While this article actually is the counterpart to my earlier A complete theory of economics, doing for that field exactly what I did for economy, it doesn't belong to me. It was originally published on Stan's blog under the title of Modern Chumpatronic Engineering - I am merely translating it from the original author's English into my own English, an operation that is conceptually indifferent.
Skinner famously saidi
My book is an effort to demonstrate how things go bad when you make a fetish out of individual freedom and dignity. If you insist that individual rights are the summum bonum, then the whole structure of society falls down.
He is only partially correct. The part where he is correctii, and the reason he even made it into mainstream in the first place, is that he was able to reproduciblyiii train animals to engage in complex, unspecificiv behaviours.
It is difficult to understate the importance of his methods and ideas for the decaying Western world. Their application catapulted the "advertiser" from a geeky, peripheral position about on par with the cleaning lady in the engineer-and-scientist dominated workplacev all the way to an "executive" rolevi, often laying wholly unsubstantiated but nevertheless ferociously advanced claims to primacyvii and outright management. Marketers are not managers, of course, but to the betrayed, virginal soul of the engineer the difference was too painful to make, and so the "Pointed Hair Boss" phantasm was born.
Their application in politics breathed new, undeserved life into the socialism nonsense, resulting in the modern, post Reagan, post Thatcher rehash of the unworkable, fundamentally broken welfare state. The twelfth or so reiteration of that thing, who's even counting anymore. Its crowning achievement, the twin "success" of electing an inept black guy on the high wave of "participation" from a bunch of "electors" functioning in a statal Skinner box, and the discursive nuttiness that is "political correctness", nothing else but parts of an animated Skinner box running around trying to recreate their icon.
The 90s saw the collapse of the "Western world" as a thing, and half billion or so white peopleviii joining the ranks of the other half billion or so white peopleix. The cultural shock, and the much more relaxed atmosphere in the actually free Eastx resulted in understanding that should properly be recalled by its Russian name.
Meet the Chumpatron (Лохотрон) – a short and self-documenting term, encompassing a variety of concepts essential to the daily life of modern man.
A chumpatron is not necessarily a physical contrivance, like a cyclotron. It can be, of course, and modern, state-of-the-art chumpatrons tend to rely heavily on automatic machinery. But the machinery alone never suffices, for evolution is an arms race, and just as soon as the parasite stops adapting, it will get a parasite of its own - Nature's way of doing forks on the github of life.
Like any machine the chumpatron runs on fuel, that is to say, chump (Лох.) Much like coal pellets, chumps are not the fuel per se – merely the containers in which fuel is packaged and transported. Just so, the fuel of a chumpatron is not money, as a first pass, naive interpretation may suppose. Sure, money works as a good proxy for chumpatron fuel just like "coal" works as a good proxy for coal plant fuel. Nevertheless, the chumpatron can run on all sorts of similar things, just as long as they contain the required magic smoke, the sort that can be alchemically-converted into wealth.
The chumps, as we noted above, are not necessarily consumed when the fuel is burned – being mere containers; and containers are often re-usable! In fact, these particular containers are marginally useful on their own : they have arms, legs, and rudimentary nervous systems. What's more, they will, if correctly cared for, amble about the world semi-autonomously and gather more… fuel for the chumpatron.xi
A chumpatron, given as it converts human beings, their labour, hopes, aspirations, misrepresentations etc. into something tangible and useful for its master can easily be confused with other types of machines, like say, a biodiesel fermenter. Nevertheless it is not the same thing! Anyone with the ill-fortune to end up in a biodiesel reactor will be fermented, while there is nothing fortuitous or accidental about ending up in a chumpatron. This explains why chumpatrons only function in societies which present the pretense of universal freedom, and are not to be found in societies which admit the impossibility thereof.xii
The defining attribute of a chumpatron is that it does not run on just any kind of human being, but on chumps in particular. A conquering war-machine which practices ordinary, traditional enslavement of the conquered (with or without reprocessing into biodiesel) is therefore not a chumpatron. The fuel-containers for a chumpatron carry out their duties of their own free will, and for the benefit, if not really understood, of the entire society.
The chumpatron is no mere scam. Not all working scams are necessarily functioning chumpatrons, not all functioning chumpatrons are necessarily scams. There is a lot of overlap between the two concepts, of course, seeing how both work to liberate. However, the scam typically works to liberate chumps from their fuel, whereas the chumpatron works to liberate fuel from the chumps. This is no mere wordplay : where the most accomplished scammer is an artistxiii of interpersonal theatre, and the defining example of the scam is the grift with dedicationxiv, the most accomplished chumpatron master simply runs a very large one, the measure of his achievement being simply that something that big keeps on chugging along. No thing can be a chumpatron that relies on individual traits, and no serious con artist thinks very much of approaches that blithely ignore detail and individual particularity - in fact these are for him the very nails upon which to hang his hat.
When chumps find their way into a chumpatron, they tend to emit a variety of crunching and squeaking noises, as the gears turn, grind, and empty them of their useful contents. If you are not yet in the gears, have not yet been emptied – and would like to stay out, and retain whatever liquid in contention – you can try to learn something from these noises. Perhaps a more effectual avenue is to learn from other people, ideally the sort of people who have stood near the hopper at a safe enough distance to not wind up inside despite the mighty suction of the intake manifold.
One could spend years in the study and cataloging of chumpatrons, and it is interesting, rewarding and useful work. We call this work sociology. As far as its methodology is concerned, one thing can be said for sure : there is no possible direct use for the responses the chumps give to any questions. This can serve as a ready tool to distinguish actual sociology from nonsense : if the piece you're reading relies on processing responses, it's about as useful for sociology as a piece taking down the "scientist"'s conversations with laboratory equipment is for chemistry.———
- In a Times interview, back in 1971 when other things were making the front cover and the articles were not yet written by trained pigeons. [↩]
- If you are curious, the part where he is mistaken is the unwarranted supposition that people are fungible. While it's true that acting as if slaves were masters can only result in a major meltdown, this does not in itself suggest you shouldn't treat masters as masters even while you treat slaves as slaves.
So, yes, people generally shouldn't have individual rights. This does not equate to saying "no people should have individual rights". Some should, most shouldn't. [↩]
- This is important. Any achievement you credit yourself with that is not in fact reproducible is not in fact your achievement. Credit Lady Luck and let it rest. [↩]
- There's this ancient observation, which we'll credit to the valet of the Viscount of Valmont, that "It's easy enough making them do what they want to do. It's trying to get them to do what you want them to do that gives you a headache."
Therefore, getting a pigeon to peck at specs or pluck its feathers is no great achievement. Getting it to twerk and spin in circles however, is. [↩]
- Think Shockley Labs, 1950. Then think Apple Computers, 1990. Yes ? [↩]
- If you're one of the lot you probably live in this parallel universe where parrot-y idiots a la Zig Ziglar "invented" and "revolutionized" and so forth. Here's a hint : "See You at the Top" appeared in 1975, and it's exactly what you'd expect it to be : repackaging of Skinner without citation and without much depth. "Practical", as you say. Stupid, as it is. Workable, certainly, workable stupidity. [↩]
- Stuff like "the only important employees are marketeers, because they contribute to sales ; everyone else just contributes to costs." [↩]
- In Russia and the Ukraine, Romania, Poland, Hungary, Germany, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia etc [↩]
- The US, Canada, France, Spain, Italy, the UK etc. [↩]
- Yes, as opposed to the subtly-oppressed West. [↩]
- And this means they have a value, and this means they can be a chumpatron, and guess what ? They are! Ever see one of those "make money online" scams ? Why, you've found it : the chumpatron trying to turn chumps' desires of operating their own chumpatrons into a... chumpatron! [↩]
- You could push the point and declare that in Stalin's Russia, reality itself is the chumpatron, and the only winning move is to not play - life. This view misses a fundamental element of the functioning of the machine in question, specifically, that it is an engine for correcting the misrepresentations of free will. In this sense, its functioning, as painful for the chumps as it may be, actually strengthens the freedom of the world, both as a sum total (ie, including the chumps) as well as an actual value (excluding the chumps, that is), just as long as one proceeds to calculate the valuefunction correctly, as wealth times value, or power times intelligence or whatever. Just as long as 100 guys of average intelligence each holding 100 units of money comes to half the value of one guy of twice average intelligence holding all the money with the remaining 99 chumps no money, you're calculating value correctly. [↩]
- Perhaps the only objection that can be brought to the lordship definition of art is found here. That "perhaps" is perhaps saying too much for it. [↩]
- Ie, one addressed to a specific person. Seen The Sting ? [↩]