December 14, 2018
While I Was Out the Situation Deteriorated Carl Benjamin, a YouTuber who goes by the ever-so-modest online handle of Sargon of Akkad got banned by Patreon earlier this week.
Sargon is a Vlogger from the U.K. who opines on everything from video games to human rights.
He's a bit of a troll.
OK he's a lot of a troll, albeit a particularly erudite one.
He's definitely a mixed bag, occasionally doing absolutely spot on commentary like this take of the ethics and politics of STARSHIP TROOPERS of all things, and sometimes being an utter, douche, like here where he says mindnumbingly stupid stuff in defense of the Incel asshattery that is the asinine THOT audit. Sargon's a leftie and an atheist and so I disagree with him about a lot of things, but one of the things that I do agree with him about is his uncompromising stance on free speech.
Here he is on his best behavior...
It seems that almost a year ago, for some inexplicable reason, Sargon used the "N word" while mocking and berating some white supremacists who's loathsome antics he has been reporting on; and who in turn have been getting all stalky and doxxy with his family.
Now, using the "N-word" is always an inadviseable thing for us honky crackers. Indeed, this rule applies even when talking down to literal nazis...as is evidenced by the fact that the literal nazis he was responding to reported his unwoke language to Patreon's reassuringly named Trust and Safety Council,* which promptly banned him....for something he'd said on a livestream that was not in any way associated with Patreon.
"And we should care because...?"
Here's why this bit of internet drama is a concern...
A solid argument can, of course, be made that Patreon should be allowed disallow any behavior on their platform that gives them hives.
However, if they are going to do that then that needs to be in the TOS, you can't just nuke someone who has not violated any of your terms of service. Which is exactly what Patreon did. Worse, the offending behavior was not even on their platform.
This is unethical. Highly unethical and means that Patreon at this point cannot be trusted to honor contracts.
Thus Patreon sucks and will screw you over as soon as you're on the outs with the "cool kids". The fact that the deplatforming seems to have been initiated by neo-nazis it not technically relevant but adds another layer of dreadfulness to the affair.
"'kaaay...So patronize someone besides Patreon."
INDEED! There ought to be no need for concern here.
Sargon should take his money to a competitor who wants it. Everybody wins.
That's FREEDOM...enabled by capitalism.
Lo and behold, it turns out there is at least one Patreon-esque outfit struggling to get out of Patreon's shadow and find some killer ap to differentiate themselves from Patreon.
Well, that killer ap is freedom of speech.
So, Mr. Benjamin went to Subscribe Star.
He was followed there by other creators** who were also de-platformed by Patreon. More significantly, he was also followed by a surprising number who feared that they might be banned due to their views and Patreon's demonstrated perfidy and lots of others who migrated in solidarity with some outre' concept called "freedom of speech".
"See. Competition works."
"Now, why are people saying that a limey s**tlord's bad
customer service experience is DEFCON 5 for free speech?"
Well, it most assuredly wasn't.
Until it was.
You see, Pay-Pal , the ubiquitous online payment service then told Subscribe Star to ban Sargon and the other Patreon refugees. Subscribe Star refused and Paypal has now just cut off Subscribe Star's payment system. Stripe did too, and according to Subscribe Star, appears to not be releasing the creators funds it is holding!
Subscribe Star, to their considerable credit, is not buckling.
15 Dec 06:57
We are here now not to tell you that "we are sorry but they made us to shut our shop down and now we are going to cry ourselves to sleep goodbye”.
Just the opposite - we are fighting back and integrating new unbiased and predictable processors that will allow us to grow with you. This takes time, we estimate anywhere between 2 and 3 weeks from start to finish. This may require us to extensively travel across the globe for the best possible solution.
Stars, you have to know - all your money were successfully rescued from the PayPal and will be paid out to you in a timely manner. We had less luck with Stripe, but it all manageable.
Subscribers - we temporarily paused accepting new subscribers, as well as new donations and tips. All previously contributions are safe and will be distributed to corresponding Stars properly. Thank you for your patience and understanding.
Our team is working tirelessly for all of us being able to secure our future without fear of being bullied by the crooks in corporate suits and their subservient weasels.
We are online and will stay so. We wish you the same.
Talk to you soon!Truly yours,
"OK. That's genuinely scary."
That is the sort of thing that can lead to lead to idiot conspiracy theories, but this is where it gets scary. Here, is Jack Conte, founder and CEO of Patreon on Dave Rubin's show a few months back discussing the culture of Silicon Valley.
If the embed doesn't cue right, the money quote is from 30:17 to 32:30
So these tech CEO's are all sitting down together or via conference call and deciding (amongst other matters of import) what their workers salaries are going to be.
"Oh God. That's his....COVER STORY!?"
Conte is describing the smoke filled rooms of Gilded Age trusts. These guys are also talking to each other about the issues of the day and who should and should not have a platform. This is a syndicate.
It get's worse..
Being a Russian company Subscribe Star is somewhat outside of Silicon Valley's more direct sphere of influence, certainly they are more immune to the social pressures of acceptance in the virtual Versailles of the San Jose' virtue signaling clique. However, like all online businesses, Subscribe Star is still dependent on online payment services, which, as we are seeing, do feel those pressures. And of course, it's run out of...Russia...so it has all sorts of other potential issues, particularly regarding freedom of speech, election meddling and dangerous ursine bicyclists.
We're in a situation where the current bolt hole for free expression is a sketchy site run out of Russia, a situation that is so transcendentally wrong that it has left even the foul-mouthed Razorfist temporarily unable to cuss...
Razorfist embed atypically SFW
I understand if one doesn't want to click on a Razorfist link, but he's right. When speech is disallowed, violence becomes the medium of discourse. This is a bad highway to be on.
We often joke that Animal Farm, 1984, and Brave New World are not a three volume how to manual. For some people though, they are. We've now got fricking "Trust and Safety Councils" that turn anyone with the correct politics who hate the right people this minute into members of their little Stassi. With the power to control the information and to deny people financial services if they hold unpopular views, comes incredible power for mischief.
We've covered the Chinese Sesame Credit System before and that, I am convinced, is where many of the individuals behind this policing of speech want to be.
All it takes to bring about this dream of the anointed is for each of us to say "That guy's an asshole! He deserves what he gets. That bitch over there had it coming too, serves her right." and be silent, or smug, or report the asshole to the Trust and Safety Council. Then, because every one of us is an asshole to someone, we'll be kept in our place by the very crab bucket culture we are nurturing. Meanwhile, the archdukes and marquesses of Palo Alto "tend their fields" by cutting off any poppies that grow too high.
With that coming to pass, like the Greek City States before it, the 300 year aberration that is the enlightenment will disappear into the 300,000 year+ history of humanity as a short lived deviation from the mean. Things relating to freedom will go back to much as they were for the majority of that time, albeit with rather less ability to express heretical thoughts.
We're not there yet though.
There are people who will hold their noses and stand up for the rights of shitlords to opine on the matters of the day and who understand that words are not violence but rather the way violence is avoided. There are still search engines like Duck Duck Go and Epic that offer the ability for a Z-list blogger in Virginia to look up a news story that some seem to want to want to bury and we still have access to books written by great minds who saw where the path we are on leads and warn us from the grave*** to avoid the mistakes their societies made and take a different exit.
Despair not, the fact that this post and every link in it exists is proof that all is not lost.
But be aware. Be vigilant, and keep your eyes open for the inevitable rough patches on the unlit road ahead.
UPDATE 12/16: Fixed links/syntax and made small caption edits.
UPDATE 12/16: Removed Google screencap and associated text as it could not be duplicated and was not germane to the post (see comments).
*and totally not Orwellian at all.
**at least one of whom seems to have actually been a genuine racist degenerate
***So perhaps a Russian site being the guardian of liberty is not so incongruous as we might suppose.
October 26, 2018
Whelp Trump-supporting, bodybuilding, Native American, Florida strip-club worker and Chippendale is the 'MAGAbomber'.
It is exactly as we secretly suspected.
"Yep. Florida Man."
October 24, 2018
Oh This Will Help Calm Things I'm Sure (UPDATED) It looks like some creep has sent pipe bombs to prominent Democrats. I guess he/she decided that the actions of the Unabomber and James Hodgkinson are examples and not horrible warnings.
Also. Regarding today's outbreak of TwitterMadness: We really don't know anything about these things or who sent them other than the silly logo, so holding forth about False Flag ops, Incel edgelords or Larry The Cable Guy fandom is the exact opposite of helpful.
Remember, whoever did this was probably a nutbar. This would make trying to figure out motive via inferring who logically and rationally stands to benefit a fools errand since logic and rationality may not be in play.
Finally! Some actual facts from Pixy in the comments.
...those fake ISIS stickers are literal false flags.
So THERE! No matter how this turns out, certain people will be able to save face. Thanks Pixy!
I'm Sure This is a Story of Low Importance ...that has no ramifications for our national discourse whatsoever.
Also in Colorado, some of the voting instruction books are missing pages.
It's unclear if the Adams county ballots have been found or replaced, but according to the article, the Weld County Ballots were duplicated, meaning that there are thousands of extra ballots floating around in the wilds of Colorado.
September 20, 2018
Dispatches From the Department of Disquieting Developments Pixy linked to this the other day and I think it really deserves rather wider distribution.
On the surface, it's a very dry, inside baseball discussion by a Paul M. Jones discussing a proposed Code of Conduct for open source code and IT work. This sounds both benign and banal until you realize that where benign and banal cross is their...intersection
The Contributor Covenant version on which the RFC is based is authored and maintained by intersectional technologist and transgender feminist Coraline Ada Ehmke.
"Well, I'm sure THAT won't
immediately go pear shaped."
And yeah...It's about as much a dumpster fire as one might expect, but, like so much else today has some really creepy undertones.
I strongly urge you to read the whole thing, which is replete with links to various other takes on the issue including Ehmke's. I further urge you to bring it to the attention of people with larger readerships.
The apparent importance of one proposed COC may seem deceptively limited in scope, but the implications are quite troubling and reflect what is already happening. Several examples from the tech world over the last few years are been brought up in the notes at the end.
This far beyond coders, pretty much everybody can be burned by this.
Very related is this recent piece from The Phantom Soapbox which, while Twitter related takes a look at similar impulses...
They are watching other people be drummed out for the sin of "not a team player" because their hobby is shooting, or hunting, or even fishing. (Fish have feelings too, you murderer!!!) Or somebody found a pic on-line of them at a Pro-Life rally, or somebody saw them walking into a church on Sunday morning.
Speaking of the Stassi, this video that keeps popping up on Instapundit every few months is also relevant and shows where we are going to end up if we as a society don't get off the PC train.
August 28, 2018
Slightly Less Fun Than the Last Post
This video is three years old and it looks like Extra Credits was not only ahead of the curve on this story, but, due to their area of expertise, had some very interesting perspectives about the Chinese social credit system. The video also has some facinating bits of info regarding the Orwellian nightmare in question that haven't been widely reported.
One of the entities that runs the SCS is Tencent, the company that owns Riot Games, Epic Games and... Blizzard.
Furthermore, it looks like a couple of specific features of the social credit system seem to have been given beta tests in Blizzard's popular MMO, World of Warcraft.
The whole social credit system is the stuff of nightmares, but the fact that western game companies are so heavily involved in the development of this is even more worrying as this has some...implications.
Perhaps Twittermobs are a beta test to explore more social manipulation of a more kinetic nature.
This might sound paranoid. And you might think to yourself "That's retarded!" ...but if you didn't just think that...but you tweeted it, well, then you just got banned.
So who's retarded now?
UPDATE: OK, so you so you just got suspended for a week. These things add up.
August 24, 2018
THIS JUST IN: Stupidity Still Rampant
"He should change his name to Jack"
August 21, 2018
Today's Facebook Follies Facebook is instituting a TRUST-RATING FEATURE because their Panopticon is not just creepy enough yet.
Oh look! They're helping India weed out online purveyors of unpopular views. How...civic minded of them.
It looks like Facebook is all about civics today! They're suspending and doxxing politically problematic Latin American moms now.
Also: If your Facebook page gets...big*...then you need to let Facebook know where you live.
People who manage these pages that have significant followings are going to be asked to complete an authorization process in order to keep posting on their page.
"Well...that doesn't have any troubling implications."
Oh lighten up Sarcastic Coffee Girl. It's obvious that the idealistic nerds are just building a road to a glorious** future that we can get a glimpse of in this two year old Wired article and these two pieces that (entirely coincidentally I'm sure) ran on Drudge today.
* definition of "big" is not firmly established at this time.
** definition of "glorious" may involve momentary discomfort.
August 08, 2018
On the Spectrum of Lothsomeness
Alex Jones is a jerk, a creep, a lunatic, deeply offensive, societally corrosive, and an affront to all decency.
He also, to the best of my knowledge, is not advocating anyone get banned for saying things that he finds disgracious to his demented world view.
This makes him vastly less loathsome to me than the people who advocate de-platforming him, and somewhat less loathsome than those who think that this is 'not the hill to dies on' .
More in depth thoughts on this here, here, and here. A less current but more succinct take on this issue has been making the rounds as well.
April 26, 2018
April 21, 2018
I'm on Campus This Evening, Working on my Last Three Papers. Take heart though.
In stark contrast to college today, this will likely make you smarter.
Trigger Warning: Not recommended those who are easily disturbed, or suffer from anxiety or depression.
April 19, 2018
Astonishingly, There are Things Happening in the World Besides Term Papers and Exams This is one of the most interesting...
The bit about the Black Financial University site getting demonetized is interesting and downright scary. It looks like algorithims and outrage mobs are threatening to turn the internet into something as bland and even more risk averse than the 3 networks were pre-cable.
As a child growing up in the era after the first attempts by network standards and practices departments to appease the outrage mobs, I can attest to the sort of place that leads to.
Yeah kids, the future's gonna be THAT bad if GoogleFacebookAmazon runs it.
A quick perusal of Maven's activism page leaves me somewhat less sanguine than Mr. McCollum, but still very hopeful. We eagerly await further developments there and elsewhere.
April 12, 2018
Oh Some years ago I was taking a class on historical methods. This involved learning proper citation and research techniques for HISTORY MAJORS. This was a 300 level course. Everyone in it was at least interested in HISTORY.
The course was taught around the Holocaust, on the third day of class (my first day) a young lady tapped me on the shoulder and quietly asked a word that the instructor kept repeating in his lecture, but had given no explanation for, as if it was somehow supposed to be common knowledge...
"What's an Auschwitz?"
"A NAZI concentration camp. One of the big ones."
The scariest thing about this is that in the course of the class it became clear that his young woman was not actually stupid. She was quite bright. She just didn't know.
People don't believe me when I tell them this.
More than one-fifth of millennials in the U.S. -- 22 percent -- haven'theard of, or aren't sure if they've heard of, the Holocaust, according to a study published Thursday,
Two-thirds of millennials could not identify in the survey what Auschwitz was.
In other news, I note what is surely an unrelated trend.
And that taps out my bitter sarcasm reserves so I have no words left for the revelation that Winston Churchill is widely thought to be a fictional character.
This 2D lass sums up my thoughts on the matter though...
April 05, 2018
This fellow, no doubt, represents the greatest fear of the identitarians. The fate of our society hangs on how many of us define themselves this way.
Minor Quibble: OK, a select fire switch does not confer magical combat prowess, and its absence does not render one helpless, as our troops have learned from all those Martini-Henrys and Mosins in the Hindu Kush.
March 11, 2018
That Train's Not Coming
Not unless and until it's fixed...and that's going to take some work.
October 25, 2017
Some Thoughts on the Politics of the Moment
He who fights monsters should see to it that he himself does not become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.
— Friedrich Nietzsche: Beyond Good and Evil
The best revenge is not to be like your enemy.
— Marcus Aurelius: Meditations
As soon as men decide that all means are permitted to fight an evil, then their good becomes indistinguishable from the evil that they set out to destroy.
— Christopher Dawson
The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.
— George Orwell: Animal Farm (Last line)
I may elaborate on this later.
September 22, 2017
Something That Reassuringly Bucks the Gestalt of the Age
Here's a right-winger and a left-winger who disagree on much, having a rational and friendly conversation about the issues of the day.
September 04, 2017
It is Not Entirely Clear When or Why They Dropped the "Don't" From Their Mission Statement ...but assuming it was ever really there in the first place, I imagine that the conversation between Larry Page and his underlings was something along these lines...
Yeah, I'm revisiting this, but it seems a topic of legitimate concern in light of yet more recent events and revelations.
It's especially troubling given the nature of Google in the context of certain developments abroad...
Imagine a world where an authoritarian government monitors everything you do, amasses huge amounts of data on almost every interaction you make, and awards you a single score that measures how "trustworthy” you are.In this world, anything from defaulting on a loan to criticising the ruling party, from running a red light to failing to care for your parents properly, could cause you to lose points. And in this world, your score becomes the ultimate truth of who you are – determining whether you can borrow money, get your children into the best schools or travel abroad; whether you get a room in a fancy hotel, a seat in a top restaurant – or even just get a date.
This is where we're heading, as soon as the party most in tune with the techweasels regains power, and when that happens I fear the yoke may be too heavy for society to throw off.
Orwell, was writing cautionary tales, the tech giants see them as utopian fantasies.
July 05, 2017
...and They Did it on the Fourth of July Let me just put this here...
...because, yeah, it needs to stay up.
So, in the aftermath of some recent CNN scandals, including CNN employees being caught on camera admitting that the Trump/Russia story is pretty much a nothingburger set up to garner ratings and undermine the administration AND CNN not only retracting a rather libelous story about Trump and his associates, but firing the reporters and editor involved, one Trump fan took this clip from some WrestleMania and photoshopped in the CNN logo. Trump retweeted it.
One might think that CNN would (after such a dreadful series of self inflicted credibility debacles) react to Trunp's crude but silly victory lap with a bit of good natured contrition.
CNN is staffed by aristocrats who dine upon free range pheasant and whose lips will never touch crow.
No. CNN tracked down the Trump fan who made the .gif and....
CNN's 'KFILE' publisher Andrew Kaczynski wrote the network would not be publishing the identity of the user "because he is a private citizen who has issued an extensive statement of apology, [that] showed his remorse.""CNN reserves the right to publish his identity should any of that change," Kaczynski warned in his article.
Lets see if we can...translate this.
Nice life you've got there...be a shame if someone were to uhh..doxx you and let all 'dem people in the black masks with the bike locks and the,uh, lettah openahs know where your family lives, where your kids go to school, and where you work. It'd just break our hears if your employer suddenly became the subject of a twitter mob and found employing a suddenly unpopular fellow like you....bad for business. But, hey...we gots an offer for youse...One ya can't refuse.
North Korea just fired off a missile that can hit Alaska. If it was a 2 stage missile, then a three stage version ought to be able to hit anywhere in the U.S.A.
Russia is up to no good.
China seems to be basing their foreign policy on the East India Company. (oh the endless ironies of life) and are a major strategic foe.
The various subsets of radical Islam seek to kill, convert or enslave us all.
M-13 and other gangs rampage across our country and kill our citizens.
None of those threaten our freedoms like the notion that our lives can be ruined by weaponized social media because we said something that a powerful person found offensive.
I don't know who this guy is other than that he apparently shitposts on Reddit.
There is a high probability that he is a douche.
That's not the issue.
Now, Trump's tweeting is cancer. It is an oozing zit upon the face of the presidency. Many of his tweets are ill considered stupid and counterproductive. While this was not one of those tweets in my opinion, opinions may vary on that point.
It doesn't matter, because that is not the issue.
A massive media conglomorate decided to hunt down a private citizen and destroy his life because he published a crude commentary ON THEIR MISBEHAVIOR. Furthermore, the implied threats they use, of censure, becoming unemployable and, (never directly expressed, but very much understood) extrajudicial violence and intimidation are not how we do things in a republic.
This sort of thing has been going on for at least 5 years....
...but it seems to be picking up speed now.
This is how totalitarian societies come about.
When people become to afraid to exercize free speech, free speech is dead.
CNN is a private corporation This cannot be fixed by legislation, as the ability to interfere editorially is exactly the power we don't want the government to have. Extortion is a possible existing charge of course, but such a prosecution might have worrisome precedents.
This needs to be met with public outcry. We as a society need to make it plain that this will not stand.
Whether we still, as a society possess the understanding of Civics to grasp the importance of this is unclear.
May 22, 2017
Minor Nobles of Exquisite Breeding and Dubious Character Sarah Hoyt has a thoughtful piece up on aristocracy and class.
Mostly because Europe still largely thinks in "Classes” — I know, I was born and raised there — and those of us in whose mind it doesn’t fit easily always felt weird about it.Guys, we’re starting to feel weird about what the US is doing too.
I do urge you to read it in full. Like a lot of the products of Hoyt's MENSA mind it goes down a lot of different paths before before having them all begin to merge.
Her piece brought to mind an exchange I had with a professor this past semester.
The professor in question is a damned good one and teaches an extremely interesting class on the history of technology, which she comes at from very non-intuitive and thought provoking directions. At one point we were discussing the politics of late 19th century tech and she asked "Who is the left?" After a brief back and forth, she provided her answer, "Cosmopolitans!" Her position was that the left is constitutionally cosmopolitan as they are able to make common cause with people around the world without regard to national boundaries. This is not actually that far off, though it glosses over a bit. In particular she was very keen on pushing the internationalist aspect as opposed to any meaningful connection to the the origins of the word in the French Revolution. However, both are entwined closely.
For centuries Europe had a feudal system where a lord would run a small fiefdom and there would be various interactions with other aristocratic families, usually power related, but these guys ran the place. However, as fiefdoms merged into principalities and principalities into kingdoms and occasionally empires the power of the nobility waned. As the early policy in some regions of kings being elected gave way to primogeniture, the nobles became locked in, unable to advance, except at the expense of some other family, or perhaps in the event of a succession crisis, an invasion or coup. Then some of those damned commoners began making far more efficiently than any conceivable taxes on one's tenants. This was the merchant class, and they began creating wealth hand over fist and in some cases, like the Hanseatic League surpassed kingdoms in wealth, and certain aspects of power. Of course, to the nobles this was a great injustice. After all, they had legitimacy through their bloodline. These dirty capitalists selling cod of all things and gaining wealth without having first secured noble parentage were...CHEATING!
This being based on accident of birth, a litany of effete' social standards were set up to distinguish themselves from those who could not appreciate the magnificent blueness of the noble's blood. Their identity was not being common and so they shunned all things that had any trappings of the average people of their kingdom. On the other hand they tended to resent the upper aristocracy, who were a hard limit on their ascendance, indeed, an invasion or power struggle where a noble chose astutely to change loyalties could result in a major increase in stature. And of course these people had a white hot burning hatred for what we now refer to as capitalism as it enable even the basest people who were clever and assiduous to rise most distressingly...with no regard to ancestry.
When speaking of groups it is important to remember that they consist of unique individuals with the God given potential to develop their characters in any direction. However, in general, the minor nobility (of Europe in particular) became an insecure, status-obsessed group of inbreds whose social position above the hoi-polloi was based on...well, pretty much not being of the hoi-polloi. They were inclined to deeply resent their leaders and despise free markets, the latter because they threatened them by allowing an alternative avenue to mobility that did not pass through the nobles social register. They flaunted social mores to the extent they did not alarm the upper aristocracy because they could get away with it in a way that the commoners and the merchants (who were mostly commoners themselves) could not, this becoming a marker of their status and further establishing their position above those hated groups.
Obviously, this is a gross generalization, this class of people who had leisure time and nothing to do did produce some who applied themselves to non-despiseable eccentricities. (See Newton, Issac).
However, by and large we are talking about a social class that was pretty much worthless and hated everything.
Well not quite. They had much more in common with their fellow members of the minor nobility club in their country and others. So you had this group of people who had far greater affinity for people of similar status in other countries than they did with their own countrymen who they tended to despise as base and provincial in comparison to the ever so interesting different trappings of other countries...nobility.
Now even the most venal of us want to feel that we are good and noble. So the minor nobility twisted their noblesse oblige into a contemptuous pity for and desire to "help" (but not actually grant respectability to) the commoners. Now they often had no actual comprehension of how these people lived or what would help them. However, if the nobles were ever presented with the opportunity to remove their mask and express their sincerest and most heartfelt impressions to the king and his upper level aristocrats then the hoi polloi had the potential to not merely be objects of pity and charity, but could be most useful. If, after such a transpiration of events, the commoners were ungrateful or forgot their place, well, ' if the Vendee can't be a good example they can be a teaching moment'.
Fortunately, even before the Vendee was bathed in cruor, the founders of our country had provided us with a way to avoid this unfortunate societal dynamic. Title of Nobility Clause means we don't have nobility. For generations our upper classes tended to be people who moved up through hard work or at least astuteness. Now this is no foolproof filter against jerkwads achieving success. However, it did serve to deny the upper middle class and upper classes the permanence and persistence of a title. This break from historical norms produced an amazingly productive economy, that in 130 years went from a bankrupt backwater far from the center of civilization to an industrial giant less than a decade behind the most advanced nations on Earth in most technologies (and a world leader in a few). One of the factors here was that our successful people had to keep producing or be replaced, because, well, it wasn't like they could fall back on their titles 'CAUSE THEY DIDN'T HAVE THEM!
This often vexed the children of the successful as they were suddenly expected to be productive. Going back to even before the days of Caroline Webster Astor setting up "The 400" there were attempts by people to secure their position an eliminate competition (the trusts of the 19th century for instance). Astor's mean girl snobbery was an overt attempt to create a de-facto aristocracy, but, without the titles there was nothing to enforce it and, indeed, families that produced children obsessed with such trivialities did not compete well. Thus there was intense churn among the upper class as new people came in bringing new technologies and perspectives, while the children of the previously successful proved to be a tad too comfortable to achieve the spark needed to compete and their families were frequently replaced by people bringing new ideas.
However, in recent years, a combination of factors that include regulations raising entry barriers to start up businesses, the inordinate weight placed on credentialism and in particular credentials from a few universities that only accept people from the upper echelons of society and a few new comers who think as they do. These factors mean that the credentialed class is now, for the first time in the U.S., largely self perpetuating. Elite credentials as titles of nobility certainly seems to be a superior arrangement to primogeniture, but in practice, the credential, seems to nullify any sense of noblise oblige, just as the group is becoming increasingly hereditary and it seems, far more credentialed than meritocratic.
This is an extremely status-conscious group and like the Astors of old they have found a kindred spirit in their hereditary counterparts of the old world. The upper classes of developing nations as well are drawn to this and this trans-national class of jet-setters who scold us on our carbon footprint are arguably more international in makeup and outlook than even the Third International. Despite being, in some ways a successor to the old Comitern, this transnational class is, while generally leftist in its politics, quite hostile to and contemptuous of the working classes in general. Indeed, their identity, at least in the U.S.A., is based on not being working class. Futhermore, while this group is want to proudly tout their cosmopolitan outlook, they seem to be, from the outside looking in remarkably provincial. That is, they talk to people from the same social strata from around the world, who are thus similarly socialized. Their diversity is thus superficial at best.
Likewise, their policies, while leftist are far closer to the black shirts than the brown. They are explicitly corporotist in outlook, forming cartels that rival and potentially surpass the American gilded age trusts in scope and power. The main difference between them and the Rockefellers, Carnagies and Morgans is that they frequently have enjoyed indulgence by the government from the get-go and those considerations are based to a large extent on social acceptability and political loyalty. This has resulted in the regulatory agencies becoming a weird hybrid of the Cultural Revolution, the Court of Versailles and Tammany Hall.
Like the minor nobles of old this group has set up elaborate rituals, ceremonies and byzantine social codes to differentiate themselves from the average Joe.
"I'm afraid that 'average Joe' is likely to be problematic because "Joe", as a name for a "male", is cis-normative and also an example of patriarchal oppression given that "Joe" is being used as an example rather than Jane, unless, "Joe" is actually a girl which might make it barely acceptable, though bland and non-exotic except in cases where "Joe" used to be a guy named Felix but has transitioned. This is especially true in cases where Felix was a white male and now identifies as a Black tree-squirrel named Joe who demonstrates freedom from the patriarchy by marrying xerself. "
Ahem...which brings us to Political Correctness. It is not merely a totalitarian movement to squelch and instill fear in political opposition, but it also acts as a modern equivalent to the old powdered wigs, courtly graces and appreciation for the latest fashions which required social connectedness in the pre-internet age. It is a barrier to entry for those who do not live and breathe it, and only someone who has considerable leisure time or is working in circles where the ever changing rules are being discussed can hope to navigate this minefield covered in eggshells. It's a useful way to differentiate the nobles from the plebs.
The upper-middle-class/minor nobles have been the social strata that has given history its Catalines, Robespierres and Che Guevaras. Now that clique pretty much runs the world.
Of course these guys face a problem that the vicecounts and barons of old never contemplated. The plebs still have a vote, which is why they have been bringing in lots of foreigners to their respective countries with which to cancel out that annoying fact. That this has deleterious effects on the average citizen is not seen as a bug to these latter day aristocrats. This, of course is why we got Trump, who while odious in his own ways, is the working class equivalent of Churchill siding with Stalin against Hitler. It is a singularly desperate, hail-Mary-pass by the working and middle classes to save themselves from serfdom.
It should be remembered that he notion of a republic of free people equal before the law is a major aberration in the history of humanity. It is a concept that we struggled to live up to and only embraced as a society in the last 40 years. We are in danger of loosing it, and regressing to the mean; to what is merely a variation on history's most perennial concept of governance... aristocracy.
Update: Fixed some typos and a completely incoherent sentence in paragraph 19.
Update 2: Gracious! It's an Instalanche! Thanks for stopping by! This blog is mostly fluff, but we do occasionally rant about politics, science and defense.
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