The end of democracy

Wednesday, 27 January, Year 8 d.Tr. | Author: Mircea Popescu

Now that the show's been given away, let's go through a brief history walk.

So on one hand, working the earth is a deeply equalizing experience. There's an ancient Romanian saying to the effect that whatever drunks may drink, they can't overtake what the plum trees may fruiti - not to mention the plum trees will be here next year, too. You may be excused disinterest in the subtleties of expression in a culture that, unlike your own, survived stable over millenia. Nevertheless, the experience itself shan't be excusing you : as a horny if virgin teenager you might have entertained delusions of "totally destroying cunt" once you get your true self or whatever. With any luck you did get to see that no - try as you might, cunt will be still there when you're done, and done you will be. In between these two fundamental distractions, the life of the peasant flows in a very strict servitude to the problem of scale : his work proceeds linearily, for that lovely but ultimately brief interval before fatigue kicks in ; meanwhile the land proceeds by the square. Taking one step delineates an area a quarter as large as taking two steps does. Due to this squares problem, it makes relatively little difference that Joe tires after a hundred and Moe after a hundred nine, and so it is throughout : the extra nine isn't likely to figure much in Suzy's estimation of either of them (and so the natural harem can be flattened into a very contrived "traditional marriage"), nor does the extra drop drunk make any visible difference in the barrel, and so politics proceed on a fundamental basis of equality and equanimity : have ye enough drink and then have ye enough words. And then go home.

On the other hand, bravery is exactly opposite of this. Giving a man ten coins instead of one does not make that man a hundred times as likely to stand fast ; nor even ten times, and perhaps not even as much as the one. A single, bravest knight pays more than the whole sum of his inferiors together, because of exactly inverse geometric rules involved in warfare - which is fundamentally why jousting competitions were a big deal, but speedfarming competitions never interested anyone.

This settles feudalism : on one hand each peasant's exactly fungible with each other peasant, whereas one single faithful knight's not to be traded for the whole world. As a direct result of this situation in the field, the political forms are absolutist monarchy, and the religion is monotheistic and so on.

But time goes on, and lo! The industrial revolution is upon us.

On one hand working, as opposed to farming, is still a deeply equalizing experience, but the drivers have now slightly changed. It's no longer the silent ground, stalking the lone worm, waiting for him to tire of his toil, biding its time to sneak up behind him and swallow him whole. Instead the machine now awaits a moment's inattention to chomp down just a part, while hunger and disease dance a merry jig in the corners. The reward for performance has also changed slightly - it's not quite but almost linear, a worker twice as skilled is just about twice as valuable.

On the other hand being a merchant is much less demanding than being a knight. Addition and multiplication can be learned, and so can the whole trade. It does require a lively mind and a ready capacity for attention in the knaveii, but then again these are much more common than bravery and valor are - demanding virtues most expensive and difficult to train.

This settles "modernity", or however you wish to call it, the last half millenium or so, give or take : on one hand the proletariat is slightly less fungible than the peasants were ; on the other hand merchants are slightly more fungible than the knights were. As a necessary result societal mores do allign closer to the values of the peasant, and further away from the values of the knight. More equality, less meritocracy, more "humanity", less "cruelty", more "respect", less "honor", socialism (however you would double-speak it, nazism, communism, democracy, all the same) follows necessarily.

It is important to note here that this is to no degree "revolutionary", in no sense novel, and by no measure anyone's merit. Water finding a new level should you incline the bucket does not result in identifying rando H2O molecules to credit with "having led the wave" or "discovered the new level". For one thing, they didn't discover anything, they were, like their obscure equals, randomly distributed within a spray. Some section thereof was later cemented by events, but to pretend relationship between this happenstance and the happenstancers is ridiculous. I understand you're desperate to make a name for yourself because you imagine that you may thus escape military service - please understand this makes no differenceiii.

But lo! Changes are afoot!

1985 :

Allied-Signal Incorporated (formerly Allied Chemical Corporation) ; General Electric Company ; Aluminum Company of America ; General Motors Corporation ; Philip Morris Companies Inc. ; American Can Company ; Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company ; The Procter & Gamble Company ; American Express Company ; Inco Limited ; Sears ; Roebuck & Company ; American Telephone and Telegraph Company ; International Business Machines Corporation ; Texaco Incorporated ; Bethlehem Steel Corporation ; International Harvester Company ; Union Carbide Corporation ; Chevron Corporation (formerly Standard Oil Co. of California) ; International Paper Company ; United States Steel Corporation ; E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Company ; McDonald's Corporation ; United Technologies Corporation ; Eastman Kodak Company ; Merck & Co., Inc. ; Westinghouse Electric Corporation ; Exxon Corporation ; Minnesota Mining & Manufacturing Company ; F. W. Woolworth Company

2015 :

3M Company ; General Electric Company ; Nike, Inc. ; American Express Company ; The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. ; Pfizer Inc. ; Apple Inc. ; The Home Depot, Inc. ; The Procter & Gamble Company ; The Boeing Company ; Intel Corporation ; The Travelers Companies, Inc. ; Caterpillar Inc. ; International Business Machines Corporation ; UnitedHealth Group Incorporated ; Chevron Corporation ; Johnson & Johnson ; United Technologies Corporation ; Cisco Systems, Inc. ; JPMorgan Chase & Co. ; Verizon Communications Inc. ; The Coca-Cola Company ; McDonald's Corporation ; Visa Inc. ; E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Company ; Merck & Co., Inc. ; Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. ; Exxon Mobil Corporation ; Microsoft Corporation ; The Walt Disney Company

Industry is quite obviously well overiv and in that process the world has changed quite substantially.

On one hand, the social media [l]user no longer has any value or utility, and with that certainly no power whatsoever. Incapable to survive on his own, let alone produce any sort of surplus, he is fungible to a degree flesh and blood peasants of yore never were : barely a row in a database somewhere, much closer to the stuff of daydreams than actual reality.

On the other hand, being a content producerv is incredibly difficult and incredibly rare. Not only can it not be trained, not even to the modest degree bravery and valor could be trained into the knight, but it exhibits a very active antieconomy of scale! To illustrate this concept - admitting for a second that the nameless ability in question is one and measurable by a scalar - it is the case that a group of ten producers each worth 10 units of productive worth will output LESS than a group of three producers each worth 12 units of productive worth. Yes, 3 * 12 = 36 is more, much more actually, than 10 * 10, because in this field multiplication is a very different beast than the quaint operand you're used to from your merchant class. As counterintuitive as all this may soundvi, it is nevertheless the sad state of affairs : give me three decisive men and I can overturn a world that millions of derps can't otherwise keep functioning.

And so, to keep it short and sweet : I will by my own hand abolish democracy, and through no sort of "civil war". The simple workings of economical attrition will suffice. By the blessing of the trite yet incontrovertible fact that you - all of you - can not keep up with usvii, a precious few of us, your world will come undone. All we have to do is reject most of you, systematically, and keep working. Delusions as to how anyone could in any manner oppose thisviii, or that the evolution in question is anything but nude, rude and unavoidable historical necessity may taste sweet, but other than that taste produce no further fruit. You will go where the level goes and that's all there is to it.

Note that I take no merit in any of this. Figuring out which way the wind blows does not make one a "wind magician" or anything of the sort. I understand you're used to hearing a different melody from your traditional shamans and whatever elses, but really, wouldn't you say it's time you grew up already ?

  1. Romanian alcohol is eminently a 110-120 proof plum distillate. []
  2. You might be familiar with the Clemens quote that

    Who knows, he may grow up to be President someday, unless they hang him first !

    That's him, the Jack of cards, the knave. That young man who is troublesome but also promising. []

  3. There's a miserable film I saw recently and didn't feel like reviewing. It makes an excellent apropos here, through its sordid lack of merit. It's Greetings (1968, by Brian De Palma, with a very young Robert De Niro). Just about symbolizes the whole "Barnum, Marx and Ziggler changed the world!" early adolescentine approach to things. []
  4. In case the obvious is not obvious to you, approach the matter this way : what is your definition of "industry" ?

    For instance, American Express, Goldman Sachs, Travelers, JPMorgan Chase and Visa are all banks. In what sense is what a bank does "industry" ? More so than a very animated game of Monopoly, say ? Is playing Monopoly an industry ?

    Let's pretend we don't notice that GE principally exists these days as a lender of last resort to the USG, in those sweet, sweet off-balance ways, and let's pretend we don't know IBM is today an empty shell of a company with a principal interest in real estate management. Let's not bother pointing out that both Cisco and Apple (or for that matter Nike and 3M) are glorified dropshippers, exactly replicable by any kid with a Starbucks nearby. Let's instead discuss Disney.

    So unlike ALCOA, which is no longer an industrial stock, Disney is an industrial stock nowadays. Fancy this wonder! Could I produce everything Disney does from this very computer ? Yes, I certainly could - my bandwidth is something like MBps and the hundred or so films they put out a year doesn't actually need anything above 100 * 2 * 10 ^ 9 / 3600 / 24 / 365 = 6`341 or about a cable modem's worth. So yes, in the simplest terms I could, if tomorrow I start pumping out full length feature films at 16KBps straight to torrent Disney will be flat out of business. It pretends continuance on the grounds that I opt not to do that, but this is very pointedly not the definition of industry. Industry is something quite patently else than "we do what anyone with an Internet connection could be doing". Do you suppose you could have supplanted ALCOA - all of it, shipping millions of tons across the whole country - from your garage ? So then, clearly in replacing one with the other something was lost.

    Yes, the usual scum of the pond - consumer services - do survive. They even multiply, there's now a Coca Cola, a Verizon and a McDonalds where there was just one before. But these, in all times and places the gunk on the filter of an Industrial Index, have meanwhile pivoted into the strange situation of being the most industrial of the lot! So much the waters have withdrawn, that McDonalds now counts as industry on the strength of manufacturing paper cups out of paper, straw and lid. It's something, I guess.

    It may well be something, but whatever that may be it's definitely no industry. []

  5. Affectionately termed "a whore" in #bitcoin-assets, this broad category covers both coders and entertainers. []
  6. It only sounds counterintuitive because you're so unhappy with the concept you've actively blocked all mention of it. Otherwise, it is not surprising to you that entertainers are either solo or small teams - how come you don't expect your music be produced by hundreds of people playing instruments ? And for that matter, that software comes out better from smaller teams more narrowly selected than out of laxer, larger teams is so painfully obvious to anyone even vaguely related to the field that the hiring practices of start-ups, and the very existence of start-ups in the first place, needs not be explained to anyone. So... what counterintuitive ? It's quite plainly obvious to your intuition, it's just your ego that doesn't like to hear it. []
  7. Think about it on the most obvious example : hundreds of derps "working" on PRB with years' advantage delivered nothing that can stand up to the product of hardly half a dozen men over six months or so.

    There is no optionality in this field - you can't, no matter what you would prefer, and for what reasons, run worse code. You'll be overtaken by those who do not, and there's nothing that can save you from this, nor could there be. And once this basis is firmly inserted in the beasts' eye, as it well is, the end proceeds apace, unavoidably, from it. []

  8. Yes, it is true that as of yet there's still a lot of gunk everywhere, and the few and far between people who matter do not yet understand either what that is, or what it means. Nevertheless, friction is not a permanent solution to a changing environment - consider the case of the earth's own crust. Even with all the friction there, nevertheless it is sorted by density, with an average of 2.2 at the top and 2.9 at the bottom, this while the mantle goes from 3.0 all the way to 5.4. So no, no amount of friction can possibly prevent the future where scum will have less than medieval peasants and the few people more than what befits a king. []
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3 Responses

  1. The rise of crypto-feudalism.

  1. [...] [↩]No, it's not my fault. Yes, it is your fault. Appology accepted. [↩]Do you remember that thing about the plums and the drunks ? It's worse with women - they can take all you can put in them, and more ; yet they can make all [...]

  2. [...] [↩]No, it's not my fault. Yes, it is your fault. Apology accepted. [↩]Do you remember that thing about the plums and the drunks ? It's worse with women - they can take all you can put in them, and more ; yet they can make all [...]

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