enterprise} is retarded and run by diversity hire nepo babies".

I'm leaning more and more on the side of "diversity for diversity's sake has started rotting THE MACHINE from the inside too much to hide it". My favorite recent examples are Sam Brinton and Kamala Harris(Absolutely politically inept but checks all the boxes and slept her way to her position)

From that TLP article from 2013:

Who is the ad trying to attract?

"Is it paraplegics?" That's a weird guess. "Is it basketball players?" I'm going to assume that's code, no.

Man, it took me 10 years to be immersed enough in American internet bullshit to get that reference (it's black Americans) and I thought this style of irreverent Noticing was relatively new and slowly evolved in reaction to 2008-2014 nascent wokeness.

I'm having this really weird moment where now a lot of my normie peers are coming up to me and want to discuss this worrying new trend of wokeness, and do I maybe think things might start to go too far? And I exasperatedly tell them that I have been telling them for over 10 years, welcome to this Brave New World, grab a soy milk shake. But then I see things like this, or even from the late 90s and notive that I, too, am at least 10 years behind the curve.

Fascinating, very much not my analysis of what TLP was attempting to convey. When I read his piece originally and read it now, my takeaway is that if a given piece of propaganda found its way into your hands, it's not by accident. If your reaction to it is (an execrable) Wholesome 💯, consider that was the intended response. If it results in frothing rage, consider that to be the intended response.

We live in an era of superstimuli: I'm willing to bet that companies (or a Company) with small-nation-GDPs for market caps and a specialization in marketing have heard of shibboleths before, and maybe they're releasing scissory material on purpose.

I personally assume that anything which tries to hijack my emotional train of "thought" is a weapon of some sort; maybe deployed by my tribe, maybe deployed by another, doesn't matter, the point is the reaction. Who cares if they're cringe or factually incorrect, even if it is, dare I say, based? You saw it and you felt a certain way. Mission accomplished.

But what this is supposed to mean? Is Hoffmeister a "diversity hire nepo baby"? I don't think there's really much overlap between him(?) and the people he complains about other than being aesthetes.

I meant that the wording and references in the tweet betray who NATO thinks their audience is, albeit executed poorly.

Saying its about You was just me immitating TLPs writing style.

Saying its about You was just me immitating TLPs writing style.

Please don't.

I am TLP.

I thought so. Unsubtle advertising on obscure message boards was his modus operandi.

fat black woman
and
horse-faced lesbian activist
and
noodle-armed kid with low testosterone

are all both unnecessarily antagonistic and call-outy, superfluous to what I believe to be your intended point. Even if you feel that this might be a shot at your own ingroup, there's always https://slatestarcodex.com/2014/09/30/i-can-tolerate-anything-except-the-outgroup/, entirely about how your ingroup might not be what you think it is. If I felt strongly that I fell into one of those three examples I, personally, would be seething at your post and wouldn't engage with anything you had written.

That said, I'm very curious as to what you meant when you wrote

the poison pill at the heart of the project
I can't find the original article from a cursory google search, but I'm reminded of Fred Reed's (I believe it was him) screed on Liberalism as a movement sowing the seeds of its own destruction, as high-asabiyyah "un-Enlightened" cultures integrate into egalitarian ones. Is this what you meant?

I'm (more or less) a noodle-armed kid with low testosterone and I found Hoffmeister's post amusing and thought-provoking.

If these people are so stunted and damaged, how have they become so powerful? Woke ideology is now dominant in nearly all elite western institutions.

Or, phrased otherwise, how is Justin Trudeau so popular?

how is Justin Trudeau so popular?

Anecdotally, it is for tangential reasons. He is attractive & knows how to use it to appear charismatic. He performs all the 'good boy' rituals that headline-only readers enjoy. He keeps his corporate interests happy and the opposition is as incompetent as it gets.

Justin Trudeau has a discount version in 'Rahul Gandhi' in India. Son of royalty, given his position due to nepotism, attractive man, does all the right woke-rituals while running his own party as a dictator. Left-Media does everything to bolster his position while anyone is opposition is called racist/fascist/bigoted. The 2 main differences are Gandhi's lack of charisma & being faced with the most competent democratic politician alive in Modi.(maybe along side Netanyahu)

Trudeau needs some proper opposition.

One of my favorite wacky conspiracy theories of the last 10 years is that Justin Trudeau is actually the biological son of Fidel Castro and thus geneticially predisposed to become a charismatic tin-pot dictator beloved by mid-wit intellectuals.

Mind you I don't buy into that theory, or genetic determinism in general, but it would be pretty damn funny if it were true.

There are millions of people in Canada and only one prime minister. How probable is it that Justin Trudeau would be the son of a leader in the Americas?

The theory rests on the idea that his mom & official dad were communist friendly and at least swinger-adjacent -- in addition to being personally close to Castro, and documented to be someplace where he could conceivably have been present around the time of Justin's conception. And he does look kind of similar.

I wouldn't give it high probability, but it's not the most outrageous conspiracy theory I've ever heard by a long shot.

Given the small number of presidents within the general population how probable is it that that the US's 43rd president would be the son of it's 41st president.

As a non-American, I had always just assumed that George Bush is a common name in the US.

It's certainly not an uncommon name, both "George" and "Bush" are common names on their own, but if you wanted a maximally generic American name it would be something like "Matt Smith" "Shaun Black" or "Elizabeth Rodrigues"

The Havana Candidate.

I unironically believe that conspiracy theory. Not that I think my belief or nonbelief really matters in any real sense, but in my opinion there's a decent amount of evidence for it, the official denials would look identical regardless of the truth and thus offer zero evidence for or against the proposition, and so I choose to believe that it's true because it makes me laugh.

Optimizing individuals for group dominance isn't the same as optimizing them for personal happiness. For the strength of the party, the ideal party members are unhappy neurotic messes with constant status insecurity and no personal relationships strong enough to cause "reactionary sentiments" on issues that affect friends and family (education, crime, etc.) Ideally in political therapy/reeducation and on plenty of drugs.

Well adjusted happy people with desires and sources of joy in their lives outside the control of the state are a weak link, and lead to embarrassing debacles like the California AA referendum.

Should be noted that they're quoting some journalist in Ukraine who has joined the Ukrainian army. I mean, it's still cringe (NATO has the choice of what they put in the account), but it's also probably exactly the sort of a way how normies might categorize this stuff, or even more likely how an Ukrainian fighter might imagine one speaks to your stereotypical Westerner living in comfort who probably has a pretty dim idea of what Ukrainians are actually going through.

I'm not sure if it's a new thing, either; Finland's most famous war novel, The Unknown Soldier, about WW2, has a side character who basically belongs to one of the youngest age classes to be conscripted during the entire war (ie. used to demonstrate how grizzled old veterans barely few years older than teens like this might view such new recruits) and turns out to be a highly effective and fearless fighter who also has the tendency to make "pew pew! Fiuuuu!" sounds when shooting Russians or throwing grenades, just like in Disney cartoons.

As such, while I cannot deny the cringeness, I'm not sure if it's really that good an opportunity to make analyses about NATO's general form of communication, let alone Theater Kids (though the soldier in question does mention theatre people as one of the class of people who have joined the Ukrainian Army, actually). I'm also somewhat at loss to what the connection to "progressives/post-Marxist culturists/“the woke”" is, despite everything it's actually not just wokes who might live their life vicariously through stuff like Marvel movies or other Hollywood cultural fare (and I'd imagine that if one actually could make a survey on this they'd be less likely to do this than just your average normie).

Can confirm that combat troops are disproportionately young, dumb, and full of pop culture.

There's more Avril Lavigne fans stacking bodies than you think. https://youtube.com/watch?v=XBtg3fSQ-QQ&t=10

The official honest-to-God NATO account posted that. Not some third-rate dingbat functionary, like the execrable Karen Decker who posted about how Afghanistan needs more “black girl magic”. No, this is the public-facing voice of a war machine that controls hundreds of billions of dollars, and it decided that the best way to make its case to skeptical world was to spam references to media primarily targeted toward middle-schoolers.

Can't appeal to the dead white patriarchs , they're racist. Can't appeal to a defense of Christendom (even if that weren't verboten, Russia is still Christian), the only civilizational throughline left are platitudes we get from cultural consumption of deliberately watered down and simplistic media.

2.those civilizations were far more adept at social engineering, such that they could far more successfully integrate people like this into their social fabric and find roles for them which utilized their strengths and defanged their more dangerous and subversive tendencies.

You could argue it the other way: those personalities didn't exist because they were far less adept at social engineering.

The increase in modern state capacity has dovetailed quite well with the Rousseauian/early liberal impulse that society is responsible for many of man's ills and these ills can be cured with more intervention and the general optimistic view about the perfectibility of man.

The state today is ludicrously more powerful and has aided along major changes in daily life, so the thinking goes: why could it not just fix all those other endemic social ills like inequity in dating? Beyond that, modern systems' tolerance for deviance may allow these people to fit more appropriate niches than before*

I think this is silly for a variety of reasons, but I imagine that's a major factor in making people like the above who blithely assume enough "raising awareness" or "activism" will resolve any issue they don't like.

* It's hard to determine how much freedom merely releases people to do what they always would have wanted or creates new impulses they then mistakenly see as immovable

Can't appeal to the dead white patriarchs , they're racist.

His appeal includes William Wallace, though. Read literally, this would be an appeal to a dead white patriarch. Of course it's not meant to be read as referring to William Wallace the actual historical figure but William Wallace played by Mel Gibson in a Mel Gibson movie, but Mel Gibson is a living white patriarch, an outspoken Christian and, outside of his movie career, often remembered for getting plastered and going off about the Jews while resisting arrest.

Most of the movie figures he's referring are white guys created by white guys, too, apart from some of the Avengers, the non-specifically indigenous Na'vi, and JK Rowling as the creator of Harry Potter (and of course even in that case we're hardly talking about a creator beloved by the woke people, to put it mildly).

Sure, you might argue that it's "watered down and simplistic", but the reference is still to a certain kind of watered down and simplistic material (and it's not like history's appeals to dead white patriarchs or Christendom were particularly complex, either.

His appeal includes William Wallace, though.

Scotland got snuffed out as an independent nation before it could do any imperialism.

His appeal includes William Wallace, though.

Fair enough. I will say you've touched on part of the difference (another important one being that apparently people don't see it as part of their project - as they do with American founding fathers - to undercut the hagiographic and anachronistic view put forward by Gibson because...it's not a live American issue)

Most of the movie figures he's referring are white guys created by white guys, too

There I have to say: meh, less convincing. It's not the same as appealing to Ben Franklin or Thomas Jefferson. I edited it from "dead white men" to "patriarchs" specifically to emphasize I meant the founders or central figures in the national myths (which, in America, seems forever subject to "problematization")

Harry Potter and Churchill are both famous, but in different ways.

Next They Came for the Dead White Authors

Apparently, Ian Fleming is next on the list for posthumous editing by sensitivity readers.

I've read a bunch of Bond novels. They are hilariously and unironically racist and sexist. Much moreso than the movies, which were already notorious for being un-PC even in an un-PC era (remember Octopussy?).

The Bond novels are fun but schlocky; Fleming's output was wildly erratic in quality. Casino Royale was actually pretty good (the Daniel Craig remake was the most accurate-to-the-book Bond movie ever made), while Dr. No was just hilariously bad (and bore almost no resemblance to the movie).

I guess I don't need to say much that hasn't already been said or that most people here won't agree with.

I will point out that editing children's books to be more acceptable to modern readers is much older than Roald Dahl. For example, I read the original, unedited Dr. Doolittle by Hugh Lofting a few years ago. I was actually unaware of just how racist it was. Modern editions have removed the "niggers" and other slurs, and the plot about the little African prince who wants Dr. Doolittle to turn him white. I don't actually object to this, so long as the original is still around. In itself, this isn't some new practice that only started happening in the woke era.

But it appears increasingly that it will no longer be acceptable to acknowledge that attitudes in the past were different; a warning label won't be enough. I expect the march will continue with Gone With the Wind. Margaret Mitchell's novel is a magnificent epic and a glorious, unapologetic paean to the Old South, and should be preserved in its entirety both for its literary merit and for being such a cringeworthy time capsule of Lost Cause mythology. The movie was actually toned down a lot even in 1939 (they removed the part where Rhett Butler literally joins the KKK, for example), but I would not be surprised if it's next on the block for expurgation.

Here is a good news/bad news thought for you to ponder: I think sensitivity readers will soon be out of a job. Why? Because scrubbing "problematic" texts out of old books seems like a really easy job for the next generation of ChatGPT.

a cringeworthy time capsule of Lost Cause mythology

If you're supposed to be some kind of community leader this kind of 'boo outgroup' seems beneath you. It's only 'cringeworthy' to look at the contemporary state of the South and suggest that a different course might not have been better, perhaps one not mandated at the end of a barrel by Others.

Being a community leader doesn't mean I'm not allowed to express opinions about Lost Cause mythology. You are allowed to dislike my opinion.

I'd be interested to see PolitiChatGPT have a go at something like the Turner Diaries. It'd also be interesting to see what the inverted version could do. If you can make a story less racist and problematic, surely you could make it more problematic?

Or could we make it quantify how problematic a book is? I imagine there'd be demand for a system to remove culpability over school libraries accepting or banning books, remove any individual human who has to make a choice. There's already plenty of demand for getting the AI to self-censor. Roahl Dahl might get a 167, Fleming might be 800 or 900, Mein Kampf would be 3000 +, Pierce's works would be over 9000. The sky's the limit when it comes to this tech, there'll be endless controversy.

Looking forward to "Abraham Lincoln, Vampire $OUTGROUP Slayer"

This seems especially out there to me because it seemed like the PC crowd had mostly settled on a narrative about the Bond books- they were gritty in a way that was grating because of just how awful it was, and there was lots of racism but it was also hundreds of pages of a depressed alcoholic murderer being miserable. From that perspective there's no need to expurgate the novels.